Dysfunctional Dater #6: My Big Fat Fake Engagement

My longest relationship has been with commitment phobia. But I seriously do think I could get married if I could do it with a month-to-month lease. And if all gay people were also allowed to do it. While being single is generally a wonderful cornucopia of exciting joys and odors, intermittently waking up to find a crime scene of Googled exes on my laptop from the night before is not an indication of spiritual alignment.

For better or for worse, I did recently get engaged. By changing my Facebook status to “engaged.” Did you know that all you have to do to be validated by the entire world is just get engaged? Suddenly people think you’re worthwhile because you’re marriage material. People have been writing the nicest comments – “He’s a lucky guy, you’re so smart and cool!”

One guy private messaged me to say he’s always wanted to hook up with me and now wonders if it’s too late. It’s more attention than I’ve gotten in all of my miserable life. It’s exhilarating and fantastic! There’s only one problem: I’m not engaged. Don’t even have a boyfriend. Haven’t even had a recent date worth writing home about (but have had a few worth writing a column about).

Here’s how it happened: I just innocently changed my status to “engaged” one night on a wine whim, thinking it was no big deal, thinking it was the equivalent to “in an open relationship” or “swinger.” The reason I thought it was no big deal is because the night before I had changed my status to “single” which elicited no response whatsoever, nary a like.

So I change it to engaged, forget all about it and fall asleep. In the morning, I have 500 comments and 5000 likes and now everyone thinks I’m engaged. Now I don’t know what to do. If I tell them I lied on my status, that makes me a jerk. My friend suggested I create a fake profile for my fake fiancé linking him back to me via Facebook’s handy “engaged to Melinda Hill” feature. Maintaining something like that might qualify a person as insane.

Maybe I could marry one of my exes – they weren’t so bad. Millions of people marry all kinds of hot messes every day. Maybe I could just suck it up like they did in the ’50s before we got all these wacky ideas about deserving happiness. Or unexpected death is completely plausible. “The reason you haven’t met my fiancé is because he recently passed away.” Too morbid. My friend Zach has offered to actually marry me and get photographed in wedding and honeymoon gear for the cause – he thinks it’ll be fun and he doesn’t even need a green card. But… too eager. Though I do appreciate the sentiment and the chivalrous gesture, I just see my fake fiance as being a little more cool and aloof.

Suddenly, becoming engaged has become an urgent priority. Everywhere I go, people are congratulating me. The news has spread like a plague of wild bouquets. My close friends know the truth about the situation but with acquaintances, I find it’s just easier to tell them what they want to hear than to deal with their disappointment.

“I heard you’re engaged! Who’s the guy? How did he propose?”

“Well… he rented out a silent movie theater and then came on screen as the actor and proposed to me! Then the lights came up and there he was kneeling with a beautiful ring– (it’s being cleaned right now- you know how antiques are) and I was like ‘What? Yes!’ Then he goes, ‘I have another surprise for you outside!’ and I’m like ‘What?’ So, we walk outside and he has this hot air balloon waiting and we jump in it and drift over the city sipping champagne…” (This little tidbit has the exact sort of over-the-top wow factor I’ve come to expect from my fake fiancé.)

What I’ve noticed is that when a girl announces her engagement on Facebook, it’s celebrated like the beginning of an era while a guy’s engagement is treated like the end of an era. These are the kinds of comments dudes wrote on my dude friend’s engagement status:

“I give it a year.”

“I wash my hands of this.”

“Who’s the ball and chain?”

“Strip club bus tour!”

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