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Drama Mamas: The consequences of lying about your gender

Drama Mamas Lisa Poisso and Robin Torres are experienced gamers and real-life mamas -- and just as we don't want our precious babies to be the ones kicking and wailing on the floor of the checkout lane next to the candy, neither do we want you to become known as That Guy on your realm.

Sometimes commenters will suggest that we have received a fake letter. I hope this week's is, although that's actually irrelevant. This kind of thing does happen, unfortunately.
Dear Drama Mamas,

I am writing to you today in need of your coveted wisdom and advice. First just let me inform you that I am a gay man of age 16 in real, and that this type of situation has happened before, but in different variations.

Here's my problem.. It all began with an innocent night outside the gates out Stormwind city. I was sat on the grass opposite a guy. He began talking to me very nicely, I replied, and we got on well. We were talking about random topics for around 10 minutes and became instantaneous friends. He was kind, polite and had top notch spelling and grammar (Which I loved). He went on to ask me personal questions. Such as age, place of residence etc. I had asked these questions first so I thought it would be fair to answer his.
He then asked ''Are you a boy or a girl irl?'' As I already began to like this guy, I quickly panicked and said that I was a girl. (I know, bad move). He then went offline and I never thought I'd hear from him again. Until the next day he came on and sent me a tell. I found it awkward and felt bad I didn't tell the truth, but I didn't think much of it at the time. We ended up doing battlegrounds, dungeons, LFR and various other things together. I still didn't think that much of what was going on as it's only online and no one can really get hurt. That is until I became deeper in the situation. He asked for my real ID. I gave him it and made up the excuse that the guys name on it is my friends because it ''used to be their account.'' Then he got suspicious and wanted my Facebook, just to check I wasn't lying, which of course I was. I panicked again and ended up giving him my friends Facebook who is a girl that also plays this game.

He said that i looked beautiful and began to have feelings for me. (Which of course was him looking at my friends profile picture). This brought me even deeper into the mess that i had caused. Wanting to add me as a friend, I said no. And made up another excuse that I never go on it. He wanted to keep in touch with me off of wow so he asked for my phone number. This had me in a stress as I wondered what I should do. I gave him my number and we started texting. A lot.

This has all gotten out of hand and I simply just don't know what to do. How do I break it off with the least amount of hurt towards him and least amount of embarrassment towards myself?

Yours sincerely,

Fake
Drama Mama Robin ImageDrama Mama Robin: Oh, dear. This is a rather nasty conundrum, but I think we can help you out. Your age is a double-edged sword, but it will make up the greater part of your exit strategy.
  1. If this guy is an adult and you didn't lie about your age, politeness is not necessary here. Slap him with the hard truth: You are a guy. Your parents want you to stop all contact with him. Disable Real ID. He should hopefully not want to text you anymore. But if he starts sending harassing texts and emails or if he wants to continue the inappropriate relationship anyway, you need to contact your parents and have them handle it. Do not ever contact this guy again. Your embarrassment is not as important as your safety. Accept the consequences like the man you say you are.
  2. If this guy is an adult but you lied about your age, then your exit is simple. Tell the guy your age and that your parents want you to stop all contact with him. Apologize, but you think it's all for the best. Yes, he'll be hurt, but not too much when he realizes how inappropriate your relationship is. Disable Real ID and thank him in advance for not texting you or sending messages to you on Facebook, etc. If he still wants to pursue the relationship, then he's a bad guy. Follow advice #1.
  3. If you're both minors, things may be a bit more difficult. Attempt to follow the appropriate parts of advice #2. If he's not mature enough to accept that way out, I think that you again need to slap him with the hard truth and deal with his hurt and your embarrassment. You offered him the easy way out, and he didn't accept it. Follow advice #1 at this point.
It is now time to lecture you on internet safety. Yes, you admit that lying is bad, and continued lying causes hurt and embarrassment. But you are putting yourself in danger from the get-go.
  • Don't ask personal questions of strangers on the internet. This absolutely invites the stranger to reciprocate, and now you both have endangered yourselves and have become closer to believing you have more of a relationship than you have.
  • Don't lie about your gender. As you've discovered, deceit weaves a very tangled web.
  • If you do end up saying you're a girl again -- sigh -- don't spend time with the poor guy. Refuse his invitations, nipping the whole thing in the bud.
  • Disable Real ID. Now. Friends lists will work just fine for you. You can use Battle Tags when they make it to WoW if you insist, but Real ID is too dangerous for you.
  • If you do end up getting in a similar mess again (since this seems to be a recurring problem with you), do not involve your friends. When you do, you are actually not being their friend. Be a good friend and keep your messes to yourself.
  • Never, ever, ever, ever, ever give out your phone number over the internet. When you've graduated from college and become more knowledgeable in the ways of the world, you still should be cautious about giving out information of that nature. But at this point in time, cautious isn't enough. Abstinence is your only option.
I have a very important and relevant question after all of this. Where are your parents? I believe Lisa has something to say about their side of things.

Drama Mama Lisa ImageDrama Mama Lisa: To me, this issue has nothing at all to do with gender and everything in the world to do with a lack of supervision and the resulting sticky social situation. From your admission that this sort of thing has happened to you before, Fake, I surmise that you're holed up with your computer in your bedroom and have been for some time now. As experience is now showing you, maybe all that unsupervised time isn't treating you so well -- after all, you're way in over your head. Still, you probably don't want your parents hanging over your shoulders when you play, and I'm betting there's no way in hell you feel comfortable talking with them about what's happened. (You did come here when you wanted advice, after all.)

By now, I'm sure you've surmised that you could take Robin's advice with actually telling your parents anything at all. However, telling them is exactly what I'd urge you to do. [Author's note: Edited to clarify that the concern here isn't your sexuality (that's for you to include or not include, as you feel comfortable with) -- it's your inability to extricate yourself from and avoid inappropriate levels of sharing with strangers on the internet.] Unfortunately, if you tell your parents, they're likely to remove your access to WoW. (Hey, if it were your kid, wouldn't you feel the same?) If that does happen, ask them if they won't help you learn how to manage how you're conducting yourself instead of simply yanking you away from the place the problem occurred. If they'd like some specific ideas to get a handle on the situation, I can suggest several resources (which might teach you a thing or two, too):
  • Teach your teens to be smart, safe digital citizens.
  • 10 essential online safety tips for kids and families. Note the very first pointer: "Simply forbidding your child to go on the internet is not an option."
  • Stay on top of your kid's gadgets by bringing them into your family room. At 16, some parents might pack you off to your room with your own computer. I wouldn't -- and the ease with which you've repeatedly fallen into these online social traps is exactly why.
Finally, Fake, there's one very important thing you need to do that unfortunately will be more than a little embarrassing: You have to tell your friend that you got her involved. This internet guy now has her name, knows what she looks like, and could have gleaned other information from her Facebook profile such as where she goes to school and where she lives. At best, you've compromised her privacy; at worst, you've compromised her safety. Either way, she needs to know what's happened so she can be prepared to react appropriately (as Robin outlined above) if the internet guy should try to contact her.

I know I said "finally" in the last paragraph, Fake, but I guess I'm not done just yet. If you learn anything at all from this, let it be that asking for help can be one of the best things that happens to you in life. I know you really, really want to minimize all the embarrassment and anger and hurt -- for everyone, not just you. But I can guarantee you that the people whose opinions you'll value most in life are the ones who'll respect you for owning up to your mistakes and cleaning up the mess.

You'll discover that asking for help creates allies; hiding or minimizing problems builds walls and sets up adversarial relationships. Don't let temporary discomfort keep you from strengthening the right relationships for the right reasons or keep fueling the wrong relationships to cover up the wrong things. Choose carefully which people in this situation matter the most. Then connect with them. Because that's how you stay connected to the life you want to lead.

Dodge the drama and become that player everyone wants in their group with a little help and insight from the Drama Mamas. Play nice ... and when in doubt, ask the Drama Mamas at robin@wowinsider.com. Read Robin's section of this post on how to get your letter answered and please remember that we cannot answer privately.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Drama Mamas

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