Psychology Magazine

01/01/2018

Psychology Magazine about double lives

On January 1st 2018, Psychology Magazine published a series of portraits of persons leading a double life. They interviewed a high class escort of Society Service, who combines her work as a high class escort with her studies at university. The article was published in Dutch but below you can find a summary in English.

Double lives: Living with a secret

It all started with an innocent excuse – but before they knew it there was no way back and they where leading a double life. ‘Lying became a habit.’

Shame and fear for loss of face are the most common reasons for leading a double life. Andreas Wismeijer, professor psychology at the University of Tilburg, is promoted on secrets. Where does this shame come from? ‘We are pack animals and do not want to be rejected.’ Rejection generates psychic pain, but also directly effects our health: our immune system weakens when others around us reject us. ‘Expectations of rejection can be enough to hide certain things,’ according to Wismeijer.

Feeling in love, but also the desire for excitement, like with escortgirl Isabelle, or an addiction, like with gambling addict Marco, can motivate a person to lead a double life. Andreas Wismeijer adds: ‘A secret life can also be an outlet. Sometimes we have preferences we know others would not accept.’ For example: a dentist who practices SM, he needs to keep this a secret. And to have sex with strangers for money is something a student would need to keep a secret. Andreas Wismeijer: ‘To give room to such secretive needs can be health – it avoids building up frustration.’

Lying day in day out, putting on an act, manipulation… That must create stress. However, recent studies from the American university teacher Michael Slepian show our thoughts of a secret live create even more stress. Michael Slepian researches the influence of secrets on our day to day ability to function. He uses the theory of two professors social psychology, Daniel Wagner and Julie Lane. Wismeijer: ‘According to them, we suppress thoughts of a secret life to avoid giving away ourselves. We would prefer to forget about the secret. This only results in thinking about it more.’ Keeping it a secret seems like a strategic way to avoid the nasty consequences, but the secret can put strong pressure on us, of which the consequences can not be overseen. This is also shown by research done by communication-scientist Anita Vangelisti, keeping an unbearable secret is of great importance in suicide. 

The relief we feel when the secret ceases to exist, is often enormous. Michael Slepian explains this by the fact that a person keeping a big secret always takes into consideration the risk of being discovered, with the possible ‘punishment’ which can result from it. ‘The constant threat hanging over your head, is terrible. When this ends, you feel released from future punishment.’ In addition to that, the reaction of others is often not that terrible. After people are discovered or they own up to their secret, the feared rejection often does not occur. They are accepted more than expected all this time. Like the former gambling addict Marco, who said: ‘My wife had every reason to be furious, but she showed compassion.’

Student Isabelle (23) has an exiting job as a callgirl.

“During the day I wear jeans and sneakers; at night I take a shower and dress up in a fancy dress, heels, earrings and make-up. I put some nice curls in my hair. When stepping into a taxi to a hotel looking like that, my neighbors are sometimes peaking at me. I just smile at them. I enjoy the luxury this job offers me. Other students need to settle for terrible wine, I get to taste the finest wines. And yes, the money is good, but I never show I am making a lot of money. I bring my own lunchbag to class, like all other students.”

“At first, it was a bit strange to me to visit a strange man in a hotel. I was afraid I wouldn’t know what to say. But talking always goes effortless. I was also afraid my clients would be terrible creeps  But so far that’s not the case. The clients of Society Service are not perverts, but well groomed and intelligent gentlemen. They are sweet and treat me with respect, make an effort to courteous and make sure I am having a great time as well. I enjoy sex and like to arouse a man.”

“My parents don’t know I am doing this. It would only scare them and they would worry all the time. In the beginning I found it difficult to hide this part of my life to them, I felt guilty. But I’ve decided my sex life is private, it is none of their business. I am currently not in a relationship and have no desire to be so. When anybody asks me if I have a job on the side, I tell them I work as a temp. I don’t want to have to defend myself. There is only one girlfriend who knows about me working as a high class escort. We applied to the escortservice together, I was scared to do it all on my own. I was hired, she was not. She now works at an other escortservice. It’s nice to share experiences. And sometimes exchanging tips and trucs can be rather handy, for example about a good brand lubricant or fun sex toys.”

“I block my availability during periods with exams. There have been occasions when I was very tired the day after a booking. That’s what happens when the two lives get mixed up. I don’t want that. My studies are always priority. After I graduate, I hope to start a commercial job. I sometimes wonder: what if I meet one of my clients. But it’s a code to be discreet.”