The idea of being a grown man playing with dolls is not one that ever crossed my mind during my formative years.
But here I am, with a house full of girls who at first glance could be mistaken for models except, after a while, you realize that they are not moving.
I am quite happy to chat about the girls online with anyone who will listen. I am proud of each and every one of them... So why would I not dream to let anyone beyond others of the same mindset know of what transpires within these walls?
Is ownership hiding some secret perversion or depraved fantasy? Are they there because of some social shortfalls preventing me from interacting with the opposite sex?
Certainly, to read the gossip driven newspapers you would think that having these girls in your life would be down to one of those cases. But then, when did the truth ever sell newspapers.
The reality of doll ownership for me was a side effect of single parenting being incompatible with dating.
A two-year-old doesn't need a succession of potential mothers appearing then disappearing from their lives, whilst being a father certainly does not relinquish the need for human, or even pseudo-human contact.
My first knowledge of the idea of a pseudo partner was an article in the Metro. It spoke specifically of Real Dolls from Abyss creations.
Unlike many articles that I have read since it treated the subject with some respect, emphasizing the price of these girls being similar to the price of buying a small car.
Why did I think would someone pay so much money for what I then believed was little more than a glorified sex toy?
I found myself investing time reading everything that I could find on the subject and it rapidly became apparent that these were not sex toys but were often thought of as people,
And if sex happened it was incidental to, rather than the cause of having these girls in their owner's lives. Very much like any other form of relationship.
In the years since first seeing that Metro article it has become apparent that emphasising the societal outsider, and reporting of those with unhealthy fixations on younger-looking dolls sells more copy than reporting facts or emphasising that the average buyer of these girls will be the same sane,
Rational people who you arrange to see in the bank, who complete your taxes, who mend your plumbing or sort out your legal affairs.
In some ways I liken the issues facing those owning dolls to those who play video games in that the media would have all believe that playing games such as the Grand Theft Auto series causes real-life violence where the reality is that those who perform violent acts may have played the game but the game did not cause their character flaws.
That, of course, is not the way that the media would spin that story. And so it is with doll ownership. Five-foot adult proportioned dolls are reported as child sex dolls.
Girls with no mechanical or electric parts are reported as sex robots. Public perception is moulded by a media that is at best uninformed and at worst has a coliseum mentality of sacrifice the few to entertain the many.
Despite these dolls being exquisite, interactive works of art, having them in your life remains a taboo subject not spoken of except in the anonymity of dedicated forums of like-minded individuals.
Is that because of the perception of these being sexual objects, is the issue perhaps that the object is so realistic that it could be confused for a human?
Or is the issue that they become treated as human rather than objects by those who invite them into their lives?
Not much of a choice is there between the jaundiced perceptions of the ill-informed that ownership can be a result only from either sexual deviance or deemed insanity.
I find that those who have dolls in their lives are not embarrassed by having them, but rather they do not want to put others who come to the conversation with closed minds into situations where they are either embarrassed, given an excuse to exercise their ignorance, or given the ammunition to impose social stigmatism.
Doll owners talk amongst other like-minded individuals in dedicated open forums. The numbers are growing.
It is no longer completely true to say better to be happy in secret than miserable in public as the best of both worlds is completely open to all even before making your first purchase.
As for me. My boy is now grown. I have a lot of female friends. But my heart belongs to a small group of life sized dolls made in a factory in China from TPE and I do not foresee that ever-changing...
But just because I just told you that does not mean that I would tell anyone else, including those female friends, as in the real world, even one where ownership of dolls is growing, the subject remains very much taboo.
That you are here and you have read this far makes you one of the many who wants to know more.
In the next article in this series, we will look beyond the toxic picture of doll ownership created by the media to look not at why ownership has become a taboo subject but rather from the perspective of why people are willing to invest substantial amounts of money on inviting one (or more) of these girls (or boys) into their lives.