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Okay, okay, so I know I said I swore off men. And I kinda sorta meant it at the time. I kinda sorta mean it even now. I’m busy, and I don’t need headaches. But, well, I’m a girl, and girls like boys, (and this girl likes it when men buy me drinks and call me pretty) so I may have kinda sorta downloaded the apps again. But! With the strict understanding that I would be a mostly passive recipient of attention and I’ll only do the “fixing my hair and trotting out to meet them” thing if a guy works hard.

One of the more amusing things I discovered a few months ago on the dating apps is that there are a chunk of profiles that are fake. Not a guy whose intentions are no good – there are plenty of those, of course – but actual fake profiles that are probably being run 100 at a time by some young girl in the Philippines with pictures that she stole off the internet (one picture gets used so often, it has its own scam alert page that shows up if you run it through Google images).

Once you know this, they’re pretty easy to spot. They’ve got only one picture, not the five or six that most guys have (and have I mentioned how in at least 90% of real profiles, one of the pictures is of the guy holding a dead fish? Ick). In the fake profiles, very often, that one picture is of a guy in a uniform. They don’t have a description. And they reach out as soon as the match happens, which real guys rarely do, because they have jobs other than scamming women on dating sites. (I’ve heard from a bunch of my dates that it’s just as bad on the guy’s side, with prostitutes trolling hard. So it’s equal opportunity).

At first, before I knew about this scam, I would see a hottie in a uniform and I would bite. Then I caught on. They always hit you with the compliments, hard, which regular guys also do not do. They want to know what you do for a living (because, in the end, it’s a financial scam). Their English is bad, making errors that not even a poorly-educated American would make. Then they always start in with the sob story. He’s deployed. His wife is dead, and their beautiful, motherless seven-year-old girl is at home alone with his sister. I’ve always deleted them after the pattern emerges, but I’ve Googled it and learned that the money hit comes by saying that they’re falling in love with you and must speak to you immediately, but they need a calling card so that they can talk to you. Then they somehow finagle women into wiring them money to get said card.

Once I figured out the pattern I learned to stay clear of them. But in my new, lazy approach to the dating apps, I don’t go through every picture on each profile any more. I make a half-second decision on the first one without letting myself think too hard, swiping left and right at a rate of about two profiles per second (no joke. I’ve gamified the process. It makes it much lighter). So I hit on one today. Not sure how I missed the uniform. Like I said, I barely look these days.

trapeze artistHe began with “You have a lovely smile. I like you,” which, like I mentioned, is a little harder than most guys would hit on a first line, so right off the bat I became suspicious. But okay. I thanked him. He started small talk. Okay. Good. I reciprocated. And then came the bad English and the inquiry into my job. I looked at his profile for the first time. Only one picture, no description.

Just to have a little fun (and on the off chance that he was an actual guy who would get the joke, I told him I was a trapeze artist. Nothing. No quizzical emoji, no request for clarification. Just responded with “Am Air Force.” At which point I just had to be snarky. Shockingly, “Edwin” has not yet replied.

But then it’s probably the middle of the night in Nigeria or Ukraine or wherever “Edwin” (an enterprising 22-year-old woman, no doubt) lives.


But, don’t fret for me too much. I did have a wonderful date with a local-ish, seemingly normal guy the other day. In keeping with the “only write about them when you’ve given up hope” doctrine, I’ll keep this one to myself for a while. But I’m having plenty of summer fun.

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