1. “Sleeping with a prostitute almost ended my relationship”
Jamie, 31, an office worker from Liverpool, says:
“About six years ago I went to Amsterdam with four single friends on a lads’ holiday. We said we were going for the ‘coffee shops’ but I think we all knew beforehand that we’d also be keen to sleep with a prostitute while we were there. So late on the Saturday night we all split up and wandered through the glass doorways which have women posing behind them.
It took me a while to pick the girl I wanted and the whole experience felt a bit like having the oil changed on my car – it was quick, it was pedestrian and I really didn’t feel much. I don’t remember thinking about the woman’s situation and why she was making money that way. I think most blokes presume that the woman is well-paid and is doing it by choice – that’s what we want to believe anyway.
“I didn’t feel any guilt about it – just vague disappointment that it was rubbish sex with a girl who I don’t think really wanted to be there. I used a condom – I thought it would be insane not to, and I didn’t have a choice anyway. She told me she would never have had sex without one.
“It was only when I moved in with my current fiancé that I felt guilty about it. I felt I had to be completely honest with her about my past so eventually I did tell her that I went with a prostitute once. She was very, very upset about it and I had to move back in with my parents for a few days. She told me that it would take her a long time to reconcile her image of me with what I did that night. I think her main point was that I didn’t need to ever do that as I was attractive enough to pull women without paying for it. It took a lot of reassuring on my behalf to convince her that I wouldn’t go and do it again.
“I still know people who sleep with prostitutes and whereas in the past I would feel sorry for them, now I feel angry with them. Not only is it something that will come back and bite you one day, from a purely selfish point of view it’s also pointless, in that it’s wasting money on bad sex that benefits nobody at all.”
2. “I sleep with escorts when I travel for work”
Sam, 28, a sales executive from London, says:
“I think I’ve probably slept with around a dozen escort girls while I’ve been in the Far East. I’m there constantly for my work and it is definitely a more accepted part of male work culture in places like Bangkok, Seoul and Hong Kong than it is in Europe. I’ve even heard of Christmas parties where the CEO pays for his best workers to have a girl for the night.
“I know the best agencies so I normally phone ahead and get a girl to have dinner and cocktails with me and then we’ll go back to my hotel room for sex. I don’t think there’s really any moral element to it. I know that these agencies treat the women well – they get to keep a big chunk of what they earn for themselves and, from talking to them, it seems the majority do it because it’s easy hours and better money than they could earn elsewhere.
I like the women to be intelligent and sophisticated as I’ll be taking them to expensive places. I prefer it if we can hold a good conversation but if she really is smoking hot in the looks department I tend to just do most of the talking myself and let her relax.
“I’m single at the moment because of my constant travelling but I’m certain that I’m intelligent enough to be able to separate sex with an escort girl from sex with a long term partner. I think that would be like confusing a hotel room with a home. With escort girls, it’s pure short-term satisfaction and I like the total lack of emotional involvement and the fact that there is no deception. I want sex. She wants money. And if we can both enjoy ourselves in the process then so much the better.
“I tell my close friends what I do and I think on the whole other men are sympathetic. There’s nothing sleazy about it. I don’t go to brothels and I don’t think I exploit vulnerable women. What I do is above board and not hurting anyone. What’s more, the sex is almost always very enjoyable. The fact that we don’t know each other lets me experiment and have adventures in a way I’d be nervous to with a long term partner.
When I decide to settle down with somebody I wouldn’t ever tell them about these things. I can’t see the point in hurting somebody over something that means so little and happened in my past.”
3. “I feel guilty and ashamed”
Chris, 30, a housing officer from Brighton, says:
“It’s hard for me to talk about this as I still can’t actually believe that I did something so stupid. My girlfriend had just walked out on me at the end of a very bad relationship and I was at home, drunk and lonely, so I decided to go online and get a girl to come over. I made the phone call, got a price and booked it so quickly that I didn’t have time to think it through.
“It was a totally spontaneous decision and I certainly got the impression from the way the woman looked at me that she thought I was pitiful as a person, although she did her best to be professional about the whole thing.
Afterwards I didn’t want to have sex with anyone for a long time. I just felt that any woman in a bar could tell – just by looking at me – that I was the kind of guy who slept with prostitutes.
“It’s only after getting into a new relationship with a girl who’s a social worker that I’ve seen statistics about the number of prostitutes who are either in gangs that they can’t get out of or are being forced by pimps to do things they don’t want to do that I started thinking about it from a viewpoint other than my own.
“I still haven’t told my girlfriend about what I did, and I’m scared to. I think of my feelings of guilt as punishment for what I did. My close friends who know have told me to lighten up, but I find this very hard. I think I took part in something cheap, exploitive and shameful and I don’t foresee a time when I won’t regret it hugely.”
4. “I sleep with prostitutes because I can’t chat up women”
Joe, 36, a solicitor from London, says:
“I have very low self-esteem around women. Although I find it easy to be their friend, I’m a red-blooded male so I often use social networking sites like Craig’s List to find women who will have sex for money – my housemate is the only one who knows about it.
“I like to have a conversation and see a photo of them first, which I do online, and then we’ll make a date where she’ll come round to my house. I usually have a bottle of wine waiting for them but usually they don’t have any and just want to get on with it, which is fine by me.
“The women I’ve been with – and there have probably been between 12 and 15 over the last year or so – are usually pleasant, polite and seem eager for me to have a good time. I sometimes request the same woman to come back again but it isn’t really that important. I like to have variety as I don’t want to get too attached to any of these girls.
Deep down, however, I know what I’m doing is probably damaging me in some way. If it was a healthy thing to do then we’d live in a society where we could be much more open about it. The problem is that it’s just so easy. I enjoy the fact that I can meet a new girl, have sex with her and then just leave it at that.
“There have been a couple of occasions where I haven’t had sex with the girl and I’ve just talked with her. I still haven’t fully understood why I do this but it certainly makes me feel better to be with somebody and talk, knowing they can’t tell anyone I know and that they won’t judge me.
“In the back of my mind, one of the reasons I keep doing it is that I want to have a proper ‘porn star’ experience. Of course, it’s never like that – it’s just fairly ordinary sex but it’s given me this expectation that I want sex to be like what I see in porn films. I know this is absurd and I do worry that the way I feel about sex is somehow a little warped now.
I’m sure that when I do find a girlfriend I like then I’ll stop paying for sex but for now, despite the fact that I know it’s not good for me, I still find it better than going through life having no sex at all.”
5. “I hired a prostitute with my girlfriend”
Richard, 30, a fashion stylist from London, says:
“My girlfriend used to be a lap dancer and she’s very relaxed and open about sex. She is also bisexual and, as we like to make each other’s fantasies come true, we hired an escort girl to come to our hotel room during a holiday in Rotterdam a few years ago for a threesome.
“The only rule my girlfriend gave me was that I wasn’t allowed to actually have sex with her. Everything else was fine. The girl was from Slovenia and we had some drinks with her before we started kissing. She was pretty, about 21 and she seemed to be very clued up about what to expect.
“I think having my girlfriend there made a huge difference to how comfortable she felt. The girl in question was studying for her degree and seemed very confident that she was in control of the situation and only doing escort work to pay her way through university.
“I can’t speak for other men’s experiences of paying for sex, but for me it was a very exciting, very satisfying experience. There’s no way I was exploiting the girl in question. She was paid well for doing something which I think she enjoyed. Maybe she is treated badly by other guys but I know in Holland escort girls are entitled to medical care – and I think there’s even a trade union for them. Me and my girlfriend really enjoyed the experience and we’d definitely do it again. In fact, my girlfriend talks about that night more than I do!”