With younger people seeking ways to pay off loans, make rent and buy designer labels, the taboo idea of having someone ‘take care’ of your needs is quickly becoming acceptable.
“Having financial security is important to me. If I have to date a man to get it, why not?” said the Form Six student.
BRANDON Wade started out as a nerd at the prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology and never got anywhere beyond his first kiss.
Spurred by his dating failures, he decided to take his mother’s advice and attract girls through his generosity – the monetary kind, of course.
In 2006, the former software engineer took that principle a step further and started a dating website that caters specifically to helping sugar daddies and sugar babies meet up. The site now boasts 3.6 million users and earns Wade a cool US$10 million a year.
But along the way, it inevitably courted controversy, with some likening the site’s main function to prostitution.
When Wade was featured on Dr. Phil, he was called an “MIT-educated pimp”, while The New York Times described the site itself as “a down-and-dirty marketplace where older moneyed men and cute young women engage in brutally frank transactions”.
We managed to talk to Wade about his site, the dynamics of sugar baby-sugar daddy relationships, and also asked straight up: “Is this whole arrangement prostitution?” Here’s what he had to say.
How did you become a sugar daddy?
I vividly remember the day my mother came home with a pair of diamond earrings, and my dad asked her who had bought it for her. She cried and said she bought it herself because he never bought her anything.
Growing up in Singapore, my mother would always tell me when I grow up, I should always spoil my girlfriend or wife or whomever I was dating. She taught me to be a sugar daddy at an early age, because for her, receiving a gift was her language of love. I have been a sugar daddy since then.
What’s it like being in a sugar arrangement?
I have always helped or spoiled my girlfriends and every girl I have ever dated. In addition to buying them gifts, taking them shopping, or paying for trips, I would also pay their rent or expenses. I also played a mentorship role helping many of my ex-girlfriends with their resumes and career advice.
But what makes my experience as a sugar daddy even better today, is I have learned to discuss expectations up front with my sugar baby (now my wife), so that our relationship is just as much about giving as it is receiving.
What are your thoughts on teenage sugar babies?
The minimum age is 18. I believe that once you are 18 or over, you are an adult and as an adult you should be able to date whoever you want.
However, most teenage sugar babies may be less mature, and as such, I would encourage them not to venture into sugar dating until they understand the lifestyle and how to date safely.
College student sugar babies are becoming increasingly common. Why do you think that’s happening?
There are a few reasons. Firstly, most college students are single and actively dating.
Secondly, the cost of college education continues to increase. As it is, most students will graduate with a large amount of debt that will take years to pay off.
Finally, sugar dating is fast becoming a part of our popular culture (especially in America). When you turn on the television, there are plenty of programmes about housewives with rich husbands, or about dating millionaires.
Do you feel this lifestyle enforces a perception of women as sex objects? Does it push back the fight for gender equality in the workplace?
The cosmetic industry is doing so well primarily because most women want to become more sexually appealing. We are humans after all, and humans are sexual beings and there is nothing wrong with that.
I believe the sugar lifestyle empowers women to become comfortable with their sexuality and to use their good looks to their advantage.
Women may strive to be equal to men in the workplace, but that does not mean they do not also want to be spoiled by a man or to be treated like a lady.
I understand that you are against referring to sugar baby-sugar daddy arrangements as “prostitution”. But do you find it completely inaccurate, or do you get why people would call it that?
My mother told my sister to find herself a man who can take care of her, is educated, successful and wealthy.
What my mother was essentially telling my sister was for her to engage in sugar dating. Would you say my mother’s advice to my sister is for her to be a prostitute? Most certainly not.
This is the reason why we employ a team of administrator as well as software and policing to kick off over 200 users each day for violating our rules.