As it turns out, some men believe they really can buy love.
A recent study reviewing the emotions and motivations of sex workers and the clients who hire them has found that about one-third of men who pay for sex also want to have a personal relationship with their escorts.
Authored by George Washington University sociology professor Ronald Weitzer and Los Angeles sexologist Christine Milrod, the study, "The Intimacy Prism: Emotion Management among the Clients of Escorts," reviewed 2,442 postings from an online forum where escorts and their clients can share and discuss encounters.
The website used in the research, TheEroticReview, receives between 250,000 and 300,000 unique visitors daily and contains more than 800,000 reviews and the contact information of 75,000 to 100,000 providers, according to a George Washington University press release.
“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," Milrod said in a press release. "Our study shows that regular clients of a particular sex provider often come to experience feelings of deep affection, which can progress into an authentic love story.”
Many of the reviews, read and coded between May 9, 2006 and July 15, 2011, included frank expressions of a desire for more than physical satisfaction. For example, one poster, "One-Is-Al-One," writes, ‘‘I love the sex, but it has recently occurred to me that I do it for more than sex. I do it for the affection, closeness, emotional connection, and the sexual release.’’
The "normalization" Milrod mentions can come in the form of shared finances, families and even an eventual monogamous relationship, she said.
The study, which was published in the journal Men and Masculinities, also looked at changes in the way sex worker services are packaged, specifically the increasing popularity of the so-called "girlfriend experience," in which the relationship between client and service provider becomes purposefully semi-dating in nature.
During such an experience, "Sex remains part of the service but it is coupled with mutual sharing, support, and companionship. Like any other commercially packaged leisure activity, intimacy is now readily available for a price," the authors wrote.
Motives for initial payment for sex included finding someone who would stick around for simple conversation, as well as a desire for different types of fantasy role-playing and abuse targeting, according to CBS Las Vegas.
Many clients speak about "counterfeit" intimacy, warning other visitors not to allow prostitutes to "lead you on" with false claims of love. They "will deny everything when you are no longer useful to them," reviewer Lockedheart writes.