Welcome to Ask Poppy! I’m Poppy, your go-to girl for all of life’s woes. And when I say ALL, I MEAN IT. I’m not an expert on anything except maybe for being me, which makes me totally qualified to do this.
I have been facing an odd situation lately.
A few years back, I met a guy online and we really clicked. We started talking through Facebook and regular text messaging. Eventually we both decided we can meet up and finally hang out in person. All throughout our late night conversations and random chats, I thought he was a foreigner (hey, he looked the part) so when we met up and had coffee, I would always make sure that I speak to him in English. There are times though during our dates that I would slip and talk in Filipino and I could see in his reaction that he somehow understands, but I brushed this aside.
I really liked him and for the first time ever, I felt like being with someone long-term. But sh*t got dark when after a few weeks of dating—okay, maybe mostly conversations apart—I found out through light stalking that he’s not who he says he is. First, he changed his name when he started talking to me and apparently, he is a Filipino through and through. But these are things that he never ever brought up or even corrected, so we had a huge fight and stopped communicating. I was pretty sure we would never cross paths again.
You see, I am a freelance photographer and I usually get random gigs from different brands or even publications. There was this one time that I arrived to a shoot and was taken aback—there he was, the guy I dated, sitting with a bunch of other models we were using as subjects. Apparently, he’s a model now. I didn’t know what to do, and since nobody knew about us, I felt like I couldn’t talk to people about it. At first, he acted like nothing happened, and believe me it was one of the most awkward shoots I have ever had. After the shoot, he came up to me and said he wanted to talk. I shrugged and said that I’ll think about it first.
Poppy, I really liked this guy and like what I mentioned, I pictured us being together long-term. But he broke my trust and it felt like the person I knew was all a lie, a character he made up. A part of me is still curious—should I forgive him or simply walk away?
Help me, Poppy. I really don’t know what to do.
Ah, yes. The essence of the true self. If there’s anything we’ve learned from the zeitgeist-y 2010 documentary Catfish and the MTV show that followed after, it’s that people can make you believe that things are real even though they’re totally not. Thanks to the Internet, anyone can easily create their own identities. There’s even a wikiHow page about it.
You can never really be too sure about someone unless you get to know the ins and outs of that person. I mean, kayo nga nag-meet na, but he still managed to harbor secrets you knew nothing about. Buti na lang you were smart enough to do some online sleuthing.
Sure, the fact that anyone can basically create a totally different identity can be liberating. This is why you’d get popular alter accounts on Twitter, an online niche that thrives on 30-second amateur porn videos being retweeted by their thousands of fans. You have online trolls being employed by local candidates to make sure that they get the right engagement online. Then you have the number one reason why your gay friend is probably cranky: Getting zero replies after sending out your face pic on Grindr. “G*go, ang sakit,” he would say. I would laugh because schadenfreude.
It’s masakit partly because of the instant judgment that was bestowed upon him, but also because of the fact that he fully revealed himself but HE got nothing in return. As someone who identifies as #masc and has a “discreet ‘to, bro” message saved on his template, the mini coming outs that he has to go through whenever he sends a photo of his face is a struggle that he has to go through whenever he logs in on that heinous app.
Naturally, I would ask you to run away from him because it’s clearly unfair how you served him your true self and you got a shady, imaginary version of him with a fake name to boot. Holy shit, he could totally The Talented Mr. Ripley the hell out of you. You could end up in a body bag or stowed through a hole in the hull. “It is better to be a fake somebody than a real nobody.” But then you two sound like you’re a perfect fit if only he weren’t such a lying scumbag.
I want you to talk to this dude and tell him what’s up. Give him another chance and let him explain his past actions. Why did he feel the need to create an identity that’s way off his branding? Bakit mo ph0wz ako Ini-English, k0ya? What urged you to make up this fake identity para lang i-lure ang byuti ko? Discreet ka ba, bro? I don’t know what sort of questions you should be asking, but you should be able to differentiate what is real and what is not based on “the talk” that you guys are going to have. If you feel that he’s being real to you this time, then give it another shot.
Metro Manila is so effing small, but we’re packed with almost 11 million people. Being in the #industrie that you’re in, you’re bound to know a lot of people. It’s important to see through all the bullshit and just unfollow all the fakeness that surrounds you. Jesus, ang dami diyan. I personally cannot stand the idea of living a complete lie, pero some peeps just go with the flow talaga and they F up their lives, and F up others along the way.
Drew, there is a lesson in all of this that I want you to learn as you get to know the real identity of this lying kuya: His lies will help you find truths about yourself. Gurl, I had to watch the new episodes of Girls twice because that was the core of what I had gathered from that beautiful Marnie-centric episode. In “The Panic in Central Park,” we see Marnie stepping out of the house after she and Desi fought over scones. She ends up meeting Charlie, who is now a jeans-wearing skinhead who hangs out with kadire cat-callers. After being brutally dumped by him a few seasons ago, Charlie ends up spending a lovely day with Marnie, just dealing coke, conning people, and trespassing through Central Park. Along the way, Marnie realizes that Charlie lives in a dump, is probably diabetic, but really a heroin addict. It’s that sort of truth that shatters Marnie again. It shatters her harder than the first time Charlie ruined her.
In a bold move that made Marnie’s character a sh*t ton more likeable, she ends up realizing that being married to Desi is a mistake. That being 25 and a half means that she has the entire world to explore. Drew, I want you to find out yourself if what you’re getting into is a mistake. Turn this guy upside down and effing get to know him in a deeper, more personal level. If he’s not ready to give the full deets about himself, then walk away.
If you wanna reel me in, you gotta show the truth within.
Got a question for Poppy? From love and relationships to weird questions you dare not ask even your psychologist, Poppy is ready to answer them all. Send in your questions to email@example.com or post your question over Twitter or Instagram with the hashtag #AskPoppy, and you just might get the answer you are looking for.
Disclaimer: The views expressed here are solely those of the author in her private capacity and do not in any way represent the views of Preen.ph, or any other entity of the Inquirer Group of Companies.
Art by Dorothy Guya