Do we need a rent-a-friend website?

A service which allows lonely friend-seekers to pay for platonic companions is already a hit in Japan.

Will rentafriend.com catch on here?

The service, modelled on businesses already popular in Japan and other parts of Asia, allows lonely individuals to peruse and select "friends" from a list of profiles sorted by zip code.

These strictly platonic companions are paid between $10-$150 dollars hourly for their services, averaging $20-$50 dollars. While the idea of renting a friend might seem bizarre to some, social scientists say the service might actually be beneficial. "It may in fact help people meet others and get back into circulation," John T. Cacioppo, the author of Loneliness: Human Nature and the Need for Social Interaction, told the Associated Press. "If it's used as a substitute for meaningful face-to-face relationships, it's not going to work."

* Click here to see a news report about rentafriend.com.

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