The days of sugar dating may be long over but the psychological scars may remain for ages. Yes, when a girl decides to call it a day after a stint as a sugar baby, trauma, depression and emotional problems may ensue.
In fact, the trauma of the illicit relationships she has had in her days as a sugar baby may make it hard for her to have intimate relations with her husband after she gets married.
International Islamic University Malaysia Faculty of Psychology lecturer Dr Pamilia Lourdunathan said some former sugar babies find it challenging to forge a meaningful relationship with a person.
Most sugar babies are known to be students in their late teens or early 20s who are at a stage where the prefrontal cortex of their brain has still not fully matured. This is the part of the brain that enables an individual to solve problems, control their emotions, understand themselves and make decisions with regard to moral and ethical issues.
According to Pamilia, when a girl in her late teens is offered RM2,000 a month to serve as a sugar baby, she is likely to be tempted to take the bait as her brain is not able to assess the morality of the offer.
"And, since sugar babies mingle with people much older than them, there is a high tendency for their perceptions to be shaped by their abnormal experiences, ” she told Bernama.
Pamilia said in some cases, the sugar baby may end up developing feelings of love and affection towards her sugar daddy who may be the first person she has entered into a close relationship with.
"When her sugar daddy decides to leave her, she will be emotionally wrecked. She may not be able to accept the reality and may experience depression, stress, trauma and eating disorders, ” she said.
This emotional torment, she added, can be linked to Stockholm Syndrome which is also the reason why some sugar babies end up taking drugs or having physical relations even though they are tortured or forced to do so by their sugar daddies.
On the psychological make-up of sugar daddies or, for that matter, sugar mummies, Pamilia said they usually comprise high-ranking men and women who are probably lonely and in search of companionship.
If they are wealthy to boot, they may desire to "invest” in a relationship. Money gives them access to young and vulnerable individuals who are willing to attend to all their needs and requests, she said.
Some sugar daddies and mummies would eventually repent and attribute their "shenanigans” to the mid-life crisis they were facing.
This crisis, explained Pamilia, usually happens when a person is undergoing a phase in their life labelled as generativity versus stagnation, according to the theory of psycho-social development by well-known psychologist Erik Erikson.
This stage takes place during middle adulthood between the ages of approximately 40 and 65 and this "can have consequences on a person’s self-concept and image, causing them to avoid the realities of this world and desiring to live in a world created by them”.
Meanwhile, Muslim teachers group Ikatan Guru-Guru Muslim Malaysia (i-Guru) president Mohd Azizee Hassan views the sugar baby, sugar daddy issue as a form of manipulation by capitalists who are encouraging the proliferation of social ills and destroying the family institution through their online sugar dating sites and applications.
It involves not only individuals who offer "rewards” in exchange for companionship and even sexual favours but also girls who are willing to take up their offers.
"The existence of this immoral activity can be attributed to many factors, among them being the materialistic urge to support their living costs such as payment of college fees and enjoy a luxurious lifestyle, ” he said.
Other factors include the existence of mobile sugar dating applications that provide easy access to potential sugar daddies and sugar babies, lack of love and attention from parents and fragile religious beliefs.
Urging the government to shut down any website or application promoting unhealthy activities, Mohd Azizee said if the issue is not tackled properly, sugar baby activities will become the norm in Malaysian society.
He also feels that institutions of higher learning, in their zeal to stress on academic excellence, have neglected to focus on character-building, which is important, to prevent the young generation from falling into the trap of social ills.
"If this (shortage) is overcome in an integrated and holistic manner, the institutions concerned will succeed in their efforts to produce human beings who are balanced in terms of their spiritual, physical, intellectual and emotional aspects, ” he said, adding that spiritual development is the basis of developing other human faculties.
On his recommendation to the Ministry of Higher Learning to create a character-building programme for students, Mohd Azizee said he feels that the nation’s educational orientation is in need of a paradigm shift and a fresher approach.
"The paradigm shift I’m referring to is in terms of substance (programme content). There must be an emphasis on the application of spiritual and character development elements in any university’s curriculum and syllabus, as well as co-curricular activities.
"We have to return to the roots of knowledge and virtues. The integration of knowledge and character-building is the best model to produce graduates who are knowledgeable, balanced, competitive and resilient, ” he added. – Bernama