INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – A dating website is putting a twist on the typical online matchup. On SeekingArrangement.com, the labels of "sugar daddy" and "sugar baby" are commonly used. Now, Indiana college students are turning to this sort of dating lifestyle to help pay for things like tuition, books and rent.
More than 1,000 Indiana college students are currently signed up for the website using their university email addresses, according to data from the site. Sugar babies receive an average allowance of $3,000 per month from sugar daddies.
“When everyone is kind of broke, paying off student loans and not able to afford quality of life they want while they’re in school, this seems like a viable option,” said Brook Urick, spokesperson for seekingarrangment.com. “They join Seeking Arrangement and find out it is real. There actually are guys that can help you with school. It’s a lifestyle that’s becoming more accepted.”
There is competition in the sugar world. Urick said there are about eight sugar babies for every sugar daddy on the website.
“Some of the men are maybe businessmen, they are traveling, not looking to settle down,” Urich Maybe they already have kids, they’re divorced, maybe they’re married. They don’t want someone who is going to ask about matrimony. But they do want to have fun with someone in the moment
"Sugar Baby University"
Promotional videos for the website pitch the “sugar baby” lifestyle as a way to get financial aid. The "Sugar Baby University" video shows a college graduate, wearing her cap and gown, riding off in a luxury car with an older man.
CBS4 stopped by Indiana University during graduation week and showed the video to female students. There are currently 601 students at IU who are signed up with the website using their college email address. Students are encouraged by the company to register – they’re given free premium memberships as long as they can show proof of enrollment.
The female students we spoke with had strong opinions.
“I think it definitely objectifies women,” said freshman Kathya Perez. “I don’t think that should be the way to get money.”
Graduate student Kimberly Burger said the sugar baby ad was portrayed like a scholarship commercial.
“To me, it’s putting women backwards instead of forward,” Burger said.
Meet a sugar baby
Leslie is a woman who describes herself as a sugar baby. She decided to partake in this lifestyle in order to save money for college.
The 23-year-old is currently dating two sugar daddies. For her, the role of sugar baby comes with less commitment than a traditional relationship. She said she enjoys feeling desired by the older, successful men she dates. The men provide her with monthly allowances and even lavish outings like an upcoming trip to Budapest.
“It’s like having a part time rich boyfriend that helps you financially,” she said.
Her goal is to find a sugar daddy who will give her a monthly allowance of $5,000 so she can save that for tuition.
Leslie said she feels this lifestyle does not border on prostitution.
“To me, prostitution is when you one from car to the next, or one customer to the next,” she said. “With these, you’re building relationships. You’re taking time out, finding out what they like and what you like. A lot of times we just go out to dinner. It’s not like we have to be sexually active to receive gifts.”
Leslie said she feels a need to be cautious when interacting with new men on sugar daddy dating websites.
“What scares me the most, is not knowing the person or what their intentions are,” she said. “You always have to worry if this is a scam artist or if something is going to happen.”
She told CBS4 she has received some inappropriate messages on these sites that make her uncomfortable. So, she corresponds with potential sugar daddies for weeks before meeting in person.
Despite the unpredictable nature of these interactions, Leslie said she thinks this lifestyle is here to stay.
“I don’t think it’s a fad,” she said. “I think anywhere you go, it’s going to be there whether you realize it or not.”
Meet a sugar daddy
A 55-year-old man who is currently involved in a sugar daddy-sugar baby relationship sat down with CBS4 to shed light on this often secret arrangement. He asked to remain anonymous and shared that he is currently dating a college-age woman. He’s been in three such relationships and his current one has lasted about a year. He helps the young woman by paying for her rent, providing cash or even treating her to spa days.
“A lot of people don’t realize it is a dating alternative,” the man said. “They think it’s something bad and it’s not.”
The man is divorced and emphasized he feels a sugar daddy-sugar baby relationship is best for him because he is not into formal dating due to a busy schedule.
This dating arrangement does not come cheap, though. The sugar daddy said he has spent around $100,000 on sugar babies over the last two years.
“It’s usually mutually beneficial and depends on what each person wants to get out of the relationship,” he said.
He said he likes that the sugar daddy dating websites allow him to explore many options.
“I’m very selective,” he said. “I might go through 500 before finding the right person.”