I asked a private escort how to set boundaries


“My advice to women would be to drop the ‘good’ narrative.”

Like most women, I went through a phase of trying to be excessively chill. I wanted to revel in the magnetism of being carefree and untroubled by anxiety. I wanted to be easy, breezy and beautiful. But I failed to consider whether this mentality actually served me.

I had morphed into a strange amalgamation of a cold, emotionless robot and a bubbly, whimsical woman. In my desire to be totally blasé and unfazed by everything, I had neglected my personal needs and boundaries.

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If a person had the audacity to ghost me after saying something objectively offensive, I would unpack that statement for months on end. But what did they hear once they resurfaced to apologise? “It’s fine, don’t worry about it!”

If I invested time and energy into getting to know someone for months, only for them to point out we aren’t dating, we were just talking, in an effort to diffuse the tension my response was, “I’m sorry, I’m really new to this!”.

These are both true stories and instances of unacceptable behaviour that went unchecked because I didn’t know how to enforce boundaries and stand up for myself.

The grimmest part of this charade was watching myself through the lens of other people; shouldering the emotional labour that wasn’t mine to bear and swallowing discomfort with an uncomfortable smile strewn across my face when I wanted to scream, “I deserve better!”.

But what’s the alternative? How do I communicate with people who are so averse to conflict? Frustrated by this conundrum, I turned to someone who is well versed in setting boundaries – private escort, Estelle Lucas.

Estelle has over 10 years of experience as a private escort and is a part of the violence prevention charity, Red Files. The nature of sex work demands clear communication of sexual boundaries in a professional setting so that all parties involved in the transaction feel safe.

“Clients are not interested in uncertainty or ambiguity, they’re paying money, and they want to be given hints as to what they’re getting,” she tells me.

“You really need to sit down and ask yourself what it is that you are, not just willing, but comfortable providing. If you think to yourself ‘Well, whatever the client [or person you’re dating/interacting with] wants’ then you’re doing it wrong.”

It can be difficult to tease out your authentic desires from societal expectations, but Estelle stresses that honest communication with yourself is critical to boundary setting.

“You need to figure this out because some people are boundary pushers. If you have no idea what your boundaries are, then you won’t know when to reel back when you’re close to the edge. Don’t leave room for error or miscommunication; make it clear what’s on the table. 

“That communication with yourself will help you notice when a client [or person you’re dating/interacting with] is demanding too much of you in a booking [or interaction].”

In the event you do encounter someone that pushes your boundaries, Estelle’s advice is to put your safety before being agreeable and polite. “My advice to women would be to drop the ‘good’ narrative,” she tells me.

“You don’t have to be good, you don’t have to be understanding, you don’t even have to be fair. What you need to be is true to yourself and strong in the event of things [being] uncomfortable.”

Her words of advice made me realise that my fear of conflict was largely due to taking part in mental gymnastics to avoid unsavoury labels such as ‘uptight’, ‘prude’, ‘frigid’, ‘crazy’, ‘needy’, ‘clingy’ and ‘desperate’.

Speaking to Estelle reinforced that having needs and expectations does not make me a high maintenance princess. Instead of viewing myself as clingy and demanding, I realised that most of the people I dated weren’t even doing the bare minimum. 

Estelle doesn’t shy away from the reality that most people are often resistant to conflict and avoid taking accountability when you refuse to let things slide. “By simply challenging complacency, you’ll find most people are not willing to be involved with tension. Don’t fear tension, use it instead. You’ll save yourself a lot of pressure if you meet the pressure at its level,” she tells me.

It’s difficult to dismantle the misogynistic monologue in your head that says you need to be agreeable and laidback when your anger is warranted. Even women who are acutely aware of these issues can buckle in the throes of conflict.

But thanks to Estelle, going forward, I will make an active effort to be honest with myself and resist trying to be ‘the cool girl that doesn’t mind’. The real flex is keeping your heart soft and your boundaries strong.

To learn more about the power of saying no in professional settings, head here.

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