Tara*, 42, is a director at a successful software company in the San Francisco Bay area. Over half the men she's dated make less money than her—including her now-husband—and she thinks her relationship is a reality for many women in today's economy. "On average, women still make less than men but, ironically, that also makes them less of a target in a layoff. My guess is that a lot of men with higher salaries have been let go, while the lesser-paid women have kept their jobs, leaving them to be the breadwinners during hard economic times," says Tara.
Rock musician Anand Bhatt, 34, of Chicago, Illinois, has dated women who made less as well as more than him, and says that a woman spending on a man can be sexy.
"I feel like there's a level of respect for the girl and a perceived level of affection from her that is hard to garner otherwise. I recently spent a week with a girl who happily showered me with gifts and always picked up the check and it made me feel like King of the World," says Bhatt.
Plus, ladies with lives of their own are attractive. "With a 'sugar mama' girl, you don't worry about clinginess. You know that successful women have their own endeavors, and have better things to do than become a man-barnacle," says Bhatt. But are sugar mamas replacing sugar daddies altogether?
You've probably heard the statistic that women make 77 percent of what men make for the same job—and it's true that, on average, men still make more money than women. But the rise of educated women entering professional fields coupled with the fact that the recession hit men harder than women means that more and more, women are out-earning the men they're dating and marrying.