• Students are using SeekingArrangements.com to get into relationships with older men for money.

• Seeking Arrangements is a website that pairs older benefactors with younger people to be in a Sugar Daddy relationship.

• Ball State is No. 58 on the list of fastest growing Sugar Baby colleges.

A baby date

“So I broke rule No. 1, which was don’t go to their house … he also didn’t give me a picture, so that was rule No. 2. … So I go there, and I’m a little tipsy. Rule No. 3: be clear minded.

I met him and he’s a short and squat guy. … I’m just like, ‘Oh god, I can’t even pretend to find you attractive, you are repulsive looking.’

He offered to get me a drink and I was like, ‘No, I have my Starbucks. You can’t roofie me if that’s what you were going for.’

So he said, ‘Let’s watch a movie,’ but we didn’t get to finish it because he was groping me the entire time. … I don’t think you’re supposed to grope someone on the first date.

Some of the s—t he said was just like, ‘Well, why would I stop if I know you like it?’ and I’m just like, ‘That’s what rapists say. That’s not a good thing to hear.’ Nothing happened to me. He’s just a misogynistic bastard.”

- Harper Creo, one of her dates as a Sugar Baby

Editor’s Note: The names Harper Creo and Kip Ellis are pseudonyms. The students’ names were changed to protect their identities.

As Ball State senior Harper Creo got ready for a first date with a man she met on the Internet, she went through the typical routine: shave, put on makeup, paint her nails and struggle to decide what to wear.

It would be a standard first date; the two would get to know each other and figure out what the other person wants from the relationship. The only difference is that Creo is being paid.

Creo is a Sugar Baby — a young adult who is in a relationship with an older person, or a benefactor, in exchange for money or gifts.

“By being a Sugar Baby, you are essentially … a sex worker, that’s what it is,” she said. “So even though sometimes you don’t have sex, sometimes they just want company … there’s just kind of a mindset. You have to go into it knowing you’ll be objectified and the whole purpose of you doing this is to satisfy the male’s sexual fantasy.”

Creo went to a pricey restaurant to meet her potential Sugar Daddy, a 35-year-old man more than 10 years her senior. She said it was very similar to online dating, except for her motive.

“[The money is] the draw,” she said. “You’re essentially a business person. You’re your own businessman or woman and you’re going into it trying to get something out of it. And you can get a lot of money out of it. You can get thousands of dollars for like a month.”

Kip Ellis, a Ball State senior, said he had always had trouble paying for school, so he decided to give “sugaring” a try. Ellis made his profile for the first time when he interned in Chicago a few years ago and needed extra money.

“It was horribly unsuccessful because I didn’t know what I was doing,” he said.

Ellis has had a few online conversations, but he has not gone on any dates because he said there are not a lot of Sugar Daddies looking for gay Sugar Babies.

“Being gay in the sugaring world is not a common thing because it’s usually girls who are in their 20s who find older men who just want to spoil them,” Ellis said.

Both students use SeekingArrangement.com, a website used to connect potential Sugar Babies to benefactors offering monthly lifestyle budgets ranging from less than $1,000 to more than $10,000.

The website recently released a press release announcing the top 20 fastest growing Sugar Baby schools: Indiana University is No. 18, Ball State at No. 58 and Purdue University at No. 66.

Seeking Arrangement targets college students looking to earn money to ease student debt. According to a press release, college students make up 42 percent of the website’s Sugar Baby membership.

“A lot of these college students don’t have jobs and they’re fighting to pay student loans with increases in the cost of education,” said Leroy Velasquez, public relations manager for the website. “And rather than graduate with a financial burden on their back before they even get a job, they could just date a Sugar Daddy on Seeking Arrangement and graduate debt free.”

Ellis said people often worry that sugaring is illegal, but he said he doesn’t consider it prostitution because they are engaging in a relationship.

Indiana law defines prostitution as “a person who knowingly or intentionally: performs, or offers or agrees to perform, sexual intercourse or deviate sexual conduct; or fondles, or offers or agrees to fondle, the genitals of another person for money or other property.”

The website maintains that its services are completely legal.

Money is just one part of the business, Velasquez said, and it is not required for the relationships to include sex.

“It is considered one of the sex trades,” Ellis said. “But I think what sets sugaring apart is [that] your goal is not just to have one night only sex, that you’re building a relationship with someone, and I think that most people don’t understand that. They just think that what you’re doing is prostituting yourself out.”

But Creo said people are correct when they link sugaring to prostitution, but she does not think that should be illegal. She said if a woman can make money using her body, she should be able to.

“You’re a sex worker,” she said. “[Prostitutes] are sex workers, escorts are sex workers. [Sugaring] is just more legal because you’re technically in kind of a relationship.”

Creo said being a Sugar Baby may be safer than being a prostitute.

“By developing that relationship with the other person, you’re trying to make it safer than a potentially abusive one-night stand, which would be what prostitution and escorting is,” she said.

Beyond the money, Creo said she found the idea of having someone older working as a mentor very appealing, which the website advertises as an added perk. So far, she has been on two first dates with different men. She said she hopes having a relationship with a businessman can help her become a better businesswoman in the future.

“So it’s like, you have these men — who are like 10, 15, 20 years older than you are — who have lived a lot more life than you have,” Creo said. “I find the idea of someone almost in a position of power … who is willing to also back you as your own person and as for any other future career goals you have, [I] just find that interesting.”

Both Ellis and Creo have been unsuccessful at finding a Sugar Daddy on the site, but that hasn’t stopped Ellis from looking.

“I think there’s an interesting aspect of the dynamic between you and an older person because sometimes, dating is hard,” he said. “And kind of adding in another aspect to it can make it harder, but I think the allure of it is that you’re getting something more than just a relationship out of it. You’re both getting something that you wouldn’t normally get in a relationship with someone.”

Ellis said the things he looks for in a Sugar Daddy are things he would look for in a real relationship, as well.

“I want someone who’s an actual person and who doesn’t just want to have sex with you for money,” he said. “Like that’s the hard thing, I think. Most of the people you would find on those sites [are] kind of someone who’s like, ‘I want you to live with me and have sex with me all the time and then I will, in turn, pay for your schooling or give you money,’”

A large age difference can add strain to a relationship, based on how others perceive it, and can make it difficult to find common friends, according to the National Healthy Marriage Resource Center.

Jessica Stebbins, a licensed marriage and family therapist from Florida, said when joining the website for money, Sugar Babies can develop post-traumatic stress disorder as their values change throughout life.

She has seen patients who have flashbacks, and she said the memories can impact their sexual lives because of the shame they may feel. Sugar Babies who keep consistent values throughout life are less likely to experience emotional conflicts from participating.

“As they get older, it’s possible that their values change,” Stebbins said. “They want to be more of the family type of woman, become a mom and they may have a little bit of shame, but it wouldn’t be to the degree that others would. I mean, it’s possible to be a regret just as anybody else would feel regret over a dissonance they made in their past.”

While maintaining there is nothing wrong with what she does, Creo has decided not to tell her family for now.

“I don’t think it should be looked down upon,” she said. “You just have to be safe about it and you just have to be smart about it.”

Looking to the future, Ellis said he is planning to move to Chicago after graduation, where there are more Sugar Daddies. He said he might try sugaring again, but he doesn’t want it to be a necessity.

“I need to try to be successful on my own,” he said. “I can’t just bank on some rich guy finding me attractive and wanting to date me.”