Anya is a Croatian girl who is working as a sex worker in East Sussex. How becoming an escort in Hastings has empowered me as a young woman.

I have been an escort from the age of 18. I live in a different country than the one I grew up in, I decided to leave and become a sex worker to be financially independent from my parents.  At some point in my life, my minimum wage jobs not only were not enough in a financial sense, but they were boring to me. I wanted some form of excitement to my days. When I left Croatia to work as an escort I knew that I would be popular with the local men, As a Eastern European girl with fire in our bellies wherever I went men would look at me in a sensual way, that was the beginning of my flirtatious way with greeting clients.

In the first month, I have seen over 20 men and I have made more in my first month as a Hastings escort than the year prior's earnings. I was hooked. But I knew I wasn't going to do this forever, I wanted to build something of my own, use my brain. So I have saved as much as I could so I could leave one day. I have enjoyed the job and done everything I liked to do, with men who respected me and needed company. It has also happened that I refunded customers who I have refused to have sex with when I discovered they were married.

I kind of acted as a therapist a lot of times. I think that escorting should be legalized. Financial pressures into youth are getting unbearable, and a lot of jobs do not support you if you develop mental health issues. Not only, nobody could take my input seriously and help me grow. I have been an escort in Sussex for a few years, made business contacts, learned from many of my clients' experiences, and opened my own business that is thriving thanks to the money I make as a Hastings escort. It has not been all unicorns and roses, but I would do it again and ultimately has empowered me as a woman. Oh, and I am now an incredible pole dancer too.

Is it less controversial for a married man to visit a Hastings escort agency than embark on an affair with another married woman?

Like everything else over the last few years, the escorts landscape has undergone a revolution. More people than ever are turning to apps or websites to find a connection.  Over half of adults aged 30 or younger have used a escorts site, and that number isn't going down any time soon.

But online escorts on xlamma or Eduk are used by different people looking for different things.  While some are just looking for a casual fling, many turn to these sites to find a genuine connection.  Have they become the best way to find a long-term relationship?

With so many people using apps and escorts sites, it's inevitable that many of them will find long term or even lifelong partners online. 30% of men and women have tried online escorts in one form or another, and that number has only increased during a year of self-isolation and quarantining.

Within the LGBT community, online escorts in Hastings is even more common. More than half of queer young adults use escorts sites regularly, and they're twice as likely as their straight counterparts to start a relationship online. escorts apps have become an intrinsic part of a community where finding a partner interested in you isn't always easy.

But how many of those relationships actually stick?  This is a more difficult question to answer. It's also one that more and more young people start to ask as they look for a committed relationship. It's a common view that relationships started through escorts apps are based on shallow first impressions rather than compatible values or belief systems. If this was true, you'd expect more traditional methods of meeting people to result in longer-lasting, more fulfilling relationships.

In comparing online escorts in Sussex to meeting people through mutual friends, for example, a lot of interesting differences stand out. Friends are still one of the most common ways to start a relationship and almost half of adults have found a partner through their circle at one point or another in their lives. It's a common complaint that meeting strangers online can feel unsafe, and escorts someone already vetted by your friends feels a lot less dangerous.

But once you've gotten past that initial barrier, online escorts might actually be better for a long-term relationship. Couples that start online have reported more satisfaction and a more stable relationship compared to those that got their start in other ways. It turns out that escorts apps actually offer a better chance of a happy marriage than meeting someone through friends and work.  Not only that, but people escorts online are more likely to get to that point in a relationship as well.

Studies have shown that a third of every marriage today started online. A huge number of people are defying the stereotypes of escorts apps and beginning lifelong commitments through their phones.  That's more than any other single method of finding a partner. Although not every marriage is destined to end happily, escorts apps give people today a better chance of finding and keeping a strong, long-lasting relationship.

Here's some more facts about online escorts and marriage. Marriages where the partners found each other on a escorts site last just as long as those where they meet in other ways. People who get married to someone they met through an app or online report that they're in a better, happier relationship than those who don't. And those who start a relationship through a website or app are more likely to marry their partner than those who don't.

It all adds up to suggest one thing: online escorts might not only be a good way to find someone to be with forever, it might be the best way. The old stigma around escorts is disappearing more and more every year as the number of people using them continues to grow.  It's becoming clear that the love of your life could be no more than a few swipes away.

Still,  that's only true if you're looking at the overall numbers for online escorts. There are plenty of places - particularly more rural and isolated communities - where escorts apps are less popular. If you already know everyone in the town where you live, the internet doesn't seem too useful as a way of meeting people.

But even in these places, escorts websites open new doors. Long-distance relationships - an idea that might have been next to impossible 100 years ago - are flourishing with the rise of the internet. Now people can meet someone, get to know them, and fall in love from across an ocean without ever seeing them face-to-face.

The same goes for groups in larger cities. escorts sites make it much easier to find someone different from you, whether in race, nationality, upbringing, outlook, or a thousand other ways. Since online escorts became mainstream, it's become possible to access more or less an infinite number of potential partners. That amount of choice can seem overwhelming at first, but it's invaluable while trying to find someone you want to be with for the rest of your life.

Life has changed in a lot of ways since the internet got big, but some of the most dramatic differences might be in the escorts world. By this point, everyone knows that apps and websites are the easiest way to find a fling or a one night stand, but the way they've changed how marriages and long-term relationships is a little more surprising. xlamma's been around for less than a decade, and while it wasn't the first way to find a partner on the internet, it was the first one to really blow up the Hastings escorts scene.

It's only been in the last few years that it's been possible to study the outcomes of long-term relationships and marriages that got their start through the internet. But now that the research has been done, one thing's been made clear: if you're looking for love, the best place to start is in your pocket.

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