I was once a male sugar baby—well, a potential one. In search of financial stability, and and inspired by @yungfumes on Snapchat (an Internet personality who's open about her sugar baby, stripper and student lifestyle), I made an account on seekingarrangement.com and started looking for a sugar daddy.
Sugaring is a term used to describe the act of having a sugar daddy or mamma: someone who provides financial support in a relationship with a sugar baby. Seeking Arrangement describes their site as a place "where Sugar Babies enjoy a life of luxury by being pampered with fine dinners, exotic trips and allowances. In turn, Sugar Daddies or Mommas find beautiful members to accompany them at all times."
In the two months I spent on the site, I found that sugaring was a sort of art. The best profiles struck the right balance between ambition, sensitivity and genuine interests, and they carefully reflected this balance in photos and written descriptions. People put endless identifiers in their profiles—income, location, interests, goals, preferred body type and race—that helped me identify exactly who I would be interested in and who may be interested in me. Building my profile was like applying for a job; looking for a suitable sugar daddy was like sifting through job applications. Messages came in, and the conversations started rolling.
But that’s about where my experience ends. I spoke to many sugar daddies in Los Angeles, Washington D.C, New York and Philadelphia—and contrary to popular belief, sugaring isn’t all about sex or money. The terms of the relationship are up to the parties involved. People may look at sugaring as a sort of high–paid form of prostitution, but Seeking Arrangement does not allow any nudity, or mention of sex, in user profiles. These regulations don't extend to the private messaging part of the site, though, which allows users to talk on their own terms.
However, all of the daddies I spoke to simply weren't looking for arrangements that worked for me. One sugar daddy that I spoke to for a while was looking for someone to visit his home about twice a week to “see where things can go.” Others were more direct, requesting nude photos and descriptions of sexual preferences and “skills." But many daddies I talked to were just looking for someone to mentor through adulthood—a companion they could guide. It's important to remember, though, that sugaring is a mutually beneficial relationship. A sugar baby must be ready to give up something for their sugar daddy, whether it be time, sex, traveling or a combination of all three. I realized I wasn't ready to make those sacrifices.
However, I think it's important to not look down on people who do have sugar–relationships. Sugaring empowers students financially and, for many, provides a sense of stability. One of my female friends, who goes to a different college, started sugaring in New York to help out with student loans.
"I was on Craigslist when I first saw an ad to make $400 just to talk to these older guys at a club," she says, "and I had a really great experience, and that’s how I ended up in this world. Every break from school since I’d go on date with men. One paid for music festival tickets, and another got me an internship for the summer."
She kept her sugaring secret "for the longest time, "she says. But she's decided to be more open about her experiences.
"This makes me happy," she says. "And I have nothing to be ashamed of."
Photo credit: Creative Commons/ Mike Morzat.