Online Dating/Scamming/Catfishing

Online dating isn’t for the faint of heart.  You have to have a really thick skin to successfully navigate the horrors that are inherent to that form of finding love.

One of the most soul-destroying aspect of online dating is the cruelty.  The anonymity of being behind a computer screen seems to give people the feeling that it’s okay for them to say whatever they want.  Sometimes that even means taking out their aggression on the person at the other end of the conversation.  It can be something as quick as – he sends her an e-mail, and she checks out his profile but knows instantly they wouldn’t be a good fit (smoker/non-smoker, highly religious/anti-religion, etc.)  She sends him a polite e-mail, letting him know they wouldn’t be a good fit, and he responds by unleashing 30+  years of anger on her.

Unfortunately, this scenario plays itself out more often than not.  The result?  Women stop responding.  Why would I respond in a pleasant, respectful way to an unwanted flirtation if there is a good chance that he will call me every name in the book and tell me where I can go?  I try to treat others as I want to be treated, but not at the risk of being bashed every single time.  So, we, as women, have learned to delete the unwanted e-mail and block the sender.  It saves us from attack he will unleash on us for daring to reject him.

The result of this?  Men get angry and cruel.  And the circle continues.  It’s ugly.

A different scenario?  He is attractive and charming, and she can’t believe that he contacted her.  They begin an online relationship.  For weeks they send multiple messages to each other every day, spending hours and hours communicating with each other.  She finds herself falling for him.  He’s the greatest guy she’s ever known.  He really gets her.  He professes his love for her, and she knows all of her dreams are about to come true.  It all seems pretty quick, but then again – if you know, you know – you know?

They schedule a time to meet, but he’s called away on a business trip.  She is disappointed but she understands.  While on the “business trip,” he lets her know that the client’s bank account isn’t compatible with his.  He asks if he could use her account?  Just give him the account number so he can deposit the funds in and then get them from her when he gets home.

Yah – I was too smart to fall for that particular one.  But, it hurt.  My heart was broken from losing the love of a man who never existed (to this day, I still wonder if I was talking with a woman – “he” just understood women so well).  I was angry that someone had wasted my time, broken my heart, and suffered nothing for it.  I became quite jaded and far more guarded that day.

One that I’ve never experienced first-hand was being catfished.  At the time, I’d heard the term, but I’d never watched the TV show, so I had no idea what it really was.  Recently, I’ve found myself watching it more and more.  So often, it ends in heartbreak for at least one of them, usually both.  For those who don’t know, catfishing someone is creating a fake profile online and then getting into a relationship with someone where they don’t really know with whom they’re talking.

Catfishing is so stupid!  I mean – you’re a woman with a profile as a man, you get into a relationship with a straight woman, and … what?  You think she’s going to all of a sudden go gay for you?  Or, your picture was from 100 pounds ago.  Yes, in a perfect world, we wouldn’t judge each other based on weight, but were I to meet someone who had mislead me on his profile, I’d be more upset about the dishonesty than anything.  That’s a deal-breaker for me.  If he can’t be honest about what he currently looks like, what else is he lying about?

Here’s what I learned from my years of online dating:

  1.  Be honest.  Your pictures need to accurately represent what you look like right now.  When you meet in person, he should be able to instantly recognize you – and do so with a smile.  And be truthful about everything.  If you’re a smoker, admit it. If you’re married, come clean.  If you’ve got 12 kids, be upfront about it.  If you feel like you’re hiding anything – don’t!  How will you ever find The One if he doesn’t know the real you?
  2. Be patient.  Online dating is a marathon, not a sprint.  It’s a process, and you need to work your way through it in order to be successful.  Actually, if you do it the right way, it can be a really great experience.  I learned a lot about myself and made some great friends.  If you force it and try to marry the first man who contacts you, you will be disappointed.  Take your time and have fun.  Play on the forums.  Be social.  Don’t rush it.
  3. Be smart.  If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.  After my scammer, I learned to never allow myself to care about anyone until after I’d seen the whites of his eyes.  That way, I would never suffer that particular kind of pain again.  This one hint might save you from catfishing and scammers.  Google Image Search is your friend!  If he contacts you, but he seems way out of your league, copy his image, paste it into Google Image Search and see what comes up.
  4. Be strong.  You will come across some major jerks.  Understand that their cruelty reflects badly on them, not you.  Try not to let them scare you off or tear you down.  There are good people, just like you, who are looking for a good partner, just like you.  Weed through the lesser people to find your Prince Charming.
  5. Be careful which site you use.  If one isn’t working for you, try another.  I was on a number of them.  While I was on Datehookup, I found that the people who ran the site didn’t care about the scammers on the site.  So often, I reported it, but they were never deleted.  Plus, I only ever met one man from that site (I still wonder if there were more scammers than regular people on that site).  I wasted my time on the sites which asked all of those personality questions.  I never met anyone from those sites.  The site from which I had the best success (lots of first dates, a few short-term relationships, and Mr. C) was PlentyOfFish.com.  It wasn’t as user-friendly as other sites, but maybe they’ve improved it in the last couple of years?  Plus it was free – Yay!

After all of that discouragement, I want to tell you that online dating can work.  Mr. C and I are proof of that.  I have friends who are in happy, healthy relationships due to online dating.  It can absolutely work, if you’re willing and able to see it through.

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