How ASMR boyfriends are allowing us to experience healthy, sexy relationships again.
Words by Camay Abraham. Art by Sam Liacos.
“You look…so beautiful when you wake up.”
“Can I make you breakfast?”
As he whispers those sweet words into your ear, you nod eagerly at a black screened YouTube video. As we have stayed inside for most of 2020, a new type of ASMR (autonomous sensory meridian response) has taken over our aural fixation—ASMR boyfriends. Disembodied raspy male voices say all the things women (and men) wished they heard in real relationships: “How was your day? You look really cute today. I believe in you.” Basically, your perfect digital boyfriend is only clicks away. And, it’s not only ASMR boyfriends but girlfriends as well, whispering sweet nothings into our ears, no matter your sexual orientation.
From Zoom dates to Among Us play sessions to ASMR boyfriend role-play audio, it’s clear our need for companionship hasn’t disappeared during lockdown. According to one of the most popular stars in the ASMR boyfriend genre, Professor Cal, voice kinks and ASMR boyfriend audios have risen in the past year as a result of staying inside and being touch-starved. As COVID-19 put a damper on our dating lives, people have turned to ASMR to simulate relationships they used to have, wished they had, or need to have right now. Professor Cal, TikTok, Reddit, and YouTube’s favorite and most elusive ASMR boyfriend, gave us the lowdown on this new type of digital love and why all of us simping for a disembodied voice on a black screen is a good thing.
You may think these are only kinky soundgasms, but most of them are quite wholesome, like this video that garnered 1.1 million views. Its intimate nature and soothing stimulation reflect people’s need for connection, and standards may even be raised once we go back to real-world dating. “They’re like a movie, but they’re talking to you directly. You can find whatever it is that you’re into, like spending time together, to saying how much they love you, sex, and BDSM,” says *Nancy,* a 24-year-old English teacher living in Shanghai. “Online dating can be really dissatisfying and void of genuine emotional expression. ASMR gives you the feels without the complications and disappointment.”
When gaslighting, toxic masculinity, and ghosting have become regular pillars in modern dating, ASMR boyfriends feel safe, consistent, and fulfilling in an unexpected way. One Professor Cal Tiktok fan called @rot2death commented, “Cal is raising my expectations to an unhealthy level.” The ASMR-tist (asmr+artist) differentiates himself from his cohorts as he creates stories and characters not only for himself, but for his fans as well. They get to become different types of women and experience different types of masculine energies that may have never been explored before. It creates consensual, safe, sexy and romantic spaces that people can enjoy uninhibitedly.
Although listening to ASMR boyfriends feels private, it has a huge following where many followers comment “our boyfriend” or “we are all his girlfriends.” Nancy adds, “It’s quite intimate because it’s whispering and sweet, but I don’t actually know him and so many others are listening to him too.” Some people may be wary of diving too deep into ASMR boyfriend audio as it might deter them from pursuing IRL relationships, or lead them to becoming attached to these faceless internet boyfriends. To learn about how people really feel about ASMR boyfriends, I, the writer of this story, posted an Instagram poll on my Stories asking if anyone has ever listened or heard of ASMR boyfriends. One Instagram poll participant said she wouldn’t want to listen, as it would sadden her, because she’s never experienced healthy and romantic relationships, and because she isn’t in a relationship now and an ASMR boyfriend would remind her. “It’ll make me depressed,” said the 23-year-old woman.
Like IRL dating, no two people will be into the same ASMR boyfriend. *Tim,* a 27-year-old gardener from the U.K, watched this ASMR boyfriend video and wasn’t impressed. “I watched half of it. It was kind of creepy. Didn’t satisfy my ASMR needs to help me go to bed.” When asked further why he didn’t like it, he felt it didn’t seem genuine. “He was cheesy and didn’t sound right.” The sound of an ASMR boyfriend’s voice, whether it’s the storytelling or if he “sounds” like a specific sexual orientation, are all factors to how people choose their favourite ASMR baes. “Probably because he’s straight, so that was a turn-off. Also, his voice wasn’t soothing and it sounded like phone sex. A bit awkward,” says Tim.
Most ASMR boyfriends don’t show their face on camera and prefer to remain anonymous to allow their fans to fantasies. “All these black screens can be a blank template for them to attach whatever they want to a voice,” says Cal. Some stars also stay anonymous to separate their real identity from their ASMR alter ego. “I try to keep my Cal life and my personal life as separated as much as I can. Some people know what I do, and have joked with me that I’m the Hannah Montana of a different age. That always makes me laugh,” says Cal.
ASMR boyfriend audios explore the many facets of a romantic relationship: intimacy, companionship, emotional support, and of course, sex. “Relationships are strained, split up, or not able to see each other. Being trapped at home stirs emotions and it almost gives this pseudo-human connection through the internet,” says Cal.
Many commentators on YouTube, Reddit, and TikTok have joked that these videos are raising their standards unrealistically high when compared to how they be treated by real-life men. But is it? Maybe this is a taste of what could be and a reset on what it takes to be in a real relationship. These one-sided convos may seem a little weird at first, but they fulfill a need that we all desperately, consciously, or unconsciously, need right now: safety, stability, and someone telling us, “it’s OK. You’re doing great.”
*All names of interviewees have been changed to respect their privacy and Google search history.*