Why break up when you can fake your own death?

A friend of mine told me this story over the weekend. I am still stunned.

In brief:

He found an ad on (I think it was Yahoo Personals, but it could have been another personals site) that interested him He e-mailed, the lady responded, they talked, they exchanged pictures, they talked more, and things began to get serious.

This is not a new story to anyone with experience in online romance, of course.

Long talks by phone - four or five hours - and the sense that everything just connects with the other person.

Then the discussions about meeting. In their case, it wasn’t that hard: she lived less than an hour away. But something always came up. One week she has a business trip. Another week he has to go out of town. And she didn’t want to meet during the week after a work day – because he was so special, she wanted their first meeting to be perfect and not rushed.

Yadda yadda yadda.

This goes on for a few weeks.

Then, just as they’ve finally arranged their first face-to-face meeting, disaster strikes: her father is seriously ill. She must go across country to be with them.

She’s there a few weeks, still talking nightly with my friend. He’s “the only thing she can hang on to.” She’s on extended absence from work, she has no friends where she is, etc etc.

Then the father dies. Funeral arrangements, etc. Then the mother gets ill - doctors don’t know why. She’s suffering from a broken heart, even if that’s not the medical term. Then the mother dies.

More funeral arrangements. More weeks go by.

Then, finally, she’s ready to return home.

Only not. Disaster again strikes. (How can this be??) She has a spot on her lung. Cancer. She’s flown to a clinic in the midwest. She stays in touch with my friend for another couple of weeks through her therapy. My friend offers to come out to the clinic and be with her. No, no. It would break her heart to meet for the first time when she was ill like this, when she wanted their first meeting to be by a lake at sunset with a rose, or whatever.

Then an email from her brother. Cold and curt. Sorry to inform everyone on this email list that my sister has passed away. I complied this list from names on her computer.

My friend (a good-hearted soul who STILL didn’t get it) e-mails the brother: your sister and I were very close, even though we’d never met, and if you’re willing, I’d like to meet you and just share how much your sister met to me.

Terse reply: no, I don’t understand this relationship you had at all. But explain it to me: what did my sister mean to you? Maybe I can grow to understand. More e-mails with my friend lauding the sister and what she met to him, and brother saying, uh-huh. Tell me more.

Finally the light struck. She had another profile on Yahoo Personals, and she didn’t know that my friend knew about that second profile.

He visited it, and noticed it was still active, and in fact had been updated after her “death.”

So he sent one final e-mail, to the woman and her “brother”, saying he now realized what had gone on, that he was very saddened that she felt the need to go to such lengths, and that if she wanted to talk again, he harbored no ill will – he just wanted to know what motivated her to do such a thing.

To that e-mail, there has been - shockingly - no response.

My friend is not, as you can imagine, a sophisticated guy. This was, so far as I know, his first foray into the world of on-line relationships.

But my goodness – even I had to admit that I had never known anyone to fake a death rather than simply break up.

How weird is that?

  • Rick

Happened to a woman in the Yahoo chat room that my father frequents. Seems to be a common occurance. It went beyond faking death to avoid breaking up - it was a faked romantic interest from day one with all sorts of lies and deception involved in the process of “courting” her, leaving everyone with the impression that the “death” wasn’t a decision made to bail out of a relationship he’d lost interest in but was in fact the intent from day one.

IIRC, they busted him when his “brother” (or was it “father”?) emailed her to offer condolences, and used a pet name for her that the “deceased” had come up with. She went from grieving to suspicious when she saw that and began making some phone calls and investigating, and discovered that he was alive, well and not quite who he said he was.

Maybe she got off on the idea of someone being romantically interested in her. She might’ve been married, for example, and wanted that “new romance” feeling without the risk. Knowing someone desires you is a pretty heedy feeling, but playing someone like that is cruel and narcissistic.

I don’t know… married and able to have four-hour-long phone conversations night after night?

Possible, I suppose. My friend’s theory is that she didn’t resemble the pictures she sent him, and didn’t want to face the moment in which that deception would become obvious.

Who knows…

The whole fake death thing dates back to the earliest days of the internet. In fact the people of the SDMB were very likely faked themselved early in the post-AOL days. The reasons that people do this are varied so it’s difficult to say why your friend was scammed. My guess is that it wasn’t done as an “easy” way to break up. I think that the whole thing was planned from the beginning as a sick mind fuck.

Maybe your friend can find comfort in the fact that he never really lost something because that thing never really existed.


Sadly, I think haj is right. Maybe not from the beginning beginning, but way early on. Especially by the time both parents conveniently “died.” As Oscar Wilde might have put it, to lose one parent like that is unfortunate, to lose both looks like carelessness. Up to that point, I might have charitably thought it was cold feet on the part of the “other woman.”

As anyone who’s tried internet dating will tell you, there are some seriously messed-up people out there. While the good point of internet dating is that it brings you a potential date faster, the bad point is that it sometimes brings you someone who has no business being out there in the first place. My sympathies to your friend, Rick.

To add to what hajairo and Duke said, she also didn’t want to take any responsibility if this was the case, or she’d have simply broken it off with him. Instead, she possibly didn’t want to be “the bad guy” and was unfeeling enough to put him through the pain of her “death,” rather than face up to some unpleasantries.

I’ve seen a few faked deaths on other message boards but never heard about a one to one break up by death.

I think the ‘brother’ asking for details on how he felt about the ‘deceased’ is really over the top.
Now pertending that you’re gay to break up with someone is completly normal.

There are people out there who are what’s known as “crazy”, and who get off on messing with other people’s minds.

That’s certainly consistent with the “brother’s” oh-tell-me-more approach.

Alternate theory: she was just hungry for attention, and craved a way to keep getting it in larger amounts.

It’s so freaking bizarre.

Careful with this one, you might get gay bashed. I got jabbed in the gut (not a funny haha jab, it left a bruise) by some psycho bitch when I used it one time. I didn’t even know the lady, I just wanted her to stop hitting on me because I had a girlfriend.
As for faking your death online…I agree you have to be pretty messed up to do that. I had a “friend” who faked his death online back in 1997 and there are people who still think he’s dead. He said he got AIDS and shot himself and then he put up memorial pages to himself…etc. I happen to know he’s not dead because we lived and worked together most of 2003/2004 (except he didn’t pay rent, one of the reasons I put “friend” in quotation marks.)

Haven’t you ever heard the expression, “Dead men pay no rent.”?

Or something like that.

Damn. Now I feel really grateful to all the people who just stopped talking to me for no apparent reason.

Shade, exactly.

The twits (ok, one in particular) who merely bowed out seem like godsends compared to that.

Wierd. Very wierd.

Wow, that’s very messed up. I agree with what seems to be the consensus, that the death faking wasn’t to avoid breaking up, but part of some plan that likely came from a sick mind.

How very wierd. There are some very strange people out there.

I guess that’s why I like to meet people from online personals sites in person asap…is that good or bad?

Elvis isn’t really dead, he just didn’t want to be married anymore, right?

I’m thinking this must be a fairly common ploy in on-line romance. I also know a woman that went through an on line romance. She actually met the guy and they continued to write for months after the meeting. Then she received the death notice from the “son”, who wouldn’t respond to any of her requests for information about causes or circumstances, etc., etc.

There are some sick sonsofbitches out there.

Sometimes I think that the internet provides a means for unbalanced people to be creative. Instead of writing novels or plays, or becoming actors, they play these little con games with people’s emotions.

When I was in high school, there was this couple, S and T. S thought he was a vampire, T was a typical bipolar goth girl. (not that all goths are bipolar or all bipolar people are goths).

S graduated a year before T did. He went off to St Louis for a week. S’s friend calls T and says that S died in a car accident, hit by a drunk driver.

S was a nice guy. I liked him, though he was completely wacko. There was a lot of sadness around school that day, a lot of “I can’t believe he’s dead” stuff. T is inconsolable, as they were engaged. She speaks of suicide.

Two weeks later, he shows up at school to scare T into thinking he’s a ghost.

What a jerk. Everyone pretty much stopped talking to him after that.

The relationship doesn’t have to be online to be a sick mind fuck.