I Bought The Lie With Sympathy

Years ago, right after getting a computer and going online, I discovered 'instant messaging'. A friend said we could 'chat' in the evenings on Yahoo. I set about downloading the chat client and really enjoyed being able to chat with people, all around the world, in real time, as if we were sitting in my living room, having a laugh, comparing stories, etc.

My friend convinced me to try a chat room that she'd been going to, where she had a bunch of friends she liked to spend time with. They played music, laughed, told jokes, talked about their days... it was fun.

One night, right before leaving the chat room, I saw a screen name that grabbed my attention. I messaged the person and told them I liked the screen name.. it was 'SirJohnLennon2000'. He posted the first line of the song "Hello Goodbye" by the Beatles. I posted the second line, he the third, I the fourth, etc. It was a lot of fun, finding someone to chat with who loved the music of the Beatles as I did. I told him I was signing off, he added me as his friend and told me he would be online the next night.

Every night for the next 7 nights, we spent hours chatting, about everything. It was as if we had shared most of our life experiences. We finished each others' sentences. I don't think I ever laughed that hard before!

I was careful not to divulge information about myself, so I allowed him to share experiences with me, then reciprocate, so I knew he wasn't fishing for information and playing off of what he learned from me. I knew there were 'preditors' online, so I was cautious.

This was a time in my life when my husband and I had just adopted our son and were experiencing a lot of changes in our household, were having some problems. It seemed like life was falling apart. I was disabled and stuck at home all day, trying to manage my son's education program, fighting for services for him (yes it's been going on since the day he moved into our home, this fighting for services.) My friend had all but evaporated... so finding this friend that I could connect with on a daily basis, that shared some of my experiences and interests was great! What an emotional outlet it was.

Over the course of 4 years, we chatted a couple of times a week. There were odd things that started coming up in chat, at first I felt sympathy for him. He told me he had had cancer years ago, had surgery and been cancer free for years, but now he was having some health problems and been told the cancer was back. He told me he was in the hospital, that he had cancerous tumors on his liver and needed a liver transplant. Then he told me he had recently found out that his girlfriend was pregnant. Shortly thereafter he told me he had had a daughter he'd never known about until she was 12 years old and he'd just found out she had been killed in a car accident. He was taking in her baby daughter, because her mother had died years ago (the reason she'd sought him out at age 12).

Ok... some red flags started going up for me. How could anyone have so many horrible things going on in their life and still find the time to be online all the time? My rescuer, nurturer, empathetic side overrode my sensible side and I found myself feeling sorry for him. He told me he was so glad I was there to chat with.

One evening I signed onto chat and found a 'mass message' that went out to all the people on his friend list that said "you don't know me, but I need to let you know that _ _ _ _  died yesterday." (paraphrasing - but it was very cold and blunt) I found myself grieving the loss of a 'friend'. On one hand I was sad, but on the other hand I was thinking, at least he could rest from all that he'd gone through in his life.

Three months later, I got an instant message from a screen name I'd never seen. It was HIM! He told me someone had 'hijacked' his other account and he was trying to recover his friends with the new account.

Red flags were flying high now, as he was supposed to have been dead and here he was. If someone hijacked his account, why had it taken him three months to let people know he was okay? Suddenly he wasn't living in Canada anymore, he was living in England. Within the year that followed, he was back in Canada, he had been questioned in a murder, had never been married, had been married years ago, he didn't have cancer, his wife had cancer, he had been in a car accident, had flown through the windshield and wasn't able to walk. He was in physical therapy, fell in love with his nurse, married her, his wife had died of cancer (do you see a pattern here?) and was all alone.

It seemed as if every time we chatted, he contradicted something he had previously told me, he came up with yet another, more fantastic crisis to deal with, but then would recant and tell me I misunderstood.

Five years ago he told me he was dying and we wouldn't be able to chat anymore. By that time, I had realized he was one of those preditors, who read people, who figured out just what to say to win someone over, to connect with them, then he set about getting their sympathy, knowing they would be there for him, he would maintain their attention, because they would care about him. He'd endeared himself.

Being the caring person I am, knowing what insanity I've lived through, I empathized with him, felt sorry for him. I enjoyed the laughs we shared, knowing there was someone who 'understood' what I'd been through, because they had been through something equally as trying, but that worked against me with this person... I got too involved emotionally.

Earlier this year, he popped up on me one evening when I was chatting with a friend of mine in NY on yahoo. I had my settings on available, so my friend would know I was there when she was able to get online. He said "so she doesn't answer her IM anymore". I just sat here looking at the chat box.

I answered him and said "so now I can chat with the 'other side'?" He ignored that I had typed that. He went on to tell me he was just given 8 months to live and we wouldn't be able to chat again. I was furious.... had he forgotten that he'd told me he was dying 5 years ago and disappeared? Had he forgotten that he had died no less than 3 times during the 4 years we had chatted?? Had he forgotten that he'd revealed that he had never had cancer, but it was his wife who'd had the disease?

Was it possible he lied to so many people online that he forgot what he told who? Was it possible he didn't realize how much he contradicted himself?
I never answered another of his chat attempts and haven't heard from him in months.

While there was a time when he provided me with laughter, someone to listen, and understanding at a time in my life when things were very difficult and I didn't feel so good about myself, he had taken me on a terribly emotional roller coaster ride, seemingly for his own entertainment, as he had 'laughed at me' for believing what he'd told me.

I've always been a trusting person, I usually trust you before I distrust you... you have to give me a reason not to believe you, but after interacting with this person, I've learned that it's in my best interest to make people earn my trust and that even the most articulate and seemingly caring people aren't necessarily worthy.

I've since met a number of people who've told me they have experienced a similar awakening and lesson. I think I am likely a stronger person for what I've experienced. Though my heart still wants to trust, to give and to help, I'm a little more guarded now than I was before and I think that's for the better.
rollingwithhusky rollingwithhusky
46-50, F
12 Responses Jul 30, 2010

The above story shrieks 'sociopath' to me. Since I was 'taken in' by an emotional predator online I've done nothing but read about this. I suspect that what your predator wanted was 'narcissistic supply'. This is what they're addicted to - attention.<br />
And they get off on the power they feel when they dupe you. <br />
Nobody who gets taken in by these people is stupid - the predator who 'got' me specialises in educated women - one of them had a Masters Degree in Psychology but she still fell for it. These kinds of predators are good at what they do and they're practised manipulators and con artists.

lunnas,<br />
Thanks for sharing. I really don't understand why folks feel the need to abuse people. I think, somewhere deep inside they are very insecure people. Lying and deceit are things I simply won't tolerate any longer... no second chances. <br />
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i am so sorry about what happend to you . ive been there too i hate it when people lie and decive you

LOL!! "Zombie Nature"..... omg... too true!!!! That's a funny way to look at it!!! Thanks :)

Souli,<br />
It was a hard lesson.... but I know now I have to have boundaries and trust myself. I don't need drama in my life, I don't need more complications, more worries. I'm much more careful now.

LiveLaughnLove and Arelya... thanks for sharing.... now I don't feel such an idiot, either... LOL I hesitated to share the story, because I was afraid of ridicule. People often tell me I was naive and gullible. I thought I was being kind and at that point in my short experience online, had no reason to mistrust anyone. <br />
<br />
I learned a tough lesson... don't give your trust away and don't believe what you're told if you sense that things don't make sense... trust yourself and your gut. I don't even chat with men online anymore. I only chat with women and if they talk crazy talk, as one woman did 2 years ago, and things don't add up, I'm done with them. <br />
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I figure I have to protect me... I have to have my best interests in mind and they have to be the priority when I'm interacting online with people. Too many people think being online is a game!

i hear you. this happened to my sister on a devastating scale and to a much lesser degree to my (now ex) partner a couple of years ago. both were internet emotional predators. in my sister's case, she ended up missing out on her own daughters' birthday party, going to meet some guy at the airport in another city that apparently was coming over from the US... he never came and kept my sister hanging on to the hope of a real life relationship for nearly 4 years before that day.<br />
<br />
my partner was unfortunate enough to have trusted the wrong person online with her financial worries and that person preyed on her need and used it to get the same attention and sympathy from my partner for months. this person even stooped so low as to call her from England (apparently) and promised her thousands of pounds while feeding her crap stories about having cancer, being rich and extremely overweight... it was so ridiculous, after a few months of leading my girl on i made her put a stop to it and expose the faker in their chat room. it never happened to her again and that person stopped going to her regular chat.<br />
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this has never happened to me because i don't get close to anyone online anymore. i went through a dating site online to meet my partner, but we were both there for the same reason and it wasn't the same type of circumstances, we ended up living together for real, so it wasn't just an internet relationship. <br />
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i will be a friend through social networks but i generally don't add people to msn anymore and have to have good reason to want to give out my phone number to anyone online.i have found these emotional predators quite often frequent large chat servers or chat rooms within a large and popular forum.

I too got hooked on a "pity junkie" online... and when i started calling him on his bullshit he started to manipulate my emotions... I was very badly hurt... and my ability to trust took a very bad hit.<br />
<br />
Thank you for this story... I feel a little less of a fool now, knowing that I'm not alone.

Yes, it did seem to be about emotion, about sympathy, about attention. He was exceptionally smooth. At first I couldn't doubt him, because I had such a series of misfortune and crisis myself, but as he kept adding to it, it became more and more obvious he was lying and losing track of the lies he was telling. <br />
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Now, I don't even chat with strangers on yahoo. It really made me want to protect myself. <br />
<br />
Thanks for stopping by! (((Hugs)))

Wow that sucks. I've been lucky and have been able to spot these people within 2 or 3 contact sessions. This one sounds smoothe..it's funny though...it seems to have been purley for the lie's sake...manipulation of emotion. Usually it's about money.

Hi rubies3,<br />
I think one of my biggest flaws, or perhaps greatest strengths, I'm not sure how to view it yet, is that I tend to give everyone the benefit of the doubt, I want to give people another chance, once they've hurt or lied to me, hoping for the best. But for whatever reason, one chance is never enough, I always end up giving another and another, hoping things will get better. <br />
<br />
The biggest problem with this approach to friendship is that some people think this constitutes an endless 'free pass', they see it as 'weakness' on our part. There are people who prey on the trusting and good nature of others. <br />
<br />
Thanks for stopping by and sharing your story.

Wow, you are a lot like me. Im sorry about that guy who lied so much. I had a slightly similar thing with a very similar outcome happen to me. I met this friend from school that I had had a crush on, and we became best friends. I told him I had crushed on him, to get it off my chest, and I wasnt very disspointed that he didnt want to go out, because we were only in 5th grade. Then we became even greaters friends, mostly talking online, and were each others emotional outlets, like you said. then in 6th grade these bullies got to him and he became an aggressive butthead. This is where my story differs from yours. He became completely guarded from me, he blocked me out, locked the door on me, and threw away the key. To represent what happened for the next 3 months ill use a metaphor: I was standing in front of the door that he locked on me, feebly knocking and calling his name. He, even more feebly, called back that the reason why he was being so guarded and mean was all the bullies fault, and he had no reason to apologize. I attempted to kick the door down, and it gave a little, he apologized through the tiny hole he made, and thats how we stand now. I am a different person. Guarded, depressed, unsure of myself, fearful of judgement.