Students seek "sugar daddies" to pay college expenses
Online websites provide chance to meet wealthy mates in exchange for companionship
Published: Tuesday, February 5, 2013
Updated: Monday, February 4, 2013 18:02
What is the way to a man’s heart? The answer to this question is one most ladies have been seeking for far too long, and for young college women, it may be easier than we ever thought.
New reports from the “mutually beneficial relationship” site SeekingArrangement.com reveal staggering numbers regarding the prevalence of higher education students in their early to mid twenties seeking a sugar daddy (or daddies) to help soothe the sting of a rippling debt pool in their name.
Founded by entrepreneur Brandon Wade, the site connects sugar daddies (and some sugar mommies) with sugar babies (male or female) looking for compensation or gifts in exchange for companionship.
SeekingArrangement.com has had considerable press coverage since the release of their statistics on schools with the highest sugar baby membership (concentrated in private east coast universities). However, what is lacking is any discussion of how this phenomenon blurs the line between companionship and prostitution.
The site defines a sugar daddy or sugar mommy as “a successful and generous [wo]man who is willing to pamper and offer financial help or gifts to a young person in return for friendship and companionship.”
A sugar baby, according to SeekingArrangement.com and as referred to by users, is “attractive, ambitious and goal oriented […] and is looking to meet wealthy, successful and generous people who are willing to pamper and offer financial assistance or gifts in return for their friendship or companionship.”
Sugar babies on SeekingArrangement.com are usually (or at least claim to be) young college students of varying fields of study who are in the market for a bit of sugar of the wealthy variety. So why is this matchmaking site not illegal?
By definition, prostitution is the practice of engaging in sex with someone for payment, or more broadly, the corrupt use of one’s talents for personal or financial gain.
SeekingArrangement.com doesn’t address any expectations of sexual relations, which acts as a thin veil over the greater purpose and expectation of the site and its members.
“It’s a successful couching of it in relational terms that makes it not be defined as prostitution, even if we all know that is the end goal,” said Shereen Bingham, professor of communication at UNO, specializing in gender communication, sexual harassment, child custody mediation and intimate partner abuse.
SeekingArrangement.com doesn’t limit itself to being a matchmaking platform. It also has a blog where people like Wade post entries. The blog doubles as a forum for members. Here they can exchange stories, advice and general anecdotes about their experiences with the site. Readers of the forum entries can glean interesting insight into the world of sugar people.
A self-proclaimed new sugar baby by the alias of im_only_me sought advice from fellow sugar babies about a lack of physical attraction to her sugar daddies getting in the way of finding arrangements. “I am not sure if I could get turned on by them. Am I over thinking things?” she said. “Yup, you’re over thinking. Or worse… you’re not ready for this,” said a frequent forum contributor by the name of California SB.
Another sugar baby, Madeline, wondered if not having sex right away hurts or helps a sugar baby’s chances at a long-term arrangement.”
“A user by the name of Frank said, “I don’t have a problem with sex on a first date. Sugar is like dating on steroids—it’s fast and strong, so sometimes that happens.”
While many sugar babies use their “allowances” for tuition and bills, some spend their earned cash on designer dresses, jewelry and other arguably non-essential items.
Eric Hansen, 24, recently learned about SeekingArrangement.com.
“To look for someone to pay all your bills is disgusting and shows a lack of a moral backbone,” Hansen said.
In some forum posts by SeekingArrangement.com users, the difference between sugar (as it is occasionally simply referred to) and pay for play, or the more traditional image of prostitution, is brought up. Most sugar babies differentiate their actions from a prostitute’s because they are not required to sleep with their chosen arrangement, but provide general companionship.
Brent Christensen, a senior at UNO, said regardless of what sugar babies call themselves, it is “certainly morally incorrect.”
The “Sugar Bowl,” as it is referred to by some, is an undeniably supportive community. Perhaps it is less of a genuine caring about virtually anonymous strangers who happen to engage in this budding world but rather a fear that one bad egg could ruin the program for everyone.
Despite such speculation, SeekingArrangement.com is not the only site of its kind on the web, and judging by its growing popularity, it probably won’t be the last.