Even before the Internet, humanity has long had its share of people who prefer made-up companions to real ones, often creating fake friends, relationships, and sometimes even elaborate webs of fictional identities interacting with one another. And with the Internet, it’s easier than ever to have a fake relationship. 

But you don’t need to go Full Manti to get the fake significant other of your dreams. Just ask WikiHow, an open-source website for free advice. Want a fake boyfriend? All you need is some imagination and a willingness to write fanfic of your own life.

Why would you want to buy a fake boyfriend? Lots of reasons, both personal and social. While the whole "faking a relationship" thing smacks of wish fulfillment, if half of Asia and the thousands of guys who have bought fake girlfriends over the Internet are to be believed, there’s actually a huge social component involved. For some people, like Helen Fielding’s fictional Bridget Jones, being single is an uncomfortable social stigma that makes for constantly awkward social gatherings, and the annoyance of having to find a “plus one” for your social life.

In fact, in some Asian cultures, the act of renting a fake boyfriend goes well beyond the casual escort service and into a theory of social interactions called Face Theory. Face theory posits that maintaining social prestige, aka “Face,” is one of the most important facets of human interactions. With a rented fake boyfriend, you don’t need to bother explaining to anyone why you never went out with the mouth-breather they tried to set you up with last Christmas, or, worse, when you’re going to start “settling down.” You can maintain your social stature, avoid awkward questions, and skip turning every family get-together into a re-enactment of an Ozu film.

That said, sometimes you just want Mr. Sandman to bring you a dream. And heck, if a fake girlfriend is good enough for Ryan Gosling to snuggle up to, then it’s good enough for you.


Photo via filmtrivia/Tumblr

But you don’t need to invest in an inflatable doll or pay off someone to be your beard. You don’t even have to buy a boyfriend over the Internet. According to WikiHow, you only need to follow these simple steps:

1) Create basic facts about your boyfriend. 

2) Create an email for him, at Hotmail, for example.

3) If possible, get a male friend of yours to impersonate your "boyfriend"

4) Make up names for his family and friends

5) Show off the gifts "he" bought for you.

6) Come up with a good excuse as to why he can't meet your friends. 

7) Stage a break-up.

Sure, this may all seem like something out of the movie Clueless—remember when Cher sends herself flowers to get Christian’s attention?—but if you reverse the gender on the steps in the WikiHow entry, you have a hilariously close approximation of the steps that led to Manti Te'o having a fake girlfriend. 

Perhaps there’s an even better, less expensive way to go about the elaborate business of obtaining romantic fulfillment without the need for a real-life investment. Do what millions of people since time immemorial have done, and write yourself into the romanticized story of your life. In fandom, this is called creating a Mary Sue or a Gary Stu—a self-insert where you star as the dream girl, or guy, that all your favorite fictional characters are in love with. (Outside of fandom, it might be called Twilight.)

Or you could just focus your emotional investment on public personalities. After all, the time you spend creating fake facts about your fake boyfriend could be spent creating elaborate fake facts about a real One Direction member! As a general rule, however, perhaps you should avoid applying your theories to their very real girlfriends. Even if you believe them to be real fake girlfriends. OK, now this thing just has too many layers for us to parse. 

The more time you spend making up elaborate fictional boyfriends, the less time you have to spend being annoyed at real ones. After all, say what you must about Harry Potter, he’s the perfect boyfriend: We’re sure he never left the toilet seat up, cheated on Ginny, or called a girl a rude slur on the Internet. And if you’re missing out on the perfect relationship, that, too, can exist in your head, through the wonders of shipping. If you can’t be the perfect soulmate for that fictional character you’re attached to, fandom will be happy to make sure they end up with another fictional character who is—sometimes many of them at once!

Plus, with a fictional character as your boyfriend, you can scratch item No. 6, “Come up with a good reason for why he can’t meet your friends,” off your list. Instead, you might have to explain to your family why you’re spending so much time on Tumblr. 

But let’s be real: Spending way too much time on the Internet is what got you into this mess to begin with.

Photo via cutfromthesun/Tumblr