Britney and Jason left the boys with her dad and left town Friday for a weekend getaway to an exclusive Santa Barbara beachside resort -- but even though they want the public to think this was a "romantic getaway," it was anything but!

An X17online photographer on the scene tells us exclusively:

    "Britney and Jason are totally fake. Jason is like Britney's assistant. They never hold hands unless the cameras are around. This trip seems like an attempt for Jason to salvage whatever type of relationship these two have with each other because everyone's reporting that they've broken up. Thing is ... they were never really together!"

Additionally, Britney seemed very tense and upset with her hands clenched and arms crossed as they left the hotel. And Jason wasn't looking too good himself, with wild unkempt hair and circles under his eyes as if he were up all night. Trying to keep up the charade is clearly getting to these two!

Perhaps Brit just doesn't want to fake it anymore?