‘Dating with Purpose’: The tragedy of our ‘Sugar Daddy’ habit

I recently saw a short clip of a video about a developing industry termed ‘Sugar Babies’. Women seeking a ‘Sugar Daddy’ has turned into big business, developing to such a degree that there are now dedicated websites with paid subscriptions, memberships, workshops and conferences held around the globe to offer ‘Sugar Babies’ the best advice on ‘dating’, developing their personal assets, and how to ask for an allowance from the ‘Sugar Daddies’ they meet.

Relationships in this industry are referred to as ‘arrangements’ and ‘dating with purpose’. It is suggested that the reason the websites and industry are thriving is because they offer the user a way of accessing what they want, how they want it, with no complication: the terms and conditions of the relationship can be discussed before it begins, the arrangement set. Honest perhaps, but is it really a solution to the issues that come up in our relationships?

Let’s be honest and clear about what this involves. It demands that a young woman submit to the preferences of an older man who has money, in order to benefit from his financial and social position. Negotiating terms where you get paid to be in an arrangement with another person who has access to your time and your body, is very clearly prostitution.

The clue is in the title ‘Sugar Babies’: keep it sweet, and you get the benefits. Towing the line, compromising and playing roles to satisfy other people’s personal preferences is without doubt unhealthy, whichever angle you come from, but what makes a situation like this thrive?

The conferences, the goody bags, workshops and advice, the video clips and websites all may have a new flavour or style that appeals to the general public’s voyeuristic tendencies – ‘us’, who like to be distracted, stimulated and have someone else to talk about, but in truth this trade has been going on for as long as any of us can remember.

The clip shook me up: it felt clinical, there was a lack of connection and cynicism that was hard to watch in the young women, and there was a sense that it was entirely normal to have transactions and financial negotiations within a relationship.

This got me pondering as to why I was shocked. On reflection, I realised it was because I was observing the depths that we have fallen to as a society, to have propagated a major industry normalising this sort of trade as a more beneficial and efficient type of ‘arrangement’ than bothering with actual relationships. In so doing, denying and not exploring the potential of love that is possible between two people when there is a commitment to developing and working on this connection in everyday life together.

I also reflected on how I grew up, my life and relationships with men. I could see that this ‘Sugar Babies’ phenomena hasn’t burst out of nowhere. It is the tip of a cultural iceberg whereby generation upon generation has put what we can get out of relationships first, and so making them arrangements, way before we consider what we bring to them and how we are within ourselves.

I have reflected on my choices and the impact we all have, on ourselves, society and generations to come, through our role modelling. What happens when we deny what we feel is true in place of what we feel is safe, and less risky in terms of emotional comfort and financial security?

We propagate disregarding and abusive behaviour in the world when we do not seek to have meaningful and honest relationships with ourselves, and from there, with others, and we do not allow ourselves to be vulnerable, open or transparent with another.

How can we learn, heal and flourish, if our relationships are based on arrangements?

As I grew into a woman, I became used to not feeling adored and appreciated for who I was in essence, rather broken down into body parts or rated as good-looking or not, worthy of dating or just kissing, being named a good girl or ice maiden etc. This is something that many young women experience as they grow up, and it can be the precursor to closing down to being naturally open, sweet, vulnerable and honest in relationships. We begin to fear being open and vulnerable because we feel rejected and seek transactions: words of praise and material objects to indicate that we are worth something.

As we grow up many of us become cynical, craving attention and love. If men do not know how to show the love they feel or do not respect us or truly appreciate us, then we can often attempt to make them pay … literally. And so calculated behaviour develops to get something … anything, because we think we need it in an attempt to replace the feeling of missing true intimacy and openness in relationships.

Who else is familiar with:

  • Waiting to be told that we are beautiful, intelligent, sexy and worth loving, by someone else, rather than knowing it and appreciating it in ourselves.
  • Wanting to be desired for the sake of recognition and control, and not adored for true connection.
  • Waiting to be asked out, engaged, married, told we are loved, to move in, to have children and so playing all sorts of games of manipulation and enticements, because if we make the first move as women we are considered desperate.
  • Consciously or otherwise seeking or waiting for the male provider to bring security.
  • The diamond for an engagement ring, and so getting a fiancé / husband to ‘make it official’ legitimises us by telling society we have made it.
  • The meals out, Valentine’s cards, flowers, the holidays etc… often on the first date the question asked afterwards by friends is “Did he pay for dinner?” Of course it is wonderful to offer a gift to another, to support them, but why is it that women may feel like they need payment to be of worth and men may feel like they need to provide payment?

Is the giving of stuff and paying for things a safer way of feeling like we have been given something by another person, rather than the giving of ourselves for the sake of love, connection and learning more about life?

Often arrangements and compromise are exactly what we enter into when we meet a prospective partner. Will he fit in with my family, does he have a good enough job, he hasn’t said he loves me but he remembers to put the toilet seat down, will he push my buttons or keep life comfortable, he puts me down but at least he is not violent, he spends all night gaming but at least he is not bothering me for sex, he does not tell me how he feels but he does bring in a wage each week, will I get the fairy tale wedding and honeymoon … this is where many of us choose to position ourselves, but is it satisfying or evolutionary?

This cynical behaviour is normalised and has been part of the game played in society out of need, protection and feeling hurt for generations. In recent times we often wrap it up in bows and glitter, call it marriage, romance and love, but when we take a step back and look at what many of our expectations and relationships are actually based on, we see that they are often lacking in true connection, honesty and fulfilment.

Can we consider ourselves first and develop a relationship from there, rather than attempting to be fulfilled by another person’s recognition?

This is the tragedy of many of our relationships: we do not think we ourselves are good enough and that we are tainted in some way. We grow up with role models in society that say we need to seek love from the outside, to wait for the ‘knight to ride in’ and save us, that everything will be okay if we meet the ‘one’, that it is what you look like that matters; and we are often not fully appreciated as children for being beautiful and complete just as we are with no trying. This often results in developing self-doubt and self-worth issues that make the protection of our hurts our main priority. We do not understand that we can develop a deep inner connection within ourselves of love, self-worth and contentment that radiates out to be enjoyed by everyone we encounter.

We cannot love another, if we do not love ourselves first.

Could true ‘dating with purpose’ actually be more about being open, to learn, heal and evolve together to develop and live the love and potential that is within all of us equally, for the benefit of us all?

Dating with Purpose-Samantha Davidson

It is essential that we do not judge ourselves or others … it is with understanding and a deeper appreciation that we arise out of the personal and cultural habits that harm us. I walk with my younger self tenderly — she is no less than who I am now — and I embrace and nurture the potential that has always been within me with responsibility. My relationships are reaping the benefits of this commitment: no more arrangements but real-deal respect, decency and care, with an ever-developing love expressed and lived within myself and with all others.

Negotiations, arrangements and trade between men and women bring separation and lack intimacy, reducing relationships to transactions and what we can get out of one another, rather than what we bring to them ourselves.

We reduce ourselves as women and men by adhering to this shallow and unsatisfying behaviour: it does not honour that we are all deeply sweet, tender human beings and looking for true love and connection – that comes from within first – and which is not at all cynical …

By Samantha Davidson, UK.

For further inspiration …

Choosing connection and being ourselves – the antidote to losing ourselves and becoming who we think we need to be for others …

How can we be all of ourselves in a relationship, and what does it feel like to not hold back?

‘How often do we as women compromise what we know to be true in need for a more superficial connection and intimacy?’ What it feels like to say yes to love, and no to need.


522 thoughts on “‘Dating with Purpose’: The tragedy of our ‘Sugar Daddy’ habit

  1. If it’s called what it is, prostitution, it sounds less attractive because of the association most have with that word. But there’s nothing glamorous about a woman who prostitutes herself for £5 or £5,000. There can be so much joy in a relationship with another, it’s not hard work if we work on the relationship with ourselves first. Trying to make it work with another without the self relationship invested in first does make it harder to be with another.

  2. It is lovely to be in a loving relationship – in a union with another to support the growth of both. But how often are relationship based on this quality? For the majority of relationships are based on a need and we learn to make that need “love” – we get excited because our partner likes the way we look & we call it “love”, we ge fulfilled because another person likes us and we all it “love”, we get recognition & call it “love”, we argue, hit one another and apologize & call that too “love”. How many definitions can we have for one word? Perhaps as many definitions as there are people if we are not connected to the same source.

  3. In conversation with a woman wanting to arrange a marriage for her daughter, I observed that what mattered most to her were not qualities of the heart, loving, kind, respectful, open, gentle, but what he did for a living; accountant, business owner, lawyer, doctor. Earning potential was valued more than the human qualities.

  4. This practice has been going on for years around the globe, the only difference now is its openness and formality in the west makes it a purely business transaction. In some countries with high levels of poverty, infant mortality, inadequate health and education services and low or low paid employment, finding a rich or professional man to provide for women and their families (often encouraged by mothers) is the route out of poverty. In my observation it can be degrading for both men and women. For women financial security and material acquisition are valued more than personal integrity and self worth. For men the arrangements (often more than one) confirms wealth and status. Quality of relationship for either party is not the primary concern.

    1. It would be easy for many of us to look at these kind of relationships where things like money and gifts are traded and frown on them but if we were totally honest then we would see that the majority of us are in relationships where we trade something. We trade sex for a ‘quiet life’. we trade cooking and looking after our families for what we think is ‘self-worth’, we trade our right to speak up and be heard for comfort, we trade our self respect for keeping the peace, we trade our happiness for everyone else’s, we trade what we know to be true for not standing out and we trade truth for lies.

    1. At least they’re being honest, that’s a massive step towards changing something. I have been dishonest about pretty much all of my relationships for my entire adult life and as a result changed nothing.

  5. Dating with purpose – to be all we can be together – to show the world what it is to be a loving couple that wants to learn and evolve and not settle for those comfortable cushions in life. THAT rocks the planet.

  6. What is our purpose in life? Is it to have a partner and a comfortable life at any cost? Selling ourselves is such a demeaning act that is felt by us down to the bone. Any form of selling ourselves, whether to keep colleagues friends, to ensure our promotion, to simply be nice, it’s all selling ourselves out. We are so much more than this and can value ourselves deeply.

  7. There is purpose to dating, to meeting people and forming connections. There is purpose to being in a relationship – to evolve and help each other grow.

  8. It’s so simple but something that many of us miss, if we do not look after, love and appreciate ourselves then our relationships can not be truly successful.

    1. Beginning with ourselves first…revolutionary only in that we have been told throughout our lives to think about others first and invest in being recognised for what we do. Love ourselves first and all will benefit from that…think we can give love out and wait for it from another and we all lose out. Be Love and we Feel Love….and then our relationships blossom.

  9. It is true that this ‘Sugar Daddy’ phenomena hasn’t come out of nowhere, Samantha, it has grown insidiously over the last few decades to become acceptable in society as people change their values and priorities valuing money and power over true relationships. Over the past few years, there has been exposure of so much abuse uncovered from celebrities to young women which I was unaware of throughout my lifetime. As civilisation, our culture needs an upheaval of what is the lowest we will sink to as humanity, it is time we became more aware of how lots of relationships in the present day are unloving and change them.

  10. I feel very sad to read about these financial transactions that spell out what is required in terms of finance in return for use of another’s body where there is no possibility of a loving and equal relationship because the foundation is all about what each can get out from the other. This has led me to ponder on the times that I have been calculating in my interactions with any relationship and how that has devalued what we have together and how insidious this can be starting from any sense of entitlement between parents and children and permeating friendships, work relationships and involvement in the local community. It is only when we start to be more transparent about how we are in any relationship that this can truly start to change and we can appreciate what we bring and never devalue ourselves it by turning it into a mere transaction.

  11. It feels so sad how we accept arrangements like you describe because it shows we are not knowing our own worth. They may appear to work on a superficial level but when we really value ourselves, we wouldn’t accept anything that was less than truly loving.

  12. We may champion and feed the arrangement. It may look good on the outside, even on paper but this way of being is worth nothing. Relationships are about how we are with ourselves in the relationship. It is a way of being that counts, movements that truly honour ourselves and not about living behaviours for the sake of keeping our partner, financial security, fear of emotional or physical abuse or any other way of being that we succumb and give compromise to.

  13. Dating is an interesting process when we show the best side of ourselves. We could all do with dating ourselves – to treat ourselves with the focus we give to the new date and love ourselves up. This would be far more worthwhile than accepting all the negative thoughts about ourselves that we do accept.

    1. Dating ourselves would offer so much to us and this level of commitment would then mean we were far less needy in our other relationships.

    1. Great comment Julie and inspiring me to look at this more deeply and to speak up more eloquently and more powerfully more often.

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