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Severinian

I've been catfished

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I'm in a sort of moral dilemma now. Let me explain the situation first.

I started talking to a woman on facebook, we have quite a lot in common and we've had many great conversations, I really like her as a person. After a while, she said she's gotten feelings for me, and she wants to visit me and possibly get into a really serious relationship if I also like her. (She lives in another country)

I've seen photos of her, and also an old video, and she was really good looking in those, and with a great gravitas and charm in her eye. But lately, I've come to realize that all these photos she showed me of her were very old, which she never told me. I got that confirmed when she sent me a video message. She looks different now, much older, and more tired (she uses lots of drugs (legal) too), not nearly as beautiful and charming as in those old pictures and videos.

Now I feel really awful. I've already promised her that she can stay with me, she's ordered her plane ticket and she's been talking about having sex and everything. Also how a future could look like if we got together.

I still like her quite a lot as a person, but not so much physically, even though she's not directly ugly or anything. To be honest, I wish that she wouldn't visit me now, not only because of her appearance but also since I feel a bit fooled, after all, she never told me all these pictures were at least 8 years old, or more, which they most likely are (when comparing some pictures, she almost looks like a different person), and she didn't send me video messages until after I told her she could order the tickets.

Still, telling her that she can't visit me after all would break my heart, she's very emotionally invested in me now and want to talk to me all the time, and maybe she's even paid for the plane ticket even though the trip isn't until November. (Is that common to do?)
I'm very afraid of hurting girls, because it tears a lot on my conscience.

What do you think I should do? I guess most people would condescend and shame me for even asking this, as we're not supposed to care too much about looks and so on. (Although I suspect everyone does, and people who try to be moral in this way are just self-delusional hypocrites)
But I'd imagine Objectivists might have a different viewpoint, maybe.. What do you think I should do, and why?

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My first rule would be to always Skype (or video chat) with someone you talk to online to verify that they are being honest with you. (Just for future advice)

 

You are the best one to judge the situation. If you think she deceived you, I wouldn't allow her to live with me. Who knows what else she is dishonest about. I would recommend having a Skype conversation with her - face to face - so you can get a better view of what she looks like (lighting and camera angles can be deceiving) and you can see how the conversation flows. She will be less able to make up a personality she thinks you will find compatible on the spot, compared to sending messages back and forth, which allows her time to come up with a response. If you value her as a person, she deserves the opportunity to explain herself. And don't feel bad, you are under no obligation to bring her into your home ever, even if she can't get her money back for the plane trip. If she deceived you, the terms and conditions under which you said she can buy the ticket are null and void. She obtained that value fraudulently.

Edited by thenelli01

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If you don't want to enter into a relationship with someone, you shouldn't enter into a relationship with them. That much is true regardless of the circumstances. Doesn't even matter who's fault it is that you changed your mind. Do both of you a favor, and tell her you lost interest, and that she shouldn't come. 

 

As for how you go about letting her know that, that's up to you. You might wanna try to be nice about it. From your description, it's nowhere near clear that she deceived you on purpose, so there's no point in accusing her of that. 

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Tell her its off, tell her honestly why, offer to reimburse her for the tickets (get a copy of the receipt first; she was less than candid with you once already), and let the episode be a lesson to both of you.

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Let's look at the fundamental issue, so you won't make similar mistakes in the future. (I've made these same mistakes some years ago, so don't read this as though I think I'm Mr. Perfect. Just that I've crossed this bridge before you have.)

 

You have accepted a faulty premise that you can "fall" in love with people. You can't. You've accepted a hyping up of emotion as being love. Anyone can hype up their emotion and convince themselves they are in love with someone. But are they in love with someone, or in love with an ideal in their head? Authentic love happens over time when you actually know someone and spend significant time with that person. Not before. And it takes significant time.

 

You can't put an actual time limit on things like this, but you can't have real love for some person on the first day you spend with her, or the time, or the third time. You can't actually begin to love someone after knowing them for only one week, or two weeks, or even for a month, or two months maybe. Because even after knowing someone for a month or even two months, how many hours of time have you actually spent with them? You're still only just beginning to see their real character and their real values. Only then just beginning to see what they are like on their bad days; seeing what they are like when they handle conflict. So again, there is no hard rule on time-frame, but keep that general idea in mind.

 

Letter writing is one thing. Live text chatting is a little better. Seeing photos in addition is a little better. Video chatting is a little better. But all of that is still insufficient for actual love to take place. You have to see and be with the person, simply as a person who is your friend, first. And it takes some time to really get to know what they are like and what their values are. Only then, can you be capable of real, actual love.You don't fall in love, you grow into love.

 

As a primary rule of this kind of thinking, you must refuse to let yourself believe that you have deep feelings for someone you've just met or barely know. Because you are always, always just fooling yourself and hyping up your emotional circuitry. You couldn't possibly have deep feelings for someone you barely know -- because you barely know them.

 

This may take some time for it to sink in and become natural for you to relate to people like this. But I can't tell you how many times I've met some girl who seems great, and sexy, and awesome, and yet I know that I don't actually know her, so I am simply friends and try to get to know her with no other deeper motives. I get to know her better, and I start to see problems with her values and character that I could not possibly have seen early on. She may still turn out to be a great person and have high enough values to be a good friend and possibly even a playmate (I am non-monogamous). But her values may not be high enough for me to create a deeper, romantic love with her. And on some occasions my initial estimate was way off and she turns out not to have the kinds of values I'd even want in a friend. And when you meet someone who does have high values in such a way that you grow to love her, it will be be mutual.

 

And, as one last little tip, love shouldn't be treated as a one-way road. Love ought to be like a best friendship. Imagine that you came up and told me that Pete is your best-friend. Then I asked Pete, and he said he barely knows you, and only said "hey, how's it going" to you one time. Obviously Pete and I would both think you're a bit off, and a little scary. Pete would probably keep his distance. If you say that someone is your best friend, then it ought to be (and is assumed to be) reciprocated. Just as you can't have a friendship unless both people feel the same kind of friendship toward each other, you should also think of love this way. You can't have love unless both people feel the same way toward each other. It's only an unhealthy infatuation if it's one way.

Edited by secondhander

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"You can't have love unless both people feel the same way toward each other. It's only an unhealthy infatuation if it's one way."

Strongly disagreed. Likewise on who is one's best friend. Your feelings and evaluation of another person are influenced by, but not totally dependent on theirs for you.

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"You can't have love unless both people feel the same way toward each other. It's only an unhealthy infatuation if it's one way."

Strongly disagreed. Likewise on who is one's best friend. Your feelings and evaluation of another person are influenced by, but not totally dependent on theirs for you.

First let me clarify that I'm describing romantic love. In English, the term "love" is broadly applied to anything from loving my girlfriend, to loving my sister, to loving this slice of pizza I'm eating. In other languages, they may use wholly different words to describe those very different concepts.

 

Now, you can feel emotion for someone who doesn't reciprocate it, but I don't believe it is properly "love" (in the romantic sense), just in the same way that you can't have friendship with someone who doesn't reciprocate friendship. So it's not "love" that you're feeling. It's probably better described as infatuation.

 

Now, we can argue a bit about words and terminology, but I'm arguing for how the concept itself of love ought to be viewed in my estimation. So, you can continue calling it "love," even if the other person doesn't reciprocate. Call it any term you want. But the point I'm making is to draw a conceptual distinction between reciprocated emotion vs. non-reciprocated emotion. I think "love" ought to only be applied to the first category (again in the romantic sense. I'm sure my dad kept loving me even when I was an inconsiderate, immature, jerk of a teenager. That "love" is a different concept). But the main point is to give some thought to is the possible unhealthiness of having non-reciprocated romantic emotion toward someone, and how it might be more of a out-of-balance emotional circuitry rather than something we could consider rational, appropriate love. (And just because rationality is at play, it is still very much an emotion. We are not robots.)

Edited by secondhander

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Now, you can feel emotion for someone who doesn't reciprocate it, but I don't believe it is properly "love" (in the romantic sense), just in the same way that you can't have friendship with someone who doesn't reciprocate friendship. So it's not "love" that you're feeling. It's probably better described as infatuation.

I think the problem with what you said is you are suggesting that love is a relationship like friendship is a relationship. But love is an emotion, friendship is not. Friendship is a type of relationship, love is not. What I'm saying is love needs no reciprocation, although you're right that it's not an "instantaneous" emotion that can happen without time to grow. Many emotions require growth. I don't see why though love can't properly be so without reciprocation. You can even love someone as a friend without any reciprocation, or at different levels, although of course there wouldn't be a relationship of any sort. The only time reciprocation matters if you need consent to do certain activities (watching a movie, rock climbing, sex, business meetings, borrow a car, etc). What is possible to do may impact emotions, sure. Still, if non-reciprocated emotions you feel leads you to demand reciprocation though, that's a problem, but that doesn't mean romantic feelings without reciprocation might be "out of balance" or unhealthy. The bottom line is that reciprocated/nonreciprocated emotions are not emotions that you feel. They are just comparisons of emotions between individuals. It's impossible to feel when an emotion is reciprocated, although someone showing reciprocation may make you feel loved.

As for the topic... is the lack of being forward about age the only problem here? At worst this sounds like a mistake on her end. The difficult thing to do is to evaluate if she lied about bigger things. I wouldn't praise her for lying of course, what matters is she has learned from her mistake.

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She told me her age in the beginning, but I said it didn't matter to me since she looked so much younger in the pictures. She only said she was relieved and never told me that the pictures were many many years old. Anyway, thanks for the answers guys, I still don't know what I'll say to her and when, but sooner or later, I'll have to put a stop to it.

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She told me her age in the beginning, but I said it didn't matter to me since she looked so much younger in the pictures. She only said she was relieved and never told me that the pictures were many many years old. Anyway, thanks for the answers guys, I still don't know what I'll say to her and when, but sooner or later, I'll have to put a stop to it.

 

If the only problem at all is that you wish she told you how old she was in the pictures, it's not something I see to go ending an apparently good thing. Look, maybe she had insecurities so she wanted to show you "prettier" pictures of herself. Irrational, yeah, but put it into proportion. One bad action doesn't make her rotten to the core. But if she's a good person, she learned from her mistake. If you ask me, you gave no reason to put a stop to this. What you did demonstrate though is that you should discuss with her how you find this has hurt you emotionally.

 

Still, do you know how old she is in the pictures? You seem to assume it's 8+. Maybe it's only 4 years or so ago, nothing all that big and medications, depending on what they are, could change a person a lot. Sometimes I've shown people a 3 year old picture of myself, but I look mostly the same. What you would evaluate is why she showed her older pictures, *that* she showed older pictures isn't a problem. You can only evaluate what to do once you talked it over with her.

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I didn't say she was rotten to the core, that's an exaggeration. I'm not hurt by this, I'm just afraid of hurting her, that's what this is about. Because I can't go on with this when she's not the one I thought she was. Yes, she might have insecurities, but it's not fair for either her or myself to go pretending that I like her a lot more than I do. I won't go into how I found out how old the pictures were, but I did find it out.

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I still don't understand why you two weren't video chatting to begin with. Why would you encourage her to buy a plane ticket and come to another country, but not ask her to get a cheap webcam so you can see each other when talking?

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Be sure to tell her before she comes. If nothing more than friendship ever comes of it, she may want to get her money back.

You should also ask yourself in advance whether or not there's any possibility of returning to your previous attachment, what would have to happen, et cetera; precisely what has changed, how and why.

These are things she will ask you; you'll be sparing her a lot of confusion and pain if you can give her answers. And if you're sure its over then you might have to be blunt; even rude.

Think of it like surgery. If you aren't firm and completely honest (which will feel like cruelty) the inevitable damage will only multiply.

So do it thoroughly and do it soon. The rest is up to her.

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Before you make a decision you should consider that pictures can be deceiving. Especially pictures or video from a mobile phone or webcam.

Wide angle lenses, bad lighting and contrast as well as how the person faces the camera can make the most beautiful woman look horrible. Also, the things you notice might not be the same as when meeting in person.

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I know, but trust me, it's worse than you think. Today, I also found out she's been lying about something else, and from other things she's telling me, she's obviously a very very fragile person. I'm not going down a path with her, it would be devastating for the both of us, and I'll tell her that very soon now, in a nice way of course. Thanks for the answers guys. :)

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