Jayne Hitchcock here – With all this media hype about “catphishing,” I had to put my two cents in. I met my husband online and this year we’ll be celebrating our 5th anniversary, so it does work. Here’s how it happened.
I was researching dating web site for my previous book, Net Crimes & Misdemeanors, and noticed that one of the sites, True.com, did basic background checks on all members. If they had a felony, they were screened out. If it turned out they were married, they were banned. I was married at the time, but thought that doing background checks was a real plus. When I interviewed their PR person, Terra, she asked if I’d testify on behalf of online dating legislation that would require all dating web sites to note on their main page whether or not they do background checks. I was all for it and began to travel to testify. None of the laws got passed because another popular dating site was vehemently opposed to this (as a side note, they are currently being sued by a woman who was stabbed by a man she met on the site who had a criminal record.)
When my husband died, I was at a total loss, but I “pulled my boots on” and continued to work and testify for this legislation. The months went by and Terra told me that when I was ready to start dating she’d give me a free profile. I scoffed at it, but out of curiosity I went on the True.com web site, put in my parameters for the man I’d like to meet and the first profile that popped up was a 33-year-old man from western Massachusetts, which was three hours away. Way too young for me, but very good-looking.
A few more months passed and I relented and got a profile. The title of it was “If you can’t spell, don’t wink at me,” then I listed quite honestly that I was a cyber crime expert, traveled for work, really did like walks on the beach (I live half a mile from one), loved dogs and clearly stated I wanted to find someone within 50 miles of me. The first response I got was from badboy6664 who lived in Canada. I knew it was going to get interesting from there.
Another guy wrote in all caps: “I DON’T HAVE TO LEARN TO SPELL CORRECTLLY BECAUSE I’M FROM TEXAS……”
I did a search on available men and what do you know, the 33-year-old popped up as the first closest match to me. Then I got a “wink” from him. The biggest thing, besides being three hours away, was that his first name was the same as my late husband, Chris.
We did begin corresponding on the True.com web site. I also corresponded with two other men, both about two hours from me. Those two turned out to be a bust – the first because he freaked out when we met in person that he didn’t want to move his business, which threw me for a loop – when did I even ask him to move in or get serious? The other because when I met him for lunch, it turned out he was actually my height, 5’6” and not 6 feet tall and he was very odd.
Chris and I graduated to emails on our personal accounts, then phone calls, then finally made a date to meet in person, at Hampton Beach in New Hampshire, which was only a half hour away from me. I was nervous as heck as I drove there and when I saw him, he was exactly as his photo – tall, salt and pepper hair, blue, blue eyes and a great smile.
We had lunch, we were both nervous, then we walked along the beach until I had to go home. He gave me a huge hug. Later, he told me he wished he’d kissed me. So did I.
Our phone calls became more intense, then that Friday night, he arrived at my house at 2 am. Let’s just say he didn’t leave right away. He came over every weekend. A month later, we attended a friend’s wedding and at the reception, he took me outside, got down on one knee and asked me to marry him. I said yes, only if we’d wait a while before getting married.
He moved in the next month, everything went great and eight months later we were on the end of a jetty at Wells Beach, Maine (he picked the spot) with two friends who stood up for us, another friend who was a retired police Lieutenant who married us and got married.
So, online dating does work.
My advice so that you don’t get “catphished:”
- Make it plain in your profile that you want someone within driving distance and stick to that
- After you go from in-site messaging to phone calls, think about Skyping before meeting in person so that you can they are a real person. If they balk at this, drop them and move on. There are way too many available people out there for you to stick with someone who is most likely fake
- When you meet in person, make sure it’s a public place. If you’re a woman and he offers to pay, let him. If the sparks don’t fly, do what I did, be honest in an email with a simple “I don’t think this is going to work out.” Both men I contacted like this were very gracious about it.
- Be picky. After all, you are looking for the love of your life, right? Don’t settle. If someone seems a little off, then pass them by. Take your time and enjoy the experience.
- Feel free to use my “If you can’t spell, don’t wink at me.” It worked for me – my now husband told me he would go over every word before he emailed me.