It started like so many of the classic love stories — with a message on popular hook-up app, Grindr: ‘Can I buy you some trainers?’ I was immediately intrigued.
He wanted to know if I had any trainers I could send him pictures of myself wearing. He kept sending me that drooling emoji. My Converse weren’t going to cut it, apparently. I found the specificity of this guy’s kink fascinating. Was it a ‘straight boy’ fantasy? Grey trackies and white trainers? Chav fetish? Scally Boys? Could they only be trainers or would plimsols suffice? Where do Vans fit on the scale?
And then he offered to buy me some trainers again. He didn’t even want to see my dick in return. Kaching.
Welcome to the world of Findom.
Findom (Financial Domination), according to the internet, is basically an offshoot of S&M. It is populated mostly by men in their early 30’s who get off on being dominated via their bank balance: often by women who they never meet in real life. The magic of the internet means it can be done via messages and account numbers; financial stability can be taken away with a few taps. It’s a thoroughly modern fetish.
You can walk all over me with stilettos — you can spit on my face — you can smack my arse and call me Judy; but anonymously drain my bank account? That’s vulnerability. Are chains and whips a bit old-hat now?
My Cash Pig started small; so small, in fact, that I didn’t notice what it was becoming. He just wanted to buy me some trainers. My internet-jaded brain started firing signals though. How was he going to deliver the trainers? Was he going to show up at my flat? Would he find out where I lived? I didn’t want that — so, naturally, I asked if he’d be willing to have the trainers sent to an Amazon locker under his name. He asked why. I said I don’t want him to know where I live or who I am. He liked that. I asked him if he could send me a picture of his face so I’d know who to run away from if I saw him lingering near the locker. He did. I told him I wasn’t attracted to him. He liked that, too.
My parents, possibly seeing what my future could hold, were always very firm about internet safety. No real names. No addresses. No phone numbers. No bank account details. No nothing. I’ve, of course, bent a few of these rules at times when I’ve felt comfortable — but, in times of uncertainty, these basic points always echo in my head. It’s served me very well. I’m still alive, for one.
The thing about Findom is it’s pretty dark when you think about it. What exactly drives a 22-year-old man to feel he needs to have his money — his power — stripped from him? Why did he want to be under my feet? Why did he thank me when I called him pathetic? He wasn’t — as far as I’m aware — a sweaty old man eating cheesy crisps and grunting in to a bib while he touched himself. He was tanned. He worked out. He had a Frank Ocean reference in his Grindr profile. I didn’t find him attractive: but that’s not to say no one would. I was, and am, completely fascinated by it all.
I was meagre at first. I took my time in suggesting pairs of trainers, and tried to keep the price low when I did send him some links. The fat child sending my parents Christmas lists with product codes and nearby stockist addresses screamed at me to demand Yeezys from my Cash Pig. The slightly embarrassed 27-year-old-me asked for some Nikes. I was still asking at that point. He didn’t like that.
I think the problem was that I didn’t actually want any trainers. I kept telling him to pick some in my size and send them to my locker. He didn’t want to do that. He wanted me to demand them. But I don’t care about trainers. I’m quite happy in my battered old Converse: even if they do have more holes than they’re supposed to. I like nice things, of course I do — but I’m not a grabby person. Not any more. I like to buy myself things. I feel guilty when Christmas comes around now and family members ask me what I want. Of course I want the most expensive thing, who doesn’t? But I feel like I owe you now. I feel like I need to love you a bit more. It’s a fair transaction, after all — a really pretty thing for a bit more affection. It’s been a form of sexual and emotional dominance for hundreds of years, realistically: but the internet has made it somehow darker and more open all at once. As usual.
Does the Cash Pig actually, ultimately, just want that kind of relationship? Do they want to provide and earn and keep a demanding prince or princess happy? A trophy rolling around in all of their favourite things? Did they lack a provider when they were a child? Are they trying to fill that hole? Or do they just feel so damn worthless in today’s society that they want to punish themselves in a way that’s a bit more menacing than any physically sexual harm that could be administered?
I recently spent £75 on skincare products I absolutely don’t need but desperately want (because they’re packaged nicely and have good Instagram reviews) using Klarna (a sort-of-credit-but-not-credit company conveniently marketed in Millennial pink) and get to split my payments across 3 months. Shop like a Queen. There’s no credit checks or contracts or anything scary like that. You just get to have nice crap with less stress on your rent-drained bank account. Spent too much on avocados and gin this month? Use Klarna to buy that top which probably won’t look good. It’s okay though, you can pay for it next month. Don’t worry ‘bout it.
This year, Kylie Jenner was announced as the youngest self-made billionaire ever. Whethere she’s self-made or not, she’s 21 and she’s a billionaire. She’s soon to release a money-themed range of cosmetics to honour her birthday. There’s literally cash on the packaging. The eye shadow palettes are the shades of various dollar notes. People are eating it up. I get paid, on average, a fiver a month by Medium and feel like I can officially call myself a hustler. If you’re not being paid, it doesn’t really matter.
Money is more than just power or status, now. Money is a form of worship. Giving my money to someone else and not getting anything in return feels like an act of God — as though the clouds should open and rays of sun should puddle on only me. Having money demanded from me is scary. It’s robbery. It’s victimisation.
It’s kind of hot.
I left Cash Pig twisting in the wind for an evening. When I re-emerged, I had researched the Findom world. I wanted to test the waters. Some women make thousands a month from doing this. Some of them get personal access to their Cash Pig’s bank account. I didn’t feel I could go straight in with that mind-set though. I had to play this right. I sent him my Amazon wish list. Within an hour he’d sent me screenshots of three different order confirmations; all of them heading to my locker of choice. I told him he was a good boy. He thanked me, and sent me that drooling emoji again. I couldn’t believe my luck. This was the best deal in the world.
Cash Pig had come along at just the right time.
I had just stumbled out of a month-long fling with a guy in London who I had decided was The One. Again, pretty standard story. Boy messages boy. Boys discover they have weird textual chemistry. Boys meet up for sex. Before I knew it, though, we were texting all day every day. We saw each other more. We laughed and kissed and leant on each other in parks in the sun. We talked about each other to our friends. He gave me books he thought I’d enjoy. We had some of the best sex I’ve ever had. We had a Goddamn picnic. Then he dropped me with a woolly explanation and some mutterings about just getting out of a relationship. I was feeling a bit raw. I needed to get back to normal. I needed to build myself up. I needed Cash Pig as much as he needed me. A little domination can do a lot for your ego.
Cash Pig got me a book, some beard oil and a notebook. I was disappointed. I was hoping for the pair of Ray-Bans i’ve got on the list, at least. How revolting is that? Maybe I should’ve told him I was disappointed. He would’ve liked that. It would’ve made him feel terrible. But I didn’t want to do that. I didn’t want him to feel that way. I had to be grateful. I went to thank him for my presents — but I stopped myself; telling him, instead, that he was a good boy. I was learning.
One of my more embarrassing memories of being a kid — one of those ones that hits you suddenly at 1:03am when you’re trying to go to sleep (four hours and fifty-three seconds if I fall asleep NOW) — is me desperately wanting a Star Wars Lego set. I was with my dad. He did not want to buy me said Lego set — probably because it was extortionately expensive and I was being a little shit. Instead of accepting this and moving on, though, I vividly remember demanding that he write a cheque. Isn’t that vile? I can’t have been older than seven.
That’s how Cash Pig wanted me to behave. He wanted me to tell him more about what I wanted. He told me he liked it when I was greedy — that it turned him on when I demanded things. He told me he was getting hard when I said I was adding things to my Amazon wish list.
Why did Cash Pig want me to throw a tantrum and demand he buy me more things? It’s a need to be needed by someone — or, more so, a need to be wanted. I don’t think it would work if he felt needed. Need would be generosity. Want is something greasier than need. Wanting his money to play with; to piss away on some new shoes like it was nothing. Like he was nothing.
I could sense some uncertainty when I told him I wanted him to send me £100 a week — but he didn’t immediately say no. I asked what he could afford. He told me he earned £1500 a month and lived with his mum. I told him I wanted £400 a month. He asked if I wanted it in a lump sum or weekly instalments. I asked what made him feel less comfortable and to go for that option. He wasn’t convinced by any of it. I left him to stew for a while. I was the one stewing though. I couldn’t lose him. He made me feel so powerful — plus… presents. Who doesn’t love presents?
I imagine there must be bit of a shame spiral immediately after a big Cash Pig splurge — like the feeling you get a few hours after you’ve spent a huge amount of money on pizza. It seemed like such a good idea at the time, and now all I have is greasy fingers and regret.
Cash Pig sent me fifty quid via PayPal, then disappeared. I made sure to transfer the funds to my bank account promptly. I’ve not heard from him since. His Grindr profile is gone. His Instagram is private. My Amazon wish list keeps growing.
For a second there, in the headier moments when I was somewhere between incredibly aroused and disgusted at myself, I thought that maybe I was set for life now: that perhaps this was my new path — Luke, Financial Dominator. No longer would I fall for guys who were just going to turn out to be disappointing; I would never again waste a week’s worth of mobile data on a let down of a man. Luke, Financial Dominator, has no interest in you or your feelings, Cash Pig. He just wants to make you pay.
I hope he’s okay — and not just because I want him to come back and give me more stuff (though that is definitely a factor). He helped me — and I don’t think he’ll ever realise that. I hadn’t even realised it until recently. My Cash Pig built me back up after a fuckboy got above his station. Isn’t that beautiful?