Manti Te'o, famed Notre Dame linebacker, apparently had an online relationship that was a hoax.
I don't think any less of him. I don't think he should be embarrassed or ashamed. I was close to something like that myself once with someone I never saw in person.
It was completely accidental. It wasn't like I responded to spam. She wrote to me personally in response to something I'd written online. And the person DOES exist. I could give you a few keywords and you'd find her.
But all I will say is that within a few days her story wasn't straight. Something was amiss, and it seemed to be delusions on her part. She'd avoid my gentle questions about her history and mental health, but then wanted to draw me into the drama in her life. She began calling every day. I stuck around too long, hoping to help her, before severing the friendship.
So I know what it's like to IM and talk on a phone with a pretty woman you've never seen in person. And this happened to me when I was several years older than Te'o is now. I was probably "mature" enough to spot things he didn't spot, notice things he didn't notice. but that's how it goes: he's in college.
I could have easily been drawn into the same hoax at that age.
I just hope he doesn't become the butt of jokes because of this. That's why I'm revealing my own story here, and I never reveal personal information. I just felt so bad for him in the sense of "if but for the grace of God go I."