It's here! The "Thriving in Sex Work Workbook" on sale now!
The companion workbook to Thriving in Sex Work is filled with exercises, budgets, self-care guides, and business plans to keep your mind, body, and business thriving. Available on Amazon in paperback.
You can listen to me read this chapter free on Soundcloud.
Here's a taste:
Boundaries are the limits one sets on one’s behavior and others in order to maintain one’s dignity and sense of self. These can be consciously stated, such as, “No sex without a condom,” or, “No texts after midnight,” or an unstated, internal limit that is only known once it’s been breached. The sex industry profits from the myth that we’re available for anything, but only by knowing and enforcing our rules can we keep ourselves healthy, protected, and sane.
So many of us were not taught how to set limits and enforce them, leaving us uncertain and undefended, which is a terrifying way to do sex work. The best book I’ve ever read on the subject is Dr. David Richo’s How to Be an Adult; I cannot recommend it highly enough. Richo outlines the five necessary components of establishing clear boundaries.
1. State your needs, wants, desires, and limits clearly. This signals intention not only to the world, but to yourself. Learning how to assert ourselves artfully—saying what we mean, meaning what we say, while still getting what we want—is an important skillset in sex work.
2. Nurture yourself. Once we grow to be adults and are no longer dependent children, the only person on earth we can demand unconditional love and support from is ourselves. Everyone else—lovers, parents, friends, clients—is just gravy. Over time, recognizing and honoring what you’re feeling, trusting your intuition, and caring for yourself when you are hurting builds up resiliency and self-reliance.
3. Recognize where other people end, and you begin. Watch what people say and do. If someone does something you like, move in closer. If they’re working out their issues on you, step back. Above all, don’t take their crap personally.
4. Maintain your bottom lines. Encroachment is a huge issue in sex work. It’s okay for relationships to grow and change, but consciously, and only when people have earned the right to more intimacy, trust, and privileges.
5. Trust yourself. Other people’s opinions and experiences are just information—nothing more, nothing less. Only you can say what is right for you—no one else.
On the pages are two lists outlining the characteristics of having weak and strong personal boundaries in sex work, modified from How to Be an Adult.
When your boundaries are weak, you:
1. Disregard your intuition.
2. Mostly feel afraid and confused.
3. Are enmeshed in drama that feels outside your control.
4. Live a life that doesn’t feel like it belongs to you and cannot be changed.
5. Have no deal-breakers, no red lines that cannot be crossed, allowing others to set limits.
6. Believe you have no right to secrets or a private life.
When your boundaries are strong, you:
1. Trust your gut.
2. Mostly feel secure and clear.
3. Are always aware of your choices.
4. Live a life that mostly looks the way you want your life to be.
5. Know what you will and will not do, and enforce your rules.
6. Protect your privacy, without feeling guilty or ashamed.