Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Snake Oil?

Why is it we are such skeptics? Is it that we, as a people, have become so used to being taken, swindled, deceived, tricked, and lied to, that we believe when something too good to be true comes along, we believe that it is? Too good to possibly be true?

I recently did something I SWORE I'd NEVER do again.

I put up a profile on an on-line gay chat site. Not one specifically meant to be a hookup site, but more of a chat site. With the abrupt end of my prior relationship, I felt the deep loss of chatting with the other man who I'd been conversing with for four years, and wanted the social interaction, even if it was only virtual. And just maybe, I'd meet a nice local guy to hang out with. I knew the possibility, okay-probability, of being hit on was a foregone conclusion. After all, I was recently hit on on Goodreads, a Facebook-like site for book lovers and authors. I'd simply use the 'block' function as necessary on the chat site.

To check out Goodreads, click here.

In a matter of a couple hours, I had some hits. Several in fact. Yet, not one over 30. Not one from Southern California; but South America, Asia, the Eastern US. Some were cute, some were less so. Some were nice and wanted to chat, some wanted to jump right to it; "Hi, you horny?"

And my personal favorite: "Hey, you a dom? I'd beg to service you behind my boyfriend's back."

A few men my age also visited my profile, some said hi, some floated by-I felt like I was in a bar, but without leaving home.

The next day, one particular message caught my eye. A strikingly handsome man (I mean actor/model good looking) messaged me asking me how I was doing and how was the weather by me. I replied and we continued chatting, and he shortly suggested we move to Skype. We have been chatting nightly since then.

During our very first chatting session, he put all his cards on the table stating what he was looking for and what he brought to a relationship. His words sounded so familiar, it was as if I could have written them myself; he wanted honesty, truthfulness, open communication, monogamy, acceptance of both what he is and what he is not, a partner willing to work on the relationship when it gets a little stale, someone who would nurture him to be himself and a partner willing to be nurtured to be his best both within and without the relationship, a partner willing to support him to achieve his goals and dreams as he supported his partner to to do the same.

All this, and a willingness to take it slow and not rush anything.

I mean, what more could I want? I began lowering my defenses.

Yes, I did find his abruptness a bit intimidating, while refreshing at the same time. I looked at it a couple of ways: He wasn't into game playing-if I wasn't looking for a relationship, let's cut the losses now and not waste time, energy or our emotions, and he had been hurt and wanted to avoid it again.

Did I say he was handsome? And from what I could see in the pictures, (all very G rated) he had a nice, hunky muscular body.

Because of my skepticism and recent heartbreak, I started looking for cracks, finding flaws and faults. One little one stood out; his profile picture showed a neatly trimmed beard, while the profile description said "No Facial Hair." Okay, maybe he shaved and hasn't changed the picture or vice versa-he grew his beard and hasn't changed the description. No big deal. I'm hoping for the latter.

In chat session two, he began expressing some vulnerability, exhibiting some pain. Vulnerability can be very sexy. He described his issues around body shaming, how people had made fun of and make jokes about his body. I had a difficult time comprehending how people would make fun of his body if he was a muscular as the pic showed. (I should say only his head and shoulders were visible.) At times, I did feel he was expressing too much too soon, and felt a bit scared, but found his openness refreshing. And I was responding with similar answers. He was asking mostly deep questions-what past mistake(s) would I change and why, and a few superficial ones-my favorite color, my favorite flower; we talked life, we talked our approaches to relationships. We talked how we'd been hurt, and how we'd let ourselves be hurt. And, maybe he just wanted to avoid any game playing up front. Defenses falling a bit more. Heart opening up, but just a tad.

I'd noticed some other small things. When we were chatting, there were some grammatical errors, mostly minor, and as a teacher/writer they glare out at me. People don't text/chat as we speak, so I was willing to overlook them. After all, texting on a phone with it's small keyboard can be a challenge at times.

My self-esteem started to rise along with my general mood. Here was an extremely attractive, kind, decent, hardworking man (he owned his own business) who shared very similar, if not nearly identical philosophies of life, love, and relationships with me, and we were chatting, now nightly. He was looking to love someone and be loved, ready for a relationship, to give his all. It was nervously exciting, yet eerie to be in this position barely a few days after posting my profile! My heart is now more than just a tad open.

It all felt too good to be true. Something seemingly so perfect, right after such a devastating heartbreak. Was the Universe bringing me some happiness at last? Someone who was ready to love me as I deserve to be loved? My defenses were falling with each and every chat, while my attachment was growing.

Yet, I'm still waiting for the other shoe to drop. There has to be something amiss, here. But maybe not? There must be someone else out there like me. Surely?

We chatted a few more days, developing a bond, a desire to meet, to visit each other. I began wondering which of us would end up having to relocate; he had a successful business in the Midwest, and I have a house in Southern California. Yes, I knew it was early to be thinking this, but I'd prefer to cut my losses early rather than late. Especially, if I felt a very deep possibility of something good here. A very attractive sexy man, espousing the same values I have, wanting to move slowly as he gets over his pain and acknowledging mine really paints a good picture of the possibility of something good. I couldn't help but start falling for these beautiful words, from such a gorgeous man.

In one chat session on a Wednesday night, about two weeks later, he dropped the bomb; he could wait no longer to meet me, he was flying out. That weekend. Panic set in. Fear followed right behind, with a dab of excitement entering as well. My mind was in a twirl. I'd heard of people connecting very quickly and wanting to pursue it and could I be honest with myself regarding him-or was I merely a sucker for a handsome face attached to a gorgeous body who saw life, love and relationships as I did, especially when the last man I loved was too insecure to FaceTime with me?

What more could I ask for? Defenses down even more, while remaining guarded, yet becoming quite hopeful.

He wanted to ask one question before he'd make the plans to come see me. It concerned his late father.

Uh oh. Not sure what this has to do with anything...defenses steady, yellow alert.

He wanted to know if the barrister covering his late father's estate could contact me.

Bells are going off. Red flags beginning to rise.

He needed someone to say he was married to him in order to receive title to the gold his father had lest in West Africa.

I was crushed. It had all been a lie. A fake profile.

With marriage equality, it seems the infamous Nigerian email scam has now emerged on the gay dating/chatting scene.

Defense shields back on full alert.

And yet, there is a lesson here. Somewhere.

I could simply retreat fully from chatting online. Again.

Or, I could go on. Ever more cautious this time, especially if it sounds too good to be true.

Which it probably will be.


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