by Tatiana Costa Lopes
You may have heard of the word ‘sugar baby’, but do you know what it really means? Tatiana knows all about it.
sugar daddy (noun): typically an older wealthy man that financially compensates young attractive girls in exchange for their attention, physical affection, time and energy (and sometimes sex).
Everyone on Twitter sounds obsessed with the idea of having a sugar daddy. Receiving money, gifts and compliments for doing absolutely nothing (or at least that’s what they say) in return? What a dream! I infiltrated the market for a week to see what sugar dating is really about.
On Thursday, November 1st, I made a sugar baby account on secretbenefits.com, a sugar dating website that had positive reviews on many forums. First, the basics: username, age, location and tagline (I went for a cute ‘princess looking for a king to cheer her up’). Then, two questions: ‘What makes you a good sugar baby?’ and ‘What are you looking for?’, as well as a greetings’ message answering ‘Hey babe, what brings you here?’
At first, scrolling through profiles was funny, but it quickly got a bit scary too. What am I doing? Could I get into trouble? Who are these men? What do they want from me? Why do they do this? SO. MANY. QUESTIONS. After stalking and liking some people, I closed my computer. A couple of hours later, more than ten men had viewed and/or liked ‘princesstania’ and I had two unread messages in my inbox.
It only took a couple of texts back and forth for ‘Daniel020’ to give me my very first sugar daddy offer. On Friday, the 49-year-old Dutchie says he wants a girlfriend/boyfriend kind of thing, twice a month. In return, he will ‘help me with my studies, bills, etc.’ Before declining, I have to ask how much he is thinking about, right? He says it depends on the bond we have (and wants to meet me ASAP), but that he was ‘thinking of 500 euros a month’. My eyebrows raised as I thought to myself: ‘This rent is not going to pay itself… Maybe you should consider it.’
The days of my experiment passed and I kept getting new views, likes and messages. I realized I became a little too self-aware, checking the site every hour and almost getting hurt when someone viewed my profile without liking it. By day five I was bored of it already. This was less fun than I expected. My friends and I often joked about getting a sugar daddy to pay for our next vacation or the cute shoes we saw at the store but now that I was in the market… I hated it. It became too real too quickly, I never wanted to be in contact with a 50-year-old man again.
I did all of this for journalistic purposes and fun, but some people do this in real life. And get real money out of it. My friend, who we will call Naomi for privacy reasons, is 20 years-old and has some experience with sugar daddies. Last June, she went to a 55-year-old man’s house in the suburbs of Paris. They talked for an hour, then he offered her a massage. Things heated up, and he ended up going down on her. After some sexy time, they talked again about a bit of everything; her studies, his work, their city. Then he gave her 200 euros in cash, she left and they never talked again.
It can be hard to understand but, from the experiment and all the chats I had, I get that most of these wealthy busy men don’t have time to create real bonds with people in a traditional way. They travel a lot for work, which makes it hard to keep any kind of relationship going and instead they end up signing up to these sites. Having to pay for female company is usually seen as sad — I almost felt bad for them. It’s not that they are looking for a prostitute to satisfy their sexual desires – they genuinely want someone to talk to or go out with. They lack attention and care above anything. Sugar babies, on the other hand, are often young women, mostly students, that need financial help and are eager for a better lifestyle.
Sugar dating is a grey area between normal online dating, escorting and prostitution. It is technically legal, but still very taboo. Rare are the persons who will talk about it openly but just know: this is happening – it’s a real thing! Sugar daddies are not a myth and the truth is, I could have gotten myself one pretty easily.