Gilles Lambert/Unsplash/Antonio Manaligod/Dose

Would you pay $100 a month for a fake girlfriend?

Digital romance has hurtled past the slippery-slope phase and is in full freefall.

The Independent’s Kashmira Gander reported on a British guy named Ben who coughs up $100 a month for a woman to send him texts and Snapchats throughout the day. She’s a part-time Snapchat model with hefty followings on that platform and Twitter. The kicker: None of her messages or pictures are sexual. No?—?instead, Ben pays for PG texts about the woman’s workday and the privilege to message her back about his own.

“If she’s come down with strep, I’ll know about it,” he told The Independent. “If she’s got a headache, she tells me. And if she’s out partying I get Snapchats that no one else sees. There’s never really any hot stuff…for most of the time it’s the sort of thing you’d find in any regular relationship.”

The difference being, of course, that a regular relationship isn’t predicated on money. Not to mention that regular relationships do feature “hot stuff.” Hell, if money’s changing hands, I’m surprised sex isn’t involved with Ben and his cyber gal pal?—?that, at least, would make some sort of sense, historically speaking. (It’s not called the world’s oldest profession for nothing, you know.)

When asked whether he believes he’s the only guy in her life?—?a delusional notion?—?Ben responds that he prefers not to “go down that route.” Meaning he knows the relationship is one-sided and, on almost every level, false.

Look: Far be it from me to pass judgment on how Ben from Britain spends his money. If he wants to fork over 100 bucks every month to feel that comforting buzz buzz in his pocket a few times each day, go for it. It doesn’t bother me that a man is willing to pay a substantial amount of money for what amounts to feigned platonic affection.

What bothers me is that Ben?—?and, presumably, others like him?—?feel they need to do this. Gander writes: “Ben, who does not wish to be fully identified, has never had a steady girlfriend (‘too busy’), and says the arrangement makes ‘things feel normal’.”

Uh, two things about this:

  1. At what point did we decide that there is such a thing as being “too busy” for a steady romantic relationship? I’d argue that Ben’s job as a software engineer should never trump his biological imperative to find a mate.
  2. How would Ben know what “feels normal” if he’s never had a relationship with somebody in real life?

If Ben had at least experienced a relationship and decided its demands were something he either couldn’t, or didn’t want to, meet, then fine. Pay the hundred balloons for whatever dopamine spike the fake girlfriend provides. But bypassing the real deal completely? Seems dismal.