Friday, October 12, 2012


(Warning- if you are easily offended you can skip this post.)

When camping last month with my friends, I found myself in the strange position of explaining the term "Girlfriend Experience" to 5 fully grown adults.  In the world of sex workers, GFE refers to a high-end service where an escort acts more like a fantasy girlfriend whereby downplaying the ugly commercial nature of the exchange.  I know such things not because I'm a patron but because I read regularly.

Particularly in the high-end market, businesses that personalize what is essentially a cash exchange for goods tend to be more successful.  People prefer patronizing businesses where they are treated as a regular or feel they have a special bond with the seller.  My friends once they learned this term applied it immediately to restaurants they frequent; GFE- though it comes from an unpalatable source- works as an analogy at so many different levels. Top art dealers often excel at providing GFE.

In the world of tea shops- the owner brewing a "special" tea for you not on the menu can easily make a loyal patron. In the world of on-line tea vendors, something as simple as a hand-written note and extra samples can make the transaction feel special even if it might be standard practice.  I write cynically but vendors could be quite sincere and want to make a human connection with their customers.

Consumers at the high end want such GFE whether or not they admit it. I certainly do. Ebay on the other spectrum can be impersonal- the thrill is most often based on price and outbidding someone else.

Really- you know something's not GFE and a real human connection because the relationship continues in the absence of financial transactions. Most of us have to make a living one way or another and this post is not meant to denigrate anyone who has to sell goods for a living. I'm a daughter of an economist so I tend to look at things in a flatter way than is socially acceptable.

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