Faced with rising tuition costs and the bad economy, female college students are turning to everything from working part-time jobs, commuting from home and even logging on websites to find a sugar daddy.
Sugar daddies are men who seek out sugar babies, women who are typically younger, and assist her financially in exchange for anything from a date to sexual favors.
Brandon Wade is the founder and CEO of Seekingarrangment.com, a dating website that claims to be for “those seeking mutually beneficial relationships.” He said that users can register as a sugar daddy or sugar mommy for a monthly fee, while sugar babies can use the website for free. Users fill out a profile that states what they can offer in a relationship and what they expect in return.
On his website, the average age of sugar daddy members is 35, and the average age of sugar babies is 25. There are also about 10 female sugar babies for every sugar daddy member. The average sugar baby asks for between $1000 - 3000 a month from her sugar daddy, with some receiving upwards of $10,000 or more. Wade said that some of the sugar daddies on the website also belong to the Forbes 400 list of the richest people in the world.
“Single students who are actively dating anyways may choose to use SeekingArrangement.com because our dating website can match them up with very successful, generous and wealthy people who may help them in achieving their goals,” Wade said.
Although these websites have been accused of promoting prostitution, the legal lines are blurred for these websites.
Simply advertising yourself on the site would not be illegal, said Ronald Weitzer, a professor of sociology at George Washington University. However, if the person makes a direct statement that it will cost a certain amount of money for a particular sex act, then it could be against the law. He added that this is hard to track down, as “paid dates” are legal and users could use euphemisms. For instance, a sugar baby may say that their minimum rate is 500 roses or gifts.
What exactly goes on during a date between a sugar daddy and sugar baby can land on different ends of a spectrum. A sugar baby could possibly pay off her debt and meet an interesting sugar daddy, Weitzer said. On the other hand, she can meet men who become obsessed with her and ask for more than she is prepared to offer. Some sugar babies who enter these arrangements for an extended amount of time may be allured by money may have trouble disengaging, especially given the tight job market, he added.
Based on the number of sugar babies who have an .edu email address, 35% of the users on seekingarrangement.com are college students. So while many of the users may be college students, they may compose the minority of sugar babies, Weitzer said.
Anytime you’re meeting someone online, you don’t know if they’re being honest or not, said Mike Woodward, author of The You Plan. Furthermore, these arrangements are not constructive career-wise, may inflict a psychological strain, and come with a stigma attached. Instead, he recommends college women who consider using these websites to seek alternatives.
In the long term, it’s better to turn to your networks of family and friends, meet with people working in the job market, and build up your career, Woodward said. Students can consider freelancing, taking an internship or taking social investments, where investment groups can provide them with a loan.
Whatever the impact of dating a sugar daddy, the growth of these websites shows no sign of slowing. Since 2007, the number of sugar babies on Seekingarrangment.com has grown 350 percent.