We’ve all heard of sugar dating — sugar babies and sugar daddies and the like. But what about sugar baby motivation? Is money the only factor in the sugar lifestyle?
I recently pitched, had accepted, and completed a story for a Major News Media Outlet re sugar dating. The main premise was the question: Do college co-eds working as sugar babies really end up paying down their tuition debt like many sugar dating networks suggest?
Data released by a high-profile sugar dating site quantified the number of students utilizing their platform, presumably as an alternative method of financial aid. In 2015, 225 people registered to be sugar babies on the site with an NYU-affiliated .edu email address. This was the highest number of sign ups associated with a specific university, followed by Arizona State University (ASU, 189 babies), and the University of Texas at Austin (UT, 163 babies).
As I worked my way through the story, interviewing current and former sugar babies affiliated with both NYU and UT Austin, I discovered two interesting things that I hadn’t seen covered before — one of which was related to sugar baby motivation. Namely, is money the *only* motivating factor?
For various reasons, the story sat on my editor’s desk, devolving into dust. But rather than lose the work, here’s part two of two re sugar babies and some interesting corners I discovered in the sugar dating world.
Read Part 1 re salt daddies here.
They say it’s to pay down tuition debt, but are there other reasons motivating young women in the sugar lifestyle?
In Texas, average student debt in 2015 was just over $26,000 upon graduation. But according to Sara Nagorski, only some UT coeds living the sugar lifestyle are doing it for the tuition assistance.
Nagorski, who’s in her mid-30s, is an ivy league educated writer and former professor. She’s currently working on a factography based novel about sugar dating, drawing from her own experiences – because when she was an undergraduate student at UT from 1998 to 2002, she and many of her sorority sisters were living the sugar life at UT before it was a thing, dating both fraternity guys and older men.
“Most of these girls are really just looking for a specific type of attention, they want to be treated well,” Nagorski explains. “Compared to frat culture, and the abuses and humiliation that can go with it, dating older men who seem to value you can be an attractive alternative.”
According to Nagorski, it’s not that many babies need the money or the perks that come along with it. It’s that they want it. This corresponds with another interesting claim via [a high profile sugar dating site]: that 35% of their registered college babies are from upper-middle to high-income families.
But want over need is not the only story. According to Ashley, 21, who has been a sugar baby for three years, she got into the sugar scene specifically for help with tuition.
“Going to college, I didn’t want to ask for money from my parents or my family because they couldn’t afford it, so I just had to figure out a way on my own,” she explained.
Ashley learned of the sugar lifestyle via a young woman who’d graduated from her high school a couple years prior to her and had had great success. Ashley’s success, however, wasn’t immediate.
“It was nothing but fun for [the older girl], and when I started my profile, I was really intrigued by [the lifestyle],” she explains. “I was on Craigslist and [various sugar dating sites] and I had a lot of men interested in me, but I didn’t go through with it right away.”
When Ashley found [the sugar dating site], though, she found older, more well established men. “There are different types of guys who go to different sites,” she explained, as well as, presumably, different types of sugar babies who utilize different platforms. “As a sugar baby, you pick who you entertain. And if you are going to different types of sites, you are going to be entertaining certain types of sugar daddies.”
Right now, Ashley is focused on school and is looking for a new sugar daddy. It’s challenging, however, based in part on what seems to be sugar saturation.
Well, what do you think about this concept of motivation? Is there something to be said about various forms of motivation (and the social forces that play into them)? Are some motivations considered more or less *legit* or respectable than others? Where do those ideas about respectability come from?
Read Part 1 re salt daddies here.
Endnote/FYI — I reached out to NYU and UT for comments on this story when I was originally working on it. Queries to NYU went unanswered. A representative from UT’s Student Affairs division communicated UT’s position, which was essentially that they had no comment. Though they were aware students may be doing it, they didn’t want to talk about it.
This “non-response” was telling. It conveyed both judgment, as well as disregard for students within each respective university community. Because regardless of how one feels about sugar dating, the fact remains that college students are doing it. And if members of your community are doing it, it’s worth taking seriously #justsayin
(pictured: like Fergie said… G-L-A-M-O-R-O-U-S)
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