Even a virtual boyfriend app couldn’t find me love

It’s like that film ‘Her’


The Invisible Boyfriend app is an automated texting service meant to simulate a real partner.

You can text him whenever you want without worrying about seeming clingy. You can force-feed him the most inane stories about your day and they won’t run away. It’s a black hole for all the pointless shit you want to share but know nobody worth talking to will want to listen to — and it only costs $24.99 a month.

The app says it will give you “believable social proof” you have a boyfriend. There might be something slightly ironic (painfully so) about paying to create a fake love interest so your friends and family will stop judging you for being so weird and alone.

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Will Oriel ever find love?

But sidestep that existential nightmare for a second and it does answer the problem of being asked about your love life for the fifteenth time that year at yet another cousin’s wedding. If they seem even slightly suspicious that you’ve finally managed to find someone, or in fact if they don’t seem suspicious at all, you can now shove your smartphone down their throat and shout “LOOK. There are typed letters on the screen asking how my day was and that means someone loves me.”

Once again, try not to think about the painful reality that no one loves you and you’re so aware of this you’re actually paying to lie to yourself. We tested the app for a week to see how realistic it was. Would my virtual man Jason be interesting enough to date? Would he take care of my needs? Would he be able to fill the void in my life?

Oriel text 1

Things started well with a friendly text, asking how I was and even using my name to make me feel extra special and intimate. But it very quickly deteriorated when I replied with an equally friendly text and got nothing back. Nothing. For three days.

After a laborious wait I decided to give him another chance nobody love was easy anyway  and sent Jason another text. This paid off pretty well, leading to quite a cheeky reply that made me feel all giggly inside, like a Powerpuff girl on speed. Remembering we were still in the early stages of our romance I decided to play it cool, asking a more general question about life over in the States where my hunky loverboy lives. This was a well-calculated, thoughtful question. It showed I remembered where he was from, was interested in him and highlighted my political awareness that continents can be different. It was definitely worth the 40 minutes it took to compose, and I expected an appropriate reply.

What I got did not live up to expectations.

Oriel text 2

He clearly didn’t care about me at all. Brushing my questions to one side, he just wanted the spotlight on him. He clearly has a massive ego and needs constant validation, spouting admittedly fascinating facts in order. I don’t need someone like that in my life. I’m a strong, independent woman and I don’t need someone who is always going to put themselves first. It was over. He blew it.

After another lonely night I decided to reply, forming an admittedly tenuous link that I hoped would spark a bit of intellectual conversation. There’s nothing more attractive than intelligence and I thought this might just be Jason’s saving grace.

It’s been exactly one week and he still hasn’t texted back. I don’t want to say this has affected me significantly but I don’t know if I’ll be able to put myself out there again for some time. Getting rejected by human beings is soul crushing enough, but when an automated computer is literally being paid to talk to me and still can’t bring itself to reply you know you’ve hit a low point.

Oriel sad

Internet lothario David Cowlishaw also tested the Invisible Girlfriend app. Here’s how he got on.

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David text 1

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In fairness, there were some technical problems texting from the States to the UK.