Recently I got a good scare from a phone call threatening an electricity shutoff “in one hour” for non-payment of my PG&E bill. I knew this was an error since I’d recently authorized direct payment of the bill from my bank account…or did I? It took several phone calls to the real PG&E to get a live person to verify that this was indeed a scam designed to elicit personal data that would be used to steal money or my identity.
Aside from a couple of hours wasted, this incident added to the anxiety load I was already carrying from mass shootings, possible World War III with Russia, and a corrupted Supreme Court poised to force millions of women living in the USA into childbearing against their will. The arrival of Spring seemed the right moment to focus on something pleasant and engaging, something that could be an antidote to post-pandemic isolation. Thus began my umpteenth try at online dating—or let’s say, online meeting of eligible, potential romantic partners.
In a subsequent post, I’ll share the history and circumstances of why, in the month of April, I reactivated my free dating profile on OK Cupid, and joined (which means I paid for 3-6 months) two other sites, one that was well-reviewed (Zoosk), and another that focused on singles aged 50-plus (Our Time).
A friend, in a moment of profound loneliness, joined one of these same sites, and told me he removed his profile within a week. “I couldn’t stand it,” was his reason. But, with support from my coach/therapist, I was determined to re-try the online format after a long hiatus.
I know the courtesies one finds in personal interactions don’t apply online, yet I do expect that if I arrange to have a phone conversation, with an agreed-upon time and day, that the call will happen. The first phone date I arranged was broken twice but followed with an apology and a series of bare chest photos from the guy whose opening message was: “Would you consider being romanced by a slightly younger man?” Thus, I remained curious. When the conversation date was broken a third time, well, I felt like a sucker. Red flag to heed: language that is too familiar (“Hi Gorgeous” “Can’t wait to hear your sexy voice” “Your photos are shell-shock amazing”)
Shortly after my experience with Mr. Open Shirt (he could well have been a real person playing games), I received a message from a semi-retired professional born in Amsterdam (“be prepared to hear an accent”) from Mill Valley. When I agreed to a phone call, “Bruce” sent a text at 6 a.m. to set it up. Red flag #2? He asked for information from me even though I said I was not interested in texting. When the time for the arranged call passed in silence, I sent a text inquiry. Then the call came.
The man’s accent was far from Dutch and when I asked why he texted me at 6 a.m., his response was not satisfactory. After a comment that sounded like it was scripted, I asked Bruce where he lived. “Denver,” he replied.” My immediate reply: “Your profile said you lived in Mill Valley; this is a scam and I’m hanging up now.”
You may say scams are to be expected. Yes, perhaps, but it doesn’t mean it isn’t disconcerting. Putting online beautiful photos of myself and information about who I am and what I am seeking sets me up to be prey.
As I was composing this post, my email pinged with another “Somebody likes you” notice. The message from “Joe” included a lot of misspellings and language I felt was not warranted by anything in my profile: “I like a romantic lady who can get wild reading your post gets my blood flowing and makes me hot under my collar for sure 💋♥️👅”
Yes, complete with tongue-out emoji. See why all this is getting me down?
After two months, I’ve yet to have a meet-and-greet, either on the phone or in person. Full disclosure: One gentleman from Berkeley, whose detailed profile on OK Cupid attracted me, texted a couple of times until he said he had met someone with whom he wanted to pursue a relationship and with my permission, he’d get back to me later.
The 2022 Partner Project TO BE CONTINUED