The Culture of Sugar-Daddies

December 24, 2020 by No Comments

We have all heard stories of sugar-daddies. Famously, Anna Nicole Smith, a former Playboy model and spokesmodel, married an 89-year-old billionaire. He reportedly lavished her with expensive gifts and maintained a luxurious lifestyle for her. But were they actually in love? Was this not so much a relationship as it was a business transaction? Most importantly, can this setup really be beneficial to each of the people involved?

As Samantha from the television show, Sex and the City, once said, “Money is power. Sex is power. Therefore, getting money for sex is simply an exchange of power.” The relationship of a sugar-daddy (a man who provides money and/or gifts to an often-much-younger woman, in exchange for her company) to his “ward” is often one of power. While it starts out with the woman having more control (gathering gifts while withholding her affections), it usually does not last. By allowing the woman to become dependent on him financially, he starts to gain the upper hand. He may begin exercising this by denying her certain freedoms: choosing what she wears or how she does her hair, deciding how they will spend their time, and often, isolating her from people her own age.

However, are all sugar-daddy situations based on the control of one person over another? Can it actually be based on love? Absolutely. There are certainly situations in which a younger woman generally falls in love with a much older (and wealthier) man. However, once that kind of extreme gift-giving precedent is in place, it becomes harder to separate love from mere appreciation.

In the absence of love, though, what separates a sugar-baby (the recipient of a sugar-daddy’s lavishing) from a prostitute? They both give their time and company (and often, sex) in exchange for money or goods. One could argue that the sugar-daddy is essentially taking her off the market and keeping her as his own private escort—something that high-class professional services occasionally provide. So what is the difference? That is, unfortunately, a question for the ages (and oftentimes, for the courts).

Finally, if the sugar-daddy setup is akin to a power struggle and the control over another human being, and can even be cheapened to that of a john’s relationship to his prostitute, how can it possibly be beneficial to the people involved? One word: loneliness. While that wealthy man spent his entire career overworked yet succeeding, he may have not had time to find a partner. As he reaches an age where he cannot easily meet a woman, he may find it more convenient to “buy” company. He may very well understand she is around only for his money. Yet it often seems the men are okay with this. He gets what he wants: someone to spend time with him, maybe even have sex with him, in his later years. On the other hand, she gets what she wants: a lavish lifestyle, which she may not have experienced otherwise. And yes, maybe she even appreciates the company he provides. No one is immune to love, after all

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