'I said my keys were lost. Then they flew out of my bra': The lies women tell to be 'saved' by their partners

Jessica Lind faked her own kidnapping
Jessica Lind faked her own kidnapping Credit: Daily Echo/Solent News

This week, a court in Britain heard the story of 22-year-old Jessica Lind, who faked her own kidnapping in a bid to ‘win back’ her former boyfriend.

The 'real life Gone Girl' sent a message from her own phone to her ex reading: “Let the games begin – find Jess”. The hunt to ‘find’ Lind lasted 253 hours, cost £15,000 and resulted in the arrest of a local man. When questioned as to her motive for this shocking stunt, Lind said: "I just want Johnny back in my life and thought he would be able there to look after me because he thought someone was going to hurt me."

This is obviously an extreme case. And Lind, it’s been reported, was suffering from mental health problems following the break-up.

But it did make me wonder if lesser versions of her behaviour are that uncommon.

The one and only time I experimented with drugs, I did so during an argument with an ex. He was ignoring me, so I sent him a text telling him what I was doing, exaggerating how much I had taken and implying that I was planning to drive home. (I didn’t have a driving licence, let alone a car).

"It’s not a moment of my life that I recall with pride - but it turns out that I’m not alone in wanting to be rescued".

I hoped that his overwhelming concern would prompt an end to the row and he would care enough about my safety to phone me and offer comfort. Basically, I wanted him to swoop in and save me.

It’s not a moment of my life that I recall with pride - but it turns out that I’m not alone in wanting to be rescued. Once I shared my story with friends and acquaintance, the confessions started rolling in.

“Yeah, I can be a bit of a psycho” Katie, 25, admitted. “I frequently pretended to ‘lose my keys’ on nights out, so I could booty-call my boyfriend and stay over, even if he had other plans or didn’t want me to.

“Only one time, my keys flew out of my bra (I used to hide them there but I was so drunk I forgot) mid coitus, and my plan was foiled. If he ignored my drunken calls, I would turn up and bang on his front door.

Why do women want to be 'saved' by their partners? Credit: Alamy

"When I ran out of minutes on my phone, I used his WiFi (from outside the front door) to connect to the internet and Whatsapp call. If that didn’t work I’d ring one of his housemates and tell him that there’d been a terrible emergency.”

Turns out, quite a few of us will pretend to be in dire straights get the attention we’re craving.

“I reversed my car in to a wall and scratched it badly. I rang my then-boyfriend several times but he wasn’t picking up his phone. So I left him a voicemail in floods of tears telling him that I’d “been in an accident,” making it sound so much worse than it was. When he got the message he panicked and came straight over to help me,” confessed 24 year old Sophie.

And it’s not just our own personal plight that we’ll fake in order to get attention.

"I got down on my hands and knees and smashed my head against the floor which was basically concrete".

“My grandfather was very ill and dying” Lottie, 23 told me. “My boyfriend wasn’t giving me enough attention, so I called him and said granddad had actually died. He immediately rushed over with wine and chocolate. I had to tell my housemates about it so they would play along – they were really shocked.

"Poor old granddad did die about three weeks later. I even uploaded Instagram photos of him to back up my lies.”

Miriam, 26, admitted: “I pretended that my drink had been spiked. I went out after a row with my partner and got really, really drunk. He found me curled up crying on his doorstep later, where I then told him I’d been spiked. He undressed me and put me to bed and was ridiculously nice to me. He still doesn't know."

Some of us will even damage ourselves in the pursuit of affection. Alexandra, 21, told me:

“I was arguing with my partner and I tried to get his attention, so I got down on my hands and knees and smashed my head against the floor which was basically concrete. I gave myself a huge lump and a minor concussion.”

One woman pretended her drink had been spiked after rowing with her boyfriend Credit: Alamy

So why, despite being high-functioning women, do we have this desperate desire to have our partners ‘look after us’ as Lind put it? And what makes us go so far as to put ourselves in real danger to achieve it?

I asked Dr Linda Blair. 

“The first time a person would do this sort of thing, a ‘divisional behaviour’ as it would be described, it could be an accident,” she said.

“The person might notice that their partner pays attention when something happens, when they don’t pay attention at other times. So what gets it started may be an accident or may be the partner knowing on some level ‘if I do this, they will pay attention’.

“We don’t repeat behaviours unless they pay off, but once you’ve done it once and it works, that’s why you do it again."

"Maybe we're not bad people after all. Maybe we just don't realise that our real problems are just as worthy of support as our fake ones".

So it might not be healthy, but we do this because it works. We know our partners will come steaming to the rescue if we really need them, and that their desire to look after us will override any impulse to ignore us. It might be effective, but that doesn't make it okay.

Dr Blair explained: "It's simple, but it worries me. It's saying ‘I don’t feel that the problems I really have are important enough to point out’. And that makes me really sad. Or else it’s saying, ‘I don’t feel that I’m getting enough time with my partner and I don’t know how to change that’. Either way, it merits attention.”

Maybe we're not bad people after all. Maybe we just don't realise that our real problems are just as worthy of support as our fake ones. Perhaps these behaviours are (an admittedly disproportionate) reaction to being deprived of attention from significant others who just aren’t right for us.

Our real problems merit as much attention as fake ones Credit: Alamy

One male friend admitted that his ex-girlfriend displayed some of these behaviours when they were together:

"Sometimes if I was busy or I hadn't been making time for my ex she'd start talking about being ill and ask me to come over and look after her, I used to drop what I was doing and go and look after her," he told me. "I think she started to think to see it as good way to get me to spend time with her. It happened more when things got worse with us. But to be honest, the fact I didn't want to spend time with her in the first place tells you all you need to know." 

Dr Blair recommended that any couple experiencing this (whether both parties are aware of it, or not) need to explore two issues.

Firstly, the self-esteem of the partner who is inclined to lie or exaggerate, in order to realise that their genuine problems are just as worthy of attention.

Secondly, the couple should spend more time engaging with one another, removing the need to gain attention through these kinds of stunts.  

After all, there's no compulsion to be ‘saved’ when we feel safe and secure within the relationship in the first place.