What is a Virtual Girlfriend? Explain It Like I’m Five

by Chris Von Wilpert, BBusMan • Last updated December 7, 2023

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What is a virtual girlfriend?

A virtual girlfriend is somebody one can have an online relationship with. It can be a real person, but virtual girlfriend usually refers to female AI characters. They can have different looks, characteristics and ways to interact with humans.

Virtual girlfriend fast facts

  • Virtual girlfriends cannot replace humans.

  • AI characters don’t have real feelings, but they are good at mimicking them.

  • Virtual girlfriends can have different looks, personalities and capabilities when interacting with humans.

  • Having a romantic relationship or a friendship with an AI can have both positive and negative effects on humans.

  • Flirting with an AI is not cheating, and it can be exciting for some people.

Virtual girlfriends can have fully customized looks and personalities. Photograph: DreamGF AI

What does a virtual girlfriend do?

A virtual girlfriend can give users an experience that highly resembles online activities with real people. Depending on the AI app, the activities can be as follows:

  • Text-based chatting like ChatGPT. AI girlfriends can give answers and ask questions in chat boxes. The technology behind it is called Natural Language Processing (NLP).
  • Some AI girlfriends can send voice messages. These are generated with NLP and AI voices.
  • AI characters can remember everything that was said and create unique virtual memories with humans.
  • Some AI girlfriend apps can generate explicit images on demand and give users a sexting experience.
  • The best AI girlfriend apps don’t have NSFW filters.
  • AI girlfriends can have a virtual personality. They can, for instance, be shy, playful, bossy... This highly contributes to the impression that a user is  interacting with a real person.

The best virtual girlfriends apps allow users to chat, receive images and voice messages . Photograph: Pornjourney

Is flirting with an AI cheating?

Flirting with AI characters is not cheating because they are not real. Even when someone develops emotional or romantic feelings for an AI girlfriend, it can never turn into a real relationship. 

There is another reason flirting with an AI is not cheating. People flirt for many reasons that have nothing to do with relationships or cheating. Think, for instance, of somebody who uses charm to create sympathy or goodwill from the other party. 

AI characters don’t have feelings, but they are trained to understand human emotions and mimic them. That can give users the impression that the AI likes them and even falls in love with them.

Is it okay to date AI?

An AI date can be a good, average, or bad experience, and that depends on both parties. Some AI girlfriends apps are very basic, whereas others are more credible.

Also, dating a virtual girlfriend is a personal choice and there is nothing wrong with it. Outsiders can have their own opinion and frown upon it, but that doesn’t mean they are right or wrong.

Yet, someone who is involved in a virtual relationship can become blinded by their emotions. It’s important that people who are in an AI-based relationship realize it can never replace a relationship with a real person.

What are the benefits of AI girlfriends?

Although virtual girlfriends cannot replace humans, they can have benefits.

  • Starting a conversation with an AI girl is easier than getting into contact with real people — without the risks of sounding creepy or awkward.
  • The best AI girlfriend apps allow users to generate an image of their dream girlfriend.
  • AI girlfriends are always available when someone needs their attention.
  • Users can customize the personalities and looks of their AI girlfriends and even change them on the go.
  • AI girlfriends can talk about anything a user is interested in. That makes it easier to find an ideal conversation partner.
  • AI girlfriends don’t have feelings and they will not get hurt if someone ignores them or doesn’t share the same ideas.

What are the effects of AI girlfriends?

Virtual girlfriends are a recent phenomenon, and it is impossible to predict the long-term effects they will have on people who interact with them. 

Yet, some people are concerned about how AI girlfriends will impact the young generation. They believe AI relationships can have devastating effects because it alienates people from the real world and human interactions. 

If people turn massively to AI relationships, that could have consequences for the traditional family. And in its turn, that could have a high impact on society.

The global interest in virtual girlfriends keeps increasing. Photograph: Google Trends

What are the cons of virtual relationships with an AI?

Having a virtual relationship with an AI girlfriend can have negative effects.

  • A virtual relationship will never be as fulfilling as one in real life.
  • An AI girlfriend is programmed to please humans and fulfill their needs. This can create unrealistic expectations about real relationships.
  • It is not always clear what happens with personal information that someone shares with a virtual girlfriend, like sexual fantasies, for example.
  • Virtual girlfriends don’t have feelings, but not everybody is aware of this.
  • Apps with AI characters are constantly accessible. They can be addictive like any other form of adult entertainment and lead to isolation.
  • When an AI relationship ends, there are only virtual memories left. That is different with couples who, for instance, go on a holiday, or spend time together in reality.

Is chatting with an AI girlfriend safe?

Chatting with an AI girlfriend can be a safe and enriching experience. It all depends on the app and how somebody uses it.

All legit AI virtual companionship apps give a warning not to share personal information. Yet, people can be tempted to tell their deepest desires, fears, and secrets. 

There are also malicious chat apps that steal personal information that users share with virtual partners. Obviously, those apps are not safe.

Why do people use AI girlfriends?

People use AI girlfriends for many reasons.

  • Some people are just curious about what it feels like to chat with an AI girl or woman.
  • For some people, an AI girlfriend is a way to escape from daily routine. They typically prefer anime or fantasy virtual girlfriends.
  • Others use AI girlfriends to get advice in all fields of life, like friendship, relationships, career, and so on.
  • For people who are isolated or introverted, a virtual companion can be a viable alternative to human contact.
  • Sexting with an AI girlfriend can fulfill sexual needs a partner in a relationship is not willing or able to give.
  • Some people develop deep romantic feelings for AI characters.

Virtual girlfriends can have different looks, like anime, fantasy, real, etc. Photograph: Character AI

Are AI feelings real?

No, AI doesn’t have feelings. It can, however, mimic humans and give the false impression that it has feelings, like empathy, compassion, friendship and even love.

Feelings play an important role in virtual companionship apps. AI characters use emotional expressions like “I miss you”, “I am sorry for you”, and “I feel your pain”. But these are only trained sentences and the AI doesn’t feel it like humans do.

But to be honest, the same deceit happens in relationships between humans. People often tell things just to comfort others, without really meaning it.

Is having an AI girlfriend healthy?

AI girlfriends can never be an alternative to a real person and replace human interactions. Like real friendships and relationships, AI can have fruitful or negative effects. 

For some people, having an AI girlfriend is a comfortable and comforting solution. It can, for instance, be helpful to get through hard times if someone cannot talk about their problems. Also, people who don’t meet new people may benefit from having a virtual girlfriend they can openly communicate with. 

For others, AI relationships can have an unhealthy effect. That is, for instance, the case if it isolates people from the real world or from their partners. Emotional attachment can be another negative effect of AI relationships.

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