Here's the deal. I've been single since time immemorial. So, in an attempt to remedy my eternal singledom, and to get over my nauseatingly pathological fear of dates, I've decided to challenge myself. The challenge? To go on one first date a week for a year! So in 52 weeks time, I will have either found my Mr Right, or I'll stay forever Miss Write. This is what happens...


The Rules

Here are the rules to the 52 First Dates challenge...

1. A first date must be had once a week, EVERY week, for 52 weeks.

2. Taking someone home after a drunken night on the cider does NOT count, otherwise this challenge would just be slutty, and none of us want that do we?!?

3. Second and third dates are allowed, I must continue first dates unless there are exceptional mitigating circumstances. For example, God forbid, the start of a relationship.

4. Each date must be blogged.

20 September 2011

To Catch A Catfish

I thought I'd give you a little update regarding the whole Catfish saga of Mr #2, or the fictitious 'Seb'. For various reasons I can't go into on here now, I can't give you the full update, but I can tell you about one aspect of the ongoing drama which has gone even further to reinforce my disbelief and amazement at the power of social networking. For those who have just tuned in, yes, this is essentially a blog about a girl going on dates with boys. But very early on, a situation presented itself which showed the darkest underbelly of the world of internet dating, which you can read here:

So, we've established I was being groomed by someone who had stolen an innocent man's photos to pose as a single man online. We'd then, through the awesome power of friends and Facebook, found the poor sod whose photos had been stolen, and whose life was largely being used to entice unsuspecting singletons such as myself, a feat which too this day I still find unbelievable. And that, I thought, was that...

...That is, until a month or so ago when I received a message through Twitter that made me go cold. It quite simply said 'please can you message me. I am the latest idiot'. What the fuck?!?!? Since Seb-gate was still very much in the forefront of my mind, I messaged the girl back, known on here as Miss D. What immediately transpired was that she had messaged me the very morning that her mother, suspicious that her latest online beau might not have been all he cracked up to be, had googled his full name, the rather unusual name of Sebastian Pritchard-Jones. What she found, however, was not reinforcement he was who he said he was, but my previous blog entry naming and shaming him as a total fraudster, and told her daughter to read what I had written. I can't imagine how she will have felt just then, but I don't think it will have been nice. 

Devastated at this discovery, Miss D had rung him up immediately, called him a c***, and then tweeted me. They had been planning a trip away together, and until then, she had had had absolutely no idea he was leading her a merrily miserable dance. And why would she? He was a clever, manipulative creature, who had finely honed his act of making people believe what he wanted them to believe. This character is every online dater's nightmare. Once the realisation had settled in, I spoke to Miss D more. She sent me an extensive email of everything he had told her: names, places, anecdotes, habits, likes, dislikes, and the most frightening thing was every single detail was one I knew inside out. This was the finest rehearsed routine I have ever heard in my life. A monologue. A character. And Miss D had had exactly the same thing. It later transpired that the day I had told him to leave me alone, the day after THAT perfume bottle picture, he'd smoothly moved straight on to his next victim. The fact that I had maybe, possibly, potentially saved Miss D from a bigger hurt through my blog is reason enough that I started writing it in the first place. But the fact her mum found it on Google and that Miss D was able to get in touch by Twitter even more reinforces my sheer amazement at the power of the web. For every moment of fear and trepidation the internet gives me, the joy, surprise and warmth that comes back is threefold.

I have absolutely no doubt we are not the only two women he has done this to, and, judging from CT's experience (the guy whose photos were stolen), I'm sure there are other men too. This seems to me the well-versed patter of someone who wants their own relationship for a foreseeable shelf-life before, for whatever reason, the other party gets bored, suspicious or hurt. And I have no doubt that this is still going on now, although I would assume they've been savvy enough to change names, photos and dating sites. Who knows? The fact that online dating sites have no way of guaranteeing that their users are who they say they are will always concern me, but it is nothing you can ever really know for sure until it's potentially too late.  I take some solace that in all my internet dating experiences to date, this has been beyond exception, and the chances of encountering something as remotely as fucked up as this again is incredibly rare. But there is always a chance. After all, he knows who I am, because I am as genuine on these sites as I am to my friend and family, what's to say he couldn't find me again and spin me a whole new enticing yarn. As for everyone else? Well, it's the internet...I need say not one word more. On with Mr #14!


Read some of the emails that didn't make it to the real life date stage...