The unglamorous side of sugar dating

By Iylia Marsya Iskandar

There is always a sweet connotation to the term “sugar” – but definitely not sugar babies.

Recently, popular dating sites Sugarbook and SeekingArrangement, as reported by the Malay Mail , revealed shocking statistics on Malaysia as the home to over 300,000 sugar babies mostly from university students in their 20s.

Both dating platforms disclosed that among the reasons students seek sugar daddies are heavy student loan debts, high cost of living, rising university tuition fees and networking opportunities.

Sugarbook Chief Executive Officer, Darren Chan said that the platform helped the sugar babies to find economic relief during these trying times.

“Dating someone who is more successful or experienced comes with its perks, and financial incentives are just one of them.

They get to connect with high-net-worth individuals as well as pursue career advancements.”

Sugarbook, in a statement also revealed that the application received a surge of 40 per cent of new users among university students in January and they are of the opinion that financial burden coupled with the economic turndown supports the statistics.

According to the data that went viral on several social media platforms, the average age of sugar daddies in Malaysia is at 35 with an average monthly income of RM12,500 and also listed top careers of sugar daddies include entrepreneurs, engineers, lawyers, doctors and investors.

Meanwhile, the sugar babies are at an average of 23 years old, who often seek a monthly allowance of RM2,500. Furthermore, the data also showed that most of the sugar babies come from well-known private and public universities in Klang Valley.

In response to this, the Ministry of Higher Education (MOHE) is viewing the issue seriously and will investigate the claims by the sugar dating sites.

In a statement yesterday (14 February), Higher Education Director-General, Datuk Dr. Husaini Omar, said: “The ministry has contacted a few of the listed universities in the reports to ascertain the information. In this issue, the universities concerned explained that there is much doubt on the data which was published.

Among them is Sunway Education Group which stated that it is impossible for 45% of their students to be sugar babies.

This is because the current total number of students is only 7,000 and the reports claimed 3,105 students from Sunway were involved.”

The issue has gone viral so much until “On Feb 10, UiTM has also filed a police report refuting the allegations,” he further said.

“The ministry will also engage with the ministries of Youth and Sports, Women and Family Development, as well as the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission and various NGOs to create a continuous and wholesome programme to ensure that the character development of undergraduates and image of tertiary education institutions are taken care of,” he emphasised.

Concerns of the “sugar” relationship

As several users playfully share and joke around with the statistics on Twitter and claiming it to be an easy way for fast-money, a Reddit thread exposed the harsh realities of being in a sugar relationship as well as the unhealthy implications surrounding it.

In the thread, Reddit user dcx raised concerns over the “vile PR attempts” used by sugar dating platforms to lure young women into selling their bodies by showing misleading data.

The data, which showed thousands of young university students subscribing to the relationship seems to be an attempt to normalise a sugar relationship.

In fact, the user argued that the infographic is not only unverifiable as it was produced by a sugar dating platform with business interest, but it is also misleading, as the RM2,500 allowance is uncertain.

The reality of a “sugar” relationship

Underneath the original post, Reddit users are invited to share their experience of being in a “sugar” relationship. Undeniably, the experiences posted revealed a darker side to the relationship.

User snel_, a college counsellor claims that being a sugar baby is extremely damaging to girls. The user states that the job is definitely not glamorous, and sugar babies commonly struggle with shame, self-esteem problems, self-loathing, and eating disorders with a majority of the relationships can be abusive.

The user shared: “Many of the relationships are abusive. When you are merely a commodity to them – they are more than ready to remind you of this – don’t expect them to treat you with respect and dignity. It’s never an equal relationship. You’ll have to accept whatever thrown to you – just as you accept the gifts freely. Physical abuse, mental emotional abuse, sexual abuse is not uncommon. So is abortion.”

Meanwhile, user aWitchonthisEarth also shared some insights on the lifestyle after witnessing a few close friends being sugar babies.

The user revealed the initial investment into being a sugar baby with one friend raking a credit card bill of RM30,000, the emotional exhaustion surrounding a sugar baby where they have to hustle for attention and a fake persona including a weekly bar visit.

All these include the struggle with self-esteem and competitiveness with other women, struggles with the spouse of sugar daddies and potential abuse:

“Had to physically rescue my good friend, who was locked in the house daily by her sugar daddy. After, his wife divorced him and brought him to the cleaners.

Since, he couldn’t maintain the lifestyle anymore, she wanted out. But in rage, he hit her and said not until, you have paid me back every single the 50K that I have spent on you, if not, you are still going to sexually service me, till I say so.”

While the discussion very much linked Sugarbook with a questionable PR move, the realities of a “sugar” transactional relationship is very much vulnerable and enables room for abuse.

To clarify the phrase, a “sugar” relationship is where two consenting adults come through with an arrangement that mutually benefits both parties.

The terms often include companionship, mentorship and financial support.

In Sugarbook which is also known as Asia’s largest sugar dating site, over 400,000 active members consisting of 220,000 sugar babies, 180,000 sugar daddies and 6,000 sugar mummies are from Malaysia.

Meanwhile, the world’s largest sugar dating site, SeekingArrangement, revealed over 84,000 active sugar babies on their platform are from Malaysia.***

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