Posts Tagged ‘catfishers’

Crimes against the Heart, Part 2

January 3, 2017

A friend of mine from the gym had not one, but two crimes against the heart committed against him during the holidays. Raz is several years older than me and otherwise not a fit for me as a dating partner, but I have listened to his stories and given him a bit of support because he is relatively naïve when it comes to dating. When he considered shaving his long, scruffy beard, I encouraged him to do so and assured him that he would be a better chick magnet when he did. And he has been.

Like most of us, dating partners have come and gone for Raz. But he had been dating two women he liked for several weeks. Then one of them suddenly stopped communicating with him. Not long after, the second stopped communicating with him, directly following a date. I know Raz well enough to know that he is a sweet man who looked after an ailing wife for a number of years before her death. He’s more than a little old-fashioned, and he would never consciously do anything to offend or harm a woman. That said, I also know that I have only heard part of the story. I don’t know what the women were thinking or what motivated them to cease communication. I trust that they had their reasons.

The problem here is not that they broke it off with him, but that they broke it off by simply ceasing to communicate after several weeks of dating him. They ghosted him, in slang dating terms. They simply disappeared. They didn’t do it early on, when the communication was only at the messaging stage, and they didn’t do it after the first meeting. They did it after numerous dates with the man.

Raz was hurt and confused. When the first woman ghosted him, he was baffled. When the second woman ghosted him, he was annoyed enough to text her about his disappointment. They had talked about the importance of honesty and communication in a relationship, and in his mind, she had violated both.

It goes without saying that catfishers and scammers are committing malfeasant crimes against the heart. But I think these women also did because they broke it off with him in a cowardly and brutal way.

It’s easy to commit lesser crimes against the heart in the online dating world, in part because we are pretty much anonymous online. In fact, rudeness seems rampant in that world. If someone you have never met sends you a message and you don’t reply, no one is likely to send you a hurt e-mail or voice message. You can blow them off with assumed impunity. But when you begin treating other human beings as invisible and irrelevant, it might be a mistake to assume that there are no consequences. At the very least, it is an act of crimes against the heart misfeasance.

I’m not suggesting that we should allow ourselves to be held hostage by someone we’ve never met who keeps sending messages after we’ve given a polite not interested. And I’m not suggesting that every photo like, flirt, wink, or otherwise superficial communication should be responded to. I’m just suggesting that in my universe, the shamanic one, which looks a whole lot like the universe physicists are describing these days, we’re all in this together because at some level, we’re all one. And to the extent that we don’t treat others with dignity and respect, we are, at some level, not treating ourselves with dignity and respect either.

I have sent enough polite, kind replies to messages sent to me by men who are not remotely suitable for me to know that it can be time-consuming and mind-numbing to take the high road. On the other hand, it’s heart-numbing not to.

Are there other ways to commit major and minor crimes against the heart? Of course. Between this post and my earlier one (“Crimes against the Hear, Part 1”) I’ve barely scratched the surface. And I’d love for my readers to weigh in on it.


Note: The name Raz is fictitious and has been used out of respect for the man involved.


Copyright 2017 by Melanie Mulhall

Not So Innocent Research

September 6, 2016

One of the youngsters who had contacted me on the new site was actually not such a youngster, but at forty-six, he was still young enough to be my son. He had an entertaining and rather outrageous profile. Rather than describing himself, he told the story of an encounter with a drunken homeless man while sitting on the street-side patio at a bar on Denver’s famous Colfax Street.

He was not dissuaded by my usual message response that he was young enough to be my son and therefore too young for me. In fact, he could not be dissuaded at all after numerous messages back and forth. That I continued to interact with him was curious. What was it about him that kept me engaged? I wasn’t completely sure, but the fact that he was very respectful didn’t hurt. And the fact that he was interested in me as a writer probably played a part in the continuing conversation. I rather flippantly told him that he was at risk of being written about in my blog–something I thought would send him packing–and he said he didn’t mind at all.

When he suggested we have lunch, I turned him down. When he kept pressing for lunch and agreed to come to my part of the metro area for it, I began to weaken. When he said he was a vegetarian, he more or less had me. It wasn’t that I prefer vegetarians. I don’t. I’m an omnivore myself. But the combination of things I was learning about him made me doubt that it would be much of a risk to meet him. I agreed to lunch. We set a date. I asked him to pick the place.

Still, I found myself wondering if I knew a woman closer to his age who might be suitable for him, and I told him as much. The day we’d set for lunch came and went without further contact from him. Ten days or so passed and we reconnected. I accused him of chickening out. He replied that I seemed to be trying to pass him off to my younger friends, and he wasn’t interested in someone else, he was interested in me.

I agreed to another go at it. Another date was set. He was reading my blog and enjoying it. He sent me a photo more recent that those on the profile. I sent him one of me not on the site. I knew his full name and did a Google search. I had his e-mail address. He did a little online research on me as well. I knew his profession, or at least his stated profession. He promised to follow through with lunch this time. It was all moving forward.

The day before our scheduled lunch, I asked him to confirm our meeting by the next morning. When I heard nothing, I sent him a text asking if he was actually going to back out again. The text I got back said, “Funny story. Not really funny, but it happened to me. I just got out of jail.”

I texted back, “So not funny. Scratch the meeting.”

I didn’t think the man was a catfisher, exactly. I believed that his photos were actually of him, particularly the selfie he had sent me. And I did not think he had presented a false personality. But some catfishers were not trying to gain financially from their activity, they were just shy, bored, married, in prison, or otherwise disinterested in or unable to date. Instead, they were interested in gaining the attention and affection of someone online to pump themselves up or entertain themselves. And while I didn’t think he had misrepresented himself by photo or personality, I did think he had been playing games. In fact, I had suspected that from the start. And if he hadn’t been, he was still persona non grata by virtue of the fact that he had done something to land him in jail.

As a dating anthropologist, I found it all fascinating. But as one human being interacting with another, I found it disappointing. I had hoped to find a quirky, interesting human being on the other side of the table at lunch.

A second man had interested me enough to entice me into ongoing conversation. He was in his early forties and did not even live in the Denver area, so there was virtually no chance that I would meet him face-to-face, at least not anytime soon. He live in LA. He wanted to shift from the site to Facebook almost immediately–a scammer’s move. But when I checked out his Facebook page, it looked more legitimate than not. He had over three thousand Facebook friends, many of them women. Who was this guy?

He messaged me while I was checking him out on Facebook, having agreed to friend him. What transpired was a thirty-minute exchange that was both hilarious and as close to the message version of telephone sex as I had ever had in my life. I attempted to keep it clean, and he kept moving it into sexual territory. When I thought it had gone far enough, I signed off.

But I remained Facebook friends with him because I was fascinated and because I could not figure out what was real and what was fictitious about him. Were any pictures of him actually him? Did the computer-generated art depicting him represent him visually at all? Granted, he had a penchant for taking a head shot of himself and plunking it down on another person, but was that head shot even of him? Was he a man born on July 11, 1973 as he claimed? Was he a man at all? He represented himself as a writer, poet, lyricist, and philosopher. Was he any of these?

No Google search answered those questions satisfactorily. The link to a website did not work. Links to music produced no music. He had a couple of books on Amazon and photos of him could be found online, but there was nothing that convinced me that he was the person he was representing himself to be.

I was becoming more than Dorothy in Oz, I was Alice, and I had gone down the rabbit hole.


Copyright 2016 by Melanie Mulhall

First Contact

June 7, 2016

When I began to sort through the glut of messages, flirts, and faves on the dating site, I felt overwhelmed at first. I wanted to reply to every message because it just seemed the decent thing to do. But there were messages from men young enough to be my sons, messages from men out of state, and messages from men I suspected had not read my profile.

The first man in his thirties who contacted me wanted me to text him. I didn’t bite. A friend of mine from the gym, a woman in her early thirties, had told me stories about men attaching photos of their dicks to texts once they had her cell number. We had compared notes on how we felt about that, and despite the age gulf between us, we agreed that any man who do this without being invited to was clearly clueless about what might turn on a woman. We also agreed that the dick we found adorable and enticing was the dick we loved, not just any schlong out there.

I was also aware that dating sites were full of scammers who were, in slang terms, catfishing–looking for women to take advantage of. I knew that catfishers quickly tried to convince their intended victims to leave the dating site and communicate via social media, e-mail, or text. The scammers who were weak in English were easy to spot, and I deleted pleas from them without responding. I also deleted messages from anyone whose first message suggested going to their Facebook page or texting them.

I quickly learned how to narrow the age parameters of who could see my profile. That eliminated the boys and the men well into their seventies. But what could I do about the men who appeared too old for me, either in appearance or profile details, who lived out of state, or who just appeared to be unsuitable?

I was actually stunned by the number of men around my age and even many years younger who looked old beyond their years. Had their lives been unusually hard? Had they abused their bodies? It was not until I began doing some online research to vet the men I was willing to talk to and meet that I discovered not everyone was telling the truth about his age.

I was also stunned by the number of men whose photos appeared younger than their stated age. That was easier to sort out. A lot of men were posting very old photos of themselves, as if showing the opposite sex what they once looked like would somehow make them more attractive to a woman than their current dissipated state would otherwise have.

To the men who lived out of state, I replied with a message thanking them for reaching out and pointing out that we were mutually geographically undesirable. But what about the men who were just unsuitable or unappealing? I didn’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings any more than I wanted my feelings to be hurt unnecessarily. There might be numerous reasons for men and women to be on that site, but many of us, men and women alike, were looking for love and companionship. We all deserved respect.

The answer came quickly from a man I flirted with. His message back to me thanked me for the contact and wished me luck in finding what I was looking for on the site. It was the nicest possible turndown. I adopted his words and used them in my own replies to the many men I found unsuitable.

Within the first week online, I had interacted with a man who, while not immediately attractive to me from his photo, looked pretty good on paper. We switched from dating site contact to e-mail after a few promising messages back and forth, then we agreed to meet for Sunday brunch.

He was a lovely, accomplished man in many ways. He and his brother co-owned a small high tech company. I had checked out the company and the man online. He and his company appeared to be doing important work. He was funny, articulate, interesting, and smart, but he was also physically broken. Multiple hip surgeries had left him with a serious limp, and in person, he looked quite a bit older than me, though he was several years younger. Life had been hard on him, and he did not have the robustness I needed in a man. Most importantly, there was also no chemistry between us. He was the kind of man I would welcome as a friend but would never welcome into my bed.

Once home again after a brunch than spanned several hours, I went back online. The next morning, I sent him an e-mail admitting that I did not think there was going to be chemistry between us, though I was delighted and relieved to know that good men like him were out there and would be happy to call him friend. He took it well and sent me a couple of poems we’d talked about that he had written.

I never heard from him again.

My travels with an open heart continued.


Copyright 2016 by Melanie Mulhall