Dear Maria,

I just found out that a family friend has been lying to us about his age. During a visit home, a mutual friend told me that she suspects that he is older than he appears. (I think she has a thing for him, too.)  I was at his apartment, and looked in his wallet to check his age. She was right. Why do you think someone would do that? And, what do you do when you know more than you wish you did?
Signed,
What Do I Do Now?

Dear What Do I Do Now,

Why would someone hide their age? Take a look around at our youth-obsessed culture for some insight. Maybe he is insecure about his accomplishments or appearance. In some ways, this whole scenario confirms these fears: the gossip, the sneaking a peek at his ID. Is there something wrong with being “older”, or is his deception the real issue? His motives are a mystery, but your hurt and sense of violation are not.

How did you feel as your mutual friend shared her suspicions with you? How about when you looked at his ID? These are actions we keep to ourselves. Now, you share your friend’s need for discretion. That peek in his wallet may have been justified, in the moment, as way to the truth. But, this information has brought only further doubt and inner turmoil.

How does this information serve you? If your family is contractually connected with him, or in any other employment or legal relationship, then fraud is a concern. Tell them right away if this is the case. Otherwise, I’m not sure what, if any, action you take. Things will never be the same between them if you tell your family. Are you ready to be the cause of this dramatic change? I don’t know how you approach the subject, or the friend in question, without disclosing your own indiscretion. Trust is broken on both sides, and may be very difficult to rebuild. Since the friend who tipped you off may have an emotional investment in the outcome, it’s probably best not to involve her further in the conversation.

This truth about your friend will come out. There will be other ways that this deception cracks. The truth is tireless that way. For now, keep this info to yourself, and watch how things unfold. This information is a burden you carry. Seek wisdom and understanding in your response as the truth reveals itself. As for your friendship with this man, your guard is up, and for good reason. Keep a friendly distance. Don’t dwell on his deception, rather attend to his good qualities. Keep your wallet close. Next time you’re tempted to sneak a peek on someone, remember this regret. Someday soon, you’ll step into the light on this issue, and the weight will be lifted from your heart.

 

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