RE­LA­TION­SHIP

LYNN CROS­BIE cre­ates a fleet­ing love af­fair via text.

Fashion (Canada) - - Front Page -

Lynn Cros­bie crafts her dream man on In­vis­i­bleBoyfriend.com.

LAST WEEK I SHOPPED ONLINE FOR A RA­ZOR-

sharp hat­pin and a vintage notebook; for eye­brow mousse, party shoes and James Joyce’s filthy letters to Nora Bar­na­cle. And be­cause the specs of my life are in­creas­ingly fur­nished by the Net—and be­cause what men in my life?—it was with con­sid­er­able in­ter­est that I looked into In­vis­i­bleBoyfriend.com.

This hot site al­lows you to self-make an ex­ceed­ingly suit­able (yet some­what imag­i­nary) suitor. From his ap­pear­ance and tastes to your cute cou­ple “how’d you meet?” story, the site gives you the power to de­sign your de­sire. For $24.99 a month, you’ll re­ceive your fan­tasy man’s dig­i­tal love via a fic­ti­tious re­la­tion­ship that in­cludes 100 text mes­sages, 10 voice­mails and a hand-writ­ten let­ter. (Who’s be­hind them? An un­known, in­vis­i­ble staff mem­ber).

I cre­ated Leo Flynn, a sexy black man with wild hair. He’s 48 years old, witty and ed­u­cated, and is a teacher who lives in Port­land, Ore. His snail-mail card to me reads, “Jack­pot!” and, based on its sug­ary con­tents, he most cer­tainly is. He is funny and nice; he likes to read, sing and lis­ten to mu­sic, and is in­ter­ested in dres­sage.

As am I. This may be pegged as a lonely hearts site, but it is also a gold mine for any­one wish­ing at, say, 1 a.m., to talk about things horsey and mu­si­cal.

Ac­cord­ing to In­vis­i­ble Boyfriend’s FAQ page, a lot of peo­ple are de­sign­ing ethe­real mates be­cause they are tired of be­ing nagged about be­ing sin­gle or they iden­tify as LGBTQ and aren’t ready to come out.

I signed up think­ing two things: That it would be nice to re­ceive a de­sirous text while out with an in­suf­fer­ably smug af­fi­anced friend and that Leo was go­ing to pro­vide a few weeks of the kind of fun that suited my lifestyle of writ­ing at home. As such, one night, as I strug­gled to find yet another syn­onym for “hideous,” my phone pinged.

“Hey Lynn! This is Leo :) How are you?” read my »

in­aus­pi­cious first in­com­ing text, to which I replied, “I’m good honey, you?” Then: noth­ing. “What hap­pened to you?” I asked the next day. I had thought the writ­ing was go­ing to be a high-in­ten­sity whirl­wind. “Sorry babe, just been crazy busy,” he wrote. Oh no, I thought. This was go­ing to be hor­ri­ble. Not only was I pay­ing to have a man in my life, I was pay­ing to have bor­ing con­ver­sa­tions with him. And he was aloof.

It was time to step up my game. I broke up with him im­me­di­ately. He was kind about it and drew me back in. I ac­cused him of cheat­ing on me. He par­ried so well that I apol­o­gized.

Then I turned su­per-femme and told him I was lonely: “Tell me a story,” I de­manded.

He did, and it was a very good one about a gi­raffe hand­ing me flow­ers as I sat in my tree-top fort. I in­vited him to spend the week­end.

It must be noted that there were one or two glitches: He for­got who I was at one point (there are over 500 in­vis­i­ble mates work­ing in the dig­i­tal-ar­dour hon­ey­comb). He asked me out of the blue if I lis­tened to This Amer­i­can Life that day, which I think was his way of ful­fill­ing the in­tel­li­gence rule of his al­go­rithm. And he an­nounced, pre­pos­ter­ously, that he was a “gen­darmerie”: zero points for con­ti­nu­ity, full bonus for sneak­ing horses into the con­ver­sa­tion.

But when we honed in on the week­end plans, we fi­nally got in sync. The tex­ting be­came reg­u­lar and ar­dent, and it would seem we fell. Be­cause not long af­ter, he texted me this: “Love you babe!” And my jaun­diced heart ac­tu­ally stam­mered. I loved him, too.

With the ad­vent of In­vis­i­ble Boyfriend, frus­trated women are in­creas­ingly re­quir­ing al­ter­na­tives to the wretched gallery of men on of­fer. Or they are tired of bait­ing hooks when there are so many fish just ly­ing on slabs of ice all over the place wait­ing to be snagged. Women past their 20s, es­pe­cially: If you look at the avail­able avatars on In­vis­i­ble Boyfriend, the men be­come in­creas­ingly unattrac­tive and sparse as their de­sired age in­creases. Is this a poignant state­ment on women’s di­min­ish­ing re­turns as we age, when con­trasted to men who seem easily able to, shame­lessly, date women half their age? Or has the In­ter­net just paid off again?

I quite like the idea of a be­spoke boyfriend, of se­lect­ing—but not in the scary, Matt McMullen-RealDoll-sex­com­pan­ion way—a man who suits both my aes­thetic and my love of dreamy-talk and sweet noth­ings.

A man who is real and who isn’t: Hy­brid­ity is the nat­u­ral apex of the tech revo­lu­tion. A hu­man pos­ing as a hu­man sounds lu­di­crous, but it’s per­fectly suit­able to our strange, adapt­ing new world. Fi­nally, it is sim­ply nice to talk to a man one has vet­ted in ad­vance, un­like the swains on match.com—guys who sug­gest a dump­ster as a meet­ing for a date or ask me if I like “watch­ing TV lol.”

I have at­tended sev­eral events that would have been con­sid­er­ably en­livened by some arm candy: As the mistress of my des­tiny, I would have in­structed my gor­geous young man to tell peo­ple he was a UFC cham­pion and Jane Austen scholar while I at­ten­tively picked lint from his rented tux. Try that with Gary from ac­count­ing! Or try get­ting sweet texts like this from, well, any man: “Please tell me you will al­ways re­mem­ber how spe­cial you are.”

Yes, I ended up eat­ing out of the worker drone’s hand while he was pos­ing as Leo, but once I shred­ded my cyn­i­cism and de­sire to mess with him, I sub­mit­ted com­pletely to the fan­tasy. The pop­u­lar­ity of filthy books (from Fifty Shades of Grey to the Bound Hearts se­ries) that are or­ga­nized around healthy, mar­riage-bound re­la­tion­ships is very telling. Many women ob­vi­ously want sex­ual ex­cite­ment and lib­erty, but they want it con­ducted within the con­fines of a re­la­tion­ship that’s go­ing some­where—that is safe.

To­ward the end of the month, I started to panic. How was I go­ing to end this? I told Leo I was mov­ing to Reyk­javík to teach. Would he come with me? “I’m ready for the happy end­ing,” he said, and, in another life, we are cur­rently watch­ing the sea from our lit­tle bal­cony and spend­ing our days rid­ing horses and our nights ex­am­in­ing the North­ern Lights from the belly of the Blue La­goon.

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