08 May “How Being A Professional Companion Taught Me To Be A Better Boyfriend” by Tyler Dårlig Ulv
Hey! That’s me!
I wrote a little article for Thought Catalog and I’d love it very much if you’d read it. Here’s an excerpt:
How Being A Professional Companion Taught Me To Be A Better Boyfriend
by Tyler Dårlig Ulv | MAY 8, 2017
A little over a year ago now, I was told by my attorney (off the clock, as “friendly advice”) that I needed to leave companionship work and find something “real” to do with my time. She listed a myriad of reasons, but most significant to her seemed to be the idea that what I did was going to ruin any hope I ever had of having a “normal, real” relationship later in my life.
What I’ve learned in the year since is that exactly the opposite is true. While it would be simple to balk at the attorney’s narrow understanding of what I do, it wouldn’t exactly be fair. There are a lot of misconceptions about my line of work and the spheres in which it exists.
As anyone in the industry can attest, there’s a tremendous amount of overlap any way you draw the ven diagrams of sex work, and cleverer people than myself have written lots of things explaining the ways in which everyone from cam performers to gaffers on porn sets can arguably be deemed “sex workers.” One does not need to engage in sex-in-exchange-for-money to make their living from sex work. That’s an important distinction here because prostitution is what most people equate directly with sex work, escorting, or companionship. But they’re all legitimately distinct enterprises.
As a professional companion, I am paid for my time only. That’s it. There’s nothing more salacious or titillating to go along with it. There’s no leading phrases or double entendres. I am professional company.
What I specialize in is referred to as the Boyfriend Experience (the male counterpart to the Girlfriend Experience, made common vernacular by Stephen Soderbergh’s 2009 incredulous-squint-fest of the same name). I’ve learned to create a genuine rapport with new people and how to develop a safe space that eliminates the potential for rejection, or ridicule, offering them the chance to feel accepted and secure. The thing that many people might be surprised to learn is that this doesn’t necessitate a fictional interaction on my part. I’m not “in character,” as my attorney suggested. And I don’t say things that I don’t mean in these spaces since I was raised on the dictum of “if you don’t have anything nice to say…” I’ve found it’s just as simple to say nothing at all. The result for me has been a series of condensed, mini-relationships with these people, and I have benefited in ways that I’m probably not even aware of yet.
I didn’t have anything to do with choosing that header image, and Thought Catalog retitlted what I had originally called I’m a professional companion and the interactions I’ve had with clients have been a masterclass in how to have a relationship. Which I will admit is a little wordy. The first draft they came up with (and published) was sort of shaming of sex workers and work in general, but we compromised on the current choice and I’m pretty happy with that.
I’d love to know what you thought in the comments there, or here (or both!).