"Mutually beneficial relationships."
SeekingArrangement is a dating website that connects sugar babies with sugar daddies/mommas across the globe. The company says it creates opportunities for sugar babies, who are often young, to "enjoy a life of luxury by being pampered with fine dinners, exotic trips and allowances."
In return, sugar daddies or mommas find "beautiful members to accompany them at all times."
That said, the company also states that "Our community is one where Attractive members are goal diggers, not gold-diggers." And while many of the "sugar babies" are treated to material gifts, others are gifted more practical things, or the sugar daddies or mommas pay part of their tuition or rent.
Members are also expected to abide by the company terms and conditions that prohibit "the unlawful use of the site for escorting, prostitution and human trafficking."
Vancouver Is Awesome spoke to two women who use the online dating service in Vancouver. The names of the women have been changed to protect their privacy.
"It's not very transactional."
Tia*, 23, attends the University of British Columbia and tells V.I.A. that she was recommended Seeking Arrangement by friends.
She has only been using the service for a couple of months, but she's been on dates with a few different men. She says she's also had one really "good connection."
"It's not very transactional. It's more like I want to get to know the person and they want to get to know me, but they also help me out," she explains. "If I want to get my nails done, get my hair done, or even if I need to buy extra textbooks."
Tia adds that she has her own age limit. "I don't go above 34," she explains, adding that a couple of her friends have dated men in their 40s.
When asked if she ever feels concerned about her safety, Tia says she always meets men in open, public places during daylight hours. "I always take safety into consideration."
Since Seeking Arrangement has Tia's school email address on their site; she says men know that she's a verified student, which helps facilitate a better arrangement. "They know I'm in it for the right reasons."
When asked if sex is ever involved in the arrangement, or if she's ever been intimate with any of the men she's met, Tia says she prefers to get to know the person first. However, once trust is established, she would be okay with being intimate with someone. That said, she says some men do ask for it off the bat and offer a "big sum of money."
And while a couple of her close friends use the website, Tia's family does not know she uses it. "A lot of people from the older generation think it's a [sex work] site, but it's a lot more than that."
If she finds someone she likes outside of using the online service, Tia says she would stop using the site.
As for what kind of gifts she's received, Tia says she's received "a couple of swimsuits, a pair of white gold hoop earrings, a Gucci bag, and a Micheal Kors bag."
"I am not a sex worker."
Jenn*, 28, tells V.I.A. that she joined Seeking Arrangement about three years ago when she moved from Alberta to Vancouver.
While she's had a few great connections, she notes that "Sometimes you meet people and you don't hit it off."
Jenn has also been seeing a man since she started using the service three years ago, but says it's hard to call it a true relationship, partly because of the age difference--he's in his sixties--and because he "doesn't have a lot of time." That said, he's helping her launch her own business, and she says that they care about each other.
But Jenn underscores that the long-term arrangement isn't sex work. While she's intimate with him, she says it is not an exchange. "I am not a sex worker."
"I want people to look at their own relationships. You help each other regardless. I've had plenty of boyfriends before this that helped me out with money, but that wasn't considered sex work. You care about someone, you help them out.
"The connections are a lot deeper than that. In sex work, you sleep with a guy once and they leave," she explains, noting that the man she currently sees will check in with her to see if she's okay and help her if she isn't. She says he makes "unimaginable amounts of money" and wants to give back, adding that he paid thousands of dollars for her to fix her teeth.
"These people actually care about me. If you're an escort, they don't."
Jenn's dad also knows she uses the online service, and she always texts him the licence plate of a new man she is going on a date with. She adds that women should always do this when meeting someone new online.
For her part, she says she's never had any issues with men she's met through Seeking Arrangement and she doesn't mind knowing that they may be married or have separate lives.
And while she doesn't consider "sugar-dating" sex work, Jenn adds that it is far safer than traditional forms of sex work.
"People go missing from sex work. I see a profile, I see a name. If I went missing, the cops could trace that."
While both women told V.I.A. that they've had positive experiences dating, Seeking Arrangement provides a list of "safety tips" for women.