What is Sugar Dating?
Sugar dating or sugaring is defined as a relationship where an older, wealthier person secures an intimate relationship from a younger, financially struggling person through money, lavish dates, vacations, and other gifts. The wealthy person is called a sugar daddy or sugar mama and the younger person is called a sugar baby. Sugar dating is often presented as a fun and stress-free way for young people, especially students, to get their financial needs met. However, the less glamorous side of sugar dating often involves coercive requests for sex, harassment, tilted power dynamics, and exposure to sex traffickers.
Sugaring has exploded in the last few years due to ads targeted at college students. Seeking Arrangements, a sugar dating website, actively recruits financially struggling college students to become sugar babies. The site offers a free upgrade, which normally costs $1000/month, to anyone who signs up with an edu email. In their 2020 report, Seeking Arrangement claimed Georgia State University is one of their top universities with almost 1,500 Georgia State University student emails registered to the site.
Media coverage for sugar dating is often positive, presenting it as a glamorous alternative to low paying jobs and student loans. However, most articles do not acknowledge that sugaring is a form of prostitution. While sex is not a part of every sugaring relationship, it is a major interest for most sugar daddies/mamas. Sugar babies share in various interviews feeling pressured to have sex or grant unlimited phone/online access to sugar daddies/mamas because the sugar baby “owes” them.
Sugar babies may be approached to do more serious prostitution work by pimps and other third-party sex traffickers, who use sites like Seeking Arrangements to find vulnerable targets. Links to Seeking Arrangements profiles often show up on sex trafficking sites like Backpage where they are reviewed by those interested in buying sex.
Sugaring is a dangerous trend that puts financially vulnerable college students at risk of coercion from predators, that may set them up for more intense sex trafficking. If you or someone you know is struggling with sugar dating, please contact Student Victim Assistance at 404-413-1965 or visit our website at [email protected].