What It's Really Like To Be A Sex Writer

When I was growing up in rural, conservative Kentucky, the last thing I imagined I'd be is a sex writer. A lawyer or novelist? Those were careers I realistically thought I might end up pursuing someday. I stumbled into journalism because of a (somewhat misguided) dream of being a self-involved columnist a la Carrie Bradshaw, and wound up at Northwestern's J-school. After my college years of blogging about online dating and sex, I woke up one day and thought, "So this is what it's like to work in the sex industry?" Sure, I'm not an adult film star or an erotic fiction writer, but because I spend my days researching and writing about all things dating and sex, I certainly feel like I've fallen heavily into the niche.

For me, a hard day's work can consist of something as fun as coming up with a list of good sexting emojis or as rewarding as writing a piece about the dangers of gaslighting. When I tell people what I do, I get so many different reactions: raised eyebrows, polite interest, lewd comments, or a genuine desire to know more. I'm never offended by any of these — I know what I do is pretty atypical, even among my fellow journalists. Nevertheless, I've found that there are certain assumptions people make about me — particularly about my love life — because I write about sex and relationships.

Coming off as a narcissist, for example, is one of the not-so-pleasant things about my job. At worst, people assume sex writing is a thinly veiled way to humblebrag about having sex. While that's true in part (I love popping in personal anecdotes when relevant), I also know that educating people about sex is way more important than talking about myself. I'm a bit of an over-sharer, but by no means think I'm the end-all-be-all sexpert. Because so many people ask what it's like to be me (spoiler: not that exciting), here are seven other frustrating misconceptions people have about me based on my career.

1. I Don't Understand Privacy

I'll admit that my closest friends regularly get bombarded with details of my sex life, but I think that's fairly standard for a lot of people. Just because I'm more comfortable talking about sex than the average person doesn't mean I don't value privacy — both my own and others'.

If anything, being sex-positive makes me keenly aware that everyone has different comfort levels about sex, and that not everyone wants to share the juicy details. I don't walk around loudly discussing blowjobs and sex positions and interrogating everyone I meet about their bedroom habits. It's just common sense.

2. I'll Have Sex With Anyone 'For The Story'

I shouldn't have to say this, but I'm going to anyway: I don't purposely have new sexual experiences 'for the story.' Sure, I have no qualms about sleeping with someone on the first date if things are going well and we're both comfortable with that — when the chemistry is there, sex is only natural and of course never anything to be ashamed of. I'm open-minded, but don't put myself in a dangerous or reckless position just because it might make a good article.

3. I'm Not Interested In A Relationship

This is probably the most frustrating thing I experience. In my dating profiles, I mention the kind of work I do because I feel like it's an important part of my identity that I wouldn't want to exclude. The downside is that I get a lot of skeevy messages from guys who assume I'm just automatically DTF, with no interest in long-term dating. It's silly to put people into boxes: both men and women can desire love and sex.

4. I'm Going To Write About Every Date I Go On

I'd guess that 30 percent of all messages I get on dating apps is some variation of: "So are you going to write about me? LOL." Back in my blogging days, I was much more likely to describe an interesting date I'd been on, because that was just what I knew best. Now, you'd have to be pretty extraordinary (for better or worse) in order to get a super specific shout-out in my writing besides just a brief anecdote. Blogging might fall (tangentially) under the journalism umbrella, but my articles aren't just glorified diary entries; actual research and reporting goes into sex journalism, which some people don't realize.

5. My Job Makes Me Horny

I mean... do I really have to refute this one? I've seriously had more than one person make a joke about me getting turned on while I'm on the clock. Short answer: I get no more aroused than you get doing your job.

6. I Always Orgasm During Sex

Much to my dismay, I am not blessed with the magical ability to orgasm on command during sex. Like anyone else, I have likes and dislikes, and if I'm with a new partner it might not be easy to push all the right buttons on the first try or two. I often write about the importance of communication in a healthy sex life, but truthfully it's not always second nature to take my own advice in the moment. No matter how many times I write about 'good sex', there are still going to be hits and misses in my own love life.

7. I'm Super Kinky

I'm cool with kink, generally open-minded, and willing to experiment with someone I'm comfortable with — but I'm not as outright kinky as people often assume based on my job title. Being comfortable writing and talking about sex doesn't say anything about my sexual desires.

Images: Laken Howard/Bustle (3)