Paying for sex — and love. A survey of men who look for sex online finds they’re more interested in emotion than getting kinky

Posted by: on Sep 19, 2012 | No Comments

They’re rich, married, middle-aged — and they pay for sex. But they aren’t looking for taboo sex they can’t get at home: These men want an emotional connection.

That’s according to a new survey of men who look for sex online, rather than on the storied street corner, and trade reviews on a website called the Erotic Review (as a Gawker headline once put it, “It’s like Yelp, but for hookers”). These men are connoisseurs of the sex trade, although they refer to themselves as “hobbyists.” The nearly 600 men surveyed were mostly white, middle-aged, highly educated and pulling in six figures. They aren’t necessarily representative of users of the Erotic Review, let alone the much broader sex-buying community.

But the findings, even given these limitations, are fascinating — take that most of these “hobbyists” are primarily concerned that a provider has “a happy and cheerful personality.” That’s why I decided to talk to Christine Milrod, a psychotherapist and one of the lead authors on the study, about the so-called Girlfriend Experience, in which sex workers provide the illusion of a more romantic, cash-free transaction — and why these “hobbyists” are drawn to it.

So how would you summarize what you found in terms of what these hobbyists are looking for in sex-for-pay?

Well, the thing that struck me the most was the whole concept of the Girlfriend Experience, and the fact that the behaviors themselves really mirror conventional non-remunerative romantic relationships. Meaning, these men are not doing anything else they couldn’t be doing at home, they’re just bored with a non-paying partner. The behaviors, the kissing, the fact that they engage in penile-vaginal sex more often than fellatio, that’s really important, because most studies show, and I think it’s the perception in people’s minds, that, “Oh, well, they can’t get a blow job at home so they have to get it from someone else.” That’s not true for these men.

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Tracy Clark-Flory Tracy Clark-Flory is a staff writer at Salon. Follow @tracyclarkflory on Twitter.

 

 

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