As you probably know, I have been on quite a few dates which are the result on online dating services. The dates have led to a series of new experiences that consist of my post marriage attempts at life. While I make a lot of jokes about them, I think it is time to discuss a not so funny incident that happened to me a few months ago.
On one particular day, I received a letter from a gentleman, let’s call him Nick. I ignored the first email, because I just wasn’t in the mood. (Lately, it’s my way, or the highway) His second email, and photo moved me to response. This man, handsome in a rugged, earthy kind of way, was a soldier in Afghanistan. He was nearing the end of his tour, and approaching his retirement. He had been previously married to someone in some sort of a government job that required a great deal of security clearance.
He wrote in an almost poetic manner about the sunrise where he was, and his desire to get back home. He spoke of being my friend until he could get home to a town coincidentally a few miles away from my own home. There was something about my pictures, he said, that said that I needed to be loved. He could sense my loneliness, he said. He wanted a friend to come home to. I was ready to listen.
We never spoke, but the frequency of the emails escalated. The timing, from what my curious brain could gather, seemed consistent with someone who was on the other side of the world. I awoke to poetic prose and fear of his safety. He just wanted to get home. He wanted to look eye to eye to see my beautiful green eyes. I swallowed it hook line and sinker. He was never inappropriate. He was the perfect man; far away, seeing the me of “long ago”, and a pure romantic, albeit with serious weaponry strapped to his body.
BFF was interested. We talked about me, the “East Coast Liberal” getting hooked up with a military man. She, the daughter of a military dad, was proud of how I was stepping outside of my comfort zone. We shared his poetry, and looked towards a possibly hopeful, yet different future.
By nature, I am not a trusting person. I do tend to be an “eye-roller” and doubt the sincerity of most people I meet. It could be my experiences, or it could be my nature. Either way, where Nick was concerned; I wanted to believe. When dating online, I always practice extreme safety. I use only the online service for communication, and when we decide to take it “off line”, I use an email address that does not have my name in it; I decline to share my last name until I feel safe to do so. I drive my own car, do not provide my full name or home address, and meet in a safe, public place. I do not plan to be a victim. Some men have plans of their own.
My first sign of something being wrong with Nick, came in his almost refusal to discuss his favorite restaurants in the town where he “lived” and I visited often. He kept blaming “safety”, and his inability to “reveal anything about himself”. He was a troop leader or whatever he called it. Those Yahoo chats were brief. He did not want to be challenged, and at first, I let it go. I googled him, again and again. He simply did not exist, or, my stupid self told me, his profile was strategically hidden because of his high profile job. He told me of some medal he had won in Iraq. Again, my cracker jack research skills could find nada.
As I asked more questions, he said less, but “loved me” more. I became more and more beautiful.
My cold water in the face came one afternoon in the form of an email.
Hey honey. I think we will finally be able to talk. I talked to my Handler about us talking on phone. He said it could be arranged. All you need do is write the private phone company here in Afghanistan telling them you wish to talk to me and send the request in an email to ( email address removed) My Handler will place a call on our behalf to clear you in order for them to process this request. The phone department will charge you a refundable fee to complete the phone request. The fee will enable them purchase a Satellite phone which will be on a secure line for us to be able to talk securely. How it works. It is a one time fee, you will be able to call me anytime and your calls will be charged at your domestic rate while mine will be charged to the phone department.
It’s funny how you get to learn about new things in your line of work you never thought existed. I have never done anything like this before. Since my wife passed I have not talked to anyone outside my unit when I’m deployed and on active duty. My wife had Military clearance so we kept in touch securely. Now I can’t believe I will get to hear your voice. I feel like the happiest man.
I have been thinking about our chats. And I like slow kisses. I think about about wrapping my arms around you. Kissing you gently while your nipples brush my chest. I have so much I want to tell you babe.
Nick ( Name Changed)
Sent from US Military Command, Afghanistan
I replied to this demanding to know the cost. I googled, I checked Facebook groups for military families, and every result yielded the answer that I knew to be true. The Military does not make its families or friends pay to speak to each other.
I demanded that he immediately go on Yahoo, which, in spite of his deep importance in the world, he did. His flowery tone quickly changed to one of threats of violence when I told him that I would not give anyone my credit card in order to speak to him. He cursed at me. He challenged my ability to love anyone in the world. He told me I wasn’t deserving of love. As I watched his words flowing quickly on the yahoo window, it was like getting smacked in the face, again. How could I be so stupid. As I cried, I remembered something. I looked back at one of his emails, and captured the IP address to find that my Military Man was in California, not Afghanistan! Proud of my tech savvy, yet sad to be right, I cried.
I immediately reported him, and all the details to the dating site, and I let him rant in the yahoo window. As my final gift to the bastard, I told him that his dating profile would be removed because he is no better than a common criminal. My hands shaking as I closed the chat window, which kept re-opening, as he sent nastier and nastier messages. As I removed him from my buddies, and collected all of his emails to put them in a folder to write about them later, I shut the cover of my laptop. I closed that chapter. I was almost the victim of a serious crime, theft of money, and even possible identity theft, all because I was tired of being alone. Several months later, I am still digesting this. I am proud of my un-bending rules when it comes to online dating, and by sharing this story, I truly hope that I can save someone else some unhappiness. Look deeply beneath the surface, and don’t give your trust away too easily.