Manti Te'o fell in love with Lennay Kekua. Only problem was that Lennay was just a figment of Ronaiah Tuiasosopo's imagination. Lennay was not a real girl.
The fact that Manti fell in love with a fake woman who was being made up by a man has lead to criticism of Manti. How could he be so gullible? Is he gay? How could he fall for someone he never met face to face? Why would Ronaiah pretend to be a chick?
I'm here to say I don't think it is so far fetched. I feel a little sorry for Manti.
I fell for someone I met over the internet. We talked every single night. We shared our hopes and dreams. Lucky for me he was real. Not lucky for me was that when we finally did meet face to face it was not quite as magical.
Then I tried internet dating: Match.com, eHarmony.com, etc. I did eventually meet a great real life guy, but not before eHarmony matched me with a handful of professional scammers. Some of these people were fairly good at what they do, but they weren't good enough. My bullshit sensor went off.
I've been burned a lot so my bullshit sensor has a hair trigger and sometimes goes off really easily. Subtle details that tipped me off that these folks weren't who they said they were. If Manti wasn't as jaded as I am, he may have never thought to scratch the surface. The clues that Lennay didn't really exist may have been very subtle.
I have also met role players. You would be surprised how many straight guys like playing girls. Instead of ladies undies they slip on a lady's persona. No embarrassing trips to the lingerie department trying to convince the sales lady you are buying it for your girlfriend, no trying to guess if a size 10 ladies pantie will fit your 36 inch waist man body. Nope, persona's need no measuring.
These role players did it for the kick of fooling someone. It can be fun to be someone else for a while. And even more fun for some of these folks to see if they can convince someone else. Mentally stimulating challenge? Sure. Turn-on? Maybe.
We may never know what Ronaiah Tuiasosopo's motivation was. However, I have a little sympathy for Manti. He may never trust anyone as easily again. Maybe he needed to "grow-up" a little, but having your heart broken my a dude playing a chick has got to be rough.
Moral of the story? Don't shy away from looking for love on the internet, but be wary. For every honest to goodness person there are at least a half a dozen freaks, scammers and jerks. Then again, you might meet those at the corner bar....