- Angela Kerndl/SpoonUniversity
- Megan, a former tank mechanic for the US Army, began “sugaring” a year ago as a way to earn extra money and meet new people.
- Sugaring is a dating dynamic in which a “sugar baby” dates a “sugar daddy” in exchange for gifts like a weekly payment (or allowance), vacations, and dinners.
- According to Seeking Arrangements, a dating site for sugar daddies to meet prospective sugar babies, there are over 22,000 retired or active duty members of the US military on its website.
- Visit Insider’s homepage for more.
A few years ago, Megan was an active tank mechanic for the US Army, performing maintenance on giant armored vehicles, navigating through combat zones, and operating high-tech weapons systems.
Now a veteran, she’s taken an uncommon path towards earning extra income.
After she clocks out of her day job doing office work, Megan, who asked to use only her first name to protect her privacy, sometimes goes on dates with men who pay for fancy dinners and give her cash gifts.
This is called sugaring – a dating dynamic in which a “sugar daddy” offers a “sugar baby” gifts for going on dates with them, like dinner, items, vacations, and cash.
Megan, who is from Georgia, joined Seeking Arrangements, a sugar dating website, when she moved to New York in 2018. She said she wanted to meet new people and make some extra income to help with her bills.
Seeking Arrangements has over 22,000 users that are retired or active duty US military members. The high volume of military personnel on the site could be linked to the low pay some members of the military receive, according to a statement from Seeking Arrangements. Entry-level Army privates make only $20,172 a year and even Army tank mechanics only make an average $40,000, depending on their rank.
In addition to the extra money, Megan says she’s found other perks to this unconventional dating style.
“It was actually out of curiosity to see how things would go on there,” Megan said. “You gotta test the waters, because you never really know how things will go with this kind of situation. But I would say it turned out better than I expected.”
- Crystal Cox/Business Insider
Megan had no expectations going into sugaring, but she made friends she still keeps in touch with
Megan had mixed experiences setting up dates with potential sugar daddies online. Some dates were pleasant – and some were not.
“I ended up meeting with this guy and he was nothing like what he looked like, really strange and awkward, the conversation was really boring and dull,” Megan said.
But Megan also found friendships that included occasional perks, like free dinners and help with bills.
Eventually, she met a more serious romantic partner through sugaring, and is now considering getting off Seeking Arrangements altogether.
Unlike some sugaring situations in which a set “allowance” – or weekly amount of money agreed upon beforehand by a sugar daddy and sugar baby – is discussed, Megan and this more serious partner have a fluid dynamic when it comes to money. She said that he helps her out with bills, which range from $25 to $300 apiece depending on her needs.
Sugaring can lead to negative and even dangerous consequences at times
Megan said she’s only had one notably bad sugaring experience aside from awkward dates. One potential sugar daddy wanted Megan to come to his house rather than a public place and declined to show her his face until they met in person . She declined because she didn’t want to jeopardize her safety.
Other sugar babies haven’t been as lucky.
A 19-year-old sugar baby named Zoe told the Independent that she first started sugaring to help pay for university. The kinds of men she met online terrified her because of the degrading things they said.
“Lots of people on there feel like they can say or do what they want. It is also often men who are really successful in their careers – some of them have done really well in their lives – and they think they deserve it,” Zoe told the Independent. “Some of them are so entitled. You would feel dirty after even just talking to them because they were just so horrible, sleazy and arrogant.”
The power imbalance between wealthy sugar daddies and younger sugar babies who don’t necessarily have other money-making options can become dangerous as sugar babies are forced into uncomfortable situations.
- PeopleImages/Getty Images
Megan has found mentorship from other veterans through sugaring
Among the connections she’s made through sugaring, Megan has met a few mentors that have helped her navigate veteran affairs after leaving the service. One man she occasionally still goes on dinner dates with has helped her get access to programs and services through the US Department of Veterans Affairs.
“He’s actually mentoring me because he’s a retired Army veteran and I’m a veteran too,” Megan said. “He has a lot of knowledge that I don’t know because the military actually offers a lot of benefits when you get out of the military. So he’s given me a lot of insight on how to do certain things.”
It wasn’t her intention to date other veterans, but Megan said that seeing people who she has so much in common with has made sugaring more enjoyable.
“Talking to somebody who actually knows where you’re coming from and has been in similar situations, it makes conversations much more interesting,” Megan said.