Why do people turn to transactional sex?

Transactional sex is nothing new, but what are some of the reasons why young people find themselves in these relationships?

There are various ways to describe transactional sex but I’d rather we stick to one that is self-explanatory – a non-marital relationship involving an exchange of gifts and things of value for sex. It is basically a relationship where the availability of sex is a major determinant of the other party being ‘blessed’. Hence, the party with the upper hand and power is referred to as a blesser, also commonly known as a ‘sugar daddy’ or a ‘sponsor’. In fact, we’ve seen a few of these “blessers” on MTV Shuga in the past. Do you remember Sol from #MTVShugaDS

You may see this situation as one similar to commercial sex but there is a distinction, in that, it is not always motivated by poverty and there is no predetermined payment. Also, transactional sex may seem like a healthy relationship because it lasts for a long period compared to a relationship between a sex worker and a client. And yes, more often than not, there’s a very wide gap in the ages of both parties.

The reasons why this kind of relationship exists are not so far-fetched. Transactional sex is mostly motivated by peer pressure, the desire for higher grades at school, lack of parental control, unemployment, gender expectations, greed and a desire to generally live above one’s means.

For instance, an average university girl wants to maintain an expensive lifestyle just like her peers. She meets a wealthy man who promises to spoil her silly on the condition that they have sexual intercourse on his own terms. If she’s really desperate, this would be an option for her. There’s also a possibility that such a wealthy man has the ability to maintain several other partners. This is a very basic example, one that many of us have witnessed. We can then say that this scenario describes the need for transactional sex to elevate one’s social status.

Unemployment and underemployment are major reasons people are motivated to indulge in transactional sex, using their bodies to move up in their careers.

In first episode of #MTVShugaNaija, we meet Faa, a dancer/singer who wants to make it but sadly, nothing comes without a price. “We don’t have to have sex, you can just help me” she tries to tell the man who holds the keys to her future, but he dismisses it and…  you’ll watch the episode to see how it unfolds.

ICYMI: Click here to watch Episode 1 of #MTVShugaNaija 

So many young people have said these words but are still left with no choice in the end. This also happens in corporate offices, in Hollywood, in music industries and many other settings.


Generally, a power imbalance exists in this kind of relationship such that the party on the receiving end is at a detriment and may or may not be in a position to do anything about it. The blesser may be abusive or decide not to acknowledge safe sex negotiations. This puts both parties at a heightened risk of an unplanned pregnancy, contacting STIs or worse, HIV especially as seen in the case of Princess. Thankfully, her baby is HIV negative but she still has so much to figure out!

If you find yourself in this situation somehow, do all that’s in your power to get out! It may seem like an easy way to make ends meet but you are definitely fishing in dangerous waters. Putting your well being at risk for a temporary glamorous lifestyle is not worth it. Speak out! Are you afraid of being judged by family and friends? Visit a sexual health clinic and you will surely have access to all the assistance that you need.

  • Defunke

    May God continue to help us Ladies. Nice write up Debola?

  • Salisu Omotinuolaji Airat

    We ladies really have to be careful because it is so easy to fall into something like this. May God help us all. Adebola weldone dear

  • Elizabeth

    Very wonderful write up! It’s about time someone speaks directly to the youths. Most of us know of at least one person that is involved in this situation. Let’s be that one friend they can come to for the right advice instead of being the judgemental friend that speaks bad of the other person. In my opinion, the “sugar daddy” relationship is not worth it. ✌✌

    • bolu adeosun

      “In my opinion, the “sugar daddy” relationship is not worth it”
      ??? weldone ma

      • Olubori Omogbeja

        It means “been there, done that”.

        • Elizabeth

          Oh God!! ???
          Please oo, I’ve been a good girl all my life and will always be. Why would I need a sugar daddy when I have the daddy with the sweetest sugar, Jesus? Hmmm, tell them Lord!!

          • bolu adeosun

            Oshey, jesus baby ?

      • Elizabeth

        LMAO! What did I say wrong now? It really isn’t because we’ve at least seen or read stuffs like this and how bad it ends.

  • Moyosore Adelowo

    Was reading on the effects of lightning strikes on the human body before i got my ducky self here.. Did you know that most people do survive lightning strikes, in part because lightning rarely passes through the body. Instead, a “flashover” occurs, meaning that the lightning zips over the body, traveling via ultra-conductive sweat (and often rainwater), which provides an external voltage pathway around the body. When people do die from a lightning strike, it is usually due to an electrical discharge-induced heart attack or the electrical discharge fries their brain cells rendering them useless. Lmaoo okay this is unrelated and now to the issue at hand!

  • Olubori Omogbeja

    This table you’re shaking has so many slay mamas on it. Steady blowing shisha in our faces on Snapchat.

    What annoys me the most about these transactional sex “workers” is the fact that they begin to set useless standards for those girls who work hard to earn their own money; looking down the nose at them for not using the latest phone, wearing designer outfits or traveling like they do.

    Greed and uncontentment are the major reasons these girls are sleeping with men for material things.

  • Moyosore Adelowo

    Okay the basic emotions i can attach to this are greed, envy, jealousy, loneliness but greed being the oga at the top. Like you’ve said already, most people find themselves in this situation because they let it become an OPTION for them… Ojukokoro ta won gann and this is not limited to the female gender, the male gender is also guilty of this.
    If you have strong moral values, you’d never degrade yourself to the level of allowing yourself to the wiles of someone just for exchange of favours and material goods. If you’re in a precarious case of desperation, trust me, there are still good people out there willing to help you get out of whatever situation you’re in.
    This sugar daddy/mummy thing is sisters with being an ashawo kobo kobo, one is just more ughh lowkey about it lol
    Keep away, stand your moral ground and be awesome, and when you do

  • Moyosore Adelowo

    Gaddmnit mistakenly sent that, anyway when you do so, you’d always be the one who can gladly raise their hands and dramatically raise their middle fingers on the direction of “the blesser”

  • Moyosore Adelowo

    Peace and love x
    Beautiful piece Bola ?

  • bolu adeosun

    Dear debola,
    I lowkey believe a sugar daddy /mummy outsourcing agent has dropped an advert link in your comments section but it as not be approved,

    kindly help us approve it, i want to ask the person some national emergency question. Thank you

    Yours Sincerely,
    A sugar son

    • Sylph.

      Lmfaoooooo word! Adebola please do the needful

  • Sylph.

    You dropped this link in my WhatsApp just when I was about tweeting I need a glucose guardian to fund my life. I ignored and opened twitter and the first thing I see is this link again. What manner of evil is this? ??‍♀️

  • Onyinye okpara

    Thanks for this beautiful piece , transactional sex is beginning to seem like a norm in today’s society. I’m really glad someone is writing about it.

  • Tawakalit Kareem

    What a world we now live in, where these things are more ‘normal’ and perhaps even expected, in a form.

    Our generation is a very visual one; there are all sort of stuffs in your face on Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat and the rest, and if you’re not clear about who you are, where you’re going and the choices you’re NOT willing to make to get there, this sponsor life might begin to seem like a tolerable idea.

    Too many people forget that life is not a competition on materials and who has them.

    Call it age or just seeing the world a bit broader, but I don’t even think of being judgmental of people who make this choice again. It is my hope that as we continue to shed light on these important social issues and the real threats associated with them, more people will begin to make better and smarter choices.

    Thank you for this piece, Adebola!


    Very well said…. Most have found reasons to justify their actions

  • Rachoo

    …when some ladies cannot survive without sugar daddies, help us tell them to stop rubbing it on our faces…we know our self worth. Nice write up Adebola dear❤

  • Tommy

    Great post, its always good to be aware of the dangers associated with being in such a position. The obvious, and less apparent ones too. The unhealthy power dynamic characteristic o a relationship like this can go on to poison subsequent relationships, even if they’re not built on the same premise [transactional sex].

    Good work Ms Aduwo.