April 18, 2009

Getting Paid for Your Relationship

The New York Time has an article about a website that offers a different sort of matchmaking. SeekingArrangement.com provides a service that is available for use by men and women.

More to the point it helps arrange meetings between those who wish to play sugar daddy or sugar mama as the case may be and those who wish to be kept.

These sorts of relationships have long predated the Internet, but I can't help but be curious as to how many more have been created because of it. Not making a judgment call here, just commenting on yet another example of how the net has changed lives.

"... They’re not searching for longtime soul mates; they want no-strings-attached “arrangements” that trade in society’s most valued currencies: wealth, youth and beauty. In the cheesy lexicon of the site, they are “sugar daddies” and “sugar babies.”

There’s the 18-year-old from France asking for $5,000 to $10,000 a month from “a mentor who can provide me with the finer things in life and keep me happy!” And the 49-year-old investor from upstate New York willing to pay $5,000 a month for a “daytime playmate” for “intense connection without commitment.” Critics say the site is at best a convenience store for adulterers and at worst a virtual brothel, but Brandon Wade, Seeking Arrangement’s 38-year-old founder and chief executive, is unperturbed by the criticism. “We stress relationships that are mutually beneficial,” he says. “We ask people to really think about what they want in a relationship and what they have to offer. That kind of upfront honesty is a good basis for any relationship.”

The site now claims more than 300,000 registered members, far fewer than mainstream dating sites like Match.com, which has 1.5 million paying subscribers, but still a remarkable number. Sugar babies outnumber daddies 10 to 1, Wade says, providing what one sugar daddy called “the best fishing hole I ever fished in.”

This abundance of possibility is part of what the site is selling, along with fantasy. Some of these men — especially those shopping for women half their age — are digging deep into their pockets to pay for an illusion: that despite their receding hairlines and wattled skin, they’re still enchanting enough to charm pretty young women. One image on the site features a dazed, graying man doted on by two barely clad attendants — a caricature of an already caricatured relationship. But this marketing spin doesn’t capture the nuances of the relationships that often develop between the “daddies” and the “babies” who meet on the site — relationships that can turn out to be more complicated than even the members themselves expect."

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