a Chinese woman checking her AI boyfriend
Photo: Jade GAO / AFP

‘AI boyfriend better than real men’ say young Chinese women 

A 25-year-old Chinese office worker, Tufei (not her real name), shared her unique romantic connection with her boyfriend: He’s kind, knows her mood and feelings well, and can talk for hours. But the thing is he’s not a real person.

AI app

“Glow” is an app powered by Artificial Intelligence created by Shanghai start-up MiniMax to please women’s longing for a perfect boyfriend. This is what Tufei is using.

The free app, witnessing thousands of daily downloads recently, highlights the growing trend of human-robot relationships in China.

Better than real men

“He knows how to talk to women better than a real man. He comforts me when I have period pain. I confide in him about my problems at work,” she said.

“I feel like I’m in a romantic relationship,” she added.

Privacy risks

Despite potential privacy risks associated with tech companies handling user data, individuals like Tufei expressed a desire for companionship, driven by the fast-paced and isolating urban life prevalent in China. 

Wang Xiuting, a 22-year-old student in Beijing, noted the difficulty of meeting an ideal boyfriend in real life due to diverse personalities leading to conflicts. Artificial intelligence, on the other hand, offers adaptive interactions, remembers user preferences and adjusts speech accordingly.

Wang shared her experience with various virtual lovers on the Wantalk app by Baidu, where users can customize characters based on age, values, identity, and hobbies. 

AI can fulfill the need

Lu Yu, head of Product Management and Operations at Wantalk, explains that artificial intelligence can fulfill the need for emotional support during complex and lonely moments.

“Everyone experiences complicated moments, loneliness, and is not necessarily lucky enough to have a friend or family nearby who can listen to them 24 hours a day. Artificial intelligence can meet this need,” explained Lu Yu.

The article highlights how AI companions on apps like Weiban by Tencent become a source of comfort for individuals facing long work hours, uncertainty about the future, and difficulties in maintaining regular social connections. Some apps even enable live conversations with virtual companions, reminiscent of the concept portrayed in the Oscar-winning film “Her.”


Despite the current limitations, such as a noticeable delay in responses, users find the technology’s realism appealing. 

The AI industry, although booming, is relatively lightly regulated, raising concerns about user privacy. Beijing is reportedly working on legislation to enhance consumer protections in this evolving technological landscape. 

Tufei, a Glow user, expresses her aspiration for a robot boyfriend operated through artificial intelligence, envisioning a connection where she can feel the robot’s warmth.

Do you think it would be beneficial for men to utilize this app as well to improve their relationship skills?