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November 27, 2019

My Friend's Invisible Boo

Hey, Bonita…

Hi Bonita,

I’m having trouble with a friend. Lately, she has been making up a “relationship.” She tells us stories about him that actually never happened. She’s even gone so far as to fake phone calls from him. She will “answer” her phone and have a whole conversation with him, when in reality, no one is on the other end of the line. I have caught her doing this multiple times—maybe try to hide your lock screen when faking a phone call—but I’ve never said anything. I’m just not sure why she is lying, or feels the need to. At this point, this behavior has been going on for almost six months. Should I confront her about it? Or should I just let her enjoy this imaginary love?

Sincerely,

Blown Away

Hey Blown Away,

I definitely think that you should address this with her, but you should be 100% positive that she is faking this relationship before you say anything of the sort to her. If you’re making assumptions and are wrong, this judgment will reflect very poorly on you as a friend. She’d be right to wonder all manner of things about the way you view her as a person and a friend. People who do things like this are commonly thought of as insecure and possibly even a little batty, so you really want to be sure of this before bringing it up. I’d just hate for you to be wrong.

When you do bring it up, start by asking her if she’s faking, even if you’re sure. Be gentle, and give her the space to explain herself honestly. I can’t imagine why an adult woman would make up a boyfriend—well, I can, actually, but personally, I have no desire to be anything other than what I am. Whether that’s “single for years” or “town bicycle,” it’s who I am, and I am not myself if I’m pretending to be anything else. I’m essentially middle-aged for a town like this, though, and back in my 20s, I was nowhere nearly as good at being myself as I am now. I can imagine someone who is younger, surrounded by loving couples and happy sluts and insecure about it all feeling compelled to dream up their very own George Glass as we settle into cuffing season.

But you say that this has been going on for six months, which is a very long time to pantomime a relationship. Really, it makes me wonder if she’s faking at all. The only evidence you’ve presented is seeing her lock screen during some of her calls, but I have an older iPhone, and my lock screen shows up during calls all the time. And if she picked up a call, it had to have come from somewhere. I assume the relationship is long distance, but has she ever shown you photos of herself and this guy? I understand why you’re suspicious of her, but I’m starting to get a little suspicious of you and your motivations.

I find something unsettling in your tone and the way you talk about your friend. How do your conversations go around this boyfriend of hers? Are you curious and supportive in general? I imagine that a conversation of actual depth would make it clear if this guy was real or not, and I wonder how you responded when she first started bringing him up. I worry that you’re not having truly deep conversations about your friend’s life in general. I think it would be worth it for you to spend some time ruminating on any evidence that you truly have about this guy’s nonexistence, as well how you can be a good friend to her if she really has made up a man out of thin air.

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