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1/10/16blog post

the invisible boyfriend or girlfriend

If you are troubled by not being in a relationship, then the “Invisible Boyfriend/Girlfriend” web site may appear to be the solution to your dilemma.

For a monthly fee, you create an imaginary friend who will send you texts, emails, pictures or even packages. You can pretend to families and others that someone cares about you.

This service started in 2013, and according to their website has had over half a million visitors from 193 countries.

The purpose is to give you “…the ability to design and build a believable social partner who is everything you want and is available to talk whenever you want.”

“I’m the boyfriend or girlfriend you’ve always wanted. Someone who asks about your day and always responds…..I’m the person of your dreams” proclaims the material on the website. Once you design your ideal person, “…you’re texting with real but anonymous people.”

It’s easy to ridicule this service, but it is clearly meeting a very basic need. We can relieve ourselves from the pressure of family and friends wanting to connect us with dates. We can pretend that someone likes us, forgetting for a moment the monetary and psychological cost we are paying for that fantasy.

The premise is simple and toxic. We are asked to be phony.

This website brought back powerful memories of a book I read in college that first got me excited about psychology. It was written by a therapist named Carl Rogers, and summarized what he learned from working with patients.

“In my relationships with persons I have found that it does not help, in the long run, to act as though I were something that I am not” proclaimed Rogers.

Rogers’ simple statement about the value of authenticity captures everything I’ve learned about relationships in my personal and professional life.

You cannot develop a connection with another based upon deceit. Relationships are about genuine caring built upon a foundation of trust and honesty.

I wouldn’t mock the people who reach to an invisible friend. Maybe the pressure from their family is overwhelming. Perhaps you want to make others jealous. However, time and money spent in this fantasy world only detract from answering the more difficult questions.

If you are not interested in a real relationship right now, what prevents you from honestly stating that to others?

If you are looking to connect with someone but can’t, how does an invisible friend help you?

Parents often ask me about how to engage their kids in conversations around meal times. Stop asking them about how their day was. Talk about this website. This will stimulate some real conversation.