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Using Invisible Boyfriend to make a better version of my IRL boyfriend
I used the Invisible Boyfriend app to make my version of the Perfect Man: Like my boyfriend, but better.
I met my boyfriend of six years, Alex, during my first year of college. We were smoking at the tables outside our dorm, and apropos of nothing, he started reciting Del Preston’s monologue from Wayne’s World 2. I’ve been madly in love with him ever since.
That said, there are some aspects of his personality that could, shall we say, benefit from minor augmentation. For instance, he hates leaving any social event before 4am, at which point he literally has to be dragged out by force. And his idea of cleaning up after himself is balling up his socks and putting them in a spot on the floor that already isn’t occupied by discarded Popsicle sticks.
So when I heard about Invisible Boyfriend, an app that lets you input fake biographical details to create your own imaginary boyfriend (or girlfriend), I was intrigued. Not because I wanted to imagine dating someone different, as there’s truly no one else in the world (with the possible exception of Chris Pratt and/or Alex Trebek ca. 1972) that I’d rather be with, but because I wanted to see if I could use the app to improve on my non-invisible boyfriend and create a version of Alex 2.0.
When I told Alex I was trying out the app to see if I could create a better version of him, he was dubious. “It sounds like that episode of Black Mirror,” he said, referring to the episode where a grieving widow commissions an artificially intelligent version of her dead spouse.
What I failed to mention to Alex was that if you really thought about it, that situation worked out pretty well for her. Husband 2.0 was hotter than the original husband, and better at sex. Even though she ended up getting so creeped out by him she had to put him in an attic… well, we don’t have an attic!
First, I put in Alex’s real biographical details:
Then I had to describe what Alex looked like, by comparing him to photos of stock models. This was somewhat difficult, as they all were much more smiley than him. They were also more unkempt than my boyfriend, who has a collection of 65 ties and has been known to rant at length about how men don’t wear hats in the summertime anymore. I decided to pick the guy who seemed most likely to wear a hat.
Then I had to choose his interests and personality traits. This proved difficult, because Alex is actually all of these things (with the possible exception of “cheerful,” because he’s from New York and that adjective literally describes no one born in New York.) I opted for “witty and educated,” on the basis of his memorization of the aforementioned Wayne’s World 2 monologue, which I feel reflects both his wit and his education.
I was then asked to fill out my personal information, as well as my credit card information for the $25 Invisible Boyfriend fee.
A few seconds later, I got my first text from Alex: “Hey Ej! This is Alex. How are you? :)”
The real Alex—who wouldn’t be caught dead using an emoticon of any kind—was sitting literally two feet away from me, not texting. I shuddered.
Tentatively, I texted back.
I wanted to see if Invisible Boyfriend Alex would give me a compliment. With the possible exception of when I’m wearing a turtleneck and no bra, Non-Invisible Boyfriend Alex rarely gives me compliments. But like the real-life Alex, Invisible Alex was slow to return the text. So I tried again.
After a few minutes, he responded that I looked “yummy.” And he wasn’t wrong. My skin looked really good.
Emboldened by this turn of events, I decided to take my relationship with Invisible Boyfriend Alex one step further, so I could see how good his sexting game was.
I live with Non-Invisible Boyfriend Alex, so we do not sext very often. When we do, we’re usually drunk, and we usually sext like Larry David. (“Touching your penis sounds… good, I guess. Pretty, pretty good.”) I wanted to see if Non-Invisible Boyfriend Alex could raise the stakes. The result, however, was disappointing:
A foot massage?!?! A foot massage?!?!?! What woman under the age of fifty-five actually wants her partner to give her a foot massage? And for that matter, what self-respecting woman wants her partner anywhere near her feet? Feet are disgusting. No, not interested in your foot massages, Invisible Boyfriend Alex. Real Alex would’ve known better than to even pose the question.
Still, I decided to soldier on, dropping a hint to Invisible Boyfriend Alex that I was interested in him bringing me food. This, to me, would be the mark of a new, improved Alex, as the real Alex never brings me food. He just sends me 14 consecutive texts that say “taco place taco place taco place taco place” until I place an order on Seamless.
When I didn’t get a response, I made another subtle hint:
What kind of non-committal bullshit is that?
At this point, Real Alex was edging out Invisible Boyfriend by a country mile. But I decided to give him one more shot.
My brief dalliance with Alex 2.0, who had ultimately turned out to be Alex -1.0, had ended. So I hit Non-Invisible Alex up on GChat to tell him how it went. “I ended things with Invisible Boyfriend,” I told him.
“Lol,” he said. “Was he better-looking than me?”
“Yes,” I said. “But that’s OK.” And as I looked at my tie-loving, FOMO-having, Mike Myers-movie-quoting boyfriend a few feet away from me, pounding away on a keyboard, I knew that it really was. And if I was “lucky,” we would be dining on chicken parm tonight.
Photo by Jonathan Mueller/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)
EJ Dickson is a writer and editor who primarily covers sex, dating, and relationships, with a special focus on the intersection of intimacy and technology. She served as the Daily Dot’s IRL editor from January 2014 to July 2015. Her work has since appeared in the New York Times, Rolling Stone, Mic, Bustle, Romper, and Men’s Health.