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My boyfriend slept with a sex worker

Community Member

I (31F) have been dating a man (37M) for the past three months. I left a long-term unhealthy environment (a religious community) last year, have carried a lot of hurt and pain from that, and didn't expect I would find someone who would care for me or want to be with me (he is my first boyfriend). We've formed a very deep and open connection and have been honest about ourselves. 


He went overseas during April and while he was away I sensed something was off. We usually message daily, he had mentioned before he left he'd call and stay in touch but we had minimal contact. I tried to put it down to the fact he was away, and of course wanted him to have a good time, but something didn't sit right and I thought he might have found someone else or wanted to break up. I saw him last Friday after he got back and he was still a bit off, but I put it down to him being jetlagged. When I talked to him on Sunday he told me he wants to take things slow, and that he's unsure of his long-term goals.


Last night he called me and told me he paid for sex while overseas. He was incredibly apologetic and aware of what this might mean for our relationship. I'm completely devastated and can't help feeling like this is a reflection on me and that I'm obviously not good enough, just as I wasn't good enough for the people I lived with in community. I have really found myself falling for him, really liking him and feeling very connected and safe with him. It's breaking me to think we need to part ways but I can't see any reason that would make this something I could move through.


I just can't stop crying.

14 Replies 14

Hi sparrowhawk,  We’re sorry to hear what you’ve been through. It sounds like it’s had some very serious impacts on your life. We’re glad you could share this here, as our lovely community will have kindness, advice and understanding for you.  It sounds like you could do with talking things through, so please don’t hesitate to give the lovely Beyond Blue counsellors a call on 1300 22 4636 or speak to them on webchat here. You could also speak to Relationships Australia on 1300 364 277. Please also remember you can talk to Blue Knot about this on 1300 657 380, every day between 9am-5pm (AEST). Their counsellors are experienced in working with people who have experienced complex trauma. They also have some resources on their website which could be useful to visit, particularly the pages on Survivors Self Care.  Thanks again for sharing here. We’re sure you’ll hear from some other community members once they spot your thread. We appreciate your kindness and openness in sharing to the forums, and we hope you can be kind to yourself, too while you’re going through this extremely difficult time.   Kind regards,   Sophie M 

Hi Sophie,


Thanks so much. I am contacting Beyond Blue chat now. It's very hard to be kind to myself but I am trying.

Valued Contributor
Valued Contributor

Oh sweetheart, I’m so sorry. This must be so awful for you to have the rug ripped out from underneath you like that, and after everything you’ve been through. Firstly, I will say this has NOTHING to do with you and I would bet my life that this is something that he has done before and carried into this relationship. He probably set out with the best of intentions of it not happening, of this time being different, but old habits die hard. You have a difficult decision to make, call it now and decide that there are some really concerning behaviours there and protect yourself from future pain, or take a gamble and give him a second chance in the hopes he has seen the error of his ways and won’t do it again, and hope you are not too invested at that point to be able to walk away. I think what you can take from this relationship is that there are people out there who will love and care for you, you just need to decide whether you realistically think he can be one of them. I must admit this is a pretty big red flag at a 3-month mark. 

Thank you, Juliet. It's a huge shock - he has always said very caring things like "You are worthy of love", "you deserve care", etc., but then goes and does this. While he was away I wondered if he was having second thoughts because of his lack of communication, but I put it down to the fact he was on tour and busy seeing the sights. Now I wonder if my feelings were right and if he really intended to do that in the first place.

I have spent a lot of my life excusing behaviours, not standing up for myself and being hurt in the process. After I left my religious community I told myself I never wanted what had happened there to happen to me again. I think I need to stand for myself in this one. I just don't think he's ready or able to commit to a relationship or to someone who might actually care about him.

Hi sparrowhawk,

I too, like you, have spent my life excusing behaviours, making excuses for them, blaming myself and suppressing my own boundaries to make other people comfortable. And it has gotten me nowhere. Those people weren’t grateful, they just took more. I was in a DV relationship for many years and I was lied to and manipulated constantly, and all through it I was sold this life of what I would have that wasn’t based in reality, so that I was constantly thinking “if only he could get his drinking under control things will be better” “if only he would make more of an effort to control his temper, life would be better”. Before I knew it, it had been ten years and then I felt too invested, our lives had become too intertwined, and before I knew it, it was 20 years and I was still hoping for things to get better. The best thing I ever did was stop listening to words and pay attention to actions now. If someone says “you deserve care” but then doesnt show you an ounce of care, then that’s what you need to believe. Not everyone is capable of loving you the way you want to be loved, and that’s ok but you deserve to find the person who can. He obviously still has a lot of work to do on himself (that he may or may not do). I think the hardest part in all this is the “what could have been”, I often find myself mourning the person I wish they were and not the actual person they were. 

Thanks so much Juliet. Yes, it's a constant battle of pushing our own boundaries and values down in order to accommodate others. There were a few things I saw in him which really didn't sit right with me, but I excused them because I thought they didn't matter - but they do.

We talked for quite a while last night and he told me what happened. It wasn't as bad as I thought, but still him paying a prostitute to do something sexual while in a committed relationship. You turned out to be completely spot on - he told me he lost his virginity to a prostitute and has had numerous encounters with prostitutes while single, up until last year. He told me if this encounter overseas had never happened, he would likely have never told me about his past - big issue for me, as I have a very different opinion of what sex is and what it means.

He told me it would never happen again while in a relationship, but I really can't believe that. Given his past, I also can't really trust that he didn't know what he was doing when he walked in. 

During the conversation he kept saying he kept thinking he should just lie to me about what I was asking him - another issue which I can't move past.

So I told him I really can't move forward with him, and that I am totally devastated by how he's acted and how little he values this relationship we've had - not just in that he'd done something like that, but also in that he did lie and was ready to continue lying.

Oh sparrowhawk,

I’m so sorry that you got caught up in this, you seem like such a straight up and honest and caring person, it’s a shame he wasted his opportunity. It’s clear that he obviously has an issue with prostitutes (potentially an addiction) and you can’t really believe that “it would never happen again while in a relationship” given that it has already happened 3 months in to your relationship. At the end of the day not everyone is going to deserve your kind heart and he has shown himself to lack integrity and be willing to be deceitful. You need to know when to walk away from someone like that and so I commend you on your strength in setting what you will and won’t accept.
I think I mentioned but I was in a DV relationship for many years, the first 6 months were perfect, but then the red flags started appearing. It seems people can’t keep a lid on their issues for much longer than that lol. My point is that the red flags are there from the start (or about 6 months in in my case), we often just choose to ignore them. A lot of heart ache could probably be avoided if we just paid more attention to our gut during the early stages. 



Thank you so much Juliet. He told me he didn't know what he was doing this past time, he thought he was just getting a massage, but with his history being what it is I question how he couldn't know. The way he described it, he was clearly in a red-light district also. So in my opinion, while he's honest in telling me on his own initiative, I sense he is still deceiving me and I just can't trust him.

You are so right about the red flags. I sensed a few with him earlier on (lying especially) but looked past it because it just felt nice to have someone care about me. If I'd acted on my feelings and questioned hm about it, this hurt would probably have been avoided. It's really hard not to blame myself in this.

He is obviously trying to downplay the situation and his culpability in it because you have ended the relationship and he is trying to backpedal. His hope will be that you take him back but in his mind there will also be the element that you have tolerated the behaviour and so in future when you are more invested/in love then he has more chance of you forgiving him for his proclivity with prostitutes, ie he will eventually acknowledge that he “has a problem” and “needs your help” thereby trying to elicit sympathy whenever he has a relapse. If he genuinely does want to beat this, he can with a lot of work, but people usually need to reach that conclusion on their own. It’s hard to know whether someone does legitimately want to do that and then it’s another thing altogether whether they can actually beat it. It’s certainly not an easy road and

a lot of heartache and deceit for a partner to endure. I don’t think you bear any blame in this to be honest, you trusted him and  gave him the benefit of the doubt which I think we often do at the start of the relationship, it was his decision to betray the trust that you gave him, this falls squarely on his shoulders. As someone who wasted 20 years (ie my entire youth) on someone because I believed their continual promises to change, I think you have dodged a massive bullet!