On the heels of my last blog post, I’ve decided to share some of my worst dating experiences online. I’ve been fortunate enough to avoid a lot of the horror stories other people have shared with me in the past. I chalk it up to the fact I am a 6’2″ white male. I feel I need to elaborate on that statement further. The great comedian Louis C.K. described the dating experience as requiring a lot of courage. For guys (usually), there is the anxiety and fear of rejection. In a way, we are immediately being judged on our appearance or masculinity within less than a minute as we approach the person we hope to court. On the other side of the coin, women are approached by potentially dangerous men who might take advantage of them physically. It’s not to say this is the “rule”. Rather, societal conventions have not yet caught up to female empowerment and it is still expected for men to initiate, etc.
For my part, I am an introvert and feel a certain discomfort approaching others. I feel I project some of my introversion on others and believe they might prefer to be undisturbed as they go about their lives and routine. I also find the bar or clubbing scene as obnoxious and not conducive to conversation.
Anyways, without further ado my top 4 worst experiences in reverse order:
#4 The Scam
I was the target of a Nigerian scammer on POF. One of the features of the site shows you which profiles have viewed yours in descending chronological order. The last visitor at the time was a nurse. The photos on her profile were gorgeous; both the woman and the photography. I think this disarmed my natural skepticism or “bullshit meter” so when she sent me a message a few moments later, I immediately began responding.
After exchanging a few emails where she asked many questions about myself while ignoring or paying lip service to my own, she wanted to proceed to phone calls. She explained she was currently volunteering in Nigeria as part of a humanitarian Church sponsored foundation. I admired her generosity and compassion. However, the woman on the other end did not sound at all like how you’d expect from the photo. She had a very deep voice and her speech mannerisms led me to believe English wasn’t her first language. As a Montrealer, I am fluent in both English and French but not everyone in the area is. I asked if she preferred French but she gave the excuse she wanted to practice her English.
The scammer kept me on the hook for about a week before saying she would be returning home soon. We were going to meet in person the day after she landed. The afternoon her supposed flight was to take place, she messaged me through the website about how her tickets were stolen and neither her travel agency nor the airline would permit her to board. She did not have access to her money as she was there as part of volunteer work and wasn’t being paid. She pleaded for me to wire her money through Western Union. I immediately became cautious. Sensing this, she tried to compel me to act out of chivalry and how she would be eternally grateful for my help, etc. I hate to admit I was about 50% convinced. Luckily, I began asking her questions about her situation which she deflected. I wasn’t about to send several hundred dollars to someone I never met in person however. I pressed her for answers which never came. She appeared panicked (the jig was up) and claimed she was afraid. I sent her the coordinates of the Canadian embassy in Nigeria, informing her they’d be better suited to help.
Three days later, she called from a British number, saying she was able to get a flight to London but needed an extra 400$ to get to Canada. I referred her to the Canadian embassy in Britain and never heard back. I’ve since been targeted a few more times however as soon as I read the word Nigeria, I immediately end the conversation and report the user.
As many men on online dating sites, I am rarely the recipient of initiated messages. Women are bombarded with potential suitors so they have more than ample opportunity to respond before even browsing who might be out there. So the few occasions I do receive a message, my curiosity is definitely piqued. I open up the message and it reads:
“Hey, you don’t look like a weirdo. So how well-endowed are you?”
My curiosity and the glimmer of hope were immediately extinguished. In that very moment I became acutely aware of how women can feel devalued or judged based on a simple physical characteristic. I was flabbergasted as to how to reply to such a query. In fact, I wasn’t particularly certain I even wanted to acknowledge the request. I decided to look over the woman’s profile before replying. Her profile was bare-bones and only the mandatory fields were filled out. Furthermore, she resided over 150 km away from my home and workplace. Her written description had a negative tone to warn off certain types of men. I forget the exact wording, but it was along the lines of men with profiles with shirtless photos, photos with buddies drinking, other less savory activities, or men who care only about physical appearance shouldn’t bother contacting her.
The last statement was striking to me. She railed against men for the same behaviour implied in her own message to me. Was this a case of projection, irony, or both? My reply came soon after:
“Hello! It appears my disguise as a non-weirdo is a complete success! As for your query, my profile indicates I am 6’2″ and one would assume proportional to my height. However, I regret to inform you won’t have the opportunity to confirm the veracity of my claim. Good luck finding someone more accommodating!”
#2 Maybe there’s something to stereotypes after all…
I strive to be as open-minded as possible. Although we all have our biases. One common stereotype describes accountants as boring. Surely, I felt this was more a prejudice based on their job and not their actual personality. The “bean-counters” or “number-crunchers” serve numerous functions within both the private and public sectors. One of these is to limit frivolous spending. This can certainly lead to some extrapolating that accountants are sticks in the mud in their personal lives too.
This woman was recently out of a relationship and her profile was even more bare than the previous. All she wrote was a promise to eventually write more about herself. Again, I was the one who received the first message. She had little interest in getting to know one another online first and wanted to proceed to a face to face date rather than go through the hoops of online messaging or chatting. As I was not receiving any replies to any of my own initiated messages, I accepted and we immediately scheduled a date three days later.
We met in the lobby of her workplace; an important accounting firm in downtown Montreal. Upon introducing myself, we decided to proceed to a nearby restaurant for drinks. She did not appear to be in a very good mood after work so I thought asking about her job might not be the best idea. So I asked: “What do you like to do in your free time?”
Deadpan, she answered with her arms across her chest: “I don’t know. Boring stuff.”
Suffice it to say, the next 45 minutes was the most uncomfortable conversation I’ve ever had. She did not seem interested to be there at all and any questions I asked were met with similarly curt answers. By the end, I was exasperated and we both came to the conclusion this wouldn’t work.
#1 Truth in Advertising
Everyone lies. Whether it is a white lie to avoid hurting someone’s feelings or on a topic we’re self-conscious or ashamed about. This was my first encounter with someone being disingenuous in their profiles. One of the fields on POF asks the user to select their body type from a list. This ranges from slender to “BBW”, with the default of “I’ll tell you later”. The woman in question described herself as slender. Her single photo was a “selfie” taken from a downward shot so as to conceal her double-chin and her belly with her ample bust.
She claimed on her profile she was a paramedic and included among her varied interests was scuba-diving. These will be important later. I am a generally curious individual and have more than a passing interest in health and fitness so I wrote to her. After exchanging a few messages, we agreed to meet at a local Starbucks over the weekend. I arrived about 10 minutes early at the café. 2 minutes before we were supposed to meet, she texted she was still at work and would be 10 minutes late.
I’ve waited longer in the past after a tardy date so it wasn’t a deal breaker. I was already there and she was courteous enough to warn me. I remained outside and by the 10 minute mark, a woman over twice my width approached. I paid her little heed and continued to wait. When she was within 20 feet or so, she smiled. I double-taked and realized she was my date.
I used to be overweight. So I can certainly sympathize with being self-conscious about it. Dating is difficult as it is, and a weight problem just makes it a steeper incline. She deserved a chance, and I was a gentleman enough to proceed to determine if there was any chemistry between us. I opened the door for her, and she squeezed through.
After ordering, we sat outside and began talking. I started the conversation on the topic of her professed interest in scuba-diving. Her reply, and I quote verbatim: “What I meant to say was, I’d like to go scuba-diving one day.” Strike two.
We continued into the conversation and we began discussing work. I asked if she had to deal with a medical emergency which led to her late arrival. She went on to explain she was a volunteer paramedic and actually worked full-time as a waitress at a nearby “family style” restaurant. I can understand how some might perceive being a waitress as a dead-end job and if she was pursuing a career as a paramedic it could pass…
She quickly changed the topic to her four cats. To those that might not know me, I am allergic to felines. However, my reactions are much less severe as an adult than when I was a child. Nevertheless, I took great pains to avoid cats in general. I’ve since realized as an adult my reactions are much less severe and occur only when I enter into contact with the dander from their saliva. I interrupted her to explain I was allergic. Her immediate response was to reach over and tap me gently on the arm to state: “Don’t worry, you’ll get used to it.” Strike three.
I didn’t appreciate her assumption about my own body but also my interest in pursuing a relationship with her. I couldn’t help but question everything she said after several blatant lies. It was impossible to establish any chemistry. Overall, this was not only unpleasant experience but a discouraging one. I did try to learn from the experience and now feel I am a better judge of character.