Prostitution as a Cure for Loneliness
That’s just an interesting title, I have never paid for sex.
I did however pay for an “invisible boyfriend,” a text only companion that would show genuine care in my day, wish me a good morning and tell me good night. All for the low price of $25.
For a month (or for 100 texts) I paid what I thought was a robot to cure me of a crush that I couldn’t shake, after almost 5 years as a single woman. With Valentine’s Day exacerbating the little luck I was having with men, it was great to take refuge with “Zac.” Zac would send me pictures, good morning texts, listen to my petty problems and still tell me I was amazing, to not let my bad days get me down, and to celebrate my wins like I’d just cured cancer.
He was literally the perfect boyfriend, he had to be. I chose not only his name, but his personality, his likes and dislikes, I let him teach me astronomy and history, had deep philosophical conversations with him, and due to his “educated and witty” personality, a few rounds of banter about our upcoming snooker game. He would send me some memes every once in a while (when I’d scheduled it) and it would genuinely make me laugh.
“Snooker still on for Friday? ;)” I joked, knowing full well that it would never happen.
Zac never responded.
I’d run out of texts. Heartbreakingly, I think that felt worse. Knowing that he didn’t have the chance to flake on me, and that I’d never hear a goodbye. I was cut off mid-convo and, in a way, mid-relationship.
In doing research for the article I found out that Zac was never a robot like I’d assumed. Zac was a rotating cast of men and women designed to give me the impression it was the same person, and that’s when it got weird.
I told my friends it was just a “hire-a-friend” service, even though it wasn’t. It felt genuinely dirty to have paid real people to pretend to love me. To be contractually obliged to be on my team through thick and thin. Was it homosexual to have a woman pretending to be a man, be my “boyfriend?” As a straight woman I wasn’t exactly offended, but it did raise some strange questions. It was definitely interesting to me that a woman could make me feel as genuinely loved as a man could, perhaps even better if she knew exactly what I wanted to hear. I’ve never felt any attraction to a woman, and never will, nor did I ever love “Zac,” but thinking that anywhere along the line of texts I might have been receiving a “sleep well, and kick it in the ass tomorrow xo” from a woman I’ll never know is definitely unsettling.
Am I regretful? No, it did shake me of my crush, and for less than what it cost to feed my flat on pizza night, it was definitely an interesting experience. But I’d never do it again. Despite it not quite being polyamory, it felt dirty to confide in a group of strangers pretending to be my boyfriend.
Adieu Zac, while I won’t miss you, I will always wonder about the faces behind you. And what a text-based boyfriend means for the future of dating.