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Some New Yorkers have stable, nurturing relationships. Others, either by choice or by cruel reality, don’t have relationships, and instead seek romantic validation from Tinder swipe-quotas, ongoing resentful-sex pacts with deranged former lovers, or cats. But happily settled, single, or somewhere in between, most bang-age New Yorkers have Instagram, and there are moments in this loveless metropolis when it becomes easier to fake a healthy relationship on it than actually pursue/maintain one in real life.

Maybe you’re in a fight with your significant other, but you don’t want your friends to know you’re on a break. Perhaps you’re in a fight with your significant loneliness, and have elected to bury it with scads of perfectly filtered square photos. No judgement either way, boys & girls. I’m just here to help. Here are Sex on Friday's pro-tips for fabricating the perfect NYC relationship on Instagram........................... when you’re not actually in one.
 

Make everything about you

To make it seem like you’re happily in love with another live human, it’s absolutely critical that you make yourself the primary subject of any person-based Instagram you ever post. This may seem counter-intuitive, because you’re already desperately alone. That’s the whole problem, really. But consider this: if you never, ever, post a photo of your significant other -- ever -- no one can possibly prove that he/she doesn’t exist. Whoa. That’s some Schrödinger's cat logic chicanery, right there.

This is also a thinly veiled metaphor for living in New York City generally. And social media. And dating. So, yeah: everything is about you. Got it? 
 

Shoot a sh*tload of landmarks

When your goal is to imply the presence of another person right next to you (despite the grim reality that you may never personally enjoy that basic human pleasure again), it’s crucial to Instagram yourself doing activities that single New Yorkers would never bother suffering through.

Quintessential, cutesy "New York rom-com" things to do together (walking the Brooklyn Bridge, sunbathing in Sheep Meadow, riding bikes up the West Side Highway...) must be Instagrammed, and why not? If you have a trusted emotional & intellectual equal with whom to experience the many small pleasures of this fair city, wouldn’t you? Yes, you would, and despite the fact that you currently have no such person, you should.

Optimal spots for artsy landmark shots include Brooklyn Bridge Park, the Arc de Triomphe at Washington Square, a cobblestone street in Cobble Hill, the Bronx Botanical Garden, and farmers’ markets of all kinds. Hell, if you really want to sell this, kill some time at a Penn Station bar, then hit the Empire State Building observatory deck late-night for a romantic shot of the city laid out before you. Beautiful, just like your relationship... which to the casual double-tapper, is very real.
 

Caption vaguely

No matter where you’re trying to fake a relationship, Instagram captions are a threat to your subterfuge. NYC is no different. Intelligible communication is the enemy, so stick to hashtags and vigorously condensed greeting-card platitudes. Specificity is the father of discovery, or something; when in doubt, omit pronouns entirely. Pulling a hypothetical sexual partner out of random pixels is like pulling a rabbit out of a hat: a lot easier when you focus on working your goddamned magic instead of talking about it. Capiche?

Flickr/slippyd

Use a lot of filters

New York City & passionate, requited love: both downright disgusting to look at if you’re not living it every day. And yet... you need to somehow make it seem like you’re seeing the true beauty of your surroundings thanks to the fulfilling change of perspective granted you by your constant (fake) companion. As such, filters are now your religion.

Let’s say you pop a 'gram of the setting sun pouring down 18th St from the Hudson. Terrific. That’s a perfect artsy-landmark-type shot, and if you play your filter game right you can skip a caption entirely, so hit it with a bit of the ol’ Ludwig. Boom: an unremarkable view into a photo so warm & vibrant that if it was a Windows XP background template, its file name would be Love_inthe_Summertime.jpg.

Or how about an ice cream sundae? Hit the editing tools, and plop a double-scoop of contrast (more), saturation (more), and brightness (slightly down) right on top of that sucker like a goddamned photo-manipulated cherry. This brings us to our next tip: 
 

Always order for two

If you’re in a New York relationship, you know that most of your time together is spent Instagramming food at one of the city’s innumerable delicious restaurants. If you’re not in a relationship, you’re reading this article. DO THE MATH: it’s imperative that you spam the bejesus out of your feed with photos of foods on which couples feed. Go to Morganstern’s and get that ice cream sundae. Hit Freeman’s for brunch and order eggs, waffles, granola, and two coffees, then rip a shot of the bounteous spread, slap some ambiguous copy under it ("Breakfast with #bae"), and kick back as the likes come rolling in.

The true beauty of this sham-aneuver is two-fold. Sure, you’re gaming the rest of the ‘gram into thinking your heart is choked with florid love -- duh. But you also get to eat all this extra food, which, blessedly, will choke your heart with something far more real: cholesterol. An emotional band-aid plus an excuse to eat yourself to death in New York City? That’s what we here at Sex on Friday like to call a win-win, kids.

Dave Infante/Thrillist

Make up entire text conversations, then post those

Like this.
 

And if all else fails...

If you get the sense that your charade is wearing thin, and your followers are catching on, it’s time to go nuclear by coming clean. Kidding! Are you nuts? Never do that. When the going gets tough, lie better! God, no wonder you’re not in a meaningful romance -- you can’t commit to anything!

Alright, sorry. Didn’t mean to be so hard on you. It’s just... you gotta want this, my kemosabes. Where was I? Oh right: going nuclear. Here’s your move. Get yourself a lifelike human doll in the gender/format of your sexual preference. (You could try to find this at Ricky’s, but who am I kidding? No one goes in Ricky’s except for the day before Halloween.) If you’re some sort of prude who feels uncomfortable buying a real-to-touch sex doll online, you might be able to get away with just some lifelike prosthetics -- like women’s feet, say. Hell, shipping will be cheaper. Yeah, go for the feet.

Take those lusciously lifelike appendages and plant them strategically beneath the covers of your queen bed -- y’know, the one you haven’t shared with another person in quite some time. Make sure the covers are obscuring the part where the foot ends and there’s no leg. Cool? Alright, now slide your feet under the covers too, and intertwine them with the dummy-foot just like lovers might. Now pop a photo, black-and-white that sucker, and 1-2-3, Bob’s-your-uncle! According to Instagram, you’re basically definitely at least mouth-kissing with someone.

Congratulations. You’ve done it.
 
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Dave Infante is a senior writer for Thrillist, and agrees that in almost all known cases, she is, in fact, "all that." Follow @dinfontay on Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat.

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