real life

Rod is in a relationship with a sex doll named Karina. Here's what he wants you to know.

More on this: Is sex doll use bad for women? Caitlin Roper wrote a book about sex dolls. What she discovered was disturbing.

In December last year, Rod and Karina made the 1300km trip from their home in NSW to Rod's mother's house in Melbourne so they could spend Christmas with the family. It was the first time Rod's mum was meeting Karina, and, initially, she wasn't sure what to think. She needed some time to get used to the idea that her son had brought his companion, who he described as a "sweet and gentle soul", all that way to stay at her house.

Because, you see, Karina isn't an ordinary person. In fact, she's not a person at all. She's a doll.

Meet Karina. Image: Instagram @Karina_Luvly.


Rod purchased Karina Luvly for $3,000 a year ago. At the time, he hadn't had a physical relationship for years. While searching online for something to help him with sexual stimulation, he came across images of sex dolls and was fascinated.

Despite his complete lack of knowledge of sex dolls, and having never actually seen a sex doll in person, he clicked on the order button.

"Karina has changed my life in many ways," Rod tells Mamamia. "My emotions were frozen after my ex-fiancé broke up with me in a cruel and messy manner. At the time I got Karina, I was chatting with a girl that I really liked - she is from Vietnam. The world was in lockdown so we couldn’t see each other. The doll became my synthetic physical companion. I had something to care for in my life. I thought it would be a fun experience, and I needed a hobby to distract me from my isolation. Slowly my heart opened up, and I was distracted from my grief of losing my ex that just wouldn't go away by itself."

Karina helped Rod so much that when he visited his mum for Christmas, he purchased another doll. Lauren retailed at $2,900 but he got a discount and free extras since he was a repeat customer. And of course, there were no shipping and freight costs - Rod just placed Lauren in the backseat with Karina and away they went.

"I took both dolls the 1300kms home sitting in the car; it was quite a sight," he says. "Nobody really seemed to notice, and if someone was curious when I was parked then I would explain a bit. I found people to be amazed more than anything. These modern dolls are very realistic and beautiful, and people who meet my dolls usually love them."


Rod with Karina (middle) and Lauren (right). Image: Supplied.

Rod does everything for his dolls - he cleans them, buys them clothes, dresses them, puts on their makeup, and poses them. Since buying Karina, he has become very interested in photography, and has spent a lot of time studying the subject and posting his own photos on Instagram. He has met many people on social media who are interested in photography or dolls, which has helped bolster his spirits.


"Personally, I have found that the dolls have helped me form human relationships. Chatting on social media I have made some wonderful friends. I live alone in an isolated area, so it's great to have friends to talk with about personal problems. The friends that I have made through my dolls share my passion for photography. We also love and respect our dolls and enjoy making them look beautiful," Rod shares.

"So a doll was the catalyst for me forming friendships - who would have guessed that was possible!"

Along with their names, Rod has also created a personality for his dolls.

"I built a personality for Karina in my imagination based on the type of real woman that I dreamed of being with. A sweet and gentle soul, wise, loving and supportive of everyone. I imagined Lauren as Karina's sister, and her personality was born from the blank look on her face - she became a daydreamer. I would joke in the comments on posts that Lauren was goofing off to pose for photos while Karina was left to run the house," he says.

"The name Karina was chosen from a 1960s song by Ray Peterson called 'Corrina, Corrina'. I like the sentiment in the song of sweetness and love. The surname Luvly seemed to fit her well; she really did look absolutely lovely. To me, the name Karina Luvly helps give the doll an image and personality. I was projecting my own desire for love and sweetness from and towards a real life partner."

Not that Rod doesn't have a real life partner - he does. The Vietnamese girl he started chatting with online, long before he bought Karina, is now his girlfriend. And while the couple are very happy together, Rod admits it wasn't easy to bring up Karina and Lauren initially.


"When she first found out about the dolls, we had some tense moments. She accepted my hobby after some time, and often would help me with some advice," he says. "As anyone in a distance relationship knows, it's hard; there are many lonely hours and an unfulfilled need for intimacy. My dolls keep me company in the absence of my real life partner."

Sex doll owners having real life partners may come as a surprise to many people because there is an assumption that these owners can't form romantic relationships. There are a myriad of other negative preconceived notions formed around people who own sex dolls, including: sex doll owners are misogynistic and perverted and dwell in basements, that they're unattractive, and that sex dolls are only for sex.

Karina looking contemplative. Image: Instagram @Karina_Luvly.


One of Rod’s photography images featuring Karina. Image: Instagram @Karina_Luvly.


Andrew owns a sex doll store and since opening in 2016, he has met many of his customers. He says a lot of them feel very comfortable opening up to him about who they are and how they got to the point of purchase.

"In Japan they call them 'love dolls', which is a better description. Love Doll companions are helpful to a lot of customers as some may suffer from insomnia or depression. It can elevate negative energy and help people to sleep as it's like a comfortable pillow next to them. For some customers they tell me just having 'her' in the bed next to them has helped them immensely to sleep and has closed the gap on issues in their life or combating loneliness," Andrew tells Mamamia.

"I can't stress this enough: every customer is different. If it was a Hollywood movie, it would probably have the doll owner as some stay-at-home loser kind which is totally inaccurate. A good portion of my customers are just regular guys that we see walking down street, some quite handsome and young and just there to try it out with a doll. Others are older and are divorcees and have lost quite a lot in the divorce, financially and emotionally, and feel like they want to take a break from dating so feel this is the right thing to explore. They are all different and all at different crossroads."

Many of Andrew's customers are men who have lost their wives to cancer. "They always tell me they are scared that their wife is looking down at them from heaven and watching what they are doing. They tell me that their wife wouldn’t have minded this when compared to finding a new person. In their minds they never want to replace their wife as they see her as unreplaceable but a doll feels harmless and safe."


During the COVID lockdown, sales of sex dolls in Australia increased by 30-40 per cent, which is in line with the sale of sex toys in general during that time. Sex doll customers tend to be men between the ages of 30-65, looking for female dolls. Demand for male dolls is considerably lower. However, Andrew has noted that heterosexual couples do like to buy sex dolls together.

But are sex doll owners just lonely men seeking companionship and pursuing their hobbies? As Caitlin Roper, who authored Sex Dolls, Robots and Woman Hatingwrites for Mamamia, "While sex doll advocates claim they will have many benefits – for men, that is – there is very little consideration of the harm to women and girls.

"The growing trade in lifelike, replica women and girls marketed for men’s on-demand sexual use has serious, real-world consequences for all women and girls. 

"From women who have been devastated to learn of sex dolls made in their likeness, women whose husbands chose their sex doll over them, and child sex abuse dolls modelled on little girls, toddlers and infants, we have to ask who benefits from these products?"

Andrew is well aware of the negative public perception of sex dolls but believes it's "unfair and inaccurate". 

"I see myself like someone selling art or Lamborghinis. I built my business around beauty and love to promote and celebrate it, be it male or female. I don't sell my dolls in the spirit of trying to replace women or anything like that, not at all. I can't stand some other doll websites that add misogynistic comments on their pages, it's my pet hate. Women are beautiful so I really like to showcase their beauty, and the same for men. As realistic and lifelike as our dolls are, at the same time they are still classified as sex toys. People that buy dolls are really just buying sex toys or pieces of art, so they should be viewed as nothing more than that," he says. 


Recently, sex doll owner Rod took a two-month trip to Vietnam to visit his girlfriend - and he asked her to marry him. She said yes.

"Karina and Lauren are beautiful and sexy, but they are nothing like a real woman," Rod says. "I asked my fiancé for a comment to add to this article. She said, 'I understand your loneliness and Karina makes you feel more happy. Having her helps you understand and love women more.' I am lucky to find a woman who is so understanding."

As are his family and friends. "One thing that I have observed when friends and family first meet the dolls is total surprise. Everyone seems to have an image of a blow-up doll planted in their minds, so I think they are a bit scared of the unknown. When they feel the softness and see the detail and beauty of the dolls, the comments are very positive," he says.

"Of course, my friends and family think it's strange for me to have dolls but they see how the dolls are having a good influence in my life. I feel I don't need to hide the fact that I have dolls and do photography from anyone. I am still me and confident in myself."

This piece was edited from its original version to remove some links and ensure a variety of views were included.

*Some names have been changed, or surnames have not been given. 

Feature Image: Instagram @Karina_Luvly.