By Diana Hall
Ashley Wolfson* found herself the perfect man.
He treated her to dinner at the CN Tower’s 360 Restaurant, took her rock climbing last weekend and bought her a puppy – a six-month-old pug, which she named Moose.
He may be the perfect man, but Wolfson, a third-year Ryerson University student, isn’t in love; she counts on her Sugar Daddy to ease the financial burden of living as a student in Toronto, and she credits SeekingArrangment.com for bringing them together.
“You meet businessmen who just want to, like, have a good time with someone younger and attractive, and you get compensated really well,” Wolfson, 21, said Monday.
“It’s kind of a win-win.”
A Jan. 23 article published in the Toronto Star revealed 183 Ryerson University students like Wolfson signed up for a SeekingArrangement.com membership last year – more students than any other Canadian university.
The match-making website connects Sugar Babies (usually attractive and financially-strapped young women) with Sugar Daddies (wealthy and successful businessmen with cash to burn).
“Of course I was nervous meeting just like random strangers… You just see like a photo of them and a description of them – and you know what they want, too,” Wolfson said. “So… it’s scary at first, but then it gets easier.”
Wolfson enjoys what the website calls a “mutually beneficial relationship” with her latest Sugar Daddy. She has been with him for six months. Her Daddy pays her $1,500 per month in exchange for friendship, fun and sex – financial aid which Wolfson said more than covers her rent.
Wolfson is one of the site’s two million members, 330,000 of whom are Canadians. Students make up almost one-third of its Canadian membership.
Although Ryerson President Sheldon Levy said the decisions students make in their off-time is none of his business, he admitted the idea of students turning to strangers for rent and tuition money concerns him.
“Normally, I answer these questions [with] something like… ‘Well, I trust all the students to make the best decisions,’ and all of that,” he said. “But then I thought, ‘Oh, I just don’t like this.'”
According to Jennifer Gwynn, SeekingArrangement.com’s public relations manager, the understanding of trading money for company does not mean the site endorses prostitution.
“Just like Match.com or eHarmony, we are just a meeting place. We don’t allow any escorts or prostitution on our site… there’s easier ways to get that than [signing] up on a dating website,” Gwynn said.
But not all of Wolfson’s prior arrangements have been with gentleman, she admitted. Sugar Babies have to watch out for who Wolfson called “Fly Guys – [men who] want to get together one time and never contact you again.” She insisted her relationship with her 30-year-old Sugar Daddy, however, is fun and easy. “It’s like we’re dating,” Wolfson said.
She also feels safer and more financially secure with her Sugar Daddy; the arrangement helped her move out of her “shittier apartment” near Dundas and Jarvis Streets, where Wolfson was struggling to pay rent.
As long as they still get along, she’ll keep him around until after she graduates – but her Sugar Daddy isn’t her long-term solution.
“It’s really different [than having a boyfriend], Wolfson said. “[But] I wouldn’t say I’m happier, because it’s nicer to be in love with someone.
… You don’t expect anything from them and they don’t expect anything from you.”
*names have been changed