As a born people-pleaser, being a sex worker came naturally to me. I could intuitively read a man’s energy and know exactly what to do more of or less of, in order to satisfy his needs and keep him coming back for more.

Socially Adept Chameleon: A Blessing or a Curse?

Sensuali Blog: Stripping Away the People Pleasing Mask
Being able to charm your way into any social circle has its perks but at what cost to expressing as your true, authentic self?

My chameleonic personality has always allowed me to fit in anywhere and make people comfortable enough to open up. It’s a superpower I wouldn’t trade for anything but lately, I’ve developed a newfound awareness. You see, that whole forcing-myself-into-character thing is a habit that does not serve me well in my dating life. I often find myself defaulting to manic pixie dream girl mode on dates now. I’ll be super bubbly and just go along with whatever the other person wants to do. It’s not that I’m not that way sometimes but I’m human. I have moods and sometimes I’m just grumpy and want to express that but the sex worker voice inside my head tells me to, “Just power through. It will be worth it.”

There is great strength in the ability to remain stoic and push yourself to complete a goal. Especially within this increasingly sensitive world we find ourselves living in, people are quick to give up and complain rather than step up to the plate – whether that plate is navigating a conversation with an awkward dinner companion, or engaging with a politically misaligned peer. I’ve heard of women my age just getting up and pretending to go to the bathroom at the restaurant, only to dip out and ghost on the man she was on a first date with. Talk about gauche. If there’s one thing having to sit through dinners with Boomer daddies who voted for Regan and loved to mansplain, it’s that a skilled conversationalist can find common ground with anybody – no matter how different – and socially engineer a desired outcome through intentional guidance. 

How mad can I really be for possessing a skillset that opened my world up to opportunities and allowed me to become a confidant to the rich and powerful? Even now, as a freelance creative, I’m still benefiting from the relationships I cultivated years back. My grin-and-bear-it method has served me well but now, it’s holding me back. The whole point of dating is to find a person with whom you can take your mask off and express your true authentic self around. But so many struggle to do so for fear of being rejected. From a young age, we internalize the self-limiting belief that love is conditional and that we must perform a certain way and avoid certain behaviors deemed negative by society in order to get the external validation we so desperately crave. 

And so comes people pleasing, where we constantly appease everyone around us at the expense of our own sanity. I’ve talked to several former sex work friends of mine, and they have similar experiences – going through with a hookup just to satisfy the other person, not because they were particularly into it; downplaying how shit their period is making them feel so as not to be a buzzkill; playing the diplomat at social functions involving his friends when you really don’t have the mental energy to be doing so. Doing it here or there is one thing, but when you sacrifice your mental well-being for others on a regular basis, you lose touch with yourself and become exhausted – until you’ve reached the point where you’re running on fumes and stop being able to show up for anyone at all anymore. 

Putting Self-Awareness Into Action

Sensuali Blog: Putting Self-Awareness Into Action
Transforming new-found self-awareness into actionable steps is often easier said than done.

So how does all this work in practice? While I can’t say that I’m standing in my truth 100% of the time, I will say that merely being aware of my people-pleasing behavior patterns empowers me to check in with myself more, as a way of ensuring that I’m honoring my wants and needs. Overall, I’ve gotten loads better at allowing myself to go off-script and vent my frustrations. 

Just last week, I was on a date with a guy who was cute but a little too wholesome for me. On the first date, I went into full slutty baby mode – feigning interest in his life and cracking dirty jokes. I knew I had him hooked. But to what end? I had decided after our first date that I wasn’t even interested in hooking up with him. He could be a friend possibly, but nothing more. So what did it matter if I had him wrapped around my finger? If anything it would have felt disingenuous, even cruel, to lead him any longer. So when date 2 came around and I was coping with severe PMS and accompanying back pain, I was a bit more reserved. 

He called me out, saying he felt like I didn’t want to be around him and that I seemed cranky compared to the last time we hung out. He wasn’t wrong but he definitely was projecting his idealized expectations of past me onto present me and unfairly expecting me to meet or surpass them. My first reaction was guilt: ”Fuck. I’m ruining this outing with my bad vibes. I hate being ‘that guy.’” But moments later, I asked myself, “Am I really acting like that much of cunt? We’re literally just walking through the Museo de Arte Latinoamericano de Buenos Aires and I’m looking at the art and doing my thing. How does that translate to me being cranky?” After he broached the topic at least three times, I finally addressed it, “I’m sorry if you’re not having fun. I’m having a good time. I’m just about to get my period and am feeling a little out of sorts, physically and mentally. I am a multidimensional human who can’t be a manic pixie all the time, so try not to take it personally. Please.”

In the end, I was able to voice my thoughts and get my point across. But the shitty thing is, here I am mulling it over in this blog post one week later. I wish I could be the type of person who doesn’t ruminate on past decisions. I can’t help but feel bad for being too confrontational and raw with this guy and potentially hurting his feelings. But better to be blunt than leave someone sitting in the dark, right? I used to think my pleasing people came down to me being a selfless person who didn’t want to hurt others. But I’ve come to realize it was actually quite selfish because I would do things so that people would treat me a certain way. Fundamentally, it was manipulative to play games that involved performing a certain way to elicit reactions out of those around me. Direct communication and authenticity are always the move.

While finding balance between truth and tact is no easy task, it sure as hell beats silencing yourself and running away from your shadow just to be better liked. As self-help guru, Brené Brown, puts its: “Compassionate people ask for what they need. They say no when they need to, and when they say yes, they mean it. They’re compassionate because their boundaries keep them out of resentment.”

Advice
boundaries
psychology of sex
Sugar Baby
Jules

Jules

Author

Based in Brooklyn, Jules has dedicated her twenties towards harnessing her pussy power, exploring the muse, whore, and wild woman archetypes along the way. When not blogging, you can find her sweating the toxins out in a hot yoga class or sipping a matcha latte at a pretentious coffee shop, whilst she scribbles away in her journal.


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