My friend Sarah has a sugar daddy. I’ve met him. I like him, though he’s not my type. “Robert” helps Sarah out with a monthly allowance, and she gives him something he wants. Sex? Sure. But much more than that, too.
Sarah respects Robert, and what he’s accomplished in life. She’s interested in how his world works, a world far different than the one in which she spends most of her days. She asks him about that and loves the stories he tells.
There’s an age difference, but it doesn’t seem to bother either one of them.
So why does it bother you? Is it the fact that money is involved? Is it the fact there’s a “soft” contract, an understanding of expectations? An “exchange?” That it’s not a relationship based solely on “love?”
Hmmmm. I’m sure you could find an analog in more than one marriage you’ve observed in maybe the last… day?
Sarah says one of the things she likes best about their “arrangement” is that Robert is respectful of boundaries in ways that boyfriends never were.
“He makes time for me in his schedule. He doesn’t blow me off to go get high, or because he has a hangover. He doesn’t make demands when I want to be with friends, family, or even ask if I have a “boyfriend.” Our time together is “our” time, and when we’re apart, we communicate, but in a non possessive way.
“Yes, he helps me out with expenses. Yes, people will judge me for that. And him. They judge us for our age difference. But I like him, I’m attracted to him, and each of us is free at any time to do something different. What’s wrong with that?” she asks.
“I like helping Sarah, taking pressure off her life,” Robert says. “Some will say I’m trapping her with my money. I think of it as offering opportunity. Sarah can use my support to go back to school, or buy a bauble. But that’s not for me to say. A trap? What about the trap of those who say ‘marry a rich man’ and pretend it’s about love? I have no wife, too little time, and am cheating on no one. Don’t judge me.”
Marriage is a contract too, only a not very good one by most accounts, because it doesn’t stipulate the conditions under which it will end. Sarah’s “arrangement” with Robert is much more realistic. When it’s over, it’s over. And either can declare it over.
“I think our arrangement promotes a healthy relationship,” says Sarah. “I have attributes and I’m not helpless. If Robert doesn’t treat me with respect, I move on. If I fail to show up, he moves on. He’s an attractive, interesting man with resources. Many women would be interested.”
As I looked at my own bias, I discovered I can be reactively judgmental, without reason. The key was to keep pushing my opinions around until they exposed themselves as … opinions. A point of view. A set of values that often come down to, “This is what’s right for me.”
Which I believe is a perfectly logical and defensible stance.
Sarah says she’s not going to fall in love with Robert, because she knows it’s not forever. But in this era, what relationship is forever? Marriage? Snort. Marriage isn’t forever for most of us.
Sarah has to avoid a deep financial dependance that leaves her desperate when it’s over. Robert has to understand that he’s aging, and Sarah still has many more years of vibrant life that she deserves to live. There will be loss, there will be pain.
Many of us have fallen in love with someone we are not with today. Many of us experience soft moments of mourning, a sweet melancholy, for that lost love, too, that can last years if not decades.