'I'm a sugar baby': Unusual way Aussie students make cash
JAYINDI Jade is a beautiful 24-year-old student from south-western Sydney, who spends her weekends hanging out with much older men.
She signed up for a dating website called Seeking Arrangement a few months ago, and told news.com.au she has met about five men so far.
For the past few weeks, she's been seeing a 48-year-old man who works in hospitality, and runs a number of hotels, bars and clubs.
The company said this type of arrangement is remarkably common.
In fact, it claims to have almost 100,000 female Australian students on its books, who are all looking to hang out with rich older men.
According to statistics provided to news.com.au, there are about 130,000 prospective "sugar babies" around the nation vying for the attention of approximately 57,000 "sugar daddies".
It's hard not to be sceptical about such extraordinary figures.
Surely, Australia is one of the best places in the world to be a student - what with HELP meaning students aren't required to pay tertiary fees upfront, and the fact that an enormous percentage of students qualify for Centrelink payments.
On its website, Seeking Arrangement markets its services to students by saying: "Say goodbye to college debt, and hello to a higher class education".
However, Jayindi said it's not necessarily about the money.
She's hoping to complete a Diploma in Community Services at TAFE by the end of the year, and told news.com.au she was simply curious.
"I've been on regular dating sites and I got a lot of messages from guys, but I just didn't feel like I was getting anywhere. When someone told me about Seeking Arrangement, I just thought I'd give it a go.
"I feel like you're treated more like you're worthwhile, and they're willing to put in the effort to come and see you. With guys on Tinder, messages can just go back and forth and nothing happens."
Most of her dates have been for dinner and drinks, although she has met men for coffee a few times, and she's done one long walk along the beach.
"It's just casual, kinda getting to know each other and see if it works out," she said.
"They will pay for the date, if you want to go to a really nice place they'll just say 'OK'. You can get really nice meals at places you generally wouldn't go to because you don't want to pay for it. You get to have that experience.
"If there is something really expensive that you might really want, they might be generous - expensive gifts like make-up and perfume, luxury items and things like that."
Surprisingly, she said there's no expectation to - shall we say - return the favour.
She told news.com.au both parties are quite frank from the outset about what they're interested in and what they're seeking from the relationship.
"Generally it's nothing sexual, they just need a friendship and a close companion.
"Some of them are very attractive, and I've thought about going further. You like them, and they're a nice guy, so you think 'why not?' I have kissed one of them, he was a really cute guy.
"I kind of wait until they ask 'Have you thought about kissing me?' or 'Have you thought about getting intimate?' We usually talk about it first to make sure everyone is comfortable. They take care of you, they're really nice."
She said her current companion hasn't really asked about physical intimacy, but she doesn't mind because the age difference can be a bit of an issue.
"I've definitely told him he's one of the oldest people I've ever been with. It's kind of not in my comfort zone, but he's a really nice guy," she explained.
If the sugar daddies aren't seeking arrangements for sex, you kind of have to wonder why they're so willing to splash their cash on sugar babies.
When asked exactly that, Jayindi said: "They feel like they get a girlfriend experience, it's a very particular thing they're looking for".
Seeking Arrangement claims to have 9.35 million members around the world, with most living in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom and Australia.
The numbers show Victoria has the highest number of sugar daddies, while sugar babies are most common in New South Wales.
The top five universities for Australian enrolments are the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, the Melbourne Institute of Technology, Deakin University, Macquarie University and the University of Queensland.
The company is very keen to attract more students, and it offers free premium memberships to people who sign up with valid university email addresses and write "student" in their employment field.
It's not just younger women and older men seeking relationships, either - data shows there are more than 15,000 male sugar babies and 8500 "sugar mummies" around the country.
"Seeking Arrangement is a dating site that encourages people to be honest about the kinds of relationships on offer," said company spokeswoman Brook Urick.
"Some people want something a little bit different than going for a beer."
"There's been a shift in modern dating, not everyone is looking to settle down straight away. People are looking to better their lives, and if they're not inclined to settle down, students want to level-up their dating. They want someone who can inspire and encourage them," she told news.com.au.
"For the sugar daddies, they often have baggage, and they might not necessarily want to settle down. Most women on traditional dating sites are looking for marriage, so on seeking arrangement they're invited to be honest about what they want."
She said the average sugar daddy makes US$250,000 (A$312,000) per year, and they are typically CEOs or business owners in their late forties.
When asked why the site is so popular, she said: "The public stigma around it has lifted and people are able to be honest about this kind of relationship.
"A lot of relationships fall on a sugar spectrum, only a lot of people living similar lifestyles to this might not call themselves sugar babies and sugar daddies."