This is the first chapter of Ariel Meadow Stallings' book, PROS BEFORE BROS, a true story about sex work and grabbing your own healing by the balls.

The Pitch 

“I didn’t want to dom you,” whined the guy who’d spent six months slapping my face, cuffing my wrists behind my back, and training me to deep-throat. “…I just wanted a life partner.” 

Wait, could that be true? I thought to myself, feeling anxious and confused and judged and overpowered and unsure of myself, like I always did when talking to this former lover who was equal parts intelligent, controlling, and insecure.  

Somehow, a year after our six-month relationship was over, I was still head-fucked… and I was the one who’d ended the relationship! Did I somehow coerce him into bossing me around? Is it possible to coerce someone else to forcefully make you do stuff? Is that even a thing?  

Having spent 18 years in a comfortably gentle vanilla marriage where power plays were things like giving gentle side-eye if the garbage wasn’t taken out, I was a woman in my 40s with absolutely no idea. I did what any confused middle-aged person does: I asked a younger friend for advice, in this case my pal Caroline, a longtime kink practitioner. 

“Stop speaking to this person immediately,” my friend said. “You got mind-fucked by power play last year, and you’re still getting mind-fucked. Whether it’s intentional or not doesn’t matter at this point — the power dynamic is still in effect, and it’s damaging your self-esteem.” 

I immediately started crying, which meant they were probably right. I’m only a couple years out from a very abrupt divorce, so I generally have no idea what I’m doing. 

“You need to stop messing around with these bros and go to a professional,” Caroline told me. “Go get positively mind-fucked by someone who’s committed to building you up for your benefit and growth, instead of someone who’s wearing you down to serve their own sexual needs.” 

“…A professional mind-fucker?” I was confused. “Wait — you mean like a dominatrix therapist or life coach or something?” 

“You need to stop messing around with these bros and go to a professional,” Caroline told me.

“Yes of course,” my friend said, and under my tears, my cheeks flushed red, embarrassed by my divorced lady naivete. I mean, I’ve been on Tinder! I’ve been dating! I’ve had more than my share of hookups and even that threesome with that tiny obgyn and it’s not like I’m completely clueless here… but when it comes to sexual power dynamics, I am out of my element. 

“You need someone who takes rebuilding your self-esteem seriously. Someone who’s trained and experienced, who knows what they’re doing, and who will bend your mind responsibly, toward the goals you want.” 

And so, alone at home in Seattle on one of the nights when my son was staying with his father, I settled into the armchair next to my bed, cracked open my laptop, and started googling.  

I work on the web. I’m sure I can figure this out… 



My first decision was that I decided I wanted someone out of town, both to keep things compartmentalized and because sex makes travel more fun. Seattle is for living; San Francisco is for fucking!  

Then I decided I wanted a woman instead of a man, because historically I partner with men and play with women… and I guess this qualified as play? Play therapy? Is that what this is? Maybe that’s what this is. God knows I’ve tried almost every other kind of therapy to get over my divorce PTSD… talk therapy, meditation, sound healing, reiki, shooting guns, dance classes, endless self-help books. Let’s call this play therapy. 

So I’d narrowed it down: I wanted a female dom in San Francisco. I wanted her to be hot and kinky, but also whip smart and understanding the more woo-woo energetic aspects of sex as well. I wanted someone in my age bracket. 

…In other words, I wanted someone sort of like me — but in San Francisco, and way more experienced.   

If I’ve learned anything about myself, it’s that I project my values and fears onto the people around me, using them as a screen for my best and worst qualities. It made sense then that if I was going to go shopping for a person to bend my head and be the focus of my fantasies, I should pick a projection subject who seemed to possess the qualities I want to encourage in myself.  

…Be the change you wish to see in the world, and fuck the person who embodies the change you wish to see in yourself? 

So, sitting there in Seattle, I typed “SF domme” into the search engine, and let the algorithms decide. 


What now?