Woman Hooked on Male Attention Became an Escort

By Valerie Tejeda 10/19/12

A Californian addict who quit heroin, only to start craving sexual attention instead, tells The Fix her story.

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Can women be addicted to male attention? Jennifer, a 31-year-old recovering addict from California, would say so. She was hooked on heroin in her early twenties; her then-boyfriend convinced her she had a problem, and she went to rehab to get clean. She's never touched heroin again. But straight after she left rehab, a new problem began to emerge. “I’m not really sure how it happened, but I started to work for an escort service,” Jennifer tells The Fix. “It wasn’t prostitution or anything, but what drew me to this particular company was the fact that all I had to do was go on dates with men...lots of men.” Jennifer says she didn't sleep with her clients, but that working as an escort made her feel the same “high” that drugs had given her, because of all the attention she received. At the same time, she also became obsessed with constantly posting provocative pictures of herself on her Facebook page. “I honestly couldn’t stop,” she tells us. “I just had to post pictures and see how many men would comment.”

After a year of this behavior, Jennifer's increasing realization that she'd developed a new problem led her to quit working as an escort and seek counseling. She was told she was "addicted" to male attention. “It made sense to me,” she says. “I would get a jolt of adrenaline whenever any man paid attention to me, and shortly after I would come down on that feeling, and feel horrible! It was like I was on drugs.”

While the American Psychiatric Association doesn't classify Jennifer’s condition as an addiction, some mental health professionals say they regularly encounter behavior like this in recovering addicts, particlarly females. “It’s extremely common to go from one addiction to another,” Cindy Grassin, a counselor who specializes in addiction and works at a drug and alcohol rehab in California, tells The Fix. “Anything that can give you a particular feeling a former addict can be drawn to. Things such as food, exercise, or even relationships with men, are not that uncommon.” Grassin emphasizes that an obsession with or addiction to male attention is different from a sex addiction. “You’re not addicted to the act of sex with these men," she explains. "You just want them to make you feel a certain way by paying attention to you.”

Jennifer says her decision to seek counseling and quit social media helped her find the right balance in her life: “For me, social media just fed my obsession, so I had to cut it out. I feel like I’ve reached a good place, but I’m always on guard, and like all former addicts, I’m always avoiding things that can be a possible trigger.”

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Entertainment journalist and author Valerie Tejeda spends her days reporting on books, television, and all things pertaining to pop culture, and spends her nights writing novels for teens. Her stories have appeared on a variety of different publications, including but not limited to: VanityFair, MTV, The Huffington Post, TeenVogue, She Knows, Latina, The Fix, Salon.com, Cosmopolitan, and more. You can find Valerie on Linkedin and Twitter.

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