Dr. Tracy Bennett
Dr. Tracy Bennett
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We attach to those we spend the most time with. It only makes sense that the more time spent online, the more we develop our virtual selves and prefer online relationships. For some heavy screen users, attachment to online characters are taking precedence over in-real-life and virtual people. Exclusively virtual connections are most commonly in Asia, but they are starting to be seen in America as well. Find out if you know anybody who’s a stranded single, suffers from celibacy syndrome, or practices objectophilia!

Stranded Singles

Stranded Singles is a term coined by Professor Masahiro Yamada, a sociologist at Chuo University in Tokyo. It refers to the larger number of young Japanese adults who live at home with their parents and have diminished interest in engaging in real life romantic or sexual relationships.[3] Studies have shown that an increasing number of Japanese women, 16-24 years old, are “not interested in or despise sexual contact.”[4]

Trends in Japan May Be Just the Beginning

A 2015 study of 18 to 34 year old’s in Japan found:

  • ~70% of unmarried men and 60% of unmarried women are single.
  • ~44.2% of women and 42% of men admitted their virgin status.
  • 30% of the men and 26% of the women were not looking for a relationship.[2]
  • 75% of single women and 70% of single men had no sexual experience by the time they were 20 years old.[3]

Celibacy Syndrome

Celibacy Syndrome means “a departure from human affection.”[4] High rates of celibacy syndrome has been posited to be a main contributor for decreasing marriage rates in Japan. Changing gender roles, like Japanese women becoming more confident in their independence and success, may also be a contributor.

Pot Noodle Love

Pot Noodle Love refers to the increasingly common instant sexual gratification from casual sex, virtual relationships, anime, and online pornography.[4] Shocking statistics have recently revealed that, between the ages of 20 and 29, 30% of single females and 15% of single males have fallen in love with a character in a game or meme.[3]

Terms to Get Familiar With:

  • “Moe”- Refers to individuals who fall in love with fictional computer characters. This type of relationship allows the user to control the emotions and traits of their virtual partner. Content creators make these virtual characters to be appealing to both males and females.[3]
  • “Herbivores”- Refers to a male that does not find sex or relationships important.[4]


Otherwise known as object sexuality, objectophilarefers to people who feel romantic, emotional, or sexual feelings toward an inanimate object(s).[5]

Real Life Examples:

  1. Married to video game character – A 27-year-old man in Tokyo named Sal 9000 married Nene Anegasaki, a video game character from the Nintendo DS game Love Plus. Sal prefers his virtual girlfriend to real-life relationships, admitting that he is attracted, in part, because she doesn’t get mad at him for not replying immediately.[5]
  2. Two Loves – In 2004, Erika Eiffel fell in love with her “soul mate,”the Eiffel Tower. She insists their marriage is as real as any real-life relationship.[6]
  3. Two object relationships over a lifetime – At 12 years old, Joachim fell in love with his organ. Their relationship was described as “an emotionally and physically very complex and deep relationship.” The relationship lasted years, satisfying his need for an emotional connection. Currently, Joachim is in a long-term relationship with a steam locomotive.[6]
  4. Married to a Hologram – For years, Akihiko Kondo felt ignored and shunned by women in real life.His luck changedwhen he fell in love with Hatsune Miku, a world-famous artist and hologram plays packed stadiums in Japan.[7]

Why Would Anyone Be an Objectophile?

  1. Social Isolation –caused by living in a remote location, constant screen use, or impoverished motivation or social skills may lead a young adult.[1]
  2. Control & Self Protection–when a relationship is one-sided, being socially inept doesn’t matter. Loving an object that cannot actively engage with you is one way to remain in control and avoid conflict altogether.[1]
  3. Animism –a belief that objects and buildings have a sentient or spiritual existence.[1]


Digisexuality is defined as a fundamental sexual identity that comes through using screen technology. It consists of two waves of “sexual technology:”[8]

“First Wave”- fully in affect.

  • Digital pornography
  • Live camera pornography
  • Live sex chats
  • “Direct communication technologies” are not designed with the intention of being used for sexual interaction but are commonly used for that purpose.[8]
    • Skype or Snapchat

“Second Wave”- evolving with technology.

  • Sex robots
  • Virtual reality sex[8]


Many of us have seen TV shows and movies with extremely human-like robots. For instance, in the movie Her(2014) the main character falls in love with his digital assistant. Studies have found:

  • 27% of 18 to 24-year- olds would consider dating a robot.[3][4]
  • Among the British population, men were three times more likely to form a relationship with a robot than a human woman.[3]
  • 40% of 18 to 34-year-olds are worried that robots will eventually take their jobs.[3]
  • 59% of all online traffic is generated by bots, including dating sites and social media sites.[6]

Experts have estimated that in approximately a decade, realistic sex robots will be common all over the world.[5] There are realistic sex robots on the market already. News reports show footage of men dressing their female robot and taking her to dinner. Due to artificial intelligence, the robots can respond to questions, carry conversations, and remember the responses the pleased you the most. Their pupils will even dilate and their skin warms and lubricates! The argument isn’t that robots are replacing humans, but rather people are preferring robots to humans.

Thanks to Sara Doyle, GKIS intern, for teaching us the new terminology for new types of love. Wondering how to protect your child from becoming an objectiphile?

Learn creative parenting strategies that encourage family connection with our GKIS Connected Family Online Course.

I’m the mom psychologist who will help you GetKidsInternetSafe.

Onward to More Awesome Parenting,

Tracy S. Bennett, Ph.D.
Mom, Clinical Psychologist, CSUCI Adjunct Faculty

Works Cited

[1] Hindustan Times. “Decoding Objectophilia: 5 reasons why people fall in love with objects.” Abhinav Verma, 2017.

[2] The Japan Times. “In sexless Japan, almost half of single young men and women are virgins: survey.” Mizuho Aoki, 2016.

[3] The Guardian. “For Japan’s ‘stranded singles’, virtual love beats the real thing.” Tracy McVeigh, 2016.

[4] The Observer Japan. “Why have young people in Japan stopped having sex?”

Abigail Haworth, 2013.

[5] “10 People Who Fell in Love with Inanimate Objects.” Sean D., 2014.

[6] Psychology Today. “Intimate and Inanimate.” Mark D. Griffiths Ph.D., 2013.

[7] The New York Times. “Do You Take This Robot …” Alex Williams, 2019.

[8] Sexual & Relationship Therapy. “The rise of digisexuality: therapeutic challenges and possibilities.” McArthur, Neil, Twist, Markie L. C., 2017.

[9] Sandford: SPICE. “Japanese Education.” Lucien Ellington, 2005.

Photo Credits

Photo by Rochelle Brownon Unsplash

Photo by Jelleke Vanooteghemon Unsplash

Photo by Matt Borsicon Unsplash

Photo by Icons8 teamon Unsplash

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