The adult industry ruined my marriage

You would think that spending the day surrounded by images of sexy men and women engaging in mind-blowing sex would enhance a marriage. That’s why people buy porn DVDs when they want to “spice things up” in the bedroom. Sadly, that wasn’t the case with me.

I’m a writer. I love to write, and I really like to get paid for it. Sadly, living in the suburbs of south Florida, full-time work in the field was hard to come by, so any job listing that contained the words writing, editing, content development or anything similar would get my attention—and my resume.

It started innocently enough. I saw an opening for an “Email Marketing Copywriter” and sent along my resume. I got an interview. Prior to my meeting, I attempted to Google the company, as all good job applicants are wont to do. I found a primitive site that touted the company as a provider of credit card authentication services for web merchants. It seemed legit, and it looked like I was going to be kept quite busy, as the site I saw needed a lot of TLC content-wise.

On the day of the interview, I arrived at a nondescript, modern, 4-story office building for my interview. While sitting and waiting for the interrogation to begin, I noticed that, instead of magazines like Forbes and Business Week on the coffee table, there were a few back issues of Maxim. I thought that was odd, but not overly so.

I was called into a conference room where I met a few of the managers and the H.R. representative for the company. They were young and friendly and I loved hearing about how there was a weight room in the office and that a bunch of the employees were participating in an upcoming walk for breast cancer. Then, finally, a question I wasn’t expecting: “What do you think of adult entertainment?”

I had never been asked that before—especially in a job interview. Since it was such a unique question, I knew what my answer had to be: “I like it…?”

Don’t get me wrong, I watch the occasional porn, but I tend to favor the porn parodies over the more hardcore offerings. My husband and I had one DVD, the big budget (for a porn, anyway) Pirates. We enjoyed it more for the awful dialogue and surprisingly decently executed special effects. My husband also had a subscription to Playboy, so I was used to seeing mostly artificial breasts on very naked ladies.

At the close of the interview, which I thought went well, the HR manager slid her card across the table, after she scribbled the URL of the actual website I’d be working on across the back of it. I had never heard of the site, but I was incredibly curious to find out how “adult” it actually was.

I immediately jumped into my car and called my husband. I asked him to pull up the company’s website. I heard him clicking away at the keyboard, then silence, then uncontrollable laughter. He said, “The first thing I see is someone named ‘10 Inch Clit.’” The site was an amateur live webcam sex site. It was worse than I anticipated and I wasn’t sure if I could handle writing that kind of stuff.

There are adult copywriters. I had always joked about that—do you really need flowery prose when all guys care about is a nice set of tits? But there was actually a lot of marketing involved in selling porn, especially since so much is available for free. When I got home from the interview, my husband and I had a long discussion of the pros and cons of the position and I finally decided to take the job because, in the end, a paycheck is a paycheck and I had bills to pay.

I will admit that, at first, it was kind of fun. My fellow marketers had the same, slightly geeky sense of humor that I did. We did a lot of themed promotions that lent themselves to some very creative writing. A Disney princess promotion prompted my favorite line ever, “bibbidy, bobbidy, BOOBS!”

The right side of my brain got quite a workout. I had a hard time writing truly explicit content (I figured I could leave that to the “professionals”) and took the example of the Maxim magazines I had seen that first day in the waiting room. I used cheeky innuendos and a little bit of humor to get the message across.

We’d get side eyes from the other tenants in our office building when we pushed the button for the 4th floor—everyone assumed we were actually making adult movies up there. My husband was more than happy to tell his friends that I worked in porn. The comments on his Facebook page when he announced he was going to my company holiday party were what you’d expect from dudes who had their own preconceived notions about what they thought went on in my office. They would have been disappointed to learn that there were no porn stars in attendance, just a bunch of IT dudes drinking cheap beer. At the end of the day, it was a business and we were just like any other corporate cubicle dwellers, except we were surrounded by nude women.

I have been accused on more than one occasion of being a bleeding heart and I made the fatal mistake of befriending some of the girls. Contrary to what you might think, the majority of these women are sweet, smart and as beautiful on the inside as they were on the outside. I would get emails from them begging for a little extra promotion because they needed money for rent, groceries, etc. Sure, a lot of them had set up wish lists on Amazon for their fans to show their appreciation, but our site was their main source of revenue.

I also actually kind of felt bad for some of the guys who frequented the site, who misguidedly thought the women on the other side of the screen actually had feelings for them. I’d read emails they sent back from the automated “I’m live now” messages we sent and many of the things the guys would say were heartfelt and sometimes heartbreaking. I knew these ladies were sometimes the only human contact some of these guys had, and I couldn’t help but feel a little bit sorry for them.

Of course, there were the guys who sent vile, hateful messages as well. Some guys just feel better if they can demean a woman and call her some variation of a slut.

And then there was the actual sex. Girls solo, girls with girls, girls with boys, boys solo—there were rules against truly gonzo/hardcore behaviors, so it was a lot of masturbation, toys, and such. I learned a lot about fetishes, and there are some bizarre ones.

A lot of men have a fetish for giantesses. I also learned about belly inflation, which I guess is kind of like being aroused by pregnant women (I, of course, can only assume). One girl who modeled briefly on the site was born without part of her arms and legs. The things these women were able to insert into themselves were mind-boggling—one put a fire extinguisher up there.

My husband asked if I minded if he poked around on the site and I told him to feel free to set up an account. I wanted him to see what I was writing, and I figured he’d be a good sounding board, as he was representative of my target audience.

He ended up running up his credit card in one of the models’ rooms and asked if I could get him a refund. He insisted that he didn’t go into anyone’s room, but the site records proved otherwise. And I just didn’t care, which should have been more of a red flag than it was. Why wasn’t I jealous that he was checking out other (naked) women?

As time went on, things took a major turn for the worse. How could a job that everyone thought was eight hours of fun, sexy stimulation cause a marriage to break up? Well, when I had worked at a theme park after I graduated college, I still wanted to go to the theme park when I was off duty. Not so much with working in porn.

The more I looked at this abundance of genitalia day in and day out, I started to come to the realization that vaginas and penises were kind of ridiculous looking. I ended up not thinking of sex as sexy, which isn’t good when I came home to a husband who hadn’t just spent eight hours looking at it. My sex drive plummeted. I honestly thought there was something wrong with me.

After a day of looking at boobs, butts and penises and writing for gorgeous women enticing men to come have sexy times with them, the last thing I wanted to do was talk dirty at home—and I really didn’t want to act out anything I had seen or written about. I went to counseling and realized the sad truth—I wasn’t sexually attracted to my husband anymore.

I did gain some rewarding experiences from my job. I helped one of the models get out of the business and get a job in corporate America. She told me her daughter was getting to the age where she was starting to ask a lot of questions about what Mommy did for a living. She was a bright, talented woman with some pretty solid copywriting and marketing skills (hell, she had to market herself and stand out to a bunch of horny men to make a living, so that was kind of a given), so it was relatively easy for her to find a great job in the non-adult world, and I was delighted I could help her out.

I was getting burned out, worried about my sex drive and the future of the paid porn industry looked a little shaky to me, so all of these factors prompted me to start poking around for a new job.

I reached out to a former boss of mine from my ad agency days. I explained my situation and asked if he’d hire me knowing I’d worked in the adult industry. He said to me, point blank: “You know I love porn, but I wouldn’t hire you.” That was all I needed to put my job search into high gear.

I found another job pretty quickly, but I continued to work for the company as a freelancer and was the social media voice for a transgender porn star for a while. But, even with a “respectable” job taking up most of my time, things between my husband and I still were increasingly strained.

I was still a little shell-shocked about everything I had experienced and I still wanted nothing to do sexually with my husband, myself, or anyone else. My husband was gone a lot, and when he was home I was in full “race you to sleep” mode — sex was the last thing on my mind, and both of us could see that the end was near. We split up after 10 years together without any major drama.

We never explicitly stated that my job was the reason our marriage dissolved, but we both knew it was a major contributor to our breakup.

I now am in a happy, sexually fulfilling relationship and have two porn DVDs in my collection. I am completely out of the industry now, so intimacy no longer feels like a job for me.

Do I miss working in adult? Honestly, a little. I may not be completely proud of what I did, but I really don’t have any regrets. In retrospect, the job was beneficial because it forced me to come to the realization that the man I thought was “Mr. Right” simply wasn’t. I probably would have tried to stick it out and I would have ended up miserable and unfulfilled.

And as I now sit in a cubicle trying to make corporate copy sound sexy, I miss trying to come up with enticing synonyms for boobs. At least I have a job I can tell my folks about now.

This article originally appeared at xoJane and was reprinted with permission.

Photo via robin robokow (Istanbul)/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)