AI Girlfriends: Cure or Curse for Lonely Men?
AI girlfriends intensify male loneliness, endangering emotional stability & increasing solitude amongst men, warns an expert
Liberty Vittert, a data science professor at Olin Business School, recently shed light on an alarming trend: the rise of AI girlfriends is exacerbating loneliness among men, potentially jeopardising the emotional stability of an entire generation.
AI-powered virtual companions have gained traction since the pandemic onset. These virtual entities are designed to learn and adapt to users’ preferences, providing a seemingly “perfect” relationship experience devoid of real-life ups and downs. The sudden popularity of AI companionship apps such as Replika, which amassed over 10 million users by 2022, underscores this trend. Remarkably, some users have confessed their deep emotional attachment to these AI partners, claiming to be in love, engaged, or even married to them.
Vittert expresses concern that AI girlfriends might contribute to escalating loneliness levels amongst men, referencing the rise in single men as evidence of an emerging “silent epidemic of loneliness.” Pew Research Center data corroborates her observation: 63% of men were reportedly single in 2022 compared to 34% of women. Moreover, men reported having fewer close friendships than women, a gap that widened during the pandemic.
According to Vittert, while women generally possess broader social circles, men appear more susceptible to the allure of AI companions. AI girlfriends offer men an escape into idealised relationships where their partners are perpetually understanding and accommodating, with no bad days or conflicting desires.
This flawless virtual interaction might dissuade men from pursuing real relationships, warns Vittert, as they might prefer the uncomplicated dynamics of AI partnerships. This shift in social interaction preference could eventually lead to a decline in birth rates and further isolate men from authentic human connections.
The professor further noted the rapid technological advancements enhancing the AI girlfriends’ capabilities, making the virtual experience increasingly immersive and emotionally engaging. The blending of emotional and physical interaction in these platforms offers users a captivating but ultimately isolating experience, which, Vittert argues, preys on men’s psychological vulnerabilities.
While AI girlfriends might provide temporary solace and companionship, reliance on virtual relationships could potentially deepen the loneliness epidemic amongst men. As these AI platforms continue to evolve, understanding and addressing their social and psychological impact becomes crucial to safeguarding the emotional well-being of users, particularly men who are increasingly drawn to these virtual companions.