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Buying the Girlfriend Experience: An Exploration of the Consumption Experiences of Male Customers of Escorts

Article in Russell W. Belk, Kent Grayson, Albert M. Muñiz, Hope Jensen Schau (ed.) Research in Consumer Behavior (Research in Consumer Behavior, Volume 13), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, pp.111-126. 

This research explored the experiences of male customers of escorts who provide a sexual service known as the “girlfriend experience” or GFE.

Methodology/approach: A combination of depth interviews and netnography is used to study how men experience the GFE.

Findings: Unlike most customer-sex worker encounters, the GFE involves more than the exchange of money for sex; to derive the full value of the experience, the consumer must not only pay the escort but must also provide her with sexual pleasure and emotional intimacy. The resulting encounter is more romantic and intimate than purely sexual in nature. Findings are organized around three central themes: consumption of covert (i.e., secretive) pleasure, consumer fantasies, and the ways in which consumers cocreate value in the consumption experience.

Originality/value of the chapter: This research explores how consumers engage in a form of consumption that has been largely overlooked by consumer researchers, and how consumers experience the blurring of boundaries between purely transactional service encounters and those that entail a deeper connection between provider and consumer. In addition to shedding light on this consumption context in the form of description, this research illuminates some aspects of GFE consumption that are theoretically interesting (beyond the context itself) to consumer researchers.

(abstract adapted from author)


Gender and Sexuality


Human Rights and Law


Aimee Dinnin Huff