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Clandestine world of sugar dating in Vietnam — Part 1: Search for new flame

Monday, August 24, 2020, 10:46 GMT+7
Clandestine world of sugar dating in Vietnam — Part 1: Search for new flame
A Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper reporter (left) disguised as a sugar baby hopeful is seen discussing relationship details with a sugar daddy candidate whom she got in contact from a Facebook group. Photo: Le Phan / Tuoi Tre

Sugar dating, a mutually beneficial relationship where 'sugar daddies’ or ‘sugar mommas’ provide financial support for their 'sugar babies’ in exchange for romantic affection and possibly sex, has recently become a trend in Vietnamese society.

‘Sugaring’ relationships and the people who seek them out usually try to stay covert because of the public’s divisive response to the arrangement, with some even referring to it as mere pretense for prostitution. 

Wife, mistress and sugar baby

A Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper undercover correspondent infiltrated a secret Facebook group, which boasts over 28,000 members, for people seeking a sugar dating arrangement.

The reporter then switched to a burner Facebook account, using sexually suggestive pictures from the Internet to pose as a junior-year college student in Ho Chi Minh City looking for a sugar daddy.

On paper, she offered the perfect package for a sugar baby: stunning looks, obedient, available to meet three times per week, and capable of keeping a secret. 

Within less than an hour, the post yielded hundreds of reactions and a few dozen offers from aspiring sugar daddies in the group.

After a few flirty messages, Nguyen Duc Vinh — whose name has been changed for this article, a 44-year-old sugar daddy hopeful was down to meet in real life.

He claimed to be a husband, father as well as the director of a construction firm in Binh Tan District of Ho Chi Minh City.

During the first encounter at a coffee shop on Ung Van Khiem Street of Binh Thanh District, Vinh talked about his wife as a meek and caring person, but the flame between him and her seems to have died.

He was seeking companionship from a young woman to fill the gap that his mistress of ten years left behind.

The reason for their break-up was her forcing him to divorce his wife and marry her. 

“I wish to find a secret lover whom I can talk to, but please don’t let yourself catch feelings, for I have yet to forget [the mistress], nor can I offer you a title [as a wife] in broad daylight,” Vinh confessed right after he poured his heart out about his former mistress.

“My wife is very docile. As long as you stay obedient and don’t force me to divorce her, you will be all set.”

Cutting a deal for affection

Vinh affirmed he is not the promiscuous kind of man, but he added that sex acts will be paid extra on top of the settled benefits. 

During the first meeting, Vinh was extremely vigilant, scrutinizing the undercover reporter on whether she is a sex worker in disguise.

He insisted that his partner should be employed in a white-collar job or a student so he can help “support and mentor” her career-wise, or employ her if she is out of work, even suggesting the prospective sugar baby move near his company office to obtain care from him more easily.

Vinh offered a benefit package of VND15 million (US$645) per month starting after a probation period, where he would drive the partner-to-be to her school to confirm her identity. He also required his partner to take an HIV test at a facility of his choice.

Donning an exemplary corporate demeanor, Vinh handled all inquiries from the Tuoi Tre reporter with diplomatic finesse.

When asked about the possibility of him vanishing without any trace from the deal, he cited the credibility of his company and himself as a businessman.

Upon the staggering request of a high-end suite and a scooter after the first month together, he did not shy away, but instead floated them as feasible rewards for good times between the two. 

The 44-year-old man shoved VND2 million ($86) of cash into the reporter’s hands as a guarantee of his credibility.

To seal the deal, Vinh said that he enjoyed his time with her and drew a comparison between her and his ex-mistress.

“If we work out well, you will have whatever you want, as long as you satisfy me,” he concluded.

A Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper reporter (left) disguised as a sugar baby hopeful is seen discussing relationship details with a sugar daddy candidate whom she got in contact from a Facebook group. Photo: Le Phan / Tuoi Tre

A Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper reporter (left) disguised as a sugar baby hopeful is seen discussing relationship details with a sugar daddy candidate whom she got in contact from a Facebook group. Photo: Le Phan / Tuoi Tre

Sugar daddy as a mentor

The Tuoi Tre correspondent went on to meet another sugar daddy wannabe from the candidate list, which had expanded non-stop since the post in the Facebook group. 

Tran Cong Hai — whose name has been changed, a 47-year-old from Binh Thanh District, said his casual outfit did not speak for the plush lifestyle that he can afford his partner.

Introducing himself as a cosmetics tradesman and homestay host in Ho Chi Minh City, Hai said he first joined the sugar dating Facebook group to promote his lodging facilities for sugar daddies to house their sugar babies, but later became part of the scene himself. 

Prior to the undercover reporter, Hai had met up with two other sugar baby candidates but reached a deal with neither.

According to Hai, one was a hustler as she did not hesitate to suggest sex in their first encounter, while the other quoted VN20 million ($860) per month for her companionship, the amount being a dealbreaker for Hai.

Nevertheless, VND20 million per month is definitely within his pay range, he claimed. 

As the conversation went, it was revealed that a case of erectile dysfunction greatly limited Hai’s sexual potency.

The tentative meetups would be in hotel rooms to shroud his affairs from his social network and would consist of casual dating for the most part.

Hai said he is only available to meet during the day, and his secret partner is not welcomed to actively ring him as his daughters might pick up the infidelity while using his phone.

He was caught cheating by his wife once, who threatened him until Hai promised to “never be unfaithful again.”

It turns out it was not an isolated case as he admitted to adopting a few sugar babies during his time in the group.

In these sugaring liaisons, Hai was willing to provide the babies with tuition money, career orientation, or even boyfriend advice. The sugar babies were allowed to have boyfriends outside of the sugaring affair with Hai.

Either party can call an end to the relationship the moment they want to, he proclaimed.

“I don’t give out many promises, but every single time you meet me, I won’t leave you disappointed by any means,” Hai assured.

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Xuan Tung - Dieu Qui / Tuoi Tre News

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