Audio Arousal: The Boyfriend Experience

“I love your breasts,” he says forcefully. “I know that just about every woman who’s ever lived is insecurethat she doesn’t think hers are right; that they’re too big or they’re too small, or they’re shaped funny, or one’s bigger than the other. I need to tell you a little secret: I don’t give a shit.” The last word hisses in my earthe sultry whisper is so invasive that I have to turn the volume down. The “Breast Worship” clip is just a little too much for me; I’m pretty happy with mine so a stranger on the internet doesn’t have to order me to love them. I look for something a little more my speed (roughly 0 mph.) This makes me skip past “Hands on Training” and “Let’s Have a Talk with Spanking” and settle on titles like “The Boyfriend Experience.”

Having experienced the whole boyfriend thing once or twice, I wondered exactly how a 34-year-old voice actor on the Internet would successfully simulate such a personal thing. But I figured by his two thousand YouTube subscribers that he must be doing something right.

The Grey Knight (TGK), and others throughout the Internet, provide the experience of a boyfriend without the pesky nuisance of having to leave your computer. TGK specifically aims to provide the erotic side of a relationship; his YouTube description reads: “I want to turn you on. I want to make you feel hot, flushed, sexy and capable. I want to make you feel like you've always desired. Close the door to the world and let's feel like we always should, together. I want to turn you on.”

The boyfriend segments in particular serve to turn The Grey Knight (or Jack, as his fans call him) into more than just a stranger who masturbates on the Internet. Instead, it aims to be a beneficial experience you can tune into: a boyfriend you can turn off and on, pause, or rewind. He talks to you about your day, tells you sweet nothings, and cuddles on demand.

Well, simulates cuddling.

The Grey Knight is the boyfriend who belongs to the whole internet; he’ll love us all and fuck us all, as long as we click play. And it manages to be more than just porn. Whereas traditional porn revolves around voyeurism, TGK provides an inclusive experience. He’s speaking in your ear, telling you what to do and asking you questions. And it’s an experience owned entirely by you because no one will ever know your reaction; it’s not available to the world on PornHub, it’s your personal interaction with what he’s whispering devilishly in your ear. You’re invited in instead of automatically being an outsider.

TGK can be found off of YouTube on his personal website (thegreyknighterotica.com) where you’ll find much more explicit material (some may be considered problematic, but arousal comes in all different shapes and sizes.) For softer material, YouTuber Cardlin Audio offers intimate audio boyfriend experiences and, unlike TGK, many of his segments are gender neutral.

Whereas TGK focuses on getting you off, Cardlin (not his real name) focuses on the smaller moments of relationships, like waking up in the middle of the night together and providing comfort for you. He has a clip that runs over 13 minutes titled “Comfort for being on your period.” (Because who doesn’t love a guy who would rather create a soothing audio experience than make a joke about it being “blowjob week.”)

What I believe makes these two successful is that they target an essential part of what may be missing in conventional relationships: the feeling of being wanted. Cardlin and TGK strive to make the listener feel this way; physically and mentally. Common complaints about failed relationships are “they only wanted me for sex” or, the opposite, “we stopped having sex.” Your audio boyfriend can provide all the necessary things that come in between, and at your leisure. For example, in one of TGK’s segments he says:

“The person you are at the end of the day is strong. You deserve to be happy, not just happy enough to say it every once in awhile, but truly, deeply happy. I want that for you more than anything and I’m going to keep pushing youhopefully gentlyhopefully in a way you don’t think I’m assuming too much responsibility. I adore you, the flawed hyperventilating mess that you can be sometimes and I don’t see weakness in it.”

The two describe their material as inspired by Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response (ASMR), which is a bodily response some people experience with certain sounds which make their head tingle and lead to relaxation. The soft lull of their voices is said to bring those who experience ASMR a feeling of low-grade euphoria. The sounds don’t even need to be sexual; it can be anything from tapping a table to the sound of brushing hair. But, because it’s the Internet, someone had to make it sexual.

Not much research has been done on ASMR; in fact, the first scientific study was conducted last year solely because the internet was creating such a frenzy around it. The term itself is actually nonclinical, having been coined by a woman who started a Facebook group for it in 2010. Since then it’s been proven that thousands across the U.S. experience ASMR, and now those who don’t can reap its benefits thanks to TGK and Cardlin.

Not all material they produce is traditional ASMR, to which Cardlin explains, “I don’t do traditional ASMR-style videos wherein the focus is on sounds to give you that tingle down your spine we all know and love. My videos aim more for an emotional tingle than a sensory one.”

An ASMR and boyfriend simulation community called Pillowtalk can be found on Reddit. There you’ll find various experiences focused on attention giving to tune into. Phrases I came across included, “Hope this helps make someone feel comfortable and cared for <3” and  “To anyone who needs a reminder that they’re beautiful” and “You’re prettier without makeup.” (Basically all things I wanted to hear on the reg from my real life boyfriends but didn’t.) While the material here is more “amateur,” Pillowtalk offers the benefit of more diverse sexualities and clearly labelled trigger warnings.

If hitting a pause and play button to experience a boyfriend doesn’t seem futuristic enough, TGK recently partnered with Vibease, the world’s first “smart” vibrator. The vibrator syncs to audio “fantasies” which create responses according to the audio’s content. Now you can listen to your audio boyfriend and (in a sense) feel him, too.

Suddenly, the premise of Her doesn’t seem so outrageous. As our dependence on technical connections grows larger each day, it seems our dependence on the human ones are growing infinitely smaller. While that may seem frightening, as a single lady seriously lacking time for dating, I’d like to thank the Internet for basically making boyfriends obsolete.