Humans are becoming more and more connected with social media platforms and electronics than any other time in history. They’re also less emotionally connected, more anxious, more stressed and lonelier. According to a recent study in Perspectives on Psychological Science, people who suffer from loneliness die earlier and the effects are greater for younger people than older people. As we become more and more technically savvy, we’re becoming less and less able to build healthy, real relationships. Everyone who has a phone feels more and more connected to it, and that is the thinking behind sexbots. Technology is reaching and exploring more ways to help humans feel more connected, more intimate and less lonely. Programming in numbers, words and languages is one thing, but being able to relate, feel touched and feel as though someone cares could cure loneliness, anxiety and reduce depression. After all, humans can adapt to almost anything, but they cannot adapt to not feeling connected or having intimacy in their lives. It is the source of both physical and mental illness.
Technology’s efforts to create more and more involvement between humans and robots are not new. Sexbots have been around since 2007, but they are becoming increasingly lifelike and “human.” There have been numerous stories, movies and TV shows that have centered on humans falling in love with their virtual reality partner. It seems impossible to imagine, but technology is advancing at such an incredible pace, if you had asked someone fifty years ago about intimacy and sexuality, you would think it old fashioned or provincial.
In many ways we’ve all had the experience of falling in love with someone not in our lives. You may have a favorite book and have fallen in love with the main character and missed them when you finished the book. Or fallen in love with someone you met online only to see the relationship break up when you met them in person.
What changes would sexbots make in relationships?
- Virtual partners could be designed to help minimize loneliness for shut-ins, widows or those with chronic illness.
- Virtual partners could be programmed to be fitness companions or caretakers for people with physical limitations as a way to promote healthy lifestyles.
- Virtual partners could co-exist with a family, but issues such as jealousy, attraction and other very human characteristics will have to be dealt with prior to this happening. Thus far sexbots are female gender. Due to their emotional limitations women are less interested in male sexbots.
- Virtual partners could be helpful in the home with doing tasks many dual income couples have no time for.
- Virtual partners may be the emotional component to stabilize a faltering relationship.
- Virtual partners could induce more loneliness if they were so humanlike that you no longer desired human interaction.
- Virtual partners may also stifle the benefits of a real human relationship. You need a partner that will challenge you, reject you at times and grow with you.
- Virtual partners are not going to age….You are.
People die every year from loneliness and a lack of intimacy in their lives. Sexbots may or may not be able to bridge that gap. You may have to wait years before sexbots are available, but you can learn how to build more intimacy in your real life by practicing these behaviors.
- Become more comfortable with who you are and own it. You don’t have to defend yourself or your weaknesses. All intimacy stems from acceptance and love of yourself first.
- Be open to new relationships. Use relationships to explore your own feelings more and practice inclusiveness instead of exclusiveness.
- Be willing to take risks and trust others with your weaknesses. Since no one is perfect, it’s okay if you aren’t.
- Remember part of self-care is to have intimacy in your life. The ability to be real and loved with another person is the most incredible experience of all, and it restores physical and emotional health.
- Don’t give up on building intimacy. You may have been awkward in high school or other times in your life, but you aren’t that person anymore. Intimacy changes and evolves as you mature.
Intimate relationships are sought after by everyone, and even though they are complicated they add depth and meaning to life. It’s difficult to imagine the increased complications that will most certainly exist with sexbots. Creating a great relationship with a real person is perhaps one of the greatest gifts all humans have an opportunity to experience. With effort and commitment your life can include relationships that allow you to express your true identity, grow and change, and ultimately reap the rewards of self-fulfillment. Will that be possible with a sexbot? That answer lies in the future.