When Amy Smith* realised her student-loan left her with only enough to cover her rent, she didn’t look for part-time work, but instead became a sugar baby, a way of earning money that is increasingly popular with young women.
“I didn’t want them to become too attached, I didn’t want a relationship, it was just to give them friendship more than anything- they’d get friendship and I’d get money,” insists Amy.
20-year-old Amy, from Warrington is a full-time student at the University of Manchester and a part-time Sugar Baby of three years, after finding out her student loan didn’t allow her to fund her partying lifestyle.
She is one of an estimated 8 million young women thought to be in so-called ‘sugar arrangements’. So common have these transactions become that there are a number of professional websites that offer to match up ‘sugar babies’ and ‘sugar daddies’, including Seeking Arrangement, Sugar Daddie and Sugar Daddy Meet.
With Amy needing money, she signed up to SeekingArrangement.com and began her search for a wealthy man that could provide her with the money she needed. While some arrangements may lead to sexual relationships, Amy says that she is purely there for the money and in return offers her companionship to the sugar daddies she dates during her time at university.
According to statistics released by the site, students are a big target market for their ‘sugar baby’ clientele, with 75,000 students registering in 2017 alone due to rising tuition fees.
“Something that was quite cool was that if you used your student email you got a free premium account!” Amy explains.
Seeking Arrangements is an adult dating site, set up by businessman Brandon Wade in 2006, to provide people with the platform to set up an arrangement that allows older men or women to provide and interact with the younger generation and form a mutually beneficial agreement.
With the site being the first of its kind, it paved the way for the modern day ‘sugar’ relationships and now has over 10 million users globally using it, however the concept of sugar babies dates back to royal mistresses, who were financially supported by kings.
For Amy, her first experience of ‘sugaring’ started during her first few months of university on a normal Sunday morning in the comfort of the student union bar, after she made contact with an older man through the website…
“It’s a bit weird looking back, but I’m pretty sure he would’ve just looked like a father or someone I knew, he was in his late forties…
“That date he gave me £600, he gave me £300 just for turning up and then another £300 when I left.
“I was shocked when he gave me that as I didn’t think I’d even get £100 for a non-sexual arrangement, but I was happy and excited for future dates and I felt empowered that my company was worth so much!”
For a few months she didn’t go on the site, but was more than happy with the gift she had received and the ease of it all, although within a few months she had spent it and decided to go and meet someone else.
“It was so easy, I got messages non-stop. Sometimes it was hard to choose which daddy to go for because I had so much choice, but I chose the guys that seemed the nicest and were offering the most money.”
At first, the idea of being given something for little effort was amazing for Amy and she soon began to get addicted to the site.
“I became obsessed with the idea, it was so easy to make money, you don’t need a proper job so I could just go on as many as I could!” she explains.
But the thought of forming a physical or emotional connection with any of the men that she was entering into arrangements with is where she crossed the line.
“I would be worried that if I spent more time with them I potentially could form a connection, because obviously when you spend a lot of time with someone you do become to like them emotionally.
“That is why I just decided to meet them once and then that would be it.”
In a recent survey carried out for this article, money was voted the most popular reason to enter into a sugar arrangement, with 89.7% of the vote, whereas companionship, boredom and escapism came in at 3.4% each.
The survey also revealed the public’s general consensus was that people are more drawn to money than relationships that involve commitment and the internet was allowing them to do so.
One participant, Adam Taylor, even argued that sugar arrangements had become more popular in today’s society, due to their “non-committal stigma.”
Anna Williamson, 36, a life-coach and professional psychologist for This Morning, Good Morning Britain and Big Brother’s Bit on the Side, agrees that traditional perceptions of relationships have changed since the advent of the internet.
Speaking to Anna, she believes that the foundations of the relationship have been lost and therefore become less of a priority in peoples’ lives, but she is concerned over the rise in such casual relationships.
“I would exercise caution amongst young women that are consistently seeking relationships of this kind, because it isn’t a relationship, it is an arrangement,” she advises.
“Women that are consistently seeking sugar daddies are not actually serving themselves well, exploring their full emotional range.
“I don’t think it is healthy in the grand scheme of life when having children or building relationships. When you move through life if you’re not putting those foundations down and allowing that side to come out it could put you at a disadvantage later in life.”
For David Montrose sugar relationships were a way he could encounter women outside his marriage and family.
Forty-nine year old David, retired sugar daddy and famous author, explains that his reasons for entering into the ‘world of sugar’ were mostly down to being away from his wife and children whilst travelling, which led him to seek diversion, company and fun.
David recalls, “I figured that Sugar would be a good way to meet women, since it’s a more direct way of casual dating without serious relationships and entanglements.”
Although, his curiosity started way before he entered into the world of the arrangements, as David recalls in his book ‘Sugar Daddy Diary’, which is available on Amazon.
‘The Monster’ as he likes to call his alter-ego, “frequently rules my behaviour and sabotages my good intentions.”
This began with infidelity, however during his late 30’s/early 40’s he found the world of sugar arrangements, by posting an advertisement on Craigslist, before eventually signing up to Seeking Arrangement and ending his run eight years later.
During his time as a sugar daddy, David entered into arrangements with ‘dozens’ of girls, who he described to be in their late twenties and depending on who he was dating would supply them with a few hundred to about two thousand pounds per month.
However, he didn’t see his arrangements so business-like, as he explains that he had many sexual encounters with the girls he would meet up with.
“Sex is part of dating. So my arrangements led to sex eventually,” he says.
This is all down to personal preference, as a disclaimer for the site clearly states, ‘SeekingArrangement.com cannot guarantee and does not promise any specific results from use of the Website and/or the Service.’ It also advises that the website is only a venue and therefore has no control for interactions which may happen outside of it.
Amy’s views are different to David’s, as she believes that although she is technically going on dates that there doesn’t have to be sex involved, unless you want to make it part of your relationship. This is something which she ensures is clear from the start of each arrangement she enters into.
“Sometimes I’ve thought it’s so easy to make the money if I did [have sex], but there’s a difference between what I do which is being a sugar baby and being an escort or full on prostitute,” she says.
Opinions differ to as the true nature of these arrangements, as during a poll carried out for this article, concluded that 56.3% of people described their attitude towards them as a ‘mutually beneficial exchange’, 25% said ‘they are an exchange of physical relationships for financial support’, 6.3% said they are emotional relationships between two consenting people and the other 12.6% voting for ‘other’.
According to information found on Seeking Arrangement, there are four sugar babies to every sugar daddy, something Amy believes explains who is really in control as the daddy can easily replace girls.
“It’s the guys with the power but that doesn’t mean that I haven’t felt more confident or felt more empowered because of these websites.”
Surprisingly, when asked for this article, 57.1% of people voted for the sugar baby as being the one in control, with the general consensus being that they are less emotionally involved and can be in charge of what rules are in place during an arrangement (however this is individual).
From a professional perspective as a life-coach and psychologist, Anna’s experiences with sugar babies has allowed her to see the arrangements as a level playing field.
“I would say that the shift is very 50/50 on both sides, because actually these women are extremely knowledgeable about what they’re doing, they know the situation they’re getting involved with and it’s a business like arrangement,” she explains.
The internet’s role in creating a much more open environment for these types of lifestyles has made way for it to be much more socially acceptable and popular than ever before.
This makes Anna question how cautious millennials are really being when they click around the many corners of the internet and believes this might affect their ability to enter into meaningful relationships in the future.
“I think enjoy the internet, explore the internet, but don’t let your head take you away.”
David explains why he believes the world of ‘sugar arrangements’ has become much more talked about in recent years.
“Thanks to the internet and more publicly discussed sexuality, sugaring has become more of a trendy type of ‘lifestyle’.”
He suggests that the internet’s role of opening more doors for this ‘business like’ relationship is not a good thing as it means it isn’t being taken as seriously as it was in previous years.
“It makes relationships seem casual and transitory and it also opens the doors to prostitution masquerading as sugar dating.”
For David, his experience ended after he decided to focus on his family life and reconnect with those close to him, although his wife never knew of his time as a sugar daddy, he says that his experience has made him appreciate her more.
The world of ‘sugar arrangements’ is a short lived plan for Amy also, as she explains that she has recently quit Seeking Arrangement for a while due to getting into a relationship, although she hasn’t got rid of her account, she intends to quit after she finishes university.
“I probably would still always have Seeking Arrangement as a backup if I was single, bored and strapped for cash.
“I’ve said this from day one of having the accounts, that as soon as I’ve left uni I will delete all traces of my profiles.”
But the idea of easy money will always be a temptation to her and with the power to begin and end these arrangements at a click of a button, it’s easy to see why it could forever be a possibility.
She laughs, “I wouldn’t say I’m addicted to being a sugar baby because I could stop at any time, but why ever would I want to?!”
*NOTE: Some names have been changed for the purpose of this article