It's funny how people think they know your life. And even funnier when they start to spread this fiction as fact. Exhibit A: my friend Nicole and I and the guys we affectionately refer to as our "fake boyfriends."
Here's the background: Nicole and I are both independent single women who work hard during the day and love to go out with our friends at night. In particular, we each have one guy friend we hang out with on a pretty regular basis. This frequent socializing has led a large percentage of the people in our lives, including some of our closest friends, to believe that these men are actually our boyfriends. Despite the fact that Nicole and I have told everyone countless times that she is not dating Mike, and I am not dating Jeff, the rumor lives on.
But this humorous/annoying situation got me thinking. Maybe there is something to this whole "fake boyfriend" thing. Perhaps Jeff is the reason I don't feel the need to get into a real relationship right now. Here I have this cute, funny, and available guy who shares a lot of my interests and is always up for going places with me. He likes my friends and my family, and they like him, too. He returns my text messages (well, most of the time) and doesn't play those foolish dating games like "wait three days to call" or "don't see her two nights in a row." And since our relationship is platonic, he doesn't care if I make out with someone else! It's pretty much a dream scenario. I get the good parts of a relationship, without the commitment or the pressure.
Of course, the inevitable question: If Jeff is so great, why aren't you dating him? I think the main reason is maybe we know each other too well and know where we would clash if romance was a factor. And remember, the fake boyfriend isn't a "friend with benefits." It's not a physical relationship, which also helps keep the boundaries clear.
Now, I must warn you, there is a bit of a downside to the fake boyfriend. Since other people truly think he is your boyfriend, they may end up "helpfully" running interference for you with other guys. So if I see a guy I am interested in, I introduce Jeff clearly as my friend. (But, of course, if some creepy guy hits on me, then he is my boyfriend Jeff.)
Look, I understand that the fake boyfriend situation isn't for everyone. A lot of people would have a hard time not developing feelings for someone they spend that much time with. But with the right guy, it can be a mutually beneficial relationship.
So do I love my fake boyfriend? Yes, I do. Not only because he is such a close friend, but because he has kept me from succumbing to that feeling of loneliness that all of us can fall prey to—that feeling that we just want someone to spend time with, or go places with. The same feeling that drives so many women (and men) into bad relationships. And I realize one day he will be some girl's actual boyfriend, and I will have to let him go (and vice versa). But until that time, I must admit, my fake boyfriend is one of the realest relationships I could ever ask for.