“Becoming a Sugar Baby Will Change Your Life. Let’s Talk About How”: Sugar Dating Advice on Tumblr

Lauren D. Ellis, Callie L. Patterson, Andrew Schrack Walters

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Sugar relationships are described most commonly as negotiated relationships, usually between an older (sugar parent) partner and younger (sugar baby) partner and in which the younger partner is provided monetary or material gifts for their participation in the relationship (e.g., companionship, friendship, consensual sexual behavior). Sugar dating crosses the boundaries of not only what is considered a traditional relationship. Previous scholarship considers the legality of sugar relationships, negotiations in sugar relationships, power dynamics associated with sugar relationships, and if a transactional nature often seen as wedded to sugar dating can be seen as a form of sex work. The current study focused on advice sharing within Tumblr communities of sugar babies, including sugar-dating specific language. Tumblr, a popular blogging website, houses a prolific subculture for sugar dating, wherein blogs provide information/advice to potential or novice sugar babies about how to navigate the sugar experience. Using conventional content analysis, we report nine themes from blog posts of sugar babies. These themes include sugar dating advice, relationship maintenance once a sugar relationship begins, and what to expect in a sugar dating relationship. We discuss how the open and transactional components of sugar dating are not wholly dissimilar from other dyadic relationships.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)484-516
Number of pages33
JournalSexuality and Culture
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2023


  • Qualitative Content Analysis
  • Sugar Baby
  • Sugar Culture
  • Sugar Dating
  • Tumblr

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gender Studies
  • Cultural Studies


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