A few weeks ago, my inbox suddenly started filling up with inquiries about my dating profile and coaching services, prompted by the combination of warmer weather and the COVID-19 vaccine rollouts.
While everyone who’s spent the past year at home alone is eager to make up for lost time, those on the vaccination priority list – the 65+ age group and those with pre-existing medical conditions – are like bulls rushing out of the gate ready to get back into the dating arena.
These days, ‘vaccinated’ is the hottest detail you can add to your dating app bio.
Now I see vaccine status updates on every three to four profiles out there. It’s become a badge of honor as well as a great conversation starter.
People are not only mentioning they’ve been vaccinated, they’re also going into detail as to which vaccine they got and whether they’re half or fully vaccinated. Some even include an eye-catching 💉 emoji.
Sharing these types of details has become an easy way to convert a conversation to the next stage of the dating process. It’s truly become the ultimate pre-pandemic icebreaker to say, “Oh, look at us, we’re both vaccinated, we should go out and celebrate.”
The bottom line is if they’ve got two choices to date – between the unvaccinated, meaning a date who can pass on COVID-19, and the vaccinated, someone who likely won’t – it’s pretty obvious who looks like a more attractive candidate.
People are eager to date again without the fear they might wind up on a ventilator.
Safety isn’t the only factor though. People also want to make the best use of their time.
I’ve long considered video chats a smart screening tool, as they can help determine whether the person you’re talking to is worth meeting in person. It’s an easy and efficient way to advance a relationship, especially now that work has been reimagined and geography is no longer restrictive for most people.
This flexibility has made people more open to searching in different markets because they no longer have to board a flight and “meet” for the first time blindly. Technology is evolving the long-distance dating process in that respect.
One of my clients was initially very skeptical about using video chat. She was excited to advance with someone and meet him in person, saying “I think I like this one. He looks great.” However, I told her she couldn’t like him because she didn’t even know him, and encouraged her to have a video chat first. A few days later, I got a text saying, “Dodged a bullet with that one. Thank you!”
While video chat features were available long before the pandemic, they were often underutilized. Since COVID-19, more people have come to understand their value, and I believe video chats are now here to stay.
At the end of the day, singles invest a lot of time, effort, emotions, and resources when it comes to dating, so when they aren’t successful in terms of finding a match, it can leave them feeling frustrated and defeated.
After being isolated the past year, some singles are throwing their pre-COVID-19 requirements out the window.
People are ready to get back out there with a more open mind. Many didn’t miss the pain points that come along with dating, but know they can’t completely take themselves out of the market because they still want to meet someone. These types are re-entering the dating world with the mindset that dating is less of a priority than before.
One of my clients who had a lot of pre-COVID requirements clearly reconsidered as she wound up telling me, “If he’s over six feet and vaccinated, count me in!”
The pre-COVID-19 style of dating is still kind of a novelty at the moment. These early days and attitudes around dating will most likely be different six months from now or even by Labor Day, as people begin to make adjustments to their lifestyle and mindset.
Based on my work, while rejection may sting, the consensus is that singles would rather know a connection isn’t moving forward than be ghosted.
It’s typically the ambiguity and precariousness of dating that takes up a lot of brain space and creates anxiety. If you know the door is shut, your brain stops ruminating, the loop is closed, and you can move on. There’s a lot to be said for closure.
The fact is, while many dating apps do their best to match people, they don’t address common dating pain points, such as helping to provide appropriate feedback, a lack of manners, and a desire for closure.
After being a dating coach for more than five years, I decided to create a dating app called Darma that allows people to connect while also offering users the opportunity to receive confidential feedback and closure, something no other app does. Dating feedback can often reveal blind spots in dating or validate that you’re doing everything right. Either way, it’s helpful for a person to know.
If a single provides a cell number for their date, Darma follows up and asks for feedback from a series of pre-selected options ranging from your date’s table manners and punctuality to their attire and personal hygiene. There’s even a handy ‘closure’ button that allows you to fire off a preselected note rather than ghost someone.
Everyone wants more matches on a dating app because matches create opportunities.
The dating industry will still evolve post-COVID-19, and while not everyone can afford to hire me or another dating coach, not everyone needs to. I’ve learned through my work that many of the problems with dating can be easily solved with the assistance of technology.
Note: The author is a freelance writer in her 30s whose identity was verified by Insider. While some people consider sugar relationships a form of sex work, it’s a label rejected by sugar dating sites and some members themselves. This story was originally published in 2019 as part of a series on the financial side of relationships; you can read other entries in the series here.
My reasoning was simple. I’d grown frustrated with dating men in my city – maybe I’d just had one too many Tinder dates end in mediocre conversation. My day job offers me control over my schedule, since I don’t work a traditional nine-to-five. I wanted to supplement my income and have some fun doing it, so I decided to try finding a sugar daddy.
For the uninitiated, “sugaring” is a form of dating in which one partner financially supports the other, often in the form of cash or gifts. As a woman in a major city with an appreciation for societal deviance, I figured the lifestyle might suit me well.
Whether it was exhaustion of millennial swiping, or maybe the thrill of experiencing life outside my usual means, I found myself creating a profile on the primary website for sugaring connections, SeekingArrangement.
In the half-year since then, I’ve met some highly interesting people – not to mention I’ve received thousands of dollars in cash, trips across the country, access to five-star hotels and restaurants, and expensive gifts like shoes and clothing I never could have ordinarily afforded.
Read on for a firsthand look at what it’s really like to be a sugar baby.
Before I found my first sugar daddy, I needed an idea of why I was sugaring
As with regular dating, if you dive into the sugaring lifestyle without an idea of what you want, you’re likely to be disappointed.
Do you want a cash allowance, and do you have a set amount in mind? Is it certain bills you want covered? Do you want gifts, shopping, and travel? Having a clear idea of what kind of “sugar,” or exchange, you want for the relationship is key.
How about the actual dating part — do you like dating older men? Because sugar daddies tend to be older than the women they date. How much time do you want to spend with your sugar daddy? And does your current lifestyle give you the freedom to do so?
In my short time as a sugar baby so far, men have paid me $500 a date and bought me designer clothes, $400 dinners, and stays at 5-star hotels I could never afford on my own
In the six months since I became a sugar baby, I’ve started relationships with men who pay me $500 a date and have purchased me shoes and outfits from designers I could never afford on my own. I dined at restaurants where the bill was $400, and we’d still leave hungry. I spent weekends tucked away in five-star hotels, lazily ordering room service with cringeworthy markups.
While I enjoy expensive dinners and staying in fancy hotels, ultimately I was searching for a friendly relationship that provides a cash allowance. Some men don’t wish to provide an allowance, and I avoid meeting and dating those men, often called “experience daddies.”
It’s worth noting you should never become a sugar baby just for the money
If you’re considering sugar dating solely for the money, it will be much more stressful, since it’ll become a second job.
Sugar dating amplifies the faults of regular, or “vanilla,” dating. You may receive messages from, go on first dates with, and be ghosted by far more men than in vanilla dating. And it’s a bad idea to depend on sugar as a primary source of income, because there’s never really any guarantee of stability.
Additionally, financial desperation makes you vulnerable to malicious men who have no intentions to provide sugar, or it might influence you to date men you otherwise wouldn’t consider having a relationship with.
Anonymity is key for sugar babies and sugar daddies – I created an alter ego just for my online sugaring presence
It’s common practice to adopt a sugar identity separate from your real-life identity. My online profile uses a generic name, and I do not disclose my real identity — even after I meet my sugar daddy in person, in some cases.
I’m glad I do that, since every sugar daddy I’ve met has similarly guarded his identity. I suggest creating an alter ego for anyone considering trying any sort of internet fringe dating, especially sugaring.
Along the same lines, I signed up for a few anonymous messaging apps, as well as a fake number. Popular messaging apps for “moving the conversation off the website” include WhatsApp, Kik, Snapchat, WeChat, and Signal, but a phone number is often the preferred method. I suggest getting a Google Voice number attached to an anonymous email account.
There’s an art to making a sugar-baby profile – and certain precautions you have to take
Getting started with a dating profile as a sugar baby is pretty simple. I described my personality and wrote a few charming epithets that I thought might be appealing to the kind of man I’d like to spend time with.
The key thing is honesty, both in your self-descriptions and your pictures. While face-altering filters exist and can help mask your identity, apparently it’s a turnoff for men. (And I’ve had men straight-up message me, “Thank goodness you don’t have a dog-filter picture!”)
I think the most common misconception about becoming a sugar baby is that sugar daddies are looking to date only 18-year-old blond models. This is largely untrue — being traditionally attractive certainly helps, but a sugar baby can look like any woman of just about any age. I don’t get discouraged, and I try to attract only men who I think will find me attractive. Being deceptive with appearances will only hurt you later.
The secrecy of the sugaring lifestyle means I have to be careful about the pictures I use on my dating profiles. Many sugar daddies will run a reverse-image search of sugar babies’ profile pictures in an attempt to avoid scammers who are using photos from models and influencers.
To protect my identity, I make sure not to use photos that exist anywhere on my social-media accounts. I have a strict “no cross-contamination” rule when it comes to photos. Also, I make sure I know which photos are viewable to the public and which are available by request only. I’ll often check back and remove viewing privileges from certain men if the conversation didn’t lead any further.
I quickly learned some of the lingo that sugar babies and sugar daddies use
After dipping my toes in the sugaring community, I began to adopt the language used by sugar babies and sugar daddies in the online world.
Sugar babies and sugar daddies are often referred to as SBs and SDs — partly for brevity’s sake and partly because some people are weirded out by saying “baby” and “daddy.”
There’s the “meet and greet,” or M&G — the sugaring community’s term for a first date. Usually, money doesn’t change hands here, though it’s not unusual for the sugar baby to receive a small gift. Some of the things I’ve received on my first dates include stuffed animals, books, and $300 cash.
Some relationships are PPM, or “pay per meet” — in those arrangements, the sugar daddy gives the sugar baby a specified amount per date. In another type of relationship, sugar daddies give an “allowance” on a set schedule, like monthly or biweekly, either in cash or through a payment app like Venmo. Many relationships start out PPM, as it’s less risky for the sugar daddy than setting up an allowance right away.
“Experience daddies” are the ones who don’t pay sugar babies in money — just gifts like fine dining, hotel stays, and glamorous vacations. A “Splenda daddy” is a sugar daddy with a cheaper budget. And a “salt daddy” is just a jerk, especially if they’re faking generosity just to get into your pants.
And though the term’s a bit crass, sugar babies have to be wary of what the community calls a “pump and dump” — the common occurrence of a false sugar daddy not providing any allowance or PPM, getting intimate with a sugar baby, and ghosting. To avoid falling victim to one of these, you should never initiate any intimacy with a sugar daddy unless you’ve already received your sugar.
Before I meet up with any guy, I iron out the terms of our arrangement
To get what I was looking for out of a sugar relationship, I had to become comfortable bringing it up with men.
There are plenty of men on the site trying to get laid free, so I learned to not assume they’d provide any financial compensation on their own.
I would bring up the subject before the meet-and-greet. When I first began meeting men off the site, I was pretty timid about even mentioning an allowance — and regrettably realized they had no intention of sugaring me.
Some people would say on their profiles that they “don’t want anything transactional,” usually meaning they don’t want to pay for sex or dating — in fact, the word “transactional” in a profile is pretty much a red flag that sugar babies avoid at all costs.
A lot of sugar daddies are married, which provides some challenges
Though there are no age limits for sugar babies and sugar daddies, it’s common for a sugar daddy to be significantly older than the sugar baby.
And in many cases, the sugar daddy is married.
Having an extramarital sugar baby requires some level of discretion. Being recognized in public could cause either of you personal or professional distress, not to mention it could lower your sugaring prospects.
Personally, I didn’t have a problem dating sugar daddies who were married. After all, they were the ones who contacted me — and if they are willing to go through the effort of messaging me and agreeing on an arrangement, they’d be willing to do it for someone else.
All sugar babies have to decide how much of a commitment they want with their sugar daddies
It’s important to be on the same page about how much of a time commitment you want in your sugaring relationship.
Some sugar daddies want to meet several times a week, while others prefer once a month.
I find myself liking the attention of men who enjoy hearing from me throughout the week but don’t need my attention all day, every day. I certainly can enjoy the company of an older man and don’t have qualms about being seen in public with a sugar daddy. It’s a decision every person needs to make for themselves.
There are a ton of safety concerns I have to keep in mind as a sugar baby – as well as scams that fake sugar daddies try to run
On top of setting up a Google Voice number, there are several other safety precautions I had to take as I got deeper into the sugaring lifestyle.
For one, it’s always good to let people know where you are when you’re meeting strangers from the internet. I tell all my dates that I have a friend I need to check in with on first dates, and I have never had a negative response to this. Everyone agrees — safety first.
I also was very careful when accepting Uber rides or Venmo transactions early on in a relationship. Giving away your address or your regular Venmo handle is giving away free information. In an age where our phone apps hold so much personal information, being in control of the flow of your personal information is vital.
When I first made my profile, I got an initial flood of messages from men. “How did they even find me?” I wondered. The answer is that scammers prey on new accounts. I learned to hold the excitement for a bit and I got comfortable recognizing and weeding out the scammy, copy-paste introductions.
Additionally, I quickly realized that anyone who asks you for your bank information to send you money before you’ve met is a scammer. A common scam involves them sending a check or MoneyGram in excess of your allowance and asking you to purchase a gift card with the excess. This scam works on naive sugar babies who think they’ve received a large gift, when in reality they’ve cashed in on money that their bank will eventually find is fake, while the scammer walks away with a free gift card.
Even after meeting, there are plenty of better methods to send you your allowance. No one needs your personal information to wire to your bank as if it’s the 1990s. As the eternal truth stands — cash is king.
I don’t consider what I do sex work, but sugar babies have a range of opinions on it
Lots of sugar babies shudder at the idea of what they do as sex work.
I think of sugaring as an enjoyable deviance with a financial benefit, and while I don’t consider it sex work, I understand why some might.
When opening yourself up to fringe dating of any sort, you’ll attract men with varying goals. Some men on SeekingArrangement are looking to spend $200 for a quick romp. Other men will want to provide a monthly allowance and business insight for their dates, have an intimate relationship, and even consider marriage down the line.
I find myself somewhere in the middle. I don’t enjoy one-night stands, and I definitely enjoy indulging in a relationship, but wouldn’t consider something permanent with any of the men I’ve been on sugar dates with.
Interestingly, not all sugar daddies want a sexual or intimate relationship
Some sugar babies will ask about platonic arrangements, being turned off by the idea of intimacy with a sugar daddy.
Not surprisingly, most sugar daddies won’t see the value in financially providing for a sugar baby without intimacy.
That said, I have actually met two so far, but not because I went looking for such an arrangement. In one case, the man had some qualms about being intimate, so he paid me for an afternoon of tea and board games, and we had a lovely afternoon just not being lonely.
You don’t find these situations — they find you.
And yes, ‘sugar mamas’ exist – but they’re exceedingly hard to find
Often on forums where sugaring is discussed, it’s very common for newer sugar babies to ask for advice from the community. One of the most popular repeated posts are men looking for “sugar mamas.”
The overwhelming response is: Women do not need to pay for sex, and therefore, sugar mamas are next to impossible to find.
That is not to say they don’t exist, but they are the exception, not the rule.
Being a sugar baby requires a lot of patience – but it’s worth it
As sugaring becomes more mainstream, the potential to have your time wasted by a Splenda daddy or a scammer increases.
Becoming a sugar baby requires a great deal of patience and willingness to go on bad dates before you find someone you want to pursue a relationship with.
But it can also be incredibly rewarding and a great deal of fun. I’ve taken multiple flights, received a wide range of allowances and gifts, and met some very interesting people during my short time as a sugar baby.
The lifestyle may not be for everyone, but it works for me.
This article was first published by Insider in 2019.
In January 2019, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and Lauren Sanchez were publicly outed as a couple the same day Bezos and his wife, MacKenzie, announced their divorce.
The National Enquirer had been investigating Bezos and Sanchez for months and had obtained leaked photos and texts the couple had sent, including the now-famous message where Bezos called Sanchez “alive girl.”
In the 18 months since, both Bezos and Sanchez have finalized their respective divorces and have embarked on a whirlwind romance that’s taken them from Wimbledon to a yacht in St. Barths to the Taj Mahal.
It’s been a turbulent two years for Jeff Bezos and his girlfriend, Lauren Sanchez.
In January 2019, the bombshell news broke that the Amazon CEO and his wife, MacKenzie, were getting a divorce after 25 years of marriage. Hours later, we learned that Bezos was in a relationship with Lauren Sanchez, a TV host and helicopter pilot who, along with her husband, had been friends with the Bezoses.
Despite a tumultuous few months that involved leaked texts, blackmail, a billion-dollar divorce, and maybe even interference from the Saudi Arabian government, Bezos and Sanchez are still going strong.
Here’s how their relationship became public and how they’ve spent the 23 months as a couple.
It all started on January 9, 2019. Shortly after 9 a.m., Jeff and his wife, MacKenzie, issued a joint statement on Twitter that they were divorcing.
“As our family and close friends know, after a long period of loving exploration and trial separation, we have decided to divorce and continue our shared lives as friends,” the statement read. “If we had known we would separate after 25 years, we would do it all again.”
MacKenzie is one of Amazon’s earliest employees. The couple has four children together.
A mere few hours later, a second bombshell dropped: Bezos was in a relationship with Lauren Sanchez.
More recently, she’s worked as a helicopter pilot and founded her own aerial filming company in 2016 called Black Ops Aviation. Bezos has hired Sanchez’s company to film footage for his rocket company, Blue Origin.
Sanchez has also had TV and film roles, including as the host of the reality show “So You Think You Can Dance” and playing an anchor in movies like “Fight Club” and “The Day After Tomorrow,” according to her IMDB page.
At the time, Sanchez was married to Patrick Whitesell, the co-CEO of WME, a Hollywood talent agency.
Sanchez and Whitesell had been married since 2005, but at the time the news broke, the couple had been separated since the fall, according to Page Six.
The couple was friends with Jeff and MacKenzie Bezos because they had houses near each other in Seattle, Page Six reported.
The National Enquirer said it had conducted a four-month investigation into Bezos and Sanchez’s relationship and had obtained texts and photos the couple had sent to each other.
The Enquirer said it had tracked the couple “across five states and 40,000 miles, tailed them in private jets, swanky limos, helicopter rides, romantic hikes, five-star hotel hideaways, intimate dinner dates and ‘quality time’ in hidden love nests.”
Page Six, which published the news a few hours before the Enquirer, reported that Jeff and MacKenzie Bezos knew that the Enquirer report was coming out and had timed their divorce announcement to get ahead of the news.
The gossip site also reported at the time that Bezos and Sanchez started dating after Jeff and MacKenzie had separated the previous fall, and that MacKenzie knew of the relationship.
The Enquirer said it had gotten its hands on “raunchy messages” and “erotic selfies,” including a text that reportedly read: “I love you, alive girl.” The tabloid said it also had racy photos of both Bezos and Sanchez, including one that was too explicit to print.
Almost immediately, questions arose about the Enquirer’s motives for investigating Bezos and Sanchez and the tabloid’s connection to President Trump.
A feud has simmered for years between Trump and Bezos, who also owns the Washington Post, a frequent Trump target. The Enquirer’s publisher, AMI, is run by David Pecker, a longtime Trump ally.
By the end of January, The Daily Beast reported that Bezos was funding an investigation into who had leaked his private messages to the Enquirer. Bezos’ personal head of security, Gavin de Becker, headed up the investigation. De Becker said at the time that he thought the leaks were “politically motivated,” which AMI denied.
The investigation initially pointed to Michael Sanchez, Lauren’s brother and an outspoken Trump supporter, as the person who leaked the photos and texts, which Sanchez denied.
Then, in February, Bezos dropped a bombshell of his own: an explosive blog post titled “No thank you, Mr. Pecker,” in which he accused Pecker and AMI of trying to blackmail him.
Bezos wrote that the publisher had been threatening him with the publication of explicit photos he’d taken of himself unless he stopped investigating who was leaking his photos and texts to the tabloid.
AMI also demanded that Bezos no longer claim the publisher’s investigation into his personal life was influenced by political motivations, Bezos wrote.
As a result, Bezos published the emails he’d received from AMI.
“Rather than capitulate to extortion and blackmail, I’ve decided to publish exactly what they sent me, despite the personal cost and embarrassment they threaten,” Bezos wrote.
Bezos also hinted in the post that there may have been a link between the investigation into his relationship with Sanchez and the Saudi Arabian government — specifically, that he might have been a target of the Saudis because he owns the Washington Post, which provided “unrelenting coverage,” Bezos said, of the murder of its journalist, Jamal Khashoggi, who was killed by Saudi agents. The “Saudi angle” of Bezos’ own investigation into the leaks seemed to have “hit a particularly sensitive nerve” with Pecker, Bezos wrote.
Things quieted down for Bezos and Sanchez publicly for a few months, until April, when Jeff and MacKenzie finalized the terms of their divorce.
Jeff and MacKenzie Bezos both released statements on Twitter saying they had “finished the process of dissolving” their marriage and would be co-parenting their four kids.
MacKenzie said she was granting Jeff all her interests in the Washington Post and Blue Origin, as well as 75% of the Amazon stock they owned and voting control over the shares she retained. Her remaining stake in Amazon is estimated to be worth about $38 billion, placing her among the richest women in the world, according to Forbes.
One day later, Sanchez and Whitesell filed for divorce.
The Bezos divorce was finalized in July. A few days later, Bezos and Sanchez made their first public appearance as a couple at Wimbledon.
The couple was seated behind the royals at the men’s Wimbledon final between Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic at the All England Club.
The pair was spotted again in August on what appeared to be a fabulous European vacation: They were seen strolling through Saint-Tropez and cruising off the coast of Spain, in the Balearic Islands, aboard media mogul David Geffen’s superyacht, the Rising Sun.
Other guests reportedly included Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein and the founder of Thrive Capital, Josh Kushner, along with his supermodel wife, Karlie Kloss. (The group was pictured in an Instagram post that has since been deleted.)
Bezos and Sanchez were then seen on fashion designer Diane von Furstenberg’s sailing yacht off the coast of Italy. The couple appears to be close friends with von Furstenberg and her husband, IAC Chairman Barry Diller.
In December, Bezos reportedly threw Sanchez an elaborate 50th birthday celebration that included both a private dinner and a star-studded party attended by von Furstenberg and Diller, Katy Perry, Orlando Bloom, and Timothée Chalamet.
Since February, Bezos has been embroiled in a legal spat with Michael Sanchez, Lauren Sanchez’s brother.
Sanchez filed a defamation lawsuit against Bezos in February, claiming Bezos and his security consultant, Gavin de Becker, falsely accused him of providing Bezos’ nude photos to the National Enquirer. Sanchez claimed in the suit that Bezos told journalists he had handed over the images to the tabloid, but he says he never had the photos in his possession.
Bezos said in a court filing of his own that the suit amounted to “extortion” and directly threatened free speech. Bezos sought to dismiss Sanchez’s lawsuit under a California law that’s intended to protect against frivolous lawsuits.
“While Mr. de Becker’s initial asserted theory was that Mr. Sanchez had sold out his sister for $200,000, Mr. de Becker soon realized this theory would not hold up because, among other reasons, it was inconceivable that Mr. Sanchez would ruin his relationship with his sister and her current fiancé, the richest man in the world, for financial gain.”
Bezos isn’t described as Sanchez’s fiancé anywhere else in the suit, and Bezos and Sanchez have never confirmed that they’re engaged. In December, Page Six published photos of the couple on vacation, noting that Sanchez was wearing a large diamond ring on her right hand (engagement rings are worn on the left hand).
At the time lawyers for Michael Sanchez said in a statement, “Michael’s complaint speaks for itself.” Representatives for Bezos and Sanchez did not respond to requests for comment.
News broke in February that Bezos had reportedly purchased the Warner estate, a massive Beverly Hills compound, for $165 million. The purchase was the most expensive home sale in California history.
Prior to the sale, The New York Post reported that Bezos and Sanchez had been house-hunting in Los Angeles and touring mansions throughout the area for weeks.
The Warner estate was built by Hollywood mogul and Warner Bros. cofounder Jack Warner in 1937. It spans eight acres and is situated in the Benedict Canyon neighborhood of Beverly Hills. It’s an incredibly private property that’s surrounded by tall hedges, blocked off by a large gate, and completely hidden from view from the street.
The compound is home to multiple dwellings, including two guesthouses and a 13,600-square-foot mansion. The estate also features a pool, tennis court, and manicured gardens, as well as a nine-hole golf course and a “motor court” with its own garage and gas pumps, according to Architectural Digest.