Mona*, a sophomore in Tisch, governs her life by seeking balance – balance between the student and the “Sugar Baby.” Life will have its highs, and surely its lows, but what matters more is what is in your head. What you can control.
In our second installment of Confessions Of A NYU Sugar Baby, NYU Local met up with Mona at a local café as she opened up about the raw truth behind being a Sugar Baby.
Perusing her Sugar Baby profile, Mona pointed out a CEO of an equity firm that had taken her out once but was “too flamboyant.” She showed us how to determine copy/paste messages, as well as fake profiles with pictures of male models for guys listed as age 52.
Mona has been singlehandedly supporting herself through NYU, with no help from her parents and the vast majority of her tuition being covered by scholarships & loans. As for the other portion, Mona can make roughly $3,000-$5,000 a month through dating older men on Seeking Arrangement.
When did you find out about Seeking Arrangement?
It was before summer of sophomore year. It hasn’t even been a year [since I had started at NYU]. A friend told me about it. I was like, “Hmm…I’ll try this out.” I joined and there was a bunch of people wanting to meet up. I started out going on a couple of dates on rooftops around the city and they’d give me money for my time. I would see them and have a drink with them.
How did you first choose whom to see?
You have to learn to search through emails. It’s like a needle in a haystack, finding the right person that’s going to accommodate you. You never go for the messages with the “ ;-)” face in the inbox because those are just automated and they send them to hundreds of girls. With some guys now, I feel like we can actually be friends and not only have that relationship. I don’t feel forced to do anything.
What were you looking for initially?
Something with no strings attached. There were some people that were actually looking for relationships. Now, it’s not very stable. I don’t see them every week or anything. One of the guys I see regularly helped me realize you gotta pick right.
Meaning you don’t sleep with them on the first date?
Never. If you do that, you’ve messed it up for yourself. With one guy, Joe*, we went on a few dates and once the relationship got intimate, he’d rent a room for the night. Afterwards, I’d stay there and have the hotel to myself for the whole day.
Do they ever tell you why they’re on the site?
That usually comes right in the beginning. One of the questions is like, “Why are you on the site?” and “What do you want?” I’ve met people and they’ve never gotten married. There are others who are married, but the relationship between the wife and the husband has died.
Have you gone out with a married guy?
No way. For how long?
For a long time. They have kids and everything. I’ve been to the house when his family is not home and I’ve seen pictures and stuff.
Do you ever talk about that?
He told me at the beginning, but after that it was like whatever. He told me that his wife got sick with something. Something happened and there was no desire at all, so they stopped having sex for years and years. This is his way of looking for passion.
Are there any moral issues you’ve found with him versus the others?
Not really. To me, he’s not really hurting his family at all. He’s not hurting anybody else because nobody knows. It’s just him trying to find some happiness for himself. I just see it as me helping a person.
And him helping you back?
Did you feel any type of initial guilt when you walked into the house?
Strangely no, because I don’t really have that concept of family and marriage. I’ve always been very detached from that. One in every two marriages fail or whatever. I have no respect for marriage. It’s nothing to me. It’s like a piece of paper. I’ve seen so many failed ones that it wasn’t even a big deal to me. I was like, “Okay, this is just another person out of 5 million.” It’s strange to people when they first see it.
There are a lot of people that say this is prostitution. How do you see it?
I never have—really. I haven’t told any of my friends or anything. Just one friend who went away to California. It’s always been a little secret. I’d say, maybe it is? That’s just what I’m doing. It’s me doing it. It’s not you, so why should it bother? There’s no detriment to either party. It’s mutually beneficial. So I seriously don’t see how it can be seen negatively apart from morals with religion and stuff. With this kind of thing, there’s some respect. They have to buy you dinners.
I think the problem people find here is that these are very murky waters. You have the cases with the ‘nice’ guys and maybe Peter Pan complexes of never wanting to get old. But then you have those exceptions with safety. How do you…
When it comes to first encounters, it should be in a coffee shop. A public place. I never go to a guy’s place on the first date.
You said your friends don’t know you’re doing this? So it’s not like you can text a friend.
It’s pretty much all on me, so what I do are the general things about meeting in a public place. Even after that, they can also fool you. You’ll go back to their place and they can turn out to be a completely different person. Getting the feel of a guy over the course of time is important. There’s some of them if they don’t get with you after the first date, they’ll stop talking to you because you’re too hard. That’s when you can start dismissing them.
Have you gotten any fetish requests? What’s the freakiest shit you’ve been asked to do?
Nothing too freaky. Some of the freaky ones you get in emails all the time. I got one, “I’ll pay you this much now to lock me in a room for a weekend and beat me.” I don’t go for that.
Was there any a moment during or after when you were like, “What am I doing?”
I try not to do that to myself. I’m just like, “I’m doing this.” I threw myself into it, but I never dwelled on if it was wrong.
What is something you would say to a girl our age that wants to try it out but is hesitant?
If they want to try it out, just go for it. It’s better to do something and regret than not do something and regret it. I try to go on as many first dates as I can, and then I saw how horrible some first dates can get.
What’s the worst first date you’ve gone on?
A guy who at dinner the whole time just wanted to go back to his place and kept pressing and pressing. It was this small, fat dude and I’m like, “Dude, what are you doing?” There are also guys who sometimes just want to Skype with you.
Yeah. I mean, they probably want you to show something. Being a cam-ho almost. I haven’t done it but I just figured it out. I have one guy who wants to. I just added him. That’s the thing, though, it’s more work because you don’t want to show your face or anything.
I know you said your parents are really conservative. I’m assuming it’s safe to say they have no idea you’re doing this?
Of course. They never do. To this day, they still think of me as this really, really good girl. I maintain that image in order to leave my house. I always managed to balance being crazy and at the same time being good at school. They only saw the being good at school part. As long as I have that, they had that to focus on.
What’s the last date you went on?
I haven’t gone on a real date in so long. All of the dates I’ve been on have been this… also, because I have a boyfriend.
You have a boyfriend?
Does he know about this?
So, he’s back home?
HE’S HERE?! What would he say?
I don’t even know. We met at some random party and we’ve been dating and it got serious at the end of this year. We’ve been dating for a year or something, so it’s kind of serious, but he has no idea of anything at all.
Do you feel bad about that?
To a point. I would only feel bad if he ever found out, but if he doesn’t find out, what they don’t know can’t hurt them.
Then there’s also that honesty thing…
There is, but I’ve never been the relationship kind. I’m not the kind of person that can be put in a relationship—at least not yet.
Do you find there are intimacy problems? He’s not paying you. He’s in a relationship with you, but these other guys are getting the same thing to an extent. Are you different between both situations?
Of course. I’m all in with him, because I actually like him. I love him–I think. When I’m with him, I’m one person. When I’m with all the other people, I shut down all that is supposed to be right and am a completely different person. I tend to not think of the other. I even tend to speak differently. With the guys, I’m nice and sweet and cute. I’m the girl they want me to be. With my boyfriend, I can just be myself. It’s almost like being another thing.
So how do you be the best Sugar Baby?
If you want to be the best Sugar Baby, there’s some sacrifice involved. It’s more about being the best you can for them and having nothing to do with the money. But if you want to be a Sugar Baby, the first thing is the money. It’s kind of contradicting. I guess the first thing is catering to what their needs are. Some of them want to go out every week. Some of them want you to call them every night and wish [them] good night. They want to have a relationship. They want to have that cute boyfriend-girlfriend thing that they never had in college.
Why don’t they just go find a real girlfriend?
They want the innocence. The passion of teenagers and really young people. It’s not the same at 40 when you’re meeting another adult who’s also been through a bunch of shit. When they get to be the adults, there’s the upper hand. They have the money. It’s like they have this little doll to play with.
And you’re ok with being a submissive doll?
Yeah, because at the same time, I put myself in this role. As long as I know I have this role and I can come out of it whenever I can. It’s only as far as I want it to go. As long as you don’t let them know that, they will be fine and you will be fine.
An unspoken “we’re both helping each other out and using each other?”
Yeah, but because you’re know you’re doing this, it almost doesn’t feel wrong at all. I’m getting used, but I’m getting compensated for it. You can compare it to being some kind of test subject for some lab. There might be some consequences, but you put yourself in it and they’re going to pay you afterwards. You’re selling yourself to this experiment.
Do you consider yourself a prostitute? How would you define what you are?
I don’t know. I would say I have no idea. I don’t think there’s even a word for it. It depends on so many things. I could be and I could not be.
*name has been changed
NYU Local met with Mona after Seeking Arrangement passed us her contact info. What we didn’t realize, until we arrived, is that she would be compensated for speaking with us via PayPal (compliments of Seeking Arrangement). We thought that in any case, her story should be told.
[image via, email provided by Mona]