In what is still a rough economy for millenials, there are a surprising amount of people getting paid to do basically nothing except hang out with a wealthier stranger. They’re Sugar Babies and they’re all around us. What sounds like a seedy, dark-room deal is actually more legitimate and common than you might think, although its sketchy undertones are still somewhat unavoidable.
Amidst hundreds of dating sites and apps, there’s a whole slew aimed at matching wealthy, lonely Sugar Daddies and Sugar Mommies with “Sugar Babies” whom they’ll pay to keep them company. And yes, if that sounds like sex work (not that there’s anything inherently wrong with sex work), that’s because many people use those sites for sex, but it is really, truly, we promise, not all about sex. So is it a good, safe, ethical idea to be a Sugar Baby for cash? We did some investigating and spoke with a former Sugar Baby to find out.
There are tons of Sugar Daddy sites, each with a name more off-putting than the last (the grossest in my opinion being whatsyourprice.com), but, if word-of-mouth is to be believed, the least gross, and the one we’re talking about today is SeekingArrangement.com. Seeking Arrangement (which we last covered back in 2013, when they attempted to cash in the government shutdown) is the “leading Sugar Daddy dating site where over 10 million members fuel mutually beneficial relationships on their term” and purports to be “a new way for relationships to form and grow. Sugar Babies and Sugar Daddies or Mommas both get what they want, when they want it.” Essentially, it’s a site where you match with wealthier, often older men and women, and arrange to spend time with them in person in exchange for money (although all the financials are between the two parties, the site itself just helps you find each other).
That phrase “mutually beneficial relationship” comes up a lot on Seeking Arrangement (so much so that they trademarked it), presumably because it’s exactly vague enough to mean “get lunch, talk and make money doing it” or “get paid to have sex.” And both of those things are true about the site.
I spoke about this with a 22-year-old woman who had used the site intermittently over the past six months, and who wished to remain anonymous. “I’ve never had any remotely sexual experiences through the site,” she said, “but I have friends who have.” This Sugar Baby met an older gentleman on the site and the two of them had lunch three or four times, had “a nice conversation” and at the end of it he paid her for her time and company. “He was explicit in his profile that he wasn’t looking for a prostitute,” she said. “He’s a busy guy and I think he just doesn’t have a lot of time for other people, but he’s lonely so he’ll pay for companionship on demand.” When I asked for specifics about the financials of the relationship, she said, “We never agreed to a specific amount, we’d just go to lunch and at the end of it he’d hand me some cash. It works out for both of us.” When I asked if it ever feels sketchy, she told me, “Not really, but for sure I would never give him my real name.”
Like any reporter worth his weight in free lunch from strangers on the Internet, I went deep undercover and tried out Seeking Arrangement myself. What I found was upsetting, endearing and remarkable mostly for how similar to other dating sites it felt. Setting up a profile is basically the same as OKCupid or Tinder: You choose a username, upload a picture, fill out some basic information (location, age, body type, education level, occupation, do you smoke?, do you drink?) and write “what [you’re] looking for” and a header to “tell potential Sugar Daddies [or Mommies] a bit about yourself.” From there you get a list of profiles of potential matches who you can message if you’re interested.
I searched as a man seeking a Sugar Mommy and got fewer matches than the women I spoke to had, but there were still quite a few results (“about 136” within 0-50 miles of Brooklyn). Those potential matches had “looking for” sections that ranged from the sweet (“[Looking for] friendship, fun, excitement and someone that can actually hold a convo and be some what normal!”) to the, well, what you might expect (“Looking for hottie, willing to do what I say. Willing to please me”), to the very specific (“[Looking for] A young, dominant, bull stud who doesn’t mind being watched while he performs. Someone open to all sorts of situations and has resilient stamina.”). Most profiles fit into one of those three types (plus a handful of folks who had filled something out incorrectly and wanted Sugar Daddies, as opposed to low life Babies like myself), but, just as I’d heard, I found a surprising number of Mommies looking for Babies to just hang out with and talk to because, for one reason or another, that fit their lifestyle and their needs better than more traditional relationships.
So, is it a good idea to adopt a Sugar Daddy or Mommy? It can be. There certainly is a lot of room to actually meet someone, get paid to hang out with them and not do anything beyond that. But, obviously, it’s only a good idea if you’re very safe about it; this is a situation where you’re potentially alone with a stranger who uses seekingarrangement.com. I certainly wouldn’t endorse using the site, but if you do decide to pursue a life of Sugar Babying, make sure you don’t use your real name, that you meet somewhere public, that you tell someone you trust where you’re going and what you’re doing and, most importantly, that you make absolutely sure that both parties know exactly what this relationship is all about and what it isn’t. There’s also always the risk that Sugar Babying will feel like an ethical dilemma — Do you deserve money for your time and company? Are you taking advantage of this person? You’ll have to decide that one on your own, but this little Sugar Baby for one believes that if someone fills out a profile and goes through with the “date,” then they know what they’re getting into. The Sugar Baby I spoke to recently deleted her Seeking Arrangement account. “It’s not that it felt weird or that I think he [her former Sugar Daddy] wanted sex or anything,” she said, “it’s just that even hanging out with someone in that context and listening to their problems and scheduling with them and stuff, is still kind of demanding and annoying.”
So where do you weigh in: Is it worth it? Is it ethical? Which candy is a more delicious treat: Sugar Daddies or Sugar Babies? Sound off in the comments below.
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