October 16, 2023
MANILA – Traditional relationships are no longer the norm. Options, individuality, and self-determination reign supreme, unbounded from archaic notions of what ought to be. It is a long-standing belief that money cannot buy love among many other things. A testament to the shift in our dating culture: perhaps for the sugar babies, daddies, and mommies out there: Maybe love can be bought after all?
A survey conducted by Sugarbook, a dating platform connecting sugar babies and daddies in Asia revealed that 55% of sugar babies in the Philippines have indicated that they earn up to ₱57,700 monthly, followed by 22% who are in the ₱141,500 – ₱283,000 allowance bracket, while a select few (2%) are earning ₱283,000 and above.
“With a user base of 4.5 million members across the globe, our goal is to educate the public on what Sugarbook is about. Women empowerment is about uplifting women by giving them a platform to choose freely. The keyword here is choice, and that is what we’re essentially about; to provide women with that precise choice. If men are allowed to date women for their youth and beauty, women should be allowed to date men for their wealth and status,” explains Darren Chan, Founder and CEO of Sugarbook.
That being said, a relationship that hinges upon the provision of financial support in exchange for a service sounds a lot like the world’s oldest profession—but I digress: there is a clear difference after all. Nonetheless, in a relationship setup that has not necessarily been widely accepted, and is probably looked down on, self-perception is truly all that matters. Backs against the wall and choosing such in a family-centric and highly religious country: who else to lean on but themselves?
So, how do sugar babies see themselves? Raine, a 22-year-old sugar baby listed on Sugarbook from Valenzuela, Metro Manila, shares with us her experiences as one.
We all have our ideals and preconceived notions concerning the type of love we want to find in our lives. As a hopeless romantic myself, the countless romcoms I’ve teared up to over the years have given shape to the kind of partnership I’m seeking out personally. And yet, through the conversation with Raine, it has come to light that even the most magical of expectations have to be tempered by boring old reality. Love after all cannot stand on its own—finances, as mundane as it sounds, play an important role as it creates the perfect environment for love to flourish.
And while sugar relationships are far from being the norm, the various mutual agreements that take place within one that enable and encourage equivalent exchange between individuals—perhaps even these hold within them a greater level of respect and understanding than those of “traditional relationships.”
The following conversation has been edited for length and clarity.
Why did you become a sugar baby?
“I saw all my university friends doing it and thought I was missing out. I tried it out and got 20 messages on the first day. I decided to go on a date with a man and found that he was very gentle, proper, educated, and he only paid me for my time—we had dinner and called it a night; he was very respectful.”
“I started my Sugarbook account early this September. Previously, I was a live stream host over at another platform. However, the money here (at Sugarbook) is much better.”
“It wasn’t something I actively sought out; I was simply thinking about funding my college education. I became a sugar baby because I wanted to make the most of my time. Men from Tinder and Bumble were only interested in physical intimacy, which didn’t appeal to me—I didn’t want to engage in that. So why waste time with these young men when I could spend time with CEOs and office executives who could provide valuable connections?”
“I became a sugar baby because I wanted to make the most of my time. Men from Tinder and Bumble were only interested in physical intimacy, which didn’t appeal to me—I didn’t want to engage in that.”
“I also found some of them rude. Sure, there are bad apples, but most are polite and approach me as a woman, like a gentleman. And because they are older, there are many things we can discuss, and the conversation flows.”
What are some benefits and disadvantages?
“I initially thought that intimacy HAD to be involved in every relationship but that was not the case. You do not need to have sex with your sugar daddy. I get to pick—I get to choose whenever I want to go out as I also have classes and assignments to attend to.”
“The benefits include financial support, mentorship, as well as the opportunity to enjoy the various luxuries in life which I would never have imagined I would get the chance to experience. However, there are also disadvantages like the potential for judgment from society—some people think I am an escort, but no, I am not.”
Have you ever experienced judgment because you decided to be a sugar baby?
“Some people think that I am an escort; they think I am a prostitute. I don’t sell my body and I have the freedom to choose my partner. It’s like any normal relationship; the difference is that I put money in front and discuss it before getting into one.”
What did you feel about that?
“I’ve come to understand that people have different perspectives and may not be aware of my circumstances and reasons for entering such a relationship.”
“I don’t sell my body and I have the freedom to choose my partner. It’s like any normal relationship; the difference is that I put money in front and discuss it before getting into one.”
Does that opinion matter to you? Why or why not?
“While I value the opinions of my friends and loved ones, my choices are guided by what is best for me and my future. So, while their opinions matter, it doesn’t influence my decisions.”
Would you recommend becoming a sugar baby/daddy to anyone?
“I would recommend it to those who have clear goals and are comfortable with the idea. They should also have strong boundaries and remember that safety should always be a top priority.”
How would you define a sugar relationship?
“It must be reciprocal; it must have wins on both ends; it must be a give and take. In every relationship, it should be discussed what the other party can provide and what I can provide.”
“There was one sugar daddy who I did fall in love with—and it’s like with any other relationship, but with the knowledge that you are financially secure.”
Does love have a place in a sugar relationship?
“Yes, and money can buy love. I’ve been in different relationships that failed due to financial problems. My sugar daddy is a man of status and well-known in the Filipino business community. Life is good, and I am learning many things from him. He loves to spoil me, and I’ve fallen deeply in love with him—he takes good care of me. Money can buy love, and financial stability makes it easier for us to fall in love. Love with financial stability is much better.”
“Money can buy love, and financial stability makes it easier for us to fall in love. Love with financial stability is much better.”
What would make you choose to leave a sugar relationship?
“I would never date a man that is married, abusive, into/offers me drugs, or if he’s dishonest about our relationship and breaks our terms. For example, if we agree to be exclusive, he cannot see anyone else unless we agree to it.”
If necessity wasn’t a factor, would you prefer a relationship based purely on love, without any contractual/financial obligations?
“I would always choose a relationship that has both—not just one. Which means, it has financial benefits and love together, and if I can have both, that would be wonderful. If not, financial stability has to come first, especially since I’m still a student. If love is all I’m receiving, I won’t be able to make much progress with just love alone.”