Thank you very much for this article! This topic is very dear to my heart. Please forgive me for my overly long response. I pray that your readers will find it to be a useful auxiliary to your fantastic work.
I don’t think “sugaring” is defined by income superiority. For example, a much older spouse isn’t necessarily “sugaring” because he/she is the major provider.
Similarly, The transactional process and concerns are age difference agnostic. The parent/child analogy, by definition sets up a power inequality, so I don’t think it’s a helpful paradigm to build on. IMO, sugaring is best understood from the perspective of the amoral terms of engagement.
All relationships are transactional and the primary commodity is “value”. Within the context of this discussion, value is defined as power and obligations. Just because a relationship is transactional it doesn’t follow that it’s equitable, and the flow of value may be unidirectional.
If the mutual relationship objective is a life partnership (e.g. marriage, cohabitation) then the income differential is irrelevant. This isn’t sugaring. This is more along the lines of traditional dating which typically includes obligations of exclusivity and monogamy.
The no strings attachment disclaimer, lends itself much more to the world of sugaring. One party enters into an obligation to provide companionship in exchange for fiscal benefits. So what’s the difference between sugaring and prostitution? One word: Sex. If one party enters into an obligation to provide sex in exchange for fiscal benefit, it’s prostitution .
I don’t think the #metoo concern has any place in this discussion. This is because it’s a dynamic that’s relevant within the context of employment ethics and legislation. Here we are talking about a consensual relationship outside of an employment contract.
Concerning the power situation, it’s not true that the person with the money is automatically and or solely the one wielding power. There’s an exchange of value here and if the terms are agreed to be equitable, there’s no abuse unless there’s a violation. The party having. received money for example could refuse to follow through with their obligations. Where there’s an imbalance of sexual/emotional attraction, the more “desirable” party could use that as leverage. Also, money is the most objective currency and more easily negotiable. It’s far more difficult for the provider to understand what they are getting in return in terms of quality, frequency and specifications of intimacy and companionship.
As in all relationships, the more loosely the terms of engagement are defined, the more likely it is to result in acrimony.