[Two Pronged] My friend's secretive boyfriend
Rappler's Life and Style section runs an advice column by couple Jeremy Baer and clinical psychologist Dr Margarita Holmes.
Jeremy has a master's degree in law from Oxford University. A banker of 37 years who worked in 3 continents, he has been training with Dr Holmes for the last 10 years as co-lecturer and, occasionally, as co-therapist, especially with clients whose financial concerns intrude into their daily lives
Together, they have written two books: Love Triangles: Understanding the Macho-Mistress Mentality and Imported Love: Filipino-Foreign Liaisons.
Dear Dr Holmes and Mr Baer,
I'm asking this in behalf of my friend (a female friend).
Before I go further, let me give you a background of the issue. My friend has an online relationship, it has been so obvious that this man keeps deep secrets or is a perpetual liar. He gave his local address to my friend, but it turns out to be a fake address (even if he knows that it can be easily be traced). He gave his girlfriend a phone number claiming to be his mom's, and again it turns out to be his. He claims that he is an engineer, but there are no record that he got his license. He would say, "atsaka na ako mag papaliwanag" (I'll explain later) if confronted with his lies. This guy is already 33 years old, his Facebook page is kept private with no friends listed. I told my friend that he is simply playing and not serious with her (he can not even trust his girlfriend and be honest... how can he say he is serious with my friend?).
Are my observations right?
This guy always asks for cybersex and nude photos of my friend (he told my friend that it is just normal between boyfriend and girlfriend, but I said hell no, it shows that he does not respect my friend). Tama ba ako, doctora? Any advice on how I can help my friend?
Thank you for your email.
It is very kind of you to write on behalf of your friend but it does create a small problem: the reader is left at one remove from the true protagonist and the narrative is filtered through the views and feelings of the letter writer (you, Anna).
Thus, for example, if your friend is keen on her boyfriend and you disapprove, you may exaggerate, purposely or not, his faults and minimize or even omit his good qualities — and we have no way of knowing. We can, however, suspect and the fact that your description of this man contains not one positive feature must presumably be at odds with your friend’s view of him.
Having said that, your friend’s boyfriend does seem a little devious. He claims qualifications which cannot be verified, gives fake addresses, has a Facebook page which is private and has a predilection for nude photos of his girlfriend.
Yet none of these peccadilloes seems truly detrimental to a relationship, at least in theory. The world is full of people who exaggerate; the nature of their work and their prowess in the sexual arena are but two examples. Having a private Facebook page is scarcely a crime, particularly in these days of data theft and trolls. And sexting is commonplace nowadays. A fake address is, however, less easy to explain.
Of course there are other ways of looking at these issues . Lying about professional qualifications can be a very serious matter and the other points can have sinister connotations.
Yet this is an online relationship.
Your friend is hopefully aware that her "engineer" may well be a 19-year-old boy in Uganda just having some fun with a bevy of women round the world. And if she is happy to send nude pictures over the internet, mindful of the possible repercussions, who are we to criticize her? Of course, if her engineer ever comes home to meet her, then you will find out if your fears were justified. In the meantime all you can do is keeping warning her of the possible dangers in the relationship.
All the best,
Thank you very much for your letter.
I shall take Mr. Baer’s lead and presume you really ARE who you say you are—a “mere” friend of this person you presume is the “targeted victim” of the wannabe engineer. In other words, you are not the targeted victim at all, the way many are who pretend to be merely an interested party, when in fact they are the person of interest to begin with.
Clarifying this, even if only to myself, helps make me much more honest: since I need not worry as much hurting you by either presuming it is best you leave the wannabe or by telling you: “Meh, what’s the danger in some flirting as long as you don’t lose your perspective?” ONE perspective not to lose is that you are unlikely to be his one and only.
Despite all the warning signs you have shared with your friend, she still chooses to continue with the relationship. I think it is time to stop both with the warning signs and with enlisting other people (like myself) to warn her.
This didn’t work for you, no matter how convincing you tried to be.
Doing more of the same — by getting others to do as you did and failed — will not work either.
Need advice from our Two Pronged duo? Email firstname.lastname@example.org with subject heading TWO PRONGED. Unfortunately, the volume of correspondence precludes a personal response.