After a decade on the dating apps, I’ve encountered more phoneys than you can poke a stick at | Anonymous

The Australian TV drama series Fake, which premiered this week, tells the story of a woman who falls in love with a phoney she meets on a dating app. It’s a true story, based on Stephanie Wood’s memoir of the same name, but some may struggle to believe in a character so duplicitous.

I’ve spent a decade on dating apps and encountered more liars and phoneys than you can poke a stick at.

There was the one who seemed sympathetic when I told him about my ex-husband, who had promised he was faithful but who turned out to have been sleeping with a bunch of other women, but then the sympathetic guy told me that he thought it was OK if you didn’t keep a promise to someone, so long as that person never found out.

There was the one who told me he was single, but the day after we spent the night together, his girlfriend sent me a volley of enraged text messages, including a surprisingly detailed description of the incredible sex she’d had with him on the morning of the night he’d just spent with me.

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There was the one who revealed on our third date that he was currently sleeping with three women, none of whom knew about each other, including his ex-wife. (She had apparently lifted up her dress and was wearing no panties, so what else could he do?) Because he really liked me, he said, he’d decided to clear the decks.

Then there was the IT guy who seemed so generous, especially when he gave me a computer he didn’t need any more, but who soon said he didn’t want me spending occasional weekends with my female friends because apparently I had to spend them all with him. When I ended our relationship he demanded the computer back, and so I wiped all my stuff off the computer and returned it to him – except it turns out I hadn’t properly wiped it, or he had unwiped it with his IT smarts, and soon he was reading my private journalling and sending enraged messages to my friends via my social media accounts. To be honest I don’t know if he can still read my stuff.

That should have been the tipping point. Proof that interpersonal trust passed its expiry date at the turn of the millennium. But loneliness is a powerful motivator. And my closest friends – smart women with insatiable appetites for happy endings – begged me to give it one more go.

This man met me in a wine bar wearing bike leathers and told me a long and impressive story about having been a lawyer in Mexico, fighting the drug cartels, and about how the gangsters had phoned him in the dead of night and threatened to kill his daughter. He’d had to flee the country and now he worked for the Mexican Consul, helping poor would-be Mexican immigrants, which meant he was on the phone to Mexico until late each night (and therefore not available most evenings) because he was so busy helping people and sometimes phoning his daughter who (by the way) worked high up for the United Nations in New York. And also (by the way) he’d lost his phone on the way to the bar that night, so could he ring it with my phone to see if anyone had found it?

And when someone answered the call and apparently told him his phone was now at a pub two suburbs away, the apparent Mexican lawyer said he didn’t know how to get there because he’d lost his phone (and therefore his map) and said he couldn’t understand the map I carefully drew for him on the back of a drink coaster, and asked me to come with him to the pub on the back of his shiny motorbike, to which I replied that, although I wouldn’t get on the back of his motorbike, I would lead him there on my bicycle and would wait outside the bar until he had his phone.

And so I cycled through the dark streets with a man on a motorbike slowly shadowing me, then waited and waited outside the pub. He didn’t reappear with the phone, and so I finally locked up my bike and went in and found him dancing to the pub band with another woman. And the next day, when I rang the Mexican Consul to confirm my suspicions, the person who answered had never heard of the leather-clad, motorbike-riding, phone-losing, late-night phone-call-making dude. But because I live in a major city that feels like a small town, it later turned out that my friend’s friend had already been scammed by the same man for thousands of dollars.

So now, instead of combing the dating websites, I am Googling ways to combat loneliness and wondering if I should take the advice to “Sweat Off The Lonely Feelings By Doing Something Active” or “Learn To Be Happy When You’re Alone” rather than risk more encounters with apparent phoneys.

The Guardian