I've always really loved classical dance. At the age of five, when the other girls were spending most of their time watching Disney movies, I spent my time watching ballet.
Seeing The Nutcracker motivated me to start taking dance classes, and after fourteen years of practice, I managed to make a name for myself in the dance world.
After winning two international awards at the junior level, I was determined to make my passion into a career. Though I was born in Greece, I ended up becoming a classical dance teacher and professional dancer in Paris.
Sexual desire, but no time
So I found myself at the age of 25 in a country that wasn't my own, with a schedule that didn't allow much room for going out, and as a result, there was zero opportunity for romance.
Between rehearsals, performances, teaching courses and meeting with the parents of my students, my life quickly turned into a routine of metro-dance-bandages-sleep.
Looking for a solution, I decided to sign up on several dating sites with rather simple criteria and a very direct explanation in my profile:
"I'm looking for a man, not a boy. Someone who knows what he wants, who knows how to treat me like a woman and above all, respects who I am. In other words, someone who accepts the fact that dance will always come first in my life. Unconditionally."
I soon realized that despite having profiles on several different sites, the men always fell into two categories: they either wanted a one night stand, or they wanted a real relationship and required more free time than I had to give.
Personally, I was looking for something that would allow me to reconcile my packed schedule with the comfort of a "relationship." To be clear, finding love was not my goal. I wanted someone who wouldn't be an obstacle to my career, but I wanted the consistent sexual relationship. I needed that.
Discovering "sugar daddies"
One night when I was out drinking with the few friends I had, I finally decided to radically change my methods. My friends and I were talking about how empty my love life was, and how long it had been since I'd slept with anyone.
When she heard I wanted someone who accepted my schedule while also taking care of me, one of the girls said: "What you need is a sugar daddy!" Without even realizing, she'd figured out exactly what I needed – a consistent relationship that was sexual (but not only that) with someone devoted but not invasive.
Instead of wasting my precious free time, I decided to experiment with sugar daddies online. I signed up on a special website, and after posting a few photos and a description in my profile, my inbox filled with messages.
I was shocked to see a few grandfathers hoping to pay me for sex. But I wanted someone I found attractive, I wasn't looking to be a sex worker. So I picked a man I liked based on the conversations we had, and who happened to be in Paris on a business trip.
I admit, before our first date, I was extremely nervous. Because besides the stress of simply meeting someone new, I was meeting a sugar daddy.
A surprising first date
We arranged to meet at the bar of a Hilton hotel in Paris. After a few cocktails, it wasn't very hard to convince me to have a drink with him in his room. He wouldn't stop complimenting my physique, but he kept it classy.
He made the first move and we ended up sleeping together. I was very pleased with that first meeting...until he began to cry. I had to console him because he had just cheated on his wife for the first time.
The next day, he insisted we meet in a public place and he wanted to pay me not to say silent, though I had zero intention of saying anything. He gave me 3,000 euros so I wouldn't reveal his identity. (Was he well-known? No idea.) After that, I noticed his profile was no longer on the site.
That first encounter left kind of a bad taste in my mouth, but I decided to try again. Because as for the benefits, having a "sugar daddy" fit with my lifestyle.
The terms from a monetary standpoint depended on each man. Often, they weren't set in advance. The money was an added benefit to the relationship itself. I met people I liked most of the time, but if I was disappointed with the first date, I wouldn't see the man again.
Being a sugar baby – part prostitute, part therapist
But I soon had to face the reality of the concept. I realized there was an unpleasant parallel between my career in classical dance and being a sugar baby. In dance, we have to follow strict rules that are indirectly set by our spectators, because in the end, whether they liked the show is what counts.
Being a sugar baby is kind of the same thing. We force ourselves to act a certain way to anticipate the needs of our partners. To be honest, my experiences quickly reduced my body to a type of merchandise that was making quite a bit of money.
I was being offered 200 euros for an evening, 1,000 euros for the night, and eventually up to 3,000 euros. How far could I have gone?
Being a sugar baby is actually halfway between being a prostitute and a therapist. You have dates with people who tend to be suffering in some way and you give them sex as a remedy.
Financially, you're setting a price to be complicit in adultery. And at the end of the night, you come away with a weight on your shoulders. Each time, I could tell the men I was seeing knew what they were doing wasn't right.
For many of them, it was because they had just cheated on their wife. I think being someone they could talk to without being judged gave me a special place in their minds. I carry a lot of secrets that could have terrible consequences on these men's lives if they were revealed.
Sex for pleasure
After this experience, I don't know if I'll be able to have a healthy marriage one day. But these encounters showed me that a sugar daddy wasn't really what I was looking for, at least not the men I was meeting.
I stopped after about six months. But unlike what I thought, that wasn't actually the end of the experiment. The father of one of my students, a rather charming divorcé in his fifties, often came to watch his daughter during dance class.
We started talking. His advances were subtle, a little awkward at times, but in the end, it was pretty flattering. The day he finally asked for my number, I didn't hesitate to give it to him.
He sent me a text admitting he had seen me on the sugar babies website, and that otherwise he never would have made any advances. At first, I felt super uncomfortable. But then I figured, he had a profile there too, so why feel embarrassed?
The end to the story is that we are now in a fairly normal sugar daddy/sugar baby relationship. In other words, it's a relationship based on sex, but the word "relationship" counts just as much as the sex.
It's not prostitution, I'm not being paid by the hour. But he takes me to places I would never be able to afford otherwise, and showers me with gifts. Nothing is specifically defined, it's mostly for my pleasure.
The stories I've read from other sugar babies sounded a lot more like prostitution and escorting, but that wasn't the case for me. I have as much say in what happens as the man I'm seeing, and my pleasure is not inferior to his. And I have no obligation to him, any more than he has to me.
After doing a bit of research, I soon understood that people lump being an escort together with being a sugar baby. Some "sugar dating" websites are really just a cover for being an escort.
I preferred sites that seemed more reliable like SeekingArrangement and SugarDaters. I plan to continue my relationship with my sugar daddy as long as our routine keeps working. But I'm aware that he's not the love of my life.
I want to have children in the future, and my sugar daddy won't be the one who raises them. We'll see when the time comes! In the meantime, I'm continuing this relationship without talking about it too much. Only one friend of mine is aware of what I'm doing, and she respects my choice. Especially since by becoming a sugar baby, I found what was missing in my life.
Story collected by Mélissa Perraudeau