It was only after I spent an evening comforting a friend who had been dumped by a casual boyfriend (he had strung her along pretending he wanted more commitment than he really intended) that it dawned on me that paying to go on a date was a more honest way to conduct a non‑committal relationship.
Receiving money or gifts from your date is his way of saying “I like you, I want to spend time with you, I want to sleep with you, but I’m not prepared to meet your family or go to Ikea with you on a weekend”.
His financial investment assuages his guilt that he can’t emotionally invest.
I was in my late twenties, a television producer, and fresh out of a suffocating three-year relationship with a man who drained both my time and my finances when I signed up. Instead, I fantasised about someone older, more sophisticated, more established.
And, if I’m being honest, someone with some money, too.
It felt such a naughty thing to do, typing “younger women for older men” into Google – but when I did, I found several dating sites that would help me find men of a certain age with whom to have some fun.
I joined two of them and for the first few months was like a kid in a sweetshop.
I went on as many dates with men in their mid-forties or above as I could arrange.
My dates began offering gifts – and monthly cash allowances – to see them on a more regular basis.
At first I was horrified, and deleted such messages which filled my inbox. But then I learnt that one of my dates – a handsome 45-year-old energy trader – paid all the other girls he went out with for the evening.
The non-exclusivity didn’t bother me – but I felt a mug for providing for free what he would have been willing to pay for.
When I joined my first sugar daddy dating website five years ago, it wasn’t to find someone to help pay the bills or provide me with a shopping allowance.