Your Sex Life & Dating a Commercial Fisherman

Chris Dabney Commercial Fisherman

I’m taking you through two phases that will occur when dating a commercial fisherman. Let’s dive in…

Phase 1

What inspired this series was an email I received this past June from a young lady named Aubrey (Hey Aubrey!). This was her first summer dating a commercial salmon fisherman and she wanted some friendly advice.

Happily, I gave it – the good, the bad, the ugly – then realized how certain feelings of mine have changed since that first summer Chris and I dated while he’s in Alaska. (I’m in my third summer now.)

(Catch up on the Dating a Commercial Fisherman series here, here, and here!)

gloucester fisherman statue
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.

The first summer away from your man, you will feel sexually frustrated…

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.

gloucester statue wives
A short stroll away is this statue, 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 bastard? I have needs!

Chris and I first started dating while he lived in Bellingham, Washington and I in Santa Barbara, California. One would fly to the other each month, but knowing he would be gone for the entire summer to commercial fish made me less hot, more bothered. Thoughts in my head screamed something like:

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

I never said those exact words out loud. The truth can be an ugly thing.

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

In solidarity, I sent Aubrey two stories on what I went through at the time. Here’s a sneak peek of, A Relationship Test. (Originally published in the I Heart column in the Santa Barbara Sentinel in 2016. Chris is known as “Jason” in the column.):

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…

So, we did something about it. We made our own dildo. (And it wasn’t pretty.) Check out the full story here:

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 the Santa Barbara Sentinel 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, Test of Faithfulness, here!:

Now entering Phase 2…

“But, by the third summer, alone time will feel like a vacation…

Comments from the last three blog post 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.

Some of us out there (like me) 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., like your sexual frustration in year one. By year two, your love of ALONE TIME!)

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, or 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. 

Megan Waldrep Miami Club
Me, at a club in Miami, during Chris’ second summer away. Of course, I missed Chris, but I embraced alone time LIKE A BOSS. #wishyouwerehere

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! 😂

#YAAASSS! So true!

Love you, miss you: The second summer sans Chris, my Bffs and I played on the Appalachian Trail (we only hiked about 4 miles of it. The rest of the time, we chilled.) Photo by Leslie Gillotte near Hot Springs, North Carolina.

Also, on the embrace-your-own-life train is photographer Bri Dwyer (who’s husband, Sean, is a star of the TV show Deadliest Catch!). Here’s my favorite take away from our interview (as seen in the last blog post):

“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.

Summer’s 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 for places to live out West, and preparing for our new life in California which has barely begun.

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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