Girlfriends are never imaginary, they are only out of town or on a photo shoot in Tahiti. I mean, sure I'm dating Drew Barrymore but that's not in my head; we're just being discreet. And when she calls me her stalker she is just using her pet name for me.

A device used to establish standing in a clique, to placate the self, or for any of numerous other reasons radiating from the insecurity of the practitioner of imaginary girlfriend special operations. Known as an "imaginaton" in certain imaginary cultures.

Social Standing

Within certain groups, social structures or cliques there tends to be a push towards conformity a general jelling of associated individuals. Within certain groups where most are either married or romantically involved, an individual within the group that is neither can feel the need to justify his or her free agent status in the dating world. This may begin with stories of past relationships, highlighting the good times but noting the speaker was not responsible for the end of these relationships. As other members of the social structure continue to speak about their significant others, the solo individual may invent stories to compete or at least feel they are on a level playing field. These stories may involve recent dates that happened only in the mind of the storyteller and can eventually progress into the invention of a girlfriend or boyfriend.

Friends, co-workers and other known associates of the individual with non-existent romantic partner will eventually want to meet or see pictures of the imaginary girlfriend or boyfriend. Pictures can be handled by showing snapshots of oneself with someone from the past. Even a photograph of the person with a cousin from a distant state or foreign land can be utilized. When it comes times for the face to face meeting, the development of a long, heart-rending breakup will begin, culminating in an end of the relationship story that earns the individual the compassion and pity of his associates. A reunion forged by "making up" can always happen after the threat of exposure has passed.

Placating the Self with Imaginations

Not all creators of imaginary girlfriends and boyfriends perform their inventive arts for the purpose of conformity within a group. There are those who have experienced great disappointment and/or a lack of experience with romantic pairings. These individuals will sometimes invent an imaginary partner for their own internal audit purposes. They may want someone to talk to in bed before they go to sleep. They may feel lonely at the breakfast table and want someone to ramble to about that light on the way to work being too damned long. They may originally create their imaginaton for the simple purpose of alleviating boredom, as with the child who has imaginary friends.

The adult with an imaginary significant other is different than the child with an imaginary friend. The adult world is more complex, demanding and unforgiving. A child may speak freely in many circles about his or her imaginary friend. An adult reaction will tend towards "isn't that cute." The adult reaction to an adult with imaginary girlfriend is usually a bit more serious and contemplative. They wonder about your mental health and ability to understand and live in the world of reality. As such, the adult practitioner of such imaginatons will try to justify his or her behavior if someone inadvertently stumbles upon their secret pretend friend and asks questions. As such, it is best not to leave hard evidence of one's imaginatons where they can be found. Writing letters to your imaginary lover can be an exciting and fun activity, but what if one is forced to appear before the courts for a competency hearing? The letters can be valuable weapons for the legal team trying to invalidate your standing as a witness for a living, breathing friend's defense in a murder trial. Even if you are the only one who can prove he did not do it. Be careful.

What We Can Learn From Imaginatons

If your private investigation of a friend, family member or other associate reveals that they do indeed have an imaginary girlfriend or boyfriend, you will stand at a difficult crossroads. You have to determine what to do and how to react. Is it in anyone's best interests that you reveal to others that the girlfriend of whom he sings such praises exists only in his mind? If he or she keeps this behavior in the home, is it best that it just be left alone? There are so many questions, and so little time. The answers can only be found through close scrutiny of your own self before leaping to judgment.

Your first step after discovery is to investigate the nature of the imaginaton. Is it a composite of the person's past partners? Is that composite taken from the best qualities of their past romantic partners or of the worst? Determine if the individual is doing this to feel better about his or herself or whether their imaginaton is out to get them. You may need to intervene if the imaginaton has nothing but cruel intentions. If the imaginaton is filled with love and good intentions and is kept within the privacy of the home, then intervention is probably not necessary. Although, you may wish to formulate a plan to introduce your associate to other single people his or her age in the near future.

For the individual who has many stories and knows intimate details about their imaginaton, there is a danger. An individual who describes certain aspects about their imaginary girlfriend in vivid detail, such as "she has these incredible dimples when she smiles" or "whenever she walks in high heels she always ends up getting a heel caught in a crack in the pavement" may be too far gone. The world of their imagination has become as important or more important than the waking world of our shared human experience. You could even shake the person violently and yell "she isn't real!" but they will not listen. The imaginaton has passed over the line from imagination to the personal reality of the person in question. They will not let go until something traumatic occurs, and even then it might not be so easy. There is much for us to learn, and the human mind has too many corridors leading to too many doors and windows. We can't vacuum them all.

Epilogue

Is there a harm? Is there a danger involved in creating an imaginary girlfriend or boyfriend? What about an entire imaginary family? We've all gone into the homes of people and seen pictures cut out of magazines plastered all over their bedroom walls. We've seen shrines devoted to the worship of a supermodel erected in the homes of most of our family members. We've all heard the cries of "I absolutely love her!" when sitting next to a friend in the movie theatre when an actress adorns the silver screen. The simplest form of imaginary girlfriend comes from the ranks of celebrity, where we simply imagine being with a movie icon, singer or other famous person. The progress from there is complicated. What if real life people don't measure up to the ideals we hold self-relevant? Can we and do we create a being of our own design to fit the bill? Do we find a real person and paint them with those same expectations?

Those addicted to imaginatons often have a hard time converting their affections to living, breathing human beings. Too many failed relationships because of the inflated expectations may push them even further down the darkened staircases of the mind. Before long they may be clutching a leather jacket, rocking back and forth in an easy chair, quietly whispering to the jacket "I love you. You are mine forever." The only cure may be to actively demonstrate the value of a real person's thoughts, feelings and physical presence. If that is not successful, then it may be best to leave early and let them make love to the jacket and whoever they imagine might be wearing the jacket. Just let it go.

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