‘You cannot buy love’ and ‘money does not buy happiness’ are phrases too familiar in our society, but one controversial website has made a mission to prove otherwise.
seekingarrangment.com is a website to connect young “sugar babies” needing financial assistance from older “sugar daddies” looking for companionship. The website was launched in 2006 by entrepreneur and MIT graduate Brandon Wade. Wade created the site for his own benefit because he felt awkward and was tired of using other dating sites. In an interview with the New York Times, Wade said that the site stresses relationships that are mutually beneficial. He encourages users to maintain an honest and upfront relationship from the start.
A 20-year-old Texas State sophomore spoke with us about her experience with the site. She prefers to be anonymous, so we will call her Tasha. Tasha got involved with the site when she was eighteen and still in high school. She had never done anything like it, but her curiosity got the best of her.
“He offered to come pick me up on the way home because he lived in a neighboring city from me. We went to olive garden. He was really hands on-y and I was very uncomfortable with that. We went back to his apartment and we actually ended up having sex that day. When we left he gave me about $300.”
Tasha says she met the man, who was in his fifties, several times after that and ended up receiving several thousand dollars.
“I was feeling really crappy and crumby about it. I was like oh my god its just gross and I can’t believe I did this and he gave me $300. As an eighteen year old with no bills, you know I’m still living at home and everything. That was a lot of money,” said Cameron.
Today, Seeking Arrangement has over three-million users and is only growing. In fact, Texas State University is ranked number 10 in a list of schools with the fastest growing rate of sugar babies. And the title sugar baby is not exclusive to just females. Young men also use the site to find sugar mamas, AKA cougars.
A Texas State freshmen, who wishes to remain anonymous so we will call him Cameron, says that he originally signed up for the site in August to find a sugar mama. Because sugar mamas are rare on the site, he found that he could make more money by adding sugar daddies to the list. Cameron immediately began getting messages from various men, and he decided to meet up with one.
“I worked for him. I helped him move from his house, that’s all it was. Then we ate lunch and stuff then he took me to the galleria cause I live back in Houston and then he gave me $1,000,” Cameron said.
Certain media criticize the site for being a legal means of prostitution. Tasha says she has friends that have had success in relationships and have even gotten married from meeting on the site.
One man just paid her to be his arm candy to various events. But she says most of it is something else. Something she still regrets.
“You can call it a sugar baby or a sugar daddy, its prostitution. You’re a prostitute. You’re having sex with someone for exchange of money or a car or things like that. Just because you put a different name on it doesn’t make the act any different. And I just don’t feel very comfortable with what I did.”
Although there is much controversy with the website, Cameron says that many users interaction with other users is strictly non-sexual.
“Not everyone on that site is looking for sex…some people call it prostitution and its not like that at all, especially my situation. I wasn’t going to do anything sexual with this person and yeah I was excited to make money, it was easy money. All they want is company its like a friendship, a mentorship.”
Cameron says that the man that he met is a lawyer in his late thirties and has never tried to pursue anything other than friendship.
“We keep in touch and he’s kind of like a mentor. I’ll go have dinner with him occasionally just because he doesn’t work so he travels. I’ll go to Austin just to go eat with him and that’s all we do. We meet up and we eat and we talk and he’ll give me some money.”
To ensure user’s authenticity each profile has to be approved, which can take up to 48 hours. For sugar daddies, there are three different levels of membership. Regular, premium, and Diamond. For regular membership it is about $50 a month and an additional $5 if you want the site’s name to not show up on credit card statements. Diamond club members pay $,200 annually. Diamond club membership has its benefits, users will have their profile at the top of the page, are site certified, can have all private photos and can access advanced searches.
The site does issue background checks for higher paying memberships but Tasha says that other users can easily fool you.
“Be safe because there are a lot of weirdos out there and it doesn’t necessarily require a lot for you to sign up for this site… a lot of people on there don’t have as much money as they advertise…. It’s just not a safe thing to do and I honestly wouldn’t advise anyone to use the site.”
Member’s profiles include pictures, very descriptive physical descriptions, a biography, and lifestyle expectations. When asking for lifestyle expectations the options include negotiable; minimum, which is less than a thousand monthly; and all the way up to high, which is over ten-thousand monthly. In contrast the sugar daddy profiles must include their annual income and net worth which can reach into several million dollars.
When asked what to advice to give to future sugar babies, Cameron says to not put too much information on your profile, have a simple bio, and to not put any pictures up. Instead there is a better alternative.
“Skype with the person before you meet them regardless of anything.. just that’s the safest thing to do.”
Tasha, on the other hand, advises against using seeking arrangements completely.
“The way you feel about it later isn’t worth it. I want to get married one day and i just kind of thought about that. How would I explain that to my husband? I had sex with someone for money when I was in high school. That doesn’t sound good.”
The site offers a blog with posts about advice for sugar babies and daddies including how to negotiate, photo tips, protecting yourself legally and physically, and how to improve your profile. Members can also exchange gifts online including, designer purses, expensive jewelry and sunglasses, and spa packages. For more information, you can visit seeking-arrangement-dot-com or go to their Facebook page.
Taylor Alanis, KTSW News