Loneliness can affect anyone at any time. However, in recent years this has been greatly exacerbated by the pandemic.
According to the UK’s leading loneliness charity, Marmalade Trust, only 19.81% of people in Great Britain have said they have never felt lonely.
The research into the impact of the pandemic found that the number of people who reported always feeling lonely jumped from 2.6% to 3.7% in the wake of lockdown.
So how does this tie in with sex work?
According to our latest data, over 50% of sex workers say they have experienced more clients looking for companionship (no sex involved) since the start of the pandemic.
Loneliness and sex work
When we think about people who use the services of sex workers, we often think of those who are looking for instant sexual gratification. But is that always the case?
To get a better understanding of why people seek the services of sex workers, Vivastreet surveyed over 21,000 people, including those who pay for sex and those who provide sexual services (sex workers).
So what did the findings reveal?
Although it is true that many people mostly use the services of sex workers for physical intimacy, our research shows there is also a high number of people who seek the services of sex workers because they are lonely.
When asked what they do with sex workers, the number one answer was they enjoy each other’s company and engage in sexual activity, as opposed to engaging in sexual activity only.
According to sex worker Nicole Emma, “studies have shown that sex only lasts on average 5.4 minutes, so if they’re paying for an hour, or three, what are they actually paying for?”
Moreover, the findings revealed that a quarter of people who pay for the services of sex workers, do so for companionship only (no sex included).
Likewise, over 65% of sex workers surveyed, said their clients have hired their services for companionship with no sexual activity involved.
Reasons why lonely people hire sex workers
It appears that more and more people are turning to sex workers to fill the void of loneliness.
According to survey findings, 50% of people who pay for sex, say seeing a sex worker has helped with loneliness.
For those who said they hired sex workers for companionship only (no sexual activity involved) the reasons vary.
Reasons outside of just physical intimacy include:
Many people who are in need of solace and company will seek out a sex worker.
This supports findings from the survey which found that 22% of Vivastreet service users said the service has given them companionship.
Services like The Girlfriend Experience, or Boyfriend Experience, bridge the gap between a by-the-hour service, and the closest thing there is to an emotional encounter, without all the ties.
A kind of therapy
Sometimes, the line between escort and therapist can become blurred, with some people using a sex worker as an emotional substitute to offload their problems to.
Sex worker Nicole Emma highlights the therapeutic nature of sex work in her TED Talk on human connection. She tells of a client of hers who emailed her and told her how lonely he had been since his wife passed, and that he hadn’t been so much as hugged in two years.
He went on to tell her that he doesn’t know how to talk to women, but that she held him and rubbed his back, and listened to him as he talked about his grief. Despite it just being a job for Emma, he told her, that day, she saved his life.
Other people may look to hire a sex worker to help with confidence, a sentiment shared in the survey, where over a quarter of people said that seeing a sex worker helped their confidence and self-esteem.
This sentiment is shared by former escort Stacey Swimme, who describes her work as “a gateway for men to get in touch with their authentic feelings”.
Does hiring a sex worker help with loneliness?
According to the data, 95% of sex workers believe their work has helped a client who felt lonely.
Although it’s perfectly acceptable to hire someone purely for company, if the problem is long-term, hiring a sex worker may just be a temporary fix for a bigger problem.
Most of us will feel lonely at some stage, but when that loneliness begins to affect your quality of life, it’s time to seek help.
This is where a professional therapist can come in. Non-judgemental and trained to deal with the challenges of loneliness and the effects that can have, therapists, can provide clients with the coping strategies to deal with those issues and get back on track.
Alternatively, speak to your doctor or seek advice and support from organisations such as: