I ended a relationship recently over a lie. Hindsight detectives who examine the evidence will tell me that I shouldn’t make such a huge deal about a single lie. To which I would ask you if you would be so forgiving if a person you married turned out to be a fugitive for a terrorist crime. Or what if you were a business owner and you found out that your partner had been stealing money from you for years and that it was his actions that inevitably caused you to file for bankruptcy?
The problem with this lie is that I could have understood it if my alleged friend had come clean with me from the beginning. She was someone I only knew through a screen name. I knew most of her backstory because she used a lot of her real life in her works of fiction, which I had read many times and felt were definitely bookstore quality.
We had known one another for roughly five years before, in a MSN messenger chat, she told me her real name. It was an act of trust that made me feel honored for having earned the privilege. Later on, I added her to my Facebook.
It was only in the last few months that I found out that it wasn’t her real name and that she only used that name to keep her students from finding her on Facebook. This is something I could have understood if she had told me this when I felt that I had earned her trust, because you can imagine that after five years of feeling that way, I would be justified in feeling a little betrayed.
Before you suggest that maybe she had already told me that and I just forgot, keep this in mind. I knew her from a forum that I had frequented quite a bit during the five years in which I got to know her as a writer. When she told me her “real” name over the messenger, I had continued to frequent that forum, always careful never to refer to her by her name, even to people who allegedly knew her.
I understand why she uses a fake name in Facebook. I don’t hold her reasoning against her. But trust is not earned with a lie and a lie that has gone on for five years is a more than solid reason to let go of someone in my life. After all, I wouldn’t want them to feel like I could betray them at any moment, so you could also call this an act of altruism.