I would really like to know why a guy sees escorts. I think my husband has been seeing them for a while…well, he actually got caught! But I don't understand why if we have good sex often. I’m not shy in bed. So I don't know why he sees escorts. He has cheated on all his past partners...I only found out because I spy on him. I don't want him to see escorts any more.
I’m so sorry you’re in this situation. Infidelity, while common, is really painful. All that doubt and insecurity, and the loss of trust in your relationship...it’s a big deal.
Often when we discover our partners have been unfaithful, there's a temptation to blame the 'other woman' (or other person, if they're not a woman) rather than the partner who's done the cheating. This especially applies to sex workers - because we offer a paid service and don't ask questions, some spouses feel we make cheating 'too easy'. But of course, that's not how I see it. Infidelity is the responsibility of one person only - the person who's doing it.
It doesn't seem like you have that attitude, and I'm grateful. But you've asked some difficult questions: why guys cheat, why they might choose to cheat with escorts, and how you can stop it from happening.
I'm not qualified to give you all the answers on this, so I’ve invited my friend Dr Linda Kirkman to join us for this conversation. Dr Kirkman is a sexologist, experienced sex therapist, and respected researcher…she’s also the kind of thoughtful, empathetic person that I’d want in my corner if something like this happened to me!
Dr Kirkman's first concern is your wellbeing. “There's going to be a whole lot of ‘What's wrong with me? Am I not enough? What have I done wrong?’ All that insecurity and self-doubt would be causing her stress.” If this article is painful to read, feel free to take a break as you need. You might want to go over it with a friend, or with your therapist if you have one.
Disclaimer: None of what Dr Kirkman or I have to say is intended to replace advice from your own therapist. If you're struggling emotionally, seek help from a counsellor who is qualified, sex-positive and familiar with your specific situation.
"Why do people cheat on their partners?"
As it turns out, cheating is pretty common. Studies suggest around 30–40% of unmarried relationships and 18–20% of marriages experience at least one incident of sexual infidelity. And although cheating appears to be more common with men, other genders do it too.
When I started work in the sex industry, I was amazed by the number of people I met who were married. As someone who's been cheated on in the past, it bothered me - I even wondered if there was some way I could ask before I saw them! But over time I came to accept that I'm simply providing a service, and I have no business prying into their private lives.
It's easy to assume that men cheat on their wives because they’re not getting the sex they want at home. According to Dr Kirkman, infidelity can sometimes be about getting sexual needs met. “Sometimes, it might be that the sex life has declined, or there's always been a pattern that hasn't been satisfying.”
But that’s only one explanation - there are many other reasons for infidelity. It might not be about you at all. “Could it be more to do with him? This is where I'd recommend seeing a really good therapist." Dr Kirkman says. "What is it about him that he's looking for that kind of experience? I'd be looking at his attachment style and relating it back to what he needs...if sex with escorts is the answer, what's the question?”
Dr Kirkman's advice confirms my experience as an escort. I've spent a lot of time talking with clients and I've heard many stories. Some are remarkably legitimate - they have partners who can't meet their needs due to illness or trauma. Some clients are simply straying because they enjoy it, and don't feel that being honest would work for them. And then there are other partnered folks who aren't really cheating at all - they have a 'hall pass' or open relationship arrangement with their spouse (this is known as 'ethical non-monogamy').
"Why do guys choose to cheat with sex workers?"
And now we get to the big question - if someone chooses to cheat, why might they decide to see a sex worker, instead of having a one-night stand or an affair?
There are a few obvious answers:
- Convenience - sex workers offer a paid service that's available on request. Folks who might find it difficult to go to a bar and pick up can often access sex work services much more readily.
- Discretion - we don't ask difficult questions, and we're very unlikely to invade our clients' personal lives. This means that seeing a sex worker can be much more discreet.
- Compartmentalisation - where an affair might be emotionally complicated, sex workers can offer an experience that meets someone's needs, without long-term expectations or attachment.
Dr Kirkman notes that your partner is seeing sex workers rather than having an ongoing affair with someone. “That might suggest that certain needs are already being met in the relationship." She also wonders whether it's about his preferred way of 'doing' relationships. "He's cheated on all his past partners. So if there's a pattern, perhaps monogamy isn’t the way he's wired, or how he feels satisfied in the world.”
At the end of the day, we can't know for sure why the people we care about do the things we do. It's all guesswork, unless we have a conversation. Which brings us to the next step...
"What can I do about it?"
Although it's understandable that you want to make your partner stop cheating, it's impossible to control someone else's behaviour.
You say you've been spying on him. Sex columnist Dan Savage believes that sometimes spying can be justified: "Snooping is wrong, and I believe people have a right to privacy—even partnered people—but sometimes a snooper finds out something they needed to know and/or had a right to know."
But it sounds like you've violated his privacy more than just once or twice, which is a bad sign for the relationship. "That doesn't build trust." Dr Kirkman says. "And that doesn't leave anybody feeling safe, I would think.”
If you're determined to stay, a conversation might work better than an ultimatum. Dr Kirkman suggests working out exactly what bothers you about the situation first. “He's unfaithful, is that the problem? Is it the sex workers? Is it money? Is she concerned about STIs? I know that's considered less of a risk with sex workers, but it's normal to be worried. Is it trust? Is it worrying about her own adequacy? Is it about jealousy?”
The next step is to find a sex-positive relationship counsellor. Although therapy by yourself can help, going with your partner means you might get more information. “I often will say, 'hang on, we're trying to understand the other person. They're not here. It's actually about the person who's here and we can't answer this'.”
Dealing with infidelity sometimes means compromise, or at the very least a change in the way you both handle your relationship. "We want to be exploring what needs are being met through this. Are there other ways that those needs could be met, that she's happy with? Or is there an understanding she could come to? It may be that his needs and how he meets them are deal-breakers for her.”
But at the end of the day, you don't have to compromise around your partner's behaviour, or put more effort into the relationship, unless that's something you want to do. You're also allowed to end things, if it's not working for you.
Cheating is complicated. Find an expert.
I understand that this article might leave you with more questions than answers. It's a big, complicated issue that many of us feel strongly about. And when it comes to 'why do people cheat?' and 'why do people choose to see sex workers?' there are many different answers, depending on the person.
But what I've learned from speaking with Dr Kirkman is that it's not necessarily about you. Having the conversation and deciding how much you're prepared to negotiate will play a huge part in what happens next.
A sex-positive relationship therapist can help you through this process. If you're in Australia, here's a list of practitioners I recommend. If you're in the USA, the American Society of Sexuality Educators, Counselors and Therapists may be able to help.
Want to find out more about Dr Linda Kirkman and her work? Click here to visit her website.
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My guide 'Getting Started with Escorts' explains how to arrange a session with a hands-on sex worker.