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Secrets of the sugar babies

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Gen Z has invented a new side hustle, says Zoe Strimpel in UnHerd. “Sugaring” – a trend where young women (“sugar babies”) are paid to spend time with older men (“sugar daddies”). Not all sugar babies sleep with the sugar daddies, but plenty do. Broadly speaking, the job requirements are: “Look hot, be nice, and be ready to accommodate more without crying assault.”

Unlike normal sex work, sugaring is a hit with ambitious, well-educated women. In 2019 nearly 1,000 Cambridge students joined Seeking Arrangements – a sugar-brokering website. It’s an easy way to pay off student debt and “get a taste of luxury”, says Molly, a 22-year-old sugar baby who read PPE at Oxford.

Stranger still, sugar babies consider themselves feminists. “But it’s more misandry than feminism,” says Molly. Sugar babies adopt a “men are scum” attitude: “Both parties sort of despise each other.” Aria, a 25-year-old law student who sugars on the side, agrees. “Men are nothing. They’re just f***ing idiots.” Forget the sex, “the hardest thing about being a sugar baby is pretending to give a shit what these older men have to say”. No different from normal dating, then? Quite, says Aria, and you may as well get paid. “If I have to listen to a man complain for an hour, I should get $500.”

Soft launch your latest squeeze

Bella Hadid’s Instagram post revealing that she had a new boyfriend, Marc Kalman

A modern relationship only really becomes “official” when a snap of “the newly officially happy couple” appears on Instagram, says Laura Pitcher in The Cut. That’s why millennials talk about relationship “soft launching”: sneaking out hints about a new partner on a social media feed before you’re ready to tell everyone it’s serious. Post a picture of their elbow, their wineglass or “maybe the back of their head”. Just not the face.

Relationships with no commitment or little clarity “are the essence of today’s casual dating culture”. So portraits of “undefined, blurry” relationships should be undefined and blurry too. Supermodel Bella Hadid introduced the world to her new boyfriend, Marc Kalman, with a fuzzy photo earlier this summer. It’s also a sad sign that we treat ourselves more like a personal brand than ever. People post their boyfriends the way companies tease a product, “a sneak peek but not the whole thing”. And when it all goes wrong, it’s fine. It was only a soft launch.