Photo by Hello I’m Nik 🍌 on Unsplash

I Could Never Be A “Sugar Baby”

Why I said no to transactional relationships

Ever since I saw Pretty Woman for the first time, I’ve always been curious about the attractive male benefactor who takes interest in the financially troubled lady. I know I’m not alone in the fantasy of falling madly in love with someone who could take care of all my financial needs for the rest of my God-given days. Does this make me a gold digger or an old fashioned-idealist?

While Tindering recently, I was surprised to find men in their 30’s advertising for “sugar babies.” I always associated “sugar daddies” to be more elderly, widower types in their 60’s and 70’s, looking for something young to parade around town. But no, here in Los Angeles, I shouldn’t be surprised to find younger millionaires wanting to play savior to young aspiring artists.

For those of you who don’t know, a “sugar baby” is someone (of any gender) who accepts money or services in exchange for companionship, which doesn’t have to include physical intimacy. It differs from prostitution in that there is rarely a direct exchange of money for sexual favors. Sugar babies are more romantic partners for hire rather than escorts. This could mean anything from a daddy providing a weekly allowance for cuddle time and long walks through the park to a new car in exchange for regular dates — and everything and anything in between.

This set up was becoming very attractive to me late last year. I was struggling financially, and I just wanted to stop worrying about money for a while. I started messaging with a Tinder user who advertised himself as a caretaker — someone who loves to buy his partner expensive gifts and ensure they want for nothing. He asked me a series of seemingly never-ending questions from what my favorite color was to my preferences on restaurants, designers, and even partners. With each question that came in, I got a little high, thinking: this guy is really interested in me! Hell, I thought, if he looked anything like his pictures this would at least be a fun time. He wanted to meet, and I said yes.

The more I considered his proposal, the more I could feel myself falling into this trap of validating the man’s experience without any regard for my own — a trend in my life I’ve become acutely aware of. I realized that this man wanted to own me, tailor me, play with me, fulfill the illusion of pleasing me, and make it sound as mutually beneficial as possible. He wanted an expensive ego boost, and I wasn’t up for that no matter what was on the table. I unmatched him so he couldn’t message me, and I put the phone down. As I sat on my bathroom floor, pondering my rather abrupt decision, I saw that there was more than my pride at stake.

I grew up wealthy, and have seriously struggled to support myself financially without my family’s aid. I am not proud of this, I am ashamed. If I agreed to be someone else’s baby, I saw that I would just be exchanging one unsustainable lifeline for another. Becoming this man’s “companion” may satisfy me for a while, but it would only further my dependence on outside resources, and my reliance on a particular lifestyle. This would be a relationship designed to end, and when it did, I would probably be left right back where he picked me up from in the first place.

A sugar daddy is not a bank, nor a loan service designed to help build credit or foster self-reliance. I can only file sugar baby income as “gifts” for so long without alerting the IRS. It’s not illegal, but it can be tricky to manage. These types of relationships can be consensual and mutually beneficial for both parties. They do require a lot of research and trial and error on the parts of the babies in order to ensure the validity of the arrangement and their safety.

These types of relationships are often built on transactional affection and objectification; where the P.Y.T. doles our their time, emotional investment, and body to someone who can provide for them financially. I myself am guilty of objectifying men from time to time, but I’ve never had a successful or healthy relationship that was built purely on attraction. As a sugar baby, I would be expected to put aside any and all feelings that I experience and show up wholly and completely for my daddy. My appearance, my diet, my closet, and my finances would most likely be under scrutiny; and my bank account balance would be almost completely dependent on how much I’m willing to “commit.” Thanks but no thanks.

I am a 28-year-old professional life coach, teacher, and writer who’s more interested in settling down than playing the field. I am not a 20-year-old college student trying to pay off loan debt anymore. I am mostly happy with the way my body looks, I’m content to sit alone at home with my dog when I’m not with friends, and I really do have everything I need — a roof over my head and food in my fridge. What use would I have for a sugar-daddy besides filling an addictive desire for a more glamorous — if fleeting — existence?

No, I’d rather use this need for financial security as fuel to change my own life, for me. I am not a victim, I am never helpless, and I am wholly capable of making my own damn money — thank you very much!

Life Coach & Author. Twitter: @LeighHuggins

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