Your Sex Life & Dating a Commercial Fisherman

Sex and Dating a Fisherman

Phase 1: The first summer apart, you will feel sexually frustrated

What inspired this series was an email I received this past June from a young lady named Aubrey. (Hey Aubrey!). It was her first summer dating a commercial salmon fisherman and she needed some friendly advice. Happily, I gave it – the good, the bad, the ugly – then I realized how certain feelings have changed since the first summer Chris and I dated while he was in Alaska. (I’m in my third summer now at the time of this writing.)

To remember that first summer Chris and I spent apart, I flipped back through old I Heart stories when dating a commercial fisherman was scary and new.

Turns out the scary part was our sex life.

Or, lack thereof.

(Click this link to read 9 Things You Should Know When Dating a Commercial Fisherman!)

Gloucester fisherman statue at night
Chris Dabney or “Jason” in the I Heart stories in front of the famous Gloucester Fisherman’s Memorial, November 2018. Last-minute, we flew to New England during our road trip back to our sailboat in Mexico to look for a commercial fishing lobster boat. (Spoiler alert: we found it!) I made sure we stopped by Gloucester for good vibes for his fishing seasons to come. I did this with lighthouses before we sailed to Mexico, too.
Gloucester Fishermans Wife Statue at Night
This statue is a short stroll away, honoring the women and children waiting for their loved ones to return from the sea. Google fact: This statue was “conceived by the Gloucester Fishermen’s Wives Association” in 2001. She’s probably thinking, “Where is that guy? I have needs!”

Chris and I first started long-distance dating while living in Bellingham, Washington, and Carpinteria, California. We took turns flying back and forth for several months, but the thought of him leaving to Alaska for the entire summer made this long-distance relationship feel…long as hell. Especially for a 33-year-old woman living in California. During our last days together, I’d look deep into his eyes and think:

Listen, dude. I’m at the prime of my life, and I’m holding out for you ALL SUMMER. I hope you appreciate this shit!

Here’s a sneak peek of a story called, A Relationship Test, that I originally published for the I Heart column in the Santa Barbara Sentinel in 2016. (Chris is known as “Jason” in the column.)

A Relationship Test

About nine months into our long-distance relationship, I had an honest conversation about how sexually frustrating his absence can be.

Not only did he live two states away – our relationship held together by long weekend visits and modern-day technology – but he was also about to leave for Alaska to commercial fish salmon for three months.

Rural Alaska. Where cell phone service is little to nonexistent.

“I know fishing is your livelihood and I respect that,” I said.“But I’m a woman with needs! It’s not easy for me.”

He nodded, slowly registering what I said, then grabbed his phone and began to Google…

To sum it up, we made a homemade dildo mold of Chris, and it wasn’t pretty.

Then, there was the time I ran into a former lover during our first summer apart. And not just any lover. The same lover I was writing about the moment Chris knocked on my office door the first day we met. This lover was seven years younger, Argetininan, and only lived in Santa Barbara for the summers. Rawr. (Author’s note: but not as “rawr” as Chris. 😉) Here’s a sneak peek from the day I ran into that fine foreign man, first published in the I Heart column in 2016:

I admit (to my friend) how hard it’s been now that Jason is working on a boat in Alaska – for three months with unreliable cell service – and how random encounters with good-looking men have become more apparent. The fact is, I am a woman with needs and there’s only so much I can do for myself. I confess my eye has wandered just a little bit…And that’s when I see him. (Catch the full story here: Test of Faithfulness)

What it's like to date a commercial fisherman
Pretty sure this was the moment when I said, in kinder words, “I’m holding out for you, dammit! You better appreciate this shit!” Chris and I are in my bachelorette pad in Carpinteria, California in 2016. We’d been dating for about 5 months.

Phase 2 of  By the third summer apart, alone time will feel like a vacation

Comments from the last three blog posts and Instagram, have opened a door to a community I didn’t really know existed but secretly hoped for: outspoken women who can relate to dating a commercial fisherman.

Like me, many of us out there don’t have many friends who date men in the industry. It can feel isolating as you wonder if others think the same as you, or if you’re an a-hole for thinking certain things. (i.e., sexual frustration one year, coveted alone time the second year.)

Not holding back on what will really save a woman in her position, here’s the number one piece of advice for Aubrey in How-To Long-Distance Date a Commercial Fisherman. (Author’s note: The piece was originally written as an email to her):

1. You’ll miss him very much, and that goes without saying. But my best advice is to harness that energy and embrace a new life without him. I mean this in the best way possible. Think of it as, being single without dating. You now have the freedom go to yoga, hike, or hit up happy hour or a juice bar, or eat cereal for dinner without the need to check in to see if he’s down for it, too. (I should reiterate that everything I mention, I mention with lots of love. But, a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do! Like watching marathons of Sex and the City [or insert favorite indulgence here].) And by year three, you will still miss him but it will kinda feel like you are on vacation. Kind of like, your own summer camp. 

I was so comforted to know that I am not alone (or an a-hole!) for these thoughts! Here’s an Instagram comment from Tina Salmon @highdesertdreamer that sings a similar tune:

“It gets easier, I promise…and as terrible as this may sound, someday you may be looking forward to that alone time 😂. I love my fisherman to the moon and back, but yeah…it’s great to be apart sometimes so you can come back to each other with fresh new stories and experiences AND hot sex ….but really 👉the house is SO CLEAN! 😂

Also, here is one of my favorite takeaways from an interview with photographer Bri Dwyer whose husband, Sean, was a star on the TV show Deadliest Catch:

“The best part about dating a commercial fisherman is the time we spend apart. I know that seems like it would be the worst…but the time we spend apart makes us both love and appreciate each other more. I’ve always been pretty independent, so I appreciate my alone time. But, more importantly, he knows that I can take care of what needs to be done while he’s away. I’m his strongest support and nothing makes me feel more proud than being able to be that for him.”

Beautifully said.

Phase 3 of Sex and Dating a Commercial Fisherman: Summer’s Finally Over

Today, July 31, 2019, Chris flies from Bristol Bay, Alaska to Bellingham, Washington, and eventually to Santa Barbara, California where he’ll build lobster traps for the upcoming commercial fishing season. (In Southern California, the lobster season starts in October and runs through March.)

Right now, I’m on the East Coast, researching places to live out West, and preparing for our new life in California. The last time I saw Chris was the morning after our engagement when he boarded a plane to Alaska at the end of May. I’m excited to see him, but I’m not in a huge rush.

And I mean that with lots of love. 🐟

What do you think? Have you ever dated long-distance or date a commercial fisherman? We’d love to hear your thoughts! Please share in the comments below!

Want more advice on dating a commercial fisherman? Catch up on the series:

[UPDATE] 9 Things To Know When Dating a Commerical Fisherman

How-To Long-Distance Date a Commercial Fisherman

Dating A Commercial Fisherman: Q&A w/ Photographer Bri Dwyer

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  1. I come from a fishing family my dad was a fisherman he had crab boats and f/t back in the day -he was highly successful , and of course he’s retired now and is in his 80s he and his wife which I totally look up to as a successful love story-although it wasn’t easy for the two of them and of course being children of a fisherman they did make it work and I am so proud of them!! So I myself have this fascination with it all I seem to romanticize it! I had a totally happy life married to the love of my life but he died suddenly of a heart attack and lost my 36 years of happiness! And of course as traumatizing as it sounds and it was you have to move forward and just as I was beginning to do that! I get a call from a family member asking me if I would like to meet someone again and if I was OK with it-never meeting this person but we both knew of each other I said sure! He was a “fisherman” we began talking just as the pandemic happened and he went up to Alaska he is a salmon fisherman I learned so much about this man as we spoke for months and months , and our famous last words were always we can’t wait to meet!! Our conversations got pretty juicy over the months after all they are men! And when we finally did meet I never knew I had things in me that I never knew that existed he brought out the best in me 🧜🏻‍♀️ Things got pretty intense between the two of us which it made it pretty easy to fall in love with this man! He became this champion the man who conquers the sea and when he’s on land he’s pretty amazing too he’s an avid hunter with his family and also a big family man all things that seem pretty desirable-he had one long term marriage that failed , but they are at good relations due to their grown children which is all a good thing they created a beautiful family as of yet I have never met them all-he likes to keep his life private he also had a second marriage that didn’t last and was very short I guess it didn’t end well and of course he was heartbroken which leads me to what I want to say! I believe totally in this man and I believe there’s an amazing man buried deep deep inside of him -he has lost total trust and given up on the idea of loving again although he wants it I think this is the terrible truth ! About women who don’t appreciate what they have especially when they have a A man at sea- my fisherman reeled me in and reeled me in he totally captured my heart and I was his for the taking only to find after two years he all of a sudden doesn’t want relationships anymore in his life so I was told!! So much more to say but it was a adventure for sure but you really have to know what you’re getting into which I did coming from a fishers family and I totally accepted it but it’s not for everyone you have to totally be 100% knowing what you’re getting into but it has to Work both ways.

    • I’ve read your piece several time since our first year together. No background in the industry but me meeting mine 6 years after moving to the NC coast and this Island after visiting since 1980. I fell head over heels. Knew nothing but my intense love for him. A very unhappy 38 year marriage he said. He said to me and showed me for awhile I was what he always wanted. Spoke of marriage and forever after early on. Couldn’t have been more proud of me and introduced me to all his fishing budies(Shrimpers) Shortly after he needed help in his retail market and I foolishly left my job to run it. That’s kind of a joke because this Fisherman never really takes his hand off the control. I loved him very much wanted forever and I thought we were building a future. Then my youngest beloved 27 year old son died. He was all I had since my sons death changed suddenly a close knit family. Not uncommon but he became all I had. I went back to work soon and did my best and he never left. I’m grateful to him for that because a lesser man would have. Fast forward to year two. He began to pull back emotionally and broke our engagement. Since then it’s gone back and forth. This summer was year 3. He doesn’t want to lose me but won’t give me the honor of being his wife. Which matters to me. Old fashioned I know but it is. I work very hard!!! And the absences and all the things in this article the sacrifices. I don’t mind it. I’ve embraced it and very much want this fishing life. But I want the honor and respect of being his wife. They are amazing men but they are not easy. They stick together too. There is a brotherhood I admire. It’s a double edge sword though because most of his are unhappily married the rest just live with women and laugh at how they get all benifits and their women are settling. Yes I’ve heard it. I still love him deeply very deeply the bond from going through the ultimate tragedy as it’s called when you lose a child (it is) bonded me even more. I admire and respect what he does so well. My heart is broken though that he just never will marry me, make any kind of commitment. I’m getting resentful and I don’t like that. I’ve never been that kind of person. These men don’t change their minds do they??? This life gets in you. If I walk away I’ll forever keep up with fishing and I’ll never love anyone as deeply as this man. I had a customer last summer say to me “You’re like the song Brandy” an old 70’s song I remember well. It hit me for some reason even though I grew up in the NC Piedmont far from the Ocean when I first heard the song. Maybe a harbinger of things to come. I am now Brandy. Im tired and hurt from being Forever Brandy. No one but women like all of you get this life. Any thoughts out there? Do these men ever change their minds??? Thank you. This morning I just didn’t know where else to turn😔

      • Hi, Paula. I am so deeply sorry that you experienced the loss of your son. I hold you in my heart. <3

        How are things now with you and your fisherman? Have you spoken to him about your feelings before, and what did he say? Thanks for your patience with the delayed response. I am here. Sending love, and please let me know how you're doing! 🙂

      • He asked me to marry him!!! A lovely weekend away and that did it! Running our retail market as usual and more comfortable with the long absences. April 5th 2024. It is peaceful and we are excited for the future. It will always be a challenge to live in a world without my beautiful boy but love never dies, it lives on. There is contentment in our world. He is happy too. Asked me once “why didn’t we do this before now?” I almost laughed out loud! So the answer to the question do Fishermen ever change their minds is yes!! They do! Mine did!! Megan thank you for your work. It matters very much. It’s made a difference for me. None of the women in my small village talk about what it’s like for them. They just have the mindset of suck it up. When I found your articles and then your site it just made all the difference for me. I didn’t feel so alone in my sometimes struggle to live this life and live it well. I’m so very grateful. My Fisherman thinks it’s made a difference and he too is grateful. This is like no other life and they are like no other men. You don’t know until you know what all this is. It can be overwhelming. You, your work and all who follow you are a safe harbor for women like me. Hugs and gratitude! Paula

        • Paula! Wow, congratulations! I’m so happy for you and your fisherman. To be able to show up for each other, listen to the others needs, and grow together is what makes it a true partnership and the LOVE fuller because it’s based in respect. Cheers to you both and your future together!

          And thank you from the deepest part of my heart for your kind words about what this community and what the blog has meant to you! I’m having a real full circle moment right now. My greatest wish is and has been for partners to find a place to belong, find value, and know that some understand in ways others do not….and you sharing your loving thoughts makes me feel that I’m not alone, too! Thanks for that, and thanks for coming back and knowing there is a “safe harbor” for you. Love that.

          I’m excited to bring more value to our community next year with helpful resources and experts that can help guide us through the commercial fishing lifestyle from beginning to end. Stay tuned! And if you haven’t checked it out, the private forum is where you can connect with other POCFs worldwide and hope on Zooms, links to private podcasts, giveaways, and more! Here’s a link if you’re interested: and here’s a link to the podcast if you haven’t heard it yet. It’s fun!: The podcast is available on Apple, Spotify, and more. 

          Regardless, BIG hugs to you, Paula. So happy for you and so happy you are here!

          • Thank you so much. I live in Salter Path the middle of the Island off Morehead City NC. It’s the oldest community on the island. Good people but a very closed community. That’s made things even harder because although I’d lived here years before I met my man they really reacted when I started dating him. It’s made it much harder. The loneliness in this life I love has been so hard. I’m doing alright now that I found you and this group. And they are beginning to make their peace with this unique women from another place. I no longer try to fit in I’m simply me. I found a Godsend by simply Googling a question in deep despair one day and found your article on your experience. Turns out I’m not so weird after all. It is suck it up for the women here and that makes me sad now that I know a better way. They wear it almost as a badge of honor yet I know it covers a lot of pain. Many broken marriages and heartaches. More than ever this generation needs a better way. A safe harbor. Keep going Megan. You’re changing lives. And I see in my beloved that it’s changing our men’s lives too. Thank you again from the bottom of my heart. Paula

  2. Omg thank u for being so honest and sharing ur feelings .this is the first time dating a commercial fisherman and it sucks he leaves at the end of the year for Costa Rica for four months with beautiful women everywhere and it’s scary I look forward to reading more of ur stories and thanks for sharing good to know I’m not alone

    • CORI! Girl, you are NOT alone! Though it sucks that he’s gone, it will give you plenty of time to figure out what you want out of the relationship, both physically and emotionally. I once interviewed a partner of a commercial fisherman who has been married for over thirty years, and she said that HE was the one that had to put trust in her that she wouldn’t step out on the relationship… considering she’s on land with “options” everywhere and he’s working hard at sea. Remember that it goes both ways. Express to your fisherman how you feel and what y’all can do to stay connected while he’s gone. What’s cell service like? Does he have a satellite communication device (or will the captain have one)? Don’t forget that YOU’RE A QUEEN and he is lucky to have such a loving girlfriend like you. Of course, your delivery can be a little less blunt than that, but you get the idea. Communicate, make a plan, then put your trust in your relationship and LIVE YOUR BEST LIFE WHILE HE’S GONE. No need to wait on the sidelines for four months, Queen. Having fun without him doesn’t mean you love him any less. It means you’re going into yourself and fueling that independent spirit, which you’ll need as your relationship with a commercial fisherman progresses. Talk to your man. YOU GOT THIS. (Also, super happy you found our Private FB group! Welcome to the Family!) Thanks for your comment! Please talk to our FB community or email me at anytime! We are here for you! xo

  3. My fisherman actually sent me this blog to read at my leisure and I love it! I relate to you 120% girl! It’s tough but so worth it.

    • Piper! I’m so glad we can relate. You’re right; it’s tough but totally worth it. And might I add bonus points to your fisherman for sending this blog to you. Not for the faint of heart, and it shows what a supportive Gent he is to make you (all of us) feel less alone! Bravo! 🙂

      • Yes we had lots of communication that’s what made it so wonderful!! I accepted him for everything he is at sea and on land-I wanted to be his sweet harbor and he said he wanted it too he wanted it he said-but I also have the wisdom and knowledge as being married for 36 years to a land man I know what it takes to have a good relationship so weather at sea or land there’s a lot of tweaking that goes on throughout the years! A fisherman Hass to know every nook and cranny of their boat they know every sound and bump and swish and swash of their boat it just comes down to trust!! I am the total faithful kind of girl and you love your man they’re your champions and you’re there sweet harbor!! How great it is when they come back !! I think of course whether land or see it wasn’t so much me it was more about him! He lost something that was precious to him at one time and he doesn’t want to trust again I can’t help what happened to him in the past I’m not to blame but that goes without saying in any relationship!