Notes & Essays

The Sugar Daddy Who's Tired of Modern Dating

Happy Father’s Day, daddies.
ILLUSTRATOR WARREN ESPEJO
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Welcome to Esquire's Journal Project. This month, we're featuring the real lives of fathers, pops, sugar daddies, busy zaddys, and more. We're asking all sorts of fathers to give their unfiltered accounts of what's it's like to lead a family in the strangest of times. Here are their stories.

Today, we follow the life of a sugar daddy. This “daddy” would prefer to stay anonymous so for the purpose of this story, we’ll call him John. A young 20-something Filipino executive, John is living the life some might envy: a successful business, a cushy condo, and money to spare. But he’s no way ready to settle down. For now, he’ll settle for a relationship with all the affection and intimacy but none of the commitment—John has a sugar baby.

Friday

6:00 a.m.

It’s a Friday, but it feels like a Monday. My family business relies on me to get shit done, but I stay in bed for a little bit to read the messages Isa left me. “Good morning, daddy,” says the first message, followed by a long thread of sweet nothings. Isa’s much more affectionate than the ones who came before her. That’s why she’s not contractual.

After sending off a quick reply, I start my morning routine and go to work.

10:00 a.m.

I’m in the middle of a conference call with foreign business partners when my phone dings. It’s another message from Isa. It’s a nude. “Nice,” I text back.

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Someone asks me a question and I ask them to repeat it.

12:00 p.m.

When lunch hour starts, I lock my office door and voice call with Isa. She’s also at work so there’s not much we can do, but I ask her about her day and how her family’s doing. When I became her sugar daddy, I became her benefactor. She spends her monthly allowance of P15,000 on her personal expenses and her family’s. I could easily just demand only sex in exchange for her allowance, but for me, there’s no sex without intimacy. So I ask her about her day and her family life.

She spoils me too in return. The better her service, the better the reward.

4 p.m.

My office is located near a mall, so I go there quickly to buy deodorant. Isa is coming over tonight, and I have plans.

As I head to the Watsons counter, I see a hot girl. A few years ago, I might have swiped right if I saw her on Bumble. But dating apps are more fake than sugar dating. At least there’s a thrill in sugar dating and the contract is clear. No one is pretending or hiding what they want. 

7 p.m.

Isa arrives at my apartment on time. She knows I hate Pinoy time. It’s Father’s Day on Sunday, so I won’t have time to spend it with her. She teased she wanted to spend Father’s Day with her sugar daddy, but I take family time seriously and don't oblige her request. Instead, I scheduled our date tonight.

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I’m young for a sugar daddy, so I can eat out with her, take her on dates, and be seen in public with her without anyone suspecting anything. If I was older, this would be different. Being a sugar daddy is nothing to be proud of. People look at you differently—negatively—and start seeing you as a desperate monster buying love when others earn it for free. They’re not wrong, but they’re not right either. We’re two consenting adults with a transactional relationship. I never forget that she wants me for one reason, and other people might find that hard to digest, but you get used to it.

I push those thoughts out of my mind and carry on with our date.

Saturday

8:00 a.m.

It’s a weekend, so I sleep in. Last night was fun, but Isa left quickly afterward. She said she has things to do this morning.

I try not to think about the fact she left after I transferred her allowance to her account. Sometimes they’re sweet to you because they’re just waiting for you to give them something. But that’s the nature of the transaction. I shouldn’t complain. They don’t have a right to complain either if you look at other women. 

10:00 a.m.

I go to the gym to catch up on workouts. I don’t have time to do it every day, and I feel like I’m wasting my gym membership.

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Mom messages me to remind me of the family Father’s Day brunch tomorrow. Dad’s turning 73. Lockdown has kept him home for almost a year, so we never miss family gatherings.

12 p.m.

It’s lunch time and she still hasn’t messaged me. We’re adults in a sugar relationship, but you still can’t avoid petty fights.

“Why didn’t you reply?” I text her.

Wala kasi akong load kanina,” she replies.

“Don’t I send you an allowance?” I text back.

I’m not stupid. I know why she’s being petty. At dinner, I ran into one of the girls I’m messaging. She’s cute and we flirt on Whatsapp. But Isa isn’t my girlfriend. She’s a sugar baby.

I’m annoyed at her and don’t message again until dinner.

6 p.m.

My phone hasn’t stopped vibrating since lunch. Isa knows I’m mad and is trying to make up for it. Things get complicated when one of the parties falls in love or acts jealous. Sugar babies might be called babies, but they need to be mature. Otherwise, what’s the point. This is why I avoid dating apps. Everyone is petty.

10 p.m.

I make peace with my sugar baby. The sugar daddy needs to be mature too.

In sugar dating, we measure worth through actions, so the results are predictable. It sounds cold, calculated. But this is a transaction. 

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