Nine percent of men who responded to a recent survey in Sweden say they have paid for sex at least once in their lives. This percentage is roughly in line with previous studies in the Nordic and Western European countries, according to the study.
The study did not find any differences in male responses based on income or level of education. But a few other signs seemed to stand out more among men who had bought sex than among other men. Men who chose to pay for sex were less likely to be happy with their current sex life. Many of these men became fascinated by watching pornography, and several were involved in online sexual activities, such as looking for sex partners.
Help to stop buying sex
People who buy sex turn to the online counseling service “Kast” for help. Since its inception, hundreds of men and some women have sought advice. Mali Storbakken is one of the consultants who help people fight the desire to buy sex. “Men often want to talk about buying sex. They have to express their feelings in words, ”says Storbecken. “Most people keep this activity a secret from others, and they need someone to talk to,” she says. Many of the individuals feel very guilty. Some have even become addicted, leading to financial problems, as buying sex doesn’t cost much.
Escort sites and pornography
In recent decades, much of the sex trade has moved online. The first contact is made online and then transferred to an appointment in a private room or hotel. Many people also buy sex in massage parlors. “Only a few of the people we talk to buy street sex,” says Storbecken. A Swedish study shows a link between the consumption of pornography and the purchase of sex. Men are also asked questions about watching pornography during online consultations, where it is found that most people who buy sex watch erotic content on a daily basis.
Men often claim that their desire to buy sex began directly with visiting pornography sites.
Some men tell us that visiting pornography sites makes them want to buy sex because from there they can go straight to sex shopping sites. And many of those we talk to define themselves as addicted to pornography. They see a link between the culture of pornography and the purchase of sex, ”says Storbecken.
The Swedes base their study on another large-scale health study conducted in 2017 that involved both men and women aged 16-84. Very few women said they had paid for sex, so researchers chose to analyze only male responses, which totaled about 6,000 respondents.
Several men who had paid for sex were dissatisfied with their sex lives, including how often they had sex. But not everyone who is dissatisfied with their sex life buys sex. So what else could be hidden in this problem? According to Storbecken’s talks with the men, she says the answer is twofold. “I’ve talked to several men who have regular sex with their partner and who actually think they’re happy with their sex life and how often they have sex,” she says. “These clients often explain buying sex with a certain search for excitement. They are usually wealthy men, with family and children.
“But then we also have men whose experience shows that intimacy and sex have disappeared from their partnership or that they have different sexual desires that they can’t fulfill with their partner,” says Storbecken.
Diversity of life
experience Studies show that men who buy sex each have their own “luggage”. For example, men who buy sex are more likely to engage in risky behaviors, such as alcohol and other drugs. In contrast, a 2010 Norwegian study found that loneliness, receiving disability benefits, early sexual intercourse, and multiple sex partners were the most common characteristics among men who buy sex for money.
A group of Swedish researchers found that men with lower incomes buy sex more often. But overall, education levels and income played little role. Storbecken explains that men from all walks of life, from 18 to well over 70, seek help. They are both lonely and family people, men who are unemployed and well-educated in high positions.
One-time event or regular customer?
Men who seek help have different stories of buying sex. Some enjoy this joy once in a lifetime, with friends, for example, while traveling. Others have paid for sex often and for decades. But one thing is clear – many men who have used escort services are ashamed of it. “Often they have a partner and children, and then they are tormented by remorse. They may feel that they are acting against their morals, and that is a bad feeling, ”says Storbecken.
Some men are in a relationship, but they do not live up to their desires. Some are unable to manage other areas of their lives, some are unable to find a partner and feel like failures when trying to meet. Buying sex can take over, and many men in relationships have not told anyone. They lie and keep it a secret, so buying sex becomes a bit like other types of addictions.
When asked whether men who buy sex are different from those who do not, we can make it clear that those who have paid for sex have different socio-economic backgrounds but are more satisfied with their sex lives. They have less sex than they would like on a daily basis, experience online sexual activity, and are often active users of pornography compared to men who have not paid for sex.