In the world of sugar dating, every girl can name her price – provided she finds a sugar daddy who’s willing to pay, of course. Scylla Lin steps into candy land and asks whether sugar relationships might be the smart way forward for girls who want to get ahead.
It’s half-past seven and I’m sitting in a bar that serves overpriced cocktails, waiting nervously for my date to appear. It’s not the first time I’ve done this, but it is the first time I’ve dressed according to my date’s specifications: a clingy dress with a much shorter hemline than I usually wear, a less-than-subtle amount of cleavage on show, generous lashings of makeup and strong perfume, and the highest heels I could find in my wardrobe.
So what’s in it for me? Well, if I play my cards right and my date takes a liking to me, I could be on the receiving end of a five-figure allowance every month – far, far more than I’ve ever earned in my life, to put it bluntly. That’s the thought I stick to when he arrives at my table and takes my hand – and behind us, the bar staffs’ smiles widen and I can hear them snickering softly (presumably at our age difference). But I ignore them, smile my own wide smile, and say, “Hey there, Daddy.”
I Taste Just Like Candy
Long before Jane Austen wrote her famous opening to Pride & Prejudice – “It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife” – a potential partner’s wealth counted a great deal in terms of signalling their suitability as marriage material. In truth, it’s a tale as old as time – and frankly, one wonders if Belle really would have looked twice at the Beast if he hadn’t been living in a richly furnished palace.
Even in a modern dating environment, where women in developed (or developing) societies have the opportunities and the ability to step into a relationship on an equal footing with their partners, boasting a similar level of education, earning power, and spending capacity, it seems as if we haven’t shaken off that urge to find a wealthy provider for ourselves. Why else would Christian Grey from the infamous 50 Shades trilogy have resonated so strongly with women today – a kinked-up fairytale prince who’s good-looking, (somewhat overly) attentive, and rich enough to foot the bill for unlimited shopping sprees, helicopter rides, and a yacht?
With this in mind, perhaps it’s a little easier to understand why sugar relationships – a mutually beneficial relationship where a wealthy individual offers financial and material support to a partner, in exchange for their companionship – still exist. In fact, the sugar dating scene appears to be in rude health in the twenty-first century, thanks to the Internet and the increasing popularity of websites such as SeekingArrangement.com and TheSugarBook.com: networks and online platforms that allow aspiring sugar babies, sugar daddies, and (in a nod to equality) sugar mommies to connect.
Honey to the Bee
I decide to create a profile on TheSugarBook.com and see whether the sugar scene here is as promising as she suggests. Armed with a few semi-decent selfies, I rattle off a description of myself as a first-time sugar baby with a penchant for shopping sprees, good single malts, and luxury hotels. Other information the website displays includes your age, body type, ethnicity, education, marital status, and crucially, your ‘lifestyle expectation’, which ranges from Minimal (up to US$ 1,000 monthly) to High (over US$ 10,000 monthly).
Concerned that I’m too old to be a sugar baby, I set my age at 26, but when I check out my competition, I realise I needn’t have worried. There are babies in their 40s and even 50s, and although I expect every one of them to look like Belle Lucia or Emily Ratajkowski – which some do, of course – it’s a much fairer playing field out there than I thought. (Interestingly, one baby’s profile picture is of her wearing a mud face masque, which is an original way of demonstrating that you’re high maintenance.)
I also sign up for a Premium account, which both babies and daddies can upgrade to for US$ 9.95 a month (babies also gain access to Premium membership for free if they register with their university email addresses or show proof of enrolment), helping to makes things easier by enabling me to see who’s read my messages, viewed my profile or favourited me, and to spot other Premium members who are – in theory – more likely to be serious about starting a relationship. With that, I’m poised to see who’s willing to pour some sugar on me.
As I browse potential daddies’ profiles, I wonder whether Marissa was lucky enough to bag the only unicorn of Malaysia’s sugar daddy population. It’s all down to personal taste, of course, but it’s hard to find a well-written profile or a daddy I’m attracted to. Nevertheless, I continue my search, keeping an eye on their stated net worth and annual income (which are typically peppered with plenty of zeroes). This in itself not a guaranteed indicator of a daddy’s wealth, although TheSugarBook.com has plans to introduce a Diamond Daddy category, where applicants “will need to submit a bank statement which shows a minimum balance of US$ 100,000 and a copy of their identification (ID, passport or utility bill) to be eligible”.
Messages begin to arrive in my inbox: “You need financial support? WhatsApp me.” “Looking for your companionship with intimacy, includes spending a night together or a few hours in a day.” “Hi baby – honestly, your eyes and lips damn crazy. I don’t need sex. I like sexual chat, not even video calls. I will spend RM 250 per week on you.” The latter, frankly, is a far cry from TheSugarBook.com’s Instagram posts, which spill over with images of flowers, shelves of Chanel handbags, and piles of Louboutin shoeboxes. Even I, an impoverished journalist, can turn my nose up at that so-called allowance.
Grab a copy of our January 2018 issue for the full story
*Names have been changed to protect identities.