The two things we struggle most with during university are money and our love lives.
Some students are turning to a dating website called SeekingArrangement.com to help solve both of these woes.
The website is for younger men and women, or sugar babies, to meet and eventually form a relationship with their older and richer, counterparts, known as sugar daddies or sugar mommas.
Sugar relationships are not like your average boyfriend/girlfriend dynamic, as the sugar daddy or sugar momma tends to shower their sugar babies with lavish dates and gifts and some sort of agreement is hashed out between both parties before they begin to date.
The history section of SeekingArrangement.com says: ‘An arrangement is where people are direct with one another and stop wasting time. It allows people to immediately define what they need and want in a relationship. Our profiles allow members to effortlessly state their expectations. This is what we like to call relationships on your terms.’
The notion has become rather appealing to UK students, with the University of Kent having the most students signed up to the site.
But what is it really like to be somebody’s sugar baby? We spoke to a recent graduate to find out.
‘I joined Tinder and the response I was getting was very immature, all they wanted was sex, they didn’t think about the bigger picture.
‘So then I was looking around for different dating sites, and friends I know have used Plenty Of Fish but, again I thought I’d have the same problem,’ the graduate, who wanted to remain anonymous, tells me.
She says she felt the issue with the people she was meeting on other sites was the age group, which is when she began to look for something where she could meet older men.
‘I searched on Google and a site called Seeking Arrangement came up. So I signed up to it just for dating and then I thought “well there’s no harm in getting paid for going on a date” because with guys on Tinder I would be paying for half of the meal and we’d be doing really basic things, like going for burgers rather than going out for a three-course meal.’
The University of Brighton graduate said she noticed a difference as soon as she set up her profile and began to explore the site.
‘The people on the site seemed to value you more, not in terms of money, but in terms of the fact that you are a woman and I think that was really interesting.
‘There was the instant desire they had, they wanted a woman rather than just someone to fuck.
‘I felt quite nice on that site. I didn’t feel like it was full of weird sexual predators or anything like that. I felt like they were a bit more honest as well, so if they did have kinks or anything like that or were married and wanted to try something different in the bedroom they were very honest and upfront about it, which you can’t really say for many dating sites.
‘A lot of them didn’t assume you were an escort or a prostitute as well, some did but I mean generally as a whole, they didn’t.’
Some of the initial messages she was sent were your standard cheesy chat up lines.
‘When you first sign up everyone is like “OMG hi” and “hello beautiful” and all the really cringey stuff.’
Others have slightly darker requests when they approach potential matches.
‘I remember one guy wanted me to be a live-in sugar baby,’ she says. ‘Other people were offering money for a service and other people wanted to just meet up and go on a date. It was really random what you would get.’
Although the Brighton graduate, who plans to return to university, had photos up on the site, she admitted many of the sugar daddies did not.
‘Nine times out of ten they don’t show their faces so it was quite hard to judge whether or not I wanted to do anything sexual with them at all.’
Nevertheless, after a few weeks of being signed up to the site, she met her sugar daddy.
‘In his first message he was very direct about what he wanted and it was simply because he doesn’t have time or doesn’t really want to do dating properly anymore, he’s been married before he doesn’t want to do it again. He said he just wanted to meet up about once a week, go out for dinner and drinks and then if I wanted have sex at a hotel.’
But that wasn’t the only part of the proposition.
‘There would be a, sort of, he didn’t say it would be a reward but a gift of £400 for each meet,’ she tells me. ‘Obviously I jumped on it I was like “woo”,’ she laughs. ‘Because it was the largest amount I had been offered.’
She decided to accept the offer. ‘I thought to myself “oh this guy’s actually serious” for me the £200 to £250 mark is something you’d pay for a prostitute, so him offering me £400 was him seeing me as more valuable than a prostitute which made me feel better.’
Once money and other factors had been discussed the Brighton grad met up with her sugar daddy to see if she was attracted to him and to get the ball rolling.
‘We arranged to meet up for a coffee in London. He was really normal, he isn’t weird at all, it was quite a shock because I was expecting him to be a little bit weird or have a kink or something that says he shouldn’t be in the dating game but, in fact he was genuinely really lovely,’ she says. ‘He was OK looking as well, he wasn’t ugly or anything like that and he was genuinely very nice and really down to earth. It was like you would do on a normal first date.’
She tells me they haven’t had sex yet, as they want to make sure they have both been tested for STIs and she goes on contraception. But the terms of their arrangement have been agreed.
‘He said that he didn’t want to share, he’s quite strict about that but on my end I wouldn’t mind if he had another one.’
Although she is happy with her decision, she has received mixed reactions from friends.
‘The girls I’ve told have been very enthusiastic, they’ve been very much like “you go girl” and had a very girl power attitude. Unfortunately some of the boys I’ve told have really judged me on it and they’ve said to me “it’s the same as escorting, I can’t believe you’re devaluing yourself for this”.
‘It’s my choice it’s not like I’m in debt or anything and I quickly need to pay something off or anything like that.’
She tells me she is looking to return to university soon and will either use the money to help fund a car or save to buy a house. She says the arrangement is ideal for her current situation.
‘At the minute I don’t want a relationship, I’m not ready for a full on relationship and this is something in between and I mean if I’m gonna get paid for it who cares,’ she laughs. ‘You’re never going to get paid that much so I think it’s an added bonus. I don’t see a problem with it at all. Loads of people live their lives in loads of different ways this is just one of them.’