Take a seat, Holy City — the underbelly of Charleston’s dating scene may shock you.
By the numbers
56.5 percent of teens in high school in S.C. say they’ve had sex at least once. The national average is 47.4 percent.More white teens in S.C. reported not using a condom during their last sexual encounter than black teens.25.9 percent of teens in the state said they used drugs or alcohol before the last time they had sex.Across the U.S., 9 percent of males report that they had sex for the first time before turning 13. In S.C., it’s more than 17 percent. Source: CDC
There are 215 wealthy older men and 1,244 young single women looking for a “mutually beneficial” hook-up right here in the refined Lowcountry, according to a spokesman for SeekingArrangement.com — an unconventional dating website, to put it mildly.
The women, a fifth of them claiming to be virgins according to a study released in March by Seeking Arrangement, benefit financially from these relationships. The men get companionship.
Many of the men, as many as 40 percent by one estimate, are already married.
These are Charleston’s “sugar babies” and “sugar daddies.”
Signing up on Seeking Arrangement is fairly simple. You enter your height, weight and hair color. You explain your marital status — “married but looking” is an option here.
Signing up for a profile also requires that you specify what type of financial assistance you can provide or need, ranging from “negotiable” to more than $20,000 a month.
The site is free for “sugar babies.” “Sugar daddies” pay about $60 a month.
Seeking Arrangement isn’t one-of-a-kind, but it is the most popular of the “sugar daddy” sites out there. By its own count, the site has been covered by major media outlets nearly 100 times since launching in 2006.
Some of that press originates from its own clever marketing machine.
In early March, Leroy Velasquez, a spokesman for the site, sent local media in Charleston a survey the website conducted among “sugar babies” here.
It concluded that one in five women polled in Charleston indicated she was a virgin — the highest percentage of the 24 metropolitan cities included in the survey.
Not likely, says Paul Nietert, a professor of biostatistics in the Department of Public Health Sciences at the Medical University of South Carolina.
“This survey was not done in a scientific manner and, while it may reflect opinions among young women who frequent the seekingarrangement.com website and describe themselves as ‘sugar babies,’ their results are unlikely to be an accurate representation of the views among Charleston women,” Nietert said.
Not to mention these results seem to contradict decades of data published by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which shows that the entire state has one of the highest rates of sexually active teens in the country.
Most teens in South Carolina aren’t waiting until they become adults to have intercourse.
According to the CDC’s 2011 Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance survey, 56.6 percent of high school students in South Carolina have had sex — almost 10 percentage points higher than the national average.
Twenty percent of South Carolina high school students reported they have had sex with four or more partners.
The Seeking Arrangement survey was conducted in-house and included responses from 1,044 Charleston women who were already registered members of the website.
Velasquez said the survey was conducted online over the course of two months in early 2013. “The youngest age we surveyed was 18 years old, which is the minimum age requirement for joining our website. No other age stipulations were made, but please note that the average sugar baby age range is 18 to 26 years old,” Velasquez told The Post and Courier in an email. “The survey is presented when sugar babies first log-in to the website. They have the option to either answer the questions or opt-out.”
In a press release about the survey, Seeking Arrangement CEO Brandon Wade said, “Our study, which is the largest of its kind, proves that virgins do exist.”
And for those who have already had sex, Wade says his website offers hope.
“Many women regret losing their virginity to a loser,” he said. “Virginity is something special that should be cherished for someone special, and online dating offers another avenue to find that perfect person.”