I am a Muslim Arab woman who loves Korean and Japanese dramas. One of my favorite J-Dramas was called, Absolute Boyfriend. A beautiful young single woman named Riiko, who’s in desperate need of a boyfriend, applies for one through a company that aims to help women avoid the sorrows of heartbreak by creating a robotic boyfriend engineered to be everything she wants. Her robotic boyfriend’s name is Tenjo Night(o) and Riiko has programed Nighto to be slightly jealous, highly intelligent, and a bit adventurous when it comes to sex. He has a refreshing smile, he’s reliable, has a strict personality, and possesses her ideal body type. Riiko also adds that whenever she’s in a predicament, Nighto comes flying to her rescue like a knight on a white horse. In the beginning she struggles with adjusting to this man who is precisely what she wanted. I mean he looks and acts perfect. But then something strange happens and Nighto begins to develop real feelings for Riiko; feelings he wasn’t programmed to experience. But, by this time, Riiko had already met and fallen in love with an actual flesh and blood, non-robotic man. Just a real guy, with real problems, and really annoying habits.
I decided to rewatch the eleven episode series this past weekend and I couldn’t help but wonder, if to avoid the sufferings of heartbreak and all around lonliness, would a woman go as far as buying a robotic boyfriend if the possibility were offered to her? If we singles were given the option to program a robotic man that looks and feels real, but really isn’t, would we?
“Fuck yeah!” blurted out Sumiah the moment I asked.
“That didn’t take long,” I laughed.
“He doesn’t look like a robot though, right?”
“No, he legitimately looks like him,” I said pointing at a guy who passed us as we walked down the lakefront on the first beautiful real Spring day we’ve had in Chicago in quite some time.
Being in control means you won’t ever end up getting hurt.
“Would he move around like a robot or be like a real guy,” she asked, moving her hands around as freely as a human can. “Because if it’s that Terminator shit, I don’t want that. I want him to look and act like a real guy.”
“If he’s like the character in the drama I watched, then he’s like every other guy out there, but he’s a robot. He doesn’t have a brain. No heart. No feelings of his own, just whatever you program him to be.”
“I can control him? Then FUCK YEAH!”
“You would want to control him,” I asked interested in Sumiah’s theory.
“Yeah! Love isn’t real anymore. It’s all about which person has more control. That’s the truth.”
“Control doesn’t equal love.”
“It does in the twenty-first century where women want robots instead of men,” she said with a laugh.
I couldn’t argue with Sumiah as moments from my past relationships flashed before my eyes. The moments I felt controlled, manipulated. I allowed myself to be walked on and accepted a great many wrong things to feel what I once thought was genuine love.
Love isn’t real anymore. It’s all about which person has more control. That’s the truth.
“I would take a robotic boyfriend any day. He wouldn’t have any fucking annoying ass family, sex is on your time, he doesn’t have to be fucking obsessed with dumb ass sports or all that I’m haning with my friends all night shit. I mean I’m happy in my relationship but still there’s a lot of things with him that I would fucking change. He plays too many games, lies so much, and he thinks I don’t fucking know. And, on top of all that, he’s def not gonna have his eyes stray.”
“He looks at other girls,” I asked.
“Always,” she said. “He tries to hide it, but I know he’s doing it.”
“So why don’t you confront him about it?”
“Because it’ll just lead to more arguments and he’ll deny, deny, deny; so what’s the fucking point?”
“I understand that, but trust me when I say some arguments are worth having. Wallah if I had confronted or put my foot down on so many things I wouldn’t be in the postion I’m in today. Communication is so important.”
“Is this a Woman Up Wednesday moment,” she said with a laugh.
“Hey! You’re the one who asks for my advice. I’m just trying to help you based on the shitty mistakes I’ve made.”
“You know I always need your advice. I just seriously don’t know how to communicate with someone as fucking dumb as him. That’s why I would take an Absolute Boyfriend. Someone who’s smart, funny, sexy as fuck… but has a good heart and doesn’t take me for granted. I’m tired of love being about control and this isn’t just this relationship, it’s every relationship. Every guy!”
“Well, maybe we’re just picking the wrong guys.”
“Apparently,” I added with a laugh.
“Maybe. I mean, I’m happy when I have the upper hand and he knows he can’t start stupid shit. I just don’t understand why it’s so hard to make him change.”
“Men don’t change. No man ever really changes. He adjusts. Just like us.”
“Well, he’s not adjusting right. I need to get his fucking head reprogramed. I wish he was a robot. I like how he looks, he’s funny, knows how to make me feel special when he’s on his game. When he’s off, he’s way off. That’s why if he was a robot, I would have no problem!”
I could see hurt written all over Sumiah’s face. She had given her boyfriend plenty of chances to change; to be and do better for her, himself, and their relationship as a whole. Communication, compromise, and compassion was lacking. Everything that an Absolute Boyfriend would have. In place of those things, control was (as it is many relationships) the ultimate goal for either him or her. Why? Because being in control means we you won’t ever end up getting hurt. But is that simply a ploy to avoid actually doing what many of us fear- feeling?
Anyone who knows me or has followed my work knows I have consistently stressed that human beings need to FEEL again after a heartbreak. Really, truly allowing ourselves to feel the things that come as second nature to all of us – hurt, fear, anger, distress, hopelessness, guilt, etc. Oftentimes, if you even attempt to tap into any of the aforementioned feelings, you run the risk of being seen as depressed, bitter, black-hearted, or weak. An absolute boyfriend would avoid women having to feel those things because he would be everything we require:
- Physically appealing
We would never have to worry about the pains of a breakup, dissappointment or betrayal. No complaining about him texting all the time or breaking promises. But mostly, no more pain in goodbye AND on top of that, the control would always be in our hands. What a thought, huh?
“What about you?” asked Sumiah.
“God, I don’t know. I’ll admit it would be nice to not have to continuously be disappointed in a relationship. But I know what my problem is. I choose the wrong guys.”
“That’s not your fault. You didn’t know your exes were fucking shit.”
“I knew they weren’t diamonds either,” I said. “Somewhere I always knew they weren’t good for me. Always. Nidal, I felt off, you remember,” I said talking about my ex fiancée Nidal Fuk(h)Me who literally fucked me over. “I knew Hani was a dick who always made comments about my weight and shit. Then let’s not even start with Pan.”
“Yeah, but you were hoping they would change or that you were wrong.”
“Which I wasn’t. I mean a robotic boyfriend would be great maybe half the time, but I’m sure that, after a while, I’d be annoyed of him being so perfect.”
“You’re the only girl in the world who’s not looking for a perfect guy, ’cause I sure as fuck am.”
“I don’t want perfect. I want perfectly-imperfect for me. I don’t mind hurting if it’s with the right guy.
“Well, you’d better learn the power of control in a relationship now, because that’s the only way to have one in this day and age. Trust me. That’s why a robotic boyfriend would be fucking amazing.”
Control. Human beings naturally want to control everything. Not only in the workplace or interpersonal situations, but also in matters of the heart. But is it real love to control the feelings of another simply to force them to conform to who and what we want them to be? Choice is something that we are given in this life; although, in many respects, that choice can be taken away from us by society, religion, culture, or circumstance. But it’s always there and we are ALWAYS given a choice regarding how we deal with it. Choice is what separates us from the animals. If robotic boyfriends were an option and we singles chose to get one that looked, spoke, behaved, and dressed exactly as we wanted him to, would it be the love we’re actually seeking? Or simply an attractive metal lump we rule over like a dictator in order to not feel so alone?
True love is becoming a belief of the past.
I thought long and hard about the idea of an Absolute Boyfriend like Tenjo Night(o) and, as alluring as he may be, the idea of controlling an avenue of love is not something I’m interested in. Being single sucks at times, but then there are times when it’s amazing and freeing. You discover things about yourself that weren’t there when you were locked down by a real man who didn’t value you or your emotions. Emotions that would be completely erased in an Absolute Boyfriend. Feeling is a tough thing to do in a world moving at the rate we are. True love is becoming a belief of the past. But emotions are also what makes each of us uniquely ourselves. Programming ourselves to be what another wants us to be is in no way, shape, or form what this life is supposed to be about. IT IS NOT! We are here to feel something uniquely expressed by human beings – love. Love cannot be programmed, refurbished, or rebooted. It is something that is organic, raw, and unpredictable.
When we let go of control we make room for genuine love. Genuine love that can only be found in another living, breathing, feeling person who doesn’t have to be an absolutely perfect boyfriend. All he has to be is someone worth the amount time time and emotional investment involved in a healthy, mutually respectful relationship. A guy who makes us feel things whether we are comfortable with those feelings or not. A guy who doesn’t need to be programmed to see you for all of the wonderful things that we are. That’s an absolute boyfriend. No metal. No technology. Just heart.