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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

Thanks so much. When he first told me what had happened he was very teary and emotional (this is quite normal for him). When we had the second conversation he was very stoic and kept saying he was just trying to keep it together because it was “my time”, and that he really wanted to make things work but his wants didn’t really matter. At the time I thought he was just caring, and maybe there was that element, but now I see there was a level of emotional blackmail in that.

You are so right. If I did take him back, I fear it would really give him the sense I’m okay with what happened, or that I’m available to try and help him fix the issue. I just can’t be either, he needs to do that himself. I sense he feels a great deal of shame in his past because of how much he’s concealed it (he told me I am the first person he told). 

I just can’t get past his efforts to lie. Like we saw each other after he came back. We spent a long time chatting. We were physically intimate (though he felt a bit off and I just put it down to jet lag). We had a long conversation on the weekend and we were talking about future plans. He had plenty of opportunity to tell me that first night we saw each other, and he didn’t. Instead he chose to lie. And that’s the hardest thing, harder than his actions really. And that’s what makes me feel like I really can’t trust him or anyone else. 

Thank you for sharing your story, it truly would take a lot of strength, love and commitment to stay with someone so long and see that hope in their capacity to change. Thank you for your support, too. I really appreciate it.  

My ex was very much the same, very apologetic afterwards, would cry and hold his head in his hands, lots of shame “I’m a piece of dirt” type thing. Then would be on his best behaviour, say and do the right things etc. Then it would be good for a time, then the pressure would build, then a blow-up. Then the cycle would repeat. I imagine this would follow a similar path. I think the apologetic, beating themselves up part is somewhat true but also a manipulation technique designed to elicit sympathy. But if you press them there is still often a lack of accountability, in your boyfriends case, “it was an accident”, he was suddenly struck by the need to have a massage and just so happened to be in a red-light district and then it just happened. I have had numerous massages in my life due to an old injury and never has that happened to me or anyone I know, and he also seems to remove all agency from himself and the fact that in the extremely unlikely event he did find himself in that situation, he should be able to say no. As hard as it is, I think we need to believe people when they show us who they are. I wish I had saved myself some of the heartache and just made the decision at the start. Because there’s always a reason to stay, at first you stay because of love but over time you get worn down by the constant betrayals and volatility, your lives become enmeshed and you know their family and friends, you share assets or buy a house because you don’t want to live your life on hold, and all of these things make it a lot harder to leave over time. I don’t think this means you can’t trust anyone else, it just means that he doesn’t have a good character. Some men would never do that, and you will find one those but you just need to not settle for the ones who would. 


Thanks for being so honest and sharing your experience with others. 
There will be others reading who don’t post, but will now not feel alone.

Juliet has offered very supportive comments. 

Take time to be kind to yourself. 

Hi sparrowhawk you have received some really good sound advice from Juliet_84. 

You have also made some very brave, strong decisions in standing up for yourself and your values. None of this is on you and one thing I have learned over years of struggle is you are not responsible for the actions and choices of others.

I too left a controlling religious environment at 15 and fell into a DV relationship for 8 years. Looking back with the beauty of hindsight, the signs were always there but I chose not to see them. 

As a result of my childhood experiences in this religious group, I had severe issues with self-worth, security and belonging. I thought this relationship offered me everything I needed and anything that went wrong was due to a fault within me. I allowed so many terrible things to happen to me in those 8 years and it was only years later I realised it was a DV situation. It took me a long time to see the relationship for what it was and that I was actually a victim (now survivor) at the hands of a very damaged, manipulative and controlling man.

The cycle that Juliet describes is very real and terrible to live within. I lived on the edge constantly waiting for the cycle to move around. 

Years on and 19 years in a relationship with a good man I am finally coming to terms with the horror of that time. I can now see it was not me and not my fault the way he behaved. My upbringing played a huge part in how low my self-worth was and I truly thought he was being kind and 'I deserved it'.

I am so sorry this has caused you so much pain but also so thankful it all came to light early on. You have been so brave putting yourself first and doing what is right for you. It is hard when all you want is security and to be cared for but the right care is out there. You do not deserve treatment like that and will find someone who truly respects and loves you.

Until then, be a good friend to yourself and shower yourself with the love and kindness you absolutely deserve. Once we learn to love ourselves, external relationships are not so crucial and we are stronger at making sure we surround ourselves with relationships that bring out the best in us. 

Community Member

You poor thing, what an ordeal to go through! The hardest part is always to find excuses for someone else's behavior but in the nut shell, let's call it what it was, a betrayal and cheating. My bf of 6 months went on family trip to Asia with first stop being in Thailand. Just 2 days after we've said good bye to one another, him and his step brother spotted 2 ladyboys in the local bar and went to the hotel with them. The rest you can imagine. Upon his return he was weird, and like yourself, I thought it was a jetlag plus he was genuinely unwell. He was joking about being with ladyboy while overseas but at no stage I actually thought he was being serious. He always had a rather unique sense of humor so I thought he was joking. We were intimate too. Then low and behold as he was getting better he actually looked me in the eye and said it wasn't a joke and gave me the very detailed run down of the events of that night. By that stage the relationship has had its fair share of sorrow and pain as I later discovered due to his undiagnosed and untreated bipolar condition so that event has broken camel's back so to speak. I've decided to break up with him and in process I've developed a life threatening infection which ended up me having my blood drawn for entire panel of STD. There was one finding, most likely passed by him, but thankfully not a life threatening as HIV or likes of it. I went to my GP office with fever pushing past 40 degrees in complete distress stating my bf has been engaged in sexual act with technically a male while overseas. I know as the fact I had all the mental tools to forgive him, should he had confessed to me before his arrival as to give me some time to accept or reject the idea he's simply experimented and it's not a big deal after all, has gone to dr and has done the right thing by my health before getting intimate with me. I'm glad I haven't given him the pleasure of walk all over me and no doubt repeat that act at next available opportunity. My therapist I've started seeing just before that event was very stern about my open mindness and did advise if I encourage that behavior it will no doubt occur again. As my bf's step mother told me, since we don't live together, don't share house or kids or any other responsibilities, I don't owe him anything and should run as far from him and all his issues as I possibly can. Those 2 women combined with strong antidepressant he's put me on for the first time in my life have given me courage to break away. I'm learning to establish my boundaries along with other many valuable things brought up in therapy and hoping to apply them in the next relationship. Since you've been seeing your partner for even lesser amount of time than me, I only hope separation will be easier to deal with. Stay strong and do what's right for you and by you. We've been way too forgiving and accepting, the cycle has got to stop or we'll be walked all over for the rest of our lives. Wishing you all the very best!!!