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I had been dating a guy I met online who told me that his wife died when their daughter was still an infant. He also told me he owned several international companies, which is why he needed a few different cell phones that rang and got texts at all hours.
So cut to the truth. I discover that his wife is alive and he lives with her when not spending the night at my house. His daughter is married and has her own child, so he's actually a grandfather. He has a selection of homemade driver's licenses under assumed names that say he's much younger than he is. They also list his false address.
After finding all this out, I feel like I've dodged a bullet from some narcissistic misogynist. Part of me wonders what Internet dating has done to our culture. This guy actually had the nerve to call me a stalker when I peeked into his wallet after seeing him pull his real driver's license out from behind a stack of fake ones! How do I warn other women that guys like this exist? I can't imagine the amount of time and effort that has gone into keeping up with his many lies. And I haven't even shared half of the bullshit he shared! Do I background-check everyone now?
—Shaking Her Head, Laughing
People are always quick to blame online dating for the proliferation of liars, scammers, and cads, but the fact is, people were dirtbags long before computers were even a glimmer in whoever-invented-computers' eye. I mean, word on the street is that adultery is even in the Bible, and that shit is old.
So yeah, while JDate, OkCupid, and Match may make it easier for ne'er-do-wells to locate new marks, the Internet also makes it easier to bust a creep. Take my friend Ellen (not her real name). She got a weird vibe from a guy she went out with, and in a few clicks found out he was on the sex-offender registry. Imagine if it had been 1950? She might've wound up at the bottom of a ditch, or worse, married to the dirtbag.
There are sites where you can warn other women, like DontDateHimGirl.com—but hey, I just typed in the names of three of the biggest scumbags on the planet and they came up blank, so what's the point? You could alert the site that introduced you that he's actually married, but I wouldn't expect much satisfaction from them either. I mean, married people using online dating services to hook up with affair partners is hardly uncharted territory.
What you should do is focus on the positives. A recent study (OK, conducted by a firm hired by Match.com) found out that one in five new relationships begins online. There are also (differing) figures on how many marriages are the product of online dating, but since most of these studies are sponsored by dating sites, you can take them with a grain of salt. However, you can take all the weddings of people who met online I've gone to (many!) as sodium-free evidence.
So don't give up on the love—even the variety you seek online—and try not to let one heel turn you into a paranoid super-sleuth. Use your common sense and trust your gut, and if those two seem to be sending mixed messages, you might want to reconsider whom you're dating. Or, you know, run a background check.