Te’o has company. As Notre Dame rose to No. 1 in the AP Top 25, sport writers nationwide recounted the story of the heroic, grieving athlete who persevered on the field after a girlfriend named Lennay Kekua was diagnosed with leukemia. Te’o and his family provided them with plenty of stories about the relationship, and no one figured out it was fiction until Deadspin.com broke that news this past week.
In his first interview since, Te’o told ESPN he had lied to his father about having met Kekua. To cover that up, he apparently lied to everyone else.
“That goes back to what I did with my dad. I knew that. I even knew that it was crazy that I was with somebody that I didn’t meet,” Te’o said during the off-camera interview Friday. “So I kind of tailored my stories to have people think that, yeah, he met her before she passed away.”
The fact is that many people don’t like to admit that they find love online, let alone that they might be misled by someone they’ve met that way.
For a young woman in Chicago, it started last February when a potential love interest responded to a personal ad she’d posted in the Craigslist “W4M” section. They communicated for several months online, first by email, and then instant messaging and then online voice chat.
She sent him her photo. He delayed sending his, again and again, and put off meeting in person. He wasn’t ready, he told her. It bothered her, but she was so taken with the ease and intimacy of their long, daily conversations — about their lives and their jobs, their family and friends, even sex.
After this went on for eight months, he abruptly deleted his email and Yahoo Messenger accounts, the only means she’d had to reach him. She didn’t even know his last name and wouldn’t know him if he passed her on the street.