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ASK A PHONE WHORE: Do you ever get attached?

ASK A PHONE WHORE is a semi-regular feature, appearing whenever I get a good question. Anything you want to know about my phone work, ask away! Make sure to read through the archives here to see if I've already addressed your question in a previous post, or to see if I've written about something already and you have follow-up questions. I may set up a separate page here to solicit questions, or maybe just put a widget up, but for now I'll be running my mail bag over on Facebook.

Q: Do you ever get attached to your clients?

Yes. Sometimes. Does that surprise you? It shouldn't. Let's go back to the restaurant and food-service analogies for a moment:

If you've ever worked as a server in a restaurant for longer than six months, you almost surely had favorite customers, who always requested to be sat in your section, who were nice and funny and/or smart (whichever you value) and always tipped well. They may have been particular in their food requests, but they could articulate their needs and didn't expect you to read their minds. When you saw them in the door, you were happy, not only because you knew that doing your job, at that table at least, was going to be easy, but also because you enjoyed their presence in your space, and felt some degree of authenticity and genuine pleasure in their company.

That is what I consider attachment: feeling something positive toward the client, beyond what they're requesting and paying you to provide them. And yes, I do get that with some of my phone clients. Thank god! I mean, I don't want to work with all assholes! And if someone is a good person and I work with them regularly, I will get attached!

I think sometimes people think of "getting attached" as a potential problem. Isn't this what happens in all the comedies that touch on phone sex? And the dramas, too, probably. This is how all the shit starts, right? If you meet someone you like, and you're talking sex with them, doesn't the intimacy and romantic entanglement, the inevitable falling in love, just overwhelm your judgment and sweep you off your sleep? Nope. That's only one kind of attachment, a kind that I have never experienced in the context of paid phone sex.

This question of whether I get attached kinda fits in the same category with a few other common questions that people ask: do I get off on calls? Do I ever burn out? It's all the same meta-question: how emotionally invested do I get, and/or how good are my boundaries?

And here's the meta-answer: I seem to be able to get enjoyment or feel empathy, you know, all of those good positive relationship emotions, without getting enmeshed or tired or so overwhelmed with desire that I forget what my job is and fling it out the window. I don't know whether that is really so hard to imagine, or if it's just that the popular (mis)understanding of phone sex has been colored by pop-culture portrayals of the work and the women who do it. Or maybe, in spite of how hypersexualized our society is, many people do get emotionally invested when they have sex, and don't really know how to handle that with one person at a time, let alone hundreds of people with cards in a file box. But so far, I seem to be able to interact positively with multiple people on multiple levels—personal and business and sexual—and not lose track of self.

I enjoy talking with Bilingual Papi and fantasize occasionally about what he looks like. I feel sad that I haven't heard from Larry in easily six or seven months, which means he's probably dead. Yes, these can be uncomfortable emotions sometimes, but I'm human and I have a large heart and I like to share it, in big and small ways. I will always be grateful to the clients who leave a little space in our relationships for that to happen.

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