Psych Central

So, by now you’ve probably heard about Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o and his Fake Dead Girlfriend.

I wish I was writing this post because I had some sort of answer or way of making sense of it, but I don’t. Like a lot of people, I’m still trying to wrap my brain around the situation.

One thing I do know is that I don’t think there’s anything funny about any of it.

While it might feel like it all happened at once, what recently came to light as a hoax actually started years ago.

10 Comments to
Nothing Funny About Manti Te’o and His Fake Dead Girlfriend

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  1. “there really doesn’t seem to be any motive for him to be involved”

    This is a ridiculous statement. The motive for him to be involved was the positive press. This was one of the biggest sports stories of the season, and made him look like a great guy who was dealing with a sick & dying girlfriend. When she “died” and he continued playing and winning games it was presented as heartwarming news. As SB Nation said it, “The story turned Te’o into an inspirational figure and helped propel him to a trip to New York as a Heisman Trophy finalist.” And all this, of course, could translate into a bigger NFL contract. He had a lot to gain from this story. We know that he lied about meeting her, he lied about visiting her in the hospital (if your girlfriend is dying, how could you never visit her in the hospital??), he probably even lied about talking to her on the phone, because how could he not have known she was really a man?

    Whether he was complicit in the hoax or not, he is at least guilty of exaggerating his relationship with her to make himself look good. I find it very hard to believe that he was completely a victim here.

    • “[...] he probably even lied about talking to her on the phone, because how could he not have known she was really a man?”

      So, you’re assuming if he talked to “Lennay” on the phone, “Lennay” must have been a man trying to disguise his voice as a woman’s? That the man allegedly pulling the prank is the only person who could’ve been on the other end of the phone? I think ignoring the idea that whomever went to such lengths to create this fake female identity would also go the comparably shorter extra mile to find a female to provide a female voice for phone conversations is ridiculous, too.

      As I said in the post, this entire thing is confusing and bizarre. If the timeline provided by ABC is correct, Te’o knew “Lennay” for years, and considered himself romantically involved since at least October 2011. It’s difficult for me to imagine a college football player putting that much time and effort into a fake relationship in order to one day, years down the road, choose the perfect time and opportunity to kill the fake girlfriend and make himself “look like a great guy” to further his career.

      Sure, he might have exaggerated things, but he’s already admitted to being embarrassed about getting caught up in it all. I think it’s at least worth considering that he might have lied about things like meeting her and visiting her in the hospital so that he didn’t seem even more foolish in everyone’s eyes.

  2. I don’t believe Te’o had anything to do with hoax and was being catfished. It’s actually a pretty common thing these days, so it’s not a far fetched story at all. Just everyday people without any connections (like palying for Notre Dame) get catfished all the time.

    However, the thing that bugs me about the whole story is when the interviewer asked him why he didn’t visit his girlfriend in the hospital. And he just said, “It never occured to me.” So a woman you’re in love with but it never occures to you to visit her in the hospital?

    According to the interview I read she was in a car accident at one point and then also in the hospital at some point.

    Anyway, that just seems really strange to me and sure, it is embarassing. But, why is it embarassing? Because now everyone knows or because he got hurt? I just don’t know how invested in her actually was, to not even consider visiting her in the hospital.

    • @ some girl – I agree; odd that visiting his girlfriend in the hospital would “never occur” to him. Defense mechanism-type answer, maybe? Hmm.

      I think there are several possible reasons that there’s a sense of embarrassment surrounding all of this. He could be embarrassed he was tricked; he could be embarrassed he got so caught up in someone he’d never met in person; he could be embarrassed that he allowed himself to get so deep into what was almost entirely an online relationship.

      Personally, even though I can understand why he might be embarrassed, I don’t think he should be. These days, online dating is normal. For it to go any further, you have to eventually meet the person, but it’s definitely not unheard of to meet someone and begin your relationship (at least, the introductory part) online.

      And, if he’s telling the truth and wasn’t part of the hoax, then he shouldn’t be embarrassed by being “tricked,” either. He simply took what “Lennay” said (and the idea that she existed) in good faith.

      Messy stuff. Thanks for chiming in!

  3. Watch Catfish – the movie or the show. They uncover hoaxes like this on the show. People who connect with others online and develop a relationship or feelings for each other. In the episodes that I have seen, all of them are hoaxes. People pretending to be someone else.

    • @ sdw – Thanks for sharing. I made a mental note yesterday to check that out sometime soon, after I’d read about it in relation to this situation.

      You know, I’d be interested in learning more about the motivation behind the people who create these fake “characters” and engage in online relationships.

      • That is what intrigues me about the show as well. The motivations I have see are mostly low self esteem and body image but there was one that the motivation was revenge. Some people don’t even seem to realize that what they did was wrong. Very interesting show and a bit sad too.

  4. Yes, catfish is a good show. There is some debate about the first one being a hoax in itself. But the show on MTV is actually good. Not all of them are hoaxes. I’ve seen one where it wasn’t a hoax but the person didn’t want to meet the girl due to low self-esteem and being morbidly obese (to the point he could not leave his home for a while.)

    And, it’s a very common occurance now. It is important to at least use skype to see the person you’re talking to and verify the voice on the phone an the photos all match up at least.

    Ther person doing the hoax is the “catfish” and some of them are actually very mean spirited people, just wanting attention. It is possible to create love online. I met my husband online. But you have to be cautious.

  5. This comment has been moderated per the Celebrity Psychings Comment Moderation Policy.

    [EDITED] Of course he had motivation, winning the Heisman Trophy and furthering his hopeful NFL career, and the sympathy vote should go a long ways towards helping him financially in the future. [EDITED] Neither one portends well for his future!

  6. At this point, my gut instincts suggests that Manti Teo was hoodwinked early on, and for a long period. I do not assume that because he’s a football player, well-known, etc, that he would necessarily have an easy time with meeting women in real life, if that was a chief motivator (maybe he has too much on his plate, maybe he has emotional needs that were met by an intense virtual relationship, maybe he is inexperienced with dating, maybe he isn’t even interested primarily in the opposite sex).

    Being able to say he had a girlfriend would help preserve his self esteem, make the family happy, and keep people from pushing him too much to date or judging him if he didn’t. In other words it provided what seemed to be an intimate human contact – and protection from other “insults’ to his self-image.

    Whenever he learned that this had been a hoax – hmm – is it a surprise that someone so young would not want to jump in front of spotlights to announce he had been a fool?

    We have example and example of powerful people who can’t apologize for horrendous behavior, or tell the truth about their affairs, yet the media is swarming around a kid who harmed no one.

    Oh, and he was right to fear exposure – look at what has happened.

  7. In life people can misrepresent themselves for many different reasons and we may be taken in. How much easier it is to create a “virtual” personality to get close to a vulnerable person. It’s apparent that this young man has some issues with interpersonal relationships (a hospital visit to a loved one not within his frame of reference) so that the virtual relationship likely provided the right amount of intimacy.

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