'All The Benefits I Need': Why Sugar Daddy Websites Are On The Rise
Businessman Darren Chan started dating app Sugarbook in 2017, after he noticed "sugaring" was growing in popularity worldwide.
The practice sees "sugar babies" enter romantic relationships for financial security with "sugar daddies" or "sugar mamas".
They may receive cash, gifts or other financial and material benefits in exchange for providing 'companionship'.
With taglines like “Where Romance Meets Finance" and "Chat. Negotiate. Meet", Chan told 10 daily why there is no mention of 'love' on Sugarbook.
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"Love is not an action. It's an emotion that builds up only after we perform these [tagline] actions," he said.
Born and raised in Malaysia, Chan graduated with a Masters of Business Administration (MBA) from RMIT University, Melbourne.
Upon returning to his homeland, he worked in the entertainment and technology sector for a number of years before he founded Sugarbook.
Asians are "way more conservative" when it comes to negotiating their dating practices and "take things more seriously", according to Chan.
He said Westerners are different and often use Sugarbook for polyamorous relationships "as long as there’s a good amount of money involved".
"What’s interesting is the latter sort of relationships often last longer, as there are less boundaries. They get what they long for -- which could be monthly allowances, shopping or travelling to exotic places -- and at the same time, feel emotionally supported in doing so."
The United States originally had the site's largest database of registered members, but today over 60 percent of members are from Asian countries.
While Sugarbook prides itself as the region's first sugaring dating app, no man or woman of Asian appearance can be found in their promotional material.
"Western people have good genes as their features are way sharper compared to Asians, but also it's because we started off targeting people from the US," Chan said.
Amanda -- a 20-year-old Russian woman, living and studying in Kuala Lumpur -- told 10 daily she will be a sugar baby till she "marries the right man".
"I’ve met mostly millionaires like CEOs, bosses, investment bankers and doctors. Besides being rich, they are really nice and know how to treat a girl," she said.
"I’m enjoying my life to the fullest right now and I believe sugar dating has all the benefits I need to be set-up in life."
The financial and age aspects of sugaring add a power imbalance that might be difficult for some to manage, according to Sydney-based psychologist Elizabeth Talbot.
"They might find it difficult to establish what their personal value is in a relationship such as this," she said.
"They might feel unable to access the ‘warts and all’ type of affection we look for in intimate partnerships, and have trouble withdrawing because of the financial consequences -- even if they come to realise it's not working emotionally, or worse, damaging them."
Of Sugarbook's 300,000 users, 70 percent are sugar babies, while 30 percent are sugar daddies and mamas.
The average annual income of the sugar daddies and mamas is AUD$350,000, with an average age range of 30-55.
The average monthly allowance received by a sugar baby is around AUD$5000, according to the site.
Sugar babies should be very aware of what they're signing up for, Talbot said.
"They should think carefully about what their expectations are and how they might manage the possible power imbalance of an intimate relationship driven by financial gain," she said.
"It would also be important to think the whole thing through, rather than focusing only on the initial benefits of the arrangement, i.e. set clear boundaries, think about non-negotiables and brainstorm possible exit strategies."
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