Objectively speaking, sex dolls are just masturbating. But for doll lovers, sex play with a sex doll may not look like masturbation. However, I learned that some doll lovers cherish and love their dolls for non-sexual reasons (you mentioned). For example, they buy their dolls in a normal closet and shoot their dolls in a "family snapshot." Fantasy a complete personality for a sex doll, even inventing an "ancestor" for her.