‘Trashy’… ‘dirty’… ‘like a prostitute’.
Those are just some of the shocking reactions which Emily Bulea has met with.
In fact, 20-year-old Emily explains, she is none of those things – she is a sugar baby who is getting sugar daddies to pay her way through college.
Pretty Emily swapped waitressing for ‘sugaring’ after she and her friends used to joke about how they would love to have a sugar daddy to spoil them with the good things in life, like fancy restaurants, designer clothes and amazing vacations. Emily was so taken with the idea that she decided to try it for real.
But she is adamant that she is far from a prostitute, as some people claim.
‘Personally, I don’t sleep with sugar daddies. So, as far as physical contact goes, I think it’s OK to have a friendly hug or to have your hair touched. I think that is about the extent of it for me,’ says Emily, who for safety reasons, only meets her dates in public places.
Perhaps surprisingly, Emily is not young, free and single. So, how does her boyfriend Jack feel about his girlfriend dating other, older men?
‘He was really shocked when I first told him,’ admits Emily.
‘I know who the men are before she goes to meet them,’ says Jack. ‘I see their text and profiles… Obviously I feel protective. I don’t know these guys. I worry that something could happen…’
Emily is used to being quizzed by Jack after the dates, too.
So, does she ever have to tell him that things got out of hand? ‘It has happened before that guys have tried to coerce me to their homes or they’ve, you know like, reached and grabbed my butt or something. But those kind of guys, I don’t ever talk to again.’
Jack is clear that he would be happy for Emily to give up sugar babying at some point. ‘If we continue dating, I wouldn’t want this to be, like, a lifelong career path for her.’
Emily agrees that there will come a point where her work is no longer appropriate and even now she is more comfortable not letting everyone know the unusual way she funds her studies, and tends to tell people that she waitresses. She is completely honest with her loved ones, however.
What does Emily feel her experience of dating older men for money has taught her?
‘I guess I would say I know a little bit more about the world after seeing a completely different side to it,’ she says.