This woman invented a fake boyfriend on Instagram to get more likes

It worked

Valentine’s Day is predictably tedious for single people. Instagram is deluged with pictures of “date night with bae” and captions like, “Mike is so sweet, he bought me a dozen roses and put petals all over our bed”.

Single 22-year-old Hannah Smothers reckoned that if you can’t beat them, beat everyone around the head with their cliches – and promptly ‘made up’ a boyfriend in order to poke fun at all the usual tropes.

She moved through the chronology of the ‘normal’ relationship and started with the most basic (in both senses): sharing an ambiguous picture of brunch for two. It didn’t go against her usual Instagram aesthetic, so nobody mentioned a thing. She called the mystery guy a “new friend”.


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Then she stepped it up with some mystery flowers. She borrowed a bouquet that was sent to a colleague and captioned it, “someone not gross sent me flowers”.

And then she just kept at it – turning up the heat with pictures of a cocktail and a beer side-by-side (“After work drinks with the boy”), or meals out. At some point, she reckoned she should let the ‘new guy’ guest star on her Instagram, so she uploaded an ambiguous picture of her fist in the air next to a complete stranger. People filled in the gaps.

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She noticed it boosted her social credentials. She went from getting about 30-40 likes per photo to nearly pushing 100 by being in a fake relationship. Writing about it for US Cosmopolitan, Hannah said:

“After years spent tirelessly monitoring Instagram activity, I’ve deduced that nothing hits the big time in terms of ‘likes’ as much as lonely girl thirst-trap pics that allude to having a boyfriend. If anything, I figure the combination of Valentine’s Day + being in a relationship + aesthetically pleasing flowers shot from above = potential triple digit-like territory, and the only thing keeping me from reaching such ecstasy is lacking a boyfriend.”

Eventually, it got a bit out of hand: Hannah’s family started pestering to find out about the new man in her life. “It’s one thing to lie without abandon on Instagram, but it’s quite another to just straight-up lie to close friends and family,” Hannah conceded. “And then have to explain to them on the phone that it’s all a big rouse, you don’t have a boyfriend, his name isn’t Josh, and perhaps you suddenly feel more alone than ever because you realised that faking it on Instagram was the most fun you’ve had on a date in months.”

Look at those likes though.

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