Prince Charming or the Big Bad Wolf? A Chapter From My Online Dating Experiences
Let me start by saying that after several years of frequenting chat rooms, I found one that fit my style and personality. The people in that room were in my age group, and I soon learned that they all pretty much stayed in this particular room. It was a nice mix of men and women, many of whom had a great sense of humor. These folks were from all over the country, but mostly from the East Coast.
Some of the screen names I encountered, which I won’t divulge here, were funny. I noticed that women who had names with sexual connotations attracted a fair share of men to engage in conversation. It was fun to watch the interactions.
After becoming a regular in the room and comfortable with the people in it, I decided maybe it would be fun to change my name and profile. I have to admit that I was quite creative. Whatever name I came up with, I would make the profile match the name. My reasons for doing it were simply to have fun. It was fun to see what kind of reactions I would get. I did not change my personality, however, and some of the folks were able to guess who I really was. We all shared a lot of laughs once I was ‘outed’. After doing this for several months, it began getting old, so I reverted back to my real name.
photo by sxc.hu
So, did I meet anyone in person from that experience? Yes, actually, I did. There was one fella who had a fictional action figure’s name, and I swear, the women adored him. He was a huge flirt, and had the wildest sense of humor. After a long period of time and much talking, he and I decided to meet. He lived in a town in another state where I had relatives, so I thought, perfect. The arrangement was made, and I made the ten-hour trip. After arriving, he and I went to dinner and had a great time. The night was long, and we parted agreeing to meet once more before I headed back home. I stayed at my sister-in-law’s house. She and I talked about my experience and shared a lot of laughs over it. She said I was a brave soul to agree to meet someone so far away. I told her I felt a degree of safety in doing so, as I knew she lived in the same town and that I would be staying with her. I think if that weren’t the case, I probably would not have been so brave and made the long trip. Although it was a daring thing to do, I was comfortable enough to believe that I wasn’t going to meet a rapist or something, plus I had the added comfort level of having a safety net right there in the same town. My adventure eventually came to an end, and I retreated back to my home behind the safety of my computer.
So, after settling in, I signed on and went to my chat room. Some of the women had gotten wind of the meeting, and wanted to know all the details. I could sense that some were jealous, as it was very apparent that they had a huge crush on this guy. I shared what I could, leaving out details. Of course, when he entered the chat room, he and I were teased unmercifully. We had a great laugh over the situation. We are still friends after ten years and talk once in a while.
The Main Event
There was another guy who frequented the chat room, and he too, was a huge flirt. I noticed that while he was there, he always talked to everyone around me, and never really addressed me personally for conversation other than to say hi. One day, I sent him an email and stated that I was curious as to why he didn’t want to engage in conversation with me. He claimed he didn’t realize he was doing that. And then, everything changed.
We talked online for about two years, and I learned that he was a self-employed plumber by trade and divorced with grown children. It got to the point where he wanted to meet me and take me on a date. I agreed, but for the longest time I wouldn’t let him come to my home. We always met at a public place. After doing this several times, I realized he was not out to harm me, physically anyway, so I told him it would be ok for him to pick me up at my home. This began the third and fourth year of a relationship. We had a lot in common, mainly our love of flea markets, both selling and buying. It wasn’t long after we began dating that I allowed him to move in with me. Prior to that, he had never invited me to his home. He always came to mine, but I never questioned it. Things went along well, and in time, he met my family. I found out much later, after the fact, that my family didn’t quite like him.
What was the attraction? Well, he was very sociable. He had a wonderful sense of humor. When we did our selling at the fleamarket, everyone knew him. He talked and joked with everyone. We'd walk around holding hands, and he would tell people how happy he was to have me, and gee, isn't Trish beautiful? He was a hard worker at home. He was a great cook. He loved animals. Our chemistry seemed to be a perfect match.
The Peeling of the Onion
It became apparent after a few months, that he didn't always have work. He would have a job here and there, but nothing steady. In his defense, he did give me money when he had a paying job. Further along into the relationship, he revealed more of his life to me. He claimed he had a new house being built in PA, and he promised he would take me to see it. Every time I questioned when would we be going, his reply was, oh, it's so far into the woods, I'm still waiting for the electricity, road and water lines to be put in. Ok, I thought. That made sense. Then, he started talking about wanting to add on to my home and have a garage built. Very lofty ideas.
Next, he claimed he was a scuba diver. I asked him to show me his equipment but he told me that he kept his equipment at the Naval Air Station near my home, and that any time he wanted to go diving, all he had to do was give the security guards a call, give them his clearance code and they would let him retrieve his equipment so he could go diving. In another conversation, he told me he owned a helicopter. I forget where he said he kept it; only that it was 'being repaired'.
The Onion: Online Dating Streamlines Rejection for Women
The Beginning of the End
Toward the end of our fourth year together, I started noticing he was chatting with a person I didn't recognize. We kept our computers side by side, so it was easy for me to see what he was doing. I also began to notice, after arriving home from work and walking by him to get to the bedroom, that he would suddenly minimize the screen. This happened quite often. I was finally getting suspicious, and asked him who was he talking to, and why did he keep minimizing the screen every time I saw him talking to someone? His reply was oh, just some lady from our chat room, and we were done talking.. Hmmm. Coincidentally? During this time, our sex life diminished quite a bit. I got excuses about his back hurting from his cancer operation, or some other ache or pain. He then began asking me could I get boxes from work, as we needed to clean out the shed and get things ready to sell at the flea market. It sounded like a good idea to me, so sure, I said, and home came the boxes. Even my daughter contributed.
Around October, my old Chevy was on its last legs. After discussing with him what to do, he convinced me I had to get another vehicle. Well, I knew that, but I still wasn't sure if I should get another used car or just keep fixing the old one. After going over all the pros and cons of my dilemma, I decided on buying a new vehicle. I've always loved trucks. Off we went to the Chevy dealer, where I found a red Chevy S10. Perfect. He was as excited as I was, and long after the fact, I found out why. He would often ask to take my truck to do errands or go visit his friends (who, by the way, I never met). I found out later that he was lying to people, telling them it was his new truck. Well, no wonder, because all he owned was a very old beat up van. About a month or so after I purchased my truck, I came home from work to see a strange van in the yard. I wondered who was there. He came out of the house and said did you see the van? I said yes, who's here? He said nobody, it's mine. I went to the Ford dealer and bought it. What? I said how did you manage that? He said he traded in his old van and he was able to get credit on this stripped, no frills, brand new one. One thing though, he said. I'm short $400, could you loan it to me? Well, being so in love, I said of course, and I gave him a check. I found out much later that he was, in fact, jealous that I could afford a new truck, and he didn't want some woman to look better than he did. Hah!
The year of our demise, he informed me we would be having his family to my home for Christmas. I was thrilled beyond belief! I thought, finally! I'm going to meet his family.
So, about a week before Christmas, I arrived home from work and noticed his truck was gone, not a big deal. When I entered the house, I immediately noticed his computer was missing. Puzzled, I remembered he had been talking about moving it into our bedroom, so I thought, ok, he must have moved it. When I went into my bedroom, there was no computer. How very odd, I thought. So then, on a hunch, I opened my closet, only to see nothing of his there. No clothes, shoes, nothing, zero, zip, nada! I thought, ok, he must have left me a note somewhere, but no, I did not find any note anywhere. He simply vanished, along with the $400 I loaned him for his new truck. I was completely baffled. We hadn't been fighting, we rarely did. And, there were no issues between us that I was aware of.
I came to find out, through his brother, that he had moved in with the woman he had been talking to online. Was I shocked? Yes, because he never gave me a clue that he was unhappy. Should I have surmised things were coming to an end? Probably. Other things I found out? That everything he told me was a lie. He did not ever scuba dive, did not own a house in PA, did not own a helicopter, and was not divorced. When I said to his brother, I don't get it, he said although he wasn't divorced, they hadn't lived together for the past 17 years. I told his brother that he told me your mom was coming up from VA for Christmas, he said, what? Our mom doesn't live in VA, she lives right here in Jersey. Then I told him how I had so wanted to see his house in PA, and his brother said Trish? all my brother owned were the clothes on his back and his old van. He doesn't have a pot to piss in. Oh, and the boxes I so willingly brought home? I helped him move out!
As I mentioned, never once did I consider these things to be red flags, till near the very end. Was I stupid? Too gullible? Too much in love? Or, was he just so good at lying? I think my problem was in the fact that I tended to believe the best about people, which I think a lot of us do. The best lesson I got from this? I've become more cynical about men, and I've learned to ask questions, and if I get dubious answers, I just keep asking till the answers are proven to be truthful.
Footnote: A couple of years after he left, I received an email from his girlfriend, who was now the wife. He did finally get a divorce and married this woman. She wrote to inform me that he passed away, and she thought I'd like to know. I asked from what?, she said liver cancer. Apparently, that was the one truth he told me. She then went on to ask me how was she going to survive without him? I said to her, listen, while I'm sorry for your loss, you have fond memories of him, but I do not, so please, do not contact me anymore. I never heard from her again.