I'm sitting in my PJs, a sweatshirt, hair up, no makeup and wrist-deep in typing a blog entry. It looks like a scene straight out of any long-term relationship, only it isn't. I'm writing from my sugar daddy's living room with an amazing glass of Bordeaux in hand. The sweatshirt is from our trip to Santorini. The hair colour was done at one of London's best hair salons. The flush in my cheeks comes from top hot yoga at a studio where I regularly practice - a touch more luxurious a scene than you'd expect for a recently graduated masters student.
Three years ago, one of my best friends from university suggested that I look into being a sugar baby. He's suggested a lot of things over the years, so I laughed it off and went back to stressing about how to pay off my student loans (should I sell my eggs? A kidney?). A few weeks later, I came home from a long day of classes to my flatmate, Francesca, in tears over an unexpected legal expense. Her rent was going to be late. Again. My protective instincts kicked in: I was going to help her fix this. We're attractive 24-year-old girls with advanced degrees. We can get out of this one, practicality be damned. I flopped on her bed and jokingly suggested that we become sugar babies. A quick search for such websites yielded a few unsavoury results, but we settled on one that seemed more like a regular dating website: SeekingArrangement.com. We laughed every step of the way, not sure whether we were kidding. It turns out we weren't.
Francesca went on a date first. She wore a nice black dress, classy heels and her new coat with a big faux fur collar ("does this coat make me look like a sugar baby? It's so fluffy," she giggled). I met her later that evening. She was beaming, hands full of chocolates, excited to tell me every detail about her first date with the man she would spend the next two years in a loving relationship with, but that's a story for another time.
I, too, went on some dates. I enjoyed them, and while the first couple of dates weren't as successful, it is so cool to me to meet someone with whom there was no other way my path would cross. Fran and I wanted to think that the premise of sugar daddy dating was a lot sleazier than it actually is. While I'm sure there is something for everyone along a spectrum of styles of arrangement, what we found is that the men on the site were just seeking the opportunity to be generous. They were the first to admit that it was hard finding someone to share their success with without coming on too strong ("excuse me, miss? Can I buy you some shoes? Or take you to this restaurant where you're sweating the bill?"). That said, on date three, I struck gold.
Tall, handsome, modest, charming, generous... and with a heart of gold! And for those of you wondering, he's under 40. There hasn't been an awkward moment regarding finances. Our second date was at a two Michelin-starred restaurant, the first I'd ever been to. I didn't know what kind of car he drove until he dropped me off in it - a real James Bond car! He's helped me pay my student loans and lets me have whatever I want, based on mutual trust and respect, of course. I'm not about to run out and buy myself a high-end handbag, but I might get one for my birthday! The best experiences have been the times we've spent together and the times he's let me explore on my own. He's funded several weeks-long trips to Europe, Asia and the US. For my birthday, he sent me to Greece for a month to study yoga and travel before he joined me on my birthday on Santorini for some island hopping ("oh, but you'll need this Panama hat! You should get a massage after carrying your bags. And I don't want you staying anywhere dangerous!").
Looking from the outside, it seems like a normal relationship, except his friends rib him for his extravagant taste. I would never show these things off to anyone. Quite frankly, it's off-putting when people plaster their possessions, meals and travels on social media. Don't get me wrong, I've eaten at over 15 of the world's top 50 restaurants, but that would be insufferable. Are these things nice? Yes. Do they continue to define our relationship? Absolutely not. Would I be enjoying my youth as much with the constant weight of student debt from two self-funded private degrees? No. In fact, that remains a burden, but every penny I earn goes to pay it off, and he's covering the monthly payments. In a way, I feel flattered that with his discerning taste, he would choose me, and that he continues to choose me, but then again, I'm a pretty good catch, too.