"I fell for the Marlboro Man."


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InCase
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Dear Datesmart,

It all started innocently enough; one night over six months ago, I was surfing the dating sites and came across one in particular that sounded professional and relatively safe, because the e-mail addresses are filtered and kept anonymous. I came across one man's profile in the Northwest which sounded very intriguing.

He seemed genuinely pleased and flattered by our correspondence and soon after began sending photos of himself in various outdoor scenes, and even some with his kids. He would even send pictures of rainbows "for my morning coffee." Well, I was hooked! Within several weeks, we had exchanged phone numbers, and he called rather late one night. (Red Flag) He mentioned that he had had about thirty responses to his ad, but he wrote them back and told them that he had met someone (2nd Red Flag)....and of course, I believed him. He said he thought we should meet--soon--and gave me a tentative date about a month later when he would arrange for tickets so that I could fly up to meet him.

Not long after, he started sending more intimate "stories" of how we would have romantic encounters out in some wilderness setting. I responded that it sounded like "cybersex" to me, and he replied that he was sorry I took it that way; he thought a real relationship was developing. Naturally, I apologized, and he kept up the romantic correspondence, although with intervals of absences which were due to his work (3rd Red Flag).

He kept moving back the date of our meeting, and did this so many times that I finally told him to forget it about mid-October. Then, he apologized and said, "the next time we make plans to meet, you can bank on it. Period." Shortly thereafter, he made airline reservations for me in early January and in November actually sent me the tickets!

After Thanksgiving, I noticed that something was wrong in his cryptic correspondence. Just about the entire month of December, I didn't hear from him. Trying to be nice, and patient, I let about two weeks lapse before even trying to contact him; however, I was getting nervous about the upcoming trip. I was trying to make plans ahead of time to get off work, plan what I needed to buy in the way of clothes, make arrangements for my daughter while I was gone, etc., etc.

I called and left a message on Christmas Day, and got a message back on my answering machine a few days later that he had just gotten back from his trip to see his kids and so forth. He didn't call back, though, and on New Year's Day, I left him a message that if I didn't hear from him by the following Monday, I was going to call his office and see if they could track him down for me, because I needed to know something definite one way or another. He called the next day, and said he "wasn't available." He wasn't ready for a relationship or a commitment. (?????????)

Obviously, he has something to hide--probably still married! I was crushed because I felt like a fool, mainly for buying into all his B.S., and for being so gullible. I sent his tickets back because I didn't want the reminder, but I do feel that I wasted six months of my life by not being open to other friendships or relationships because I was dreaming of that Handsome Cowboy!

Now, looking back, I wonder if I just didn't fall for a slick ad campaign for that Marlboro Man! He still has his profile on the dating service, only "new and improved" now, with some of the same pictures on it that he had sent to me. One thing I noticed in looking back now is that a lot of his "love letters" never did mention my name, so it's pretty obvious that I was just one of many starry-eyed idiots on his mailing list. Also, I didn't get a lot of direct response to my questions, such as those about his family, or his background.

The ONE time I actually reached him at his phone number when it wasn't just the answering machine, he was very rude and didn't sound happy at all to hear from me. Also, in reading his "love letters", it is apparent they're all about HIM and his great sexual prowess, or HIM as the aggressive macho leading man, not much there about "ME" except as the object of his conquests. I finally realized that this man is so full of himself, such a NARCISSISTIC egomaniac, that he is just trying to seduce women online to feed and flatter his bloated ego.

He thoroughly enjoyed the game, and the flattery, until it got down to the wire. I have a feeling I'm not the only woman he has courted and then suddenly dumped in this manner. Although I consider myself lucky in that nothing much was damaged except my pride in this encounter, I would like to warn other women that the RED FLAGS ARE REAL! PAY ATTENTION TO YOUR INTUITION! If something seems "off", or not quite right, or is nagging at you, you are right!

Also, please remember that if he sounds too good to be true, you are setting yourself for disappointment, or much worse....So please be good to yourself, trust your instincts, and don't be in too great of a hurry to give your heart away.

I likened it to "emotional rape" in that I really put a lot of time and emotion into our "relationship", and revealed a lot of innermost thoughts and feelings, only to have it all thrown back in my face without an apology or even much concern. He really didn't care about me at all. Period! Yes, that's a blow to my self-esteem; but then, it's also a lesson learned.

I think the Internet is just another opportunity for deception and lies to flourish, because anyone can pretend to be something he or she is NOT. There may be lots of success stories out there, but I, for one, am not willing to take that risk again. I could have saved myself a lot of time and embarrassment, and yes, hurt feelings, if I had conducted a background check on him several months ago.

Unfortunately, I didn't research it enough to know that these services are readily available, such as DateSmart. Ladies, it's time to leave the Enchanted Forest; that Prince on the White Horse just doesn't exist. I thought I had outgrown fairy tales! A word to the wise, I hope, is sufficient here...CHECK HIM OUT before you fall for his lines! Maybe my experience will help you to OPEN YOUR EYES and trust yourself to know the truth--before you get burned!

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