Pour Some Sugar on Me, Baby

Some online dating sites offer new opportunities for aspiring sugar babies

Danielle George / The Runner

 

It’s 2016, and most of us are familiar with the concept of the online dating scene. The premise is simple: you pick a site, create an online profile with a description (perhaps slightly embellished) and a picture of yourself, then you search through an index of other people’s profiles with the aim of contacting them and establishing your interest in pursuing a relationship with them. These relationships begin with people engaging in online conversations and getting to know each other over a period of time—and if the interest is mutual and everything goes well enough, you can decide to meet each other for real, outside the chatroom, and see where things go from there.

There have been scores of people who have claimed to have found their soulmate through an online dating service like this. For those who have decided to utilize the consumer-convenience of the 21st century in their quest for love, who could pass up the possibilities and potential opportunities that these websites have to offer?

However, for those looking for a more direct and upfront approach to their online search for a relationship, there are a few websites and apps that have endeavoured to take it a step or two further.

SeekingArangement.com is a dating site that caters to people who are looking for something more than the coy cyber-banter and romantic pleasantries that are ubiquitous to most other dating and hook-up sites. Of course, users are quite capable of indulging in as much online-flirtation as they would like, with the commonly held objective of reaching out to someone else and establishing a relationship, romantic or not. But what separates this site from the others is that it divides users into two different categories: Sugar Daddies (or Mommies) and Sugar Babies.

The categories are named after the colloquial term for a couple wherein the younger partner relies on their an older, wealthier partner to provide funds and “gifts”, allowing the “sugar baby” the chance to live a more glamourous, high-status lifestyle. The younger partner enters the relationship with the expectation of enjoying a certain level of material compensation for their companionship, while the “sugar daddy” or “Mommy” gets to reap the fruits of a relationship with a younger, highly attractive partner. As SeekingArrangement Public Relations Manager, Brook Urick explains:

“It’s a dating site just like any other dating site, but the main difference here is that people are a little more open and honest about exactly what they are looking for. So a lot of the sugar babies on the site, both male and female, are looking for someone to take care of them. Whether that means paying for university or taking them on luxurious trips and buying them Chanel bags or whatever.”

“On the converse, a lot of sugar daddies are not really looking for a traditional relationship either, because they are oftentimes businessmen, CEOs or married, so it’s sort of a place where people that are looking for a certain kind of relationship can meet.”

The website began as the brainchild of CEO Brandon Wade, an MIT graduate who has made his fortune in the development and ownership of online dating sites like SeekingArrangement. There is a large quote from him on the front page of his website which reads, “Love is a concept invented by poor people.”

“Brandon started this site after he had this idea when he was younger,” Urick says. “He didn’t really have success with women, he was 21 and had never been kissed and had never experienced a relationship. He built the site after his mom told him, ‘Don’t worry about women. Worry about business, worry about finances, worry about success and your career and your education, and then after you have those things established the women will come to you and they’ll love you for that.’”

According to the site’s statistics, at the beginning of 2016 there were approximately 156,715 student sugar babies in Canada, and that number is steadily growing.

“There’s about eight sugar babies to every sugar daddy or sugar mommy, so there’s quite a lot of competition on the site”, says Urick.

For the sugar babies who are lucky enough to receive monthly stipends from their sugar parent counterpart, the site claims that the average recipient can expect an average of $2,600 a month.

“In any relationship there’s always going to be money involved—but people are gravitating towards this because it offers a kind of shortcut to that,” says Urick. “So they can be more open and honest about their expectations . . . most likely about the expectation of not wanting matrimony. I think that’s one of the main differences in these relationships—not everyone is looking to settle down and get married.”

Perhaps unsurprisingly, students comprise the majority of the demographic of people who a) could use a little more money to pad their income, and b) would prefer to avoid matrimony. The site’s stats say the average age-range of student sugar babies is between 21 and 27 years old. According to Urick, there are a couple of possible reasons for this, including the fact that people needing larger loans for post-secondary education as well as increasing tuition costs and a stagnant minimum wage coupled with an increasing cost of living, especially in cities like Vancouver and Toronto.

She adds that the viability of someone using a platform like this to support their lifestyle is often underestimated.

“You can actually meet a sugar daddy who can help you to live, and afford to have your education be the main priority in your life, rather than working a dead-end job as well, which can interfere with your studies and your grades. It’s funny because a lot of the women I talk to say that they joined the site as a joke, not thinking anything of it, and then actually end up needing some money for things like university. It’s kind of an interesting phenomenon.”

Layla, a second-year student at Simon Fraser University, says that she’s been using the site for about six months, and that, although it might not be something that everyone could get on board with, she’s had some interesting experiences along the way.

“At first I was just curious. I’d heard about it and I didn’t even think it was real, and I jumped on because I was just kind of bored,” she says.

“It’s been interesting for sure. It’s been out of the box, and strange, and weird, and awesome. Not everyone is after the same thing. You can really connect with people, girls and guys who are wanting the same things as you. Once, I actually went on a date with a couple, and they were together but they wanted a third person—and that was actually one of the coolest experiences. It seemed kind of weird at first but then,” here Layla paused briefly.

“it’s interesting,” she concludes.

Much like any love story, online dating can have its ups and downs.

“The first date I went on was actually with an older guy. He was really polite, but his pictures weren’t… he wasn’t the person his pictures were of. So that one was kind of strange [experience], and I blocked that person after.”

Everyone gets nervous on a first date, it’s entirely natural. But when the first date is with someone whom you’ve never actually met face-to-face, it can take being nervous to a whole new level.

“I was terrified,” says Layla. “I actually had one of my friends hide out in the garden outside when I met him at a restaurant, just in case anything happened. I’ll always take some kind of weird precaution like that, because you never really know until you meet them.”

This, however, has not stopped her from using the site, and she’s had better experiences with the people she agreed to meet after that first date.

“I’ve been with six separate people, and two of them have been couples,” she says. Though she hasn’t yet been explicitly given anything overt like a monthly stipend, she has been treated to some things she likely couldn’t afford otherwise.

“I went on a trip to Italy with someone, so I haven’t been paid, but I’ve been taken out, usually doing things they like to do.”

With tuition forever on the rise, it seems likely that the popularity of sites like SeekingArrangements for students will also continue to rise.

“I think a lot of university girls do it because, for them, it’s about tuition and being independent,” says Layla. “I know a lot of girls that do this, and a lot of girls who do other things like this. But I wouldn’t say it’s for everyone.”

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