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Help, My friend has been "catfished" for years and I don't know how to help
September 23, 2014
6:12 pm
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thoughtful_guy
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I kind of found this forum out of despiration. I really need someone to talk with about this because it's been utterly consuming me. 

The basic premise is this:

I grew to be best friends with a girl in high school. She confided in me everything about herself during our years of friendship, including the fact that she had been "dating" a guy online since she was in 9th grade. Time passed, and suddenly we were more than friends. She refused to quit "dating" him, but she also didn't want to lose me either, so she kept leading me on.  We had a wonderful, healthy teenage relationship for three years, but all the while she continued to hang on to this fellow, so I tried my best to put him out of my mind because I was blinded by my affections for her. Now we're both in college, and we have reverted back to being friends. However, I am continually haunted by the fact that she still believes that this guy is who he says he is.

 

He displays all the red flags of being a "catfisher" including:

  • He is much older than her, at 23 years old.
  • He has no social media footprint whatsoever.
  • He often requests nude pictures of her
  • He has only sent her pictures where 'he' is alone (e.g. not with friends)
  • He claims to be wealthy and attractive
  • He refuses to Facetime or skype
  • He has bizare sexual fantasies, including sharing her with his friends
  • He has missed significant events in her life including two proms because he "forgot to buy plane tickets" (I picked up the pieces)
  • He threatens suicide whenever she questions his legitimacy

Through years of slowly piecing together all the evidence I am entirely convinced my friend is being taken advantage of by someone who claims to be someone they aren't. I also have reason to believe that he preyed on her when she had severely low self esteem (as a freshman) and this is why she is so devoted and attached to him. Furthermore, I blame his influence on the development of her own unhealthy sexual desires, including a fantasy of being used. 

 

All this is to say that the girl I love is in serious trouble. She has slowly been pushing me away because of the distance of college, but I am very worried about the emotional toll that this relationship is taking on her. I'm fine with her hating me and losing her forever as long as I can take away the power this creepy imposter has over her.

How can I help her? Who can I reach out to? Is there anyone I can contact to investigate this? He has polluted my sweet girl....

September 23, 2014
6:26 pm
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thoughtful_guy
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Like I said, this has utterly consumed me. I've applied my own computer know-how to do some research. I hacked her old phone (unethical, I know, but completely necessary) to recompile fragments of impartially deleted data. I extracted his phone number and full name, and I've been running them through sex offender registries, municipal court databases, and cross referencing with a reverse phone area code lookup. (She told me he had served jail time for possession) So far, no avail.

I have however uncovered a sex offender of the same exact name and older age in a neighboring state, but the evidence is insufficient to draw any conclusions. Additionally, I have utilized a free trial of a background check to identify two possible name matches that correlate with the city the phone is registered in. Unfortunately, I don't have the cash to pay for these records, so they have been a dead end.

 

Despite all my efforts, I haven't uncovered any irrefutable damning evidence. The only idea I have left is to try and use a reverse image search, but I deleted the only image of her "boyfriend" I was sent several years ago. I'm afraid even if I presented her with his entire file, she wouldn't believe me because she is too far under his spell...

 

Please help me or point me to the right people to help me solve this issue. I have been haunted by this for almost four years now because it hasn't come unraveled like I was certain it would. I want to end this. 

September 24, 2014
3:31 am
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onedaythiswillpass
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I have read your posts.  You seem really bent on getting this enigma of this guy solved & save the love of your life.  You have not mentioned what your profession is?  Are you a police person or a private investigator or does your work involve law enforcement?  I pretty much think it to be both unethical and illegal for you to take apart the phone of anyone else, unless they have given you permission.  Does this girl whom you claim to love know about your obsessive/compulsive need to investigate this guy?

What do you think she will feel if & when she finds out what you have done behind her back to try to "protect" her?  Whatever choices this girl is making, and whomever this guy is & whatever his motives are for seeing her or being with her is quite frankly not your business.  Wait, I should re-read your two posts, are you married to her?  Even that would not be an exuse for you not minding your own business.  You do have the right to ask her of course, but of course her word means little to you, correct????

Get some help dude & move on with your life.  In my opinion a friend is someone that you share time with & maybe you tell one another things that you feel safe to express because of a trust you have built together.  No matter who this other man is, unless she has asked you to investigate him for her or unless she has come to you in distress or physically comprimised & asked for your help, you should leave her relationship with him between them.

The most important thing you can do for your friend is make sure her phone still works so that if she needs to she can call the police either on you or this other guy.

Get a life buddy.

P.S. This sweet girl does not belong to anyone but herself & it is not your job to protect her.

 

One Day

September 24, 2014
5:04 am
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thoughtful_guy
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Well I certainly did not expect for someone to tell me to "get a life" on a counseling forum. I guess I should clarify: 

  • We are both in college and we've broken up. 
  • I suppose they way I framed it does sound like an obsession, but all of my 'research' was conducted on a Saturday afternoon while I was in High School when I was curious.
  • I was given her old phone by permission. She asked me to wipe it for her, and I understand that it was wrong to extract a contact before I did, but I felt obligated at the time to protect my girlfriend at the time.
  • I rarely talk to her anymore, but I am still concerned about her safety. She wants to meet him and that makes me concerned.

Like I said, it's not like I'm some romantic vigilante hellbent on restoring my place as her boyfriend. I simply have a nagging feeling that if something bad happens to her it could have been prevented.  The only reason I came back to this after so many years is that she told me she has been interested in going to try and find him lately, and I'm worried about her safety.

September 24, 2014
5:10 am
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thoughtful_guy
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I thank you for your input though. I guess you're right and I should just cut her off. It's just hard to let your best friend make decisions that will result in them getting hurt.

September 25, 2014
3:07 am
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onedaythiswillpass
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Listen, I think as a parent, I pretty much understand what it feels like to want to protect someone you love & having lived and experienced much more than they have, sometimes I just want to pretend not to see when they make choices that will mean that they will suffer until they decide to not make those choices.  I talk to them about my own decisions in my life & try to get them to at least listen, but in the end, I really never obstruct their decisions about friends, school work, etc.  I know that they need to pretty much make a choice & then learn if it turned out to be a wrong one for them.  Sure it hurts, sure I wish they understood what I do, but that's what it means to grow & learn.  People & children cannot learn by just accepting the decisions of others when it comes to their personal lives.  In school & at work obviously we must accept that we all must follow certain guidelines, but in our own time, & particularly when it comes to forming friendships, we have the right to choose.  If you think watching this girl make perhaps a rather wrong choice with this guy is painful for you, imagine how hard it would be if she was your sister, or better still your own daughter?  If you even had a thought of having children, consider this concept of a gift so precious, yet one that you must allow to grow & learn on his/her own terms after a certain age.  In my opinion we teach much by good example, but not a thing by force of any kind.

December 7, 2014
10:09 pm
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healthcare08
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