Could the Boyfriend Pillow be the perfect pandemic partner for singles?
I mean, I’ve dated weirder dudes.
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Relationships are strange. After my last one crashed and burned like the proverbial Ford Pinto that it was, I swore that I was done with dating—at least until the end of 2020.
Then the whole world fell apart (thanks, COVID-19), and quarantine started to get a little lonely. And it turns out that dating during a pandemic is even rougher than regular dating. From Zoom chats that never quite pan out to the challenge of getting to know someone IRL while keeping six feet of distance at all times, romance under the cloud of coronavirus leaves a lot to be desired.
More than anything, I just wanted someone to cuddle with—a move that could, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (and probably Kenny Loggins), put me squarely in the danger zone. What’s a single gal to do? In my case, the solution was simple: I bought a body pillow. But not just any body pillow—I grabbed the cult-favorite Boyfriend Pillow that’s been blowing up all over Amazon and Instagram.
Could this fluffy, one-armed gag gift be my one-way ticket to partnered paradise, or would it serve as a painful reminder of how lonely the pandemic can be for singles? Here‘s what happened after I spent a month living, loving, and cozying up to the weirdest body pillow I’ve ever seen in my life.
What is the Boyfriend Pillow?
Boyfriends are, historically, a hassle (for me, anyway). By comparison, a pillow is effortless. Put the two together for the sole purpose of bringing about stress-free snuggles, and you’ve got the Boyfriend Pillow.
Made from polyester and with one curved arm attached to a half-torso-like body, this machine-washable product is a clever twist on the husband pillow, which is a generic name for that bed backrest with two arms most commonly spotted these days in college dorms. Whereas the husband pillow supports the user in an upright position, the Boyfriend Pillow cradles the user who’s lying down on their side. (It’s reminiscent of some pregnancy pillows, too.)
Although the Boyfriend Pillow isn’t a Shark Tank product, it feels like it should be. In the annals of ridiculous-yet-amazing stuff you can buy on Amazon, it’s right up there with the Comfy and the Squatty Potty, two of the most popular—and bizarre—products ever featured on the hit ABC show.
The Boyfriend Pillow also comes with a removable cotton button-up shirt, er, pillowcase, of which there are several options to choose among. I selected the blue plaid pattern for my stuffed companion, because it reminds me of that infamous J.Crew gingham shirt that everyone on Instagram makes fun of, and I only date people who know how to laugh at themselves.
What I like about the Boyfriend Pillow
The first thing I noticed about the Boyfriend Pillow as I unpacked it was the gigantic warning label it came with. “STOP,” it declared in all-caps from inside the icon of a traffic sign. “Is something wrong? Text ‘SOS.’” Underneath, it included the number for a help hotline to report cases of missing or damaged parts.
Damn, I wish more guys came with one of these, I thought to myself.
After the unboxing, I called my sister and informed her that I’d done the unthinkable: I’d managed to find love in quarantine. Then, I sent her a picture of the pillow, it’s one good arm wrapped around me, as I grinned.
“Oh my god,” she declared. “That thing looks …”
“Amazing? Terrific? Like the best $34.95 I’ve ever spent in my life?” I asked.
“Like a Chad, actually,” she replied.
And with that, Chad the Boyfriend Pillow quickly became a cornerstone of my nightly quarantine routine. After work, I’d yank him off my bed and bring him downstairs, plop him on the couch, and subject him to all the terrible reality TV shows and Buffy the Vampire Slayer rewatches my exes never agreed to, getting some much-needed cuddles in the process. To make it all feel more authentic, I even sprayed Chad down with some Axe body spray (Dark Temptations, naturally).
Using the pillow was simple: I sidled up beside it and laid my head on the “chest” area, then pulled the arm around me, so it felt akin to a bear hug. That one curved arm is what sets the Boyfriend Pillow apart from virtually any other pillow—it really does recreate the sensation of being held, and I relished it.
Even when I wasn’t in the mood for a binge-watch, Chad had a way of beckoning me back. Like a moth to the flame, I’d find him throughout the day—sometimes on my bed, other times on the couch—and it always seemed like he was inviting me to come on over and have a squeeze, or perhaps just nestle up against his lumpy bod for a quick midday snooze. It was distracting, but I didn’t care. At long last, I had the cozy reassurance I was searching for. I only hoped that it would be enough to tide me over until this dreadful pandemic is over.
What I don’t like about the Boyfriend Pillow
All relationships have their ups and downs, so Chad and I were bound to hit a few snags eventually. Our honeymoon period started to wane around week three, when all those teensy-weensy little red flags I’d been overlooking because the snugs were so good started to pile up, seemingly en masse.
One of the first things that bugged me about Chad was how scratchy he felt without a shirt on. The flesh-colored polyester fleece was rough against my skin. Being a hot sleeper, I also noticed that the material trapped in heat and when I fell asleep on top of the pillow, I woke up clammy, my nightgown and forehead damp with sweat.
When I tried to run him through the rinse-and-dry cycle on my washer, on the off-chance that it would soften him up and solve the problem, it only seemed to make matters worse. His shirt, which is removable, became somewhat smoother, but washing did nothing to remove the pills that multiplied with use on the spots where I most often laid my head.
Though it pains me to say this, Chad’s size was becoming a bit of a problem, too. True, I loved how full and dense he felt whenever I wanted to get close. But he was a bit of an eyesore otherwise, so big and thick that he took up a whole side of my bed. Classic boyfriend move, I thought to myself glumly. At times, it was like I was carrying our whole relationship, and the pressure made me feel like I was hitting a breaking point.
Is the Boyfriend Pillow worth it?
Many dating experts urge single people to see quarantine as an opportunity to practice self-care and hit the emotional reset button in terms of considering what they want out of a relationship going forward. For me, it’s been a period of contemplation, of opening my heart and taking chances on things I never thought were possible. Case in point: embarking on a one-sided love affair with a body pillow.
My experience taught me that a body pillow probably isn’t a one-for-one substitute for an actual partner (shocker, I know). Still, for anyone who’s shopping for an extra pillow or a silly novelty gift that’s good for more than a chuckle, the Boyfriend Pillow is absolutely worth buying.
As much as I value the pillow—and how cozy it is when I’m glued to the couch—an LTR isn’t in the cards. In fact, Chad lives in my closet now. But don’t worry, he’s doing fine. Mostly, I just don’t think I’m ready to commit to a whole “thing” yet, you know? When it comes to pillows (and frankly, most home decor), I think I still have a lot of growing to do. But hopefully, the two of us can stay friends, because when it was good, it was great. Maybe some night, if the quarantine solitude gets really overwhelming, we can set aside our differences and I can get in a cuddle or two, for old time’s sake. After all, in the best-case scenario, what else are ex-boyfriends good for? (Especially when they’re body pillows.)
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