You have problems, I have advice. This advice isn't sugar-coated — in fact, it's sugar-free, and may even be a little bitter. Welcome to Tough Love.
Imave via Universal Pictures.
You've got problems, I've got advice. This advice isn't sugar-coated — in fact, it's sugar-free, and may even be a little bitter. Welcome to Tough Love.
This week we have a woman whose lies to an online date quickly got away from her.
Keep in mind, I'm not a therapist or any other kind of health professional — just a guy who's willing to tell it like it is. I simply want to give you the tools you need to enrich your damn lives. If for whatever reason you don't like my advice, feel free to file a formal complaint here. Now then, let's get on with it.
Recently, I was in another city for work, so I changed my OkCupid profile to that location. I was messaged by a guy we'll call "Sam", and we started talking. Within 24 hours, we had phone numbers, real names, FB profiles and so on. And at some point, naturally, he asked what part of the city I was in. Instead of just saying, "Oh, sorry. My bad. Just in town for work." I straight up lied and named an area in the city... I said I recently moved there for work, that I am in corporate housing (so he wouldn't ask me too many questions about the neighbourhood), and that I am currently on the road until I'm back in the city at the end of August. And Sam, sweet Sam… He just took it all for face value.
Over the last three weeks we have texted/talked/chatted all day, every day, and all signs point to a serious, solid, thoughtful match. So I spent around a grand to fly down to see him, staying in a hotel, renting a car — all to keep this pretense up — and surprise, surprise, it was a bust. We didn't sleep together, he didn't try and kiss me, or even hold my hand. I wasn't expecting sex that night, but I was under the impression that we would have more time together. Instead, he wanted to reschedule our second date, and I pretty much flipped because, obviously, I couldn't. So we had a squabble in front of the train station. I told him I was disappointed in him not wanting to see me, that I wasn't sure if I wanted to do this any more. His face went red and he said, "I think I'm going to throw up." I tried to hug him, to reassure him, and he asked me to not touch him. Then he said "get home safe" and disappeared into the train tunnel. I went back to my hotel, cried, and then checked out the next morning. I waited for six hours at the airport before my flight Sunday morning because he didn't want to meet me.
A few days later, I emailed him the truth. I wasn't expecting much of a response, but the one I got killed me. He said he does not want to continue our conversations and to not contact him ever again. He has had issues with lying exes in the past and said this falsehood is clearly an indication of my character. He recognises that this wasn't a malicious act against him, but feels sickened knowing that I lied to create intimacy between us. So, my question is how long do I pursue this? How can I tell him that this was just a stupid mistake? That I am not his ex… Or, when a 38 year old man says "leave me alone" should I just shut up and leave him alone? The fact that I haven't been blocked yet gives me hope that he might come around.
Heartbroken in Seattle
Hey Heartbroken in Seattle,
Liar, liar, pants on fire. I think you're done here, kiddo. I know that you went through all this trouble because you felt a special connection with Sam, and that you honestly didn't mean any harm, but what you did is really tough to come back from. It's one thing to lie online about your favourite movie, your height, or even your age (it's just a number, right?). But to fool someone into believing you live in the same city just to get closer to them is a bit dastardly. Like, that's some sociopath crap right there. You're completely disregarding other people's feelings to get what you want. That should bother you. Go sit in the corner and think about what you did.
Now, before you put on your dunce cap and write "I will not lie to people for my own personal gain" a thousand times on the chalkboard, let's do a thought experiment. Say this ruse of yours didn't blow up in your face on that fateful weekend — what's the game plan then Miss Con Artist? Do you get him on the hook and then finally tell him the truth when he's in too deep? How romantic! Do you move to that city for a stranger you've only chatted with for three weeks in hopes he'll never find out? Not creepy at all! Seriously, Heartbroken, did you think this through? I can maybe understand the lie upfront — he caught you off guard and you were curious to see where things go. But you lied to this dude's face for three weeks straight! You could have been honest with him at any time. Then, then, you had the audacity to be disappointed in him when he assumed rescheduling a date would be alright… that it wouldn't cost you another $1000 weekend trip.
"Sweet Sam" took everything for face value because that's what you do when you're looking for love, for something real — you have to take those risks. And you threw it in his face, Heartbroken. You know, now that I think of it, maybe Sam got wise when you came to visit. Maybe that's why he didn't seem that into you, or why your second date never happened. Maybe he finally did his due diligence and looked you up. Maybe he saw that you lived somewhere else, that you'd been lying to him the entire time, and maybe he hated how you didn't finally tell him the truth when you met up face to face. Perhaps he already gave you a chance to come clean.
If he doesn't want you to contact him, don't. Do not pursue this. You don't need to tell him that this was a stupid mistake — he knows, that's why he's moving on. And don't tell him that you're not his ex, because at best, that's what you are now. Leave "Sweet Sam" alone. Who knows? Maybe he'll get over it and reach out to you again someday… but I doubt it. And even if he does, and you guys get together, he'll have a hard time ever trusting you again. Now, dust yourself off, go put on a fresh pair of pants, and try not to set those ablaze next time.
Every day we make the same choice hundreds of times. whether to lie or tell the truth. It often happens without thinking, and we ignore the profound impact of these seemingly inconsequential decisions. Even the smallest lies can cost you money and impact your relationships. Conversely, honesty offers many surprising psychological benefits. Here's how truth and lies affect your brain and your life every day.
That's it for this week. I probably didn't make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside, but sometimes what you need is some tough love. 'Til next time, figure things out for yourself.