Help me find someone and keep him out of trouble?
August 21, 2006 7:11 AM   Subscribe

Two-part question…how to know if a faraway acquaintance is who he says he is, and what to do if you believe he’s in trouble?

I’ve had a long-distance (online/phone/snail mail) acquaintance with someone for 6+ years. This relationship has been extremely close and extremely emotionally intense. For various reasons, we’ve decided to end communication. However, this was mostly my doing, and I am fearful of the consequences for him.

For one thing, I am nervous because after what I felt was an appropriately tender goodbye, he did not respond and I haven’t heard from him since (though admittedly, I haven’t tried getting in touch since I didn’t want to reopen a door I’d chosen to close). He does have a history of suicide attempts (at least two in his adult life) and reckless, dangerous behavior, as well as binge drinking, in response to life stressors. I know he suffers from deep depression (which, last I heard, he was being medicated and counseled for), as well as some form of post-traumatic stress disorder. Finally, he has twice been surgically treated for a terminal illness, but one I believe is currently in remission.

A separate issue: right or wrong, I’ve had cause to wonder if some of what he’s told me is true, or he is who he says he is. Communicating with him over the past six years has obviously revealed some information about his life, but he’s been very guarded about some details. Sometimes I’ve had this niggling feeling that I’m being “played,” though usually I feel really bad for thinking that because I do care about him a lot and want to believe the best about him, as I try to believe the best about most people.

So back to my question…I’m wondering the best way to summon help if I continue to worry that he’s in trouble, and in order to do that, the best way to find out more about him and if he is who he says he is (right now, I’d have hardly any information to give to authorities or health professionals, and none of it confirmed).

What I do know: he’s in Vancouver, BC; I know the name, age and birthdate he’s given me; the names and approximate ages of his children and wife; his company name and a general description of his position; and a mailing address for a postal box I believe is on the same street, or near, his job. I also have a cell phone number. I should note that I’ve had no luck Googling his name, nothing on the company website about him, and nothing in any of the people-search directories I’ve found. Additionally, I am in the United States, if that makes a difference.

Any advice would be deeply appreciated. Thank you.
posted by justonegirl to Grab Bag (6 answers total)
Let it go. I think you're right to be suspicious (although I may be a little jaded based on my own experiences in a similar-sounding situation), but even if this guy is legit, what are you planning to do - "summon help" based on the fact that he didn't respond to your email ending a six-year friendship? Frankly, I'd be unlikely to respond either - maybe he didn't feel there was anything more to say. If this is really eating you up, give him a call and make sure he got your email and that he's okay. But don't be surprised if the call gets you sucked into his problems again.
posted by amro at 7:27 AM on August 21, 2006

I didn’t want to reopen a door I’d chosen to close

I think if you want to find out how he's doing you'll have to contact him. If you're not willing to contact him directly, let it go.
posted by thirteenkiller at 7:28 AM on August 21, 2006

If you've cut him out of your life, then it's probably best to actually cut him out of your life.

It sounds like he has a support network not only nearby, but actually sharing a residence. I might consider tracking him down if he were living alone and had no close friends, but he has people around who can help him better than you can. (Unless you think he was lying about having a family and job?)
posted by occhiblu at 8:04 AM on August 21, 2006

Public records offer a wealth of information on people, especially if they own property or have been in court.

But what exactly is the missing data you need to confirm about this guy -- what is it that you think he might be lying about? That he works where he claims to? You could call up his office, after hours, and see if an automated phone directory will take you to his number. Or a receptionist.

Feed the mailing address back into Google, see if anything else shares it or the cell phone number.
posted by Kirklander at 8:29 AM on August 21, 2006

It may be a bitter and difficult thing to do, but you and he are free of each other now, and try to remember why that seemed like a good idea. If the reasons you had for ending the relationship still apply, abide by them, and let him find his own way.

You have an exceptionally big heart justonegirl, but I'd suggest that you can't take this guy's troubles on, whatever they are. You've got other fish to fry! You may have said goodbye to him in a letter, but it sounds like you haven't found a way to let him go.

I've often found that rituals help me in these kind of situations - like I'll take all the papers associated with someone and burn them on the beach, sending good thoughts to them as the smoke rises. Or I'll write down all the things I'd like to say, including wishes for love and support, but then do something other than sending the letter - typically, I'll burn it (I seem to have a thing about fire!), or bury it. Meditiation and visualizing about separation and loss sometimes help.
posted by jasper411 at 10:32 AM on August 21, 2006

"I am nervous because after what I felt was an appropriately tender goodbye, he did not respond and I haven’t heard from him since (though admittedly, I haven’t tried getting in touch since I didn’t want to reopen a door I’d chosen to close)."

If he pulled into his shell after the tender goodbye, then re-contacting him will stir up the "stuff".
Let it go.
posted by blink_left at 1:15 PM on August 21, 2006

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