When we hear the terms “Sugar Mamas” and “Sugar Daddies,” we all know what they mean—big spenders who shower their arm candy with financial security, gifts, and money. We now know their partners as “Sugar Babies.” With the boom of technology, the match between sugar babies and their respective mamas and daddies has been facilitated by SeekingArragement.com, a dating website by founded by current CEO, Brandon Wade. This website markets itself as a hub “where beautiful, successful people fuel mutually beneficial relationships.”
Created in 2006, Wade took the concept of online dating and added a modern spin to it. The site has grown to three offices (Las Vegas, Ukraine, and Singapore) and millions of registrants during the last 10 years. Like other dating websites, users create profiles describing what they want, but the vibe is much more like a business transaction taking advantage of the “no-strings attached” mentality. Single, taken, and even married older men and women scour the site in search of available, hungry young adults who need or want financial assistance. The rationale behind it is that there is no difference between regular relationships that exercise give-and-take and the arrangements entered by sugar babies, mamas, and daddies.
This website is also where many of today’s struggling college students are turning to fund their education and extracurricular activities as the cost of college tuition continues to escalate. The cost and demand of education along with the ease and convenience of technology has created this legal and moral grey area for young adults to trade company for a couple hundred or thousand dollars a month. Sugar babies call this their “allowance,” and according to The New York Times, approximately 30% are funded with these allowances. College grads are walking away debt-free and spoiled by a lifestyle that might’ve taken them working multiple jobs to achieve.
ABC Action News featured a sophomore from the University of Florida, who joined Seeking Arrangement two years ago. She shared the details her lavish routine of dinner dates and talking. She admitted to having made thousands of dollars plus material gifts.
According to CollegeData.com, a student’s budget at “an in-state public college for the 2015-2016 academic year averaged at $24,061. A moderate budget at a private college averaged $47,831.” And there is so much more to consider beside tuition: room and board, books, transportation, living expenses, and additional fees. Rather than seeking aid elsewhere, Sugar Babies are turning to easy, fast-flowing money to avoid sinking in loan debt. The question for young adults today is whether or not they’re getting a return on their investment and if it is really worth it.
In 2014, The Atlantic reported that the top sugar baby schools were New York University (NYU) (approx. 400 new registrants), Arizona State University (approx. 405 new registrants), and University of Texas at Austin (approx. 425 new registrants). In January 2016 alone, NYU jumped to number 1 in the nation for the most number of new Seeking Arrangement registrants.
Even student belonging to our very own Florida schools are jumping on the bandwagon. Florida International University ranked number 8, University of Central Florida (UCF) ranked number 11, and University of South Florida ranked number 13 based on amounts of new sugar baby registrants on Seeking Arrangement. In 2013, UCF was already among the top 20 in growth, the numbers doubling from the year before—from 221 to 474 new users, along with Florida State University.
Although users frequently have sexual encounters, the website does not promote the exchange of sex and money, which Wade says is where the true crime would really be. Many sugar babies say their arrangements don’t always involve sex, but when they do, the reward is bigger—jewelry, cars, electronics, etc.
As of yet, authorities find it difficult to prosecute because of the ambiguous nature of the website and its users. There is no clear line being crossed that can be proven in a court of law, but plenty of lines are blurred.
By Aura Altamiranda