Why Aren’t There More Sugar Mamas?

The world of sugar dating is struggling to bridge the gender gap, but it's not for lack of demand

May 7, 2021 4:32 am
A still from Sunset Boulevard
Desperately seeking sugar

The male sugar babies of the world — or perhaps I should say the aspiring male sugar babies of the world — have a major problem: there aren’t nearly enough sugar mamas to go around. 

“The sugar mama scene is the most underdeveloped of all the dating markets,” says Seth Sokoloff, founder of sugar dating site SugarFetch. But the sugar mama shortage is not for lack of demand. “There are infinitely more guys who would love to have a sugar mama than there are sugar mamas for them,” says Sokoloff, who adds that while sugar mamas might be slightly more common in the lesbian community, sugar dating platforms are “rife with guys trying to look for the nearly mythical straight sugar mama and then getting themselves scammed by fake accounts.”

Evidence of the unmet thirst for sugar mamas has turned up in other corners of the internet as well. Over on Reddit, r/SugarMama is filled with requests from young men seeking female benefactors, most of which seem to go unanswered. Pleas from a “22-year-old white boy just wanting some fun” or an “18-year-old male in need of a sugar mama ASAP” who describes himself as willing to “do anything in exchange for gifts, cash, etc.” are still awaiting response, and the forum itself has been inactive for two years.

When starting his own site, Sokoloff actually found himself trying to discourage many an eager young man looking to join the platform in search of a sugar mama. “There’s lots of guys trying to join to find sugar mamas,” he tells InsideHook. “I really suggest that they not waste their time. It’s just not very much of a thing yet.”

That said, sugar mamas do exist — even if they’re harder to find. A rep for SeekingArrangement, one of the largest and most recognizable sugar dating platforms in the world, tells InsideHook the site is home to about 500,000 sugar mamas worldwide. That’s compared to 3,500,000 sugar daddies, mind you. But while female benefactors are obviously dwarfed by their male counterparts, the numbers prove that sugar mamas are hardly nonexistent.

“Obviously, people don’t talk about it as much, but it’s definitely something that is not unheard of,” says Rachel Uchitel, a spokeswoman for Seeking. “There are some women who have been successful in their career, who know what they want, and money is not an issue for them, so they’re generous when it comes to supporting their partners.” By and large, however, Uchitel says most women still tend to gravitate towards the opposite end of the sugar dating dynamic, even though “there are plenty of women out there who could benefit from having a sugar baby and could afford it.”

So what’s holding them back? 

According to Uchitel, it all comes down to gender roles. At the end of the day, many women want to be taken care of in their relationships, even those who don’t necessarily need financial support from a partner. “There aren’t a lot of women that sign up [to be sugar mamas] because a lot of women want to be a sugar baby, no matter how old they are,” says Uchitel. “I mean, you can be a 60-year-old woman — even one who has a lot of money — and still find that gender role important.”

While no two arrangements are alike, sugar dating tends to reflect and reinforce a patriarchal dynamic that has traditionally been at the heart of heterosexual relationships — and still is to this day, some might argue. Beneath the romanticized rebrand marriage has undergone in recent centuries, heterosexual unions can still trace their roots back to a quid-pro-quo exchange, traditionally of sex for security. Sugar dating, in its most basic form, leans into this dynamic and the respective gender roles it entails. Moreover, the dearth of straight sugar mamas despite heavy demand suggests it’s actually women — not men — who tend to be more reluctant to flip the gender script.

still from sunset boulevard
Norma Desmond, sugar mama of Sunset Boulevard

Age might be another factor contributing to the relative scarcity of sugar mamas. While traditional gender dynamics make it easier for men to step into the role of the provider (and, yes, sugar daddy) from a young age, Uchitel says women are a lot less likely to become sugar mamas until later in life. 

“Men are more successful much younger these days, so sugar daddies can be young. They could be in their thirties, even their twenties,” says Uchitel. “But I can’t imagine a sugar mama who’s in their twenties. I think they’re not emotionally in that place until later in life.”

Moreover, there’s the simple reality that many women are not particularly interested in dating younger men, even though younger men may well be interested in dating older women. “I think that a lot of men are attracted to older women who are successful and know themselves,” says Uchitel, who says she herself has been approached by many a 20-something man proclaiming his love for MILFs. Unfortunately for those eager suitors, “I would never date a guy who’s 25,” says Uchitel. “I couldn’t be in the same room.”

While she says she might consider “taking care of someone who’s 35, 37” if she were to become a sugar mama, she adds that older male sugar babies are probably almost as rare as young sugar mamas. “I think a man could probably only be a sugar baby very young,” she says. “I think the ego would kick in as they got as they got older.” And unfortunately for all the aspiring young sugar boys out there, “I’m not about to have some little boy toy that’s 25 taking selfies all day,” says Uchitel. “I’m just not attracted to that.”

According to Sokoloff, however, the future for straight young male daters might not be entirely sugar-free. “It’s just a matter of time before it catches on,” he says. “It won’t ever be at the level of female sugar babies with male sugar daddies,” he adds, “But I think over time, the market won’t be as lopsided. I think it might be as lopsided as it’ll ever get right now.”

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