What if your fiancé told you he was a CIA counterterrorism agent and Navy Seal who had orchestrated the raid on Osama bin Laden? Medical director at Guantanamo? Rescued his ex-wife from Iran and was good friends with Seth McFarlane? Would you believe it? Or would you go against your instincts and embrace a life of lies?
Author and award-winning journalist Abby Ellin did, even though she was curious by nature and a skeptic by profession. She had spent a career digging to unearth the facts in life, except, ironically, those in her own.
“If this had been a story, I'd have fact-checked the hell out of it.” It was close to a year into her relationship when Abby realized the man she was engaged to was an emotional con artist concocting a mythical story of his identity and leading her down a road of deception. Smart, savvy, and yet a bit vulnerable, she was duped.
Then she wrote a book about it, Duped, Double Lives, False Identities, and the Con Man I Almost Married, the Amazon bestseller that tells the story of her betrayal by a man who lead a double life. Not only does it chronicle her own deception, she reveals stories of others who have been betrayed, both on an epic scale and a personal scope. In examining her own vulnerability, she has embarked on a quest to figure out what motivates those to lie in the first place and how we can protect ourselves from being duped, whether it's in romance, friendship, or at work.
Abby's story and her painstaking research helps shed light on the complex nature of deceit. With characteristic wit and candor, she takes audiences on her journey of being duped, revealing the highs and lows of her experience. She outlines how to identify the red flags that come with common treachery before they develop into full-blown deceit and how to avoid falling prey to fraud. If something seems too good to be true, then it is. Verify when something doesn't seem right. By sharing truths, she hopes to erase the shame and stigma often felt by victims of betrayal and encourages them to trust in themselves again.
Deceptive behavior is everywhere. It could be a colleague who is stealing at work or a cheating spouse or at the intersection of culture and politics. False information and lies run rampant in social media. Whistleblowers risk their lives to unveil the truth. Trust is under siege by lying, common treachery and self-deception. So, Abby asks, “Why do some people lie for seemingly no good reason? What makes a good liar? Why do we trust? And whom do we deceive the most?” How do we recover when we've exposed the lies and need to move on in life?
Throughout her career Abby has written for a variety of publications including The New York Times Magazine, New York, Wall Street Journal, and The Los Angeles Times Magazine, Marie Claire, Psychology Today, Glamour, More. She penned the “Preludes” column about young people and money for the Sunday Money and Business section of The New York Times and is a regular contributor to the Health, Style, Business and Education sections. She is also the author of Teenage Waistland: A Former Fat Kid Weighs In On Living Large, Losing Weight and How Parents Can (and Can't) Help.
Keywords: Whistle blower, deception, lying, false identity, women's issues, lying in social media, double lives, deception and relationships, gaslighting