Questions about love and sex in the Iowa City/Cedar Rapids area can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org (queries can also be sent anonymously using this form). Questions may be edited for clarity and length, and may appear either in print or online.
My roommate has a sugar daddy. When she first got started, she explained to me that she had an intimate relationship with an older man that also happened to buy her things and occasionally helped her pay her bills. At first, I was completely supportive, and even considered becoming a sugar baby as well. But then she started becoming obsessed. I noticed her sugar relationships started becoming less personal. Men would come and go without any promise of coming back. That alone wouldn’t be any concern to me, but I know that she was given money after each of those visits, and now my friend refuses to have any kind of intimate relationship with anyone unless there is a “mutually beneficial” aspect and she’s getting some sort of compensation. I’m beginning to wonder what the line between sugar relationships and escorting may be, and whether or not she has crossed it. How do I tell her that I am concerned for the way these encounters might negatively affect the way she loves herself and others in the future?
–– Sugar Baby’s Friend
Dear Baby’s Friend,
Mutually beneficial relationships are ideal — symbiotic. Each person gets what he or she wants. But humans are more complicated organisms, and often in personal relationships one person becomes a parasite and the other an injured host. But what happens when payments, benefits or contracts are involved? I imagine most sugar relationships resemble a prostitute-client transaction more than the romantic love of a couple. I imagine your roommate is couching her interactions so as not to be breaking the law. Relationships “with benefits” are not illegal.
You’re a good friend to worry about how being a sugar baby will affect her mental health and ability to form deep, meaningful relationships in the future. Unfortunately, she might take your concern as judgment. Or she may be aware of that potential and either isn’t afraid of it or doesn’t care. There is the possibility she feels trapped in the lifestyle she’s creating and might seek your guidance or help.
But what’s most important is how her lifestyle is affecting your living situation and/or friendship. Personally, I wouldn’t appreciate the comings and goings of random men in my house. And if your roommate is a true friend, she will appreciate your concerns and respect your needs and be a mutually beneficial person in your life.
— xoxo, Kiki
This article was originally published in Little Village issue 229.