The other day, I happened to see a man in the Nordstrom lingerie department who looked like he was around 60. He wasn't wearing a wedding band, and he was browsing a rack of black lacy thongs, teddies and garters. I got a sense he wasn't shopping for a woman his age, but rather for his 20-something girlfriend. While I don't have proof, there wasn't one thing on that rack that would be worn by a woman over 40.
I am not judging the man at all, but seeing him got me thinking about the sugar daddy relationship, more specifically, whether or not it can really work.
First, what is the sugar daddy's attraction to young women? Here are some possibilities:
She's got a lot of energy
She makes him feel young.
Deep down, he doesn't want anything serious, so she is perfect for him.
She looks up to him and makes him feel important.
He is proud to have her on his arm.
But even with all these positives, I do think there is a side of a man dating a much younger women, who at some point thinks to himself, "What the hell am I doing?" Case in point -- I received this message from a reader:
I'm dating a girl who is 23 and I'm much older. What's the downside? We both enjoy the relationship.
Now, why would this guy reach out and ask about the downside if he is saying "We both enjoy the relationship?" Why does he care? Is he looking for validation? Does he need me -- a 50 year old woman to tell him I approve? Maybe he just wants my opinion, which is this.
If a sugar daddy and his young girlfriend are having fun, there is absolutely nothing wrong with it. If no one is getting hurt and if there are no false expectations on either part, then I think it's great. We all deserve to be happy.
But to answer my reader's question, "What's the downside?" in my opinion, deep down, he knows, but I'll say it anyway. The downside is, these kinds of relationships have a shelf life. In most cases, the sugar daddy relationship only lasts for a period of time and then it just doesn't work anymore. Why? Here are 6 possible reasons:
1. The novelty of the relationship wears off and they realize they have very little in common.
2. They run out of things to talk about.
3. The guy realizes he wants someone to grow old (older) with.
4. The girl realizes she wants babies and starts pressuring the guy (or breaks up).
5. The guy doesn't have the energy the girl does and gets tired of clubbing it until 3:00 am on Saturday nights.
6. They realize the relationship is not ever going to be as deep as they want it to be.
It's sad because when any relationship ends, despite the age difference, it hurts, simply because you have spent a large amount of time for someone and you care about that person. Also, I'm not saying that every sugar daddy relationship is doomed. Some work out, but I think it's rare.
I have so many guy friends who are in their forties and fifties who tell me they prefer to date women around their age. Their reasons stem mostly from the comfort and commonality they feel with someone of a similar age.
In closing, I think sugar daddy relationships happen when people aren't particularly looking for a meaningful commitment. This could be someone who just got out of a marriage or a long-term relationship, or someone who is in a phase of life where he/she just wants to have a good time.
If a person is truly looking for a deep commitment, he or she is most likely dating someone within 10 years either way of their age. In my opinion, the Nordstrom guy is on cloud nine, but he has no intention of marrying the recipient of his gift. Good for him. I mean that sincerely. Everyone should date who they want and not care about the stigma and judgement of others. But I really believe that when it comes to true love and long-term happiness, older guy older woman has a much better chance of success than the sugar daddy relationship.
Jackie Pilossoph is the author of her blog, Divorced Girl Smiling, and the comedic divorce novels, Divorced Girl Smiling and Free Gift With Purchase. She also writes feature stories, along with the weekly dating and relationships column, Love Essentially" for Chicago Tribune Media Group local publications. Pilossoph lives in Chicago. Oh, and she's divorced.