Want to Text Back and Forth with a Made-Up Significant Other? Try Invisible Boyfriend / Girlfriend

Photo: Invisible Boyfriend

Do you ever find yourself alone on a Saturday night, watching Netflix and scarfing down a bunch of snacks, while compulsively checking your phone, desperate for a text from some cutie you’ve been pining away for? Do you wish you had a boyfriend or girlfriend who’d text you consistently and ask about your day? Well, there’s an app for that, and I don’t mean Tinder.

Invisible Boyfriend/Girlfriend offers users the opportunity to choose a name and “selfie” for a fake significant other—the pictures are of real human beings—then select a personality for their imaginary love, such as “sweet and shy” or “saucy and sarcastic.” The minimum rate is $14.99 to exchange 100 texts, or you can pay $24.99 for 200 messages and one “note.” Techtimes has called Invisible Boyfriend “the saddest dating app." But CEO and co-founder Kyle Tabor claims, “Our users are simply looking for someone to talk to… Our users just want an empathetic ear to listen to them about the mundane parts of their day. They want to be able to let their guard down and be themselves without fear of judgment.”

The concept of paying for intimacy is nothing new. The difference is the involvement of more advanced technology and the absence of sexual fulfillment. (Sexting your invisible boyfriend or girlfriend is a no-no).

Fans of the futuristic-dystopian Netflix series Black Mirror might remember the episode in which a grief stricken widow signs up for an AI service that offers texts and phone calls from an electronic amalgamation of her dead husband. The virtual husband is eventually upgraded to a fully-formed bot made in the deceased’s likeness. The romance, however, reaches an inevitable point of decline because the artificial husband lacks the one true element that would make him believably human: free will.

In the case of Invisible Boyfriend/Girlfriend, falling in love with one’s pseudo beau also proves problematic. The company doesn’t recommend developing feelings for your custom-designed partner, who is powered by a team of writers. Tabor comments, “A few [users] have asked if they could meet their partner in real life. Unfortunately that isn’t really possible because we use different writers so we can provide a seamless service around the clock.” Clients who seek to contact the writer behind the texts may either not realize more than one person is acting as their significant other, or perhaps are having trouble distinguishing between the illusion of connection and the reality of a paid service. Either way, they are destined for disappointment of Her-like proportions.

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So far, 200,000 significant others have been generated since the app’s inception. It’s possible that some users are looking to fake a relationship for reasons outside of companionship, such as warding off prying, match-making aunties at a family wedding, but the app markets itself as a means of exploring “a relationship with a girlfriend or boyfriend but without all the baggage that comes with dating.” In this way, you avoid the pitfalls of popular dating apps.

“With Tinder,” Tabor says, “people are typically looking to hook up. Our users are tired of the dating game, and are sick of always trying to impress someone else. We are the opposite of Tinder or other dating apps. You can have a human connection, but without the baggage that comes with dating. Several users have joined online dating services because our service has taught them what a healthy relationship can be like.”

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The word “baggage” comes up repeatedly in Invisible Boyfriend/Girlfriend’s selling points, as if the lack of luggage is what makes an imaginary human a viable replacement for a real one. Nevertheless, it’s possible Invisible Boyfriend/Girlfriend’s users end up going back to dating sites, not because the app has taught them how to manage a good relationship or how to handle conflict and set boundaries, but because there is something deeply unsatisfying about paying people to text you, even if those texts still give you the same dopamine rush as the ones you get for free. Minus the dick pics, of course.

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