Sugar dating is growing in Spain


Southern Europe


Photo AFP, Maxim Malinovsky

Women accompany men for money. So-called sugar dating is getting increasingly popular in Spain. Several evangelical churches cooperate to prevent young girls from being subjected to coercion and sexual abuse.

Free trips, dinners in luxurious restaurants and expensive gifts. These are some of the benefits of living life as a sugar baby. However, according to Diaconía España, an organisation of Protestant origin, sugar dating can be a gateway to the sexual exploitation of young people – mostly women. Therefore, they launched an early June initiative to raise awareness for the phenomenon. Among other things, they published notable billboards across Madrid and other Spanish cities. The billboards ask people whether they want to be a sugar baby themselves.

Sugar dating is understood as a “relationship contract” between a sugar baby and a sugar daddy. Older people pay younger persons to accompany them on dates and other activities. According to the Christians behind the ‘Desactiva la Trata’ (Deactivate Trafficking) initiative, Spain is the fifth country with the most users on sugar dating websites. In total, there are over 400,000 people registered as potential sugar babies.

The people behind the initiative argue that since 63 per cent of people who register are students, a situation of inequality between the sugar baby and the sugar daddy is created. “In it, the man is in a state of power in which he can use manipulation and sexual exploitation.” Through the monetary agreements reached by both parties, “the sugar daddy can coerce the other party into an unwanted sexual action”.

Decorated prostitution

The Catalan daily El Periódico de Catalunya writes about Anna. She is studying for a doctorate at the University of Barcelona and is a sugar baby. Since her other job does not pay enough, she got into sugar dating. “Men pretend to be interested in you, but they’re just thinking about how you will end up. It’s decorated prostitution”.

According to El Periodico, the most popular platform in Spain is ‘Seeking Arrangement’, an international dating platform. This website argues that it is a natural tendency for women to look for men in a higher societal class. However, as El Periodico writes, experts reject this 'hypergamy' concept. “In fact, ‘hypergamy’ is not even a term accepted by the scientific community.”

El Periodico writes that it could be difficult not to fall into moral judgement. However, from a psychological point of view, a sugar dating agreement does not necessarily have negative psychological consequences. Marina Xaubet, a psychologist at the Dendron clinic in Barcelona, maintains that what exists between these two actors could be considered a relationship. “It is because it is an interaction between two people in which the conditions are clear, and both agree responsibly to adhere to previously negotiated terms. If the relationship is between adults and the two agree to a fruitful exchange, who are we to say if it’s okay or not?”

However, as the Christian Spanish news website writes, sugar dating is seemingly becoming a substitution for prostitution. This practice is increasingly under pressure and causing more social rejection. Sugar dating could therefore become a subtle alternative.


The Christian Norwegian press agency KPK asked Anne Louise Skoland about sugar dating in the Scandinavian country. Skoland is fighting sexual abuse through a church research centre. She says that she is unsure how widespread sugar dating is in Norway. Nevertheless, she suggests that there is perhaps less sugar dating in a country like Norway, which is a relatively egalitarian society, than in countries with greater social differences.



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