Turns out being 'sugar daddy' is not just about sex and money, while occasionally it may live up to the stereotype of a wealthy, middle-aged man lavishing gifts and money on a younger woman in return for her companionship, there is more to it, a new study suggests.
Probably the most famous sugar daddy of all time is Hugh Hefner, the man who founded Playboy magazine. In recent times Sahil Khan, Dan Bilzerian have been in limelight.
Have their sugar relationships been based on companionship, intimacy or other forms of attention in exchange for personal benefit?
"Whenever I read an article about Sugar Daddies or Sugar Babies, I often saw the same sensationalistic slant: the women are desperate, starved college students engaging in prostitution," said author Maren Scull, Assistant Professor at the University of Colorado in the US.
"As someone who studies deviance, I knew there were more important nuances to these relationships," Scull said.
The study, published in the journal Sociological Perspectives, interviewed 48 current and former US sugar babies and identified seven types of "sugar" relationships such as sugar prostitution, compensated dating, compensated companionship, sugar dating, sugar friendships, sugar friendships with benefits and pragmatic love.
She explored the kind of activities the women were involved in, whether sex was involved and whether their lives were intertwined with their benefactors.
She found that 40 percent of the women never had sex with their benefactors and the ones who did, often had genuine, authentic connections with the men.
She also found that most forms of sugaring were not a play-for-pay arrangement.
Scull labelled the first "sugar prostitution", a form of sugaring sans emotion and purely the exchange of gifts for sex.
"Compensated dating", popular in Asia, involves a monetary or material compensation for grabbing a coffee, a meal or attending a specific event together.
"Compensated companionship" involves wider scope of activities and often involve the woman becoming more intertwined in the man's life.
Neither compensated dating nor compensated companionship involves anything sexual for most people.
"Sugar dating", the most common form of sugaring, combines the intertwined life of companionship with sex. In this case, most women receive an allowance on a weekly, monthly or as-needed basis.
The sums could range from $200 (about R2 900) to several thousands of dollars a month.
"Sugar friendships" are a mutually beneficial relationships with someone the women consider a friend.
Finally, Scull found that some of these relationships involved two people who hoped to end up together, with the woman taken care of for the rest of her life, in a category she named 'pragmatic love'.