The service is called Invisible Girlfriend, and the idea is that you sign up and pay $25 and they will send you text messages and photos and make you feel as if you have a boyfriend or a girlfriend (your choice), and if you can laugh at this without your laughter getting caught in your throat and turning to sobs, then you are a heartless tool.

Apparently this is a real service. The guy who created it, Matthew Homann, won a startup competition in St. Louis back in 2013 with this idea, and has spent the past year writing code and building out whatever back end you need to make something like this work.

There's also a companion app called Invisible Boyfriend. With either one, you fill out a little mad libs type thing where you make up a a back story for how you and your imaginary partner first met. Then you start getting texts and photos.

The work is not done by bots. There are real human beings on the other end, communicating with you, although the person writing to you will probably be different every time.

For $25 you get 100 text messages, 10 voice mails, one handwritten note — and a lifetime of secret shame.

Homann told me he came up with the idea and bought the domain names and about nine years ago when he was going through a divorce and was sick of people bugging him about whether he had met someone new.

Some users, Homann says, are people who don't want their conservative grandparents to find out that they're gay. Others are soldiers overseas who want to pretend they have girlfriends back home. (Sniff.) A few others have been guys (presumably wearing Forever Alone T-shirts) who want to practice having a girlfriend so they can see what it's like, and so they can learn how to flirt over text messages. That way, if they ever meet an actual woman, they will know what to do when it comes to texting and leaving voice mail messages and other things that people who have real boyfriends and girlfriends do. Because, in fact, there are people who do not know how to do this.

Laugh all you want. But I've gone through a box of Kleenex just trying to write this post.

Footnote: Yes, I did notice in the screengrab (above) from their site that they spelled the word believable two different ways on the same page, once correctly, once not so much. Look, it's in beta. Now if you will excuse me I'm going to lie down and have a good cry.