Being new to the world of Internet dating, I Googled "how to write an online dating profile" to see what kind of information I should or should not share with potential suitors. I'd already planned to lie about my height, age and job, so perhaps the question was moot. But I wanted to do this right.
After all, I'm catfishing sugar daddies. Little things mean a lot.
You're likely aware that there are online dating sites for every kind of interest or fetish. Tired of explaining your intricate dietary specifications to first dates? Check out SinglesWithFoodAllergies.com. Are you an adult who likes to wear diapers? No judgment; get your ass to DiaperMates.com. Extreme height preference? Try DateALittle.com or TallFriends.com. Do you possess moral superiority? WaitingTillMarriage.org.
But at SeekingArrangement.com, the chief kink on display is full frontal capitalism. On this site, where SDs (sugar daddies) trawl for SBs (sugar babies), romance is another version of e-trade. And the free hand of the market gets downright grabby.
SeekingArrangement.com claims to connect individuals wishing to enter a mutually beneficial relationship. In other words, it connects "successful" people with "younger and more attractive" people. The site makes it clear that a financial transaction can be part of the "relationship," although the legalese cautions that "illegal activities like prostitution" are prohibited and politely suggests that escorts do not use the website.
Instead, the site provides rich old guys the chance to browse profiles of hot young chicks — none of whom have a problem being paid for companionship — and vice versa. Let's be real: When you're the CEO of a Fortune 500 company, you just don't have time to wine and dine an "attractive, ambitious and goal oriented individual." On SeekingArrangement.com, you can lay out exactly what you are looking for — like dinner dates once a month, or companions for business trips — and exactly how much you're willing to pay.
And ladies, this is mutually beneficial. If you're struggling to pay off your student loans or make rent this month, you can set a requested monthly allowance ahead of time — up to $10,000-plus a month! (What are those girls offering to do?)
I was curious to see what would make a supposedly well-off gentleman resort to trolling a website to find a lithe young recreational partner. So I decided to set up a fake profile to find out.
As I was composing my sugar baby profile — under the pseudonym Allie Williams, a nice young graduate student/waitress in Nashville — I tried to make my character as realistic as possible. I made her whip-smart, adventurous, fun-loving and young, but not too young. (I meant to make her 25, but I'm bad at math, so she became 27.) In essence, I made her a much better version of myself. I had no idea how much to charge for my "arrangement," so I wrote that my amount was "negotiable." That seems reasonable, right?
Since I was unclear about the potential legal repercussions of using someone else's photos — does anyone ever read those entire legal statements that precede anything you digitally "sign" anyway? — I selected two slightly ambiguous photos of myself in my early 20s, hoping that nobody could trace them back to me. As soon as I submitted my profile, I panicked a little. What if someone recognized me and thought I was actually an escort? What if none of the Daddy Warbucks messaged me — I mean, messaged Allie?
Embarrassed that my slightly improved version of myself might not catch the attention of a bunch of dirty old men, I scanned through some of the other sugar baby profiles. They appeared much younger and, frankly, much sluttier than Allie. I was not optimistic.
The next morning, however, I had an inbox full of messages waiting for me. I felt a twinge of pride, followed by a twinge of shame. Is it so bad to admit that the attention, even from these wealthy Lotharios, felt kind of good? Each of the sugar daddies — except the one who emailed merely to inquire if 61 was "too old" for me — wrote lengthy courtship emails in hot pursuit of Allie's hand. Or vagina. Whatever.
Just like when a guy texts you at 1 a.m., however, there's probably a 99.9 percent chance he's texting multiple girls, seeing which one will take the bait. Of course these guys are emailing multiple sugar babies. But these sugar daddies are smart — just like regular dudes, they know how to appeal to your fragile ego or your narcissism by specifically mentioning facts from your bio and gushing about how fascinating you are. In another moment of feeling flattered and totally icky at the same time, a SD going by "Brian" told me I was "incredibly enchanting."
Each was also very clear about what he wanted. Several were looking for a FWB ("friend with benefits," for those of you born before 1989); most were married but looking for "something more." One even claimed to be a professor looking for a student. Don't stand so close to me, indeed.
As I scrolled through the messages, I thought about how women tend to overanalyze communication — or lack thereof — with men. Yes, boys (in case you didn't know), women are capable of breaking down an eight-word text message in dissertation-level detail. If you don't respond for more than 24 hours, we are certain that you've lost interest or that you're busy texting other girls. Which, as I pointed out before, is probably — no, definitely — true.
But on SeekingArrangement.com, time is premium — for the men. If I didn't respond to a message within a few hours, the sugar daddies would message me again, promising me trips, gifts, and something called "Miracle Berry Fruit Tablets." (I was too afraid to click on the link.) The longer I took to respond, the more they contacted me, warning me that this would be the last time I heard from them because "Allie" seemed uninterested.
As skeeved-out I as I was by these guys — especially the one that I recognized from the Green Hills YMCA — I started to wonder how far any of them would actually take it. If these sugar daddies were actually who they said they were, and if they made as much money as they claimed, would they really go through with this "arrangement" if it moved offline? Or is it like shopping online, when you put a bunch of boots in your virtual shopping cart but never actually buy them? What if these men joined SeekingArrangement.com to live vicariously through an improved online version of themselves, not unlike Allie? Isn't that what catfishing is all about?
I'm not judging it, just like I don't judge those diaper people. But let's be real: Calling tits for tat a "mutually beneficial relationship" is simply the world's oldest profession using the world's newest jargon. Even with sugar on top.
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