Research published in 2005 found that the numbers of men who pay for sex had doubled in a decade. The authors attributed this rise to "a greater acceptability of commercial sexual contact", yet many of our interviewees told us that they felt intense guilt and shame about paying for sex. "I'm not satisfied in my mind" was how one described his feelings after paying for sex. Another told me that he felt "disappointed – what a waste of money", "lonely still" and "guilty about my relationship with my wife". In fact, many of the men were a mass of contradictions. Despite finding their experiences "unfulfilling, empty, terrible", they continued to visit prostitutes.
I felt compassion for Alex. No one had shown him how to form a bond with another human being and he was searching for something that commercial sex was never going to provide.