The fake relationship has been a staple plot device of romantic comedies that tugs at both men’s and women’s heartstrings. You may have enjoyed watching Pretty Woman (1990), found Sandra Bullock’s character relatable in The Proposal (2009), or dreamed of your own Peter Kavinsky in the latest Netflix hit, To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before (2018).
Although some people may not admit to liking the genre, many of us enjoy watching a will-they-won’t-they relationship bloom into an unconventional romance.
But as sung by Dua Lipa and Marina and the Diamonds, when it comes to love, there must always be rules – including having a fake boyfriend or girlfriend. So if you ever need to make your ex jealous, avoid deportation, or have some convoluted reason to start a fake relationship, always make sure you and your faux beau set these ground rules.
1. Put it in writing
As one of my business law professors once said, if everyone put all their agreements in writing, there would be fewer problems. Even if your abrupt relationship status change could be a spur-of-the-moment decision, you and your fake other half need to sit down, negotiate, and draft a contract.
Unlike other films where fake couples argue and make it up as they go, my TATBILB girl Lara Jean was smart and put everything into writing. Their contract explicitly outlined what they expected each other to do, the extent of their physical intimacy, and the termination of their contract.
It’s a smart move: both of you know what you’re getting into and enter an agreement that both of you are comfortable with.
2. Make it believable
The point of a fake relationship is to convince someone else that it’s real. Otherwise, what’s the point of keeping it fake? You don’t have to conform to what most couples do, like share cringe-worthy, TMI-level pictures and statuses on social media to “prove” your love.
Just do enough to convince others that you and your partner-in-crime are madly in love with each other.
Depending on your style, commitment, and the level of passion you want others to see, making your fake relationship a convincing one can be pretty easy. Skip the roses and get them meaningful Valentine’s Day flowers. Offer to drive or walk them home. Make them the first person you see when you wake up and check your phone by making them your lock screen photo.
You’ll need to learn more about them to successfully convince people you know and love your partner, but once you do, you’ll fool people into thinking you’re practically soul mates. Just make sure that when you do all this, someone else is watching.
3. Always remember: it’s not real
In fake relationships, love is not the goal; it’s a win-win situation where both of you benefit from looking in love with each other. The point of a fake relationship is to convince everyone else it is real, but there is such a thing as too convincing.
It starts to go wrong when you feel a tingle as their hand brushes against yours or you’re suddenly a bit too eager to walk down the hallway with him or her. Your reaction could mean that there was already something between you, to begin with, or you’re starting to believe your story.
If that ever happens, take a deep breath and repeat this mantra from our favorite dyosa, Anne Curtis (the sass and drama is optional): “Just shut up and kiss me. And don’t you dare fall in love with me.
4. Have fun!
It’s the first rule in Marina and the Diamonds’ “How to Be a Heartbreaker”: you’ve got to have fun, but when you’re done, you’ve got to be the first to run. Don’t get attached and wear your heart on your cheek — and congrats, you have a fake relationship!
The good thing about a fake relationship is that you get all the benefits of being in a relationship without the disappointment or heartbreak of real relationships.
Is it kind of sad? Maybe. But like most of the films about fake relationships, it’s either going to be a real learning experience for you when you’re ready for a real relationship, or you could upgrade your fake relationship to the real thing.