Holcomb: ‘Sugar babies’ are escorts, not in relationships

In this technological era we live in, the pervasive power of the internet has undoubtedly influenced relationships, dating and even love. Computers are now commonplace and the digital landscape they’ve created offers a variety of services and commodities to be purchased by customers all over the globe.

In the recent year, we have seen people take to the web to find one of the most powerful human wants—the comfort of another human being. Love is an abstract concept that means many different things to many different people; I do not wish to compare types and kinds of love or determine which kind is most meaningful.

I do wish to address a recent article published in the Observer titled “College students increasingly becoming ‘sugar babies’ to help alleviate student debt.” I feel the story took a very shallow view and advertises being a sugar baby to my peers.

Humans, being inherently social creatures, often look for people to relate to and share experiences with. It is hard to draw generalities about what people look for because people have varying wants and those wants can manifest in many different ways. Still, it is a safe to assume most people seek a baseline level of comfort and acceptance in others to soften life’s woes and magnify life’s joys. And, of course, when human wants are to be considered, one cannot help but think of the ever-coveted dollar.

People have been paid for dates, relationships and sex for a long time. It is no surprise that the Internet has capitalized on this phenomenon through websites like SeekingArrangement. This website matches young men and women, called “Sugar Babies,” with older men and women with money, called “Sugar Daddies” and “Sugar Mommas.” In exchange for their time, these men and women are given allowances.

I assure you this is not a website I would have come across on my own. No, to my surprise, I saw what read like a press release for the site on the cover of my school’s paper. The article attributed the rising amount of college-aged girls on the site to rising tuition costs.

Sarah, an alias used by the girl interviewed for the article, described it as “a way to finance [her] future … If you can find a guy to provide a lifestyle you want, help you with school, mentor you, be a kind of rich boyfriend, you can graduate debt free and have connections after graduation.”

Now, I have no problem with using what you have at your disposal to shore up your future prospects. We do that every day in our studies and general practices. In fact, I have no real problem with anyone using this site. On the contrary, if that is what you are looking for, I feel transparency is commendable. What concerned me was the diluted logic and shameless rationalization that seemed to mask what this site is really doing. Let’s call a spade a spade shall we?

Directly after Sarah commented on how the site was a way for her to graduate debt free and with connections, she contradictorily stated, “I’m not seeing people just to get something out of me knowing them.”

Ignoring the fact that most Sugar Daddies are much older than the women they pursue, ignoring the fact that a third of them are married and ignoring the massive amount of controversy generated by the site, Sugar Babies are still conducting a transaction for their company. They are escorts. Sugar Babies may enjoy being an escort, and they may not even have sex with the man paying them—that is their business. But advertising a site whose creator’s tagline is, “Love is a concept invented by poor people,” as a way to make meaningful connections with people is a joke.

A lot of people face financial struggles—attaching one’s self to someone with money is not a way to find new and interesting people despite how many times Sugar Babies tell themselves that; it is a way to satisfy their material needs and be “pampered” as the website professes.

Equating money with compatibility is nothing new. Sugar Babies often confuse sexual or material love with emotional love—creating surface level connections and material comforts becomes paramount. Love has always been this enigmatic concept I had heard about since I was a child yet never truly understood, and I doubt anyone can fully realize it until they experience it and shape it for themselves.

Love is a subjective experience. As such, the mindset a Sugar Baby will have when entering into any kind of romantic relationship with another individual will have an effect on how they perceive and value their relationship. There are no constants: If one goes into a relationship looking for money, job connections or material comfort, they will be inexorably intertwined with what Sugar Babies refer to as love. That is a surefire way to create vapid connections with superficial people.

SeekingArrangement is a monument to this kind of shallowness that seems widespread thanks to the Sugar Baby view of the world.

Chandler Holcomb is a fourth-year student at Case Western Reserve University.