Sugar Babies and Sugar Daddies: Relationship or Exploitation?

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A while back, I read an article on Huffington Post about sugar daddy/sugar baby relationships and it was quite interesting and very eye-opening to say the least.

The sugar daddy phenomenon is certainly nothing new. We’re all familiar with the notion of older men lavishing younger women with gifts and money in exchange for having them around. But it seems to have become much more popular in recent years than many (myself included) realize. A quick Google search of the term “sugar daddy” pulls up many well-populated websites that facilitate a variety of sugar daddy interactions. 

These days, young women aren’t just getting clothes, jewelry, and trinkets to play the trophy girlfriend/PYT to older gentlemen. Many are financing their college endeavors and beyond by being “sugar babies” to these men. Sugar babies are young women (usually 25 and under) who engage in relationships of varying degrees with very moneyed men who are usually much older than them. The “relationships” range from simply meeting up for companionship, chatting, and dinner, to being a side piece to married men, to having sex with the men. 

As a recent college grad, I completely understand the financial burden college can be. To start, there are the thousands of dollars in hefty loans that often pick up where scholarships, grants, and out of pocket money can leave a gap. And of course “smaller” expenses like textbooks and supplies can easily add up to an insurmountable total when all you have time to work is a part-time job in between classes. 

Financially, I can see the plausibility and allure of the sugar baby lifestyle. A weekend of hanging out with some old guy and I’ve got my semester’s worth of textbooks or even my entire semester paid for? And all I have to do is parade around with him at an event or have dinner with him? Of course it wouldn’t be my first choice, but I could definitely see a struggling college student being wooed by such “easy money.”

Where things start to get complicated is when the interaction is not just limited to fancy dinner dates and sharing each other’s company. Many of these sugar babies have sex with these men to receive these financial benefits. Personally, that’s where the line between “sugar babying” and “prostituting” blurs for me. To me, if someone is financially compensating someone else in exchange for sex/sex acts, I’m inclined to feel like that qualifies as prostitution.

However “Jennifer,” one of the sugar babies in the Huff Post article disagrees. She says the main difference between herself and a prostitute is that, “I don’t engage with a high volume of people, instead choosing one or two men I actually like spending time with and have decided to develop a friendship with them. And while sex is involved, the focus is on providing friendship. It’s not only about getting paid.”

But let’s be honest: would these extended and “developed friendships” even exist if these sugar babies weren’t young, beautiful, and giving it up? I can’t help but challenge the idea that these are simply friendly interactions that just so happen to involve sex and money. There are millions of friends with benefits situations that occur every day without money exchanging hands, so I don’t buy the idea that receiving enough money to sustain you the entire semester is simply an extra perk of the sexual relationship you have with a man twice your age. It’s the primary reason for engaging, and that in my opinion flirts heavily with the line of prostituting.

I’m not here to judge anyone’s situation, and I while I wouldn’t choose to fund my college career this way, without a doubt I understand and empathize with the financial burden these young women are trying to relieve themselves of by doing this work. 

So what do you all think? Is sugar babying simply veiled prostitution or does the nature of the interactions/relationships change the dynamic completely?


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Briana Gunter is a young writer searching to find her niche in the world of words, and in the world in general. She enjoys anything that allows her to express her creativity, be it music, writing, or crafting, and jumps at any opportunity to learn something new. Email her at and follow her on Twitter @DiamondCut1902 for her daily thoughts and musings; she loves interacting with her followers!

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