MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Many young women are turning to so-called sugar daddy websites to help pay for college and it’s causing quite a controversy.
A sugar baby is a young male or female who is financially pampered and cared for by a sugar daddy or sugar mommy in exchange for companionship.
You’ve seen them before, the older man with salt and pepper hair with a younger, beautiful woman on his arm. You’ve probably whispered as they walked by and did a double take.
Though we can’t claim it for all these unlikely duos, you just might be in the presence of a sugar daddy and his sugar baby.
Never heard of them? Well, sugar daddies usually make life a little ‘sweeter’ for their typically younger, sugar baby paying them for dates among other things.
One sugar baby, Melissa, just started classes at a local beauty school but the tuition has a steep price tag.
“It’s around 16$,000,” said Melissa. ” I don’t have a job right now and going to school it’s really hard to provide for myself.”
So Melissa created a profile on SeekingArrangement.com, a sugar daddy website that hooks up older, wealthier men with younger, financially-needy women. Sugar daddies wine-and-dine Melissa and pay her for her company.
“I got a free meal and I also got $200 just for going on that date with him,” said Melissa.
Melissa said she doesn’t have to exchange sexual favors for the money either.
“I see it as escorting in a way. My friend that’s how she looked at the site as more of a sexual encounter,” said Melissa.
Tony is a federal contractor, twice divorced, and travels quite a bit for his job. Being a sugar daddy, Tony said, fits his lifestyle.
“I travel frequently. I don’t necessarily have the time for a full time committed relationship and that kind of thing. So I have someone to travel with, someone to go to dinner with, someone to enjoy South Florida with,” said Tony.
Tony is 50 and he has a 26-year-old sugar baby he met on SeekingArrangement.com as well.
Here’s how a representative of SeekingArrangement.com describes the website:
“Seeking Arrangement is the world’s largest sugar daddy website and we specialize in mutually beneficial relationships.”
We asked sugar daddy Tony about those benefits.
“I get someone with a clean slate and someone who is seeing the world with fresh eyes,” said Tony.
He makes sure his sugar baby sees the world and he pays for it all.
“So after a few dates of you giving money then that turns into paying for their rent, doing their nails, doing their hair,” said Tony. “It could be any or all of the above.”
So what does Tony get for being so generous?
“It’s all the benefits of a traditional relationship without the drama,” said Tony.
Miami Dade College sexual studies professor, Ruth Conrad said it’s the expectations associated with those benefits that makes these sugar daddy websites dangerous for your future and for your safety.
“They’re giving you money, they are giving you tickets to travel the world, is it some form of prostitution even though it’s camouflaged as it isn’t?” said Conrad.
“You’re at risk of defamation of character, your reputation, another risk, if you were applying or a job this could be visible to employers when they conduct back ground checks,” said Conrad. “Sometimes there could also be intimate partner violence, domestic violence within these situations.”
That’s what happened to Melissa when she and her friend met a sugar daddy for a date at his home.
“We went up to his condo and he pretty much tried trapping us in there. We were telling him we were going to call the cops and stuff,” said Melissa. “It was a really scary situation.”
Seeking Arrangement’s response to Melissa’s encounter was: “Sex is never a part of the arrangement.”
Though for Tony the arrangement is to have a drama-free relationship with a younger woman, for Melissa, and many of the women who use these sugar daddy sites, it’s a way to make money they desperately need.
“I’m not going to sell my body point blank. I’m not going to do that and this is the last resort before it gets to that,” said Melissa.
However, desperation now could mean danger later.
“Although they may go into it thinking this is a great thing and I can go into this so I can get money to pay for my tuition or college loans, they don’t realize that in the long run this could be something that could haunt them,” said Conrad.
It should be noted, SeekingArrangement.com does do background checks on all the sugar babies, daddies, and yes, sugar mommas.
Seeking arrangement also said that “Anyone who is using the site and is exchanging sex for money is in direct violation of our terms. We take a lot of precautions and measures to kick them off the site.”