What I learned from a male sex surrogate

I turned to sex therapy out of desperation. My experiences there broke my heart -- and led to amazing discoveries

By Rosie Garelick
Published March 12, 2015 11:00PM (EDT)
   (<a href='http://www.shutterstock.com/gallery-840583p1.html'>MJTH</a> via <a href='http://www.shutterstock.com/'>Shutterstock</a>)
(MJTH via Shutterstock)

I saw a male sex surrogate for five months last year. It started with a date at a café and ended with a date at a café, and in between there was a relationship that took place mostly at a private clinic. I don’t know his full name, his phone number, or where he lives. He doesn’t know any of that about me. Money was never exchanged between us, as the clinic’s administrators handled logistics and finances. Now that it’s over I am heartbroken, because while I understand what I experienced was therapeutic role play, it felt very real in my head.

I’m a 44-year-old spinster. I hate that word – "spinster" – but it’s the most succinct way of describing me. I turned to Surrogate Partner Therapy (SPT) in a desperate attempt to change my life, because I could count the number of sexual encounters I’d had on one hand. Dating makes me extremely anxious. I haven’t experienced any obvious trauma, like rape or molestation. I have no physical handicap. The reasons for my anxiety are complex and nuanced, a combination of screwed-up circumstances and family dynamics, augmented by self-imposed physical obstacles along the way, like weight gain and scars. Habits of living alone and being independent are part of who I am now. I make the most of my situation by traveling and investing in various forms of personal growth. But these habits have built a shield around me over the years, and this shield was suffocating me.

I’ve been hyper-sensitive about intimacy and sex since I was a teenager, so overwhelmed that I usually preferred to go without. In my 20s and 30s it was less of a priority; I had time to work it out. But as I edged into my 40s, I couldn’t ignore it anymore. I could no longer accept my curre...

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Rosie Garelick

Rosie Garelick is a pen name for a freelance writer. The therapy described took place at Dr. Ronit Aloni’s Sexual Rehabilitation Treatment Center in Tel Aviv.

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