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Monday, July 25, 2011

Modern Dating and the Measure of a Relationship

"What do you think of the modern, single man courting women today?" he asked me from his computer, where it was safe to communicate while his wife was in the other room.

I replied "He's lazy and selfish with unreasonable expectations.  That's the short story, but so are women."

I realize I'm about to generalize and paint a bleak picture, but stay with me for a minute and we'll get through to the other side.

As a single girl my whole life, it was apparent to me that most of the single men who are swimming around in the dating pool were deceptive and exhausting. They were there for a reason, I concluded. They were the rejects.  They're playing a game in order to look good in the eyes of their target long enough to make a connection... naked. They start all over again as soon as the afterglow has faded. New day, new target. Of course their object of desire must first meet their criteria; usually above average good looking, sexy, have her own money, car, place, love to cater to his fantasy and make him feel like "the most interesting man in the world." She should be a "good girl" in public and a "naughty girl" in private and she should be agreeable with all of his thoughts on whatever subject he chooses to have an opinion about. Her reward for her unique charm and delightful companionship will be an invitation into his bed! A return phone call or text will only occur if she played the part convincingly well and he is considering a second round where they can get together someplace convenient for him with no purchase required. (Of course she could invite him over and whip something up, just so long as he doesn't have to pay for it.) He says he just wants to keep it simple, uncomplicated...he's tired of the "scene". He's absolutely convinced he's the prize and she's the lucky winner.

And single women? Well, they have their own set of "rules" and list of non-negotiable standards by which all potential suitors must measure up including above average good looks, a level of wealth above their own, an impressive career, excellent manners, be very well groomed and smelling handsome, have unwavering patience, respect for her and everyone else (wait staff, her friends, her kids, her pets), be generous - offering to take her anywhere she wants to go, compliment her looks, her talents, her intelligence and find her so incredibly irresistible that he can't believe his extraordinary luck in finding her! She'll then let him take her out on several dates and only after spending an acceptable amount of money spoiling her and endless hours engaging her in fascinating conversations will she consider allowing him to worship her body. And he'd better be good at it...and then he'd better propose.

The ugly truth is that both of these awful examples are ridiculous, of course, but I know people just like that and they actually believe they will find "the one" and live happily ever after. In fact, they're so sure of it, they're completely appalled that they are being kept waiting because that's the way it's supposed to be - "Everyone has a soul mate so where's mine Goddammit, and why is he/she taking so f*cking long to show up? And no, I shouldn't have to compromise on what I want, I'm worth it!"

I'm still not sure where this sense of entitlement comes from. Did our parents teach us that we were so deserving? Did our previously unfortunate relationships shape our inability to see how imperfect we really are while holding others to such unreasonable standards? Did Oprah and the self-help love gurus convince us that we should seek potential partners armed with our lists and our rules?

I don't know where it came from - I don't care. All I know is that I don't believe anyone is entitled to anything. Ever. And when it comes to love and relationships, one is very lucky to find someone they are compatible with, find attractive and who will put up with them. There is no guarantee or sure formula for finding and capturing the heart of another. Just appreciate it when it happens, if it happens.

How do you know when it's true love? I think that the romantic relationship is best measured by the way the other person makes you feel - about yourself.  It isn't about looks, money, status, common interests, background, none of it.  All are less important than who you are when you are with them. The successful ones are those that have you being the best person you can be such that you surprise yourself, in a positive way.  It's about choosing your partner everyday, over and over again. It's about who you've become because the other person inspires and motivates you in a way that you grow into your best self and reciprocate by being the best partner to the one you love.  If two people can do that for each other, for a while or for a lifetime, that's a great relationship - and it's rare, not guaranteed.

As for marriages and commitments, the best relationships are those that are created by the two people in them; not by society, government, religion, history or culture. A marriage is a contract and it should be flexible and work for the two people in it, just like any other contract.  It shouldn't look the same for everyone.  We're not all alike.

Personally, I'm really not interested in dating single men. I much prefer the company of attached partners, and I know that doesn't sound right, but I do and here's why; they're gracious, they're romantic, they're always up for a good time, there are no strings attached and they come in small doses, over and over again. I don't want to keep them. I just want to enjoy our time together and then go back to our lives, separate from each other. That works for me. I'd rather be single and be happy than be in a relationship for the sake of being in one, that's for sure. And if I ever get lucky enough to meet someone that has me thinking it could be "true love", then I will embrace it.

And for those who are single, my best advice is this; embrace it. Totally wrap your head and your heart around it. Be the best single you can be. Enjoy the banquet and find your happiness in what you already have instead of wishing for something you don't. Because it's not about having what you want, it's about wanting what you have.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

You've gotta start somewhere...

I have to start somewhere so I'll start with an interview I participated in several years ago. It will help set the picture of what my thoughts are and perhaps provide a little insight into who I am.

  1. What is your professional name? Lacey Stevens website: www.LaceyStevens.com email: LaceyStevensCA@gmail.com Twitter: @LaceyStevens
  2. What city do you work in? Los Angeles and Orange County, some travel locally (Las Vegas, San Francisco, San Diego, Palm Springs, Santa Barbara)
  3. At what age did you engage in your first professional sexual experience? 40, (that cracks me up!)
  4. Describe your first professional sexual experience: I started looking at ads on Craigslist Erotic section because I was curious and amused after stumbling upon them. I originally was looking for a tutor for math for my daughter, and some office furniture. I looked at them, both men for women and women for men, for a couple of weeks.  I started to see patterns and noticed what I was attracted to and what I wasn't.  I wondered if it would be as exciting and fun as I imagined it could be and bravely replied to an ad.  I was attracted to him and his picture and writing style.  We had exchanged emails and photos beforehand and set up a meeting at his office after hours in Beverly Hills.  I was extremely nervous but kept telling myself this was just like any other date and I could always leave anytime I wanted, in fact, I didn't have to do anything I didn't want to do.  That really helped me to feel empowered and in control.  Upon meeting him, he informed me that I wasn't at all what he was expecting.  I wasn't slutty or dumb, I wasn't strung out on anything and I seemed to have a lot going for myself.  He said I was the type of girl he'd actually date and take home to meet the parents.  He said he usually has young girls over to the office and has sex with them right there.  About that time I saw a mouse run across the floor, pulled my feet up onto my seat and said, "yeah, that's not happening here."  We decided to go around the corner for a margarita, chatted and kissed a little.  It was fun and it was just like being on a great first date.  We had a lot in common - music, kids, work, etc.  We were also the same age.  He invited me to come back to his place to fool around which we did - it was all very "high school", we left our clothes on, making out, hands roaming under garments and finally some great oral.  Afterwards he paid me and included an extra tip, walked me to my car and kissed me good-bye.  I felt exhilarated, sexy, independent and satisfied.  I thought I was a genius.  I still do.
  5. At what age did you entertain the first thoughts of going into sex work?  I thought I wanted to be a madame when I was in high school after reading a book by the Mayor of Sausalito, Sally Stanford.  It wasn't until my long term boyfriend accused me of not caring about him and only caring about his money because I wanted to marry him.  We'd had a child together many years before and were still in love and hanging out a lot so it seemed like a no-brainer to me, but he preferred the distance between us so I thanked him for "making me feel like a whore", a dramatization I blurted during an argument.  Upon careful consideration a couple of years later, I was thankful that we didn't marry and embraced being single, sexy and independent.  I re-evaluated what I wanted in life and a husband wasn't necessarily the goal for me, happiness was.  I began to question whether the traditional models of "happiness" by society's standards really worked for me - they didn't.  So I set out to define them for myself, my way.
  6. What made you decide to enter the line of work you’re in?  I had spent some time getting back into the dating world only to be greatly disappointed in the pool of men who were available to me.  My career as a real estate agent was quickly grinding to a halt and my cash flow was in need of improvement.  I wondered if I could put the two things together, mix business and pleasure, in a way that worked for me - not like any model I'd seen before.  I had concluded that the model of a traditional marriage or relationship wasn't for me, at least not for now, and I also knew that the stereotype of a mistress, escort or prostitute wasn't for me either.  I wanted to create my own, unique vision.  I began by perusing websites and reading books "Sex Secrets of Escorts" was the most helpful in confirming that I had the right mindset for this type of encounter.  I began cautiously and called it my "experiment".  Was it possible to meet and date guys who I was genuinely interested in, have a great time, and get paid for it?  That would work for me!
  7. What do you enjoy most about your work? Meeting very interesting, intelligent, professional, sexy people that I genuinely like and enjoy spending time with - oh, and the sex is better than I could have ever imagined or hoped for.  Turns out that if he's willing to pay for it, it's pretty important to him and likely he's good at it.
  8. What do you like the least about your work? The safety concerns, the people who overstep boundaries and believe that they are "the one" for me.
  9. Does your family know what you do?  If so, what do they think?  I shared with my aunt and she's very supportive. My daughter doesn't know, but she knows I'm single and I date so I don't lie about going out.  A few friends know, most are supportive but don't want to talk about it or hear about it so I keep it to myself.
  10. How much longer do you think you’ll do what you’re doing now, and what are your plans for when you quit?  I'll do it until I don't want to do it anymore.  Likely I'll get busier with work and eventually build up a portfolio of real estate investments for myself (rentals) so I can retire with a passive income. 
  11. If you had to go back and tell your younger self that you’d be doing what you’re doing now, what do you think your younger self would say about it? "Unbelievable" knowing what the general pubic perception is of this kind of work.  Being able to do it my way is what makes the difference for me now.  And I think the happy, satisfied, independent, empowered, intelligent women in this business are not either believed or visible enough to change the misconceptions about the industry.  It's such a guarded secret here in the U.S. that the mystery breeds a very dark and devious perception that couldn't be further from the truth for me.
  12. What advice would you give someone who was looking to get into your line of sex work? Like anything else, be smart, do your homework, be realistic; ask yourself the hard questions and be honest about what you are hoping for, have an end result in mind that is inspiring and motivating.  I think anytime you do what you enjoy, it's not work at all.  Getting paid should be a bonus.
I didn't come into this from a dance or film background. I did do some modeling when I was very young, though.  I have worked in an office as an executive myself for my entire career and continue to work while I "date".  I am a single mom that totally loves being a mother and is most proud of herself for being good at it.  I volunteer with children's groups and coach/teach real estate professionals.  I like to think of this as how I date now, while also providing an alternative kind of therapy.  (Being a therapist was something I considered as a career - I enjoy helping others.)  I find my dating to be very therapeutic for both my clients and for me - sex is healthy, normal, natural and it's good for you!  My typical client is usually 40-60 years old, professional/executive/business owner, married with kids, college educated, looking to meet someone for one reason or another who can be a true companion - someone to talk to, have dinner with, travel with, etc.  I typically spend multiple hours with them when we meet.  We are genuinely friends with benefits (and boundaries) and I like that.  It's not for everybody, nothing is, but it works for me and has exceeded my best expectations.