I love my wife, but ...

We don't have enough sex, so I'm considering going to a prostitute. How do I deal with the guilt?

Published December 10, 2003 8:57PM (EST)

Dear Tracy,

I have been married for going on two decades now. Three kids (one out of the house), solid marriage, good sex. When we have it. Which is, of course, the problem.

It is a cliché to say "I love my wife." But the fact is, I do love my wife. A lot. We've been through a lot together, we enjoy being together, and we're a great team. But even though I'm past 40, I have a pretty active libido, and she quite frankly doesn't. Add that to the fact that the kids suck up a lot of time, and I have a lot of frustration.

I don't want to have an affair. For one thing, I don't want to mislead another woman into thinking I would ever leave my wife, because I just won't. I don't want to. What I do want is to have sex a lot more frequently than I am having it, and I want to experience somebody new. I want that first excitement that comes from undressing a new person for the first time (or even 20th -- it doesn't wear off all that quickly). What kind of clothes they wear, their underwear, how they kiss, how they smell, what gives them pleasure. While my youth certainly didn't rival Casanova's, I was fairly active, and this lengthy period of inactivity is difficult.

I would be racked with guilt should I arrange a meeting with a call girl, but the very fact that I'm even thinking about it is a sign of something. Also, I am a little intimidated by the whole "call girl" scene; I wouldn't have any idea how to contact one. (I certainly don't want to call a random ad!) How would I know which ones are reputable vs. the ones that are more marginal, and so on. (And how can I go to bed with a woman that I can't kiss? That seems so odd to me.)

If you have any insight, I'd love to hear it.

Frustrated but Faithful

Dear Frustrated,

Going to bed with a woman you "can't kiss" seems odd? Well, sex with a prostitute is supposed to be "odd" -- different, anyway, from married sex, romantic sex, procreational sex, affair sex and many other forms of sex. Commercial sex has its own logic, rhythm and language.

Sex with a woman you want to kiss can be very enticing even if it does not yield a kiss -- the first, second or 20th time. If you're attracted to a woman and turned on by the prospect of seeing her, that's what matters. Who knows? Maybe, if you get to know her, she will make an exception and, eventually, kiss you. But be prepared, when paying for sex, to play by different "rules" -- think of marriage or dating as chess and prostitution as backgammon. You might do things with a prostitute that you never do with other women while things you do with other women are not always part of sex with a prostitute. For that matter, many prostitutes will try things with customers that they won't even broach with their boyfriends or husbands. Prostitutes and their customers inhabit a separate erotic zone.

Alas, there are serious risks attached to cruising for a paid sexual encounter in the United States whether you search the streets, the classified ads or the Web. The majority of advertisers are probably genuine but you could be answering an ad placed by a very industrious vice cop. Police departments have been known to sponsor phony bordellos and escort agencies in order to find victims for their customer stings. You could also be the unwitting target of a scam artist who steals your money. The safest way to pay for sex in the United States is within the walls of a legal brothel in Nevada. OK, this is not to everybody's taste and Nevada is not always convenient -- but it's legal. Outside the United States, Holland and Senegal are two countries where prostitution is legalized; others are Germany, Curaçao, Greece and parts of Australia.

You say you would be racked by guilt yet you're still curious about commercial sex. If you decide to go through with this, you must be careful not to inflict your ambivalence on a sex worker. If you talk too much about your guilt or your marriage, it may spook her. Many prostitutes are sentimental creatures who like to make their customers happy. Even if you endure your pleasure in a guilt-ridden funk, you should let her feel good about what she's doing. If you pay for sex, try to be the kind of customer prostitutes look forward to seeing.

Keep in mind, if you were arrested for patronizing a prostitute, it might be discovered by your wife, and it would probably upset her. And in some cities the police will disclose the arrest to your employer. Guilt can make a man "want" to get caught or punished without realizing it. Some people may think that guilt is just part of the deal when you pay for sex. Not me. I think guilt is a twisted form of resentment. I'm not convinced that you are ready for the sexual adventure you contemplate. Try to work through this guilt or at least get a handle on what it means. Unexamined guilt can be hurtful and dangerous.

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By Tracy Quan

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