As time goes on, I spend my days working and my evenings searching the dating site. Nothing makes my heart speed up like hearing the little “ding” notification on my phone that lets me know that someone has “messaged” me or smiled at me or likes my picture. I can only see so much on the mobile app on my phone, but on my lunch break, I hurry to see who has contacted me. I am learning, however, that all profiles are not what they seem. Sometimes I get messages from a good looking guy, ruggedly smiling at me. Then, when he messages me- the English is broken and strange. I have learned this is a sign of a profile hacked by a scammer, who will soon ask me for money.
There are other kinds of fake profiles, as well. I learned this the hard way after talking to a man for a week online and texting. The time came for us to meet in person. I was understandably nervous because I hadn’t been out on a first date since I was a teenager. I agonized over what to wear, and I practiced my opening line in front of the mirror. I even wrote down conversation starters in case there were awkward silences.
The man I was to meet was just a bit younger than me –tall with blonde hair and a great smile. He worked in travel and did caregiving as a volunteer. He had been a little vague about what he did exactly except to say that he had seen many exotic places. I left it at that, sensing he didn’t want to boast. He was quite the charmer online and in texts. We hadn’t spoken on the phone because he had a long-running cold that kept him from talking too well. This just made him seem mysterious to me, as I looked forward to our first meeting.
We were to connect at a local coffee shop and even though he offered to pick me up, I decided to take the bus there because I felt it would be safer until I knew him better. I got there first and ordered my usual tall caramel coffee. As I sat there, I dreamed of the magical date we would have…the moment when we looked into each other’s eyes the first time. Suddenly, I felt hands go over my eyes. “Guess who?” a squeaky voice asked from behind me. “Uh, David?” I squirmed to get out from under the hands. As I turned, I saw a gangly teenager standing there. I tried to peer around him to find my date.
“It’s me,” said the boy. “David.” I was in such shock that I couldn’t respond. He fell into the other side of the booth and laughed.
“You….you are supposed to be 23“ I exclaimed. “I will be,” he smirked, “in 6 years!” He thought this was hilarious, but I did not see the humor.
The date went downhill from there. He was short, young and very arrogant.
“Do you want to see a movie?” he asked after we had finished our coffee.
“Uh, I can’t…”
“Well, at least let me give you a ride home.” I hesitated, but I was ready to get home.
“Okay,” I reluctantly agreed.
“Where are you parked?”
“I have my bike outside.”
“Bike?” Well, I had always wanted to ride on the back of a motorcycle. After I had paid for the coffee (he must not have gotten his allowance yet) we walked outside. I looked up and down the street, but there was no motorcycle.
“Where is it?”
“Oh, over here …”
He walked to the side of the building where he pointed to ten-speed BICYCLE!! I did not say a word; I spun on my heels and started walking toward my apartment. He rode beside me for the first few blocks but left when I threatened to knock him off the bike and make it a permanent part of his body.
That walk home was long and enlightening. I had time to think and make resolutions about no more online dating…ever. Since then, after my blisters healed…I realized that it wasn’t the online part but my naiveté that caused the problem. I have developed a list of red flags and questions to use in any further match ups on a dating site!