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Tag archive for: relationships

Sex Robots

There’s a scene in the new movie Her in which Samantha, the sultry-voiced computer operating system of the film’s title, talks up the benefits of being nonhuman.

“I’m not limited,” purrs Scarlett Johansson as the artificially intelligent heroine. “I can be anywhere and everywhere simultaneously. I’m not tethered to time and space in the way that I would be if I was stuck inside a body that’s inevitably going to die.”

I’ll bet she never feels bloated, either. Or insists on switching over to Downton Abbey when the game’s gone into overtime. Or complains about the lingering lunchy onion stench on the breath of Theo, the lonely divorcé who buys Samantha and falls in love with her.

Both onscreen and off, modern society is flirting with the notion that technology can satisfy us in ways that flesh-and-blood lovers can’t.

Don’t believe me? Check out InvisibleGirlfriend.com, set to launch this Valentine’s Day. For a monthly fee, the company will conjure up “believable virtual and real-world proof” that you have a girlfriend. Yup. You can order up voice mails, text messages, social-media interaction, cards, and even flowers from a nonexistent female in order to, say, convince a roommate you’re not gay, put an end to a coworker’s come-ons, or get your nagging parents off your back.

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Buy Yourself a Date

“Everyone has a price. What’s your price?” That’s the provocative question posed by a new dating site that allows users to bid on dates with good-looking people.

WhatsYourPrice.com is divided into two types of members: “generous” (people willing to pay for companionship) and “attractive” (people who want $20-$200 to go on a date). There’s an implied third category, of course: “possessed of appallingly low self-esteem.”

Members can browse each other’s photos and profiles, including their stated income and net worth. An introductory video has a woman purring, “If a guy is willing to pay me for a first date, he’s going to be much more serious than all the others who are just looking for a hook-up.”

Which leads me to believe the definition of “serious” has changed since I was boyfriend shopping. Also the word “generous” — as evidenced by a second intro video: “Instead of paying a dating Web site for the chance to go on a date,” argues a “generous” dude, “why not just pay for the date itself? When you find the person you like, just send them an offer.”

The offer isn’t, “I promise to make you laugh,” or, “I’ll open doors for you and refrain from belching in your presence.” It’s more, “I’ve got 100 bucks says you’ll show me your panties.”

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Hot For Your Twin?

Remember when opposites attracted? There was a time when the sexiest thing about your lover was the way you utterly differed. He was the mystifying yin to your mundane yang. She was the fascinating fire to your familiar ice.

But no more. These days, it seems, sameness is in.

A new online dating site promises to match singles with people whose faces look the same as theirs. The somewhat creepy premise behind FindYourFaceMate.com is that we’re naturally, subconsciously attracted to partners that resemble us.

If the notion is true — and I’d like to go on record with a big, fat “eww” here — it seems like poor biological design. Aren’t people who resemble us usually family members, to whom we should really, truly not be sexually attracted?

Plus, there’s something repugnantly narcissistic about falling in love with your own face — even if it’s on someone else’s body. Worst pickup line imaginable: “Hey, there, gorgeous. You could be my twin.”

But after leaving her husband for a man who looks quite like her, FindYourFaceMate.com founder Christina Bloom became convinced that there’s chemistry in facial parity. And her site’s photos of Hollywood couples make a pretty compelling case: There’s square-jawed, crescent-eyed John Travolta and Kelly Preston; saucer-eyed, pouty-lipped Russell Brand and Katy Perry; and doe-eyed, heart-faced Ryan Phillippe and Reese Witherspoon … and Abbie Cornish … and Amanda Seyfried.

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Relationship Dissection

Down underground, in the basement of UCSB’s psychology building, behind two locked doors and another emblazoned with red hazard signs, a man lies in a pitch-black room, his skull in a scanner. Behind a window, lab techs stare silently at black-and-white renderings of his gray matter.

If this clinical scene doesn’t make your heart flutter, your face flush, and your guts flip-flop with jumpy juice, then you’re clearly not a scientist at the university’s Brain Imaging Center.

But Bianca Acevedo is. She’s a postdoctoral research fellow (am I the only one who enjoys calling women fellows?) who studies the neuroscience of love. “It’s a relatively new field, but it’s flourishing quickly,” said Acevedo, who spends her days translating lofty romantic notions into precise scientific terms. Working with the campus’s “Close Relationships Lab,” she uses a “Passionate Love Scale” to evaluate the “neural correlates of long-term pair-bonding.”

All of which would be funny if it weren’t just a little bit creepy.

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My columns are collected in three lovely books, which make a SPLENDID gift for wives, friends, book clubs, hostesses, and anyone who likes to laugh!
Keep Your Skirt On
Wife on the Edge
Broad Assumptions
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