I have a confession to make: I am dating a cosplayer. You'll never know exactly which one, because I am a secret boyfriend. And because I am a secret boyfriend, I can't tell you my name or hers.
This is probably an issue that most of you know nothing about because—like me—it's a secret. Yet it's an unavoidable fact that there are cosplayers out there who say and act like they are single, but in reality have boyfriends.
There are a lot of reasons why this might be. Just because a cosplayer likes to share her costume work and photographs online doesn't mean that she wants absolute strangers to know her relationship status. It could be that the boyfriend doesn't want to be included in his cosplay girlfriend's tweets and blog posts to protect his own privacy. Or it might be because some cosplayers think that being perceived as single—and therefore available—will help them gain notoriety and 'fame.'
Now before you chop my head off and exclaim that cosplayers don't in fact view being single as a way to get ahead, before dating a cosplayer I knew nothing about the world within. Many different types of people cosplay and they all have different opinions and goals. There are cosplayers who are openly dating someone or married. There are coplayers who are single. But there are also cosplayers who are in secret relationships.
I am a secret boyfriend and I'm ok with that. One, I don't really want to be included in all of her tweets and blog posts, so I like it that she doesn't talk about our private life online. Two, in our real lives I am not secret. Her family and friends know about me, and mine know about her. But, when it comes to her online cosplay presence...I might as well not exist.
I am a secret boyfriend and I'm ok with that.
After following my girlfriend from con-to-con and getting to know a lot of her cosplay friends, I noticed that even your favorite cosplaying heroine (I don't want to ‘out' anyone so I will omit names) had secret boyfriends and husbands. Often, I was surprised to find out which ones!
I was also surprised to see how each relationship between cosplayer and boyfriend differed. There were the cosplayers who were obviously there to have fun and hang out with their boyfriends/girlfriends and were even doing couples cosplay. There were the boyfriends tagging along on purse duty. Sometimes a cosplayer would introduce the guy as her boyfriend…and sometimes the cosplayer would introduce her boyfriend as just ‘her friend.'
Now, before you think this is a rant, I must make it clear that this is just an opinion piece, not an angry character assassination. My significant other was a cosplayer well before I met her, talked to her, dated her, and hooked up with her (not necessarily in that order). So I knew the rules of the game before I entered them. As with all relationships, ours involves compromise. It is 50/50; give and take. I may not exactly always agree with being her hush-hush boyfriend, but at the same time I understand, accept it, and support her decisions out of love, the way she puts up with my snoring or excessive video game playing.
At the same time, I'm not going to lie and say it doesn't bother me when a guy hits on my girlfriend at a convention right in front of me. It can be enraging to read some of the comments her pictures receive online. I don't always like it that she wears skimpy bikini costumes to conventions and lets guys pose for photos with her. Dude, that's my girlfriend!
Perhaps the one things that makes it all bearable for me is when she isn't dressed up as your favorite anime girl, she is dressed in normal clothes, and we go out to eat at normal restaurants holding hands, holding normal conversation (barely!), kissing, and letting the public know we are indeed together. She is smart enough to separate the two and know that the person I entered into a relationship with isn't the girl dressed up as a videogame character, but the REAL her. That is the person I want to grow old with, etc. etc., NOT the cosplayer.
Another thing that makes it bearable is that I trust my girlfriend. She also doesn't flirt with other guys...in real life, at conventions, or online. Keeping a relationship on the DL doesn't give her license to flirt or lead on other guys...which is something that I have unfortunately witnessed some cosplay girls doing.
Is it really necessary for cosplayers to keep their boyfriends secret? I'm not sure.
But...is it really necessary for cosplayers to keep their boyfriends secret? I'm not sure. When Justin Beiber announced he had a girlfriend, there probably weren't too many girls so distraught they stopped being a fan. Hugh Jackman is married and possibly gay, but that doesn't stop girls from having a crush on him. So, if a cosplayer says she has a boyfriend, would it REALLY make a bit of difference? Why the secret? Why make a big deal about it at all?
At the same time, I admit that there were times over the years that I lost interest in following a cosplay girl online because she had a boyfriend or a husband.
Do we, as guys, have a habit of viewing cosplayers in a way similar to strippers? [And I'm really not comparing cosplayers to strippers here!! Cosplayers aren't strippers!] Let me explain the metaphor: If you are a man and you get a lap dance from a stripper, the possibility that she might actually start liking you can attract you to spend more money and pay more attention to her. If that stripper revealed she has a boyfriend or a husband and five kids, would she still be attractive? Do cosplayers need the attention and pandering of fanboys in order to feed into their fame? Is it necessary for cosplayers to hide their personal relationships in hopes it won't shatter the hearts and minds of her dorky minionship?
Let's be honest folks, celebrities don't date fans. Cosplayers don't date fanboys. I could go into some deep rant 'Barney Stinson style' about the rules of the universe, but that is just the way it is. A guy going to a cosplayer's Facebook page and commenting about how sexy she is and oogling at her boobs is the same as going to a strip club and throwing money on the stage. It is just an illusion. I support my girlfriend's hobby because it is something she is passionate about and it is something I enjoy seeing her excel in. If I am a member of the secret boyfriend club, well...so be it. I can either be in a department store like Macy's or Neiman Marcus holding her purse, or I can be at a convention watching her dressed up in a skintight Catwoman suit holding her purse. The choice is fairly obvious. Besides, I'm the one who gets to take her home in that suit.
This story originally appeared on cosplay site Takopop.