12 Jul 2017
After years of back-burnering romance, I recently re-entered the world of online dating. I divorced when I was 40 and had my first dating stint back then – when I began living my adolescence. I say “living” as opposed to “re-living” because in my teen years, I wasn’t involved with dating at all and I married my first boyfriend. But as I hit my 40s, I was rarin’ to go and online dating was in its infancy.
Back then, Match.com became my lifeline for love. It was particularly thrilling to be searching for love online, as if you could walk into Bloomingdale’s and pick the right guy as you would a dress from a rack. The possibilities seemed limitless. I’d rush home from work and approach my computer with glee as I spied a handsome face – sent a note of interest and hoped for a reply.
The photo I’d posted online then was, as it turned out, the best picture of me ever taken! I felt fortunate to get lots of interest and lots of dates and was happy to have the attention and keep busy. No one special emerged because then, as now, chemistry is hard to assess online.
When I began my search again, I felt rusty and thrilled all at once. The drill felt familiar. At first I was excited to see so many photos of available men living within 20 miles of me. But I’ve learned that not all men online are real. Often, they are scammers who pose as veterans overseas or are just so ridiculously handsome in their photos, you’re suspicious as to why they’re contacting you.
The first time it happened to me was with Hank. He had a magazine-worthy photo – blue eyes and grey/white hair, and said he was a geologist from the Netherlands. Much of his backstory checked out based on some google searches and his Facebook page. After a few web chats, I gave him my phone number. He called a couple of times a day to chat and his sexy voice was a thrill. Mostly, he had charm galore and I was hooked. Not until he told me he lost his wallet in a cab in Turkey and needed me to wire him money, did I realize it was all a scam. Me, with two advanced degrees. For all those aunts who called me a smart cookie…well, not always.
In truth, I was more crestfallen than embarrassed by the scammer’s hold on my heart. I likely would’ve given him the money if I felt any of it had been real or true, because I so wanted it to be. There were many red flags, but as with many things in life, that became clearer in hindsight.
It took me a few months to mourn this lost false love. I kept mulling over why I had fallen for it and why it hit me so hard, even as I missed his calls and caring. After much soul searching I realized the silver lining. He had given me a wonderful taste of what I really want and how love makes me feel. It’s been a long time and knowing what qualities in a man really appeal to me was one of the big-takeaways.
The other big takeaway is a common refrain: if something seems too good to be true, it likely is. Take heart gals, the possibility presented by online dating is nice. After all, what good is sitting alone in your room?
Susan G. Parker, Esq., is the author of several books including: