Hey, cutie. Just wanted to let you know that this story originally ran in our June issue, so if you like what you see, you should probably snag a hard copy ASAP. Bye!
Eric* barely spoke on our first date. He couldn’t stop picking at his beer-bottle wrapper—the only thing he looked at all night (yes, I was jealous of an adult beverage). Um, I thought, do I smell or something? When I got up to go to the restroom and grazed the back of his arm, he tensed up as if I’d showered him with a billion ice cubes.
I had been beyond excited to meet Eric in person. We’d matched on an app and he’d had me glued to my phone ever since. He was the perfect texter, sending cute memes and “Hey, beautiful” messages. Then we met face-to-face and I realized: Shit. I’m dealing with a toyfriend.
You know the type. Literally: 81 percent of you have been out with someone who’s guilty of this Fyre Festival level of fraud, according to a recent Cosmo poll. Toyfriends play you via text like they’re keepers, but IRL, they’re so different.
Here’s the thing though: It’s not totally their fault. Our imaginations are also kind of to blame. “It’s called projective identification,” explains psychotherapist Jaime Gleicher. “You want this person to complete a fantasy, so you project what you want onto them.”
When you feel textual vibes with a match, you likely start to personify how they act, speak, even joke. And while there’s nothing wrong with wishing fantasies would come true, remember that you’re only getting a fraction of who a person is from texting with them. The rest, you might be making up in your head.
“He’ll sext you like he’s already made you O, then sit four feet away on your first date!”
Think of it like reading a great book, then seeing the movie adaptation cast with all the wrong celebs. You end up mourning both what could have been and the sudden loss of what was (good-bye, “good morning” sexts).
There’s only one way to avoid a toyfriend sitch, says Gleicher. Cut down on the messaging (after confirming they are who they say they are) and build chemistry in the same room or over the phone.
When my date with Eric ended, I took it for what it was: bad. Then on my way home, he started sending me heart-eyes emoji—and I knew I had to break up with my toyfriend too.
*Name has been changed.