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Apps let you prove your soul mate is real, even if it's a lie

With Invisible Girlfriend and Invisible Boyfriend, you can show off a make-believe mate to get family and friends off your back. Crave's Bonnie Burton explains why that's so tempting.

Relationships are about compromise, mutual respect and love. But those are useful lessons only if you're actually in a relationship. For those of us cursed with workaholic tendencies, quirky personalities or unwaveringly high standards, dating can be a nightmare.

Why have a real relationship when you can sign up to get a beard? Bristlr

Finding Mr. or Ms. Perfect (or even kind-of-perfect) sometimes seems near-impossible when you just don't have time to meet strangers for a drink or test the waters during dreaded speed-dating events. "Quick! In 5 minutes, convince me you're not a psycho."

Plus, you have happily married friends trying to help you find someone special so you can share in the bliss of lasting romance. Then there are your relatives, who are dumbfounded that you can't snag a spouse and settle down already.

Invisible Girlfriend and Invisible Boyfriend offer one way of dealing with this situation. The apps promise to "give you real-world and social proof that you're in a relationship -- even if you're not -- so you can get back to living life on your own terms." Plainly put, these apps, created by Matthew Homann and Kyle Tabor, help you lie about being in a relationship by providing believable social proof of significant others in the form of crowdsourced selfies, text messages, voice mails and even written notes.

"Our inaugural service is $24.99 and includes 100 texts, 10 voice mails and one handwritten note," Tabor told Betabeat. "We're looking to create both less and more expensive packages as we learn what our users need."

While some people might consider this service a joke, take it from me: Having an imaginary relationship can be a lot easier than explaining why you're not in a real one. I've lost count of how many times I've had to explain to bosses and friends why I'm not bringing a date to weddings, parties, company picnics and holiday events.

It's not like I don't want to find true love. But I have stuff to do. I like my freedom. I want to be in charge of the TV. My dog is usually first priority. And well, dating is a lot of work. I'm cool with being single. But after a while, it gets tiring to tell your mom that grandkids won't be happening soon or ask your well-meaning friends to stop setting you up on blind dates with their newly divorced pals or friends who clearly just want a casual bed buddy. Sometimes white lies make everyone involved a little happier than the truth does.

The apps let you pick your boyfriend or girlfriend's name, but don't get too creative. Frank is going to be a lot more believable than Kal-El, and Jane is going to sound much more real than Daenerys. Then you choose a significant other from the apps' extensive library. You can "customize her/his personality to your tastes and decide how you will interact," according to the website. "Then you'll be able to live your life the way you want."

The apps promise to help you create lifelike stories about your relationship that are easy to memorize. In addition to photos, text messages and voice interactions, the app helps you make up backstories for your loved one that the real people in your life won't question (or will they?).

After that, you can text back and forth with your invisible loved one. While sexting and naked photos aren't offered by this service, the creators are working on providing ways to receive personalized gifts, flower deliveries, social-media connections and more.

On the flip side, if you want to help others to live a little lie, you can submit your selfie to be that special invisible love interest for someone else. If someone selects your selfie to be his or her pretend boyfriend or girlfriend, you get an "I'm Someone's Invisible Girlfriend (or Boyfriend)" T-shirt. The app will pay you an undisclosed amount for each additional selfie you submit.

We live in an era where social media can become a high-pressure game of envy-inducing compare-and-contrast, so it's no surprise these apps aren't the first service to offer fake significant others. A Brazilian site called NamoroFake.com will create a perfect, but entirely fake, girlfriend for you so your Facebook contacts don't think you're unloved. This can come in handy when your whole family is watching your every move on Facebook hoping you change your status from "Single" to "In a relationship." Heck, most of my family would be happy just to see an "It's Complicated" update from me.

And that's where these "fake relationship" apps and services come in handy. You may be lying to your friends and family, but in my case, it would only be until I find someone to date who has an actual pulse. It's a temporary fix. I'm not advocating having a long-term fake boyfriend or girlfriend that leads to a fake engagement and a fake wedding. You're not signing up for imaginary kids and pets to live in a make-believe house with a pretend mortgage.

But there is something satisfying in knowing that there's a service out there that helps you get on with your life without the constant strain of having to prove yourself "successful" even though you aren't romantically linked to anyone.

Would you ever date an imaginary girlfriend or boyfriend? Vote in our poll above and then elaborate on your answer in the comments section.

Why snuggle up with a stranger when you can pretend to? Cuddlr