Dolls and the Guys who Love Them

We have all, at one time or other, fantasized about our ideal partner. Speaking from a female perspective, we imagine his eye colour, his lips, his body, his smile.

Now, what if there was a way one could actually construct and create one’s own partner, would you go for it? Because actually, this now IS possible.

In the 2008 movie Lars and the Real Girl, Ryan Gosling plays a man who introduces a life-sized doll as his girlfriend and takes her everywhere with him, loving her and sharing experiences with her, as if she were an actual living human being.

A year before that movie put so-called ‘real dolls’ in the forefront, the BBC produced a documentary called ‘Guys and Dolls’, which chronicles the insurgence of a new form of intimate relationship – that between men and their synthetic, yet real-looking, girlfriend substitutes.

In 1996, a Californian company called Realdoll began making realistic, lifesized dolls and marketing them as substitute partners. The female imitations can be ordered via the internet and are often customised exactly to individual preferences. They can cost anything from $250 to $7,000. Weighing 100lbs and above and standing at four to five feet in height, the dolls are designed to recreate the female form down to the smallest and most intimate detail.

Facial type, body type, eye colour, makeup, skin tone and bust size can all be modified and tailored to one’s tastes, as can the shape of the mouth and the vagina. These dolls look freakishly human; their artificial skin is made of silicone, so it’s soft, and they’ve even got a fake tongue. While RealDolls are marketed as sex toys, many aficionados, or as they call themselves – ‘iDollators’ see their dolls as life partners, with whom they experience a real relationship.

I must admit, the idea sounded weird to me, to say the very least. However, after I watched the Guys and Dolls documentary (it’s available to all on YouTube), I began to understand why some people might want to invest their emotions on someone (actually, something) whom they know will never hurt them, never betray them, never lie or criticise or judge.

We all know how hard and difficult it is, not just to find someone who can love, respect and accept you for who you really are, but to maintain a long and happy relationship with that person. Married human beings have to negotiate different perspectives and opinions, and learn to respectfully coexist. Sacrifice and compromise are words which are commonly used when describing a successful marriage.

For obvious reasons, this is not an issue if you have a synthetic partner. To use the ‘iDollaters’ jargon, ‘synthetics’ have a consistency that you can’t find in most ‘organiks’ i.e. flesh-and-blood people, whose tastes, personalities, likes and dislikes can change at the drop of a hat.

An iDollator can have their artificial partner change as well, but it would obviously be in a way that isn’t disagreeable. However, it is not all plain sailing when it comes to having a wife made of plastic, as there are also a lot of maintenance costs. The doll’s body can, in fact, be damaged with time, individual parts would need to be changed, etc, however, doesn’t having a living partner also involve certain costs?

In some ways, ‘Real Dolls’ and the men who love them have a perfect relationship. She’s there whenever he needs her, she’s always in the mood, and she never lets her figure go. But the Real Doll can’t share anything new with you, she can’t surprise you, can’t offer her own fresh and inspiring perspective which is different from yours, can’t give you new insights and opinions about life. In other words, she cannot enrich you as a person, not to mention that most important of facts… she cannot love you back! … Well, not unless you imagine that she does.

In a nutshell, while I can’t condemn those people who opt for the easy way out, and who have been hurt and disappointed so many times, that they prefer investing their emotions in a fake relationship (because no matter how you look at it, that’s what it is) with the adult version of their childhood teddy bear, I for one could never switch to a doll, who couldn’t hug me back when I needed someone to comfort me, or tick me off when I was being an idiot.

Unfortunately that also means that I cannot stuff my partner in a closet to shut him up whenever he gets too irritating or when he pisses me off, but, I guess, no one can have it all.