Ed note: A week ago, we referred to sugar daddy relationships as parasitic in an Editors Debate. A reader with a sugar daddy let us know what the relationship is really like. In other news, we are assholes.

Two years ago, I was finishing up my sophomore year in college. I had recently broken up with my live-in boyfriend of three years, and had moved back to my small, deserted hometown for the summer. I was a serial monogamist, so it didn’t take much time before I was painfully lonely. The dating pool in my town wasn’t the most appealing, so I took my search online. I was bombarded with messages from guys who couldn’t spell, took shirtless pictures of themselves in mirrors, and were perfectly content to be living in their parents’ basements. I was a driven pre-law student with a 4.0 GPA and dreams of a pitbull-esque career in corporate law. These candidates weren’t cutting it. I wanted a man who was ambitious and successful, someone who knew what he wanted and exactly how to get it. I wanted an established man.

I entered my specifications into Google, and the first hit was a Sugar Daddy dating site. “No way,” I thought. “I’m not a golddigger, I just want a man who has his shit together.” But the tagline had already hooked me– “Meet Wealthy Men Seeking to Spoil Beautiful Women!” It felt like I had just been challenged… was I attractive and charming enough to pique the interest of a successful millionaire? My mind raced. Is this thinly-veiled prostitution? Were there really men out there who wanted to buy me shoes? I like shoes! Was this going to affect how I identified myself as an intelligent, independent woman? PRESENTS! I caved. I set up a profile, paid the membership fee, and waited to see what would happen.

The difference in quality (my idea of quality, at least) between the two dating pools was… slightly disappointing. I was expecting some kind of Mensa utopia, but apparently shitheads exist in all tax brackets. Once I became more realistic about my expectations, the outlook was less bleak. There were men who read! Books! These men had careers and dreams and ambitions! I was getting messages that were entirely free of grammatical errors!

I learned very quickly that there were many different types of SD relationships, ranging from blatant prostitution/escorting to regular relationships with the perk of total financial stability. After going on a few dates and being flat-out propositioned, I decided I wasn’t into the whole sex-for-cash-in-an-unmarked-envelope deal. I received offers to be a travel companion– jetsetting to Bali or Brazil whenever a SD’s schedule allowed it– but as a busy student, that option didn’t seem too viable. I decided that I wanted a more traditional relationship, which is slightly harder to find, but (IMO) is the most rewarding. I was looking for someone who, like myself, was busy building their career and simply didn’t have all the time in the world to commit to a normal relationship. Something easy, fun, and drama-free, with a guy who could help me better myself in all areas.

After a year and a half of casual relationships with great guys, I met my current Sugar Daddy, The Lawyer. My first date with The Lawyer was… probably one of the most surreal experiences of my lower-middle class, smalltown life. After exchanging a few e-mails, phone calls, and Skype sessions (who knew 45-year olds knew how to use Skype?), we agreed to meet. Normally, a quick date at Starbucks would suffice, but The Lawyer lived 1500 miles away. Since I didn’t have a law firm to run, we decided it would be easier if I travelled to meet him. If I liked him, I could stay for the weekend; if not, I could turn around and head home. Since he was pretty high-profile, he wanted to meet in a relatively private place and, should I decide to stay, spend most of the weekend at his home. Now, this obviously raises a few red flags in terms of safety issues. In hindsight, I shouldn’t have agreed to put myself in such a dangerous situation for the sake of his reputation. However, he had live-in help, so we would never be alone together. Also, he was sending a freakin’ private jet and a driver to come get me. I rationalized that the likelihood of a serial killer having a private jet and a driver was relatively low. Not the smartest thing I’ve ever done, but (thankfully) it worked out.

After telling my friends where I would be, and promising to check in every hour, off I went. I had never even flown business class before, so a private jet was… well, it was fucking awesome. So much leg room! A whole plane’s worth of leg room! NO CRYING BABIES! I landed and met The Lawyer and his driver on the tarmac. He hugged me hello, and we got into his car. We started talking: likes, dislikes, college sports, typical small talk. We both avoided the whole Sugar Daddy topic, and it ended up being a pretty normal first date (as normal as a first date in the back of a limo could be). I decided to stay, and we spent the rest of the weekend watching football and bad rom-coms. He never pressured me sexually, and he didn’t bring up anything about being a Sugar Daddy until an hour before I was supposed to head home. “So, what do you need to get home?” he asked. I raised my eyebrows and asked him what he meant. I had a driver and a jet, I couldn’t see what else I would need. “Well, I mean, I want you to have some spending money… let’s see how much cash I have on me”. I stared at him as he rifled through his wallet. “Here’s some cash… let me get my checkbook, too.” He wrote me a check. I thanked him, and we went back to cuddling on the couch until the driver showed up.

During the flight home, I didn’t know whether to be ecstatic or upset. I had never been flat-out paid for my time before. Did this make me an escort? We didn’t do anything more than make out, so it wasn’t like he was paying me for sex. My other relationships hadn’t been like this, boyfriends would usually just buy me jewellery or handbags. I didn’t know if that check was some kind of slippery slope to prostitution-ville. By the time I landed, I decided to stop overthinking. I took The Lawyer at his word; he wasn’t paying me for my time, he really just wanted me to have some spending money for when I got home.

It’s been two years since I signed up for that Sugar Daddy site, and I haven’t gone back to regular dating. I’ve had a few great experiences, and I’m immensely satisfied with the current relationship I have with The Lawyer. He’s incredibly intelligent, attractive, and witty. He can make me laugh so hard, I snort. We only get to see each other a few times a month, but we have a blast when we’re together. Yes, he writes me checks and buys me presents. No, I’ve never asked him for anything. He, like most human beings, just enjoys making people (especially the ones he cares about) happy, whether it’s grabbing my favourite Chinese takeout on the way home from work, or paying my tuition so I don’t have to worry about it.

When I first got into the whole Sugar Daddy relationship world, I was worried I was going to lose myself. I didn’t want people to think I was some kind of brainless, golddigging bimbo. I was worried that other people’s opinions of my love life would somehow change who I was and what I believed in. Of course, that’s total bullshit. I’m the exact same person I was two years ago, except with more shoes and less debt. SD relationships work for me, and not just monetarily. They fit well into my busy life, and most of the men I’ve met are smart, kind, and incredibly charming. I’m in a great relationship, and I have no reason to be ashamed of it. I’m not a brazenly parasitic adult baby. I’m just an intelligent, driven, career-oriented woman with a boyfriend who likes to buy me presents.