Whether you are a new or seasoned provider, it is important to remember emotional manipulators run rampant in this industry. Train your intuition to spot them out before they can harm you.

Last Updated: April 27th, 2020

I’d like to dedicate this to the people, clients and otherwise, in my life who consistently make me feel safe, bring joy, peace and serenity to my life and never make me question my importance in their lives. Thank you for restoring my faith in good people.

Disclaimer: I am not a licensed professional. Everything I write comes from many years of raw experience.

When we talk about “toxic people”, most of us are conditioned to look to the external world for signals of bad behaviour. The client who refuses to screen, the loud and abrasive character who doesn’t understand the word “No”, the misogynist who posts his outward vitriol towards women – these are all external behaviours we can point at most will agree with: “Yes, that is a bad person.

Yet not all wolves in our lives show up baring their sharp and pointy teeth for all to see. The most dangerous of them come disguised as the most docile and trustworthy of creatures. I am talking about the ultimate conman, the narcissistic sociopath.

I had my first run-in with a sociopath 3 years ago, an experience that sent me tumbling to my knees. Coming to the realization I had been so utterly deceived and wrong in judging someone I thought I knew so well flipped my world upside down. How could someone I had believed to be the epitome of goodness, turn out to be the exact opposite? I lost all my faith in the world but most importantly, I lost all faith in myself. Yet when the dust settled and I looked back in introspection, I realized while on paper they managed to come off as the best human I’d ever met, there was one voice, the most powerful of all, that had always known otherwise: my intuition.

It is a grim reality our society tells us external appearances are more important than what is going on inside us. Predators in society exploit this, learning to disguise themselves as externally good people while committing their infractions in the shadows and away from prying eyes. They learn to groom for abuse, not only their victims, but the rest of the world around them so if their true nature were ever exposed, they can have their flocks of followers cover up for them.

“Him?! He just doesn’t seem like the kind of guy to do something like that!”

“Not her! She’s the nicest person!”

“Are you sure you didn’t just misread the situation?”

 “Maybe it was just a mistake.”

These are statements often uttered by abuse-apologists in defense of the wrong-doers, meant to downplay victims’ concerns and make them question their own perception of events. By downplaying or excusing toxic behaviour, apologists are enabling the environment that allows abusers to thrive. This is gaslighting by proxy. Emotional manipulators know this – it is why they carefully select and train the people around them to do their dirty work for them.

Before a manipulator, you might have known yourself to be cool, collected and an overall easygoing person. Then before you even realize what’s going on, your life has become a psychological war-zone. You’re a mess of anxiety, insecurities, and filled with constant dread and self-doubt. Like a cancerous poison that unleashes torment on anything it touches, manipulators wreck chaos on lives with zero care in the world of who they hurt. To them, people are nothing more than pawns to utilize in their never-ending game of chess. Don’t ever be fooled when they deny, downplay or play dumb to their behaviour – these people know exactly what they are doing!

What are they after? In the simplest terms possible, what emotional manipulators seek is power. To be at the forefront of your thoughts, to have you chase after them, to become the center of your universe. They love the thrill of the chase and knowing people pine after them, seeking their validation and approval. Because deep inside they are insecure and only able to find temporary fulfillment through external means, having this kind of power over people is the only way they can feel big. Remember this: Only small people make themselves feel big by making others feel small.

Then comes the big question – How can you tell? How can you tell who is genuinely good and who is just pretending?

Luckily, there is one way. One simple phrase you can use, that will protect you no matter where you go.

Good people make you feel good and bad people make you feel bad.

It doesn’t get any simpler than that.

Trusting Your Intuition

In the simplest terms possible, trusting your intuition means to trust your feelings. It is letting go of the need to seek answers outside ourselves and understand our feelings are signals we should never downplay or ignore. It means believing if we feel a certain way, it is for a valid reason. It is understanding healthy situations and healthy people make us feel good while toxic people and toxic situations make us feel bad.

Victims of abuse waste countless energy trying to attach a label to people and situations, desperately trying to understand and attach solid meaning to what is not understandable. They seek outside validation from others to confirm what deep down inside they already know the answer to, expecting this to bring some sense of relief to their suffering.

Are they a narcissist? Do this sound like it could be a psychopath? Am I overreacting? Am I making a big deal out of nothing?

This entire time they’re going around in circles asking these questions over and over, they are clearly overran by stress and anxiety, somehow unable to look at their own feelings and realize the only answer they need can be found right within them: This person makes them feel bad and no amount of discussion on the topic will change that.

Let me just ask one thing: Does a label change at all the fact this person makes you feel like crap about yourself?

A conman is a master at outside appearances and saying exactly what they think we want to hear. Most victims are blinded in the initial grooming stage, so when they pull back and the real abuse starts, they find themselves saying: “I never saw it coming.” This is rarely the actual truth; the signs are always there. If we learn to pay close attention to that voice inside our gut, we will notice the most reliable red flags aren’t the ones we see with our eyes, they’re the ones we feel inside us.

The Grooming Stage

Before they unleash their attack, predators first must earn your trust. No matter the way they do it, all grooming has the same intent: they want to make you reliant on them. By accustoming you to a certain level of behaviour and building up your expectations of them and later failing to meet them, they can make you feel it is because of something you have done or are lacking in. At this point, most victims are swept up in the smokes and mirror and will try all they can to win the predator’s good favour back.

An emotional manipulator can show up as the client who follows all your instructions, sends the best introduction message you’ve received, is overly charming and blows all your other suitors out of the water. When you consider the abundance of assholes and timewasters that exist in this industry, meeting someone who ticks off every checklist of what you’d want in a client is going to make you feel like you’ve hit the goldmine. But before you rush and gush to your friends about your new favourite client, heed caution and make sure you’re not running straight into a sociopath’s trap.

They’re too perfect. If you meet a person who seems to always know the right thing to say (a little bit too smoothly), is ridiculously charming, you have explosive chemistry with and seems to be the perfect example model citizen, be twice as alert and on your toes. Emotional predators are experts at manufacturing strong connections with their targets and many victims will proclaim having felt as if they met someone they’d been waiting for their whole lives! They want you to get swept off your feet as it naturally makes you more vulnerable to their manipulations. It is imperative you resist the urge to jump right into this emotional rush as this is when most victims fall down the rabbit hole and lose all sense in the world. You need to force yourself to keep your eyes and ears open. The general life advice of: “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is” applies here.

You want to tell them your deepest darkest secrets very soon after meeting them. Every conman I’ve met has had the capacity to make people they meet super comfortable to the point they feel like they can trust this person with their deepest darkest secrets. I really need to repeat: If the way someone makes you feels is too good to be true, it is because it is! It is not normal to feel that level of intoxication with someone you’ve JUST met. Normal healthy connections are calm, take time to nurture, and real trust takes time to build!

They will tell you about the behaviours of people in their past to train you how to act. At first you feel flattered and special by these comparisons and them feeling comfortable enough to confide in you, and since you really like them, of course you want to keep them happy and not do what others have done to upset them. They love the fact you’re not needy, demanding, or high-maintenance like any of the other crazy people in their past.

By telling you these stories, they are indirectly telling how not to act so when they start acting out and you have valid reasons to speak up, they can trample all over your boundaries by throwing it into your face they warned you about not liking this behaviour. Now they’ve given themselves open agency to do whatever they want and lest you too want to be called overbearing, demanding, needy, insecure or accused of having a bad attitude like the people in their past, you best keep your mouth shut. Hook, line and sinker.

They manufacture an aura of desirability around them. They will brag about how popular they are, how others want them, and how many people are in love with them. These tales are often pure fabrications and/or great exaggerations meant to build themselves up as more popular than they really are. By artificially increasing their worth in your eyes, you’re meant to feel even more special about this supposedly highly revered person choosing you. Somehow, they’re the ones doing you a favour.

In the context of sex work, manipulative clients will talk about how much other providers want them, how providers fall in love with them all the time, and how much providers are tripping over themselves to turn them into regular clients. “Ugh, this one girl I saw once was texting me last week offering me a discount to go back and see her! She must badly want me!” They want to keep you on your feet and feel like you’re in constant competition for them. The undertone behind this is clear: If you don’t keep in line, you will be replaced.

They make a lot of big ambiguous promises about the future. Grand vague statements of what they have planned in the future are meant to keep you on your toes, excitedly waiting for them to fulfill these promises. “We’ll go on this trip, we’ll book this date, I’ll buy you this and that!” When they fail to deliver, they always seem to have the perfect explanation ready. One day it’s next week, then next month, then next year; the goalpost is forever changing.

People who mean what they say don’t make ambiguous promises – they put their money where their mouth is and never lead you on a never-ending chase. They want you to not think of them as flakey and will make moves to show otherwise. Actions will always speak louder than words. Anything less than that and you’re being played for a fool.

Pay attention to how you feel when you’re not with them. If you want to know if someone is good for you, you need to forget all about how they make you feel when you’re physically together and pay attention to how you feel when you are apart. If you find yourself dealing with someone that lifts you to cloud nine when together in person but leaves you feeling anxious and uneasy when apart, pay attention. Manipulators are fantastic in the flesh but fail at maintaining their performance the rest of the time. Feeling uneasy when you’re apart from someone is one of the biggest giveaways from your intuition that you’re dealing with a predator. Your body always comes before the mind when picking up on toxic signals!

You’re looking for answers to a feeling you can’t quite put your finger on. Turning into an FBI detective overnight, doing crazy mental gymnastics and going over tapes of conversations in your head to put to rest an inexplicable unease you feel is the most telling sign you’re dealing with a sociopath.  Because they probably haven’t DONE anything outright bad you can point your finger at, you’ll feel like you’re going mad. This is where you really need to trust in your body’s ability to pick up on energy before the mind can play catch up. If someone makes you feel like you’ve taken a crazy pill, you need to ground yourself and check in with your feelings. It’s perfectly acceptable to choose to remove yourself from situations solely based on how you feel.

Personal story: I once had a client once who blew all my initial expectations out of the water with how perfect he was. He screened fabulously, he paid well, and oh my, was he charming! Yet the second I saw him with my own eyes, something about him didn’t sit right with me. At the end of the date, as I watched the door close after him, my stomach sunk to the ground and I felt like a poison had latched onto my soul. Over the next few weeks, I turned into a detective, obsessively going over tapes of conversations in my head hoping to put to rest this inexplicable unease I felt. He hadn’t done anything so why did I feel so awful?!

Against my better judgement, we met a second time, and he managed to melt all my concerns away with his silver tongue and for the next few hours make me genuinely think I had worried over nothing. Then as I watched the door close after him a second time, the sinking feeling in my stomach came rushing right back, and I knew then he was bad news. Very soon after, I decided to cut him loose for good, and something magical happened: the heavy weight in my heart lifted instantly and for the first time since I’d met him, I felt like I could breathe normally again. That’s when I knew I’d made the right decision for myself.

Fortunately, we don’t need to wait until we’re knee-deep into a toxic situation before opening our eyes to what’s really going on. By staying in-tune with our feelings, we can see past the smokes and mirrors and sniff out the signs of danger early on and make appropriate decisions to guard our mental health and well-being. Never forget: Good people make you feel good and bad people make you feel bad. Always use this phrase as a gut-check with the person who knows best – you.

Torture through Emotional Abuse

The grooming stage ends when a manipulator feels they have won your favour and are fully under their control. This is when they start dialing up the abuse for their own sadistic pleasure and amusement. The intent of their abuse is to erode your self-esteem and make you more reliant on them, which results in them having more power over you. Due to its insidious nature, abuse becomes so normalized to victims most don’t even realize what’s happening to them. Watch out for the following.

They undermine you. The longer you hang around a manipulator, the more you will begin to have your confidence eroded. They’ll first prey on your insecurities by praising the things you might feel doubtful about yourself only to turn around and start tearing you down. Once upon a time they praised you for a certain quirk of yours, calling it one of your defining features, and now the same trait only seems to irritate and anger them. By swinging from praise to disdain, they train you to never feel stable and secure around them. Most compliments they give are backhanded and meant to keep you off balance.

They trigger normal human emotions out of you and guilt you for having them. After setting a precedence in the grooming stage, they will start to withdraw the behaviours they conditioned you to expect and guilt you for having a reaction to it. If they used to keep in contact with you all hours throughout the day only to suddenly stop this behaviour, dare you even question their sudden change in demeanor, you will be accused of being needy and not respecting their boundaries. If they rub in your face the attention they’re giving someone else, you will be accused of being insecure and controlling despite it being a perfectly human response to feel insecure when someone close to you suddenly starts to neglect you. By making you feel bad for having normal human feelings, they tear down your boundaries, giving themselves leeway to treat you however they’d like without you being able to say something about it.

They torture you through triangulation and make you question your importance. While triangulating you, they’re whispering about the shortcomings of other people and lifting you up by claiming you to be better than them, and the next day they’re ignoring you for the same people they complained about. While intuitively you will know something has changed, few people want to be the person who complains about who another person talks to – if you dare to bring it up, you’ll look like you’re crazy! You’ll be called jealous, controlling, possessive and all kinds of mean names!

Don’t be fooled, these are carefully calculated actions on their end. Social media has become a manipulator’s ultimate tool in modern times. They know you will notice the difference in demeanor from them and you will check their social media, so they’ll ignore you online while giving the same attention to someone else. They’ll torture you strategically through the “likes” and comments they give to other people. They want you to say something so they can fake outrage and call you jealous, crazy and an obsessed stalker out of control. And how can you prove them wrong? You look insane getting upset over a couple of “likes” online! Now they can run to the new social media target you saw them talking to and moan about how you’re so obsessed and jealous over them, and their target will feel special about themselves. Tearing one down while lifting the other. The pattern is continuous and ongoing.

I need to really double down on why it is SO important you trust your feelings here. That moment when you first felt that something changed on their end, it’s for a reason. That moment when you first felt anxious and insecure over something changing, it’s for a reason. I can never overemphasize how crucial it is to know your feelings are valid and you are NOT crazy for having them. If you ever start to feel like you are going crazy for seeing things that they later deny are there, you are being gaslighted.

Feeling like you’re competing with other people, make believe or real, is a giveaway from your intuition you are being manipulated. Genuinely good people do not leave you questioning your value to them. People who value you do not dangle the carrot of their approval nor make you feel like it could be taken away at the first mis-step, they give it to you freely and without condition. You should feel emotionally safe and secure in your place in their life. Do you hear me? You should feel emotionally safe and secure in your place in their life.

It is very important to remember most clients have ongoing relationships with more than one provider – it is in the beauty of this incredible industry. The major difference is manipulative clients will make you feel like other people are a threat to you. Good clients can be seeing more than one provider at a time and they will never make you feel like you are lesser than or like you are in any sort of direct competition with them. Good people want you to feel secure, they want you to know how important you are to them! You should never feel threatened by other providers your clients see, and if someone you know says or does things to purposely keep you off-balance and make you feel threatened, holy shit, do not EVER blame or berate yourself for being “insecure”, the narcissist is the one manufacturing these emotions out of you!

They talk down on all your accomplishments and constantly one-up you. Did you just buy your first property? Big deal, they own three! Just finished your degree and graduated with top honours? Their hot “best friend”, who they also happened to date and sleep with in the past (and OMG, they just won’t leave them alone!) has a PhD from an Ivy League school! Just had your most profitable month/week/day at work? Try again – the other provider they see on weekends makes double that amount every month! No matter what good you do, they will always have a way to one-up you. You’ll always feel inadequate and like nothing you do is ever good enough, the goalpost of when they’ll finally accept you consistently changing.

You start feeling grateful for the smallest breadcrumbs of respect. When I look back at the lowest point of my involvement with a sociopath, I recall my expectations being reduced to the point I felt grateful to receive a call back from someone I considered to be my best friend. Going through a day without being accused of being needy or annoying was a rarity. Finding yourself involved with a person that started off as the best thing that’s ever happened to you and has now been reduced to where the smallest fraction of respect feels like winning the lottery means you are being abused. You deserve more than this. Healthy relationships are consistent and give you the whole damn loaf every single day, you should never feel like you’re crawling on the ground for breadcrumbs of respect.

None of the other relationships in your life make you feel like this. Manipulators condition their victims into believing everything that goes wrong is their fault. If you suddenly find yourself involved with an individual that brings the very worst out of you and makes you feel like nothing you do is ever good enough, stop and ask yourself this – do you feel like this in all your relationships? If you really were as broken and as bad of a person as this person makes you feel, wouldn’t all these problems be present in all your relationships? Clearly the only difference between your other relationships and this one is the person you’re involved with. So then we know it’s not you – it’s them that’s causing these feelings.

How to Protect Yourself

Now you know the red flags of manipulation, and perhaps a lightbulb has gone off in your head as you attached many of the above behaviours to someone in your life. You might be thinking – how do I protect myself?

Remember healthy connections are meant to feel good. I’ve been trying to hammer this over and over and now I repeat it once more – good people make you feel good. All connections, of course, have their ups and downs and things will not always be sunshine and rainbows, but it is imperative you remember healthy connections are consistently easy and feel good. Again: they are easy and feel good. The next time you find yourself going around in circles trying to make sense of something that makes no sense, stop everything you’re doing and simply ask yourself: Does this connection make me feel good? No extra buts, ifs, whys, or what’s – it is a simple yes or no. Let the answer to that question guide you!

Know your vulnerabilities. Manipulators have an inner radar that allows them to sniff out other people’s insecurities on their never-ending search of victims to exploit. If you’re not aware of your own inner goings, you can be damn sure a manipulator does. If you are lonely, insecure, suffer from the disease to please, badly want to be accepted and liked by others and/or are emotionally vulnerable in any kind of way, it is important for you to be aware of this, as these are the cracks manipulators are on the lookout to exploit. None of these things make you weak or deserving of abuse – they make you human. Never forget this. Anyone who victim blames the circumstances in your life as a reason you were abused is an abuse apologist and no one you should ever be listening to. Abuse is never the victim’s fault.

Trust yourself, your perceptions and your feelings over what anyone else might think. When I look back at the time I spent wrapped up in the web of a sociopath, I remember how much I doubted my own perceptions and feelings. I’d base my judgements on what people around me thought and did not feel secure in my views unless others agreed. I recall meeting people who made me uncomfortable and gave me initial bad vibes and instead of trusting that I felt uncomfortable for valid reasons, I’d watch how the other people around me would mingle, befriend and accept this person with open arms and feel bad for “thinking so bad of them.”

The most valuable defense against gaslighting is to not require anyone else’s validation for your instincts but your own.

Unfortunately, most people in our society are like sheep who are unable to think for themselves and hold naïve mindsets like believing there is inherent good in everyone or “they don’t want to assume the worst” when someone starts showing clear signals of disturbed behaviour. Ultimately, it comes down to them prioritizing their own comfort in the status quo and find it easier if those trying to rock the boat are silenced. These are the people in our society who sympathize with abusers and enable the environment that allows them to thrive.

During the time I’ve worked as a provider, trusting myself has been a life-altering skill that’s saved more than once. I have met clients with supposedly stellar standing in the community and whom more than one provider vouched as being the best of the best. Yet meeting them set my instincts on fired that this was not really a good person, just a skilled conman who had succeeded on fooling everyone else. Because I have learned to trust my instincts, I have acted accordingly to my judgement and the danger I felt they posed. I will never recommend following the hive mind and choosing to trust yourself first and foremost because there is no more powerful and knowing force in this universe than our own intuition.

Stand tall in your convictions and beliefs even if it means standing alone. You will come to understand the full extent of bravery that lives within you and the level of strength you possess as a single individual when you find yourself unwavering standing up for your beliefs against a sea of people all trying to hold you down. The greatest magic in whole heartedly believing in yourself comes when you realize the voices that try to silence, tame or pull you back into the status quo are suddenly impenetrable to you. You’re no longer afraid to stand up for what you believe in even if you’re alone while doing so because you no longer need anyone else’s validation but your own.

We spend too long dancing around with our words and muting ourselves because we are too afraid of rocking the boat and pissing off other people. When we doubt ourselves, we don’t feel comfortable taking a stand unless we have the support ready behind us. When we look around and feel we are alone in our views, we get scared and decide to downplay our voices and retreat into the comfortable status quo.

Having the courage to speak your mind gives voice and bravery for others to do the same. You should never be afraid of a little conflict. You might piss off some people, but you will bring to life the right people. You will come to see the people who are triggered by your voice do not matter and many more voices will follow you and stand up with support for your beliefs. Soon enough, you won’t be standing alone. Your voice has the power to wake up an army. Those are the people who matter! Those are the people you should surround yourself with! Next time you’re scared of stirring the pot a little, ask yourself: why the hell are you scared of some low-quality sheep who continue to enable the issues in our world not liking you? Who gives a damn if they don’t like you?? Let them bitch and whine and never silence you again!

Lessons from Rock Bottom

When I was in the midst of despair at rock bottom, I genuinely thought I would never get better. My time spent on the ground forced me to come face-to-face with many hard realities about myself, the world, and the relationships I kept around me. It took some time, but when I got up off the ground, I brought with me a sense of determination and strength I never knew possible to have before.  I would not trade my experiences for anything in the world.

“Your struggle today will be your strength tomorrow.”

I am truly of the mind we can choose to let our experiences build us into better and stronger people, or we can allow them to tear us down. The greatest lessons life will ever teach us can only be found at rock bottom. Adversity and struggle are necessary for shaping us into strong, confident and unstoppable forces – there is no shortcut in this life. This is where true strength and wisdom is born from.

If today you are feeling broken and working on putting the pieces of your life together, I want to share some pieces of advice I wish someone had shared with me three years ago.

You will rise from the ashes with the fire to take on the world. I became who I am because I had the courage to make mistakes and learn from them. Each time I’ve crashed down to the ground, I’ve gotten back up and learned something new about myself, rising as a fiercer and stronger version than before. Absolutely everything that has made me who I am today has been through falling on my face more than once. Do not be afraid of making mistakes – failure and mistakes are part of the process to becoming extraordinary. If today you find yourself struggling and living in a despair you see no exit from, I promise that you too will become a person with a raging fire inside. But first, you need to keep going.

Forgive yourself. When the scale fell off my eyes and I finally saw my “perfect person” for the predator they’d always been, I wanted to scream at the top of my lungs. More than a sudden shock that’d come out of the left field, my initial reaction was an internal “I knew it!” Suddenly, everything I’d ever questioned made perfect sense. Then came the blame, and oh my, was there lots of it.

When we are played for fools and finally open our eyes to it, it is far too easy to fall into the pit of self-blame and despair as we relentlessly beat ourselves up for not seeing the signs earlier, for letting ourselves be mistreated, and for not trusting our gut intuition that had known the truth this entire time. Why was I so stupid! we might think, I should have known better.

It is very important to show compassion to ourselves and understand at all points in our lives, we are doing the best we can with all we have equipped at the time. If we had known better, we would have done better. We need to forgive ourselves for our mistakes as quickly as possible and get up and try again. Wisdom is not cultivated through sitting on our asses and letting life coast by us. It is gained through experience. Talk to yourself as you would a friend and forgive yourself for not knowing any better, acknowledge you tried your best, and get up and try again, knowing you are a little bit wiser by the virtue of your experiences.

You will cultivate compassion for the suffering of others. When we look at the hardships others go through, it is easy to point a finger at something they might have done to bring it unto themselves and think, As long as I don’t do the same as them, I will be okay. This is where the mentality of victim-blaming is born – if we can just avoid what they’re doing, we will never end up the same as them. It is a lie we tell ourselves to give us a false sense of security.

Before my own run-in with abuse, I used to point fingers and judge victims of abuse, thinking I was better than them and it would never happen to me. I would never let that happen to me! I would never be weak enough to let someone treat that way! Then it happened to me, and I got a hard reality check that humbled me the fuck down. I came to brutally understand the dynamics of our society and the ways it is broken that has allowed for an environment for abusers to thrive and victims to suffer. Having walked the shoes myself, I now intimately relate to the suffering of others who’ve struggled the same and show compassion and kindness to the circumstances that led them to such a horrible place. None of us are better than the other, and we are much more similar living in the same broken world going through the same struggles than we’d like to think.

It’s okay to have feelings. For years, I struggled being honest with my feelings because I wanted to be “low maintenance” and believed talking about my feelings would be a burden on other people. As a result, I allowed myself to fall into a passive role where my needs were disregarded, and boundaries trampled over. It took me a long time to realize people who make me feel annoying for expressing myself do not care about my comfort.

People often forget client and provider relationships are exactly that – relationships. Payment does not negate the human aspect of the bond involved. I’ve heard for far too long the message passed around that being a good provider means keeping your mouth shut and letting clients do and say as they please. This isn’t true. Good clients will never make you feel burdened for sharing your feelings. They want you to be comfortable and feel good around them.

There is a huge difference between irrational and toxic feelings and normal human emotions. Acting like an immature child and demanding your clients never see anyone to cater to your irrational insecurity is completely unreasonable of a request. Feeling insecure and jealous because someone in your life has purposely acted in ways to make you feel insecure is not the same thing. One of them is irrational and completely your own problem, the other is manufactured out of you. The latter doesn’t mean you’re not a secure person overall, as even the most secure amongst us can feel insecure when we are being mistreated. Learn to tell the difference.

Be patient with yourself as you fine-tune your intuition to the right balance that works for you. I know how easy it is in the depths of despair to swear to never trust a human again, to never allow yourself to be hurt that badly again. I plead you not to shut yourself off. Don’t allow yourself to get jaded to the point where you close yourself off from the world. There is a lot of joy and rewards to be found in this world, especially in this industry.

Unfortunately, I can not tell you that you will never run into a predator. But I will tell you one thing – trust is always a risk. There are no guarantees in this life. Instead of trusting blindly in other people, choose to trust in you that next time you’ll be a little smarter and in-tuned with that tiny voice inside you. When working on fine-tuning your intuition, be patient and kind with yourself, as finding the balance between wise trust and caution is a life-long process. Soon enough, you’ll be able to tell the bad actors from the real ones through pure instincts. You’ll make some mistakes along the way, but just remember it is all part of the journey. Keep forgiving yourself and keep on trying.

“Good judgement is the result of experience and experience the result of bad judgement.”

Cutting all bullshit aside, yes, this can be a very rewarding industry, but there’s no point pretending it’s all roses and rainbows. The harsh reality is this industry attracts a lot of shady characters. It is imperative for all providers to open their eyes to this and dig their heads out of the sand about it. There are a lot (and I really mean A LOT) of clients who seek out providers not for companionship or intimacy, but for the sick power high they get out of manipulating and tricking people. Quite frankly, that “favourite client” of yours who’s overly charming, emits explosive chemistry and you can’t stop thinking and talking about? They’re everyone else’s favourite client. Oh, and they’re probably a raging narcissist (and a raging douchebag).

The good news is that there do exist many good people out there for you to find. They’re out there, I promise you, but if you want to find them, you need to learn to separate the wheat from the chaff or you risk getting taken for a spin by one of the many master conmen out there. Once you learn to trust your feelings, you’ll find yourself like Neo in the Matrix evading all the bad actors like crazy. You’ll see right through the act even as everyone else around you stays fooled.

Unfortunately, we are unable to control the world around us, but we can control the quality of what we accept into our lives. We can’t change bad people into better people, but we have the power to deny them access to us. We can choose to only accept the best! We deserve exclusively the best!

We are worthy of being valued. We are worthy of being treated with dignity and respect. We are worthy of feeling safe and secure in all our relationships. We are worthy of having mutually fulfilling relationships. We are worthy human beings.

If there’s only one thing you take from all of this, let it be this: Good people make you feel good and bad people make you feel bad.

It really doesn’t get any simpler than that.

“Women like me have gone through hell. Women like me now breathe fire.”

If you have enjoyed my writing, please consider showing your appreciation through tipping via Interac eTransfer (Canada) or Paypal (International) to StefaniaVillalobos@protonmail.com (www.paypal.me/xostefania) or purchasing one of the many gift cards on my wishlist. Lots of my time and effort is spent on maintaining these guides.

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This Post Has 14 Comments

  1. Very good read. Well done

  2. Thank you Stefania, great read and beautiful advice.

  3. So excellent. I could have used this advice from a young age. It applies to friends, family members, anyone who passes through your life. If you expanded this article, I’d read it!

  4. The information and advice within this article is so true and correct. I especially liked your simple deduction of: “good people make you feel good and bad people make you feel bad.” A great way for a person to remember when in doubt.
    Thank you for writing this editorial and sharing your story Stefania.

  5. Interesting & informative read! Thanks for sharing

  6. This article is 100% spot on and a must read for not only providers, but all women AND parents as predators use the same grooming techniques to target children (Larry Nasser).

    This is an amazing, yet simple blueprint for staying safe. My work involves protecting children from sexual predators and this is one of the best articles I’ve ever read on the subject. It is so important to understand the grooming process or at least understand that grooming exists.

    You are very courageous for sharing such a personal story about such a difficult time in your life. Thank you for being so open to help others.

  7. You are so insightful, so intelligent, and so wise. I just got so much more context for a previous relationship that I left, but never felt 100% right in making that decision, until now. Thank you, thank you, thank you. I never even came across your Twitter until today, please know I’m sending so much love your way, happy Valentine’s Day beautiful

  8. Great article. It made me realize just how massive of a manipulator my ex-wife was with me! It also reminds me of how much I value my good relationships with providers.

  9. Thanks for sharing your experiences.

  10. You’re absolutely breathtaking gorgeous! I love your style. You’re a class act. I enjoy reading your website it’s very informative and helpful. Good luck in all your endeavors.

  11. Hello
    Thank you for the article, at some parts it was like I was reading about myself. You made some very important points about gaslighting, self doubt and “gut feeling”. Right now I am leaving incredibly toxic work relationship which lasted several years and seeking something else. This experience was completely new for me too and I soooo wish that someone told me before what I know now. I think it is important to write / talk about this topic because obviously there is a lot of people with horrid toxic work / relationship experiences, but when it is actually hapenning it feels like you are the only person in the universe who sees the wrongdoing while everyone else is just deaf and blind, either because of fear or sheer stupidity.

    1. xostefania

      Society is very naive, full of victim-blaming and creates the perfect environment for abusers to thrive. When we are thought to give benefit of the doubt when not deserved or gaslight ourselves by messages like “you have too thin skin” or “you’re overthinking”, abusers are given room to steamroll over everyone. You are far from alone. This is a worldwide issue present in every single community. I am glad I was able to shed some insight. Godspeed to you for future healthier relationships that don’t bring chaos and drama into your life. xo

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