Would you hire someone to be your girlfriend?
Apparently, a number of Filipinos are willing to, according to a woman who offers herself as a girlfriend for rent.
Yumi*, 25, who is based in Metro Manila, started providing her services in March 2020 after seeing a subreddit where people were looking for companions, whether it was someone to talk to or something physical.
She decided to put up her own services, ensuring, of course, that she would provide only what she was comfortable with—nothing sexual—and broadcast it on social media without revealing her true identity.
“What I do is not about dating, about romance; it’s about companionship because a lot of people are lonely,” she told INQUIRER.net in an exclusive interview.
She stresses that her services are “clean.” Dates usually take place in cafes or parks; she has even played golf with a client and his friends.
Because of the pandemic, she has also opened online services through messaging, calls and video calls.
Lucrative but tiring
Though an anime fan herself, prior to putting up her services, she had no clue that there was an anime based on a manga called “Rent-A-Girlfriend.” She only discovered it during one of the first dates she had, when a client told her about it.
The show has been one way that people have been drawn to what she offers. She decided to use photos of the rental girlfriend on the show, Chizuru, as her online avatar. A number of her clients are anime fans too who have watched “Rent-A-Girlfriend” or have heard of it.
Yumi charges P1,000 for a two-hour date in person, while P1,000 can get you seven days of an online chat or seven days of a one-hour call. Seven days of a one-hour video call costs P3,000.
Last March, in her first week of dates, she wound up going on 19 dates in seven days. The payoff? Her earnings surpassed her P20,000 monthly salary—just in time, as she had resigned from her office job.
“Di ko namalayan kasi nag-eenjoy ako kumausap sa iba’t ibang tao,” she said of the experience.
(I did not realize [that I earned that much] because I enjoyed talking to different people.)
However, even if she can earn up to P5,000 in one day, she said it cannot be a full-time job because she gets tired from all the talking.
“Iyong boses ko kalaban ko (I’m up against my voice). Kailangan kong magpahinga (I need to rest) in between,” she said.
The job also comes with a risk: she does not require payment upfront, out of concern that clients might think she is a scam. Besides being a girlfriend for hire, she currently holds down two other jobs, one in social media management and the other in advertising.
As to why she has found success in doing this type of service, Yumi chalks it up to being able to get along with different types of people and most importantly, being able to listen.
“Kilalanin mo sila nang mabuti at makinig ka talaga… iyon lang naman talaga ang kailangan ng clients eh. Kailangan lang nila ng kasama at may makikinig sa kanila,” she said.
(Get to know them well and listen to them… that is all that clients need. They need a companion and someone to listen to them.)
‘Not a forever thing’
Yumi does not expect to do this in the long run. She said once she gets a boyfriend—which she hopes is in the “near future”—she will give it up.
“I’m already 25 so it’s not a forever thing,” she said.
What about finding someone among her clients?
“This is a job,” she said. “I try to not fall for my clients and of course hindi ka mafo-fall sa (you will not fall in love when) first meeting with a client. Love and interest develop over time.”
Yumi recognizes too that the work she does is still taboo in the Philippines, unlike in Japan, where people who rent themselves out can be covered by insurance.
She hopes that once she has enough money saved from this hustle, she can put up a business. But for now, she is having fun while it lasts.
“Enjoy ko lang iyong pagiging single and enjoy ko lang ang pagkikilala sa mga tao (I am just enjoying being single and getting to know people),” she said.
She can be reached on this Facebook page, where she posts dates she is available, testimonials from clients and the variety of food and places she is taken to. /ra
*[Editor’s note: The real name of the subject has been withheld upon request.]