When our grandmothers wanted to use a man for his money, they’d have to dial him on a rotary phone, put on a modest sweater set and knee-length skirt, enjoy an expensive steak, and then be home by college curfew…the good old-fashioned way.
Half a century later, the desire to supplement a modest student budget and hit the town in a fancy (faux) fur remains—but, oh, how the game has changed.
Today, a growing number of strapped-for-cash undergrads are signing up for “Sugar Daddy” websites—sites that make explicit the age old “I’ll scratch your back if you scratch mine” social contract. Love in exchange for cash. (Or at least a fabulous pair of Manolo Blahniks.) It’s a simple equation: beautiful young women post pictures and profiles in the hopes of attracting eligible, wealthy (oftentimes older) men to fund their expensive tastes.
But to skeptics and critics, the most surprising aspect of this growing cyber-trend is the new clientele: smart, attractive, driven women on prestigious college campuses pursuing competitive degrees. They call themselves “Sugar Babies”—a term that initially sounds more like a sour candy than the class of entrepreneurial businesswomen they claim to be. They admittedly treat themselves as commodities with market value, to be bought for expensive gifts or a fair price (sometimes listed as up to $10,000 per month).
John Broca, a 37-year-old Sugar Daddy, goes to great lengths to indulge his Babies—women he describes as both romantic partners and friends. “Expensive nights out are a given, and the occasional lavish gift is fun,” he writes in an email to me, “But most sugar babies are interested in security. It’s simpler (for both of us) to agree to an allowance or covering of certain expenses… housing, transportation, school, etc.”
A Sugar Baby profile on the site My Sugar Daddy Finder reads, “I have an assoc degree in fashion merchandising, and I am sixteen credits from a bachelors in psychology. I have worked hard my entire life and i think it would be nice to be spoiled for once :)”
For this anonymous user and countless others, the opportunities to indulge in a lifestyle otherwise beyond their means are well worth dating oh, say, Larry King. It doesn’t matter if a man is in diapers, as long as he can pay for the crib.
Yet some take concern when young women like “eyewuvoo”—a twenty-year-old user of My Sugar Daddy Finder—indicate interest in men who range in age from eighteen to eighty years old.
“Huge age differentials can cause lots of issues with co-dependency,” warns Preeya Desai, a student of Psychology at Columbia University. “I worry that young women who seek out financial relationships, especially with older men, will experience psychological withdrawal-type symptoms when they try to foster ‘normal’ romantic relationships later in life with partners closer in age.”
However Jason Roberts, PR director at Mutual Arrangement – a website that advertises to be one of the most popular Sugar Daddy sites on the internet – claims that the risks are minimal and the rewards, especially for student Sugar Babies, are great: “We reach out to the younger crowd because younger, smart women respect older, affluent, intelligent men who can help share the burden of their expenses, and at the same time be a quality mentor. We have not heard any members on our site complain of dangerous situations, however as with any online introduction service, it is crucial to all parties to follow the simple rules of being cautious in regard to making online connections.”
And an important clarification must be made: the sites are not (at least explicitly) about sex. “You date a sugar daddy for companionship and fun,” an anonymous Sugar Baby profile explains, “I’m not some kind of prostitute.”
“Then there’s the question of sex,” Broca clarifies, “And the answer is: It has been known to happen. I don’t know anyone, male or female, in a chaste four (plus) month long relationship of any kind, but that’s entirely up to the individuals involved.”
Chanel Lea, a nineteen-year-old member of My Sugar Daddy Finder, agrees, posting on her online profile, “I go to college for criminal justice, but I plan on going to medical school and becoming a plastic surgeon. I am NOT an escort and I DO NOT do web cam shows. If you want that then your on the wrong website.”
So how does it all work? The Daddies pick the Babies by messaging them through the website. A correspondence begins (think You’ve Got Mail…but Meg Ryan is Dakota Fanning and Tom Hanks is Donald Trump).
John Broca explains, “Most of my arrangements begin on the site, but I have developed a couple through friends of friends. If you talk about it candidly (drinks help), you find that a lot more people are involved in this type of relationship than perhaps you first expected.”
Sugar Daddies are also invited to connect with potential Sugar Babies at parties thrown by the websites that facilitate the sugar. Seeking Arrangement plans lavish events ($100 at the door for the men, only $25 for the women) at exclusive New York City hot spots. An advertisement for an upcoming party (from 6:30pm until two in the morning…on a Monday night) reads, “Spend a night submerged in sweeeeet opulence, surrounded by hundreds of gorgeous, genuine, sexy sugar babies. From the minute you arrive, you’ll be immersed in an atmosphere of sensuality and fun, starting with a sugar baby champagne introduction, and ending however your sugar desires. Whether you come alone, with sugar(s), or with the office pack, you’ll be set for a night of playful abandon; on the dance floor, at the restaurant, bar, or out on the patio. It’s the perfect evening for any arrangement.”
With a pastry buffet, gourmet hors d’oueveres, cash bar, and live DJ, Seeking Arrangement hopes to please the men and spoil the women—a microcosmic replication of the company’s business model.
Sugar Daddy Broca simplifies the relationship: “Besides the obvious financial benefits, I think the sugar daddy appeal for women (particularly college age) is experiencing the stability of a mature, established man — more wisdom, more perspective, less plastic cups. For guys, the appeal of sugar baby dating is clear: we like palling around with younger women. You’re exciting, you’re beautiful, and you impress our friends.”
And, although wreaked in controversy, that simple idea is catching on. Jason Roberts, from Seeking Arrangement, says, “We have thousands of new members each month and are growing very rapidly both in database population, and popularity in the search engine rankings. We have tens of thousands of college age Sugar Babies.”
It looks like for the college Babies, the Daddies, and the websites that hook them up, sugar has never been so sweet.
HC-ers: What do you think of this idea? Does it gross you out, or does it seem like a fair deal for all parties involved? Leave a comment!