Once upon a time in a land far away (Brighton), there lived a young woman who had lots of matches on Tinder and more dating stories than Jean from Sex Education. Spoiler alert: it was me. Now that I’ve been in a relationship for a Long Time, I can look back on some of the bizarreness of dating life with a fresh perspective, and say “what the fuck was that all about?”. One of these dating occurrences that comes up time and time again when exchanging stories with friends is what I now call “the boyfriend experience”.
What is the boyfriend experience?
In Japan, single women can pay around $890 for ‘the boyfriend experience‘: a strictly non-sexual escort who they date for a night and listens to their stories and dilemmas. In the UK, some boys are shortchanging themselves by offering a similar service for free. Myself and many of my friends have been privy to the post-date-boyfriend-experience on several occasions. In short, a boy acts like your boyfriend for a small amount of time, going beyond the typical boundaries of a date/FWB/person you fancy. This includes holding hands/kissing in public; staying round for a long time (see also: overstaying their welcome); watching romantic films together; cooking you breakfast; telling you intimate details of their life; and anything else you’d typically do with a committed boyfriend you’ve been with a long time. So why do some men temporarily act like your life partner?
Try before you buy vs. the ultimate friendzone
Ultimately, the difference between a lad who makes up an excuse about their mate being locked out as soon as you’ve had your first gin, and those who move in for 24 hours and set up a Deliveroo address to your flat, all comes down to what kind of person they are – and how compatible you are together. Some boys see this as a “try before you buy” (let’s see how she reacts to me jokingly inviting her to my sister’s wedding); some just like hanging out with you but don’t want the commitment of a girlfriend (when have you heard that before hun?); and sometimes you’re just compatible and they want to spend as much time with you as possible. Every person and every coupling is unique, after all!
So… what next?
Occasionally, the boyfriend experience can lead to an actual relationship. It’s not unheard of that a first date can spiral into a three day weekend and then before you know it you’re meeting the family and spending Sundays trawling IKEA. The traditional date format (drinks, drinks, food, drinks, cinema, food, have “the talk”) goes out of the window and is fast-forwarded through. What is more bizarre is when both parties of the boyfriend experience never speak again. Sometimes I get mad that I can’t remember details of day-to-day life, but I know random facts such as Roger*’s dissertation topic, or why Trevor* once wore his mum’s make up to school. Not seeing someone again after a first date is extremely likely, but never again seeing someone you spent 14 hours with and introduced to your flatmates is strange, to say the least.
The boyfriend experience is just one of many bizarre phenomenons associated with modern dating. With seemingly endless singles on dating apps and the ever-looming question “could I be happier?” there are always new trends and weird situations to be discovered.
*= names changed, obv