Facts About Men Who Buy Sex

The Basics

  • 16% of men in the U.S. have paid for sex (Månsson, 2004)
  • 49.2% of sex buyers in one sample had never discussed their buying of sex with anyone else (Atchison 2010)

Shively et al. (2012) identified the following five reasons men buy sex

  • Seeking Intimacy
  • Seeking Sex without Intimacy
  • Seeking Variety
  • Thrill-Seeking
  • Pathology

Monto & McCree (2005) compared 1,672 men arrested for soliciting prostitutes to a nationally representative sample of men and found:

  • Sex buyers were less likely to be married than men in the national sample
  • If they were married, they were less likely to be happily married
  • Sex buyers reported being unhappier than men in the national sample
  • Sex buyers reported higher levels of pornography use, thinking about sex, masturbation, sexual liberalism, and strip club attendance


  • 56% of prostituted individuals reported they had physically assaulted a client (Arnold et al., 2001)
  • Two of three prostitutes admitted to robbing a client (Sterk & Elifson, 1990)
  • 16% of prostituted people said they had been physically attacked by a client within the past year (Benoit et al., 2014)
  • 8% of prostituted people were threatened with a weapon or physical assault (Benoit et al., 2014)

Sex Buying in the Digital World

Belvins & Holt (2009) performed a qualitative analysis of a popular web forum for sex buyers to discuss their experiences with prostitutes. The men:

  • Emphasized paid sexual encounters as being “normal and nondeviant”
  • Avoided words “johns” and “trick”
  • Talked about prostituted people as “services or goods rather than human beings”

Milrod & Montro (2012) examined characteristics of men who use the internet to buy sexual services. The participants were 584 men who were paying members of TheEroticReview.com. TheEroticReview.com is a website that provides contact information, pricing and services provided for over 75,000 prostituted people, allows sex buyers to leave reviews and provides information on how to meet prostituted individuals and how to avoid getting arrested. It has over one million registered users, 800,000 reviews, and  over 250,000 unique users daily

  • Average age: 49.5 (range: 22-79)
  • Average income: $141,500 (range: $0-300,000)
  • 84.9% Caucasian
  • 97.3% heterosexual/2.7% bisexual
  • 66.3% married
  • 41.1% had a graduate degree, 38% had a college degree, 18% had attended some college and 2.9% completed high school or a GED
  • Average age of first contact with a prostitute: 32.2
  • 94.5% had met prostituted people in a hotel or motel
  • 66.3% indicated they had met less than monthly with a prostituted person, while 24.7% indicated he paid for sex once or twice weekly
  • 45% had been looking for paid sex  online for over five years
  • 72% of respondents indicated they wanted to interact with someone  who “acted like a girlfriend and not like a prostitute”


  • Only 1% of men who reported buying sex in a Canadian study indicated they had ever been arrested for a prostitution related offense (Benoit et al., 2014)
  • Only 48% who reported buying sex in a Canadian sample said they were worried about getting arrested for buying sexual services (Benoit et al., 2014)
  • The shift from targeting the supply (prostituted people, pimps, etc.) to targeting the demand mostly came from communities not getting significant results by just targeting the supply (Shively et al., 2012)
  • One-year recidivism rates for Johns were reduced by 40% following the implementation of a “John School” in San Francisco (Shively, et al., 2008)