I need to preface this with a warning. This is not a nice story and it will not be funny. It is also very long and possibly rambley. I usually like to wait to post about events that have affected me emotionally until I have processed my thoughts on them and have kind of distanced myself from the situation. That hasn’t happened yet and I am still reeling from this so my thoughts are still kind of random and may not make sense. But I have sat down to recap my weekend (I had a really good one!) and all I want to write about is this. So I am telling the story now. There are no cartoons, because as of right now, there is no way to make this funny (give me a few years, it will be funny eventually).
When I originally talked about my adventures in online dating last week, I wrote about them from a place of “I won’t have to do this again!!!” because I thought it would ultimately turn into a good experience for me. But it did not. Actually, this may be the most bizarre and crazy experience of my life (and I have had a lot of crazy experiences, so that is saying something).
Anyway, let’s get to it.
One of the first messages I got when I signed up for online dating was from a guy named Chris. He was attractive, funny, seemed genuine, and like an all around cool guy, so after a few messages back and forth, I gave him my email address (something I am normally very careful about, because once you have my email you have my name, and let the stalking begin basically).
He told me that he lived in New Brunswick, was a civil engineer, and was moving to Toronto at the end of September for work. His company had a Toronto office as well, so they were moving him here, and he had an uncle who lived in the city who he could stay with until he found his own place.
In the beginning, we emailed frequently, but he wasn’t very high on my radar because I was still going through the insane amount of messages I received and I was going on a few dates. I liked emailing him though, for sure. He was funny, nice, confident, he wrote amazingly well (perfect spelling and grammar and I LOVED the words he chose to use), and just overall seemed really awesome and GENUINE. He suggested a few times that we talk on the phone, but I am not really a phone person and I much prefer in-person or even emailing or Gchatting, so I told him we should hold off.
We frequently emailed until the weekend he was expected to arrive. I had plans all weekend, so I just told him to contact me when he was here all safe and good and we could set up a time during the week so I could show him a night out on the town.
I didn’t hear from him that weekend, so on Monday I just wrote a little check in to make sure he had a safe trip. Here was his reply:
Lindsey! Hi! I haven’t forgotten about you and apologize for not emailing you before this. These last few days haven’t gone exactly as planned. My belongings are presently in Toronto but I am not. I arrived late Saturday night only to turn around and return to Fredericton pretty much right away. My mother, aunt and cousin were involved in a car accident on Saturday while coming home from a shopping trip they were on in Maine. Another car veered into their lane to avoid a family of raccoons and they collided head on. My mom was driving at the time and according to my aunt, tried to get out of the way but couldn’t in time. As of right now the 2 of them are still in the hospital and my cousin (who was in the back) is at home. They are pretty banged up (my mom suffered a collapsed lung and was unconscious for a while among other things) but with time is expected to make a full recovery. I will be here for a few days yet as I’d like to be here for her release from hospital and her first few days home. I hate to lay all that on you but I wanted you to understand why our “eat-your-face-off” extravaganza has to be temporarily put on hold. Trust me I am very much looking forward to it being the first of many adventures for us! I should also admit I’ve been reading the hell out of your blog. It feels kinda voyeuristic but I have a hard time stopping! I LOVE LOVE LOVE your stories and your illustrations are kick-ass! You are hilariously funny, amazingly beautiful and extremely intelligent all mixed together just right. Well done to your parents! I realize this has been one long paragraph and maybe I’m rambling but I hope you will let it slide this one time.
(I am copying and pasting directly from his emails because I want you guys to understand how I was so easily and quickly lured into this man. He absolutely won me with his words.)
This was obviously a terrible thing to have happened, and I couldn’t believe the timing of it. Such a coincidence that it happened right after he left (the first of many strange ones.)
While he dealt with that situation in New Brunswick, we continued to escalate our talking. After he found my blog, the things he would say to me made me almost melt on the spot. He always had the perfect response for anything I would say to him. I began to really put effort into crafting my emails to him, and he would respond quickly and he would say all the right things. We began to have daily novel email conversations, we would gchat (IM) and somehow without even meeting him, I was falling for him.
He arranged to finally arrive in Toronto again the week after (Canadian) Thanksgiving, so mid-October. I was incredibly excited and basically cleared my schedule for the entire weekend. An excerpt from his email about it:
Not sure what is on your agenda for Friday, Saturday or Sunday (or all 3?) But try to pencil me in to your already extremely full social calendar. I have to say, I am super pumped up to see you face to face! I love the amazing sense of fun you exude. Your willingness to do goofy things and not take yourself too seriously is very attractive to me. Everything about you is actually. I haven’t been this excited/nervous in a long time. NO PRESSURE! Haha.
Jussssst winning me with words…
He was expected to arrive here Friday afternoon, and we made plans to meet for dinner on Friday evening. We didn’t set a time, he just told me he would contact me when he got here. I should also mention that he told me his phone broke that week (another weird “coincidence”) and he was going to wait until he arrived in Toronto to get a new one, since he needed a new number anyway (seemed legit). So he only had his tablet to contact me on. But as he was driving here (I think it’s about 15 hours), he would email from the road when he would stop for coffee and use free Wi-Fi. Here is the last email he sent me on Thursday:
An update for you: I am presently outside yet ANOTHER Tim Horton’s about an hour maybe outside of Montreal. I took way too long in Quebec City and am not as far along at this point in the day as I had planned. I am also getting a little tired. As such I’m thinking of hanging tough (wooooaaa ooohhhh oooohhh oooohhh oooohhh – I’ll like you more if you get that reference and don’t slam me for it) in Montreal for the night. I can leave tomorrow morning and be in Toronto by early afternoon, easy. Plus driving at night is sucky.
You should also know I have done nothing but think of you this entire drive. Do you know how many times I have looked at pictures of you today? I don’t because I have lost count. I read your amazing words and look at your fantastic beauty and I’m absolutely lost in you. This is insane! What have you done to me? I have so many feelings and emotions all at the same time for you.
Please, that you would even remotely worry about being stood up by me is insane. I’m ridiculously excited about it. I’m practically counting the hours! You think I type a lot? I’m not usually ever at a loss for words. I so look forward to you and I know I’m rambling! You stimulate every part of me and I’m not
accustomed to that.
Soo yep. I was excited. How could I not be? Also, New Kids On The Block reference? Come on now. Like I would miss that.
So Friday came, and I didn’t hear from him. He didn’t contact me at all. I emailed him around dinnertime to see what was up (because we had dinner plans), and nothing. No response. As the night wore on I started to worry. Did he change his mind? Was he in an accident? Did his tablet die and his uncle kidnap him and take him somewhere upon his arrival? I didn’t know. It was the WORST feeling, the not knowing. I was Googling accident reports. I was Googling HIM (he said he didn’t have Facebook and his name is very common so I never found anything – another red flag). I felt so stupid for sitting around and waiting. Around 9pm I went out and got a slice of pizza and carried it home in its little solo bag feeling all sad and sorry for myself. And I continued to question and over-analyze everything. I just didn’t know what to think. And I started to wonder, what if I never heard from him again? I would have no way of contacting him or ever finding out what happened. I couldn’t wonder forever.
It was driving me crazy. I wrote him another email:
Chris, what happened? Are you okay? Did you stand me up? Considering your emails that seems highly unlikely…but I don’t know what else to think. I really hope that you are alright, because I don’t know what the alternative is. Your tablet died? Your uncle has no internet? I don’t understand… Is this because I suck at math? I am so disappointed, and I feel very naive and dumb for letting myself get so excited about this. Ughhhh. Regardless of what is going on, can you please let me know that you are safe? If I never hear from you again I will always wonder.
Saturday morning, I got this email from him:
My mom died in her sleep Thursday night. Apparently a blood clot traveled to her brain. I don’t understand how this could have happened. Because of her car accident? I found out Friday morning when I checked email of all things. I flew back to Fredericton. My Jeep is in Montreal. I left keys with the hotel and my friend Deek from Cornwall is going to get it. I am an orphan now at 33. I’m sorry to stand you up/make you worry/feel naïve and dumb. I think I might love you. My head is all screwed up. I don’t know what to do here, I have to deal with “arrangements”. Again I’m sorry.
Devastating. Absolutely devastating. I felt so terrible for him. And helpless. I was so far away, I couldn’t do anything to console him. But I also felt relieved that he was okay, and he still liked me, he didn’t just stand me up, he wasn’t a jerk. I couldn’t help it. And at the same time, little feelings of doubt started to creep into my thoughts. What were the chances of this happening? How did they already know it was a blood clot that made this happen? Did he just say he thought he loved me? That is weird. But I dismissed that because I figured his head probably WAS all messed up. In my heart I couldn’t 100% believe, but how do you question someone when they tell you this? I didn’t ask questions. I just tried to comfort him as best I could with my words. On Sunday, I still couldn’t stop thinking about him and what he must be going through. I couldn’t imagine how he was dealing with it. So I made him a video. It was only two minutes long, and just me talking into my computer telling him how sorry I was to hear about his mom, and how I was here if he needed anything, I was thinking of him, and also how glad I was that HE was okay, because I had been so worried.
And here was his seemingly genuine and heartfelt response.
Dear Sweet Amazing Lindsey,
This may well have been the singlemost nicest thing anyone has ever done for me. To hear (yes hear, and your voice is almost angelic) your kind, heartfelt words made my eyes well up. How can you be so thoughtful? Especially to someone you are only getting to know. I hope you don’t mind, but I shared your video with my siblings. They too were extremely touched by your compassion. You made quite an impression on them. My mind is still a mess and I’m numb and dazed. This is so surreal. We are all leaning on each other to get through this and more family is arriving daily. I think it will take time to process once the business surrounding this all is gone. I truly appreciate you taking the time to think of me. You are an amazing woman. Please know that I carry your words with me and they are a true comfort in all of this.
And after that email I believed him.
As he dealt with the arrangements, her funeral, everything surrounding her estate, we continued to talk daily. And we finally started to talk on the phone. For hours. And it was great, and I could talk easily and openly and honestly with him and absolutely be myself. I felt like I could say anything to him. But there was one thing that bothered me. When he would call me, it was always from a blocked or private number, and of course I asked him about it and he swore he had never blocked his number. And though it was a red flag, I believed him! I assumed my phone must hate him. Because the things he would say continued to impress me. An example:
I can’t quite express how profoundly your words (YOU!) impact me. I am literally at a loss and that does not happen often. So I’m going to do my best to convey in words what my heart feels.
To start, I absolutely love you as a person. You have let me into a large part of your life through your emails and your blog and I have an enormous amount of respect and admiration for you. That is important to me. The way you deal with life with positivity and humour, the friend you are to others, the friends YOU have and the way they care about you, this all says so much about you.
Second (and maybe this should be first? But the order of these isn’t important) is our ability to communicate. I can’t imagine EVER being anything but completely open and myself with you. That feels amazing. You touched upon feeling like we are on the same wavelength? I have to completely agree. I love your humour; you are freakin’ hilarious! Really! I sincerely mean that! Salad juice? For me it was olives!!! (I LOVE green olives, I used to take them every day and everyone harassed me). [He was referring to my salad blog post] Your writing, your openness, your love of treeforts (we still need to compare plans!) EVERYTHING about you!
Third, and I know these aren’t your favourite compliments (but I offer them anyway) you are absolutely beautiful! You just are and to tell you the truth it is a little intimidating. Look at you! I am a pretty confident guy and think I’m alright looking, but you are stunning. Really, you must know that. You don’t even have to try. Done up, slobbed out, it doesn’t matter. Your smile and the way your eyes have that sincere twinkle, it totally gets me every time. Now I know you really don’t have much to do with that (it’s a product of genetics) But maaaannnnn!
I know, it felt too good to be true. Who says that? I wondered how he could say these things to me without ever meeting me. But to be completely candid and honest here, no one has ever said anything like this to me before. I was blown away and I nearly passed out when I read that. I can’t describe the effect his words had on me, especially when he said he loved my personality, my sense of humour, the way I cared about my friends and how much they cared for me. These things are all so important to me. They are the things that I would want the person I am with to notice and appreciate. And also, he was SO GOOD with words! He had a way with words that was intoxicating to me! I couldn’t get enough!
And we talked about his mother’s funeral, and because I could be so open and honest with him, I asked him how the food was (because literally all I can remember from my grandfather’s funeral when I was 7 are the sandwiches, and I’m sorry, I know that is inappropriate). He wrote me this:
I did speak at the funeral and it went horribly. I had this whole eloquent eulogy written out but when it came time, I stumbled over my words. I write a lot better than I talk sometimes, especially when I get emotional. I cried. I don’t often. And just because I know you will appreciate this, there were these amazing sandwiches at the reception following the funeral. Even these ones with some sort of cherry (cherry?!) mixture inside. I could not bring myself to try those. But there were also the best egg salad sandwiches I can ever remember eating and I may have overdone it on those. But I was/am grieving, so I’m allowed. Like you, I also very much like food. It is my weakness. You earlier mentioned that I look different in every photo? It might be that same 20+ lbs I keep fighting off. I try and eat well and exercise regularly, but honestly, sometimes I don’t. There is just too much amazing food in this world. And while I am a big fan of team sports and can play for hours, the solo thing gets boring quick. I know you run, and I do too… But after 5K I’ve usually had enough.
Reading this nearly made me cry. I am not kidding. When he described the sandwiches and the 20+ pounds he continually fights off because he loves eating so much, I felt like he could see directly into my soul. I was overwhelmed with emotion. I could have written that myself. Actually, I probably have. I’m pretty sure he paraphrased several blog posts of mine with that. I loved that he was so open with me.
But I still had doubts. Was he still moving to Toronto? And I told him that I was worried he was too good to be true and it was hard for me to believe that someone like him existed. And here is how he responded to that:
YES, I’m moving to Toronto still and if I wasn’t I’d be moving you here. Yes, there are things I have to deal with here, but rest assured, I’ll be there. I am crazy looking forward to it (YOU)! I might need a week, maybe 2 (I hope not) to get everything arranged, but please be patient. I promise you I’m very real and I’m coming for you.
After dealing with all the drama and situations surrounding his mother’s death, he finally was ready to move here. He would tell me that things came up at work, or with selling his mom’s house, and he would have to stay a few extra days, but FINALLY last week, he was moving here. He was arriving late Thursday evening. I had my friend Corey’s birthday on Friday, and when I told him about it, he agreed to come with me. Serious props for this, because he would meet most of my best friends! I couldn’t believe he agreed to it. And this is what he said about it:
I WILL BE THERE!!! Friday night, all your friends, getting drunk, sleeping over, whatever else. I am there. You can count on it. You can pen and highlight me in. You can show me off to everyone and I will woo them like there is no tomorrow. It is slightly intimidating though I have to tell you…
Agree. Totally intimidating. I couldn’t believe he was down with that. But I was excited. I was soo overwhelmingly excited to meet him. It would be nearly three months since we had starting talking, and at this point we were basically “together”. I guess I had a boyfriend (who I had never met). He even commented on my first online dating blog.
He wrote me one last amazing email on Monday about how excited he was to see me, and then, well, that was it. Nothing. Did not hear from him after that. Now, I assumed he was busy taking care of loose ends, still without a phone, and possibly on the road. So he got a pass on the lack of communication. But considering he emailed me nearly every single day for three months, and considering the last time he was driving here he updated me from his tablet on the road, well, I just had a bad feeling.
This terrible feeling started to creep up on me, and I couldn’t shake it. I had dreams about him, that he wasn’t who he said he was, that he looked totally different. I was worrying again. I started to over-analyze the things he said. And there were the glaring red flags that kept popping up. His mom’s accident, and ultimately her death, the no phone for over a month, the blocked numbers. I started to really let myself think about the possibility that he could actually be someone messing with me. That he wasn’t who he said he was. I have seen the movie Catfish, I know the level of crazy people can possibly be. These little thoughts and doubts started to build and become overwhelming.
I wasn’t going to stand idly by while he “stood me up” again. On Thursday when I got home from work, I started to Google. I googled his name. I knew the name of his engineering firm, so I googled it with his name. I googled his email address. I tried to Google his mother’s obituary. I googled every possible thing that had anything to do with him. Nothing. I couldn’t find anything.
Eventually I remembered that little trick in Google Images, where you can upload your own photo and see if it appears somewhere online. I do it with my own cartoons to see if they’ve been used by someone without crediting me. So I uploaded all the photos he had sent me (seriously about 15 of them). Nothing came up.
But then I remembered one last photo of himself that he had sent me fairly recently. I hadn’t saved it on my computer. I uploaded it. And a match popped up.
The match was for a Facebook profile. The profile picture was the photo, the photo that he had sent me and said was him. The man whose profile it belongs to is not the same man I have been talking to for three months. They have the same first name, and they both live in New Brunswick, but the similarities end there. The Facebook man has a different last name, he lives in a different city, he writes TOTALLY differently (no punctuation). I just knew, as soon as I saw it, that it wasn’t him. I knew.
My fears were realized. He doesn’t exist. Well SOMEONE exists. SOMEONE was writing me those amazing emails. SOMEONE was having amazing phone conversations with me. Those are not things that you can fake. But he had faked who he was. So much for that screening process I was talking about. It failed me pretty huge on this one.
I felt about 30 different emotions all at the same time. Disappointment, sadness, anger, embarrassment, relief. I googled the person this photo actually belonged to, and I could find him. He actually exists. But he was not the one who was contacting me.
Things started to fall into place in my mind. He was probably never moving to Toronto. I think he probably only told me that because he knew I wouldn’t continue talking to him if we couldn’t actually meet. And he kept pushing the date of us meeting back because that obviously couldn’t happen, because that’s not his face. The jig would be up. His mother probably was never in an accident, and probably did not die. Who knows what else is a lie, but in all likelihood, his name isn’t even Chris.
I immediately went into full-on detective mode. I have a million questions, but two major ones. WHO and WHY.
Who have I been talking to? Who have I been completely opening up to these last few months? Is he a 700 pound man sitting in his parents basement crafting me these perfect emails and totally winning me over with his words? Is he married and just looking for an emotional affair? Is he a serial killer? I don’t fear for my safety. According to my blog stats (yes, I can reverse stalk you “Chris”), he does live in New Brunswick, and he does not know my address. But you know what? A week ago I would have given it to him. I would have invited him over to my apartment without meeting him first. That was basically the plan for Friday. That is how much I trusted him. I would have given him my spare key. I would have let him borrow a knife to stab me with.
And why? WHY?! Why did he feel the need to lie about who he was, and what did he gain from doing this? He never asked for money. We never even TALKED about money. Honestly, what was the POINT in all of this? Did he get off luring me in and playing with my emotions? I just cannot understand why he would go to such great lengths to convince me, and put so much effort into this if it wasn’t real. And is he doing it to other people?
I have many, many theories, but my number one is that he is married, he is Facebook friends with this real Chris, stole his photos, and kind of stole his identity (same job, same age). It looks as though he just changed minor details.
I will be the first person to tell you that I am naive. I just am, and you know what? I’m proud of it. If I wasn’t, I would be a different person. I would be skeptical, and maybe things of this magnitude wouldn’t happen to me, but I can’t go through life questioning what people tell me and what their motives are. And I don’t think I fell for this because I am naive. You read over those amazing words and tell me you wouldn’t believe him. I would like to believe that people are inherently good, and wouldn’t lie to me or mess with my emotions for no reason. But of course, this has taught me a few lessons.
Don’t take things at face value. And trust your gut instinct. I had a “feeling” when he told me his mother died. But I didn’t question. Because how do you question that? That is uncomfortable and insensitive. What would I have said? “Hey, send me your mother’s obituary please! I don’t believe you!” But if I had questioned, would I have found out the truth earlier? I don’t know.
Ultimately I feel like if something doesn’t feel right, or it feels too good to be true, or if you are not sure someone is who they say they are, it’s probably NOT right, it probably IS too good to be true, and that person is probably NOT who they say they are. And in those situations, you question. Even if it is uncomfortable. You question. Because you have to know.
But I am not going to change the way I live my life because some lying idiot has done this. Besides making me want to hunt him down and find out exactly who he is (and I will), this will not affect me. I refuse to let myself be sad about this. I will not mourn the loss of someone who tricked me and lied to me. It’s not worth my time.
Luckily I have really amazing friends who have allowed me to vent to them and talk this through for hours. My friend Hannah came over with tequila on Thursday night right after I discovered this, and though I can’t drink tequila on a week night, I really appreciated the thought and her company. I went to the party on Friday night (that he was supposed to come with me to), and I got smashed, and I had a really good time. I went out for a food-fest and beer with my friend Catherine on Saturday. I volunteered in the Grey Cup fan march parade yesterday with my good friends Emily and Joanna. This will NOT affect my life. Things are good, they will continue to be good, and this sketchy jerk is not going to ruin that for me.
But still, I read his words now and wonder how this could not be real. How could he lie about his mother’s eulogy and SANDWICHES? A part of me still hopes that this is some kind of misunderstanding. But I don’t think that is possible. I have thought about every explanation, and they all point to “Chris” being a liar. There is no way around it.
I waited until Friday evening to see if he would contact me on his own, and be all “I’m HERE!!!! Let’s meet up!” but of course he didn’t (I wonder what his excuse would have been this time?) So then I confronted him. I sent him a huge email expressing my frustrations and asking him his motives behind doing this. Basically a shorter version of this blog post without the back story behind it. I haven’t heard from him, and I don’t expect to.
But “Chris”, I know you will read this. You won’t be able to help yourself. You have read everything I’ve ever written. And like a serial killer returning to his own crime scene, you won’t be able to stay away. So know this: you are not a good person. Karma is a bitch, and it is not going to be kind to you. Also, in my last email to you BEFORE I discovered you lied, I closed it with this:
PS – If you don’t exist or if you have been effing with me this entire time, I will personally hunt you down and punch you in the face.
And I was not kidding. I would suggest you watch out.
(Note: I am sorry this is so long. I have told you this story in all its crazy long detail because I think it’s important you know how it happened and read his words. Otherwise, if I were to shorten it, if I were to say “I met this guy online, but he didn’t live here yet, but he was moving here, but then his mom was in an accident so he didn’t, and then the next time he was moving here his mom died so it got pushed back again…and he called me from a blocked number. But he told me he loved me!” I think you would question how I could fall for this. Without the little details, you wouldn’t understand why I believed and had faith in him. And I did. I really, really did.)
UPDATE: I ended up finding the guy who was doing this. I had his IP address since he commented on my blog and my friend’s super techy boyfriend was able to track down “Chris” (I actually had three IP addresses for him, and they all lead to the same guy). I found his Facebook, Twitter, and also a blog that he had written a while ago. Nothing he told me was even remotely true. He’s about 10 years younger than he said, lives at home with his parents, who are very much alive, in New Brunswick, and as far as I can tell he does nothing but internet gaming/programming all day long. And possibly continuing to lure in people like me. Not married as I originally thought. But I did also find a blog post that he wrote that said he needed to “take a break from the internet because it is making me to unchristian things” (his exact words), so… that’s super creepy. And yes I feel violated… I did confront him, and so did the real Chris whose photos were being used (I talked to him and he said his FB was public a few years ago), and he did not respond to either of us. I’m glad that at least he knows that I know. Thanks for all your comments!