We have all seen it. The old geezer out on the town with a nubile young thing. You stop yourself from jumping to conclusions and shrug it off with a “nah, that’s just his granddaughter visiting for the week”. But then you see them kiss and you can’t help but stare, your thoughts running wild. Is she paid by the hour? What do they talk about? What’s his net worth? Are those dentures or is that an actual set of teeth?
Or it may simply be SeekingArrangement. Launched in San Francisco in 2006, the sugar-dating website has grown in popularity across 139 countries. There are more than 10 million active members today. Eight of which are sugar babies and two, sugar daddies and mommies. A click of the mouse will get you to pages of beautiful, young women, poised but with sideboob. Glued to the screen is the priapic eye of an older man with deep pockets and the onset of male-pattern baldness.
The concept of a transactional love economy is an intriguing thing, but the idea of wealthy older folk supporting struggling younger people is nothing new. The women are there to be spoiled, and the men have plenty of dollars to spare. It works with the genders reversed too. Look at what Peggy Guggenheim did for Jackson Pollock. Sneer if you will, but if you could get away with a hefty allowance from a generous benefactor, with or without any strings attached, why wouldn’t you?
I wasn’t brave enough to see how far I could take the social experiment, but I did sign up using a pseudonym simply for a peek. Surprisingly, sugar daddies come as young as 18 years old. One whom I chanced upon indicated a net worth of two million and an annual income of $125,000. It’s not that shocking, but that’s a hell of a lot more than what I make in years. Point to note: there are young sugar daddies as there are older sugar babies. But for the life of me, I can’t see myself, a 28-year-old, dating a teenager for his money. It creeps me out.
I then flipped the switch to the over-60 section, and found a 70-year-old East Indian who described himself as a “last resort” (don’t laugh). He’s a retired taxi driver who’s married, with kids, overweight and chain smokes. He’s rolling in about $100,000 of cash, “never had much luck with love” and is looking for a “slim, sexy young lady willing to cook, clean and help him with the wheelchair.” For lack of a more delicate term, I believe what he’s looking for is a maid with benefits.
The irony is that the man is honest about his needs and desires, which is key to any relationship. Founder Brandon Wade, a Singaporean-turned-American, likes to look at relationships like business arrangements.
“People might think of it as superficial or transactional, but when two people meet for the first time, they should already know what they want and what they can offer to the other,” he explains. “If you don’t, you’ll very likely have lots of misunderstandings and unmet expectations.”
I can’t disagree with that, but why make love transactional? Why attract this breed of women or men? What about the idea of mixing money with dating/mating? Wade chips away at my this-sounds-like-prostitution line, insisting that it’s not just about sex.
”There are all types of women who sign up. There are the gold diggers and there are those who genuinely want to meet nice, successful men. Dating is superficial. It’s all about looks and muscles. If things are superficial anyway, why not extend the superficiality to your wallet? That’s going to attract all sorts of women, and it’s up to you to weed the bad ones out.”
I suppose there’s no special formula for the perfect match. Is there even such a thing? I guess one simply tries to bring the girls to the yard with whatever means he has.
This story was published in the September 2017 issue