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Could You Be Duped by Online Dating? One Woman’s “Catfished” Tale

Our little town received an exciting shake-up when MTV’s Catfish featured a (gasp!) local resident earlier this year.

Unfortunately, the local resident also happened to be the one doing the deceiving on the show—namely, a young gay man who was pretending to be a pretty and perky blonde woman in order to hook up with a tanned and bronzed buff guy.

Ouch. So much for our five minutes of fame.

The near brush with fame got me thinking though—what is the deal with all this online dating business? Is any of it real anymore? Just how risky is it to wade into the pool of screen-to-screen action?

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I have to admit, that as a woman who married my high school sweetheart, the prospect of dating in my twenties is enough to make me break out into a cold sweat. Dating was just far too easy for me. But now? If I happened to be single, I would think that I most certainly would rely on online dating to make the leap into coupledom. No bar scenes for me, thank you very much.

And apparently, online dating is very much the norm these days. A survey done by Your Tango found that 95% of its readers had used Facebook to search for dates, while 65% had signed up with an online dating site hoping to make a love connection.

But…is it real?

According to the Your Tango survey, 86% of user-readers felt that they “accurately represented” themselves on their online profiles, with only a few white lies here and there regarding their weight. Ok, fair enough.

I actually do know a couple who “met” on Facebook and are now happily married with their first child and activity trying for a second. No funny business there. On the other hand, however…

Appearances can be deceiving.

Your Tango writer Dori Hartley discovered the hard way that when it comes to online dating, unfortunately, even the most well-intentioned and dare I say it—sane—person can fall prey to becoming a victim of an online dating impostor.

The author describes how she met “Alex” online after surviving a year of treatment for breast cancer. “I felt raw, lonely, depressed; ugly and unwanted,” she describes. “Alex pinned me immediately for the sucker I would end up being.”

According to Dori, Alex described himself as a slim, handsome, young, autistic man” and much to her surprise, she not only fell in love with Alex, but spent years in an online relationship with him.

When Dori finally demanded to see the face of the shy, brooding young man she had come to love, she was shocked at the image that appeared in front of her webcam.

“Alex” was a she—a meth-addicted, obese grandmother named Theresa who had been making a living scamming people online for get this—over ten years.

“Thanks to sensational programs like MTV’s Catfish, we can now — as a society — sit back on our comfy couches and make fun of people who fall prey to online romance schemes,” writes Dori in her post for Your Tango.  “After all, nobody with a brain could fall in love with a total stranger on the internet and be taken seriously, right? Because nobody in the history of the world has ever made a mistake — especially in matters of love and the heart.”

Well, when you put it that way…

I guess it’s not as simple as it sounds. Getting “catfished” might just happen to the best of us.

Best be checking those profile pictures a little more carefully from now on, ok?

 

Photo credit: Flickr/Ed Yourdon

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