Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole

Using Old Photos Ruins Online Relationship

DEAR HARRIETTE: I was invited to go on a cruise to the Caribbean with a man I met on a dating site. We'd been talking to each other for about six months, and we really liked each other. We'd sent lots of pictures back and forth, but I wasn't totally honest. I sent pictures of myself from about 10 years ago, when I was really cute and slim. Not only am I a decade older now, but I am about 75 pounds heavier.

When we met on the boat, he didn't recognize me at first and walked right by me. I called out to him to let him know it was me, and he looked at me and walked off. We were on the cruise for a whole week, and he hardly spoke to me. I was so hurt. I know I was wrong to lie about my weight, but don't you think his reaction was extreme? Only once did we actually talk, and all he said was he felt duped and angry. -- Caught, Washington, D.C.

DEAR CAUGHT: Lying doesn't work. In this case, it wasn't just your weight that likely ticked him off. A decade and 75 pounds mean you look completely different from the pictures you sent. You misrepresented yourself continuously. Clearly, you did not think this through.

Yes, many people put old, fabulous photos up on dating sites in the beginning, but once you establish a relationship and start swapping photos, it's time to come clean and say, "Ta-dah! This is the real me!" What did you think was going to happen when you met face-to-face?

Your date was totally thrown. He could have chosen to talk it out with you, but it is understandable that he felt betrayed by your deceit. He may have felt that the person he got to know over the phone and through photos was a complete fabrication. Regardless of your size or age, you have to be you. Let that be your lesson from this situation.

DEAR HARRIETTE: My husband and I are in a terrible situation. We are likely about to get divorced. It has been a long time coming. The other day, we had a big fight, and my husband reported the details of it to our teenage daughter. Next thing you know, she skips school and drives off with a friend. I found out, and we talked about it. She has never done such a thing. She explained how upset she was, and I understand. As many times as I have told my husband to keep our business between us, he just won't. He tells her all of the stuff that goes on between us. What can I do to help make the breakup easier on everyone? -- Distraught, Atlanta

DEAR DISTRAUGHT: Seek the support of a counselor. Ask your husband to go with you so that an outside professional can help mediate your breakup. If he won't go, you should go anyway. Also, get counseling for your daughter. Keep talking to her about her choices and how to be conscious and intentional during this tough period. Assure her that you both love her, even as you are choosing not to stay together.