• Few or No Friends

Rent-A-Friend: What do you think?

Published: July 29, 2010 | Last Updated: August 8, 2023 By | 12 Replies Continue Reading

This morning a reporter from a German newspaper called to ask my thoughts about Rent-A-Friend.

Basically, you can enter your zip code and search for someone nearby to spend time with you, doing anything you want to do—except you know what. You can try it out and see the friends available in your area, you don’t need to register. If you decide to make the plunge, rates start at a base of $10 per hour and are negotiable.

Their elevator speech (cut and pasted from the site):

Rent a friend to teach you a new skill or hobby, or to show you around an unfamiliar town.
RentAFriend.com is strictly a platonic Friendship website. RentAFriend.com is NOT a dating website, and NOT an Escort agency. Services on RentAFriend.com are strictly for FRIENDSHIP purposes only.

The reporter asked me whether it’s really possible to rent a friend. Sure, our lives are complex and sometimes it’s hard to find a friend whose schedule is in sync with yours. You may feel like taking a run or a jaunt to the mall and she’s working under the pressure of a deadline-or she may want to get tickets for a concert next month and you can’t plan in advance because you don’t know where you’ll be.

I’ve previously written about The Spontaneous Friend—the soulmate whom you can call at any time of day and ask almost anything—and described some of the qualities that characterize such a special friendship. They include:

She feels as close to you emotionally as you do to her

She is likely to be at a similar place in her life as you and share some of the same interests

She has a malleable schedule or one that seems to effortlessly mesh with yours

Many of us simply don’t have friends that meet these criteria: It’s hard to find friends with whom we are intimate and who are accessible, flexible and available when we are.

The appeal of a rented friend is that you set the terms. She’s there at your calling on your terms. But back to my question, is that paid companion really a “friend?” I don’t think so. While we all crave the intimacy of warm spontaneous friendships, real ones can’t be rented or bought. They’re nurtured over time.

What do you think?

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  1. Friends for hire - The Friendship Blog : The Friendship Blog | July 14, 2016
  1. Anonymous says:

    I have same experience as you. We could be friends.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Is it just me, or do the pictures of the potential rent-a-friends look like they are trying to hook up with someone for sex or romance? They all have a come hither kind of pose. It’s very odd. I did a search for my area and saw mostly quite young people. Weird. The pictures put me off. Also, in the search tool when it gives you choices for narrowing down your search, it includes sexual orientation, which I’d have thought would be irrelevant for a truely platonic “friend” search.

    • Sydney says:

      As a female, I personally would feel more comfortable around a gay man than I would around a straight man in one of these scenarios because I’m entirely assured that there are no ulterior motives. Also as someone that’s a part of the queer community, it’s also cool to hang out with people that are like you in that sense even if it’s just platonic. Sexual orientation is a part of a person’s identity and sometimes plays a role in how they connect with others, it doesn’t necessarily insinuate what intentions they may have.

  3. Anonymous says:

    How about calling them prosti-pals… since they are sort of prostituting frienship?

  4. Although I would not consider rent a friend for myself, I would be very willing to rent one to visit my elderly mother. She was very social years ago, but now that she cannot leave the house and her mind has started to wander, she is alone with no social stimulation. She needs social interaction and most of her friends are no longer here. So, if I could find somebody, a “friend,” who can bond with her, I would “rent” her gladly.

  5. Sophia Dembling says:

    Finding someone to do this or that with is not difficult. What is hard is finding those people whose company truly enhances an experience for me. My definition of friend is someone I look forward to being with, not just a warm body to accompany me to the movies. This sounds like an escort service without the naked.

  6. Anonymous says:

    I would definitely rent a friend. I have been searching for friends for years. It is very difficult to make friends as a 50-year old.

  7. The Mrs. says:

    Well, I’ve often thought wouldn’t it be great if we could search for friends as we do mates. For example, there are plenty of online dating sites, but what about online friendship sites?

    Rent a friend – why not? We all need human interaction and platonic relationships are not easy to come by — not for me anyway. I’m 40 and a best friend/close female friendship(s) continues to elude me. Maybe I should try Rent a Friend!

  8. Dionne says:

    I thought counselling was a rent-a-friend thing too. The beauty of this, is there are no pre-concieved ideas. When you find someone new it is a whole new opportunity to be the best you, you can be. Sometimes we aren’t that nice to ourselves and each other. Maybe for some people this is exactly what they need as they are incapable of forming normal attachments to others. I always query people who say this is my best friend of 2-3 years. How on earth can you be best friends after such a short period of time.

  9. Vintage Mom says:

    Hi,where do I sign up?Im a sahm so its hard to make friends.

  10. Irene, this is certainly thought-provoking, isn’t it? I agree with you. I think you can rent a companion, but not a friend. You shouldn’t have to pay a friend to spend time with you, right? I can see value in the service, especially if you’re new to a community and would like someone to show you around. If a true friendship results, that would be a bonus.

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