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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

“It is something we were around,” Nistico says. “It wasn’t common, but we knew people who were in the relationships. We had gay friends, who had sugar daddies who were politicians. [The lifestyle] was covert at the time so we wanted to expose it.”

They received a Lewis N. Cotlow Foundation award from George Washington University’s anthropology department to support their project, which ended in a report called “Sugar Daddies: The Reality of Affluent Cross-Generational Relationships in New York City.” The report was based on 161 participants’ views of their sugar-lifestyle relationships. Most participants were sugar babies, but 10 in-depth interviews involved sugar daddies.

“About 85 percent [of sugar relationships] are intimate,” Nistico says. “We did not specify whether intimate meant kissing or sex; therefore, the other 15 percent had no physicality within their sugar relationship.”

Nistico says all participants were reached through Internet sources, such as Seeking Arrangement’s sugar blog.

Agreements between sugar daddies and babies vary. Some girls Nistico spoke with had monthly allowances of $1,000; another reported an allowance of $20,000 per month, once the cost of bills, tuition, dinners, vacations and gifts were tallied.

“Because of the way Seeking Arrangement facilitates the site – the way the profiles are set up – a lot of this occurs before [sugar daddies and babies] even meet,” Nistico says. “Almost all sugar babies expect money, and if that doesn’t happen the relationships will usually end. The sugar daddies know this.”

Nistico found that, indeed, a lot of the sugar daddies involved in the site were involved in high-level professions. In Washington, D.C., she says, there were lots of politicians, while in New York, a lot of sugar daddies work in finance.

Nistico says all of the relationships shared one universal characteristic: an expectation of secrecy between the sugar baby and sugar daddy.

“I don’t know if they [sugar daddies] are all important people,” Nistico says. “They all think they’re important and expect that level of secrecy.”

Alan Schneider, 48, founder and owner of Alan Action Productions, an event planning company in New York, doesn’t make it a secret that he’s a sugar daddy. He has used seekingarrangement.com and similar websites, such as establishedmen.com, since 2005. Schneider says he has had “hundreds” of different arrangements – several long-term committed arrangements, others short-lived – with women ranging in age from early 20s to late 40s. He vividly remembers two specific arrangements that exemplify the variation in the types of women who seek sugar daddies.

“I was seeing this empowered, financial woman in her early 30s. She made almost $200,000 per year working as a financial analyst, but she had very bad spending habits,” Schneider says. “I met her through the site, we went out and we had a great time. After four months, this turned into her loving me, and she started putting pressure on me to marry her.”

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