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Orlando College students are hooking up with rich older men through sugar-daddy websites. Is it modern romance, or just an easy way to the sweet life?

Photo: Rob Bartlett, License: N/A

Rob Bartlett

Serena doesn’t want a boyfriend.

She’s a busy sophomore at a big university in the South. She’s focusing on a double major in advertising/public relations and English, and she works part time in retail.

“I don’t have time for a boyfriend,” she says in an email about her relationship status. “The fighting, the neediness, the emotional drainage.”

But that doesn’t mean she doesn’t have time for her sugar daddy.

Last July, 20-year-old Serena (who did not want her full name revealed for this story) created a profile on a dating website called seekingarrangement.com. She filled in the typical relationship-website profile information: age, hair color, hobbies, ethnicity, what she’s looking for in a man – more specifically, though, from a sugar daddy.

She listed her expectations in the form of a monthly stipend. The site offers users choices, ranging from “negotiable” to a monthly allowance of $10,000 or more. Older men looking for sugar babies like Serena can search profiles and find girls they are compatible with, and whose stipend demands they can afford.

Once Serena’s profile was complete, she says, she went to bed and waited for it to be approved. When she checked the site the next morning, she was surprised to see the responses.

“Overnight, my profile was approved and went public,” she says. “I was overwhelmed – it was not just one message but 10 to 20 messages. [I felt] a mix of everything from flattered – a lot of funny and nice compliments, to disgust – some wild requests.”

Since joining in July, Serena has seen three men, but as of October, she was still weeding through her messages on two different sugar sites. One man in particular, whom she calls “Mr. Good” is “almost in the picture,” Serena says. She has seen him five times, she says, and thinks of him as “pot” – in sugar-baby speak, that means “potential sugar daddy.” According to Serena, a pot is “a man that you’re communicating with or meeting with, but who you still haven’t officially agreed to an arrangement with – an allowance, sex, larger time commitment.”

When women enter into arrangements with sugar daddies, the men usually agree to shower them with meals, trips, gifts and money in exchange for their company, which may or may not include sex.

Serena isn’t an anomaly. In fact, she is one of an increasing number of college women (and men) who are using the Internet to find “mutually beneficial relationships,” in which wealthy and older men connect with attractive, younger women looking for men to take care of them.

Although Dr. Phil, Anderson Cooper and various media outlets have criticized the sugar lifestyle, calling the relationships unhealthy, opportunistic or even predatory, the men and women involved disagree, saying theirs are no different than traditional relationships. Just like conventional relationships, sugar babies go on dates with potential sugar daddies before deciding whether to go further with them. Sex isn’t always part of the equation (though much of the time it is), and both sugar babies and daddies say the arrangements sometimes lead to more serious romantic relationships that aren’t based on money at all. Serena says Mr. Good’s previous arrangement with a sugar baby lasted a year, and the sugar daddy she met before him had a two-year arrangement, which ended when the sugar baby became engaged to someone else.

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