There’s a lot of confusion among the genders about just who should pay for what. Men ask women on dates and don’t know if these women will be offended when try to pick up the check. Do women want to be taken out, do they want to take men out or are they hoping to split everything down the middle?
When Sugar Daddy sites first launched, openly advertising that you were connecting rich men with women who wanted to date rich men was a bit shocking. Then the economy crashed, Eliot Spitzer got busted with hookers and Rachel Uchitel landed a reported $10 million to keep her trap shut about whatever it is she did with Tiger Woods.
Opinions abound, but most women I know want to be taken out on a first date, maybe even the first few. When we seem to be reaching for our purse, that’s just a test; one you will fail if you agree to go Dutch. But if you’re still paying for everything by, say, the fourth date, we start feeling uncomfortable. That’s when we try to grab the check and really mean it. We want the finances to be, if not equal, then at least equal-ish.
Unless, of course, we’re talking about a woman seeking a sugar daddy. They don’t do fake purse reaches, or any reaches at all. They expect men to pay—and keep paying. And they find plenty of men willing to play along. Especially these days.
Yes, it’s safe to say that Sugar Daddy dating has reached a new high. When Sugar Daddy sites first launched, back in 2002, openly advertising that you were connecting rich men with women who wanted to date rich men was a bit shocking. Wasn’t this, ahem, naked prostitution? Then the economy crashed, Eliot Spitzer got busted with hookers and Rachel Uchitel landed a reported $10 million to keep her trap shut about whatever it is she did with Tiger Woods.
In other words, as a society, we’re a lot less innocent now than we were a mere decade ago about the way powerful men and the women who seek them out operate. And now that online dating is so ubiquitous—with sites designed to introduce people based on their pets, their signs, their religious affiliations and even their facial hair preferences—the notion of hooking Sugar Babies up with their Daddies simply isn’t that shocking anymore.
I wrote about this topic last week after interviewing the owners of the biggest Sugar Daddy dating sites. To hear them tell it, the resulting relationships are happier, healthier and more honest than many traditional ones. But does this jibe with how the Sugar Daddies themselves feel?
The truth is, at least some men wade into things somewhat suspicious of the women they’re dealing with; these are ladies, after all, who openly admit they’re looking for dudes with cash, which makes some guys rather insecure about how much they’ll be appreciated for things that can’t be found in a wallet.
Take Frank, a 46-year-old Manhattan real estate agent who drives a Jaguar convertible in everyday life. “When I go out with these girls, I drive a company car, a ’99 Nissan Sentra with dents all over it,” he confides. “I want to make sure money isn’t all they’re interested in.” Frank also lives in “a giant house on two-and-a-half acres in one of the richest neighborhoods in the U.S.,” but that’s not something he reveals right away. “You have to be real careful,” he explains.
Case in point: Frank and a friend met two young ladies at a Sugar Daddy For Me party (essentially a sugar site come to life—more on that later) and began taking them out for elaborate nights on the town. But Frank became skeptical when his 21-year-old date avoided getting physical (while, his friend was making out with her friend.) So one day, he texted her and asked when they might go out without their friends. Her answer—“I don’t know”—confirmed, to him, that she was just trying to score as many pricey evenings out as she could. He never called again and instead went back to the well: another Sugar Daddy For Me party.
At Sugar Daddy For Me parties, “every girl is hot,” says Shane, a 32-year-old musician. “It’s like going to a party at Hugh Hefner’s: you can close your eyes and pick. You know you’re going to score or at least get a number.”
Meanwhile, few in the Sugar Daddy world have enjoyed more success than Shane, a 32-year-old musician. Of the nine girls from Sugar Daddy For Me that he’s dated, at least two started off as “sort of Sugar Daddy situations” but evolved into “normal dating.” Shane, who’s dated women from the site who range in age from 19 to 38, says the most money he’s ever given one is $200. “One girl asked me for twenty-five-hundred for a month,” he says. “Looking back, that seems like a pretty good deal—to get to sleep with her whenever I wanted for a month. But I was so busy then that I couldn’t have taken advantage of it.”
Because Shane is young, attractive and a working musician, he’s not exactly a typical Sugar Daddy. “Two different girls I know from the Sugar Daddy world have said to me, ‘You don’t belong on the site—you’re too young and cute,’ ” he confesses. But he certainly doesn’t mind. He found Sugar Daddy For Me when an online pop-up ad asked him if he was interested in meeting local girls. He was—and still is. While Shane believes he may eventually settle down with one woman, for the time being, he says, “I’m a busy guy and I don’t have time for a relationship.”
Ironically, one reason he’s so busy is that he’s constantly meeting new women at Sugar Daddy For Me parties, where “every girl is hot. It’s like going to a party at Hugh Hefner’s: you can close your eyes and pick.” But it’s not just their beauty that’s so appealing. “They’re so friendly,” Shane raves. “You know you’re going to score or at least get a number.” That’s not the case for him in normal, day-to-day interactions with Manhattan women. “A lot of the girls here are standoffish, or have an attitude and aren’t going to even talk to you if you go up to them at a party,” he explains.
It’s a much different story at Sugar Daddy For Me parties, which attract anywhere from 300 to 1,000 people. They’re organized by Alan “Action” Schneider (seen in the lead photo of this story), an event planner who’s spent the majority of his nearly three decades of professional party-throwing planning weddings, bar mitzvahs and corporate functions. For his Sugar Daddy parties, Alan invites men from the site as well as from the New York Business Exchange, the Greater New York Chamber of Commerce and other organizations and websites.
Female invitees include site members as well as aspiring models, for good reason: the next Manhattan event will feature casting agents from Playboy and other entertainment and modeling groups, along with, you know, live body painting. Schneider also invites women he comes across at the other events he plans. “The single mothers who throw Sweet 16 parties and bar and bat mitzvahs for their kids tend to really like the Sugar Daddy parties,” he notes.
The parties, elaborate affairs with live music and gourmet food stations, are geared toward getting the guests to meet one another so that they can then make whatever arrangements they want. “If a guy is standing by himself, we’ll make sure he’s not standing by himself for very long,” Schneider says.
And though he may be the man of the hour on those nights, that doesn’t mean Schneider hasn’t dodged a few Sugar Baby bullets himself. In describing his affair with a 23-year-old Argentinean girl, he says, “The sex was outrageous—like a fantasy gone beautiful. I felt like I was living in a halo or something.” So he did what you do when you’re falling for someone: he flew her from Florida to his home in New York, took her to Broadway shows and introduced her to his parents. He was, in short, terribly excited about his young paramour. “I wanted and still want to be in love and in a committed relationship,” he says. “My parents—who come to the Sugar Daddy parties, by the way—have been together for over 50 years.”
I actually think these arrangements are just a more honest/crass version of many so-called respectable people’s unions (think trophy wives). Still, I don’t buy the idea that they are “better” than relationships that aren’t so openly based on money and beauty.
So when this woman started telling him she wanted to be with him forever and have his baby, he was initially thrilled. Then she explained a little more. “She said, ‘My mother and father are struggling and my brother has no job and we all need to move in with you,’” he says. She explained that this was what men in her country did. He told her he couldn’t take on all that responsibility, and she melted down. “She said things like, ‘You violated me! I chose you!’ ” Schneider laments.
Of course, such a situation may just be par for the course when you date this way. That’s not to say I’m morally opposed to it; I actually think these arrangements are just a more honest/crass version of many so-called respectable people’s unions (think trophy wives). Still, I don’t buy the idea that they are “better” than relationships that aren’t so openly based on money and beauty.
Here’s how I see it: if you are seeking a relationship based on mutual respect and wanting to grow old with a woman you love, paying for her affection makes little sense. But if you’ve been burned so many times that you don’t believe true love exists—and think real partnerships and growing old together are better left to romantic comedies and fairy tales—then by all means, sign up today! Provided, of course, that you have a healthy bankroll.
In case you didn’t believe us…
Some will argue that Sugar Daddy relationships and true love aren’t mutually exclusive. “Beauty is as beauty does,” says Schneider. “If I’m in love with a woman and she blows up and gains 50 pounds, that doesn’t mean I stop loving her.” When pressed, however, he admits that “you have to have the fundamentals established so if she gained the weight right in the beginning of the relationship, that might be a problem.”
Still, the enduring upside of being a Sugar Daddy is that when one arrangement ends, another is just around the corner. And Schneider may know better than anyone else how these ladies work. “The women love it when I just take them to get a pedicure and manicure and makeover,” he observes. “They’re not all interested in only a stipend or a quickie…”
What do you think? Would you ever be a sugar daddy? Share your thoughts in the Comments section below, then read the third and final chapter in this series next Tuesday, when I’ll be bringing you perhaps the most critical perspective of all, that of the Sugar Babies themselves…