As it happens, soon after giving up on my idea of becoming a sugar baby, a man on the Forbes 400 list of the richest Americans asked me out. He sent a chauffeured Bentley to pick me up, and we enjoyed a spectacular meal at Masa, in the Time Warner Center, where a master chef prepares each course from scratch based upon your personal taste. I resisted the temptation to ask for rent money in place of a fancy meal next time (although I didn’t see the bill, it was probably roughly equal to my monthly rent). Such a request might fly with a sugar daddy, but this über-rich gentleman was pursuing me by traditional methods. What separated him from the men I dated through Seeking Arrangement was the fact that he didn’t seem entirely comfortable with being wealthy. “You can’t take any of this with you,” he said with a shake of his head after showing me his penthouse apartment. He also told me that he resented being contacted at least once a day by some friend of a friend of a friend looking to exploit him. In truth, by letting our romance drag on for longer than I would have had he not been a billionaire, I may be as guilty as those far-removed acquaintances. When it came time to move beyond snuggling, I finally succumbed to my inability to fabricate feelings for him. Apparently it’s not just conventional courtship I covet, but love.
By seeking out a man who could provide for my material needs, I thought I was simply following my evolutionary instincts. In fact, there’s another biological impulse that I didn’t consider, and wasn’t even aware of until I spoke to Dr. Helen E. Fisher, a research professor in the anthropology department at Rutgers University. Her pioneering work has shown that love is not an emotion but a drive, and that what we experience as love triggers the brain’s reward system in much the same way cocaine does. In the search for a desirable partner, it seems, we can’t rely on any one factor alone. Despite what eHarmony might claim, there’s no special formula that can help us find the person who will give us that perfect buzz.