At what price, love?
Sugar daddies neither scrimping nor skimping during crunch time
Thu, Dec 11, 2008 (midnight)
It’s the party that wasn’t. Last Wednesday I should have attended a very special get-together at Rain, one bringing together two equally special groups of people: sugar daddies/mamas and sugar babies. Opening my eyes to the world of so-called “mutually beneficial” relationships, Vegas-based company Seeking Arrangement (Seekingarrangement.com) had long-ago planned, announced and widely advertised this blowout bash on its site, but as much of the “sugar” community has ties to Wall Street, the daddies weren’t budging from their offices or their CNBC.
Founder Brandon Wade, 38, who splits his time between Sin City and San Francisco, says Vegas has a fairly large sugar community itself, “because it’s in such close proximity to LA; LA is a huge sugar community.” Wade, who has two MIT degrees under his belt as well as both Microsoft and GE on his resume, has just completed a book, Seeking Arrangement: The Premier Guide to Mutually Beneficial and Sugardaddy Relationships, which is due out in February. He is also in talks for a Vegas-based reality show centered around a local sugar daddy.
Despite his having had to pull the plug on the party, Wade says he has not yet heard of anyone having to pull the plug on their baby (or babies!) just yet. Most of Seeking Arrangement’s 300,000 members across 36 countries have enough of a financial cushion to hold on to this luxury. Many, in fact, says Wade’s de facto guy Friday Stephan Smith, hire their sugar babies as employees or independent contractors, only with certain additional benefits.
Curiosity led me to create a fictitious profile and listen to the online chatter. In short order, I received correspondence from a number of men seeking … well, arrangement!
That term—it’s rather vague. Finding traditional online dating sites to be ineffective for his peer group, Wade launched the site in 2006. “For a guy who is relatively successful, using a regular website, you have to compete with the rest of the world.” His own sister was so bombarded on Yahoo Personals that she had to shut her account down. “An arrangement is something that’s mutually beneficial for both sides.” It’s not too serious in the beginning, is founded in chemistry and results in financial security.
And love? Says Wade, “Love happens.”
The average sugar relationship lasts under a year, says Smith, who moderates the site’s blog, and is usually closer to three-to-six months. The deal points are often agreed upon after chemistry has been established, staving off the notion that this is a straight business transaction or prostitution. A baby is like a geisha, observes Smith, receiving compensation for her attentions—only sex is still on the table. Both Smith and Wade use the site themselves, Wade as a daddy, Smith as a baby. Deals can be put into writing or just played by ear. And yes, like all relationships, it can get very messy.
Without having to do much (I didn’t even upload a photo), I had attracted the attentions of a single, 43-year-old NY banker worth over $100 million who said he would be willing to give me $10,000 to $20,000 each month for anything from meeting up “twice a week to potential girlfriend.” While I think I have girlfriend potential with or without the Benjamins (relax, I turned him down), it’s interesting to note that while this may smack ever so slightly of the darker side, Wade states that he has never been approached by law enforcement about his dealings except to help them to root out fraudulent members misusing his site. The bylaws clearly warn that there’s to be no funny business.
I’ve dabbled a little in traditional online dating (hi, Smooches …), and can say from my own experience that it’s there that discussing one’s financial situation is the greater taboo; in the sugar community, the issue is laid right on the table (along with the sex), effectively eliminating the taboo. Anyone squeamish about the idea might find greater satisfaction in sister site SeekingMillionaire.com, which weaves together the traditional sites’ goal of finding love, commitment and companionship with Arrangement’s wealth focus.
Watching my own friends’ relationships fall apart over MySpace, e-mail, text, Twitter, Facebook and even YouTube, I have decided that sugar is refreshing, at the very least. Seeking Millionaire’s 100,000-plus members seem to think so. Of course, I thought mutually beneficial was what a relationship was supposed to be by definition. I could be wrong.