For Metro/Phoebe Ho Brandon Wade, founder of SeekingArrangement.com, and his wife, Tanya.

A growing number of university students in Toronto are looking for “sugar daddies” to help pay down their tuition fees and living expenses, says the founder of a U.S. website that helps them do just that.

Instead of taking out loans, these students are turning to SeekingArrangement.com, founder Brandon Wade says. The idea is similar to other dating sites, but instead of promising true love, it endeavours to help people find “mutually beneficial relationships” by bringing together “sugar daddies” and “sugar babies.”

“It’s something that’s a whole lot more rational and materialistic, at least in the very beginning,” Wade says. “One party has to be generous and willing to pamper and spoil — we call that the ‘sugar daddy’ — and on the other side, somebody who wants to be spoiled and pampered in return for, I guess, being pretty.”

The phenomenon is growing in Toronto, says Wade, who started the site in 2006.

According to the website, universities in Toronto lead the nation on its list of “Canada’s Top 20 Fastest Growing Sugar Baby Colleges.” Ryerson University sits in first place, with 183 new “sugar babies,” while the University of Toronto is third, with 156 new signups.

“Sugar babies,” described by the site as “attractive, intelligent, ambitious and goal-oriented” young women who are looking to be pampered, “mentally, emotionally and financially,” receive about $3,000 a month in gifts and allowances from their “sugar daddies” in return for a relationship, Wade says.

Though some might call this borderline prostitution, Wade believes financial exchanges happen in every relationship — the people who use his website are just being more upfront about it.

A 23-year-old Toronto university student who recently joined the site and asked to remain anonymous, says the whole thing just makes sense to her.

“I’m from Africa. When I go out, I don’t have to bring out my wallet or anything,” she said. “It’s actually kind of an insult to a man’s ego if I take out my wallet. I’m old-fashioned.”

Paying her way is a sign that a man cares about her and values the relationship, she added. “They’re going out of their way to have a relationship. Not a lot of people care about relationship values like that nowadays, so it makes sense to me, it seems serious,” she said.

As for how much money she’s asking for in return? That’s not what she’s there for, she insists.

“I come from a good family. I’m not starving or something like that,” she said. “A lot of people on there are not looking for somebody who’s just looking for financial benefits. They actually want to have a connection with you. They even say it in the bottom of the profile.”

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