Winning the College Contest Means Everything Is Rosy, Right?


Modern Love has held four college essay contests over the last 10 years. We checked in with two winners to see how telling their stories affected their lives.

Caitlin Dewey and her husband, Jason Rainwater. Caitlin Dewey

Caitlin Dewey, “Even in Real Life, There Were Screens Between Us,” 2011.

In 2015, Caitlin Dewey, now a reporter for The Washington Post, joined Invisible Boyfriend, an online service that allows users to design and chat with a virtual boyfriend whose messages are written by company employees. Although Ms. Dewey created her boyfriend for the purpose of writing an article, she came to understand the service’s appeal.

“I did enjoy texting this random stranger even though I did not have the faintest idea who they were,” Ms. Dewey said. “Humans are social creatures — of course we form emotional attachments even in these sort of strange, digital circumstances.”

Turns out that wasn’t Ms. Dewey’s first encounter with an invisible boyfriend. Her contest-winning essay details a relationship that flourished online, then failed in person, in an era before the emergence of dating apps like Tinder and Bumble.

As a senior at Syracuse University, Ms. Dewey was immersed in a relationship with a college student who lived three states away. Every day, they would exchange endless Gchat messages and talk for hours on Skype. One night they even accidentally fell asleep with their laptops open, waking the next morning with their video call still in session.

Source: The New York Times