You Need Help: Is She For Real?

Welcome to You Need Help! Where you’ve got a problem and yo, we solve it. Or we at least try.


Q:

I met a girl online and we went out on a couple of dates. Texted every day, the whole courting process. Then she disappeared on me for a couple days and told me her grandfather died and she had to go back to the UK for that. She emailed me every day and the letter writing was very intimate and personal and I was falling for her more and more. She would tell me where she was and what she was up to sending me pics here and there. She then sent me a picture that was not of her, yet she said it was her. I google searched it (obviously) and found the owner of the picture to be someone else entirely. I emailed her asking why she was sending me pictures that were obviously of someone else. She responded by saying “that is me, I got lip fillers and botox. This is silly.” I wrote her back stating that I knew who that was a picture of and wanting to know why she was lying to me and what was going on. I did not receive a response. I now have a million conspiracy theories in my head about the possibility that maybe the girl I met in person was not the same girl writing me these emails, yet they were from the same email address that originally linked us. I’m almost afraid that this could be more SVU than Punk’d.

A:

Oh dear. Ginger, your best move at this point would be to do the cyber-equivalent of backing slowly out of the room. I do think that the girl you met in person is the same girl who sent you those emails, though, and I don’t think you’re in danger.

I feel weird speculating about what’s going on with this third party I’ve never met and am only hearing about through you… BUT I CAN’T HELP IT. Because I think I know what’s going on!

Before I go on, some background: I was best friends with a really wildly ambitious liar for a little over a year, and there were times at which she was busted for this or that lie and we’d talk openly about it and I’d get some insight into her psychology. Nothing about what she did made sense or fit into a psychological diagnosis, yet her behavior was remarkably consistent with other liars I’d know, or know of, in the future. While we were still friends and about 50% of her lies had been disclosed (which we thought at the time was 100% because we’re just dumb animals), she even alerted us to red flags about two other people who came into our lives with sketchy stories and she was correct about both of them. Those conversations gave me a lot of insight. After severing ties with My Liar, other people she’d messed with reached out to me and shared their stories, too. I’ve also read every story I can get my hands on about similar situations. Furthermore, due to the epic shitshow that resulted from my Liar, I’ve also become a de facto Liar Expert, often called upon by other people who suspect they’ve gotten involved with a Liar and want to get down to the truth of the matter. At least your friend isn’t pretending to be a duchess, offering to record your album or renting an imaginary apartment with you!

So that’s where I’m coming from. I could be 100% wrong. I realize in some way I am speaking on behalf of a club of which I am not a member, and perhaps other readers will have other ideas. I don’t think this is Punk’d or even SVU. It’s just a person with a lot of issues who unfortunately wedged her way into your life and is now fleeing the scene.

Here’s the best case scenario: She was kidding. She sent you a picture of somebody else as a joke and when you said it wasn’t her, she made a joke about plastic surgery, and then for whatever reason, dropped off.

Here’s what I think is happening: You started dating a liar! You like her and she likes you. She maybe lied to you about things when you hung out, or maybe she didn’t. Maybe she was pretty honest with you about who she is and what she’s into (if you can, see what you can verify about her life/stories through social media — who comments on her facebook page, who she has pictures of, etc). But of course there comes a time when a liar has to be real about how deep they can get with anybody, at which point she told you her grandfather was sick in order to justify ghosting on you for some reason she cannot disclose.

Having safely placed you at a physical distance (which may be imaginary, I’m not sure if you can confirm that her pictures were taken when/where she says they were), she felt more comfortable getting in just a little bit deeper. Or maybe she thought you were gonna vanish when she ghosted on you to begin with, and the fact that you didn’t has given her a temporary ability to rationalize remaining in touch. Perhaps she felt like she’d already done one thing to protect you — removing herself from your physical vicinity, as far as you know — which gave her the peace of mind to continue your cyber-courtship.

And then… she fucked up. Maybe she was also courting somebody else and with that person she’d been using photographs of somebody else to represent herself, and she screwed up and sent the wrong picture to the wrong person. (My Liar often passed off photos of other people as herself with other people she just knew online.) Maybe she just uploaded the wrong file. Or maybe she did it on purpose because she couldn’t keep lying and she also couldn’t admit she had been lying, so she did something intentionally to spook you, and then ghosted again. In which case, honestly, she kinda did you a favor.

Why is this person a liar? What are they hiding? Why do they tell such clumsy lies? Why do they even bother forming intimate relationships that they know are not going to last? I don’t know. She might not know, either. It might be something about how she grew up, it might be part of a personality disorder. Whatever it is, it doesn’t have to be your burden.

Go forth and prosper with people who really exist!

Keeping it Real,

Riese

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Riese is the 39-year-old Co-Founder and CEO of Autostraddle.com as well as an award-winning writer, blogger, fictionist, copywriter, video-maker and aspiring cyber-performance artist who grew up in Michigan, lost her mind in New York and then headed West. Her work has appeared in nine books including "The Bigger the Better The Tighter The Sweater: 21 Funny Women on Beauty, Body Image & Other Hazards Of Being Female," magazines including Marie Claire and Curve, and all over the web including Nylon, Queerty, Nerve, Bitch, Emily Books and Jezebel. She had a very popular personal blog once upon a time, and then she recapped The L Word, and then she had the idea to make this place, and now here we all are! In 2016, she was nominated for a GLAAD Award for Outstanding Digital Journalism. Follow her on twitter and instagram.

Riese has written 2886 articles for us.

31 Comments

  1. I gotta say, I like the idea of telling people that I’m a Duchess. That seems too wild and far-fetched (did someone actually tell you that? Lol); however. So, I will tell people that I’m a Countess, and when called on it, I’ll insist that what I was “Accountant,” since I actually am that.

    All seriousness aside, I would definitely recommend not staying with the liar. I dated a girl like that, and trying to discern when she was truthful and when she was lying was just too tiresome after a while (not little white lies, I mean)

    • actually now that I think about it I think it may have been a countess, not a duchess?IT’S HARD TO REMEMBER! it wasn’t me, it was somebody else who was involved with this person and somehow i got involved in the detective work to figure out what the hell was up with this person and bust down her WALL OF LIES

  2. Oh man, I used to know a really intense liar, but I can’t give any details out of fear they will find this and know it is them. All of the lies were WILD and incredibly SPECIFIC.

    Like, they were so weird that I assumed most people in this persons life believed that they were full of shit, but a surprising number of people Totally Believed Them. Even though they were bananas.

    Like,you know the weird Walter Mitty type fantasies you came up with for yourself when you were 12? That were fantastical and bonkers but got you through middle school?

    Those were basically the types of things this person tried to pull off as truth.

    It was a Trip, I’ll tell u that much.

  3. I once dated a liar that was such a liar they offed their mother as an excuse to miss work. That happened before we got into a two-year relationship, and mom had to stay dead. She was not dead. It was wild. (As were many, many of the lies I swallowed- but you know what? Learning experience.)

    • yes i had a liar who said her mother died as an excuse to cancel a trip we were supposed to go on together and to cancel the fact that we were supposed to live together that summer (both of these situations she had invented herself, they were never real plans, but i didn’t know that! so she panicked when the date approached and offed her poor mom)

  4. Tip for finding the sloppy liars:

    If they tell you something that they clearly expect a certain type of attention for – esp if it’s a type of fawning attention given to someone whose gone through a bad experience – but then don’t want you to bring it up with the only person who could identify their story as a lie because “it’s hard for them” or “they don’t like talking about it because of X”

    (like as if you would just bring something like that up with a person you barely kno??)

    And if this happens A LOT

    Those Stories Are Probably Lies.

    And also, if they just frequently bring up really dramatic, awful things that happened (maybe??) to them in a way that is clearly attention-seeking, cry for help type stuff you’d expect from, like, an emotionally distressed young teenager

    You are dealing with an Unstable person and should probably keep a certain distance for self-preservation.

    It’s not necessarily bad to have to cry for help in a way that involves, like, a public emotional breakdown that is clearly partially play-acted

    A scene in the Great Drama That Is This Person’s Life

    It’s valid to need help!

    But emotionally healthy people usually really, really don’t want to bask in that kind of attention. It’s a huge red flag that you’re dealing with a deeply troubled person, someone who probably needs professional help.

  5. ID channel fanatic here. Watched an episode wherein, a guy went around town telling people that he murdered prostitutes. He even included all the gory details but nobody believed him, including his own sister, because he lied so much. An example of a lie, he lied to his family that he had cancer for a year, thought it was hilarious. Anyway, liars =/= murderers clearly. but if there are numerous instances that leave you perplexed and confused, dont try to justify their behaviour or try to look for excuses, just walk away.

  6. This reminds me of the Liar girl I was desperately in love with in middle school. She lied about having the same birthday as me (love sign from the stars, in my babyqueer eyes!!!), and went so far as to throw a joint birthday party for both of us at her house. I didn’t notice that we just hung out in the basement and then went to the park to do gifts, and her parents were nowhere to be seen – parental absence was a great privilege at that age!

    I was SO CONFUSED when I found out it wasn’t her real birthday. Turned out, of course, there were a whole bunch of other lies along with it. I wonder if she ever grew out of it…

  7. Lying is often a defense mechanism developed in response to shyness, feelings of inadequacy and in some way, being different from much of society.

    The liar thus has a confidence problem. She may feel genuine affection for you, and yet be so afraid of rejection as to try and create another reality she feels may be more appealing than her true self.

    Such a defense only develops in response to very painful and very real experience.

    If you have the patience and time, you might discover someone truly wonderful behind the lie and in so doing rescue her.

    • In my experience, trying to rescue people tends to do both you and them more harm than good. (I’ve been on both sides) Not to say it’s always a bad idea to get involved with someone with issues, but isn’t it better to let them/us own and fix their/our own problems?

  8. I wish Ginger many good times with people who really exist!

    When I was about 15 I had a 18 yo friend/neighbor, who was a Big Liar (over 6 years later, he now works at the bakery closest to my house, and keeps entreating me to resume my friendship with him, adding, the last time we met, that both of his younger teenage sisters were pregnant at the same time.).

    Choice array of strange stories he told me, in his fake British accent, which I only identified years later were probably all lies – at the time, I had no reason not to believe him even though the timelines were strange: that he had a sugar daddy who lived in Florida and had paid for him to come over but his mom had stopped the trip, that his real father was Swedish and therefore his last name was actually spelled with an umlaut (his family was Mexican, a fact he was unfortunately ashamed of), that he had had consensual sex with other children at the age of 9, that he had a done extreme quantities of coke in bathrooms with drag performers, that he had kissed many jocks with girlfriends, on bridges, in dramatic circumstances, and that his boyfriend’s family forced him to eat on paper plates.

    I actually wonder whether the boyfriend ever even existed, since I never saw him in person or in a picture, but he spoke at length about their relationship (and, with a kind of poetic irony, about how following pressure from his boyfriend, he had gotten therapy to stop lying and was recovered now), even showing me a journal they shared, filled with two different handwritings.

    When he moved for a few months I ghosted him without being able to explain to myself why, but I’m glad I did.

    • I got on great with his family though! I miss his mom more than I miss him, I think. Now that I think of it I’m really amazed that I never accidentally exposed a lie while talking to his mother. It’s incredible what you can get away with.

  9. oh this all freaks me out! It reminds me of a Big Liar friend/housemate I had about 10 years ago, and it took several benefit-of-the-doubt situations in a row to realise, and I was so rustled that I swiftly moved out.

    Unfortunately, we had many mutual friends and shared hobbies, and the awful lies that she spread about me were so outrageous that I was too terrified to go back to said friends or hobbies.

  10. I used to get delusions that were linked to extreme stress, and thus have accidentally been a Liar in the past. Reality and made-up brain garbage blended together really easily, resulting in some pretty out-there tales. That’s probably not the case here, but this reminded me of it.

  11. Its CRAZY the lies people can come up with. Like seriously bonkers. This woman i used to work with would pull from news stories and pretend they happened in her real life. Like someone on the news got caught smuggling drugs in their work vehicle, the next week her husband “got caught smuggling drugs in paint cans” (he was a painter)
    After leaving her husband and getting a new bf she once described in detail getting boudoir pictures done, all the poses they put her in, all the outfits she wore. Then she asked if i would scrapbook them for her to give to her bf… when i got the pictures they were not her. Not even all the same woman. Faces were clear as daylight in all the outfits and poses she had described, but pulled right from google images… i was blown away. I made it anyway?? But felt so weird the whole time, knowing her bf would not be fooled if i wasnt LOL

  12. This reminds me of a film I saw at Sundance last year. (That I highly recommend) The Amina Profile! It’s a film (a true story) about a lesbian relationship that turns out to be a big catfish and huge, terrible mess. Such a compelling and tragic story.

  13. I’d love for a liar to comment here. Also have you guys seen Molly’s Girl? Maybe she’s not really an uncontrollable liar but a serial liar. It’s worth a watch.

    It never occurs to me to lie. Like really never. Okay that’s a lie. But sometimes I’m amazed at how easy it comes to other people; I turn red, look away, move on to other topics. I just act really fishy when I lie.

    • I’m a terrible liar too.
      My mom always said ‘if you’re gonna lie, you’re gonna have to be smarter’ which is kind of a nice way to say it.
      But seriously, the only lies I can get away with are the ones that I would REALLY really like to believe are true. For example, saying you’ve totally done the Thing that you definitely haven’t done and you’re panicking about it but you don’t want anyone to know. So you’re like “Yeah, it’s going fine”…. :/

    • I’m not a liar, but I can lie very well.

      Lies come from the logical/rational side of my personality rather than the emotional side is why I think when I do lie it is convincing. I’m calm and I’ve thought through what will or won’t work, possible fallout and how to manage it without any emotional panic at the front making me nervous.
      Also I rarely lie and when I have it was to protect someone or myself so what ever guilt I may feel is minimal.

      Looking people in the eye is easy because it has no meaning to me as people have looked me in the eye while being or doing terrible things to me. Plus I need to focus on the body language of the eye to judge their response.
      I may be shit at interaction with people but I’m good at dealing with and judging threat potential et cetera in people’s responses via body language.

      Does this sate some of your curiosity?

  14. This post is giving me so much life. I just recently exited a very unhealthy relationship, and I mean unhealthy in every sense of the word. For over a year I was made to believe that their issues were my issues and that I was this horrible, unsupportive girlfriend. Only thing is I was doing things for myself , like breaking up with her, because we didn’t belong together.

    Something in me chose to stay and endure the abuse but now I’m free. I no longer have to hear lengthy and explicit stories about issues with former exes, I also don’t have to hear about them for days on end. I don’t have to be made to feel low about myself when it’s only their deflection of themselves on me. I don’t have to deal with being in a weird love triangle when they were avidly trying to communicate with an ex by incessantly sending emails. l had not proof but until recently I did and their excuse was someone has access to their account. (LIE)

    I don’t have to endure the sick and twisted game of breaking up and making up for all the wrong reasons including that I had abandoned them (what do I owe you again?).

    I. Do. Not. Have. To. Deal. With. Anything.

    This level of lying and mind games comes from a place of brokenness and pain and honestly I can’t even be mad. Being unwilling to recognize when you’re drowning and continue living that way is something beyond what I can help/provide.

    I now know my worth and ability to love strong and hard. It’s time I focus on myself and who that person will be for me. Unfortunately for that other person they’re still lying …only thing I can do is pray.

    Thank Auto community for helping me to realize that I’m not crazy. I needed this to bury that relationship.

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