Whether you’re seeking your own arrangement or not, sugar dating has become just another part of modern life. Younger cash-strapped women entering mutually beneficial romances with rich businessmen is nothing new, but what about lesbians and queer women who are looking for their perfect match? How do they navigate the sugar dating world? We talked to queer sugar babies about the struggle to find a sugar mommy, and why some of them actually prefer daddies.
With multiple studies showing that lesbians out-earn their heterosexual counterparts, you’d think that the sugar dating world would be overflowing with cash-rich, time-poor ladies. The “career lesbian” (think Bette in The L Word, or the monied art world lesbians of Sex and the City) may well exist in real life—but is she looking to wine and dine a sugar baby? On the face of things, maybe not. Even a casual scroll through Seeking Arrangement shows that lesbian and bisexual sugar mommies are not in the majority. Setting search preferences to “seeking women” in the UK only yields a dozen or so active profiles, including a couple of cis men and a bunch of couples looking for a third partner.
Maria, 22, started sugar dating during college. (Her name has been changed by request as she didn’t want to harm her job prospects.) As a lesbian, she was initially frustrated with the scarcity of mommies available on Seeking Arrangement and other more generic dating apps. “It was difficult at first, I was really attracted to the baby lifestyle but didn’t see myself dating men. I was pretty annoyed that it seemed to be a thing restricted to straight dating; I prefer older women and I liked the idea of being spoiled, and maybe being a bit submissive if required.”
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However, she soon took the situation into her own hands. “I was thinking about what it must have been like before apps and sites made it super easy for straight people to find this kind of set-up, and I realized that there was probably a lot more finesse involved back then. I decided if I couldn’t find my sugar mummy online, then I’d just have to go out and find her in real life.
"I started going to high-end bars and Pride events solo on the hunt for older women, and was constantly on Tinder, on the off-chance a more mature woman would swipe for me. I was eventually able to find myself a couple of sugar mommies, but they maybe weren’t as well-off as your standard sugar daddy. In my experience, I only found a sugar mommy because I really wanted to.”
Was it worth all the effort? According to Anna, a 24-year-old former baby and current cam girl, dating a sugar mommy has its perks: “The positives of dating a sugar mommy are less sexual pressures than a daddy, and more girly chat and relaxing.” Anna identifies as bisexual, but her experience as a baby yielded mostly male partners. (She requested a pseudonym as she’s concerned about the stigma attached to sex work.)
“I’ve dated multiple daddies but only one sugar mommy. Generally they’re harder to find, maybe because they’re not in the same financial position to offer disposable cash like men. The ones who do have the financial freedom, you find they’re now reinvesting the time lost with kids because of work. So dating a sugar mom is very different, they have different priorities to sugar daddies.”
There are queer sugar babies who’d rather give mommies a swerve altogether. This is the case for London-based Bethany, 23, who describes herself as bisexual and homoromantic, a term meaning that she is only romantically attracted to the same gender. (She has requested a psuedonym as she is not out to her family about her sugar dating.)
Bethany has dated two older, successful men—but no women. Not dating sugar mommies is a conscious choice, and she probably wouldn’t be dating them even if they were easy to come across. “It’s cliché, but with men I find it easier to maintain emotional distance. I think if I was dating sugar moms I’d get jealous or lonely if they weren’t paying me enough attention, or if they were spending too much time at work.”
According to Bethany, this emotional distance has also suited her sugar daddies. “I just don’t get the same romantic connection with guys, but the sex works fine. To be honest, I think this has suited the daddies I’ve dated; there’s nothing they wanted less than a girlfriend who was clingy or possessive, and I was the polar opposite.”
Even if you do find the elusive sugar mommy, queer sugar dating still requires a lot of hard work. As with all sugaring, there are added pressures of negotiating personal boundaries and any differing expectations between the wealthier partner and the sugar baby—and that’s on top of the stresses that already affect most relationships. There are few—if any—established narratives or leading examples for being a queer sugar baby. Lesbians and queer women must navigate sugar dating largely in the dark.
At the end of the day, Anna decided that the baby lifestyle wasn’t for her, regardless of her sugar parent’s gender. As a cam girl, she pulls in between £60 and £70 a day for only two hours’ work.
“Personally I wouldn’t date another sugar mommy or daddy because I don’t like all the strings attached,” she says. “Being a sugar baby is a steady income, between £1,000 and £2,000 per month, but it requires a lot of patience.”
This article originally appeared on VICE US.