You met online. You got married. Some friends know. Other people you lied to but are now close to them too...How to handle?
July 28, 2006 3:37 PM   Subscribe

What do you do if you met online, got married, and completely told your close friends how it happened BUT didn't tell other people? In fact, you lied, declaring you were set up by friends. You thought the other people would be passing acquantainces but they became much closer friends.....

Not only does it make mixing of the friends who are + are not in "the know" difficult. It just really sucks if you have to tell people who thought you were sincere and nice with whome you thought you could have good friendships with that you lied right at the beginning of meeting them and have to risk ruining the new relationship. The people who became friends are new work and universitymates that, well, later have become good friends. And, I'm really sure that if the couple met today online instead of 7-8 years ago, they probably would be much more at ease talking about it for what that's worth. Thanks for any input.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (25 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Just come clean over drinks one night. Its not a big deal as the "stigma" of meeting someone online is pretty much gone now. Tell them you didn't give them the real story first time around because its just simpler that way. And that you wanted to come clean now because you really do like and respect them. If they really are friends then it won't be a big deal at all.
posted by fenriq at 3:49 PM on July 28, 2006

I don't mean this snarkily: I can't imagine your friends are that invested in how you met your spouse.

Unless you developed seriously elaborate lies, with knowing chuckles about Aunt Jane's matchmaking skills and Cousin Bob's ex-girlfriend's best friend's roommate who just happened to be visiting that weekend, it should not be a big deal to say, "You know, we actually met online, but it was such a nerdy/embarrassing way to meet at that time that we just told people we met through friends. But, hey, I guess we were pioneers!"
posted by occhiblu at 3:50 PM on July 28, 2006

Just tell them! Say exactly what you said above - eight years ago, you were somewhat embarrassed by how you two met because it was quite unusual at the time, and that you lied about it to people who didn't know you that well at the time as a result.

In all likelihood, they'll understand completely and won't give it a second thought. If they don't understand, they're wacky; what you did was about you, not them. The fact that you told your closest friends at the time and not others wasn't a result of you deciding the latter weren't worthy; you just didn't feel close enough to them at that point to confide in them. Just don't make a big deal about telling them, so they won't think it's a big deal.

It'll be a lot more awkward if these friends not in the know find out from someone else who slips. And for all you know, some of them may have already found out that way and it is making them uncomfortable that you don't know that they know.
posted by spira at 3:56 PM on July 28, 2006

No, keep going with the web of deceit thing. If there's one thing I've learned from sitcoms, it's that when you lie, hilarity ensues.
posted by aubilenon at 3:57 PM on July 28, 2006 [4 favorites]

In my ancient history, back when I was 17 or so, I was in a conversation with a bunch of girls in my freshman dorm. All of them claimed not to be virgins, and I didn't want to be the odd one out, so I said that a high school boyfriend (with whom, really, I had come this close) and I had actually had intercourse.

One of those girls went on to become one of my best friends.

This all sounds trivial to me now in early middle age, but keep in mind that boyfriend/sexual histories can be really important to young women.

I continued to feel awkward for a long time that this friend thought I had lost my virginity a good three years before I really did; it was awkward in part because when I did lose my virginity, I couldn't talk about it as "the first time."

Eventually, I just told her, "You know what? Mark and I never had intercourse. I said that because I felt awkward admitting I was a virgin." I thought this was a big revelation and we'd have to process our trust issues or something, but she just said something like, "Oh, really?" and that was that.

So, if I were "you," I'd just start telling people. Just admit that you felt funny about having met online back in the dark ages of the internet and told a cover story. I'd be amazed if people were upset by it, especially if you can be charmingly embarrassed and humorously self-deprecating.
posted by not that girl at 3:57 PM on July 28, 2006

Absolutely: just tell them. Life gets so much sweeter when you stop worrying about what other people think, really it does.
posted by Decani at 4:28 PM on July 28, 2006

Wow -- finally, a question I can answer! Shannon -- my wife -- and I met as the result of her reading a post of mine and linking to it. This was back in the day when referrer logs could be trusted; I saw her link in my referrers, visited her site, we started exchanging emails, then IMs, then phone calls... all the way through marriage. We told NOBODY but the two or three people who knew about BOTH our websites, so that meant that we didn't even tell our *parents* how we met. The story was always that a mutual friend set us up. Slowly, though, people in our families found out about our sites, and then we told them the truth; for those who we had told the fib, we eventually even told all of them. The conversation almost always went something like this: "You know when we told you that we were introduced by a mutual friend? Well, that friend is the internet. The internet introduced us, and here we are!"

Our lie was always motivated by the fact that we met back when weblogs were niche and not yet in the popular press; now, it's a hell of a lot easier to explain, and I doubt that if we were to have met in 2006 we would have felt the need to say anything but the truth.
posted by delfuego at 4:57 PM on July 28, 2006 [1 favorite]

I agree with those who said to just tell them. I don't know how old you are, anonymous, but at my age, you begin to realize that people just aren't that interested in you. Not as much as you think they might be. If I were that friend of yours being told the truth, I really wouldn't care how you met your wife/husband. ("Not care" in a nice way, of course.)
posted by misozaki at 5:02 PM on July 28, 2006

A married couple I know met in an unusual way. The guy got the girl's email address from a mutual friend. The guy lived in S.E. Asia, the girl lived in South America. They emailed each other for more than a year, then he went to meet her. They fell in love and now they are married.

At first they told family and friends that they met when he went to South America on vacation. They never mentioned that they had been corresponding. Somehow their story didn't add up and finally they had a family meeting to tell the truth. Everyone thought it was a romantic story and no one questioned why they lied.
posted by Soda-Da at 5:28 PM on July 28, 2006

I wouldn't stress about it. I met my husband-to-be online. Worse yet, it was through a bad dating site. (I still swear I was there -only- for the quizes). Initially -I- lied to my friends about how we met, specifically at the beginning of our dating relationship. I did this because he is 8 years older than I am, and at the time I had just turned 19. I didn't want the words "Internet Predator" on everyones minds when they met him.
Most people never compared notes, and as misozaki said, most people just don't really care. When it came up in general discussion everyone was easily satisfied with the "I was too embarrased to say" line.
Don't worry. You don't need to confront people about this little white lie. Just be prepared to be teased about it when and if it comes up.
posted by billy_the_punk at 5:31 PM on July 28, 2006

It fades away. My wife and I met on the internet back when it wasn't common place. I went out to visit her and couldn't come back home. I was sleeping in my car until I eventually got an apartment. We married about three years later. Only my best friend and parents were told the story. Nonetheless, our made up story was so stupid and simple that it was hard to unwind and believe. Eventually everyone stopped doing both. There never was an official moment we told, but everyone seems to realize. With some years of retrospect, we cared a lot longer than it was interesting. When we stopped caring it was really not interesting.
posted by sled at 5:45 PM on July 28, 2006

My husband and I met online. We determine who we actually tell the "whole truth" to by deciding amongst ourselves whether we think we will have to have a lengthy explanation. If yes we would and no, we don't care to, we just say, "similar interests," which is very true. These days though, we just tell people, up to and including people who didn't know from the beginning. I don't beleive we've had a bad reaction yet. As fenriq says, if they ask why you didn't say so in the first place, just tell them that it was simpler to abbreviate the explanation at the time. No big.
posted by Medieval Maven at 6:54 PM on July 28, 2006

The only reason I can think of that it might be bad to admit how you met was if it involved a betrayal of some sort. We think that my dad met his new wife before my mom and him even started the seperation process, and then now they say they met at a concert several months after they left. Credit card bills tell a different story. In this situation, I think he's hiding the truth because it conflicts with his Christian moral system, but I'm more bothered by the lying.
posted by gilsonal at 7:03 PM on July 28, 2006

I'd go along with the who cares theory. If someone can't be happy for you, no matter how you met, that's their problem. Just tell the truth and don't feel like you have to explain it anymore than that.

That said, while it certainly has gotten better, don't believe this idea that the stigma is gone completely. There are plenty of places and people who would still shake their head at two people meeting online.

Ignore them.
posted by justgary at 8:41 PM on July 28, 2006

Interesting. My SO and I met online about 9 and a half years ago. We met on a Mush rather than a blog or such. I moved across the continent (US) to be with him. I always told people we met online when they asked. It never occurred to me to do otherwise, since people don't, as pointed out above, actually care that much about things that don't really affect ~them~. No one ever gave me any grief about it. They seemed to think it was exotic or something. (As though pen pals hadn't been doing the same thing for a very long time.)
posted by Meep! Eek! at 8:47 PM on July 28, 2006

I met my woman online, which I like to describe as "the easy way." Be honest but play it off.
posted by scarabic at 8:56 PM on July 28, 2006

While I think coming clean is always the easiest method, you could ameliorate things a bit by telling your now-close friends that the mutual friend that introduced you was an Internet friend, I suppose.
posted by SassHat at 10:21 PM on July 28, 2006

Come clean about it. I don't think it will be a huge big deal, and you'll feel relieved to have it out in the open. My husband and I met online, didn't think much of it, and told everyone how we met, because it made a great story.

Of course, we met online 17 years ago this past April, so it was a little less common then . . .

Wow. I'm old.
posted by booksherpa at 12:33 AM on July 29, 2006

Why even raise it as a topic? Is it really a common conversational topic amongst you and your friends?

If it does come up, come clean. I doubt anyone's going to be hurt by it, and if do say to your friends `We were a little embarrassed when we met, so we told you (etc...)'
they're more likely to be pleased to hear the truth than horrified that you were anything less than honest. I'm sure they'll enjoy hearing how you really met.

Mind you, I'm with my partner of 6 years now as a result of being on the nasty end of an email prank Three cheers for the internets!
posted by tomble at 1:31 AM on July 29, 2006

My girlfriend and I (soon to be fiancée') met from my ad on craigslist. The only people who don't know are her parents (old fashioned stuffy Republican country folk). We told them that we were introduced by our friend "Craig"...not exactly the truth, but not a lie either. We'll tell them eventually. I don't think it will shatter them.
posted by weirdoactor at 8:41 AM on July 29, 2006

I have a friend who met her husband (they just had a baby) on line. Initially she told a fantastically elaborate story about how they met with over the top details. She later fessed up - I didn't think twice about it cuz maybe I would've been embarrassed too and I found the fact she wanted to come clean kind of endearing. In the end it didn't matter to me but it seemed to matter to her to tell me the truth. This may be unusual (my reaction) but I don't think so. Another couple I knew who met via a personal ad had the personal framed and hanging in their den. In the end, I don't think most reasonable people will care.
posted by bluesky43 at 9:02 AM on July 29, 2006

That said, while it certainly has gotten better, don't believe this idea that the stigma is gone completely. There are plenty of places and people who would still shake their head at two people meeting online.

True. My Mother is one of them. Her pastor met his wife on, and Mom looked down on that- I tried to explain, Mom, where else is a never-married, 40 year old pastor supposed to meet women? The only place he ever is is his church, and he really shouldn't date the women at his church. Now they're happy, good for them. I think I may have talked a little sense into her. Yet another good reason to tell- Helping dispell the stigma of internet dating, one person at a time.

I agree with everyone- come clean. Don't focus on the fact that you "lied" and be all serious about it- I assume they know both you and your SO, so they already like you and won't think of you as some Weird Internet Freak. Just say, hey, remember that story I told you about how I met Sweetie? I left out that we met on the Internet. I was embarrassed and I didn't want you to think poorly of me. Isn't that funny?

p.s. I met my SO through an online site, and whenever we're together and people ask us how we met, we look each other in the eye, and whoever is closer with the person asking decides on the spot whether we tell the whole truth, or fudge it ("We have the same friends" = not exactly a lie!).
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 10:23 AM on July 29, 2006 [1 favorite]

Just to amplify delfuego's point -- I wouldn't have met my wife if he hadn't met hisonline (they introduced us), so we're basically introduced by people who were introduced by the Internet. We were among the people who were in the know, and saw it as a kind of arbitrary artifact of how they met that they couldn't really mention it. And we were very happy when everyone found out the truth, since by that time it just seemed like a silly thing to omit.

Nobody minded, and it definitely wasn't a big deal. Plus we all got spouses out of the deal. :)
posted by anildash at 12:38 PM on July 29, 2006

It's sort of a tough situation because a lie is a lie. And, well, you can only make up for it by truthing. However, be prepared for the consequences. On another note, you'd have to wonder if anyone high up (chief of something, director of that) met someone online and lied about it -- only to have it come out later. I sort of predict we'll hear about that stuff soon enough.

It's nice to see that meeting people online has become successful and led to love in a lot of places.
posted by skepticallypleased at 3:59 PM on July 29, 2006

I haven't noticed anyone mentioning this, so I will - when it happens to come up in the future and you say "you know, the honest truth is that we met online. We used to tell most people it was actually X but the truth is we were just really ashamed/shy about it."

People who are really your friends are not going to be hurt or mean to you about something you were self-conscious about and kept secret, particularly something like this that doesn't directly impact them.
posted by phearlez at 2:28 PM on July 31, 2006

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