Tell Me About It: Should I tell my parents that I use prostitutes?
Some months ago I decided to join an escort website and began to visit escorts. Before my first encounter I hadn’t even kissed a woman, let alone had sex. I still believe it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.
I have told all of my siblings and close friends about this new part of my life. The only people close to me who don’t know are my parents. From what I’ve seen and experienced, the reality of the escort industry in Ireland is very different from how it is usually depicted. Indeed, to challenge the stereotype of the predatory, misogynistic “punter”, I have considered going public as a client of escorts.
Some members of my family are still coming to terms with my decision to speak openly about my battles with depression and anxiety, however. My public admission of what they would deem immoral behaviour might be more than they could bear. Also, I’m not sure if I have the courage to endure the public opprobrium that would certainly follow.
I am tired of secrets and lies. Should I tell my parents? Indeed, with the very real prospect that men like me will soon be criminalised in this country, should I speak out?
As you have discovered, leading a transparent life, without “secrets and lies”, is key to developing a positive sense of self and becoming well. You have experienced satisfaction with prostitutes and think it’s unfair that proposed legislation would criminalise you.
Now you are wondering whether coming out publicly as a client of prostitutes, which means first telling your parents, is the inevitable next step.
Whether to become, effectively, a spokesman for a campaign against the proposed legislation is a decision only you can make. You would have to hold your own against a strong Irish campaign in favour of criminalisation, and this could gain you international attention.
You may not achieve the result you intend – a defeat of the proposed legislation – and in the meantime, you fear, your parents might have experienced “more than they could bear”.
But would they really? It’s parents’ role with an adult child to have a relationship that is mutually genuine. This doesn’t mean unconditional acceptance: would your parents’ anger or rejection be more than you could bear?
Although it’s sad that you fear feeling like a criminal, and believe it to be unfair, your letter is full of hope and positivity, because you are attempting to be in the world in a different way, according to the psychotherapist Christopher Murray.
“You are encountering women in ways that you perhaps did not believe possible. You are attempting to share your world of depression and anxiety with those that you trust, and it feels that you’re emerging from some sort of darkness into a lighter and freer world,” he says.
“I believe that you have found courage to change your world, and I speak here as a person first and a psychotherapist second. I can only applaud your efforts.”
Murray suggests lingering awhile in this new, brighter place you have found and allowing yourself to experience it at different levels.
Ask yourself, what does it feel like to be here? What do I think? What does my body tell me? What does my heart tell me? What does my head tell me? Take your time with this and perhaps write down the answers to these questions. Leave them overnight and in the morning see what you have said.
Whatever you decide, the supportive friends you have made will stand to you. When it comes to risking your parents’ disapproval, the truth, says Murray, is that “in order to grow we all must learn to tolerate the judgment of others, even if it is negative”.
You fear losing your sexual outlet, but, to put a positive frame on it, were legislation passed criminalising buyers of sex, this could be another step in your journey towards authenticity, by encouraging you to face your fear of a relationship with a woman on an equal level, where she is with you not because you are paying her.
You may not want to hear this, but one courageous option for you is to come out not just as a “punter” but as a human being in need of love – emotional as well as physical.
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