His name was Paul. An accountant by trade, a husband and dad, and this particular afternoon in Sydney, he was my client. There was nothing out of the ordinary or remarkable about Paul — except his words when he handed over his fee.
"This is from my wife," he said, handing me a neat white envelope.
"She told me she doesn't want to have sex with me again, but she understands I need intimacy, so she gives me money every week …," he admitted, embarrassed.
I heard correctly. Paul's wife pays for him to seek intimacy with other women. The more Paul opened up, it was clear to me his confidence had taken a huge hit, his self-esteem was low. He didn't feel loved and he didn't feel like a man. The woman he adored no longer desired him leaving him in a situation he felt he had to reluctantly accept.
Paul would never leave, he doesn't want to split the family and he loves his wife. I can't speak for her, I have never met her and I'm sure she has her reasons. She's either smart, or generous, or quite simply, realistic. Yet the whole situation was sad. They're only in their mid-30s, yet Paul lies in bed back-to-back with what is fast becoming a stranger, every night. For the rest of his life.
You can doubt his story, but I don't. In my eight years listening to the secrets of men as an escort, I have met hundreds of Pauls (although their wives haven't been so generous …)
Married men who for whatever reason aren't in intimate relationships with their partners. They're not so much looking for a quick fumble in bed, but a bond far deeper. I've always said this job is about connection not c**k.
I own an escort agency where I employ mature ladies and I always tell them as long as men keep getting married, we will always be in business.
I read something on Twitter recently — "A man about to get married is the least available man in the room. A man who has been married 20 years is the MOST available man in the room."
Not all men, not all marriages, but there's an uncomfortable truth to that tweet.
Ouch. Pretty confronting isn't it? Especially if you're a wife with young kids, working full time and your tank is empty. The last thing you understandably feel like is ticking "pleasure the husband" off your exhausting long list.
So what happens in marriage? Desire comes and goes, and it's not just women that lose their sex drive but men too. Young kids, bodily shifts, changing hormones and complacency are to name but a few reasons why your bed is now used for sweet sleep not steamy sex.
Separate bedrooms, separate lives — the irony is when you get married you pledge to spend your lives together, but I see couples create more distance between them as the years plod on.
It's not till death do us part, it's till resentment do us part. I had a client who constantly complained about his wife spending so much money on designer clothes, he stopped becoming attracted to her. His resentment was like a cancer in their marriage.
Another told me his wife had an affair years prior and he couldn't get over it. They fought every day and their sex life was nil. His resentment and her refusal to talk about it killed their marriage in the end.
And it's this deep-seated resentment that kills intimacy and destroys marriages.
It's not all doom and gloom. I had the privilege of spending a few hours with Bob and Belinda a few weeks ago, who had been together for more than 20 blissful years. In their 50s, each with children, they admitted they still bonked "like rabbits". Belinda's eyes lit up when she recounted the time they got caught recently having sex by a police officer tapping on the window who told them to "move along".
They spent three hours with me holding hands and staring into each other's eyes. I was in no doubt this couple had discovered the elixir of eternal relationship bliss.
Guess their secret.
They weren't married and they didn't live together.
She doesn't need to wash his socks and put up with his snoring. He doesn't get nagged or get the elbow nudge when he falls asleep in front of the telly.
As Belinda succinctly put it: "We don't want to ruin what we have."
Case. In. Point.