Are You Addicted To Internet Pretending?

Once you start down this path of pretending, no one ever knows if you are telling the truth or not. You could be making up that you are pretending, too. But, call me a fool, I believe you. This is the Experience Project. We are anonymous. Why pretend? Then again, why not?

Now, let me read the tea leaves.

Why do people pretend? I don't think anyone gets addicted to anything except as a way to cover over a pain. Pretending can be part of an internet addiction. I think it is the pain of not feeling good about yourself, despite any good qualities you may have. This kind of feeling may not be a rational feeling -- i.e., not based on facts, but where feelings about self are concerned, facts matter little.

Feelings of low self-worth don't come from nowhere, either. They usually come from the way a person is treated by important adults in their childhood. It could be things like parents being divorced and feeling responsible for the divorce. Or the mother says she never wanted you. Or your parents had such high standards, you could never match up to them. Or a parent dies. Or you are adopted.

Feeling bad about yourself is really painful. It often results in feeling like killing yourself, although it doesn't have to. Depression can appear. Grades might suffer. Or you might turn to school as a relief, and grades might be very good.

In any case, if you feel bad about yourself and if you feel like people will abandon you once they find out who you are, something like the internet can be a relief, especially if you can be anyone you want to be. You didn't randomly decide to "play games" and try to pass as a guy. Not everyone does that. Not everyone is interested in being someone other than who they are. There was a reason behind what you did.

Then it made you feel good. It probably also made you feel safe. Maybe you understood that on some level you were interacting with fantasies you create and place on the other people you meet online. You are a story teller, playing with yourself more than anyone else. And the drama is good, too, because it fits the idea that everyone will abandon you sooner or later.

When you get involved with someone and they fall in love with you, it's a high better than any drug. It's a power trip! It gives you a feeling that you really are worth while -- temporarily. The feeling goes after a while, and things get hard to explain, and people get suspicious and then they are gone.

There is a solution. Well, several solutions, in fact. Mindfulness is the one I like. All these feelings about myself -- well, they are just thoughts made up to explain the feelings. If I learn to not be very attached to the thoughts, but to just let them appear and then go away, they don't make things worse. The emotions are bad enough. Why make them worse with my thoughts?

The way I can let the thoughts go is by focusing on my breath. When I focus on something else, something neutral, I don't have as much energy for the thoughts. If I can focus on my breath and do something else, then there really is no room for the thoughts. Doing could be running or making music or hanging out with friends or whatever.

You can also defuse the thoughts in another way. You can use rationality and objectivity. When you think you are worthless, you can say that that can't be true, because so many women on the internet wouldn't like you if you were worthless. There is something there. It's not all based on fakery. You probably have other talents and relationships that you can use to counteract the negative ideas that bring you down.

Doing these things is one way to start to wean yourself from what you call an addiction. You will need to replace internet activities with other activities. Do things with your real life friends. Pick up hobbies. Make music. Volunteer. Are you in college? If you're in college, there are many activities to do that would take up your internet time..

You can also make amends, by telling everyone the truth, apologizing, and trying to do what you can to change yourself so you don't hurt anyone else.

The way to deal with the pain is to deal with the pain. Find out whatever is causing it, or caused it (although this is not, strictly speaking, necessary). Then deal with the emotions. Deal with the pain. Teach yourself how to cope with it. Teach yourself how to behave more effectively, so you can get more of what you want out of life.

I don't think the pain will ever go away, but I do think you can cope with it better. I even think it can become a strength. Pain teaches you a lot. It is one of the best ways to learn -- if you are willing to face it and learn from it. Yeah, it hurts. But it hurts anyway, even if you cover it over. If you cover it over, it keeps trying to pop up, and then, whatever your addiction is, you have to do it more and more in order to cover over the pain. It is far more effective in the long run to just learn how to cope with it head on.

Good luck. You know where to find me if you have any questions. You can read my stories about this topic, too. There are a lot of them.
wundayatta wundayatta
56-60, M
20 Responses Jul 22, 2010

I know you're hurt but pretending to be someone else is not a okay solution. By pretending to be someone else, you can hurt other people too. You could be trying to feel better by not being yourself but at the same time hurting and even offending someone that you're pretending to be. You might not feel like you're doing anything wrong but you don't know who's looking at your profile on the other side of the screen. You may not be intending any harm to that person you're pretending to be but when they eventually find out, it could cause a huge misunderstanding. Another unwanted conflict can occur. It doesn't make anything better if the same problem just keeps on going and going? There just seem no end to it and instead of being relieved, you or that person feel more frustrated than before. So you both could get hurt and it could make the pain even worse. There are always consequences for your actions. This pain of yours might be clouding over you but don't let it take control. You are stronger than it and don't let it take away of the real you and think before you act :)

I have been pretending to be someone that I'm not for way too long, but I just don't seem to be able to quit it or to even leave it. I don't know how to and I just can't tell everyone that I'm such a big liar... I think that, telling the truth would hurt me more than lying... Even if that's just messed up, it's the truth. I would hurt the people more than I have already hurt them, for example as in ex-girlfriends that I have had, I already hurt them and me in the process of ending relationships, but then going and tell them that I have been lying for months to them or to some even... Years. Even though, it hurts me so much to be having to lie to everyone that I meet at those chats, I can't convince myself that telling the truth would make things better, but worse. Having to pretend for all these years is ruiningmy life, actually... It already ruined my life to the point where I feel as if I was useless and that I don't have a purpose in life, just than to be a big, big liar.
I just don't know how to stop this and it hurts me so badly... I don't know what to do anymore. Only lie more and more as days go by...
I don't even know what my sexuality is, I'm just so confused that I think I'm going insane.
I can't get away from the computer, I'm here almost all the time... This has ruined my life completely. If only I could talk to someone that is going through the same as me or similar or someone that already got over this obsession. The pain is seriously non-stop.

I am so sorry to hear that. Im glad you are sharing though because it makes me understand a little bit more of what might be going on in the other side of the relationship.

Talking is a good start. The more you talk, the better it will get. Hang in there x

i don't know why but reading this has made me cry. i don't want to pretend and lie to people. i've been talking to this girl i really like her but i'm pretending to be a guy, when i'm not. ive only lied about me being a boy and my name. everything else ive told her is the truth. i feel so guilty that i've just gotten really depressed. i'm crying right now. i want to tell her the truth but i'm scared she wont accept me. i don't even know weither i straight, lesiban or bi. i'm just confused and scared. i need help :'(

Hey I could help you out if anything message me I tried messaging you but your profile is blocked! I'm going throughout the exact situation!

We pretend so our opinion becomes more important, backed up by fake argument.<br />
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How would I act if X was true, instead I say that I acted and pretend that X was true.

Thank you very much for this! I'm now a 17-year old girl and no longer someone else on the Internet but I have a long story behind me! <br />
It started when I was 13. I had my first crush and the special guy didn't like me back. It kind of "broke my heart" and I was so sad because I didn't know what was wrong with me... I just didn't realise that not all guys will like you back for no apparent reason! So after a while I made up an account on a website and started talking to him... To me, he seemed quite shallow because I was pretty much the same person online as in real life, the difference was that I was someone "better-looking". It made me kind of angry at the same time as I started thinking I was ugly and all that bad stuff. Before that I hadn't even considered the way I looked!<br />
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The thing was, I was so up in the whole thing that I pretty much didn't have a real life, I wanted to be the person I pretended to be... I kept this charade going but then he stopped talking to me, probably because he realised I wasn't who he thought I was. We talked for maybe 3-4 months. But still I kept my account going for almost two years. Now it's been a year and a half since I came to a point in my life where I realised I can't do this anymore. I had to move on because I was stuck in the past. It was a bit hard actually, because I lost some kind of "safety". However I absolutely do not regret it. Now I'm instead working on myself, rather than hiding myself behind someone I'm not!

Hey when I was reading this i was so blown away with how accurate this is to my life. I am in college. I was adopted. I am addicted to being someone I'm not online for attention. you mentioned that if you're in college there is tons of other things to do. I am a d1 athlete and running takes up most of my time i don't go out much but i am learning to go out and be able to not drink and just hang out. I noticed that when I am out doing stuff i don't think about being online. but once I get home since I have no roommates i find myself logging onto my fake facebook. I have lots of friends in real life and i have lots of different activitiies i like to do to. I think my problem is i am tooo social i can't ever just have time to myself I constantly need to be talking to some one. I have stopped bringing my cell phone to school so i am not tempted to text any one during the day. also with the relationships i make online i never fall romantically in love with any of the girls. my question to you is how did your addiction start? who did you pretend to be?

I'm also pretending to be my ex-girlfriend Kelsey and I'm making her out to be this ***** when she's really none of those things. I dunno I just don't like her anymore because she broke my heart into pieces so I want to tarnish her reputation and her name, she's not even pregnant but I've said she is as I pretend to be her, I am going to stop though it's unhealthy and makes me seem a little obsessed with her and i'm bullying my online friends through her and it makes me feel bad because I don't even like bullying.

I've been doing it on and off pretending that I am the guy in the pictures I post when I'm not the problems is I am being myself but the pictures aren't even mines.

Hello, I dont know if people are still checking this thread but i need someones help. I am shocked that i have found a forum for people who pretend. Since i was 15 years old i have been pretending to be a male online. It would start out as pretending to be a guy in chat rooms. Then ive made fake profiles with fake names and photos. Gradually the girls i would talk to i would form a bond with one and talk to them on the phone. Over the years i have done this off and on. I have tried many times to stop and would find myself stopping for a month or so but then be right back at it. Over the years i have had relationships with various females sometimes they last for months. In fact at this very moment i am talking to a female pretending, and we have been talking for 18 months. she is in love with 'me'. She is under the impression i am a guy and this person io have built another life of. I have tried to tell my therapuist what i do and she said that it is because i am not happy with myself but she hasnt helped me any further. i dont know what i am supposed to do.

I mentioned a number of things to do to try to cope with this in my piece. In particular, I recommend learning about mindfulness. The thing is, you really need to be strongly motivated to change your behavior.

It is just too easy to get your fix here. You know you get can get people to fall in love with you. People you can hold at a distance so they never get to know the real you. You can create this fantasy relationship and that can feel so good.

What you might want is a real relationship. So what you might do is set up as a woman, and see what happens. Honestly, I don't think you have to do too much. Guys are always on the prowl. What you have to do is find the right ones. Maybe you don't trust your own judgment? It can be pretty scary. You can really mess up your own head with double-thinking.

I think it helps to understand why you do this. Hopefully therapy is helping you get an understanding of that. Whatever it is you get out of it, it's important to understand the feelings that drive that. Then you can work on detaching yourself from those feelings. Mindfulness is really good for that. Then, when you have learned to not pay so much attention to these feelings, you can start choosing to do healthy things.

See a therapist who can work with these tools. Or maybe learn them from a book or a support group. It takes years, though. This is something you need to spend time with. No quick fixes. But it's your life, so maybe it's worth it?

wow at least I know I AM not the only one who's done this before.

I enjoy being a girl with very large breasts. I have done this almost all of my life (dressed up when i was 5 and younger, internet when i was 9) I never saw it as a problem or even weird until i got my first girlfriend. I had to explain all of the pictures (i was 19) so i told her the truth figuring it's better than lying... She insisted i needed therapy. So 6 years later i got a new girlfriend who i deeply loved. She found out about my internet escapades and again i had to tell someone the truth. I wanted to stop, i wanted to show her i loved her. But whenever i got the chance i would be back online pretending again. We are now broken up and she thinks I am gay. I like the idea of being a girl talking to men. But if i were to be with a man (how i physically am now) i would be grossed out to be with a man, even if i was dressed as a woman. I saw your comments on how to try to suppress it but the longest i have gone without either going online and pretending, calling/texting someone on the phone pretending, or just looking at **** that looks like the girl i am pretending to be, for no more than a week. ANY help from ANYONE would be greatly appreciated!

I only ever pretend that I am alright when i am far from it, but other than that I don't actually pretend.<br />
Of course feelings like that don't just come out of nowhere, and they will come from things in childhood, I personally concentrate on making my music mainly when I am not on here, or just spending time with those that are close to me. Making music does help, a real artist will always find great escape through art, and at the same time releaving some of that horrid tension if you didn't create it. I agree with you, what is to say that someone that pretends all the time isn't lying about pretending? You can never be sure really, but these days have a hard time decyphering what to believe necessarily. I think ideas are better, because they can most certainly be changed and new things created, but beliefs are all very well and fine but, belief is very strong, and can cause one shed load of problems more than already is there, so, on that score, I cannot be too forthcoming with what I believe as such. You sound extremely wise wundy, can tell you have been through a lot by what you are typing, but come out the other side, I'm going to add you if thats alright.

wundayatta: Once you start down this path of pretending, no one ever knows if you are telling the truth or not.<br />
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Yoda: Once you start down the dark path, forever will it dominate your destiny.<br />
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I couldn't keep reading after the first sentence, I just kept thinking of Yoda.

I love your advice...sadly, its does not seem to be easy for those working through their issues to heed it. Ive worked through my own personal issues and know of many who have as well, but that came from years of work, meditation, insights, forgiveness, understanding and Love. My perspective has changed so much that I wish i could wave a wand and heal others in the same way...unfortunately, each has to go through their own healing process and some are so far from the light, no matter what light you cast, the shadows are where they are most comfortable.

Just set the table. I'll let it be a surprise!

LOL! <br />
:-))) <br />
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I don't know what's for dinner, but I do know what's for appetizer.<br />
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And dessert.<br />
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Oh hell! I know what's for dinner, too!

floating on lily pads on a pond and eating flies and larvae. what else would you expect from a fiery dragonfly?<br />
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what's for dinner?

IAIU: I was wondering where you were hiding. I thought maybe you'd fallen asleep. Drowsing on the lily pads in the sun can do that to you. <br />
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But hiding is much the same as pretending, is it not? Pretending you aren't there? Spilling out one's inner visions can be done in a way that fosters misunderstanding, not understanding. Babbling is not something that people mine for semantic content. Not usually. Maybe the CIA does.<br />
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There are many ways to pretend and there are many ways to hide and knowing people, even oneself, can be a perilous business.

I liked this story W!<br />
I'm not what you call a pretender, rather, I'm more of a "Hider"<br />
I'm a natural born artist with an incredible visual imagination that won't quit. And that, for me, is a good thing. But difficult to fit in to our society.<br />
I really do live in a magical world that I have been (pre) tending to like a garden of wild flowers. So when I do actually get enough nerve to write about it, most people assume, that I'm just pretending and writing fiction. But, if they could spend close time with me, they would soon find out otherwise. <br />
So, in the mean time, while I babble on and on about stories of dragons, faries, entities, dragonflies, and such, I am doing this from behind a well protected curtain, one that other people created this time, not me!<br />
I just tell it like it really is.....inside my head! ;-)