Researchers have identified seven types of ‘sugar daddy’ relationships with four out of ten women never having sex with their benefactors.
In the U.S. general stereotypes involve a wealthy, middle-aged man lavishing gifts and money on a young woman in return for her companionship.
But a study by a Colorado academic reveals seven types of ‘sugar’ relationships, ranging from the sex-for-money arrangements to purely platonic affairs.
The study, published last month in the journal Sociological Perspectives, involved interviews with 48 current and former US sugar babies found through a number of websites.
Researchers have identified seven types of ‘sugar daddy’ relationships with four out of ten women never having sex with their benefactors
Maren Shcull, PhD assistant professor at University of Colorado Denver, explored the kind of activities the women were involved in and whether sex was involved.
She found that 40% of the women had never had sex with their benefactors and the ones that did often had genuine, authentic connections with the men.
She also found that most forms of sugaring aren’t a play-for-pay arrangement.
‘Whenever I read an article about Sugar Daddies or Sugar Babies, I often saw the same sensationalistic slant: the women are desperate, starved college students engaging in prostitution.
‘As someone who studies deviance, I knew there were more important nuances to these relationships.’
Scull labeled the first relationship ‘sugar prostitution,’ a form of sugaring absent emotion and purely the exchange of gifts for sex.
‘Compensated dating,’ which is popular in Asia, involves a monetary or material compensation for grabbing a coffee, a meal, or attending a specific event together.
She explained that compensated dating does not involve anything sexual for most people.
A study by a Colorado academic reveals seven types of ‘sugar’ relationships, ranging from the sex-for-money arrangements to purely platonic affairs
‘Sugar dating,’ the most common form of sugaring, combines the intertwined life of companionship with sex.
In this case, most women receive an allowance on a weekly, monthly, or as-needed basis. The sums could range from $200 to several thousands of dollars a month, Schull noted.
Sugar friendships are mutually beneficial relationships with someone the women consider a friend.
Maren Shcull, PhD assistant professor at University of Colorado Denver, (pictured), explored the kind of activities the women were involved in
Benefactors in these arrangements are often a part of the women’s lives already or soon become a part of it.
‘Sugar friendships with sexual benefits’ is more unstructured. In some cases, benefactors pay for all living expenses for the women, including rent, cell phone bills, clothing, cars, and vacations.
Finally, Scull found that some of these relationships involved two people who hoped to end up together, with the woman taken care of for the rest of her life, in a category she named ‘pragmatic love.’
‘When we lump sugar relationships together as prostitution, it deviantizes and criminalizes these relationships,’ said Scull.
‘We were missing how they are often organic and involve genuine, emotional connection.
‘Many of the women didn’t intend on having a benefactor. They just happened to meet someone at work or during a catering gig who wanted to take care of them. These relationships can last decades.’
Sugar baby Taylor, 22, told the New York Post that she has an 86-year-old sugar daddy and they have a ‘sugar dating’ arrangement.
He pays her bills and gives her a monthly stipend of $2,500, she said. She added that they have been together for three years and have never had sex.
‘We exchange emails or speak on the phone most days,’ she told the outlet, adding that their dynamic is ‘a little more nuanced than just friendship, because there’s a subtext that’s always there that if he were younger, we would be romantically involved.’