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Study: Men Who Pay For Sex Really Want Love

More proof that all you need is love: a new analysis of men who pay for sex suggests that what these customers really want is a deeper bond — even love — from their sex workers. (Could there be a movie here?)

Pretty Woman, the movie. (T Hoffarth/flickr)
Pretty Woman, the movie. (T Hoffarth/flickr)

While it is commonly believed that men who pay for sex are attempting to avoid emotional commitment, a new study finds that men who become regular clients of sex workers often develop feelings of romance and love. This study is published in a recent edition of Men and Masculinities, a SAGE journal.

"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," stated study author Christine Milrod. "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."

In this new study, Milrod and co-author Ronald Weitzer analyzed 2,442 postings on an online discussion board from a sex provider review site where more than a million clients of sex workers read and post about their experiences. Approximately one-third included a discussion about emotional intimacy between sex workers and their clients, many of whom expressed a desire to grow their relationships beyond the physical level in the form of sharing private feelings and mutual love.

"These relationships follow a conventionally romantic script that normalizes the liaison and destigmatizes both provider and client," stated Milrod. "The study shows that this kind of normalization may manifest itself in a merger of finances, families and finally monogamous partnerships – the provider is no longer just a supplier of the girlfriend experience, but a real-life romantic partner."

This program aired on August 9, 2012. The audio for this program is not available.

Rachel Zimmerman Twitter Health Reporter
Rachel Zimmerman previously reported on health and the intersection of health and business for Bostonomix.

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