When Love Isn’t Real – The Shame Of Deception

I’ve just travelled back from the UK today, and during my journey I read an article that made me sit up and take notice. It’s the story about a teenage girl, Gemma Barker, who created three separate male aliases in order to dupe her female friends in to sexual relationships with her. She had made enormous efforts to develop and maintain these aliases. She succeeded so well, in fact, that not only the victims but also their families were fooled in to believing that Gemma was a boy. Whilst it’s claimed that she suffers from autism spectrum disorder and ADHD, the judge still called her “Cunning and deceptive” and the report states that she showed no remorse when handed her sentence. Ring any bells?

The thing that really struck me, though, was a quote from one of her victims who was 15 or 16 at the time. Gemma was 18, so legally an adult. Saying that she felt “repulsed and dirty” after learning that the boy she loved was actually her female friend, the victim goes on to say

“Nobody understands what it’s like to be told that the person you love and want to spend the rest of your life with isn’t real. It’s like you have disappeared. I just want to stop hurting” She also asks the poignant rhetorical question I know many of us will have asked ourselves: “What did I ever do wrong to you?”

It’s heart-breaking isn’t it? The shame of deception runs deep. Left untreated it can grow, multiplying like a cancer in the soul of those whose only crime was to love someone else. People who trusted what they were being shown, and treated the other person with care and compassion — while the other person just looked on and laughed. While in some cases there may not be any physical scars, the emotional and spiritual damage hits hard in every case. It is far more damaging — and can last so much longer.

I would have hoped that in this day and age, perhaps there might be a little more understanding and compassion for people who have been duped. After all, there are plenty of stories. Accounts from people who have been deliberately deceived and misled. People who, like us, gave all we had to people we believed and loved with all our heart.

You know what, though? Reading through some of the comments that have appeared online after the article, I am disheartened that so many still seem more focused on blaming the ”˜stupidity’ of the victims, or urging us to ”˜take pity’ on the person who deceived the girls. For many people, I know it may seem hard, almost impossible to believe that someone can get away with such a deception. But for those of us who’ve been there, once we work through the pain and shame, we know we were not to blame! We know we were not stupid, gullible, needy, blind or any of the other stinging veiled questions that stab at our soul as we try to make sense of what has happened.

It’s not just deception in romantic love that causes the pain. The hurt of betrayal can hit just as hard when it’s about relationships of trust between friends and family, or perhaps misguided loyalty to bosses or colleagues. Whatever the connection, when hit with the cold hard truth, the horror can be almost overwhelming.

And”¦ in the same way that I had absolutely no comprehension of these sorts of behaviors before it happened to me, I guess the question is how on earth can we reasonably expect other people who haven’t ”˜been there themselves’ to have any level of understanding? Well? It’s a reasonable question”¦. But then, in recent times I”˜ve realized that our natural propensity to be reasonable and understanding is just another of the ways people are exploited while predators continue to thrive. It’s by thinking “Oh, they’re just under pressure!” “Well, you know, we all make mistakes!” or “It’s ok, I know they didn’t really mean it — I won’t say anything it’s not that important” that the abuse is allowed to continue, right under the noses of ”˜reasonable’ people who just can’t begin to comprehend that the attacks are deliberate!

It’s the same reasonable, caring approach by ”˜normal’ people that keeps these heartless creatures free to continue what they are doing. It’s also the thing that hurts the victim time and time and time again — because there is no reason behind why these predators do the things they do. There is no explanation. They’re just like that — and they’re darned skilled at what they do. And that’s all there is to it.

So, these days I’m becoming stronger and more determined in what I am now beginning to see as a crusade to educate and help others. Yes, the numerous judgments and barbed comments from people who don’t know what they’re talking about can grate and often rattle me. But you know what? I’ve also decided that there is little or no point in getting frustrated at those people. It’s fair to say that we don’t know what we don’t know”¦. It’s also fair to say that I now have an unreasonable passion to do something about it whenever I come across a situation where people are being hurt and the perpetrators are getting away with it. I’m determined to help people remove their blinkers and recognize that yes, there is such a thing as ”˜bad people’ who live among us. It’s tough. Because it means inviting people to consider that they have been conned. That they, too, have been taken in by someone who tells lies as easily and effortlessly as you and I breathe.

The more I get to understand this subject, the more I believe that the self-righteous outpouring from people who have never been in that situation, stems from fear. The fear that perhaps, in the same shoes, they may not be quite so streetwise as they’d like to think. Perhaps they are not as invincible to the surgically accurate deceptions of a person who does not have the same emotional wiring as we do. A bit like children hiding under the covers when they’re afraid, it’s a good short-term fix but it doesn’t get rid of the bogeyman!

The thing is, though, hiding away or going in to denial will never get rid of the bogeymen — or women. All of us here know that from our own experiences. I’m determined to do all I can to ensure that ”˜first hand experience’ does not remain the only way to be certain that the person who is causing the harm is usually a harmful person. I know there’s a long road ahead — I also know it’s a road that’s well worth travelling.


Comment on this article

141 Comments on "When Love Isn’t Real – The Shame Of Deception"

Notify of

Milo, I hadn’t thought about the language barrier. That might be an idea for the wife to help you out. My son D and I do day programs here for the home schoolers, he does the living history stuff and I do cattle husbandry and biology and ecology. We love it. They try to pay us but we never accept it. I always put the money back in their car, and when they get home I call them and tell them where it is. LOL

Yea it’s like seeing them grow, it is so slow it is hard to imagine them babies again, so I’m sure the progress you make with Grand is the same way….hard to remember him under the table.


Yes I get that-he sounds so lovable when you talk about him. When I read about what was happening at school my protective urges kicked in.

I found a way to give myself a reality check. Every now and again I stop what I am doing and compare it to where I was last year. I include everything-home-kids-pets, finances etc. You could try this to update your data.

I have a growing teen and I have to keep shifting to accomodate her autonomy and that she is not my baby anymore. Well they will always be my babies-but I can’t let them know it.

Read up on the literature for homeschooling. There are various methods of doing it. I chose the ‘free child’ method which is child directed. I think you will enjoy it Milo as you have him being schooled by someone who has his best interests at heart. I don’t want to bore you with the benefits. I will let the facts speak for themselves if you read up. I can only endorse that it was a great experience for my daughter and I.

You also have playmates for him in the Amish children that he doesn’t have at school.

And you always have a choice for him to go back to school if you both find a suitable one.

A high number of homeschooled in the UK have ADHD. This is because of the dissatisfaction with the care of their kids at school. I think it is a universal problem.

Take care


Well, my life is complete again! My son D just came rolling in after two weeks away!

He had he said one of the hardest two weeks he has ever had. Our male friend, who is very ill, a stage 4 cardiac patient, could not have gone to the 12 day long regional living history event without D to come along to set up camp and do the fire wood carrying etc.

But the “drama queen” wife was another matter….D said that he will not EVER go back to another one if she is going and he has to camp with her. He said the drama was too much. He did enjoy the time he spent with our friend though and that was worth it—Once.

Isn’t it amazing how some people can just suck the oxygen out of the air in an entire room! IF I had to make a clinical diagnosis, I think I could say she is a CLASSIC BPD.

He said he ran into my P XBF there and he came up to D all smiles and “how are you?” D said he just said “fine!” and walked away. I asked him if XBF “got it” and he said “nah, he didn’t get it.”

I think I’m at the point now with the X BF P that if I ran into him where I expected to see him (that event) I wouldn’t be triggered at all…but not sure if I ran into him where I wasn’t expecting him, like when he came up here to MY stomping grounds and went to an auction I go to frequently (he lives 3 hours away).

I wonder how your friend, who is so pleasant, managed to meet and stay with someone who is such a drama queen.
What would you say the reason is?

Just like the rest of us, Sky, you stayed with a psychopath for 25 years. I put up with my son Patrick and all the other psychopaths in my life for so long….he NOW knows she is a “drama queen” and knows she is a hypocondriac and lazy, he and D talked about it, but at his state of health (stage 4 cardiac could go any minute) at this point, and they are broker’n a shattered tea cup, she spends money like water….he feels that he is TRAPPED and has no other options. So he drowns himself in booze and rots his liver after coming home and cooking his own dinner. Not a good option I agree, but it is HIS CHOICE. I’m sorry to see it, but it is the choice he has made. They’ve been together about 15-20 years I think. We’ve known them/him about 14 or so years…the boys enjoy various activities with him and learn from him as he is an expert in his field (black powder shooting and guns), has written several successful books.

There is no doubt he KNOWS what she is, he and D talked about it. During the entire 2 weeks, she did not cook a meal for them. She went to town and ate every day or ate cheese and crackers (and booze) and D and our friend cooked for themselves, and walked the couple’s dogs while she flitted around, went to town or visited with various folks like she was the queen of sheba.

It’s a LOT of work camping primitive…heavy tents, heavy cooking utensils, carrying water from up to a quarter of a mile away, carrying fire wood etc. Son D didn’t mind “helping” but in effect she used him as “slave labor” because she did NOTHING in keeping camp, and of course her husband wasn’t able to do much except sit by the fire and stir a pot. Son D realizes he was “used” but at the same time, he knew there was the possibility of that when he agreed to go, but he cared enough for the husband to see that he had at least ONE LAST trip to this huge event. But D said he would NOT do it again.

Anyway, he did get to see and visit with people from the 5 state region that we don’t get to see often, and one of our favorite friends from that group was there. So all in all it wasn’t a total loss but he is GLAD TO BE HOME and Ii think as glad to be home as the dogs were to see him. LOL

You know it amazes me how many people recognize that their partner is a user and abuser, drama king or queen, or just an arsehole but the choose to stay anyway because they ahve been in the relationshit for so long, their finances and families and friends are so intertwined that cutting the strings is just not worth it to them they just mentally remove themselves and stay on. My cousin (age 82) her husband just died, she has “left him” emotionally 20 years ago…but stayed in the same house with him. Now she is FREE. What a way to live.

“You know it amazes me how many people recognize that their partner is a user and abuser, drama king or queen, or just an arsehole but the choose to stay anyway because they ahve been in the relationshit for so long, their finances and families and friends are so intertwined that cutting the strings is just not worth it to them they just mentally remove themselves and stay on.”

It amazes me too. I think it’s called “waiting out the clock”

1 14 15 16

Send this to a friend