On June 6th, 2020, as we were just coming out of wave 1 of the COVID-19 pandemic with a decent amount of lockdown, I surprised my Facebook world by entering a relationship. The surprise was not only due to the timing, when nobody was still really supposed to be seeing others, but that the eternal bachelor from being undesired by women this racially conservative province had found someone! What I didn’t tell them, though, was with whom, and that it was fake, and that I did it for them.
You see, my real world and my 300 friends Facebook world have very little overlap. I’m not exaggerating when I refer to it as Fakebook in life. During a normal year, I’d probably see fewer than 10% of my Facebook friends, with about 10% of the people I see and talk to on any half decent frequency in life actually being my Facebook friends. In a pandemic year, when I was deliberately phasing out all of my very weak relations, I had seen all of 1% of my Facebook friends by June. I had messaged all of another 2%. In fact, my Facebook newsfeed had posts from Facebook friends about as frequent as Facebook ads, with others being posts by groups or sources with stories, art work, news, etc. I was generally more interested in. I mean, aside for a moment of interest or two, if that, most of my Facebook friends couldn’t give a f*ck, to be honest. I’m even less important to them than they are to me, with me being the one to decide to finally stop trying to keep the weak relations even weak, never mind non-existent as they would be without my efforts… as they should be if I were to be honest with myself.
So on June 6th, the closest date I could get to 666 for a little symbolism of the devious nature of this prank, I entered into a relationship. I didn’t say who until a poorly disguised ask to see if it might have been a man, suggesting I was gay and finally coming out or something, to which I only until a question about a “her” to reply with a “she”, and repeating the question, as an add on to the “Yes” that was all that was required. The ambiguity was part of my few rules of engagement for this experiment:
- Be evasive on everything so as not to actually lie, or just don’t answer it; and
- If I saw someone face to face, I would tell them about the relationship being fake as I wasn’t going to lie to them while looking them in the eyes, which I changed to only if they asked me about it.
Not surprising to me, there were lots of questions about my new relationship and love, mostly directly rather than as a comment to the relationship status that was visible to many. What was surprising was the tone and/or suggestion of some. Is she Asian (as I am)? One asked right out of the gates. Right, interracial concerns, or maybe that I had “settled” for an Asian woman in a land of mostly white women. However, my favourite eyebrow raising one was something along the lines of tell me about the type of woman interested in me! They seemed to have thought my 2X average salary stable and respected career, extraordinary fitness and health, finely toned body, radiant and deep personality, enthusiastic life force, many interests and hobbies, including many of interest to women like fashion design, community volunteering, low maintenance nature, well-managed and fun life, average looks, and far better than average English fluency all in one package were such a deterrent for finding a mate.
Then there were all the gossip getters. People who never gave a f*ck about me and my life were suddenly asking questions. I even got some invites to dinner outdoors during the summer, figuring that was the only way they were going to be able to get the scoop. Funny how I got more social invites now being part of a couple than when I was single. Some people saw me with female friends or colleagues and automatically took a shot to see if she were my lover. One even snapped a picture and posted it to ask! I mean, FFS people!
Through it all, though, I honed my “media” skills to the point even someone as evasive as New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick would have been impressed! However, I don’t want to make it sound like it was some big attention storm. There wasn’t, and I didn’t do it for that! No! Rather, I did it for these people, who knew I had been single for a long time, lived alone, and saw posts during the pandemic like how I had petted a dog on a certain day, and that was the first living thing I had touched in 11 weeks! If any of them were the least bit worried about me, or thought of me with pity when and if they thought of me, now they need not any more because I had someone to love and to love me back! I certainly got a bunch of such sentiments, which I appreciated because among my Facebook world, I have never had so many people “so happy” for me!
Interestingly enough, it was a few of these people that I saw in real life during the summer that led me to change my rules about revealing the truth about this fake Facebook relationship. The look of joy on their faces in telling me they were so happy for me made me rethink my decision to tell them the relationship was fake, and ruin it all for them, not to mention the awkwardness of having to explain it all. I didn’t want to wipe that smile off their faces! But to give you another idea of how weak these relations are with these people I knew on Facebook, when I replied with “thank you, I’m really happy as well”, they didn’t ask more about my new lover. Whatever they may have suspected, guessed, I didn’t really care. They didn’t mean all that much to me to have to spill the truth, and I didn’t lie in my response. Everybody was happy!
Of course, I did tell about the fake Facebook relationship to the few people I had as Facebook friends who I saw on some semi-regular to regular basis. That included my running coach who believed in fake it till you make it, to whom I bantered to watch me disprove this theory. I had other things working on my side as well, like how women who might be interested would find out I was in a relationship and move on. That wasn’t actually a realistic option where I lived, or else I wouldn’t still be single from lack of interest over the years, but it was incredibly useful to me, as it turned out! It helped me manage expectations no romancing was going to be happening rather than holding out hope against all odds and still be disappointed every now and then. In this case, no hope was actually better than just the tiniest glimmer of hope. Also, this would prevent me from going on dating apps since somebody I know in this medium sized city was bound to recognize me and be either asking questions, or assuming less than admirable qualities about me. It all worked out well for everyone, and even far better than I expected for insight about certain people, and bonus benefits of expectations management for me.
Now in February, 2021, over eight months into this relationship, I only post a few teasing posts that could potentially be about my lover, even if it weren’t. For example, I posted about doing a workout under slightly extreme outdoor conditions and time last month, and added “all for a girl”, which it was, just not the lover many might have assumed it to be. I’m happy to say it’s well past the stage where anybody I know on Facebook gave a f*ck any more, whether they believe it’s real or possibly harbour ideas it’s fake since this person is not on Facebook. It’s also left me a happier person knowing lots of people are happy for me, and with my lack of hope for expectations management. And while it might seem risky to ruin that bliss by posting on my blog, I’m also happy to say I’m one of those few people with a blog over a decade old with over 19 million views, but about which nobody in my world gives a f*ck, and if they ever recalled it, they’d just brush it off like it was a little birthmark I was born with rather than some accomplishment. To be honest, that’s just fine with me as well, because this blog is like my public secret, not being aware that anybody I actually know in life actually reads it aside from the occasional article I share, of which this won’t be one, that’s for sure!