In their monthly column for Document, author, activist, and porn star Liara Roux tackles age gaps, mental health maintenance, and reinvigorating romance within a marriage

Dear Liara,

I’m a woman in my mid-30s, and I’ve been seeing a man in his mid-20s. I really like him and he seems to have many of the qualities I’m looking for in a partner. The only problem is, I’m not sure how seriously he takes this relationship. He hasn’t introduced me to any of his friends. Should I take a more casual, motherly approach and let him find a girl his own age? Or should I pursue him more aggressively?


Dear N,

Age-gap relationships are hard. They’re especially stigmatized these days. I don’t think they’re all inherently bad. Much of it depends on how the power dynamic is handled.

My dear friend and incredible astrologer Annabel Gat says that dating on opposite sides of a Saturn return is the hardest thing about age-gap relationships, because you’re at very different points in your growth and maturity. For those unfamiliar with the concept, a Saturn return is when Saturn returns to the same place in the sky it was when you were born. It is a long transit; it takes place roughly around the time you are 29 to 32 years old.

This is a time of transition—settling down and figuring out what you really want. It’s a time when people choose to get married to their long-term partner, or break up. Often, it’s when your career begins to feel established. It’s testing and trying; in a way, you’re growing up during these years, making the transition from young adult to adult. How we treat our bodies starts to catch up to us. All of our past decisions begin to have a clear effect. A time of reckoning.

Regardless of how much weight you give astrology, turning 30 is a rite of passage for many. You say you know what you’re looking for in a partner; does he? I read somewhere recently—I forget where—that a person who knows what they want, in many ways, has more power. Someone who is aimless and drifting might just go along with the flow. This can be fine if it’s a more casual relationship, but if it’s serious, it can result in a lot of pain when the younger person wakes up one day with more of an idea about what they actually want in life.

This happened to me. I went along with a relationship with an older partner without much thought, and got married without understanding quite what that commitment meant. In the end, I felt taken advantage of. My partner would frequently pressure me into doing things their way, and I do believe the age gap made it easier for them to do so.

It sounds like you’re approaching it in a much healthier way; you’re concerned about what he wants. If the way he’s behaving is hurtful to you, perhaps cut things off or take some space. Mention to him that you’d like to meet his friends, if that feels comfortable for you.

In the end, his feelings are ultimately less related to what age you are, and more about what he wants right now—and it sounds like he might be a little bit of a fuckboy. Up to you to decide if you’re alright with that or not!

Xx L

“Regardless of how much weight you give astrology, turning 30 is a rite of passage for many. You say you know what you’re looking for in a partner; does he?”

Dear Liara,

My good friend started escorting about two months ago. I think it’s a bad idea, but I totally get where she is coming from. She was kicked out of her house after high school, was in a bad relationship with her ex, and had a lot of things she needed to pay off. Because of this, she was homeless for a while—something I can relate to. I know what it’s like to have nowhere to go, and could never tell her to go back to how it used to be. In “some” ways, she seems the happiest she’s been in a while; a warm place to eat and sleep is something you never really want to give up again, you know?

There are people we knew in similar lines of work, and it really didn’t turn out well for them. I want to be supportive, but I also want to make sure nothing happens to her. What are some things she can do to stay safe? And what are some things she can do to maintain her mental health in her line of work?

Kind regards,

Dear J,

I’m so sorry to hear about your friend’s struggles, and I’m glad that she’s found housing and is able to take care of all her needs. Escorting also allowed me to take care of myself when I was struggling with health issues, and having a difficult time finding my way in life. For many people, it’s work that allows them to break out of a vicious cycle of homelessness and poverty. I have no regrets about pursuing sex work as a career!

That being said, escorting is definitely work that you need to be careful about. I’m not sure where you and your friend live, but legality and violence can be a major concern. She should be careful to screen her clients using community blacklists to avoid police and violence. I’ll email you some resources for that privately—any sex workers who would like access should feel free to shoot me an email, as well.

Tip One: No amount of money is ever worth your life. Trust your gut. If a call doesn’t feel right, if a client is sketching you out, leave. Full stop. Our intuitions about these situations exist to protect us. Listen to them!

Tip Two: Set boundaries with clients. It can feel tempting, especially in the beginning, to let people push your boundaries—to say yes to things that you’re not a hundred percent sure about. This will attract the wrong type of clientele; they will learn that they can just keep pushing. Figuring out what you’re comfortable with is a major part of the work! And so is learning how to say no, and how to redirect with grace.

Tip Three: Take mental health breaks. It can feel like you need to say yes to every job that comes your way, for fear that none will ever come again. This is not true. There’s a reason why sex work is known as the world’s oldest profession! There will always be more work. Take days off, enjoy hobbies, cook yourself a nice meal.

Tip Four: Self-care is ultra-critical! Go to the spa and get a massage. I know it can seem like an outrageous expense and luxury, but when you are a sex worker, your body is your livelihood. Take care of it. Hang out in the hot tub and steam room. Take up meditation. Try pilates or another form of exercise.

Tip Five: Figure out an exit plan. Some people, like me, love sex work, and can even thoroughly enjoy it under the right circumstances. For other people, however, it can become unbearable and stressful—even traumatic. Everyone’s relationship with sex is different. If your friend doesn’t see herself wanting to do sex work for the rest of her life, she should start putting money aside to pay for education, or figure out a side hustle and start a business. It’ll make it easier to compartmentalize, knowing she’ll be able to retire in a certain number of years once she hits her goals.

Tip Six: Diversify. Don’t depend on any single client or platform to pay the bills. If she’s doing in-person work, she should look into multiple ad sites and social media platforms to make sure that if one goes down, she’ll still be able to keep ads up. If she can, she should consider opening an OnlyFans, which can provide a more passive income stream.

Tip Seven: Find community. No one gets it like other sex workers. Community is critical to staying alive and well. “Civvie” friends, as we call them—like yourself—may be well-intentioned, but they sometimes just don’t get it. It’s a good way to stay up-to-date on what’s happening: Are the police running a sting? Is there a violent client out on a spree? A new ad site she should know about? A good photographer to shoot with? The best hotel to work out of? Other SWs will know! Twitter and Instagram can be great places to find people in her city, and she can also try contacting other girls on the same ad site and ask about grabbing coffee. Not everyone will want to hang out, but some will.

I wish your friend the best of luck. Sex work is not easy. Sometimes it’s hell. But it’s a way to pay the bills, and if she takes to the work, it could even turn into a lifelong career.

Lots of love,

“If a call doesn’t feel right, if a client is sketching you out, leave. Full stop. Our intuitions about these situations exist to protect us.”

Dear Liara,

I’m at the end of my rope. I love my wife, but she just doesn’t want to sleep with me anymore. I’ve tried everything: presents, romantic dinners… But she acts so cold. Recently, we went on vacation and she finally relaxed enough that we were able to make love like we used to. I remarked that it reminded me of the old days, and wished we could go back. She snapped at me and we fought. It ruined the rest of the trip.

I love her very much, but at the end of the day, I am a sexual man with needs. Would I be justified in hiring an escort?


Dear S,

I’m not particularly interested in offering moral judgments: If you want to hire an escort, you can do so. But I doubt that’s the way to repair your relationship with your wife, if that’s what you’re interested in.

To be sure, while I was working, I had a few clients who were madly in love with their wives, but they no longer had a sexual relationship. There were many reasons; sometimes, their wives were sick or had various medical conditions that prevented them from having sex. Sometimes, the sexual passion had simply died and they chose to stay together for companionship, or for the sake of their children. One man told me that he knew that his wife had other lovers, but he chose to respect her privacy as she respected his. These situations never bothered me.

On the other hand, I would feel immense sympathy and pain for the wives of certain men. These guys would come in, complaining that their wives were lazy, didn’t want to fuck, spent all their money, whatever. Of course, these men were usually entitled assholes, terrible in bed, and would often try to push my boundaries—haggling the price or demanding special treatment. My heart went out to the women choosing to share their lives with them!

You aren’t going to like what I have to say, but I doubt you’ve really tried everything. Presents and romantic dinners are not tokens one can exchange to receive sex. You are in a relationship. Presumably, you live together. Who takes care of the household responsibilities? And I mean all of them. Who organizes social events? Who cleans, does the laundry, tidies, maintains relationships with the neighbors, cooks, and shops? Many men think that, because they tend to be higher earners in a relationship, they are owed certain things in exchange. That is the definition of entitlement. This actually entrenches and perpetuates all of the structural inequalities women experience. Sadly for you, these structural inequalities result in your wife not wanting to fuck you.

I have no idea what your home life is like, but I am going to assume that your wife takes on a disproportionate amount of household labor. Studies show that, even when men believe they are doing half of the work, they are usually doing less. Men systematically overvalue their own contributions and underestimate the work of their partner, in part because much of what women tend to do is done silently and automatically.

So yes, you can choose to go out and pay money to someone who will fuck you, and have your sexual needs met in this way. It is certainly easier. But place yourself in your wife’s shoes: How might she feel if she found out? I’m sure she would prefer it if you picked up some of the slack around the house, and then took her out for a romantic dinner.

Don’t fall into the common trap men often find themselves in when reading this sort of advice. I don’t know how many times I’ve heard, Well, I tried cleaning up, and she was happy, but then that night I tried to seduce her and she got incredibly angry at me! This is because taking care of the home is something that must be done every day. Taking care of the home is not some romantic gesture: It is work. Shared labor helps the relationship to function.

If you absolutely cannot see yourself committing to the drudgery of daily chores, hire someone to help! If you have the money to hire an escort, but you truly prefer to sleep with your wife, put your money towards that. Then let me know whether the presents and romantic dinners begin to have their intended effect. Perhaps, if you play your cards right, your wife may even start romancing you.

This is not advice I give blindly. I’ve dated and lived with men, but I’ve also lived with women who were my partners. I’ve experienced both sides. I’ve even juggled many serious partners at once, during certain parts of my life! These acrobatics were only possible because I went so far out of my way to demonstrate my love—not just with grand romantic gestures, which are important, but also with simple thoughtfulness and taking care of onerous or stressful tasks. That is the true secret of maintaining long-term romance: the shared effort to make it work.

Best of luck,