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Ask Surly Amy: Fake Photos

Dear Surly Amy,

i met this guy over the internet about 2 months ago. we have gotten very serious. iv’e sent him photos. he has sent me photos. we have fallen so much in-love. i guess i should cut to the chase. that’s not me in the photo. ive been dishonest about what i look like. he wants to see me. we have always discussed that looks don’t matter. i don’t know how to break it to him. also, he has mentioned me to his family and has showed the photos to them as well. so that’s a huge problem. ill not only be a fake to him, but to his family as well, making him look like a fool. i don’t know what to do or what to say i think about it all the time. i cry about it all the time. it hurts so bad. i really don’t know how to break it to him. i don’t like the way i look, and that’s why i was dishonest. i need help in letting him know that, that is not me. anything you can do to help me, would be greatly appreciated. thanks for your time. please help.


Dear Karen,

I’m going to cut to the chase here.

You are going to have to come clean and tell the truth.

I have been asked similar questions before about online relationships and the answer is always the same. If you ever hope to have an actual relationship in the meatspace you have to be honest about who you are online. You are going to have to tell him the truth.

I understand that temptation is strong to exaggerate who you. Some people go so far as to create a fake persona online but it is never a good idea. The truth as they say, always comes back and bites you on the ass.

Self Esteem

If you are having serious self esteem problems like you say you are then I highly recommend seeking out professional therapy. Few of us are ever completely satisfied with who we are and society creates often unattainable ideals, especially with beauty standards for women. It is something many of us are upset by and have to learn to deal with. However, if your self-esteem problems are causing you to lie about yourself and to spend hours crying about it then that is abnormal behavior and I think you would truly benefit from some professional help. It’s ok, to be unhappy at times but know that you can find help. You may be suffering from a form of depression. You can learn to love and accept yourself. There is help out there.

None of us are perfect and beauty is subjective.

Part of what love is, is appreciating the imperfections we each have and accepting them as part of the whole package. What one person finds average another may find exquisite. You haven’t even given this person a chance to love your flaws.

If the person does not accept you for who you actually are then it was never an honest love to begin with. It was just an idea of love. If you are going to be in a healthy loving relationship you have to come from a place of honesty and you have to learn to accept and love yourself before anyone else ever can.

He will have a right to be hurt and upset.

You lied to him and that’s not ok. You are going to have to accept that. It’s time to tell the truth and deal with the consequences. If he really cares for you he will want to work through this and remain friends. If his love was based only on what he thought you looked like, then it wasn’t a healthy relationship to begin with.


You can not really say that you are in love with a person that you have never met in real life. You can love the idea of that someone but if you are expecting to have a physical relationship you will have to spend time together to see if there is physical chemistry between the two of you.

Other Fish

Remember that if this relationship doesn’t work out, it’s not the end of the world. There are many people out there you have yet to meet that I am sure are capable of loving you for who you really are. You just have to give them a chance to do so.

Again, I recommend finding a professional therapist in your area and the practice of honesty. Hope things work out for you.

Got a question you would like some Surly-Skepchick advice on? Send it in! We won’t publish your real name, unless you want us to and creative pseudonyms get bonus points! Just use the contact link on the top left of the page.

*Photos by Johnny Skaare. Each photo was taken via the reflection of a beveled mirror with an ordinary phone camera.

Amy Roth

Amy Davis Roth (aka Surly Amy) is a multimedia, science-loving artist who resides in Los Angeles, California. She makes Surly-Ramics and is currently in love with pottery. Daily maker of art and leader of Mad Art Lab. Support her on Patreon. Tip Jar is here.

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  1. I think Amy is right that you really do have to BE together to see if there’s physical chemistry. But honestly, there usually IS if there’s chemistry beforehand.

    I think your best bet is to, yes, come clean, but also just continue to be YOU and be confident in who you are. There are a lot of women and men that are not the best looking, but they still manage to find love with people who they find they are attracted to because they are confident in themselves and the other person falls in love with them because of that.

    You’ve already established feelings with this man, so I’d say there’s a good chance that he won’t care and will continue to have strong feelings for you.

  2. Hi Karen. I agree you have to be honest. What choice do you have? I guess you could keep him hanging a bit longer, but eventually you will have to come clean or else lie again and tell you have a fatal disease.

    How would you feel if you found out that he had been lying to you in the same way? That might give you at least an inkling of how he might feel and respond. In fact, he actually might be lying to you as well!

    I think you might lose this guy when you tell the truth. When crappy things happen, or I do something I regret, I pull out all my powers of rationalization and claim it as a positive because I learned something. Damn, I should be brilliant by now!

  3. Good article but I disagree with this

    “You can not really say that you are in love with a person that you have never met in real life.”

    Both my relationships started on the internet and via letters. I was definitely in love with them before I met them. I think to limit love to physical love is not correct. Sure, there was a new dimension when we met, but it was still the same love.

  4. This problem oddly resonates with me as I used to reject all potential partners based on general physique. I was seriously concerned that being with someone who wasn’t visually appealing (=totally hot) would be impossible.
    Snip to today and my current girlfriend is tall and heavy and completely “not my type”, but I’ve found that personality goes a long way and beauty is not only subjective but also situational – everything changes under the covers =D.

    I’d recommend Karen to come clean and give the online thing a chance. Most likely it wont work out but if she tries to sort out her issues and face them rationally instead of emotionally. I.e not to bother too much about her appearance – and instead create friendships and engage socially with men. Then she’s sure to find someone who will love her for who she is and not how she fits an unrealistic aesthetic ideal.

  5. Wait, wait! I saw this in a movie once. I know just what to do.

    Find a hot friend who looks like the picture you sent, and have her meet the guy while pretending to be you.

    Let us know how it works out. I have more ideas if you need them.

  6. I did not find counseling to be a good solution to my self esteem issues, mostly because I am so self-confident that it borders on arrogance. Or maybe because counselors only help you feel better, and don’t help you make your life make you feel better.

    I looked in the mirror and thought, “this is somewhere between good looking and good-looking-enough to find enough love to make me happy” but was really frustrated for years because I could not find “enough love to make me happy.” Actually, I couldn’t even find a kiss. I read all about how to engage people’s attention (smile, dress like you like yourself, approach people you find interesting, blah blah, not-sexist advice) because I know how to research.

    Then I failed to get attention, so I went to counseling. I was beginning to doubt my looks, but I have seen many a women far from conventional attractiveness who were also awful people find love (or at least some sex), so why couldn’t I? I was hoping the counselor would point out things like, “You move your hands in a manner that makes you look awkward” or “Your voice is nasally–a speech therapist might help” or find that otherwise really small detail that was sabotaging my friendly, smiling, pretty efforts to get a date… that small thing that wasn’t bad enough to prevent me from having friends, but was just enough to drive off would-be lovers. She instead focused on building my self-esteem. I had to “believe in myself and love myself before expecting others to do so”, no matter how much I told her that I did like myself, thought I was pretty and certainly deserved some action. I told her about the gay women who tried to flirt–so “I can’t possibly be THAT ugly, so I must be attractive enough to find a few men willing to meet me for coffee. And I dress femme, so I’m not setting off gay vibes!” I used my friends as proof that I’m likable to some people, a variety of people including straight male friends, so I must be likable enough for a few guys to date me. I DID believe in myself and love myself, so she had succeeded in convincing me that I must indeed be repulsive, because why else couldn’t I find a man to look into my eyes and smile back? (Sound like religion?–I prayed and believed, did the rituals, and it still didn’t work as I was told.) I quit counseling.

    In retrospect, the counselor should have shuttled me off to a behavioral therapist, who would have helped me with the solution I would find later to my problem… Being an “instigator”, i.e. flirting more aggressively, like men do, rather than passively smiling like most women are told to do. After that, it was raining men! Halla-lube-ya! Then my confidence in my attractiveness was reconciled with reality. :)

    Believing (in myself) wasn’t enough for me. ;)

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