A virtual companion is an interactive program accessible through web or mobile that serves as a companion or parter for the user. Most commonly this relationship is a boyfriend or girlfriend relationship, fulfilling some of the functions usually associated with these relationships. A virtual boyfriend or girlfriend program often has a variety of different reactions or prompts with which they interact and support the user. These virtual companions have become quite popular in East Asia, with some success in the West as well.
The virtual companions usually entertained and compliment users, ask how users are doing, or provide sexual enticement. Virtual companions often provide a guaranteed positive experience with a minimal amount of potential error and no rejection for the user. "Given the sometimes rocky road to love in the real world, many users find virtual partners even more desirable than the flesh-and-blood variety". Lonely individuals may often find that a virtual companion provides just the right amount of attention that they need, without the drawbacks that real relationships might have such as nagging, judging, or jealousy. A virtual boyfriend, for instance, will have his attention always available to his user, or a virtual girlfriend will ensure her user that he is strong, attractive, and of good character.
"Bandai Network's Mail de Koi Shite (or Falling in Love by Mail) is targeted towards men who are given the choice of seven virtual women, including a school teacher and a nurse". After the player chooses a companion, he enters into a "three-month email courtship" by which "the user must seduce his cyber-love by scoring as many points as possible by finding out as much as he can about his "girlfriend" - apparently not always an easy task". At the end of three months, the verdict of "I like you" or "We can still be friends" is given to the user.
"If you’re thinking that you don’t have any use for a virtual boyfriend or girlfriend, then you may want to consider a few things. With everyone feeling some type of stress, there is nothing wrong with getting a “pick me up” a few times a day. Often times, just hearing that you look nice or that your outfit is pretty can do wonders for your self esteem. Virtual boyfriends and girlfriends are by no means meant to replace real world relationships, but hearing something nice about yourself can put a smile on your face and help get you through your day".