Sun. May 19th, 2024

Being a sugar daddy was a ‘band-aid’ for Aaron’s heartbreak, but it came at a cost

Tyler Mitchell By Tyler Mitchell May5,2024
This week’s Insight episode takes a deep dive into convenient relationships. Can they really work?  Watch on Tuesday 16 April at 8.30pm on SBS or .

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After a difficult breakup, Aaron (not his real name) turned to ‘sugar dating’ websites to ease the pain.
“Sugar dating was like a beautiful band-aid,” he told SBS Insight.
“It’s an arrangement where you don’t have to put your feelings on the line if you don’t want to, and there’s a definite convenience about that.”
, also called ‘sugaring’, is a type of relationship where one person — a ‘sugar daddy’ or ‘sugar mama’ — exchanges money, gifts or other support for the company of another person, the younger ‘sugar baby’.

The pay range is extremely broad and depends on the nature of the transactional relationship and services offered.

Numerous dating websites facilitate these kinds of arrangements, and they typically target successful men and attractive young women, such as students.
“You can quite easily meet attractive young ladies who will give you as much company as you want,” he said.

“You don’t have any commitment to the person, outside of giving them money.”

An anonymous picture of the back of a man's head and his lap. He is holding a pair of glasses in his hand. There is carpet in the background.

Aaron says sugar dating offers instant gratification but adds “there’s no true feeling in it”. Source: Supplied

But he added that sex was a prerequisite for his relationships with sugar babies.

“Sugar dating fulfils all those gaps in your life … but the essence of sugar life is sex and money.”

‘It’s the Wild West’

Alana Heart joined a sugar dating site when she was a university student, at the suggestion of a housemate.
“I was naively thinking it was easy, [that] it was going to be a quick hustle for money,” she told Insight.
She said websites paint a glamorous picture of the sugar baby lifestyle, one where sugar babies are showered with luxurious gifts and cash, and mentored by sophisticated and successful men, in exchange for companionship and company — not sex.

“That’s not how it goes … it’s the wild west in sugar baby land,” she said.

A young woman standing on the street at night

Former sugar baby Alana said the work was “really beneficial” financially, but came with high expectations and pressure. Source: Getty / gremlin

“You’re very much coerced, bullied to a certain extent: ‘I have a hotel room, and the money’s there if you want it, but only if you do X.’ It takes someone with really strong boundaries to be able to say no to that.

“These are people with a lot of power. They’re high up in the corporate world, they might be lawyers, business owners … to do it against a university student, it’s easy for them.”

Alana was a sugar baby for about a year, and while she said the relationships were “really beneficial” financially, they came with high expectations.
“There’s a lot of pressure, because you’re getting paid, to be more than just an everyday girlfriend. To be there for them when they need, to be on your phone constantly.

“They get everything they need, and they don’t have to give anything emotionally back. It’s so easy to just hand money over.”

Living with judgement

After leaving the sugar baby life behind, Alana wrote a book about her experiences. But after the book was published, she lost her corporate job at a big bank, and was ghosted by her long-term boyfriend.

“There’s a lot of shame … it’s stigmatised. There’s a perception that you put yourself in this situation,” she said.

After the backlash, she “retreated into the shadows”.

She keeps quiet about her past at her new job, and hopes other sugar babies can find the support and community that she didn’t have.

a woman looking in the mirror trying on dresses

Trudi became a sugar baby at 45 after her relationship ended. Source: SBS

Taking back control

Trudi was 45 when she ventured into the world of sugar dating.
After her long-term relationship ended, she decided she wanted to have a physical relationship without the emotional entanglement.
Her business was struggling and Trudi initially viewed being a sugar baby as a way to make extra money, but dating a sugar daddy also came with an unexpected benefit.
“It was definitely a relationship of convenience … there was a cash exchange of course but it was also a beneficial arrangement for me because one of my sugar daddies actually ended up mentoring me with my business,” Trudi told Insight.

After four months as a sugar baby, during which she dated four men, Trudi decided to stop after feeling she got everything she could out of her dating arrangements.

Now in another long-term committed relationship, she says the transactional relationships came with a big learning curve for her.
“There was no deep emotional commitment. But there was respect and I didn’t feel like I had to be vulnerable in opening myself up to the whims and desires of another person in my life,” Trudi said.

“I learned a lot about myself, it was really a chance to just feel taken care of, to feel validated in my worth and take back the control that I lost after my relationship ended.”

‘Doesn’t fill the hole’

For Aaron, while the thrill of being a sugar daddy gave him a “new lease on life”, he wonders if the convenience of these arrangements will stop him from finding a partner to settle down and start a family with.
“Instant gratification is something that anybody can buy, but it doesn’t fill the hole,” he said.
“There’s no true feeling in it, no true love in it.
“I don’t think that any of these girls are going to be at my deathbed.”
And for more stories head to – a new podcast series from SBS, hosted by Kumi Taguchi. From sex and relationships to health, wealth, and grief Insightful offers deeper dives into the lives and first person stories of former guests from the acclaimed TV show, Insight.
Follow Insightful on the , or wherever you get your podcasts.
Tyler Mitchell

By Tyler Mitchell

Tyler is a renowned journalist with years of experience covering a wide range of topics including politics, entertainment, and technology. His insightful analysis and compelling storytelling have made him a trusted source for breaking news and expert commentary.

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2 thoughts on “Being a sugar daddy was a ‘band-aid’ for Aaron’s heartbreak, but it came at a cost”
  1. As a journalist in the dating field, I find it fascinating how people seek various forms of comfort after heartbreak. It’s interesting to see the different perspectives on ‘sugar dating’ and the emotional complexities that come with it.

  2. Being a sugar daddy was a ‘band-aid’ for Aaron’s heartbreak, but it came at a cost. Sugar dating was like a beautiful band-aid. It’s an arrangement where you don’t have to put your feelings on the line if you don’t want to, and there’s a definite convenience about that. You can quite easily meet attractive young ladies who will give you as much company as you want. You don’t have any commitment to the person, outside of giving them money. Sugar dating fulfils all those gaps in your life, but the essence of sugar life is sex and money.

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