Sex is a topic steeped in judgment. Any conversations about it are never-ending debates of what's right and what's wrong.
That's why I've created this column: a judgment-free forum to discuss sexual trysts, both conventional and not, through intimate Q&As with some openminded individuals.
As an engaged man living in the suburbs, the idea of a "sugar daddy" resonates as way more fantastical than practical.
I mean, where I live, if you see an older man with a younger woman, there's a good chance he's her father.
But after getting familiar with SeekingArrangement, a popular dating site for sugar daddy/baby relationships, I soon discovered that maybe the twosomes I had assumed were father/daughter might not be that at all. They might be more... romantic.
SeekingArrangement has over 3 million members in the US alone — 484,695 of which are sugar daddies (who, on average, are white 40-year-olds with a $275,000 income) and 2,250,868 are sugar babies (who, on average, are 25 years old).
So yeah, this is clearly a burgeoning market in the dating industry.
SeekingArrangement has over 3 million members in the US alone — 484,695 of which are sugar daddies.
To get a more personal account of what these types of relationships entail, I spoke to Cameron*, a 48-year-old healthcare consultant (earning upwards of $325,000 a year) who's been a sugar daddy for three and a half years (he got divorced almost a decade ago).
As Cameron explains below, this isn't the sex-for-cash transaction most see it as. There's actually a lot more both participants can reap from a sugar-filled connection.
Bobby Box: Why do you seek the sugar daddy/sugar baby arrangement?
Cameron: I'm divorced and don't have the time to be involved in a traditional relationship. There is a level of flexibility that this affords. I travel often, and having a relationship that doesn't need constant nurturing works best for me.
On average, my sugar baby and I see each other once per week at the most, and on occasions, twice per month.
BB: Do friends or family know you're a sugar daddy? If so, how did they react?
Cameron: My family is not aware of my status as a sugar daddy. However, they were aware of my previous sugar baby as "a friend who was much younger." My family assumed that she was my girlfriend.
The general concern was, were we to ever get married, she wouldn't be around as a companion and leave with half of my resources.
Very close friends of mine are aware that I have a sugar baby. My friends are generally fascinated with the idea — men and women alike — and often jokingly quip that they should try it as it seems to be the ideal situation for a relationship.
BB: What's a typical interaction on SeekingArrangement like?
Cameron: After I log on, even when it's only for a brief period, I'll get about 10-15 messages per day for three to four succeeding days.
First and foremost, it's imperative that I perform a thorough screening of a sugar baby. I read her profile carefully to determine if we're compatible.
I limit my search to college-educated women who are currently in school (undergraduate or graduate) or have already graduated. I find that I engage with women far more comfortably if they are able to have fun debates, share ideas or challenge my ideas. I enjoy banter.
After messaging on the SeekingArrangement platform for a couple of days, we'll switch to email and eventually phone calls. During these first convos, I'll state the frequency of our meetings and the amount I'm willing to offer while paying close attention to her needs.
I'll usually meet her within a couple of weeks to see how well we match, and then I'll take a few days to make a decision.
During our first meeting, I will offer her a gift and a cash amount if she has incurred any travel expenses to make sure that she feels comfortable and that the evening is worthwhile should we decide we aren't compatible.
A significant number of the sugar babies turn to SeekingArrangement because of financial challenges they are experiencing, and I feel it's only fair to offer a gift as a token of my appreciation in her effort to meet with me.
The question of sex is never broached until later — after we've met in person, and only as a part of our overall discussion.
BB: By the sounds of it, sugar daddies have most of the power.
Cameron: I will agree that sugar daddies have more flexibility, only because the numbers are in our favor. There's a ratio of 7 women to 1 man.
BB: Based on your experiences, what are the most common reasons sugar babies want these arrangements?
Cameron: I find sugar babies fall into a number of categories:
- The college or graduate student who's having funding problems — particularly tuition and living expenses.
- A woman who's frustrated with immature men within her age group.
- Those who are using SeekingArrangement as a full-time career.
- Those who are genuinely seeking a long-term, romantic relationship.
BB: What are your reasons for giving younger women money?
Cameron: This nontraditional relationship works best for me, and helping a partner is only fair. It's less headache and far less expensive compared to having a full-time girlfriend.
BB: What's the average allowance you give to your sugar babies?
Cameron: Her allowance is $4,000 per month, in addition to gifts.
The gifts, generally, are spontaneous. For instance, a plane ticket to fly home to New Zealand to visit her ill father, a new dress and shoes for an opera performance, gift certificates for dinner with her friends who are visiting for the weekend, and so on.
BB: To date, how much money have you spent on sugar babies?
Cameron: Approximately $110,000.
BB: What's the most expensive gift you've ever given a sugar baby?
Cameron: My previous sugar baby and I were together for approximately 18 months before she earned her master's degree and returned to New Zealand.
Since she was relying on public transportation to get to and from the university, I bought her a car. I felt it was far safer for her to have when leaving her classes late at night.
BB: Do you ever feel like you're being taken advantage of by these younger women?
Cameron: I don't feel that in any way. There's a power dynamic that exists between us.
She's a highly intelligent, attractive and wonderful woman, and I have the resources. These are weapons we can both employ at will, and something we would never abuse.
BB: Is there anything you'd like to clear up about the stigma attached to these relationships?
Cameron: I find it's a very healthy alternative to traditional dating, often devoid of the typical demands involved in marriage or dating.
There's also an end point that's very clear to both parties and allows for an amicable parting of ways that fosters a long-term friendship.
BB: What do you say to people who believe this kind of arrangement is akin to prostitution?
Cameron: I imagine that there are those who might believe it to be prostitution. However, I would guess that prostitution is very transactional — devoid of any emotion or friendship.
SD/SB relationships are generally long-term. At least, they are for me.
BB: How common is it that sex is involved?
Cameron: On average, sex is usually every other meeting, depending on what we have planned.
If we spend a long evening out at a function, it might not happen. But when we're together for extended periods of time, we might do it more frequently. It's not unlike being in a traditional relationship.
BB: How do you feel about the terms "sugar daddy" and "sugar baby"?
Cameron: I actually would prefer some other terms. They [seem] so calculating.
The term "sugar baby" conjures a scheming diva whose sole motivation is to drain a guy's bank account. I'm aware that some of these women do exist, but they're not in my orbit.
The term 'sugar baby' conjures a scheming diva whose sole motivation is to drain a guy's bank account.
BB: How many sugar babies do you have at one time?
Cameron: I see only one sugar baby at a time. I wouldn't do emotional multitasking well.
My relationships are usually longterm, generally longer than six months.
BB: Having been married, would you say these relationships are just as fulfilling? Why or why not?
Cameron: A SB/SD relationship is no more or less fulfilling. They both have their respective benefits.
A good marriage results in a lifelong partner. A SD/SB relationship has a negotiable life expectancy.
BB: Do you view this as "dating," or more like "pampering"?
Cameron: I feel very invested and treat my sugar baby with respect and provide a lot of pampering, similar to that of a normal relationship.
BB: So, technically speaking, are you two "dating"? How do you articulate their relationship?
Cameron: We have clearly defined boundaries. We respect each other's space and privacy. Neither of us see anyone else, but we enjoy our time apart because of our demanding schedules.
It's exciting when we see each other — we have a volume of things to share. At times, it feels like a dating relationship.
But to other people, we describe our relationship as friends.
BB: Why don't you just hire a sex worker instead? What makes this more worthwhile?
Cameron: I don't find prostitution abhorrent or immoral. However, I would find it limiting. What I look for in a partner is something more substantial. I probably would find the lack of emotion a turn-off.
I imagine that being with a beautiful prostitute would be exciting for a short meeting. I, however, enjoy the connection that comes with familiarity.
*Name has been changed.