College ‘Sugar Babies’ Get ‘Sugar Daddies’ To Pay Tuition — Is This Legal Prostitution?

Sugar dating” is a term that refers to transactional relationship, sort of a “pay-for-play” idea, between an older, wealthy man and attractive (and usually broke) younger women. For the most part, sugar dating has nothing to do with love or marriage, and everything to do with both parties getting exactly what they want. For the men, it’s companionship and usually a physical relationship with the young woman — and for the young woman, it’s about the money.

“Sugar daddy,” of course, is not a new term, and refers to the older, wealthy man. “Sugar babies” are what the young women call themselves. And the sugar babies usually meet their sugar daddies through the use of websites that actually promote this type of relationship — websites like and

And who are these young women? A surprising amount of them are college students. According to the website, female college students made up 44 percent of all of its users… and with tuition on the rise, the number of college students using these sites will likely climb, as well. And the average monthly allowance the men on that website shell out is about $3,000 a month. The young women can use this money any way they wish — and for many of them, that means paying tuition or applying the money to their student loans.

Take Tess Wood, who was featured in a Newsweek article about sugar dating and its rising prevalence among college women. Wood is a college graduate, but like many young people, she has had difficulties in paying off her student loans while making rent and paying other living expenses. Whereas some young women look for sugar daddies because of dreams of luxury, for Wood, it’s not about luxury at all. Instead, she views it as a job.

As Wood herself said, “I thought, ‘I’m not making money and I could be good at this, so why not?’ I knew how to use my body and I knew how to make someone feel good being around me, and I didn’t have to try or think about it at all… like playing Candy Crush.”

So why isn’t this considered prostitution?

Technically, it is in many states. “If you look at the language of various state statutes, the terms of many of the relationships fall under the definition of prostitution,” said New Jersey attorney Alex Miller

But authorities don’t usually prosecute so-called “sugar” websites, or their users. Firstly, most users are smart enough not to flat-out admit that they are willing to give cash for sex. And secondly, the relationship between a sugar daddy and sugar baby often looks like a typical romance.

Of course, there are many critics of this trend who do view it as plain prostitution.

Lisa Schmidt, herself a former sugar baby who ended up launching hew own website,, shrugs off the criticisms, and compares what sugar babies do to the role of a housewife.

“You can raise your kids and not work at all and sit at home in a nice big house… so how is your life any different?” she asks. “That housewife, she’s not contributing any way really to that life financially, you know she’s taken care of but she’s not called a prostitute — she’s called a wife.”

What do you think? Is so-called “sugar dating” just online dating with specific wants? Or is it prostitution?

[Image via Shutterstock]

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