POSTED: Thursday, May 16, 2013 - 9:34pm
UPDATED: Friday, May 17, 2013 - 8:23am
El Paso, TX (KTSM) — A weak economy in the United States can make life very expensive for the average American.
So when car payments, rent, and bills are due, but money is tight, how far do some people go to make ends meet?
A number of young Americans across the country, and here in El Paso, are dating older men, and women, in exchange for cash and gifts. Some call it a “mutually beneficial relationship," but others call it prostitution.
“I didn’t really care what he did or how he got it to me. I just cared that he was helping me. I took an offer and I wanted to be taken care of for once,” said one El Pasoan, who dated an older man in exchange for money.
She wanted to remain anonymous and so we named her "Jasmine." She had no job after college, was drowning in a sea of debt, and had a baby at home. When her finances ran dry, her best friend became an older man, who helped her roll in the Benjamins.
“By working 3 jobs, you don’t get to see your child and the most that I wanted was to see my baby and a man offered to help me with that,” she said.
The man was her 'Sugar Daddy" -- someone 25 years her elder. She gave him companionship and sex, in return for cash.
"Desperate times call for desperate measures and you want to be the best mom you can be by providing everything you can for your child. He never really told me what he did, or how he did it, or how he had the money he did," said Jasmine.
Jasmine found her man in person, but others find the match online.
SeekingArrangement.com connects rich men to younger women looking for financial support. The site’s creator calls it a “mutually-beneficial arrangement.” The website claims more than 2 million users worldwide.
In El Paso, some 266 sugar daddies and more than 3500 sugar babies are signed up to use the website. That’s an average of about 12 sugar babies per daddy.
And where do they meet? Bars, nightclubs, or perhaps for dinner in one of the city’s finest restaurants.
“This shows that society has become far more superficial and far more materialistic but at the same time, we live in an American culture, where we’re told that we need to work for our future. So, in this case, you’re really working on a relationship. You knock and the door shall be open onto you. In the same sense, don’t expect that wealthy or successful mate to come by, you got to work at it,” said Brandon Wade.
Brandon Wade is the CEO and creator of SeekingArrangement.com. He said the website has a strict policy against soliciting sex for money. But Wade argues exchanging money for companionship is not wrong.
“When you have a relationship that is determined by power, in which one of the persons has the power, because of his position, money, and the other is powerless, it’s a relationship of abuse, of exploitation,” said Dr. Jaime Arbona. He is a psychoanalyst in El Paso, and questions the morality of the Sugar Daddy/Sugar Baby relationship. He argues it’s degrading to women.
“That men doesn’t value that money, doesn’t value those objects. What he values is the enjoyment of power, the use of power in taking advantage of another person.”“That men doesn’t value that money, doesn’t value those objects. What he values is the enjoyment of power, the use of power in taking advantage of another person,” said Arbona.
There’s always that, that, um, sexual thing that they prefer with you.There’s always that, that, um, sexual thing that they prefer with you."There’s always that, that, um, sexual thing that they prefer with you. I started feeling that form of prostitution, which is why I kind of pulled away, and I started becoming more independent because after awhile, you do feel worth $500, $600, and not every woman wants to feel that way, especially one who works their butt off in school to have a career,” said Jasmine.
“There’s a pro and a con to everything. It’s certainly be nice – you want to jet off to Vegas whenever you want, with whomever you want but there’s going to be a trade-off on the back end,” said Michael Graham, an attorney and financial planner in El Paso.
He says Sugar Daddy relationships aren’t illegal, but women who give up on achieving their own financial independence for that older guy may go broke later, when they aren’t quite the sugar baby they used to be, and the money stops flowing.
“We do a very poor job of educating across the board in our society, of educating our kids about money in general, and particularly about financing things,” said Graham.
“You have to remember that we are in the land of opportunity. These women shouldn’t have to do that. There is no reason for that. There are means and ways to get an education, to get a job, and to make their own dreams a reality with their own work,” said Arbona.
So, what if a young woman doesn’t want to work, and likes to be pampered? Dr. Arbona says people should be free to make that choice. But he argues, it could cost the sugar baby much more in the long run.
“She needs to know what she’s relinquishing and what she’s abdicating. Her autonomy, her independence, and most of all, her self-respect,” he said.
Jasmine told us her Sugar Daddy relationship did develop into something more romantic, but she knew her family would never approve, so she eventually broke it off.
She says she and her family will always be grateful to the person who helped her survive, but the pressure of giving him sex in return became too much for her to handle.
Jasmine said she is now in a relationship with a guy her age.