FRIEND OR FAUX?
Some people pay money to receive emails, letters and photos from pretend lovers.
For just $50, you can rent a girlfriend for a month.
You’ll never get to kiss her, give her flowers or even meet her, but at least she’ll send you a few letters and maybe even scent them with perfume.
Imaginary girlfriends – and boyfriends – are the latest sensations on eBay, which currently lists more than 80 entries from men and women who want to be your baby – if you’re willing to pay the price.
If you’ve got $100, you can bid on “Let Me Be Your Imaginary Girlfriend,” who promises “a nice & sweet letter or a hot & naughty letter every week for two months,” along with e-mails and digital pictures.
For $14.99, you can get a “secret admirer” box of chocolates from an imaginary boyfriend on Valentine’s Day. And for just $4.99, you can land an “Imaginary Stalker Ex-Boyfriend,” who will e-mail you “on a daily basis, asking where you’ve been all day and who you were with.”
What’s going on here? Are people really that desperate to be in a relationship?
“Some guys are just paralyzed with dating. It’s like a phobia,” says L.A. clinical psychologist Robert Butterworth.
“If this gives them a boost of self-confidence, then it’s not so bad. It’s a step to building a relationship.”
The bidding is currently up to $51 on “Online Imaginary Girlfriend,” who boasts that she’s “great if you want to make another girl jealous or to prove to your friends that you do have a girlfriend.
“At the end of the four weeks,” she continues, “you can dump me however you’d like to, and I can beg you to take me back if you wish!!”
In real life, “Online Imaginary Girlfriend” is Amanda, a 22-year-old college student from Nova Scotia who posted her first auction on eBay last week.
“At first, I just did it as a joke,” Amanda told The Post.
“But then some guy paid me $100, and I thought, this is a lot better than working at Dairy Queen.”
Amanda is more revealing than most imaginary girlfriends – she gives out her cell phone number to whoever wins the auction. The guy who won her faux affections last week, a business student in Boston, has called three times since, and he and Amanda trade e-mail several times a day.
The original on-line imaginary girlfriend – a 22-year-old college junior named Judy in Wichita Falls, Texas – only promised four letters and a picture in her first auction, which she posted on eBay late one night last September.
“It started as just this off-the-wall idea at, like, 2 in the morning,” Judy told The Post.
She had been watching the 1987 movie “Can’t Buy Me Love,” starring Patrick Dempsey as a dorky high schooler who pays a cheerleader $1,000 a month to date him.
“I thought, what a great idea, but I wanted to do it in a way that I wouldn’t have to see the guy.”
That first auction netted $40, and Judy, who wants to be an elementary school teacher, now sells her services through her own Web site, www.judylovesme.com. Since September, she’s made about $300.
Meanwhile, her copycats have been raking it in on eBay – and the auctioneer isn’t about to stop them.
“This isn’t against our policies, because basically it’s just a pen pal service,” says eBay spokesman Hani Durzy.
“We’d draw the line if someone was offering to meet with the person, because that gets into selling human bodies, which is definitely against our policies.”
EBay doesn’t promise to protect buyers against deceptive imaginary girlfriends – and they are out there.
“Used to Model Panties,” a self-described “naughty college girl (theater major)” advertises herself with a picture that looked like it was ripped out of a lingerie catalog.
The first e-mail from Panties, which was signed “XOXOXO, Shari,” also contained a receipt for a payment made out not to Shari but to some guy named Brian, who runs the Internet site at a Ford dealership in Omaha.
A phone call to Brian ended up getting returned by his wife, Shari, who admitted with a laugh that Brian had written the XOXO note and that the picture on eBay was not her.
“Brian’s just a creative guy, always looking for easy ways to make money,” said Shari, a mother of three who works part-time as a phlebotomist at an Omaha hospital.
“We heard about this imaginary girlfriend thing a couple weeks ago, and we said, ‘Well, that sounds easy.’ ”
Since then, Shari and Brian have communicated with five men, writing them one letter and several e-mails once a day.
“They’re just lonely guys looking for a friend,” she says. “It’s safe companionship for them.”
For the most part, the guys have relatively tame e-mails, but one asked for a pair of Shari’s panties, and she complied – sort of.
“There’s no way I’d send him mine,” Shari says. “Those were fresh panties we bought at Wal-Mart.”
I’ve been seeing my “girlfriend” for several months now.
FRIEND OR FAUX?