Photo: Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
Everyone’s still going nuts about Manti Te’o’s “fake” girlfriend—the one practically every media outlet in the country was obsessed with, the one he tweeted with, the one he talked on the phone with for hours every night.
This girlfriend, everyone is now saying, was a complete fabrication.
She didn’t exist!
Now, it’s certainly possible that Manti Te’o is lying and this girlfriend was, in fact, a complete fabrication. It’s possible that he never tweeted with anyone, or talked to anyone—because she really did not exist.
But if that’s the case, you would think that Notre Dame would have discovered that by now, given that the university conducted a formal investigation. Notre Dame says Te’o was the victim of an elaborate hoax conducted by a “group of people.” And one of those people, presumably, was a woman on the other end of a phone.
Te’o vividly described to ESPN how he talked to this girl on the phone “every night.” And how he had an amazing relationship with her and missed her after she “died.”
And it’s actually quite possible that Te’o was, and is, telling the truth.
Te’o may well have talked to a woman on the phone every night, a woman he considered his girlfriend. And he may well have had a very real, very meaningful relationship with her—one that meant a lot to him.
It’s possible to have very real, very meaningful relationships without ever seeing someone.
Just ask all the people who have online relationships and letter-based relationships and email-based relationships.
These relationships can be very emotional and very real.
Now, yes, if this is the kind of relationship Manti Te’o had, there’s one other conclusion that is inescapable:
His girlfriend lied to him a lot:
- She lied about her name.
- She lied about her background.
- She lied about being in car crashes and being sick.
- She lied about dying of leukemia.
- She lied about a lot of things.
But people lie to each other all the time, including in relationships. (Ever been cheated on?)
Sometimes people even lie to each other about their names and backgrounds.
So if Manti Te’o’s girlfriend was lying to him all the time, well, that would be nothing new. And it wouldn’t make her “fake.”
Manti Te’o’s girlfriend would still be a real woman (presumably) on the other end of a phone. She still would have been his “girlfriend,” even if she was lying all the time (and having sex with someone else, etc.) It’s possible to form a strong emotional bond with someone even if they’re actually someone else’s girlfriend or spouse and they’re lying to you all the time.
(It’s worth considering this from the woman’s perspective, too. You can just cackle and say she was “hoaxing” him the whole time. But talking to some guy for hours every night would get pretty time-consuming and boring if it was just a practical joke. I think it’s reasonable to assume that whoever the woman on the other end of the phone was, she actually developed an attachment to Te’o, even if she was lying to him about everything. And that would actually make this a bona fide relationship!)
So, unless Manti Te’o is lying, it’s time to dispense with the “fake girlfriend” thing.
Te’o had a girlfriend.
She just lied to him about pretty much everything.
And he was young and trusting enough to believe her.
NOW WATCH: Briefing videos
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.