I was intrigued to read about a growing site, My Girl Fund, which brings together paying male clients and women who, for a fee, pose as their girlfriends - virtually.

The site bans face to face meetings, which means all interactions happen online.

Virtual female sexy chat-13

Virtual female sexy chat video

However, what starts as an opportunity to help people explore their emotions could be emotionally stunting too.

Hopefully, the desire for interaction and companionship that drives users to seek out paid for, virtual girlfriends will be strong enough to help them find a real life, mutually rewarding relationship if and when they feel ready for one.

You are the consumer and you can have any need fulfilled, as long as you’re able to pay for it.

And having a real life partner doesn’t or shouldn’t, work like that.

The Spike Jonze film Her romanticises the idea of a virtual girlfriend, as introvert Theodore (played by Joaquin Phoenix) falls for his computer operating system Samantha (voiced by Scarlett Johansson).

In the film, Theodore is accused of desiring his computer because he finds real human emotions too challenging to deal with.

And although the idea of men paying women for nothing more than a nice, friendly chat is quite sad and sweet, there’s something sinister about it too.

When everything you could possibly desire is instantly available online, from sexual stimulation to entertainment to your supermarket shopping, it’s tempting to subject your relationships to the same set of rules.

We’re all aware that you don’t have to be in an especially dark or shadowy corner of the internet to be in the presence of the buying and selling of sex.

We know there are plenty of people online paying for everything from encounters to explicit material, and we’re often quick to judge and demonise both service providers and consumers - even though the sheer volume of content demonstrates that this is something that affects millions of people and not a tiny minority of 'perverts'.

But the business is built on virtual tenderness, and the very human need for compassion, attention and affection.