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 a year, that's 52 dates in 52 weeks.

2. Taking someone home after a drunken night on the cider does NOT count.

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.

06 March 2012

Catfish Strikes Back

Hello dear cherished readers of 52 First Dates. How are you all? Good? Lovely. So I’m writing this entry as means of an apology, as I have decided not to go on a date this week. The reason? Because I’m meant to be going on a second date with Mr 39 this Saturday. I know what I started out this dating challenge I proposed in a somewhat ruthless way that I would carry on with the first dates regardless of second and third dates. As it turns out, I don’t really like that idea at all, especially since Mr #39 was such a thoroughly lovely guy, and in the event that I should eventually come clean about my dating undertakings, I wouldn’t want to spoil things by having felt obliged to carry on my serial dating just because of some silly rule I made up myself to make the challenge more interesting. I know this feels like I’m being a bit of a party pooper, and maybe I am. But how would I feel if I knew he was carrying on dating in between our dates? Pretty shitty I guess, especially since things went so well on our first date, and I’d hate to do the same in return. And even if he does carry on dating, presumably I won’t know about it, so that’s fine, unlike here where it’s all terribly public. But fear not folks, if our second date doesn’t turn out well, I’ll go on two dates next week to make it up to y’all, can’t say fairer than that, no? But secretly (actually not so secretly) I hope I won’t have to.

But, in other news, remember the Catfish debacle of 2011? Well if you missed out on the weirdest experience of my dating life, perhaps you should catch up here. Or, if you can’t be arsed to read all that, here’s a potted version. In the third person, for some utterly irrelevant reason...

CTS meets Mr #2 online, and they embark on multitudinous chats and text exchanges.

CTS arranges many dates with Mr #2, but Mr #2 keeps cancelling slash standing her up.

Mr #2 arouses CTS’ suspicion, and through a bizarre chain of events involving sinister texts and a reflective perfume bottle, it turned out Mr #2 didn’t exist. Mr #2 is told under no uncertain circumstances to fuck off.

CTS posts vitriolic post and pictures on blog to expose the aforementioned Mr #2, aka Sebastian Pritchard-Jones

Detective friends identify the photos of the alleged Mr #2 as belonging to a Mr CT on Facebook.

CTS contacts CT about his stolen identity and freaks him the hell out.

CTS is then contacted by Miss D, who was on the verge of going away with Seb having embarked on a relationship with him, but after her mother’s suspicions were aroused that she’d never met him, stumbled across my blog. Miss D is understandably devastated, and invariably tells Seb to fuck off.

I think this is as far as you all know, yes? Okay.

Well whilst the latter part was going on, there were ongoing police investigations into Seb, but because the case was still active, I wasn’t able to write about it. As it turns out, stealing someone else’s photos and posing as someone else online isn’t actually a crime unless they defraud the victim out of money or murder them, essentially. But the one thing they could investigate were the mysterious threatening texts I had that one night, which could count as harassment. 

After months and months of investigation, the police were not able to pin anything on to Seb, but they were able to caution the owner of the phone that sent the texts...a lady whose name I had heard through Seb and other victims many times before, who was based in Wales. So that’s where it suspicions confirmed that Seb was responsible in some way for the nasty messages, but still none the wiser as to Seb was. Case closed. Or so I thought...

Last week I had an anonymous comment on my blog from someone claiming to be another victim of Seb. I was surprised that after 9 months that this had cropped up again, and initially I was suspicious it might be Seb trying to play games. I have no doubt that he knows I’ve been writing about him and has long since changed his name, but there will be other women out there familiar with his name, and I still hope to find more. I encouraged the commenter to email me, and sure enough, she did. So I was introduced to Miss M.

Miss M got in touch with me after watching a programme on teachers, and randomly Googling Seb’s full name. And lo and behold, she came across my blog. It turns out Miss M was Seb’s victim immediately before me. And her experience with this mythical beast was considerably worse than mine. She had been going through a terrible time personally, and when Seb popped into her life, he appeared to be her knight in shining armour, making himself totally available when she needed him, albeit only over the phone. Like he did with me, they’d speak for hours on the phone, he knew everything about what she was going through at that time and she thought she knew the same about him.

Miss M’s suspicions were first aroused by cancelled dates, and when she’d try and arrange spur-of-the-moment meets in London, he could never make them. She started to doubt he even lived in London, as he’d been claiming. But the rest of his life had been told to Miss M in the same frightening detail that both Miss D and I knew all too well, the dead ex, the niece, the job; a sickeningly well-rehearsed routine.

Despite many attempts to meet, Miss M was always stood up or had Seb cancel.. But Seb, the charmer he was, even sent a massive bouquet to the place she worked at at the time by way of apology, a seemingly sweet but sickeningly OTT gesture. All the while, he was trying to suck her in and mess with her head at a time he knew she was most vulnerable. He even tried to book a cab to pick her up and take her to meet him, as he tried with me, but of course she wasn’t having any of it. It seems Miss M was made of much tougher stuff than that.

Miss M eventually caught Seb out by setting up a fake profile on the same website, and giving him her flatmate’s mobile number. But the messages she received were seedy, sordid and explicit, nothing like the cheeky Welsh guy that all three of us had got to know. He also started to get aggressive and nasty, which isn’t a side we’d never seen to him. 

In the end, after a final attempt to see once and for all who the hell he was, Miss M arranged to meet him in London, but he never showed up. She never spoke or messaged him again.
The frightening thing is when Miss M and I compared dates, it seemed Seb had been lining me up as the next one even before things had ended with Miss M. And likewise, Seb had moved straight onto Miss D the day after I told him to leave me alone. There will have been more women before and after us. So if you or anyone you know has been duped by someone on online dating sites seemingly posing as someone else, male OR female, then please let me know. Seb’s used a woman’s name and photos before, and has no doubt changed his fictional name now, but there are only so many intricate lies you can weave, and he must still be using some of them. If these stories ring any bells for you then please get in touch. I thought this was over, but it’s not. And I am determined to find out more...