A Sex Worker Shares Why Men Pay For Sex: Conversation & Connection

In this beautiful Ted talk, sex worker – Nicole Emma – reveals that sex often lasts for 5.4 minutes on average but men hire prostitutes for hours. Why? Because men are in desperate need to feel authentically connected to someone else and they’re willing to pay for it.


You’d think that a man would be hiring a prostitute just for sex. But 18+ year sex worker Nicole makes a compelling case that in her experience men visit sex workers because they are lonely or hurting and have no one to talk to.

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Written by

Sean Galla

An experienced facilitator, community builder and Peer Support Specialist, Sean has been running men's groups for 10+ years. Read Sean's Full Author Bio.

Why do men visit sex workers?

If men aren’t visiting prostitutes for sex, why are they going to see these sex workers? Nicole Emma – a career sex worker – shared some heartbreaking examples:

  • Consoling a man who is missing his children on the other side of the country
  • Because he wants to feel valued
  • To help someone who is disabled feel normal
  • Reminding someone what it feels like to be touched after so long

She spends the majority of her time rubbing men’s backs, consoling them, listening to them vent. Most times it’s not about sex. It’s about intimacy and connection.

Men lack healthy outlets

We all need that one or two people that see who we are, under the mask, and love us anyway. Unfortunately, most men don’t even have one person like this. A friend they can be completely honest with.

So they end up seeking it out and find it with sex workers. They pay to have a place to be their true selves. A place to talk about challenges without being judged or criticized.

Well, why do they have sex?

Men are conditioned not to feel. They come to believe that their value is in their muscles, money, or mojo. Muscles are limited. Money can be hard to make. So they turn to sex to feel good enough.

Sex is the only time they get to take off the mask and let go. To stop trying to be so strong and engage in intimacy.

While women need to feel connected emotionally to get physical, most men need to connect physically to get emotional. 

The root cause of the sex industry?

Real men don’t cry. Toughen up. Don’t be a sissy. Men heard this from the time they were 5. Did you get the support you needed? Did you get to cry? Or did you keep it all inside? Men are told to not express themselves, and that they shouldn’t need intimacy.

This leaves many men feeling lonely and unworthy. It takes a tremendous toll on the mental health of many men and is driving them to unhealthy behaviors like sex addictions, violent outbursts and even suicide. As Former NFL player Joe Irman said, “Boys who can’t cry, shoot bullets.”

80% of suicides are men. Why is that?

It’s because men have a lot fewer healthy outlets when they are feeling down. They are afraid to show weakness; to reach out and connect. So they bottle it up and act out, often with horrible consequences.

Studies on why men go to prostitutes show that men who are deeply rooted in a healthy community, who feel close to others aren’t the ones that commit suicide.

The solution is providing healthy connections for men

Nicole Emma suggests that the way we teach our boys to relate to their feelings and to others is directly contributing to the prevalence of the sex trade and leading to violence and suicide. Men need to be able to share their feeling and experiences with others.

She said, “We must address the conditioning of men. We must stop telling them to man up or stop crying. We must encourage men to share their experiences, mistakes, learning, emotions, and empathy.”

Men deserve to feel important and connected too

We pay for help all the time. We pay for car repairs. We pay for housework. We pay to have someone make our coffee. We pay for childcare. We don’t pay for the connection?

Emma argues that men would have a much easier time if they did, and perhaps if this was encouraged then she might not have so many clients.

If you are a man who lacks a connection…

You have to do something about it. It will take a toll on your well being if not.

Talk to a close friend. Share more than you’ve shared before. Reach out to a family member you trust. Speak with a counselor. Join a men’s group.

Think about the kinds of people that join a men’s group. They are willing to pay for connection and desire meaningful conversations to improve their wellbeing. Isn’t that a great solution to feeling alone? To be around other men who can relate and want to hear about your life and share theirs with you?

If so, feel free to give one of our online men’s groups a try! You can just pop onto one to see if it’s a good fit for you.