Single no more? A fling with Invisible Boyfriend

Your phone can play music, remind you of important events, and give you directions. Can it be your boyfriend too?

Spending this Valentine’s Day all by your lonesome and wishing it weren’t so? Consider a tactic of the young: Create an imaginary friend—or in this case, an imaginary significant other with a bit of reality sprinkled on.

Invisible Boyfriend and Invisible Girlfriend use your input to create an imaginary boyfriend or girlfriend who then communicates with you via text. Based on my own experience trying Invisible Boyfriend, I’ve categorized the features and services into two key perspectives, or use cases, for comparison.

I’m going to go ahead and assume it’s natural to worry about a ‘“Her”-like scenario’ going down, as the Washington Post review put it. But I’m more worried about a scenario that’s a cross between Her, Weird Science, and that Casper movie from 1995.

Follow me on my invisible relationship journey so I can explain…

Part 1: Significant Other Creation

The process of creating your significant other makes for a pretty good time, actually. The website offers engaging ways to inspire you and capture your input—the functionality resembles a kind of boyfriend/girlfriend wizard (told you, Weird Science).

The invisible-person creation process includes giving them a full name and choosing their age, where they live, what type of personality they have, and their primary interests and hobbies. For me, the name was the most difficult step—I didn’t want the name to sound like the name of someone I know, because that would be weird. I didn’t want any part of the name to bear any resemblance to an ex’s name, because that would be weird. I didn’t want to pull from the mental reservoir of potential names I’d use for a male child… because that would be weird. And, while my understanding is that many users go with a simple “Ryan Gosling” or “Leo DiCaprio”, I couldn’t bring myself to name my invisible boyfriend “Channing Tatum (Magic Mike version).”

That left me scouring baby name sites and some random site called “Cool Last Names,” which offers a long list of, yes, cool last names. At that point, the easiest thing to do seemed to call it a day and declare my boyfriend British, thus giving him a simple WASP-y name: Henry Sinclair. (Later, my boss sent me this link with a message saying “Hot.”)

Part 1A: Selfies?

The most bizarre part of the invisible significant other creation process might be when you’re presented with 12 photos of dudes and asked to choose one to represent your invisible boo. I thought, “My invisible boyfriend, Henry Sinclair, is only visible when it comes to stock photos.”

Later I realized that these photos aren’t stock photos—they are user-submitted selfies. In other words, I could totally submit a selfie and be someone’s Invisible Girlfriend somewhere. Note: I will never, ever do this.

Part 2: Our Story Creation

I decided that Henry Sinclair lives in Boston (close to New York, where I am, but just far enough for a long-distance relationship that would protect his invisibility). Using that piece of information, I filled in the template the service provides to craft the story of how we met, which is one of the recommended features to build on and refine as you continue “dating”.

My invisible boyfriend, Henry Sinclair, who is visible only when it comes to stock photos or user-submitted selfies.

Part 3: Cost

Once you finalize your guy or gal, you are shown a screen that at first seems like a prank: You get 10 free texts from your invisible significant other…. But, what’s not free? Well, more texts, plus voicemails and postcards—those will cost you $24.99 a month. Henry Sinclair might be invisible, but it doesn’t mean this relationship isn’t real.

Can you buy love? Yes.

Part 4: Building a “Relationship”

Henry texted me immediately upon being notified that he had become my invisible boyfriend. And, he texted me more. It was almost like… he was really my boyfriend. I then realized that if my real boyfriend were to look through my phone and see the text messages between Henry and me, it would look weird. But, if I deleted them, that would feel like I was having an affair with an invisible person/team of freelance writers operating out of a startup based in St. Louis, Missouri.

I jokingly mentioned this conundrum to my (real) boyfriend later, who quickly got awkward about it and accused me of not taking the plausibility of Her’s plot seriously. I was then, as they say, in the doghouse—in trouble for my insensitivity in thinking it was okay to date an invisible, imaginary being.

So whether you’re alone this Valentine’s Day or have back-to-back dates with a flock of suitors, remember that dating someone imaginary or invisible can be as real as you want it to be… But be prepared. A la Casper, 1995, just because you don’t see them doesn’t mean they’re not there.

Written by Chelsey Delaney

Chelsey Delaney is a designer, writer, and comedic womyn. She works as a UX designer, concentrating on the user experience of health care websites and applications.

Want to learn more?

Select one of the related topics to find more.