That sweet sugar baby life
«Anne» wants to research at Cambridge University. «Live» studies journalism at a college in Oslo. «Ida» earns half a million kroner per year just at her day job. All of them are sugar babies.
«I was offered 5000 kroner per night to go to Gothenburg. But I said no because I wasn’t interested in him as a person. I’d rather skype a guy for 700 kroner than take a vacation with one I didn’t like for 10,000.»
Last week Universitas reported on Rich Meet Beautiful, the «sugar dating» service that advertised directly to broke female students. Now we hear from three women about how it really is.
More than business for some
«Anne» is 18 years old, in her last year of high school. She’s politically active, and dreams of doing a PhD at Cambridge and becoming a researcher. When Universitas meets her in front of Oslo S, she’s reading «The God Delusion» by Richard Dawkins. Throughout the interview she receives messages from potential sugar daddies.
«Don’t call them clients, it makes it sound like I’m a prostitute,» she said, claiming she could never have sex with someone she met online.
«I want to hang out, flirt, be friends,» she said.
Anne also refuses to call herself a «sugar baby,» or the men she dates «sugar daddies.» She says they are in their twenties, and prefer not to use the term.
All of her dates are chosen carefully. «I go for people I have a connection with,» she said, «but if you’re old enough to be my dad, I say no. When I talk with someone it’s more than just a ‘business transaction.’»
Are you worried this will affect your relationships with men in the future?
«That ship has sailed. I’ve always been flirty.»
Are you a feminist?
«Yes. Feminism is about equal rights, and that includes sex. I don’t think sugar dating is especially liberating or oppressive. Me being a feminist and a sugar baby are two completely different things.»
«Lots of my friends know»
«Liv» (25) has only had one sugar daddy. She does not hesitate to call herself a «luxury prostitute,» but emphasized that sugar babies «do less and get paid more» than traditional sex workers. She was the only one of the three who was comfortable using the terms sugar baby and sugar daddy.
Her introduction to sugar dating happened after a night out.
«I met a guy with a lot of money and power. We ended up dating for a while – we slept together, did things together, and I got gifts and money,» Liv said. She was quick to add that she did not need the money at the time; she was employed and well-paid already. She said she would recommend sugar dating to other students.
«I slept with him a few times and got gifts and money that totaled around 50,000 kroner. Plus he paid for all the furniture in my apartment,» she said.
The worst-case scenario for me isn’t being raped or murdered, it’s that my mother finds out.
«Fun and drama-free»
Liv underlined though that sugar babies have to set their own boundaries.
«I’ve been in some uncomfortable situations. He got really possessive after a while, and I had to cut off contact,» she said.
Sugar dating was not dangerous or harmful for her personally, but she acknowledged that other people might have different experiences.
«For me it started with a friendship, which made it feel more natural. I wouldn’t screw some gross old guy for 10,000 kroner. I think you’d have bad self-esteem after that,» she said.
Unlike the other two women, she thought the Rich Meet Beautiful advertisement was funny, but does not believe students will be influenced much by it.
«Sugar baby relationships vary, and it’s possible to do it in a fun and drama-free way,» she said.
Easier with older men
«Ida» (21) is from Trondheim, and studies journalism. She is taking a break from sugar dating for the oment, but had several sugar daddies before.
She believes sugar dating and prostitution are similar. «I’m not a prostitute, but I could easily be one,» Ida said. She also did not want to call herself a sugar baby: «That’s only if it’s your full time job.»
She said her expectations for the men she meets are low, but that they have to seem «safe,» and she generally looks for older men. «I’m skeptical toward men under forty,» she said. «It’s easier to play the sugar baby role with older guys.» She added she had never seen a «sugar mamma» listed on the dating sites she uses.
Unlike Anne, she does not need an emotional connection to the men she meets, but looks for «a little» sexual attraction. She said it would be a joke to say sugar dating is not about sex.
«That’s ridiculous. That’s what it is, the rest is just packaging,» she said.
Even though she says the money is relatively easy, Ida said she though advertising for sugar dating sites is difficult and sometimes problematic, and that she would not have used Rich Meet Beautiful. She described it as «sketchy.»
«You don’t know what kind of people they are. I already had a problematic relationship to men when I started, so I figured I could just as well earn some money off of it. I never felt so empowered as I did when I earned my first 5000. That was for sleeping with a married man I met online,» Ida said.
Have you had problems with it afterward?
«I’ve never had any big problems. The only issue I’ve had is with dating. For some people it’s a deal breaker, but for me it just feels normal. I talk about it because it seems so every day,» she answered.
Ida’s greatest fear is that her parents find out about her part time job. «The worst-case scenario for me isn’t being raped or murdered, it’s that my mother finds out.»
The controversial advertisement has now been removed after legal evaluation from the Consumer Ombudsman, but a registered user said she found out about the website via a Snapchat advertisement.
Sigurd Vedal, the man behind Rich Meet Beautiful, did not want to answer questions about whether the website was being advertised through Snapchat in order to target younger users. He did say they would try to advertise through all possible channels.
«We are going to be Norway’s biggest dating site, period,» Vedal said. «We’re working actively to create a safe arena for our users. This is something new, a site where women and men can look for beautiful, friendly, intelligent, and rich people to have a relationship with or date.»
Vedal also denied the site promotes sex work. «Just because we mention money, people link it to prostitution, but I think after a few years people will understand the concept better,» he said.