Television programs glorify it. Professors frown upon it. College students all around the United States say they are simply doing it to pay their way through college.
“Sugar baby” is the term given to a young woman or man who offers companionship and, in return, receives money and gifts from an older benefactor, a “sugar daddy” or “sugar mommy.” College students across the nation are taking advantage of such arrangements to pay their way through college. According to a recent report, the sugar baby trend in Texas universities, similar to that in colleges and universities across the nation, is steadily growing.
The top three schools for sugar babies are Georgia State University, New York University and Temple University in Philadelphia, according to the Huffington Post. Two well-known universities in Texas made the top 20: Texas State University is ranked 10, and the University of North Texas is ranked 13.
A student can search for a benefactor on a variety of websites. SeekingArrangement.com. leads the pack.
Kelsey, an Amarillo College student who says she was a sugar baby for two years, joined the website years ago.
“I was more interested in it because it has more people on there that are from Amarillo,” she said of the site. “I know a lot of girls are on there from Amarillo.”
Kelsey said a friend introduced her to the website. On Seeking Arrangement, a student or benefactor can create a profile, upload photos and choose the type of arrangement they would like.
“It’s like a dating site,” Kelsey said. “You can even put if you want an allowance or if you want spoiling-type payment. You can put how much you are expecting a month.”
Kelsey said many sugar daddies set up a monthly payment of $1,000 to $3,000.
To set up an arrangement, both parties pick a time and place to meet. Although a sugar baby can join the site for free, sugar daddies must pay for a membership and also can pay for a background check.
Kelsey arranged to meet her first sugar daddy when he emailed her.
“We went to Saltgrass,” she said. “It was so awkward.”
Soon after, she said she made more arrangements with other sugar daddies.
She said a lot of the men would meet her needs if she met theirs: sex. There were many one-night stands that ended with her a thousand dollars richer.
Sex always has been implied in all her experiences as a sugar baby, she said.
“They don’t say it,” she said. “You just assume, because that’s always what they want.”
One of her friends joined the same website and on her profile, stipulated that she would not have sex with anyone. She didn’t get any sugar daddy offers, Kelsey said.
“I think any girl would be stupid to think that that’s not what they wanted even though they didn’t say that’s what they wanted,” Kelsey said. “When I was hardcore into it, there would be guys from Dallas and Houston that would fly me down there for a weekend.”
Kelsey said her sugar daddy at that time would pay for her plane ticket. She would stay with him for a day or two, she said, hang out with him, have dinner, sleep with him and then come back to Amarillo. The sugar daddy would give her money or take her shopping.
“Some would pay some bills for me or put gas in my car,” she said. “Or some would just take me shopping, and I would just buy whatever I want. It’s like a free shopping spree.”
For about six months, she said she didn’t have to pay for gas because the sugar daddy would fill up her tank whenever she needed it. She could decide how to spend the money.
“I used it for books once,” she said. “It just depends on what I needed it for. If I was broke, I would use that. It has helped me with school.”
When Kelsey pursued sugar daddies quite often, she said she felt bad about herself sometimes, though she doesn’t feel that way anymore.
Dr. Elizabeth Rodriguez, a psychology instructor, said someone acting as a sugar baby may have either an inflated or deflated self-esteem.
“It isn’t someone in the middle who has a healthy self-esteem,” she said.
Rodriguez said the amount of guilt a sugar baby can feel is huge. Other instructors agree.
“It’s something that would create guilt,” said Jerry Klein, a religion and philosophy instructor. “It’s something that would create regret.”
Kelsey said she isn’t much of a sugar baby anymore. In fact, she has a boyfriend and has confided her past sugaring days with him.
Still, she has one current sugar daddy from Amarillo who is 48 years old. She said she met him when she first started out as a sugar baby. The most they’ve ever done physically is a side-hug.
“Since we have never did anything and I don’t think we ever will, I don’t really feel that bad about it,” she said. “He just takes care of me. Kind of like a dad, a father figure.”
The controversial question remains: Is giving companionship in return for money ethical? Klein said the discussion can spur many answers since there are several different ethical philosophies.
“Egotism says whatever you do, you must do for yourself,” Klein said. “If that’s their ethical philosophy, then they would be quick to tell you that it’s ethical.”
Klein said an egotist is defined as someone who only thinks of himself or herself and does something with a clear conscience as long as he or she is fair with the other person.
“A sugar baby has got to give to get, and the sugar daddy has got to give to get,” he said.
Utilitarianism, another ethical philosophy, Klein said, focuses on doing whatever makes the most people happy.
“It requires the sugar baby to ask herself what her friends and family will think of her,” Klein said.
Klein said fear of the possibility of someone telling his or her family can cause a person to live with a certain amount of anxiety.
Kelsey said her family doesn’t know about her life as a sugar baby and that she would never tell them. Her friends, however, are a different story, especially her male friends.
“I’m sure they think I’m a whore, but I don’t care,” she said. And even if her female friends think she’s a bad person for being a sugar baby, she knows they are interested.
Another ethical viewpoint is that of a deontologist, Klein said, someone who does the right thing in all circumstances. Culture and religion help a deontologist decide whether it is right or ethical to do something. He said if people are religious, they probably wouldn’t think it is right to be a sugar baby.
Rodriguez compared sugar babies to college students who shed their clothes to pay their way through college. Rodriguez said they are making a rationalization through fraud, which is a self-defense mechanism.
“They don’t feel like they’re being strippers, but they’re doing something because they want a college education,” Rodriguez said. “They are justifying it with what they get in the end.”
Kelsey said some sugar daddies are married and have families. Klein said there are too many secrets in any relationship like that.
“It might get you rich,” Klein said. “It might get you in fancy cars and fancy clothes. It might make you lots of money, but I know lots of miserable people with lots of money, so I think I’m better off.”
Rodriguez said there are different reasons someone might become a sugar baby.
“They are going to be very desperate, and they need something,” she said. “They are willing to do whatever they have to get it, or they are used to that attention and getting things. They have been spoiled all their life, and maybe parents are cutting them off and they need to be spoiled again.”
Kelsey said she was a sugar baby because it helped her out at the time. She said she wouldn’t do it again because of the regret she has, but to other girls out there, she says it’s their personal opinion.
“If you don’t have any morals and you need the money or you think it’s fun,” Kelsey said. “Or maybe there’s girls out there that like older men, that think they’re attractive, go for it.”