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U.S. Shutdown May Be Driving Traffic To 'Sugar Daddy' Sites

sugar daddy (noun): a well-to-do usually older man who supports or spends lavishly on a mistress, girlfriend, or boyfriend

The government shutdown may have become a boon for one kind of online dating site — those that help users find sugar daddies.

SeekingArrangment.com, which bills itself as "the world's largest sugar daddy dating website," says it has seen a 50 percent jump in average daily sign-ups since last Sunday, just before congressional intransigence forced the federal government to stop fully functioning. WhatsYourPrice.com, which lets people bid for first dates, reports a similar increase — the average number of daily signups went from 500 to 900 since Sunday.

SeekingArrangement works like other dating sites, providing a platform for people to meet. For a fee, it provides background checks and verification of its users. But as a niche dating community, people go to SeekingArrangement for a certain kind of match — someone to help pay the bills.

"They come here to create mutually beneficial arrangements," says Jennifer Gwynn, the public relations manager for the site, which has been up and running since 2006 and boasts 2 million members. "Usually there is a financial allowance attached to [the pairings], around $3,000 a month," she says.

That's alluring for many college students and single mothers, which are the two (not mutually exclusive) groups among SeekingArrangement's female members.

There is no way to know for sure whether the shutdown and the reported spike in sign-ups is related. But this is the site's reasoning:

"We usually have a lull in September and October," Gwynn says. "For us to peak at the end of the month in September, and this week in general, it makes no sense for us to have a growth like this. Half of the new members are single moms, so we're thinking that it's tied directly to the government shutdown, since programs like WIC (the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children), that help more than 9 million moms, have been stalled. It would make no sense for growth otherwise."

WhatsYourPrice.com, where users can earn $80 on average for going out on a date with their winning bidders, says its registration growth isn't as big as the sugar daddy site, but that this week has "stood out because this is usually a slow time," says WhatsYourPrice's Angela Jacob Bermudo.

SeekingArrangement points to another piece of information from its data: It's a global site, but this week's membership spike is coming only from the U.S. And in the past, its membership growth has come during difficult economic times.

"Since the recession the site has experienced tremendous growth, tripling its membership base to over 2 million members since 2008," Gwynn says.

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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