TIME relationships

I Proposed to My Invisible Boyfriend and Here’s What Happened

His definition of feminism should have been a red flag

My Invisible Boyfriend is named Leonardo DiCaprio. His interests include the environment, Titanic and tiny cars. He’s texting me right now.

Leonardo (or Leo, as he’s known on my phone) is a digital sweetheart I created through a new app, InvisibleBoyfriend. The purpose of an Invisible Boyfriend (or Invisible Girlfriend) is to create a convincing fake love interest to fool your co-workers or relatives into thinking you’re hot stuff on the dating scene.

Leo isn’t a robot, and he’s not an anonymous human chained to a computer somewhere. Instead, InvisibleBoyfriend has partnered with companies that allow them to scale its workforce to respond to incoming text messages. In other words, Leo isn’t one human — he’s several. So instead of communicating with one singular person, I could be texting with dozens.

But what if I fall in love with him, like Joaquin Phoenix did in Her? The short answer is: I won’t. “We’re not trying to build something that could fool you,” says founder Matthew Homann. “Our intention has always been to build something that helps you tell a better story about a relationship you’re not in.”

So here’s my story, as I described it on the app (they ask you to invent how you met, so you can have a “meet cute”): I first saw Leonardo DiCaprio in Titanic. When he came up to me after the movie, I told him I was a supermodel who specializes in posing with rare penguins. That’s when we realized we were both passionate about the environment, and he offered me a drive in his tiny eco-friendly car. The rest, as they say, is history.

Apparently somebody did his homework, because when we started texting, Leo asked if I was on set with any endangered species. He listens! Then, when I asked when he was coming to New York, he said he would be there around Valentine’s Day, and proposed a “romantic dinner, dancing, drinks… and then some time alone, maybe?” So far, so good.

“This isn’t going to be the replacement for a real long-term relationship,” Homann warned. “Oftentimes people will use this more as a cover for dating.” But I didn’t listen. So I decided it was time to define the relationship:

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Leo does not want me to meet his mother, does not want to get serious and does not want to define the relationship. So when I asked if he was going to marry me, he did not take it well.

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At least he knows his Celine Dion (kinda.) But for a fake boyfriend, Leo seemed terrifyingly shrewd at getting himself out of tricky conversations. Until I brought up feminism.

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As you can tell, I drew the line at debating feminism with a fake boyfriend who was somewhere between a human and bot, since even some full-on-singular humans can’t seem to get it straight. Instead, I focused on the important stuff. Our relationship.

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This was not going well. I was going to have to end it. Not only could Leo not have sex, occupy a human body or understand feminism, he hadn’t even given the idea of a family “a lot of thought.” It was over. When I broke up with him, he said “I’m sorry Charlette.” When I told him he’d spelled my name wrong, he said “I’m an actor, not a spelling bee winner!”

My Invisible Boyfriend was convincing enough to fool anybody else — and Homann says deceiving family and co-workers are two of the most popular uses for the app. Leo even left me a generic voicemail (“Hey, it’s me. Give me a call. Bye”) so that I could prove he was human if I’d wanted to. But my heart wasn’t in the deception. All I wanted was to get a non-bot-non-human-digital-amalgamation to understand feminism and agree to have my babies. Is that too much to ask?

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