Experiences: Sugar Babies
A SUGAR BABY IS SOMEONE IN AN ARRANGEMENT WITH ANOTHER PERSON, TYPICALLY SOMEONE MUCH OLDER THAN THEY ARE, IN EXCHANGE FOR MONETARY AND NON-MONETARY ITEMS TO REACH ECONOMIC SECURITY. TO BRING CLARITY INTO THE WORLD OF MUTUALLY BENEFICIAL ARRANGEMENTS, WE INTERVIEWED A FEW PEOPLE ON THEIR EXPERIENCES WITHIN THE SUGAR BOWL.
WHAT PROMPTED YOU TO GET INTO THIS LINE OF WORK?
J: When I was a teenager, my first "relationship" was being sexually abused/exploited by a 30-year-old teacher. In addition to coming from an emotionally abusive and neglectful household and having unhealthy ideas on love and relationships, this experience made me believe that love and relationships were transactional. Once I got to college and realized that I was physically attractive but also broke, I felt motivated to find a sugar daddy. My concerns about privacy and safety always stopped me just short of actually getting into an arrangement. I did find myself dating older men, in large part because of their emotional maturity and because at the very least I expected not to have to pay for my own drinks.
A: At first I needed money to feed my drug addiction but then it became a way for me to make easy money and fast.
ARE YOU CURRENTLY IN AN ARRANGEMENT? IF SO, FOR HOW LONG?
J: Yes, of sorts. For a while I would just go on a string of first dates to get free dinner and drinks when I got tired of ramen or was feeling bored and lonely. I was on one such date when I ended up actually having an amazing time with a very kind, smart, and attractive guy. He has no kids, a full time job with advanced degrees, owns his home, and is almost 40. He always wants to take me out for food and drinks, see shows, and has even taken me on a couple trips. He understands that I don't have the means to do those things and enjoys spending time with me. We've been dating about 3 months. Even though I really care about him, and he would not like to hear the term, I do consider it to be a mutually beneficial relationship.
Aly: Yes, going on 2 months
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN IN THE SUGAR BOWL? WHAT DO YOU LIKE MOST AND LEAST ABOUT BEING IN AN ARRANGEMENT?
J: The best part is the companionship, affection, and sex. I also love not having to check my bank account before ordering a drink or dinner that costs more than $10. It can feel very awkward explaining the relationship to friends and family. The worst part is feeling immature or incapable because I'm at a different stage in my life. But even then, he likes to offer perspective and helps me through it.
A: I had different sugar daddies for about a year. I liked how nice and genuine most of the men were. They liked learning about me and were always open to helping me in anyway possible. The only thing I didn’t like was the actual sexual experience. It wasn’t usually the best. But it paid the bills.
Aly: 1 year. I like meeting older men that have contacts and connections in the workforce. You can meet people that are wanting to mentor you and help you reach your goals. Ambition is what they like to see and support. They are also more enjoyable to be around/talk to than men my age. It’s unfortunate the amount of men that are married and in the SD/SB world.
HOW MUCH DO YOU TYPICALLY MAKE IN A MONTH? IN A YEAR? HAVE YOU RECEIVED TRIPS OR GIFTS? IF SO, WHAT HAVE YOU RECEIVED?
J: I don't have an allowance, but my lifestyle is much different because we're dating. I just recently graduated college and barely worked (and barely had an income) so that I could focus on school. I would steal food from my job, only buy clothes secondhand, and almost never go out so that I would have enough money to pay bills. That's been totally different since we've been dating. If I had to estimate, he spends $50-200 a week taking me out for food/drinks/shows or even just buying the groceries and gas for meals we cook and trips we take together. I guess that works out to $200-800 a month.
A: I made around $400 twice a week for a good 4 month and with my last sugar daddy. He bought me a plane ticket to go see a friend as well as little gifts like a favorite movie or my favorite candy.
Aly: Depending on if I’m allowed to see other people in the arrangement, I can make between $900 a month to $700 a week. There are times where you make more or less. I have been asked to go on multiple trips. Had flights booked for one but wasn’t able to make it. Gifts are usually in the form of money being deposited into my Venmo randomly.
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO SOMEONE GOING INTO THE SUGAR BOWL? WHAT IS SOMETHING YOU WISH YOU WOULD’VE KNOWN BEFORE YOU JOINED?
J: Have a very good understanding of your boundaries and what you really want. I value my privacy too much to use traditional sugar dating sites. Figure out sooner rather than later if you want love to play into your arrangement.
A: You have to be okay with using your body for money. If you don’t like making yourself and object (per say) for a certain person, then don’t do it.
Aly: Make sure someone knows about it and you tell them about every meet. You always want to protect yourself. The men are usually very sweet and you get plenty of free meals, take advantage of that. I wish I would’ve had more resources when I started and more of a “mentor” so I wasn’t jumping in alone. You can be taken advantage of.
WHAT IS SOMETHING YOU WISH THE WHOLE WORLD KNEW ABOUT BEING A SUGAR BABY?
J: It's complicated. Some people consider it sex work, some don't. As long as the parties feel safe, respected, and have their needs met, you should mind your own business.
A: There is absolutely nothing wrong with taking advantage of your own body and self to make money. Also it’s not just about sex. It’s about the connection you make with the person.
Aly: It’s not such a horrible slut thing. Being on tinder and sleeping with random men you’ll never see again sounds worse to me than what you gain from these arrangements.
Responses have been edited for clarity and names have not been included for privacy reasons.