Prostitution, commercial sex, paid dating

In a couple of recent posts, I’ve written about “paid dating,” or “compensated dating.” I have a tag that is “commercial sex.”

A reader asked if I wasn’t just sugar-coating what is, in fact, prostitution, by using other words.

The answer, clearly, is yes. But I would say that it’s yes with a big “but.” There are many things that are prostitution. Maggie McNeill makes this point much more elegantly than I possibly can. But the long and the short of it is that the word itself has an unfortunate set of associations such that its use tends to obscure meaning rather than reveal it. (Much like the word “terrorist,” as far as I’m concerned, incidentally, or “values.”)

So yes – the relationships I describe from an earlier time in my life in this blog, in which I gave women money in exchange for their participation in relationships with me which included, but which often weren’t exclusively limited to, sex, clearly are examples of prostitution. I just don’t have any interest in that particular word, and in my experience, using it is distracting, as it means so many different things to so many different people, I prefer to use words with fewer connotations, whose denotations are front and center to our experience of them.

So, as I have in the past, I will continue to write about all this stuff, but I will tend to avoid the word “prostitution” and its cognates. Sorry if that bums you out. I’m not apologizing or denying – I’m just trying to speak as clearly as possible.

And shortly, a post on sex in a commercial context….


  1. On the other hand, having sex when what you really want is intimacy, respect, or love is just another hue of sugar-coated prostitution. Really, who ISN’T (or hasn’t been) some form of sugar-coated prostitute these days?

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