If you're a young, good-looking woman, Army Capt. (Dr.) James Robinson says he's willing to pay you $7,000 every two weeks to be his sugar baby. He has $300,000 in Army bonus money to spend on taking you to fancy restaurants and all kinds of pampering.
But you'll never meet him if you don't join Sugardaddie.com or another of the many websites that bring together men and women in what are termed "compensated relationships." Translation: Sugar daddies lay out what they're looking for, and sugar babies say what they want in return.
Of course, Capt. Robinson might not be real.
Three of the biggest names in the brave and brazen new world of "sugar daddies" and extramarital dating websites say military membership is on the rise, and they all have different takes on why.
"People have affairs when they don't have attention at home," whether that's the partner's fault or not, says Noel Biderman, CEO of AshleyMadison.com, a website that specializes in hooking up clients for extramarital affairs — and keeping those relationships secret.
You're wondering: How many military men have registered with "the world's leading married dating service for discreet encounters"?
Nearly 250,000 over the past 10 years, Biderman claims — and "military" ranked fifth among all occupations listed in a 2011 survey of more than 100,000 male members.
Military women also appear to be interested. The front office at sugar-dating website SeekingArrangement.com say they see more military women signing up than military men.
Of course, cheating on your spouse is punishable under military law, but military legal experts say even the sugar daddy sites can get you into trouble.
This is a gray area at best, downright illegal at worst, says one top military prosecutor OFFduty talked with. Like "50 Shades of Grey" meets "Pretty Woman," except instead of a happy ending, you can go to jail.
Troops are doing this - really?
You may be starting to realize that some things have changed in online dating — and not just for married people. In addition to the startling numbers from AshleyMadison.com — which claims a year-over-year increase of 60 percent among military men for the past three years — two of the biggest names in sugar daddy dating claim they're seeing trends in military membership, too.
Officials with Sugardaddie.com say the number of military sugar daddies has jumped 23.8 percent since 2010. More than 42 percent of those "military" sugar daddies are married, but that's "not too far off from typical sugar daddies," says Stephan Smith, the website's public relations chief.
No one verifies those profile claims, however. And embellishing one's profile on a dating website — doesn't everybody?
Capt. Robinson, who at the request of Sugardaddie.com volunteered to speak with us, said he's spent about $45,000 so far on the two sugar babies he's met through the site over the past seven months.
"I'm focused on my career and growing my own personal net worth. That's my main focus," he said. He said he didn't have time for traditional dating, but "Sugardaddie provided an easy way to get the companionship that I was lacking and missing."
Except that Army officials could find no record of anyone matching his name and description. When asked about his identity, "Robinson" suddenly stopped returning phone calls.
But Sugardaddie.com says Robinson was one of its 3,242 sugar daddies who registered using a .mil email address.
So who are these supposed troops?
"Our typical military sugar daddy profile is created by somebody who is between 25 and 45 years old," Smith says. "There are some who are older than that, and the older they are, generally, the more annual income they make. If they're an officer, they're generally pretty open about who they are and what they do and who they're looking for.
"They're usually pretty clear that their career comes first and that, at this time in their life, they're not looking to make a long-term commitment. In their profiles, they focus on what kind of woman they're looking for in terms of not just physical traits but her character. Character is very important to them."
Neither Biderman at AshleyMadison.com — whose parent company, Avid Life Media, also owns two sugar daddy dating sites — nor SeekingArrangement.com, reported similar experiences of military men flocking to register.
Biderman says he doesn't perceive military men to fit the sugar daddy profile but acknowledges that incomes on those websites are often "grossly exaggerated."
Backing the claim
But Sugardaddie.com's reported spike in military membership doesn't surprise Steve Pasternack, the former Wall Street executive who founded it in 2002.
"The work schedules of servicemen [are] very harmonious with the sugar daddy dating lifestyle," he said. "There are men from many branches of the service in various paygrades [who] are sugar daddies. There are officers on the site who earn more than $100,000 a year, and there are new recruits who earn between $30,000 and $45,000 a year [who] are looking for mutually beneficial relationships.
"Many women on the site consider men in the military to be ideal sugar daddy candidates because they're familiar with long-distance relationships and generally know how to treat a lady right," Pasternack says.
A search on Sugardaddie.com turned up one member claiming military affiliation who describes himself as an officer looking for a casual relationship.
"I am a career Army Officer, personal trainer, women's self defense instructor and wanna be chef! I recently moved to Atlanta and would like to meet new people. I'm NOT ready to make the ‘other' ultimate sacrifice and meet my wife, but a fun more casual relationship would fit well."
Another, who describes himself as 38-year-old naval engineering officer, wrote in his profile, "I consider myself very financially stable with an excellent career. I like to go out, laugh, and have fun. What am I looking for? I would like to find a woman who wants to get dressed up and hit the town. Wine tasting? A theater production? An expensive restaurant?? Want to know more? Just ask!"
Typically the women — dubbed sugar babies — are looking for someone to pay their bills, help buy them a car, pay for vacations or just provide a monthly allowance in exchange for sex and other forms of companionship. Many say they prefer dating military men, Smith says.
One sugar baby quoted in a recent Sugardaddie.com news release said: "A lot of the sugar daddies around where I live are in the military. My last sugar daddy was an officer and our arrangement was for a whole year. He bought me a car and took me out shopping and even helped me pay my rent for several months."
The average sugar baby looking for someone in the military is typically between 20 and 30 years old, Smith says.
"Sugar babies that like the military guys are generally those who would otherwise go for married sugar daddies. ... I've read many sugar baby profiles who are very clear: They're in it for college tuition help or seeing the world and getting a chance to travel, and that's what they expect," Smith says. "We don't like to use the term ‘negotiated,' but they are kind of negotiated relationships. That's one of the things that make it unique."
The people running SeekingArrangement.com say that in their experience, military men don't have the means to "support a sugar relationship."
There are "far more sugar babies in the military looking for relationships with wealthy men/women than the other way around," said PR Manager Jennifer Gwynn. She says the company has seen more military men joining affiliated website WhatsYourPrice.com, which claims to be the world's only first-date auction site.
Liz Nistico was a student at George Washington University in Washington, D.C., when she and a research partner spent a summer in New York City studying the sugar daddy-sugar baby relationship through a grant from the school's anthropology department.
"It definitely is a relationship that evolves — people get close," says Nistico, who met the people she studied by trolling the sugar daddy websites, hanging out at bars that were known sugar daddy haunts, and going to "mixers" where sugar daddies and sugar babies got together to meet. In New York, most of the "dads" were in finance, and some of the women who aspired to jobs in that industry used the dating sites as a networking opportunity.
But it still came down to the bottom line:
"[The websites] ask you questions about what you want, how much you're willing to interact, your desired allowance," Nistico says.
About their desired sugar babies, they ask the men "what they want her to be like, what they want her body to be like, and the budget they have to allot" to a relationship.
She views it as couples reverting to traditional gender roles, but with a modern twist: "People get out there and say whatever it is they want."
Smith insists that the sugar daddy relationships "are not transactional" — that would make it prostitution.
"We don't allow any kind of transactional relationships to be sought for or advertised. This is definitely not — NOT, all in caps — prostitution. [Sugar daddy] relationships are for people who want a relationship, but the relationship is catered around their honest expectations."
Still, that leaves a lot of gray area, Smith concedes.
"It is a slippery slope in a lot of ways, but I don't think people are afraid nowadays to blatantly look for a sugar daddy or a sugar baby."
At AshleyMadison.com, where experts have "thought through the perfect affair ad nauseam," Biderman also challenges long-held beliefs.
"The military, I think, lags behind the rest of society in these notions of relationships and sexuality," he says, adding that the military will have no choice but to revisit the "archaic" system that prosecutes troops for "this kind of behavior."
Company policy, when the military asks for evidence in an adultery case, is to have its workers refuse to comply.
"Our servers don't sit in America, and we're not governed by the U.S. military," Biderman says. "The approach we take ... caters to that level of discretion."
But military legal experts don't want you to think using any of these websites is safe, especially not arranging for compensated relationships.
"This can very easily slide into pandering and prostitution," according to the military prosecutor.
Indeed, in 2009, the FBI busted a Mississippi doctor for allegedly using one sugar daddy site to pay women for sex. More recently, police arrested a 61-year-old Chicago-area man on charges of raping underage girls he met through a sugar daddy site.
Just goes to show you, all might not be as it seems.
OFFduty editor email@example.com?subject=Question from ArmyTimes.com reader">Amanda Miller contributed to this report.