Friday, November 15, 2013

If It Pays To Have Friends, Can You Pay To Have Friends?

I know, it sounds like Yogi Berra doing an Aflac commercial. But there were two related news stories this week. One was The boyfriends you can buy! Chinese website offers men by the hour to women ashamed of their single status. Some factoids:
  • Rent-a-boyfriends can advertise their wares on
  • Increasingly popular with women under parental pressure to marry
  • Services include dinners and cinema visits. Hand-holding is free
"Meeting someone new isn't always the easiest of tasks, so spare a thought for China's young women who face intense parental pressure to find the right man.

As a result, women terrified of returning home without a handsome other half resort to hiring 'boyfriends' for the duration of their visit.

Now a shopping website, Taobao, has launched a new rent-a-boyfriend service which allows would-be fake other halves to advertise their services - complete with price lists."
Then there was The rise of paid friends: How wealthy New Yorkers are socializing with hired staff over 'real' companions – because they’re easier 'to control'. Excerpts:
"Rappers have long had their entourages, and lonely stay-at-home mothers have similarly long had the tendency to enlist luxury department store salespeople as makeshift best friends.

But a new trend for paid best friends is only now sweeping the upper echelons of New York’s social circles, according to the New York Observer.

The paid friends, or PF’s for short, are not platonic escorts. They are personal trainers, stylists, chefs, and chauffeurs who take their jobs to more congenial levels.

They offer rich benefactors all of the benefits of a friend’s companionship, without the drawbacks like arguments.

A fashion designer, who was anonymously quoted in The Observer’s piece much like rest of the article’s sources, told the paper: ‘There is a market, a currency for paid friends in New York. Some people need the money, and some people need the friends.’

She added that paid friends can become addictive acquisitions.

The Observer’s various sources explained that PF’s offer wealthy men the opportunity of companionship without emotional strings attached.

Acording to one avid PF employer, ‘Once you’ve had paid friends who don’t argue with you, it’s actually quite hard to go back to real friends.’

The ex-wife of a PF hoarder said ‘many really successful men don’t actually have time for real friends,’ because normal friends ‘are either resentful or bitter or ask for money,’ and that some ‘are often competitive.’

She said that as a result, ‘very rich men have paid friends as an expensive filter, because they can control them.’"

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