Niamh Emmett investigates he surprising new trend in online dating.

Your sugar daddy…will pamper you…cover your college fees, and might even whisk you off to Cannes for the weekend. All you have to do is date him.”

Is it any different [from prostitution] if the man you are sleeping with for money actually wants to get to know you?”

Young people of UCD, you can put down your CVs, forget about voluntary work, and stop traipsing around Grafton St. every Saturday morning hoping that someone will take pity and hire you. There is a new, much easier way to make money – find your very own sugar daddy. He (or she) will pamper you, buy you presents, cover your college fees, and might even whisk you off to Cannes for the weekend. All you have to do is date him.

An increasing number of young girls and guys are joining dating sites to meet older, and much wealthier, men and women. On these websites, the young girls and guys are known as ‘sugar babies,’ while the older men and women as ‘sugar daddies’ and ‘sugar mommies.’

Far from the days of Kanye West singing “she take my money, when I’m in need”, these sugar daddies are certainly far from being “in need”. Most of them highlight on their online profiles how they want to “spoil” and “pamper” a woman with all of their extra money (some of these men claim to be worth up to $10,000,000). A number of them actually view their sugar baby as a kind of charity work, with one man, Mr. Fashionista, saying that he wants a sugar baby because “he’d love to give back.”

The ‘arrangements’, as the website, calls them, involve the sugar baby spending time with their sugar daddy; going to dinner, travelling, shopping, and, in almost all cases, sex. In return, the sugar daddy provides his sugar baby with an income. This can come in the form of cash, lavish gifts, exotic holidays, or even a college education.

The trend is geared towards wealthy men looking for a “fun” arrangement with “no strings attached”, as one sugar daddy describes it. The sugar babies are commonly young girls looking for some extra cash, and college graduates faced with huge debts from student loans. In America, the average college student can face up to $70,000 worth of debt. Especially in the current economic climate, it is not hard to see why spending time with a sugar daddy in exchange for vast sums of money can seem like an easy way out.

However, there remains an elephant in the room: is this simply high-class –and very well paid – prostitution? Is it any different if the man you are sleeping with for money actually wants to get to know you? Many of the sugar daddies on the site make it clear that they are not looking for your average bimbo; they want someone who they can have “intelligent debates and discussions” with.

To investigate further, the College Tribune created a sugar baby profile on the website, claiming to be a “fun, easy going girl who wants to study in an American university.” This profile received over 30 emails from interested sugar daddies within a week. While some of the men came across as quite sleazy, outlining what they wanted in the bedroom, others seemed like genuinely nice men who wanted a girl that they could talk to, as well as the common factor of the need for “chemistry”.

These men are clearly used to getting what they want. So, if they have so much money, why are they using a dating site? The answer is simple: almost every single sugar daddy describes themselves as appreciating “the finer things in life.” Evidently, women are no exception, as many of the men outline clearly what type of woman they are looking for. Invariably it involves an athletic body, big boobs, model looks and intelligence. By using a website, the men can state exactly what they are looking for – something that is more difficult to do in real life. One man, however, makes it clear that being flat-chested is not an issue, saying: “I love buying boobs and that is something that can be worked out.” Good to know.