I have suffered through some terrible and hilarious dating and friend experiences, and came away with some advice that I'm happy to share.
If you expect this to work, you will need a few things: a “date,” a sense of humor, a modicum of acting ability, and some serious cojones. Your date will require the same. Are you two up for it? If so, read on.
A Fake Couple? Why?
There are a few reasons why you may want to be part of a pretend couple for a night:
- You’ve received an invitation to an affair that requires a +1 and you’re not currently dating anyone
- Your real girlfriend or boyfriend is unavailable for the night
- You want to practice the dance moves you paid for
- You are afraid of not knowing anyone at the party
- You want to make an ex or potential mate jealous. (Personally, I don’t think jealousy is a valid reason to attempt this charade, but it seems to work on television…)
So pick a friend (or a friend of a friend) and have a blast! But tv isn’t real life, so in order to make it believable, here are some things to remember.
How to Fake-Date Someone
- Pick Someone You Find Attractive
- Lay Out and Follow the Ground Rules
- Practice Your Rapport
- Remember the Backstory
- Avoid Bald-Faced Lies
- Get Out of There!
Below, each step is described in detail.
1. Pick Someone You Find Attractive
If you’re already pretending to be a couple, why not have someone nice to look at?
Also, choose someone with whom you enjoy hanging out (you will be together for several hours, after all) and consider the qualities you appreciate in a real date, so your interactions don’t feel forced: for example, someone charming, intelligent, funny, or articulate.
2. Lay Out and Follow the Ground Rules
This is especially important if you have engaged a friend who “plays for the other team.” Need suggestions?
- No flirting with other men or women
- No mention of embarrassing escapades
- Open doors for your date and generally be attentive
- Offer to bring your date something to drink
- Talk up your date to remind others how great they are, and provide reasons
3. Practice Your Rapport
Be sure to “tease” your date occasionally. All couples do this, and it will seem natural.
Don’t hang on him or her too much as overly demonstrative public displays of affection may turn the stomachs of other attendees… but intermittent, affectionate snuggles are completely appropriate.
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Use a pet name you two have previously agreed upon.
Secret whispers from your “date” will make you smile… so what if they are only telling you the weather forecast?
Also, try not to go out of your way to "overact"—even strangers can tell when someone close to them physically is acting in an unusual manner.
Example: You met at work in real life. Make it interesting by explaining where you worked together or remembering what he or she was wearing.
Example: You met online in real life. Choose a niche chat room or forum (be ready with the topic, in case anyone asks!) or name an obscure site. This is ideal because unless you are at a niche party, no one will be likely to know it.
4. Remember the Backstory
Have a back story ready… in other words, how did you meet? Stick with a true story, then employ misdirection to change the subject. Keep it believable, a little unusual, and always charming (quick sidelong, loving, appreciative glances at each other will work wonders).
Examples of misdirection include:
- Steering the conversation away from the two of you by exclaiming about a mutual boss or bringing up the bar down the street, then letting the topic expand organically and mingling with other guests
- Explaining that your date’s handle attracted you to them or rattling off a list of topics you remember chatting about... then asking the other person how they met their date.
Embellishing a story is acceptable, but keep it to a minimum. You don’t want to be caught in the act!
5. Avoid Bald-Faced Lies
Slight exaggeration makes sense (this is a party after all, and no one wants to be a boring guest) but inventing an alter ego with an education you do not have, friends you do not know, or a job you do not hold can be foolish. Remember Seinfeld's George Costanza posing as a marine biologist to impress a woman? Not everyone will be as lucky as that whale.
5. Get Out of There!
Don’t stay at the party too long. The longer you keep up the simulation, the greater the chance of your fake relationship taking a wrong turn.
What If a Friend Asks You to Pretend to Be Their Boyfriend or Girlfriend?
If you are approached by a friend and asked to be part of their fake couple scheme, you have options—you can either accept or graciously decline.
This may be one of the most awkward compliments you will ever receive, but why not go for it? At the very least, you’ll enjoy some food, and the two of you will share a funny secret (and a funny story!) to tell your other friends.
Or, Just Go to the Party Alone
But before you take the plunge into a fake relationship, ask yourself why you don’t want to go to the party alone:
- If you’re concerned that you won’t know anyone, think again. At the minimum, you know the host(s). Otherwise, why would you even be invited?
- So your main squeeze is unavailable? How will arriving with a fake squeeze improve the relationship with your main squeeze?
- If you are not currently dating anyone and the invitation demands you bring someone, rethink your relationship with the persons who sent such an invitation. I have heard of this senseless situation (who makes these rules anyway, the Couples Police?), but have never been in it personally. If you must bring someone, consider a platonic friend instead.
- As for making an ex jealous, you would do well to remove yourself from that situation. Anyone who falls for a trick like a make-believe boyfriend is not worth your time, let alone the time of your fake boyfriend.