Is Just An Online Brothel Or A Legit Dating Service?

This story was originally published on on July 20, 2015.

 By Nicholas Olivera is in a business that is in many ways, centuries old.

The Miami-based online dating service connects wealthy men with younger, attractive women who may or may not be under difficult financial circumstances. The obvious implication of a service such as Sugardaddie is that it is essentially a form of high-class prostitution although its founder and CEO, Steve Pasternack thinks otherwise.

“The relationships that develop on my site are completely different than that,” Pasternack, who has been bombarded with the questions of prostitution since the site’s inception in the early 2000s said. “If a woman only engages in sexual activity with a man in exchange for something then it is a business transaction.”

He continued that if users do get physical and it is part of an ongoing relationship in which the man takes care of the woman, perhaps giving her gifts or taking her out on trips, then it is no different from a regular relationship.

Some argue these ongoing relationships still began with a somewhat business relationship.

“We have our exchange relationships, which we have with anyone who will give goods or service in exchange for something, such as a housekeeper,” Asia Eaton, assistant professor in Psychology and Women’s and Gender Studies at Florida International University said. “And then we have our communal relationships which we share with people we genuinely care, such as our family or friends. No matter what these relationships that develop began as an exchange relationship.”

Eaton asserts that the ladies who enter these relationships out of economic necessity may use this reason in order to justify their actions. Perhaps this justification will even convince them that this relationship must continue for longer than initially desired.

Pasternack does not think it is economic necessity that drives women to his service. He claims that it is a desire to be with a man who has power, who can set high-level goals and achieve them, and on top of that is capable of caring for the woman in his life.

“It’s not the money, it’s the personality,” Pasternack said in an interview.

The Economist magazine recently featured Pasternack and his business in an article about how many college graduates with high levels of debt are turning to sugar daddy relationships as a financial fix. The Economist reported that receives 5,000 new profile uploads across the world every day. A quick search on shows that the site is the 20,873 most popular in the United States with people spending an average of 23 minutes on the site every day.

Scott Cunningham, an associate professor of economics at Baylor University, states that there are three factors that often bring women to services like Sugardaddie.

The first is economic shock. It could be sudden employment or the illness of a family member. The second is level of repugnancy. There are women who find selling their companionship to be less repugnant than other women do. The third is knowledge.

“It’s usually informed women who know what they are getting themselves into that tend to use these services,” Cunningham said.

Regardless of a woman’s reasons for entering a sugardaddie-sugarbabe relationship, Pasternack believes that whatever comes from it could be a good thing.

“A lot of people look down upon the sugardaddie-sugarbaby relationship, but it’s no different than any average relationship.”

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Cover Photo Credit: Salvatore Barbera/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

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