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His name is Dirk and he bought himself a “wife” for $ 6,750. Jenny is a sex doll with whom he has been living for four years as if it were a woman, the most adorable of all women in male imagination: silent and smiling all the time. The German photographer Sandra Hoyn documented their standard day as a couple: from breakfast till bedtime, interspersed with regular daily “family” activities, such as sitting on the couch and watching TV or cuddling. During the night, he puts a mask on her face to avoid the hassle of light and – he ensures – sex is “explosive.” Every Sunday they take a bath together, it is a ritual. He “married” her with an impressive ceremony at his place and gave her a heart-shaped ring. It would be romantic if it were not so disturbing.

“I cannot live without love. My loneliness has destroyed me,” says the American man in his forties whose marriage failed and who has a son. “Jenny gives me security. I do not want to live without her. His words and his purity, serenity, and honesty touch me. “Dirk would be an ordinary man, if his story were not so extraordinary. Maybe not. It might be an ordinary story. Do you remember Davecat? The 37-year-old American, a Carmen Consoli fanatic who since the age of 23 has applied to real life his favorite singer’s song titled “Plastic Love”. He talked about it on Real Time, in the program “Me and my obsession.” Since 1999, he has been living with his silicon partner as husband and wife. Time passed and the rubber routine has become boring like the routine of many “natural” couples, so he found himself a lover on the Internet. She is a rubber doll too.

Americans are not the only ones who have strange virtual 4D love stories. The wedding photos of a Chinese 28-year-old man who has cancer in its final stages, with a fantastic silicon woman has gone viral on the Web, dividing those interested in this story into admiring fans and disgusted critics. Virtual sex fans ensure that it gets more and more followers among those who visit sites devoted to this kind of things. Actually, we may say that it is something bigger than merely a fashion or a trend; it is a custom, i.e., a social habit. Even movies – which always quickly grasp, describe and analyze social behavior – have devoted attention to this phenomenon. “Lars and His Very Own Girl”, 2007, directed by Craig Gillespie, tells the tragicomic story of a man called Lars (Ryan Gosling) who introduces his “girlfriend”, whom he met on the Internet, to his friends. Bianca  is gorgeous, besides being a doll. Really, a rubber doll.

Those of you who think it is peculiar to men alone are wrong. Single women may get a “Knitted boyfriend” (100 percent wool), sent from The Netherlands. This invention belongs to the designer Noortje de Keijzer. You may choose between Arthur (light skin and dark hair), and Steve (an African black). His mouth is closed, but there is a broad and innocent smile on his face, to encourage women who are frustrated by their sad, mumbling, neurasthenic, harsh, or absent men.

Long story short, deep loneliness is spreading in the age of communication, pushing to direct our emotions and feelings towards inanimate objects, whom we acknowledge as a mirror of our soul’s desire. Love is wonderful because it is imaginative, created by the imagination. It is an insult to love understood as an authentic relationship. Imaginative love does not involve responsibility towards the other, does not ask for sacrifice, nor simply listening the other’s real needs. From selfish love that treats the other as an object, we have switched to narcissistic and autistic love, which transforms an object into the other. Or else, into the illusion of the other. If a great psychoanalyst such as Melanie Klein argues that often the impulse to love stems from need to escape loneliness, certain “kinds” of love, that is, some psycho-pathological obsessions, mirror need for solitude as an escape from lack of love. They also reveal need for self-love.

“Love is eternal. There are people who love goats or sheep, I love a doll,” the French poet Joë Bousquet wrote. The title of the poem is “Fumerolle” ‘Fumarole’ and it significantly begins as follows: “Love in the mirror that fascinates the stars, poor fumarole”. Yes, love as a mirror of oneself, as a projection of one’s own needs, desires, instincts, and impulses on an external object, be it a person or a thing, it is truly like a fumarole, like smoke rising from a volcano, that is, very sour and corrosive. It obfuscates awareness of oneself and of the world, it dulls the relationship one has with his/her authentic self and with other people. Besides being a personality disorder, it is also a social one. Authentic relationships end up being burned down to ashes. The same is true for one’s ability to grow and live as people in relationship with the others and with reality, with the truth, even about themselves, about their fragility, suffering, disappointments, expectations, hopes, capabilities, and limitations. In a society where the truth is constantly manipulated and obscured by the smoke of lies and omissions and does not teach nor help to truly love ourselves, hence our loved ones, our partner, love is like playing with dolls in front of a mirror: poor fumarole.

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