The usual cliche goes like this: men go to sex workers for raw, animalistic pleasure, as a release from the bonds of marriage, or just as an antidote to a lonely life of business or travel. In an age of internet anonymity and dating, relationships and the way we meet people have also changed drastically. All of those cliches about men who return to sex workers for simple satisfaction have undoubtedly occurred around the world more than a few times, but a new study suggests that some men are also seeking friendship, love and partnership from sex workers they return to repeatedly.
The two American authors of the study, Christine Milrod and Ronald Weitzer, analyzed over 2,000 postings on an online discussion board where reportedly over 1 million clients of sex workers review and write about their experiences, according to the Times of India.
The researchers noticed that about 1/3 of the men responding on the discussion board included elements of emotional and romantic caring for the sex workers they returned to again and again. As Milrod stated about the study:
In recent years, we have come to see a gradual normalization of independent escort prostitution, where sexual encounters have come to resemble quasi-dating relationships.
The researchers noted that elements of the classic romantic or dating script were evident in about 1/3 of the posts, hinting that men who return to the same sex workers are looking for more than just a sexual release but also a relationship with another person. It is worth noting that the study specifically looked at men who returned to the same sex worker. These were the subjects that used romantic ideas when discussing their relationships.
Perhaps we didn’t need a study to uncover that human relationships of every type are often complex and circuitous. The study was published in the academic journal Men and Masculinities and offers perhaps a more nuanced understanding of masculine sex drives as well as the fact that sex workers cannot be lumped into a generic category, and should not be dehumanized. One of the most poignant insights Milrod hits on is that these relationships destigmatize both client and worker in a way that adds a level of nuance to these relationships and the people involved.
Photo Credit: Tomas Castelazo