Attention: Mention of sexual violence
Darlings, I will not harrow you with a link to the absolutely horrible dating-website-rape story in today's Daily Mail because the Daily Mail, and other papers of its ilk, emphasize rape. Rape is the bread-and-butter of the gutter press because the gutter press knows many women can't resist such horrible stories. We hate them but we have to have a read, perhaps in the hope that by reading we will learn how to avoid such horrors ourselves.
But I will tell you the basics of what happened, which is that a 20-something woman in England met a 20-something man on a dating website in England, and they chatted online for four days or so, and then they met for drinks at 7 PM. The date went well--the woman thought they had a lot in common. So they stayed out quite late, going out for something to eat, and the young man walked the young woman back to her apartment block. He leaned in for a kiss, but she pulled back.
And then he beat her to a pulp, raped her and stole her handbag.
What do you bet "I am a violent sociopath who goes ballistic at the slightest hint of perceived rejection" was not on the rapist's website profile? I bet his shoplifting offenses and assaults on policemen weren't there either.
Now, I know a lot of you are on Catholic dating websites, so I will say up front that she did not meet him on a Catholic dating website. But you know very well that not all the guys you meet on Catholic dating websites are either practising Catholics or good guys at all. All you can know about them is what they tell you, and they could be lying. Or they could have SERIOUS personality problems that they themselves are barely aware of. Anger issues, for a start.
So today I would like to remind you--once again--that any guy you meet over a dating website, Catholic or not, is a virtual STRANGER until you have met him in person and gotten to know him better. And I mean in person, not over text message or over the phone or over Skype.* And I mean over time, not over one coffee or one drinks date that goes well.
I met my husband over my blog. But that is because some of his blogging friends read my blog and I eventually, slowly, became their friends, after reading their blog and ascertaining that they were kindly, mentally healthy people. They got him to read my blog, and I began to read his blog. So I met my husband in a hybrid sort of way--half contemporary (blogs), and half traditional, through mutual acquaintances. At least five of my regular readers could vouch for him, for they had all met him and liked him.
That's quite different from internet dating, n'est-ce pas? Of course, since none of B.A.'s friends had met me in person, he was taking a bit of a risk in inviting me to stay with him when I visited Scotland, wasn't he?
And now I will tell you about how I lied my little red head off on a Catholic dating website. I have probably told you before, but tough. If a nice wee woman like me is capable of such shenanigans, imagine a real jerk.
It was the first time I ever sat down and tried to think about what it is that Catholic men wanted in a girlfriend. It was the first time I thought strategically and also the first time I paid any attention to all the bits of advice I had heard from married ladies and girls with boyfriends that I had rejected as unworthy of intellectual me. I also cynically faced up to the prejudice of many young "European"** guys in my town against the "mangiacakes" their parents or pals had told them were tramps, et alia.
My honest profile, in which I detailed with great pride my academic accomplishments, theological interests, sterling orthodoxy and mangiacake ethnic background, was not getting much of a response. It was definitely not getting a response from a lawyer in a neighbouring parish, who sounded very interesting indeed.
So I created another profile. Men, I had heard, loved kindergarten teachers. (And in Canada, that's a well-paid job with a pension.) So I became a kindergarten teacher. A half-Italian, half-Polish kindergarten teacher, a vegetarian--not militant, just loved fluffy bunnies--who bicycled to work, it was so close to her house, and loved The Godfather I and II but not III. (I had heard that all men everywhere hated The Godfather III.) I still accepted all the teachings of the Church, but I certainly wasn't reading massive intellectual tomes anymore. No way. I was a girly-girly girl.
And guess who, along with the rest of the crowd, appeared in the inbox? Ma, da certo, Mr. Lawyer, who longed to know which of my parents was Italian, for his parents were Italian, and blah blah blah.
I sure hope he isn't dreaming of a half-Italian, half-Polish kindergarten teacher to this day, for she never replied. Indeed, she disappeared because lies of that magnitude and complexity do not really suit your humble correspondent.
But there are people who love to lie, and there are men who will lie and lie and lie and LIE to get what they want, so look out, my little angels.
*These things can, of course, make you acquaintances, but it's still not enough to really know somebody. I'm starting to think that the only way you can know someone is in a crowd. You can't be sure you know them unless you have seen them interacting with others: service staff, their friends, your friends, their mother...
**SCENE: Toronto. Hallway of my all-girls high school, after a dance. Your humble correspondent, age 17, is in a black miniskirt, white lace tights, a sleeveless black turtleneck in a black and white print and has a 1980s haircut. She is talking by some lockers to a cute, cheerful boy with dark hair and dark eyes, to whom she was introduced by an former elementary school classmate.
(Yes, my memory can be that good.)
Cute boy: So, how you getting home?
Seraphic, age 17: Taking the train and then a bus.
Cute boy: You don't have to do that! My buddy has a car.
Seraphic: But I don't even know you.
Cute boy: Aw hey. You can trust me--I'm a European!