WASHINGTON, D.C. (WUSA) -- The love of my life. That's what Notre Dame Linebacker Manti Te'o called his "girlfriend" in an interview with ESPN. Those are some strong words given the fact that Te'o has now admitted that he's never hugged her, never kissed her, never even met her in person.
Still, in a statement to ESPN, Te'o maintains the emotions were real:
"We maintained what I thought to be an authentic relationship by communicating frequently online and on the phone."
Regardless of whether Te'o was in on the hoax or not, it raises an important question: In this day and age, is it really possible to fall in love with someone you've met online but not in person?
On Thursday, WUSA9 asked that question to twenty students at George Washington University. While some were skeptical, eighteen of them said having an online girlfriend was at least within the realm of possibility.
While that number may surprise most people, it did not surprise Erika Ettin. Ettin is the founder of A Little Nudge, a consulting business that helps people navigate the obstacles of online dating.
"Scarily enough, it is possible, especially for the younger generations. Everything is done online now," said Ettin. "My little trick of the trade is to send them (your online interest) a picture of yourself, or send them something, and ask them to take a picture with that thing. If they can't actually take a picture of them holding whatever it is, they may not be real. They may be stealing pictures from somebody else."
It's advice Teo should definitely have taken. That is, unless he too was in on the hoax.