I love to be treated like a princess: Meet the young women seeking sugar daddies online as disturbing trend hits UKUniversity student Liya Step, 22, is in a relationship with a 43-year-old millionaire who pays her a monthly allowance to be his girlfriendShe is one of a number of British students signing up to the world's leading sugar daddy website SeekingArrangement.com
Liya said 'I don't think there is anything wrong with our relationship. It's progressed in much the same way as if we had met in a bar'A sugar daddy signed up to the site believes 'conventional dating and sugar daddy dating work out the same long-term with me paying for the woman'
17:18 GMT, 21 May 2012
She has a wardrobe packed with designer labels including 500 Christian Louboutin heels, eats in the finest Michelin-starred restaurants and is off to the Caribbean next month for an all-expenses-paid holiday in a five-star resort.
But Liya Step, 22, is also a university fashion student – so how does she fund this lavish lifestyle She is one of a growing number of young British women signing up to the world's leading sugar daddy website SeekingArrangement.com.
Liya was of the girls at the website's European launch last night at the exclusive Gore Hotel in Kensington, West London. Dozens of 'sugar babies' drank champagne at 450 a bottle as they mingled with millionaires in the hope of starting what the website calls a 'mutually beneficial relationship'.
Lavish lifestyle: Liya Step, 22, has met a boyfriend via SeekingArrangement.com who pays her a monthly allowance and buys her gifts
Since signing up to the website for free, Liya has been able to meet a number of rich men who would be willing to pay her to date them and lavish her with gifts. Thanks to the dating service, for the last seven months, she has been in a relationship with 43-year-old Stephen*, a British multi-millionaire who has made his fortune through IT, and pays her a monthly allowance to be his girlfriend.
'He helps with my expenses too and pays me a generous monthly allowance to help with my costs as a student,' said Liya, who is currently studying at the University of Creative Arts in Rochester, Kent.
She added: 'We get on brilliantly and he is the kind of man I would have dated if I had not met him through the site.'
Sugar babies: Liya, left and another two of the other women who attended the party in London to launch the dating service in Europe last night
Liya said she first joined the SeekingArrangement because she was keen to meet older men after becoming exasperated at dating men her own age.
'I increasingly came to the view that dating guys in their early 20s was a waste of time – they are too immature and aren’t looking for a serious relationship like I am. Most guys my age simply can’t afford the kind of luxuries that I now want,' she said.
'I hadn’t dated older guys before but it is exciting meeting men who have the dynamism to set up their businesses and making millions of pounds.' she added. 'These are men who very comfortable in their own skin and know exactly what they want. They don’t just want a pretty girl on their arm – they want to have some stimulating conversation when they are out on a date.'
Party-goers: Two of the attendees at the live dating event where millionaires mingled with beautiful young women in the hope of finding a 'mutually beneficial relationship'
Liya went on several dates via the site but didn't begin a relationship with them because 'the chemistry wasn’t quite right.' Then she meet Stephen who she thought was 'perfect'.
'He was very keen to enter into a long-term relationship and we have been together ever since,' she explained. 'We are off to the Caribbean next month for a week’s holiday and I can’t wait. We are staying in this amazing resort – we have own pool attached to our suite.
'I don’t think there is anything wrong with our relationship. It's progressed in much the same way as if we had met in a bar or a restaurant.
'In both cases, I would expect my boyfriend to look after me and buy me lovely presents. With a site like SeekingArrangement both parties are aware of that expectation right from the outset.'
Exclusive club: Male members of SeekingArrangement must be able to prove their income
While Liya said she is currently happy with Stephen, she said they have no plans to settle down.
'I am not ready yet to get married and have children, but I do have deep feelings for my boyfriend,' she said. 'We are just enjoying what we have. Like all girls, I love to be treated like a princess. I joined the site out of curiosity and was amazed to meet my knight in shining armour so quickly.'
Her parents are aware that she is dating men older than her – but don’t know she is using SeekingArrangement to meet them.
'I haven’t told them about the site,' she admitted. 'Their attitude is, ‘as long as I am happy, they are happy.’ And I am very happy.'
Champagne and canapes: The dating website already has 100,000 members in the UK and will expect more following last night's launch party, where guests sipped champagne at 450 a bottle
SeekingArrangement has almost one million members in America and close to 100,000 in the UK – with the numbers growing fast. Many of its UK members are students like Liya struggling to pay their bills. Last month it was revealed that The University of Nottingham has the highest number of students signed up, followed by the University of Kent and the London School of Economics.
Sugar daddies are typically bankers, chief executives and entrepreneurs in their early 40s with an average income of 170,000 a year.
One of the wealthy men at last night's event had flown in especially from San Francisco because he was so keen to meet 'a beautiful English Rose'.
Found her 'knight in shining armour': Student Liya, right, has been dating 'Stephen' for seven months and is looking forward to going on holiday with him to a luxury resort
The 35-year-old doctor who only gave his name as Sam, said: 'I thought it would be a fun way to spend the weekend. I have always wanted to a date a beautiful English rose.
'I have tried conventional dating and I have tried sugar daddy dating. They both work out the same in the long-term with me paying for the woman. It’s just that you arrive at that situation far more quickly on Seeking.'
Another American sugar daddy at the party was Ashton, 47, from L.A., who often works in London as a senior executive in the entertainment industry. A regular on the site, he said it is about meeting someone with whom you have a connection.
'It’s a myth that she can simply have sex with girls on this site without their being any chemistry between you,' he said. 'There has to be that connection for it to work.'
Money can buy you love: The website is already a success in the U.S. and its UK members are said to include men on the Sunday Times Rich List and an MP
Owner Brandon Wade, 42, set up the site in 2006 and said he closely polices who can join – the women must not be escorts and the men must be able to prove they have a substantial income. It has been revealed that several members are on the Sunday Times Rich List and one is Member of Parliament.
'We exclude any men who are not truthful about their income or circumstances. The whole ethos of the site is that rich guys treat women like princesses with their generosity,' Wade said.
Agony aunt Virginia Ironside said she found nothing ‘morally wrong’ with the site.
'Women are much more pragmatic about sex, less soppy than men,' she said. 'If you’re a hard-up single mum and there was somebody you found not too unattractive and don’t go any further than you want to, I can’t see anything intrinsically wrong.'
* Stephen’s name has been changed