When it comes to Internet romance, the status phrase "It's complicated" might just be the understatement of the decade. I would know, having just survived one of the most bizarre and convoluted online relationships that ever dared to call itself "love." MyDaily: The Truth About Online Dating, From People Who Have Done It
Having come to the end of it, I can finally attest to the fact that for all the praise heaped on the Internet, it is also the perfect hub for people who want to deceive the innocent.
I was among the deceived. I fell in love with a man I'd never seen. We met in an online art gallery, and after one look at the gorgeous photo he used to represent himself, I was immediately interested.
Foolish, stupid, naïve, desperate, lonely, hopeful ... you name it, that was me.
We took it to the phone, talked all the time. He told me that the photo I'd seen was not the real him, and refused to show me what he looked like because, he claimed, he was too shy around cameras. No luck with getting him on webcam, either -- but he promised me that he really was the drop-dead gorgeous thing of beauty that I believed him to be. MyDaily: Meeting Your Partner Online Is More Common Than Ever
So I let myself believe. The voice was good enough: just a husky Southern drawl on the phone that had me convinced that he was the hottest thing ever to cross my path.
It gets better. That sexy, hunky guy with the long, flowing hair -- the one I thought I was in love with -- turned out to be a woman. And not just any woman. A grandmother.
I found out like this: After months of accepting "his" refusals to do a video chat, I demanded a webcam appearance.
"I just want to look into the eyes of the man I love," I told him (her).
At that point, I felt like we were close enough to finally see each other "live. I thought it was the right thing to do.
Still protecting her identity, she refused and fled, leaving me to wonder why the man of my dreams was suddenly so unreachable.
Then, one day, I reached her. And she confessed it all.
She was a woman, a mother of three and a grandmother of two. She also consented to getting on the webcam, and let me tell you, what I saw was so far from the guy I'd pictured that to the day, I still shudder at the thought of her image. Nothing says "What the hell was I thinking?" like watching Grandma confess to a very long string of lies she told to draw you in.
Matching the familiar low voice to the image was even more disconcerting. When I asked her for an explanation, she told me, "I don't know. It just spiraled out of control and I couldn't stop."
So I'd been fooled. And even though I'd spoken with her many, many times, suddenly the sound of the voice started to make sense. Not particularly deep -- but husky enough to pass as male. I suppose that once she realized I was smitten with the fantasy she provided, playing me for a fool became her addiction. Kind of like a crapshoot. Every time she threw the dice, she won.