What Manti Te’o taught us about online relationships


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The Manti Te’o story of his girlfriend that turned out to be a hoax went big this past week. It is a story that we all knew was possible but never imagined that it would happen to someone like Manti. Manti Te’o is the star linebacker and captain of the Notre Dame football team who went undefeated in the season and finished ranked #1 in the nation. He was a Heisman nominee which is the award voted in as the best collegiate football player of the year. During the national title game, Notre Dame was crushed by Alabama and we thought that would be the end of hearing about Manti Te’o until the NFL draft. We were wrong.

Manti is a very handsome and athletic young man. Accomplished and appears to be very grounded and well disciplined. He was a leader by example and did it with heart. How could a person of such character fall victim and be so gullible? As the dust settles, we see a clearer picture but there are still doubts about how can a bright young man be tricked into believing he was in a relationship with this girl that never existed!

This makes me think about our community here and what we want to spread. We want to ensure everyone exercises precaution when making contact with individuals online whether they are from a forum, chat group, craigslist, online dating site or even someone on Facebook who is a friend’s friend! Should this discourage you from meeting people online? Absolutely not. Should this teach you to be more cautious? Absolutely. Here are some things Manti should’ve done and you can do to evaluate if your online partner is for reals.

  1. Cross check details – don’t just assume everything they say is true. Cross check. Call up places to see if it exists, google location to see if its feasible to get from one location to another. Liars tend to do it habitually without much thought and you will be able to catch them red handed.
  2. Insist on meeting in person – and vice versa, be very skeptical if they keep making excuses when trying to meet up in person. If you feel there is chemistry, there is no reason why they would not want to meet. They are either lying or they are married.
  3. Facetime / Webcam – once you are comfortable chatting, IM, going on the phone, the next step is going on Facetime or something like Skype. If they refuse, something is up. Now, I heard the voicemail that Manti put on Katie Couric and the person on the v/m sounded 100% like a girl.
  4. Connect with your partners acquaintance or family – if someone is comfortable enough to say they are in a relationship with you, they will be more than happy to introduce you to other people via social networks. When my BFF moved to NYC, I knew I would miss out on some of the best moment of his life. When he got engaged, I immediately added his fiance on Facebook. It was natural. It wasn’t a while until I met her in person and it felt like we knew each other for a long time.

Well there you have it. I still feel bad for that poor boy. Media should really leave him alone. He was embarrased in the national title game. Not only did the opponent have a real girlfriend, she is Miss Alabama and it shows :)