When two people are close , they tend to see through each other’s faults. Which is probably why you sometimes hold back talking to friends about problems. You already know what they’re gonna say, and you don’t get the much-needed fresh perspective on things.
Sometimes, you just want someone who can deliver raw, unbiased advice. Or maybe you just want to talk to someone entirely different.
Forging new friendships take time and don’t always guarantee results. So why not rent a friend?
That’s exactly what I did at Pally, a “social experience company” where you can hire someone to be your sports/shopping/party/dinner companion. You can even have them act as your partner for a social event or as your bridesman/groomsman. Just about anything can be bought with money these days anyway, so surely this is hardly strange.
Because some roles require more work than others, the fee understandably depends on the task. One has to fork out triple the amount for a fake partner than for a sports buddy even if both are for the same amount of time.
There’s also a “someone to chat with” option, which was what I went with. Prices start from $15/15min to $40/hr. I signed up for the latter.
Customers can specify preferences in gender and age group when booking a Pally. They can also request for one with a certain skill set or knowledge on a particular subject, though depending on availability the criteria might not be met. They’ll then be sent two Pally profiles and will have to choose one.
For me, I went with “Sage”. His profile read: Born and raised in New York City. A former US Marine and dog handler. Theatre is my bliss and livelihood. My goal is to become an interesting collection of mass or a massive collection of interesting.
I wasn’t sure what to expect. Was I to share a personal problem and await life-changing (or not) advice? Was I to let him school me in a topic I was unfamiliar with and maybe blow my mind?
Given that this is a type of service, I was expecting some level of standard.
We met at a hotel cafe. Sage was polite and well-spoken, and it was clear within minutes that he’s one of the self-assured types.
Some Pallies use a pseudonym for privacy reasons. Sage uses one, but let slip his real name when we shook hands. Not that he seemed to mind one bit, though.
The 31-year-old moved here about three years ago to study theatre, and is hoping to stay on after graduation. He chose to be a Pally because, while the money helps, he loves meeting new people. Before me though, he had only been on one other assignment where he had to play the role of a boyfriend at a CNY reunion dinner (we know it’s a thing here).
Sage’s passion for theatre was evident pretty early into the conversation, but since it isn’t one of my interests, I started zoning out.
Then, he very casually mentioned that he’s in a polyamorous relationship.
My interest was piqued, and I probably sat up a bit straighter. I immediately had a barrage of questions.
What? How? Why? He must have noticed my immediate renewed interest.
He shared that while he’s been dating the same woman for the past three years, he also sees other people as part of their arrangement. He loves her a great deal but also loves “variety.”
“If you can have more than one parent or child, why can’t you have more than one lover? Does having a few children mean you divide your love, and love each of them less?”
But most people don’t take to the idea of sharing, I said. They want their partner’s full love and attention.
“How does your partner loving someone else devalue his love for you? If anything, your time together will then be extra meaningful,” he argued.
Doesn’t your partner get jealous? Do you get jealous?
“People only get jealous when they’re afraid that they might lose the person. But with fully open communication and reassurance that you two will still be together even if there are other people, these negative feelings can be sorted out. Different people add to our lives in different ways, so why should we stick with one?”
Sage shared that while his partner used to get jealous, she’s now cool with their dynamics and is encouraged by him to meet new men so she can get all the love she deserves. He claims to never feel jealous, and also pointed out that cheating is essentially the same thing, just way less ethical. Fair enough.
Was he ever in a monogamous relationship?
“Yes. We dated for eight years and were married for one. It ended in divorce.”
Our entire time together took slightly more than an hour, the bulk of it of which was spent discussing polyamory.
Sage was articulate with his views but sensitive to mine, and whenever I had questions, even considerably intrusive ones, he was patient in providing answers of sound reasoning. I found that time flew by, and actually wished I could have more with this aspiring “collection of interesting.”
As a whole, it wasn’t so much the topic as it was the manner in which Sage interacted with me that made the chat thoroughly enjoyable. It didn’t matter that we had contrasting views; he was charismatic and intuitive, though I suppose this is hardly surprising for someone with this sort of lifestyle choice.
We didn’t have the time for me to actually go to him with a problem. But would I go to a Pally with one? If they’re anything like Sage, I would.
As with most things, it’s always a gamble, and you never know who you’d get. You just gotta take the leap. After all, it just takes an hour, and can be less.
I wasn’t expecting to take the experience too seriously, but I walked away with a hug and a broadened mind.
Need a friend? Pally up. You might well be surprised.