Cai Lu, china -Online dating can be a virtual minefield sprinkled with piranhas, so in order to avoid the pitfalls and heartbreak, Chinese singles are now drawing their perfect partners. The new trend, called ViFriends, sees lonely hearts create an online relationship that exist only on the photographs that they create to show how they imagine their perfect partner to be.

Using ViFriends, young single Chinese men and women take snaps in situations where they can imagine they would like to be seen with their other half. They then simply add their virtual boyfriend to the pictures later on, creating images that they share on social network sites and with pals. The craze started in southeast China’s Fujian province when Hsin Hsu and Cai Lu, both single, came up with the idea of sending images of their dream partner in romantic situations. Cai said: ‘It was somehow really comforting to have these images of a strongman by my side and to share some special moments together even if it was only virtually. ‘I showed them with friends and we chat about them for ages and it just kind of took off from there.’

Although there has been criticism of the ViFriends idea, users say sending snaps with ViFriends is much healthier than sending intimate photographs or any of the other unhealthy practices that people use on the Internet. And in some way it’s really comforting to have a partner even if it’s only one in a virtual photograph illustrating how the dream relationship should really be.

Cai said: ‘We are fans of cartoons and the photos are real, we just pose as if we are there with a lover and then use the computer to draw the  lover into the photos. ‘We eat, walk, shop, and do everything with our imagined lovers, it’s almost as good as the real thing and brings a lot of pleas