Can Intimacy Be Bought?

Illustration of man giving rosesThe oldest profession in the world has undergone a makeover in recent years. Although subtle, the changes to prostitution are having ripple effects. The business that used to be marketed on street corners and in seedy bars has gone high class. Escorts that provide sexual services are available as companions for outings, family gatherings, business functions and other events that are usually reserved for significant others. And the lure of having a date for these important occasions, and being guaranteed sex, is becoming irresistible for many men. However, the men who pay for sex are discovering that it is not just the sex they really want but the love and intimacy that come with it.

Researchers from George Washington University conducted an online examination of conversations between clients and escorts and found that of the 2,442 posts, many were about things other than sex. The authors believe that the transition from sex to pseudo-relationship that is emerging in the world of prostitution is due in large part to the mock dating services that escort companies provide as part of the overall package. Men enter into an agreement for companionship and sex but may soon find that the close, personal conversations and comforting presence of the escort cause them to fall in love. Christine Milrod, a sexologist and coauthor of the study, says this is especially true when a client patronizes the same escort repeatedly.

The popularity of this “girlfriend experience” of sex for hire can blur the lines between sexual satisfaction and relationship attachment. Although many of the men surveyed said that they hire sexual escorts primarily for the sex, they enjoyed the fact that the women were obligated to engage in conversations with them. They also liked being able to explore sexual fantasies that they might not otherwise have an opportunity to explore. The fact that an emotional and intimate connection may develop is merely a byproduct of this novel approach to prostitution. The authors added, “Like any other commercially packaged leisure activity, intimacy is now readily available for a price.”

Bennet-Smith, Meredith. (Sept. 4, 2012). Men who pay for sex may also be hoping to find true love, study finds. Huffington Post. Retrieved Sept. 6, 2012, from

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The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

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  • N.Mills

    September 14th, 2012 at 11:40 AM

    While there may have been a shift in the way prostitution is conducted,I do not think it means you can buy intimacy.If sex and the instant gratification that comes with hiring a prostitute is intimacy,then well that is just the wrong definition in my books.

    Although some men may fall in ‘love’ with these escorts after they go back to the same individual repeatedly,I do not think it is the same as being in a relationship.I am sure going through the history of such men would tell the reason why it happens in them,why they fall in ‘love’.

  • Larry

    December 10th, 2018 at 3:34 PM

    Men go to prostitutes for all kinds of reasons. Not all involve sex. If a prostitute is a savvy business person which many of them are then they will be willing to emotionally manipulate their clients if they feel that’s what their clients want. You can pretty much buy anything a girlfriend will offer her partner. conversation, compliments, cuddling, kissing, comfort. Nothing is out of bounds in this industry and the sex workers that really want to make money will offer it all.

  • Chuck

    September 14th, 2012 at 12:01 PM

    My two cent anecdotal note…… I’ve taken a tour of a legal brothel twice in my life (Frankfurt, Germany and Wells, Nevada) and hired an illegal street sex worker in Halifax, Nova Scotia on one occasion. I found the brothels to be dark, dreary, uninteresting establishments. The street worker (I think, I was pretty drunk) turned out to have a bit of a five o’clock shadow, but was very kind and gave me a ride back to the ship from a very unsafe neighbourhood, so I call that a net positive experience. I’ve heard truckers chatting happily on the CB to their “partner” as they drove away from an experience and it did sound like they felt they had really connected personally with the girl.

  • faithful

    September 14th, 2012 at 3:17 PM

    This is all I have to say-
    if you have to pay for it, it ain’t the real thing

  • Theo

    September 15th, 2012 at 3:57 AM

    If this is what floats your boat, then hey, be afe anout it ans go for it. But don’t think that this is the real thing, don’t get confused that this is what real love and intimacy is. You don’t have to pay someone if they really want to be with you, just remember that.

  • Tyrone

    September 15th, 2012 at 7:09 AM

    I have done it but it just isn’t the same. I want someone who wants to talk and engage with me cause I’m the kind fo guy she’s looking for, not just because I have the money to pay for it.

  • defoe

    September 15th, 2012 at 2:55 PM

    how do people even compare a hired escort to the love and connection that comes with a real relationship?!it is astounding even to hear this.there can be no comparison between the two,because its like comparing a medal you won with your hard work to one you bought off the shelf!

  • suzanne

    September 16th, 2012 at 5:23 AM

    Does this seem dangerous to everyone else the way it seems damgerous to me?

    I mean, these people come to think that they are in love with this person, but the person, good actor or not, more than likely does not feel the same way.

    Sounds like that is definitely setting yourself up for a lot of hurt. And my theiry is that if you are already having to pay for these kind of services then dealing with relationship hurt is not something that you are going to respond to very well.

  • anderson

    September 16th, 2012 at 12:39 PM

    I agree with you susan. I mean what has the world come to! We have to buy intimacy from someone who is only doing whatever it is just for the money? Why is this happening? Is it because of degrading relationships in general? Is it due to our belief that we can buy anything? Or is it something else?

    I don’t think there can ever be a clear and definite answer to this but we really need to look into ourselves if we catch ourselves doing something like this!

  • JUAN

    September 16th, 2012 at 9:18 PM

    Can intimacy be bought? Well maybe. Can it be sustained? Not at all! I think that is all people need to realize and know. It’s somewhat like an addiction – short term feel-good factor but harmful in the long run.

  • Hannah

    September 17th, 2012 at 4:01 AM

    I am appalled at even the concept that someone thinks that they have to pay for something so private and intimate. I think that even though this could be the oldest profession in the world, that doesn’t mean that we should continue to support it and say that it’s okay. It isn’t. I feel sorry for those who are willing to accept money to tell others the lies that they are wanting to hear, and feel sorry for those who think that the only way to have something so meaningful in their lives is to pay someone for it. What happened to good old fashioned relationships?

  • Allen

    June 6th, 2018 at 11:29 AM

    You ask what happened to old fashioned relationships. In my cases I’ve never even come close to having one because no woman could ever want me. I am unattractive to women and so the only way for me to experience intimacy would be to pay for it. I am 36 and have never asked a woman out (nor have I been asked out) and I’ve never even kissed anyone either. Complete rejection would always be guaranteed so there is no point in approaching any woman – just saying hello would probably get me accused of harassment.

  • Shelley

    September 17th, 2012 at 11:15 AM

    All of you can say what you want and believe what you want but I am telling you that there are a lot of people out there for whom this is the answer.
    They are not looking for just sex but for someone who will listen to what they have to say and be interested.
    Many times this is far more than what they are getting from their spouse. It’s sad that they have to go this length but everyone wants to feel valued from time to time in life and this is some people’s way of seeking this out.

  • Elf

    September 17th, 2012 at 9:32 PM

    Well the answer to this question depends on what you are looking for – instant gratification coupled with drawbacks in the long term then YES. But if you are looking for something that lasts and sticks with you for a long time then a simple NO!

  • Brisbane"

    January 13th, 2013 at 9:38 PM

    Intimacy can definitely be bought. Even love can be bought. Not true love of course but for the right price, some people are willing to ‘fake it’. There’s many people that are in relationships for different reasons that may not actually ‘love’ their partner but their partner may believe they do. I’m sure there’s lots of husbands and wives in this situation – believing they are loved but merely ‘tolerated’.
    Good article by the way :-)

  • joe

    April 19th, 2016 at 10:11 AM

    I was surprised when entering psychotherapy at how similar the experience was to that i had with working girls. Both cost about the same, sessions last about the same amount of time, and both consist of a boundaried intimacy. There are differences too, of course.

  • David

    November 16th, 2016 at 12:29 PM

    My opinion here is for people who think that they are living in the real world and everything should be right and just in love. The real world is definitely not like this and the need for providers is apparently something that needs to happen and continue. Everything in the sexual/sensual/emotional world is not cookie cutter perfect.

  • Paul

    November 27th, 2020 at 12:07 PM

    Intimacy requires two people. For intimacy to be authentic, the two people have to be attracted to one another and desire mutual closeness. If paid companionship is illegal, society is basically telling people who cannot attract another person for mutually desired intimacy that they are ineligible for it. I am not (and cannot be) attractive at a sexual / romantic level to any woman – and as such, society deems me disqualified from meeting a basic human need that most other people can fulfill. People like me go through life in [sometimes intense] pain due to intense loneliness. Things that most people take for granted (free hugs, for example) are NOT possible for everyone. I have never paid for sex or intimacy – but have also never had either (not even once) because I simply cannot attract any woman other than as a friend (and I have many women friends – none of whom are romantically attracted to me). Not everyone who pays is cheating on a partner – not everyone who is cheating even has a partner. Some of us have no chance of ever attracting a partner who wants to be with us at a sexual level no matter what we do. This is a fact.

  • Alex

    May 14th, 2023 at 12:31 PM

    I have had sex over a 30 year timeframe with about 150 escorts
    of those I had true intimacy with 5, 2 we fell in love and about 30 GFE

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