Charity . . . doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil: Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth… (I Cor 13: 5-6 KJV)
Dishonesty is as old as the Father of Lies. That is not the news here. This blog concerns lies directed to Christian women. We heard the familiar text above at our first weddings possibly recorded on a reel-to-reel tape recorder. With our young husbands, we were imagining a seemingly endless future of family, home, and adventures. Now after many years and the tragic end of that young marriage, we are thinking of another beginning, but this time the end is much more clearly in sight. Objectively speaking, this search is for someone with whom to live out our last years. Or more bluntly put: one of us will die first. So far, so cheery!
We venture into the guessing game of reading profiles on dating websites. We read through the flotsam and jetsam of lives lived, searching for someone with whom to generate happiness for the remaining years we are granted. There is a lot of reading between the lines to guess at the experiences of these potential mates and how they will mesh with ours. It is particularly discouraging to discover utter dishonesty that introduces yet another layer of peril in an already a painful process.
I have stumbled onto a research project: how to sort out the valid dating site clients from the phonies. Beyond this, I am venturing into psychology and trying to understand why people (I try to not heap this on men alone) imagine they gain by pretending to be someone else. If any readers with the appropriate academic degrees are inclined to take this on, help yourself.
This is written for the intrepid souls who are entering this new dating world for the first time since the Beetles were in the top forty. We courageously put ourselves out there. Bar scene etiquette is too complex, even in non-COVID times. Online dating turns out to be more efficient and effective for recoupling than random selection. We have become smart about so many lies in our lives: your car warranty is about to expire, e-mail attachments, your firewall has been breached, you have won the lottery, but you have to pay postage and handling. Here is yet another snare for the unsuspecting older woman who is trying to rebuild her life.
I hear men gripe that women post photos that are not recent or photoshopped. Let me tell you what is going on from the woman’s point of view. The posted photos are the least of the problem. Many are awful: a blurry selfie, a scowling reflection in the mirror of a messy bathroom. Well, that is useful information. You know what grooming products he uses, and you certainly don’t want to be his maid.
So, quick swipe left, but the sad truth is that this guy is probably a live one. Several good-looking photos with glamorous backgrounds do not equal a safe pitch. Learn how to “back check” a photo on your Google search page. Look up socialcatfishing.com. It is possible to determine if the photos are “borrowed” from somewhere online which eliminates one level of deceit. This is hard to wrap your head around: stolen identity. I did some googling and found that according to unscientific, anecdotal evidence, fully 10% of the candidates on dating sites are fake. From personal experience on several sites, I find the estimate to be low.
A photo of a kindly gentleman seems genuine, but he may not be remotely related to the person initiating the conversation. Greetings such as, “Hello Gorgeous” or “Mary, you are adorable. What are you doing this weekend?” are standards for a scammer. After greetings, look for inconsistencies in their story. They claim to be at home in your location, but then in a few lines say they work elsewhere. An occupation that is accessible only by cell, such as a military contractor in Afghanistan or an oil rig is very convenient. Another ploy I experienced is the story he spins about relocating to Denver and is coming in a few weeks to find housing. A few lines later it is obvious he knows nothing about Denver real estate. Look for offhand exaggerations such that he is “only looking for the best,” or “cost is not an issue.” Eliminate guys with a well-worn story: my friend/boss is looking over my shoulder at the computer and really likes your photo. He wants to get in contact with you. Here is his cell number blah, blah, blah . . .
The well-known dating sites are worth the fee. A free site for widows yielded a fellow who looked like Mr. Rogers and the next photo was pornographic. The administrators did not remove the photos even when notified. The free “Dating” site associated with Facebook is worthless. Watch out for guys with Scandinavian educations. I have encountered scammers on both Zoosk and Match. To their credit, these sites offer convenient means to report bad behavior: make use of the three little vertical dots in the upper right corner. Match even cut one guy off as I was communicating with him because someone else just reported him. I have not encountered any shenanigans on eHarmony yet, but I have been on it a shorter time. These well-known sites have safeguards built in, but applicants get around them. Photos are verified by Facebook, Twitter, or Google, and cell phone numbers are checked for validity. Unfortunately, the cell numbers can be temporary, and they set up a quickie Facebook account.
Do not prematurely give anyone your cell number. The sooner they ask for it, the more likely they are fake. I have had men ask for my cell number after only a few interchanges. Once I told him that I had experienced problems with “cat-fishers,” and I asked him for his name. That ended the conversation. They should voluntarily offer their real name and then you check for any on-line presence which almost everyone has now. Yes, stalking is necessary for safety purposes. If their Facebook page has little history, then it was set up in a hurry−bad sign. If they say they are business owners or have professional careers, then they should have a website. Look for their resume on LinkedIn. If he is not upfront about this information or makes excuses−good riddance. At this point I am inserting obvious advice for newbies in this world. Never divulge your address or financial information or things could get dangerous. I fortunately, have not experienced anything worse than disappointment and disgust. If everything so far checks out, then proceed with meeting in a safe public location. This will happen only after about sixty carefully filtered contacts. Congratulations!
Now some sad commentary. The bad apples I have described so far are men who identify themselves as Christians! I emphasize again: I have only initiated or followed up with men who claim affiliation with Christianity, which I would assume includes honesty! (Refer above to I Corinthians 13:6). This whole discussion sets aside men who claim to be “spiritual, agnostic,” and various other religions.
A dating website with “Christian” in the name was worse than any other and I quickly dropped that membership. For women first peeking at dating sites, members specify their religious preferences along with all other pertinent information as age, location, children, marital status, zodiac sign (gives an idea of when their birthday occurs without giving specific dates), and education. Users can easily sort according to any category. Encouragingly, I have found there are a handful of men who are not hesitant to express their Christian beliefs and offer original and sincere faith statements. I look for mention of church, charitable, and mission activities. The phrase “my faith is important” is overused. Do note that the Bible is a default favorite book choice and means nothing. An optional question offers opportunity to list books they are reading. Some guys looked promising until I noted flaky reading material.
Other filters include Christian: Protestant and Catholic. I have found that the Catholic guys are most genuine about their faith. Widowed or divorced? That depends. “Separated” is out. One guy has kids but has never been married. Huh? At least one fella is separated from his wife who is in memory care. Yes, one wonders at the wrenching life stories just below the surface. There are probably many more in this category, but their marital status is: “it’s complicated, will discuss when we meet.” Do I have to mention politics? I have had good prospects until I dropped a hint about my political leanings. The texts stopped immediately, but to me this is a deal breaker. Some things are better found out sooner than later.
Now, my biggest source of puzzlement: what is the gain for men to claim to be Christian seeking a Christian woman, and they themselves are not practicing the principles of that faith? One never reads: “I am agnostic, seeking a Christian woman.” Some men apparently have enough Christian background to know that Christian qualities in a woman are desirable and they will claim faith to get her attention. If they ever opened a Bible−Proverbs is good for a start−half the verses concern truth. Psalms is loaded with proper use of tongue, lips, mouth . . .and texting. Another example of the old double standard: they want an honest woman, but the same standard doesn’t apply to them. What is it they gain by pretending to be someone they are not? 1) Scammers imagine Christian women to be naive and/or trusting of human nature if down the road they present themselves in financial trouble and ask for money. 2) They don’t think their real selves are impressive enough. Or any ideas out there . . .?
A successful dating site profile is written to present possible commonalities to potential partners. Members venture a few lines of text and strike up conversations trusting that a relationship is based on honest information. This is not a game to those earnestly searching. They have experienced years of seemingly unanswered prayers. After tragedy, one wonders if one more prayer is left. I am certain that honest men are also disgusted that these creeps are muddying the waters.
Twice, in six months, I have found genuine guys online that were also interested in me. I met them “live” and enjoyed good conversations. Nothing permanent yet. This must be like panning for gold . . . with the same odds. I keep on forging ahead at least until opportunities for live social contacts open again. I have many acquaintances who have successfully maneuvered this maze and are now well matched and married. Your stories are very encouraging! In the meantime, this is quite an experiment and commentary on human (male) behavior. Men, you are welcome to inform me about female vices!