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Sprinkle of Sugar: Inside the World of NYC College Sugar Babies

Image by Getty via CNBC.

It’s Friday night and 21-year-old Fordham University student Ashley* rushes to get ready. She trades her t-shirt, jeans, and sneakers for a cocktail dress and pair of sky-high black heels. Her hair is pin-straight and compliments the sleekness of her minimal makeup. After quickly glancing in the mirror, Ashley grabs a dainty Chanel bag and rushes out the door.

To an outsider, Ashley is like every other college-aged girl heading to a date on a Friday night. But, this isn’t any ordinary date. This is a sugar date, which means Ashley will walk away from dinner with at least a few hundred dollars in her pocket.

Image via Pinterest.

In recent years, sugar dating seems to be the new trend. Celebrities like Lana Del Rey perpetuate the narrative of young ‘innocent’ girls being saved and funded by older wealthy men, memes on Instagram document the idea of college girls wanting a sugar daddy but not being okay with all the things that come with having a sugar daddy–like sleeping with themand Twitter is flooded with tweets and threads covering everything from how to get a sugar daddy to strange sugar daddy experiences.

If you haven’t stumbled across the sugar dating phenomena yet, sugar dating is when a wealthy older man aka a sugar daddy, pays a younger girl or boy aka a sugar baby to spend enough time and energy on them that they can essentially be classified as dating. Payment ranges from simply handing a sugar baby cash, to giving them a credit card, showering them with gifts, paying their bills, and taking them on vacation.

In the sugar world, you come across the phrase “mutually beneficial relationship” more than you do men who are respectful and have enough income to actually be a potential sugar daddy. But, what does a mutually beneficial relationship exactly entail? Well, there seems to be a certain understanding among everyone that a sugar daddy provides any wanted financial support and a sugar baby… well they provide the sugar.

“Sex is definitely on the table. I think all sugar daddies expect their sugar babies to sleep with them,” Ashley, who has sugared for two years, said. “Apparently, platonic sugar relationships exist. But, I haven’t met a [sugar] daddy who wants strictly a platonic relationship and doesn’t even try to sleep with me.”

Recent Fordham University grad Elena*, who has sugared since freshmen year of college, agreed, “Sex is involved in every sugar relationship. I doubt you’ll even go on a date without being propositioned ten minutes into it.”

To Elena, a sugar relationship is essentially the same as a traditional relationship, “If I was just dating a rich guy, which I basically am, and we had a traditional ‘normal’ relationship, I would still be showered with gifts and we would be intimate. Nothing would change.”

Even though Elena feels like she should be intimate with her sugar daddies because she would be intimate in a traditional relationship, sometimes she experiences sexual advances that make her uncomfortable, “There’s definitely a grey area where some dates make you feel like you’re an escort or prostitute. I’m not there to sleep with you immediately after meeting you. It’s not a hookup, it’s a relationship.”

So, where do sugar relationships blossom? While there’s always a chance of a sugar daddy meeting a sugar baby in the wild, majority of sugar relationships start on sugar dating websites like Seeking Arrangement, HoneyDaddy, and Sudy.

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Out of all the sugar dating websites, Seeking Arrangement is the most popular and argumentatively the most reliant because they offer various security measures, such as background checks, which limits the amount of spam on the site. With over 3 million users worldwide, New York is one of two states that has the highest concentration of sugar activity.

Even more interesting is the traction Seeking Arrangement has gained among college students. According to data published by Seeking Arrangement, “In January 2016, over one million college students in the U.S., were seeking sugar daddies on”

Seeking Arrangement seems to have a good marketing strategy towards college students. The website even boasts their own college student landing page, entitled Sugar Baby University, which features a student debt clock, as well as information about college sugar babies.

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In addition to the college landing page, Seeking Arrangement offers students Premium membership for free if they sign up with their .edu email. This incentivizes students to sign up for the site because they get all the perks of a Premium membership, such as advanced exposure and search options, without having to pay $20 per month.

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According to Seeking Arrangement, Arizona State University took the lead as the top college for new student sign-up growth in 2017. But, ASU’s total student enrollment didn’t beat New York University.

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This statistic isn’t surprising. HoneyDaddy revealed in early 2017 that New York City was the number one city for sugar babies, and more specifically, New York University and Columbia University were the most popular universities with student enrollment on the sugar dating site.

NYU student Phoebe*, who has been sugaring for one year, agrees these statistics aren’t surprising, “Everyone jokes about having a sugar daddy here [at NYU]. But, what most people don’t realize is that a huge amount of these girls aren’t joking. Their Louis Vuitton purse? Yeah, their daddy bought that, and I don’t mean their biological father when I say daddy.”

Between college tuition being at an all-time high and living in one of the most expensive cities in the world, it’s easy to see why NYC college students seek sugar daddies to financially support them. That’s why out-of-state students who receive no financial support, such as Ashley, sugar date, “My parents barely help me financially. Sugaring is almost a necessity.”

Sure, some could argue students like Ashley should get a retail or restaurant job, but balancing a heavy course load with work and a social life isn’t the most realistic thing for some students. “I don’t want to be that girl running from class to work. I wanna enjoy my job, socialize, and have free time, and that’s what sugaring gives me,” Ashley said.

In an article for Time, Dr. Kyle Live, Associate Professor of History at Ohlone College, explained that some women sugar simply because they want to and the opportunity is there, “Even in a situation where it seemed like women could be independent, they were very much dependent on a patriarchal economic system.”

This is similar to Elena’s situation, “I’m lucky, like really lucky. My parents paid for college and even gave me a monthly budget. But, I suck at being frugal and I wanted to live more luxuriously. With a $3,000 monthly allowance I can go wherever I want and purchase whatever I want whenever I feel like it.”

Elena’s monthly allowance seems to be right around the ballpark for sugar allowances. According to Seeking Arrangement, the average monthly allowance is $2,200 in the United States. But, if you factor in NYC’s price of living and earning potential, $3,000 per month seems like an accurate estimate.

To an outsider, it may seem crazy that an older successful man would be willing to splurge a ton of money on a random college student. “Most of the guys I’ve seen are lonely. They are in loveless marriages, working endless hours, and miss their college lives. They need to escape and have fun, and that’s why I’m here,” Ashley explained, “Plus, most of them were once broke too. So, they sympathize and want to give back.”

As for Elena, she believes college students are the perfect sugar baby prototype, “We [college students] embody youth, attractiveness, fun, ambition, and so much more. All these things are qualities older guys want. Also, it doesn’t hurt that a lot of us are impressionable. So, they [sugar daddies] think they can mold us into their ideal person.”

Since college tuition keeps rising and the concept of sugar dating continues to be normalized, it seems like the phenomena of college sugar babies isn’t going away any time soon. But if you’re strapped for cash, take a second and think about the complexity of sugar dating before jumping the gun and making a profile on a sugar dating website.

“Honestly, you have no idea what you’re getting yourself into until you do it. Not everyone is cut out for this. It’s intense and will feel like a weight on your shoulders,” Ashley said. “You’ll also feel like an object, which can be very discouraging. But if you stick it out, it’ll be life-changing. You’ll experience and own things you never thought you would in your twenties, and who wouldn’t want to experience that?”

*Names have been changed.



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