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What are the motives which lead a married man, often with an attractive and “willing” wife, to patronize a common woman of the street?

by Albert Ellis. Ph.D.

“I SUPPOSE,” said my marriage counseling client, “that you think I’m crazy for spending so much of my time and money on the women I pick up in bars— when my wife, as you have seen, is such a fine and attractive woman.”

“It does seem a bit peculiar,” I replied, “considering that your wife, if I am to believe her story, is very much in love with you and is quite aggressive in her desire for frequent marital relations.” – “Yes, I guess it does seem peculiar. And, let me tell you, she’s being honest with you. She does want sex relations very often, and she is, as you can see, a fine figure of a woman. When I think how 1 felt about her before marriage! You’d never believe it.”

“But now—?”

“Now, frankly, she leaves me cold. Not that I don’t still admire her as a person. And, as the mother of our two children, I think she’s perfectly great. Couldn’t want anything better. But sexually! Sure she’s responsive — in theory. But just as soon as I give in to her need, all she does is lie supinely and leave the entire role of love-making completely to me.”

“If I understand you correctly,” I said, “your wife wants you to do the active lovemaking, while she, once coitus begins, does little or nothing. Is that right?”

“That’s exactly right — or exactly wrong, if I may coin a phrase. While the other women I go with—for the right payment and half a kind word—they’ll do almost anything I want. And they seem to get satisfaction out of it, too, a good many of them. Now do you see why I prefer them to my good-looking, fine, respectable young wife?”

I did see, very clearly. And I often see why many of my married clients patronize prostitutes, from high-class “call girls” to two-dollar women of the street, even when they have handsome and “willing” wives. For their wives, in many instances, are only willing within definite limits. They may be willing to have face to face coitus— but to try no variations of intercourse, which they consider “unnatural.” Or when these wives do try varied sex positions or acts which their husbands particularly desire, they do so reluctantly, listlessly, and guiltily, thus taking away all their husbands’ satisfaction.

Prostitutes, on the other hand, are in the business of satisfying their customers. For a stipulated fee, they will do almost anything a male desires; and will do so, in most instances, freely, guiltlessly, with verve.

Why, then, says many a male, even if he loves and respects his wife and wants to keep their marriage together, should he not patronize the woman who makes it her business to satisfy him sexually?

Other reasons why literally millions of married men regularly or irregularly patronize prostitutes include the following:

1. Many males, even though they derive satisfaction from sex relations with their wives, feel that they need a variety of partners. Some want a different type than their wives—such as a blonde instead of a brunette, or a young instead of a middle-aged woman.

Others simply want a different individual from the one with whom they participated a day ago or a week ago. The quickest and easiest way for many of these males to find a different partner is to patronize a prostitute.

2. In many instances, husbands who do not normally need sexual variety find they have no wish to remain abstinent when they are separated from their wives, when their wives are ill, or when they desire intercourse more frequently than the wives do. Again, resort to prostitutes may be easier in these instances than engaging in extramarital affairs.

3. Some men who crave variety feel that patronizing prostitutes is safer, less involving, and more loyal than having non-prostitutional affairs; and in many instances their wives agree with this viewpoint and tolerate their seeing a prostitute far better than they would tolerate a non-prostitutional relationship.

4. A surprisingly large number of men, I have found in my clinical experience, fail miserably in their marital relationships, largely because of their ignorance and prudery in regard to how to satisfy their wives sexually.

Such men are frequently impotent or sexually below par because, consciously or unconsciously, they subscribe to self-defeating sex notions which sabotage their powers and potentialities. Out of shame, they avoid having marital relations and resort to prostitutes with whom, because they pay, they are not ashamed to be poor lovers.

5. Occasionally, a man’s wife refuses to use proper birth control technique; and, rather than have intercourse with her and risk having unwanted children, he patronizes women of the streets.

6. Some men’s wives are so stingy of affection, and demand so much in return for having steady sex relations, that the male finds it actually cheaper and less emotionally blackmailing to visit prostitutes.

7. Once in a while, a man becomes deeply attached to a prostitute and keeps patronizing her, rather than bedding with his wife, because he genuinely cares for her and enjoys her company more than that of his spouse.

8. Some men, particularly those with low self-esteem, ignore the monetary element in their patronage of harlots, and convince themselves that they are making one real conquest after another in the course of such patronage. To them, even a paid “conquest” is satisfying.

9. Many husbands, for a number of neurotic reasons, occasional- ly or steadily visit prostitutes. Some thus vent their hostility against their wives. Others masochistically want to degrade themselves. Others find it impossible to be fully potent with a “good” woman. Still others seek the danger of an illicit encounter.

For a host of fearful, hostile, or guilt-laden reasons, or to erect defenses against their underlying irrational anxieties, such individuals find temporary “solutions” to their problems by bedding with a prostitute.

In general, then, a married man will resort to prostitutional affairs either for relatively sane reasons —such as the sexual inaccessibility of his wife—or for irrational ones —such as his unwillingness to face the real reasons for his being sexually unsatisfied in marriage.

In almost all cases where I have had personal contact with married males who steadily frequent women of the street, the irrational and neurotic reasons for so doing were predominant. This may partly result, however, from the fact that most people who seek my counsel are, as one might expect, fairly disturbed.

Where married males are regular patrons of prostitutes, and where they want to do something about their basic sex and general problems, cure or significant improvement is usually effected in reasonably short order.

In the case of the man whose wife refused to take an active part in coitus, it was a simple matter to induce her to participate more actively and more responsively.

At least, it was simple once I had shown him that his negative attitude toward her was encouraging her resistance in this connection, and that the more he worked at being nice to her and inducing her to be a more satisfactory sex partner, the better results he would be likely to attain.

In most instances, the husband’s neurotic attitudes about himself, about sex, about his wife, and about prostitutes must be explored.

One of my patients, for example, felt that he was so worthless that none but a prostitute, not even his own wife, could really care for him or find satisfaction in sex relations with him.

Another was patronizing call girls regularly because he was still rebelling against his mother’s early lectures against his having illicit affairs. Unconsciously, he still wanted to spite her as well as his wife (who, symbolically, he saw as another mother-figure) rather than primarily to go after the kind of sex-love satisfaction he really wanted for himself.

When irrational, early-acquired attitudes such as these are ruthlessly exposed in the course of counseling or psychotherapy, and relentlessly attacked in the light of the individual’s real goals and satisfactions, the prostitutional affairs of most men are voluntarily or spontaneously stopped.

– Dr. Ellis, a noted psychologist and sexologist, is author of “The Folklore of Sex” and “The American Sexual Tragedy,” and co-author of “The Psychology of Sex Offenders.”

  1. Rick Auricchio says: November 13, 200911:05 pm

    “…two-dollar women of the street…”

    Two bucks sure doesn’t go as far as it used to.

  2. evil says: November 15, 200912:10 pm

    You are not looking in the right places!

  3. docca says: November 22, 20091:04 pm

    6. Some men’s wives are so stingy of affection, and demand so much in return for having steady sex relations, that the male finds it actually cheaper and less emotionally blackmailing to visit prostitutes.

    “Oh honeypphhh, I reallly wanphh that diamonphh ring…”


  4. Michael Kleder says: November 24, 20095:17 am

    One of the most important inventions man has ever made is the telephone. It has certainly made a huge impact on communication, bridging the distance between people hundreds, if not, thousands, of miles apart. Partners, be it a spouse, a girlfriend, or a boyfriend, also make use of the telephone to cheat on their significant other. They send out SMS messages and call their secret lovers, thinking that such actions can never be found out.

  5. Bernd says: December 5, 20098:57 am

    “5. Occasionally, a man’s wife refuses to use proper birth control technique; and, rather than have intercourse with her and risk having unwanted children, he patronizes women of the streets.”

    I don’t know, but there is something really, really wrong about this sentence. Having unprotected sex with your wife is a no-go, but having unprotected sex with a stranger is ok? Or rather: Using a condom while having sex with your wife is too much of a hassle, but it’s ok with a prostitute?

  6. Firebrand38 says: December 5, 200911:23 am

    Bernd: Try doing some research before you guess. In 1930 Pope Pius XI published his famous encyclical which states, “any use whatsoever of matrimony exercised in such a way that the act is deliberately frustrated in its natural power to generate life is an offense against the law of God and of nature, and those who indulge in such are branded with the guilt of a grave sin” http://wiretap.area.com…

    It became worse after this article was published when in 1968 artificial contraception became a mortal sin for Catholics under Pope Paul VI. http://www.vatican.va/h…

    So yeah, in effect your wife refuses to use contraception so you have sex with a stranger who will, that’s what the author is saying.

  7. Chris in vegas says: October 8, 20108:17 am

    There are many reasons why a man visits prostitutes. The women will never understand. I will try to be brief about a few of them.

    1) A man is tired of the American women’s bullshit. The american modern woman has too many expectations of american men and american women offer nothing of value in return. American women treat american men like crap. American women only respect money and power. And once you are married to one they will divorce the man as soon as the relationship gets boring to her and take all of his money, leaving the once successful american man a bold haired alcoholic.

    2) Women abroad are pretty looking and of better quality. Women in different countries respect their men and are of a traditional culture. They see the man as a partner in their relationship that can never be replaced. Women abroad do not have as many hangups as american modern women and the quality of sex is better. They truly like pleasing their man. They dont see giving sex to their man as doing their man a favor like american women.

    3) Sex with prostitutes is fun. I would rather be having sex with a good looking 21 or 22 year old prostitute than to be chained down to a 45 or 50 year old fat old nagging hag who could ass rape me in divorce court at a drop of a hat! I do not want to be tied down to any american woman financially for ANY reason!

    These are just a few reasons. There are more trust me. There are so many different reasons that american men visit prostitutes and why men are unhappy i would need to write a book about it. Every man is different so ladies dont try to figure out why your man visits prostitutes. And dont automatically assume that the problem is HIS and not because of YOU. You might be the reason why he doesnt want to have sex with you anymore.

    my two cents…

    chris in vegas

  8. Leslie katz says: January 10, 20114:04 pm

    Having a relativly open mind, above average in intelligence yet i must confess to being completely at a loss for why my husband it has turned out, is a cerial cheater and what in the wonderful world of escort service providers, are called ” hobbiests” ( i belive this describes a customer who treats his infidelity fucking many woman as one might treat a wine conniseur’s descriptions drinking different types of wine . ) having the balls to give a critique of his experiences replete with recommendations and details to other men shopping for the same women.

    What is interesting here is not so much that these women have such a booming business but that men with wives of extrordinary beauty and abilities in the sexual area are left in a world of sexual drought whilst their high spending husbands fantasize about all other women except them.

    To go even further – i once found an ad placed in a discreet. Site for those seeking sex with strangers on a regular basis and preferrably to find one individual willing to meet with them regularly, that said the following

    Wanted – hot gal for afternoon interludes – ( the type of sex he was seeking happened to be nearly identical to the more than steamy sex he was getting from me

    But thats not even the part i to this day do not get…. He closed his ad with the following statement

    ” you had better be hot because I happen to have a very sexy, hot wife at home
    So I am used to the best- serious need only reply….

    Anyone would beg asking him why he was even looking since the usual reasons of boredom wouldnt apply here- would they? This also confused me since before i found out about his “hobby” hehehe – what a laugh-
    I made it a point to never refuse him, to dress the part of sexy woman ready for sexual playtime day or night and did more creative role playing and other outrageous things to please him than most escorts have on their menus
    In fact i even now look like the sexually innocent cross between Lesley Ann Wareen and meg Ryan
    My mesurements are 36/24/35
    Im 5’7 &1/2 with a long waist and legs that can wrap around his neck- im double jointed too

    What gives here. Please do tell- btw he regularly spends between 250 for an hour to 800.00 yes we have money- he was and is a professional CEO/CFO

  9. jans says: July 19, 20112:40 am


  10. nomoreh1b says: December 27, 201110:40 pm

    One thing I think Ellis missed:
    what turns a man on is largely set by age 25 or so. The phenomena is called sexual imprinting. A man that has been seeing prostitutes from age 18-25 but gets married at 30 may still find prostitutes very attractive. In my case, I had a lot of sex with women that had been prostitutes-but as a boyfriend(not a client or pimp).

  11. grown up woman says: January 27, 20124:37 pm

    It may be fun to have chain free sex, but to me this tells a lot about the insecurity and lack of character in a man
    What I don’t undrestand is why a man would take photographs of the prostitute and leave them in his computer for his girlfriend to find.
    And yes those prostitutes may be younger than his girlfriends but none the least more attractive or smart than her.
    A man needs to have fun even in the face of his pregnant partner….

  12. IsisFox says: January 28, 201212:31 am

    Why do married men see escorts? Because they want to have their cake and eat it too! End of fucking story!

    “Some wives are so stingy of affection” And? You need to COMMUNICATE this to her like an adult and then if it doesn’t change you need to decide how important is it? If it’s something you can’t live without, get a divorce! Stop looking for someone else to blame for your lack of control!

    I guarantee if some of these same men find out their wives were cheating and the excuse was. “Honey your dick really is just not satisfying. That male escort has a ten incher I couldn’t resist” She’d be called all kinds of sluts and whores and leave her in a flash!

    I’m an escort myself and 80% of my clients are attached or married. I’m glad escorting opened my eyes! I will NEVER marry a man. I will NEVER be in an exclusive relationship with a man. I can’t even imagine the though of being faithful while he cheats with escorts.

    And to the gentleman harping on about foreign women, yeah their husbands see escorts too lol. I should know 😉 In fact, it’s not even considered cheating in some cultures!

  13. Mary says: February 27, 20134:38 am

    This message is for the attention of Lesley who laments regarding her husbands exploits….

    Lesley, it is a common mistake amongst women who aim to be perfect to look inside themselves for fault. The reality is that most escorts don’t go to the extent to please their men that you do, nor do they have your looks, your measurements or your intellect. I am an escort, I know. I rarely suffer guilt for what I do but reading your post broke my heart. Your husbands hobby may be a difficult thing to understand and the truth is there is no rational explanation. Most men cheat, some are worse that others. You deserved to be wifed by a faithful man, and you were just unlucky but don’t blame yourself. A woman like you walking around with an inferiority complex or blaming herself is a far greater crime that the one your husband committed.

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