The Seeking Arrangement website offers older men the chance to meet young women seeking what it calls a “sponsor”, in what it describes as “mutually beneficial relationships.”
Beneath a picture of a man holding up a wad of dollar bills, it quotes an anonymous sugar daddy: “I love beautiful young ladies, and I am not ready to commit.”
While the “sugar babies” state the amount of money they expect to earn from the “relationship”, the “sugar daddies” or “sugar mommies” state their budget – with some offering over $10,000 monthly.
The owners describe their site as an “elite sugar daddy dating website”, and concede that most of the men are looking for sex, but they deny any suggestion that it is just another form of prostitution.
Channel 4 News spoke to Chloe who had been paid seven thousand pounds a month by a sugar daddy in the past who was keen to emphasise that “a relationship doesn’t always have to be sexual” – while the sugar daddy at her arm chipped in: “no, it can be more than that.”
Women who use the site to find a paying partner – the “sugar babies” are described as “attractive, intelligent, ambitious and goal oriented.” One third of them – some 17 thousand women – list their occupation as “student”.
And the website’s popularity with female students on both sides of the Atlantic is no mystery to the site’s american owner, Brandon Wade who told Channel 4 News: “In the States, obviously education is very costly – it costs roughly $30,000-40,000 a year to get a college education and that has driven a lot of sugar babies over to the website to search for a sugar daddy to pay for college, and since the UK government instituted a policy that now you have to pay for school [university], that’s actually driving a lot of women to the website to do the same.”
According to the site, the university with the greatest number of students signed up to the site is Nottingham (61), followed by Kent (57), the London School of Economics (51) and Cambridge (46).
So is this growing phenomemon a problem? The English Collective of Prostitutes say they have seen a big rise in calls to its helpline from students. And a study into the issue has been started by Swansea University.