I lost my joy last year. Someone took it from me. I’ve been trying to get it back ever since. As Lucinda Williams says, ‘You took my joy, and I want it back’.

Yes, I’ve had a profile up on a dating site for a while now. It seems like the easiest way to make connections with guys who are wanting to meet women and are local. Maybe not as easy as it seems.

I’ve always been fairly open-minded when it comes to meeting new people and my philosophy has always been that you never know when or how you’re going to meet your new best friend.

I tackle the dating sites in the following manner.

1-The Picture. As shallow as this may seem, I look at the picture. If there is absolutely no attraction for me, I move along. If all the pictures are long shots that you really can’t make out a face in or if all the pictures are of their dogs, cars, bikes, tattoos, or showing all the stuff they’ve done, I dont’ like this. The dating site is for determining whether you’d like to spend an hour of your precious time to go and meet the person or not. I don’t need to see the details of their lives (let’s save that for later), just a few good head shots and a body shot to show posture and appearance.

2-The Profile. Next I read the profile. I look for warning signs. Some of the signs I look for are spelling and grammar. If there are a few type-o’s, no big deal, it happens. But, if there are more than a few, I see this as a problem. First of all, if you’re on a dating site, that means that you have access to a computer. If you have access to a computer, then you should also have access to spell check. Grammar, on the other hand is a pretty good indicator of whether or not the person was paying attention in school, if, indeed they even attended. If there is more than one reference to hockey of other spectator sports, I move on, because I can’t see myself enjoying watching sports. If they say they’re Vegan, I move on, because I’m a meat eater…. you see how that works? It’s just common sense.

3-The Plan. If we are both interested, I try to set up a meeting as soon as possible so I don’t end up wasting too much time with endless emails, etc.

4-The Meeting. This is the part I love the most. It’s so fun to meet new people. Sometimes you have a great time, but,  you just don’t feel the all important chemistry that is essential to a long term relationship. Other times you don’t even have a good time. Other times you feel their was a connection, but, it obviously wasn’t reciprocated, because the guy never asks you for a second date.

I’ve put off writing about this experience that I had, for several reasons. I guess mostly because I felt like an idiot. My screening process went sideways when I was faced with what seemed to be an intelligent, suave, gainfully employed, handsome man who was pursuing me passionately.

The day after we started communicating, was the day that he left for a job. He would be gone for 3 months on an oil rig off the coast of Scotland. He was a Director with the oil company Chevron and his pictures showed me that not only did he look amazing in an Armani suit, but that he had a real sense of style in his casual dress as well. He was handsome.

After he left for his job he told me he was glad to have the time to get to know me in the old fashioned, letter writing way before meeting me in person. It would give us time to learn about each other and ask many questions. Early on, one of the questions that he posed was this. “Are you really willing to give yourself wholeheartedly to a lifelong relationship”? I actually didn’t even answer him for a couple of days. I had never been asked that question before. Was I willing to do that, really? Or was I just looking for someone to date? After thinking for a few days I realized that I would have to be, otherwise, I would never be able to be 100% open and honest. I would not be open to receive the love of this man. I told him I was ready to work at building a relationship.

He was seemingly ecstatic upon hearing this news and began really telling me about his life. His childhood, his parents, his university days, his travels, his job, his daughter, the loss of his father when he was 18 and the loss of his wife just 10 years ago. He really opened up to me and I felt very close to him, although we had never met. After about a month of communicating every day, I didn’t hear from him one day and was worried. Two days went by and I was more worried. We were communicating on IM and he was offline. Finally, he came on line and told me his mom was sick in the hospital. His daughter was 16 had been living with her since her mom had died. She was now all alone in Spain with her grandmother in the hospital and he was worried sick and on the phone with her for the last few days. He didn’t want to worry me with it. He was trying to get off the rig he was on but, the helicopter would not come to pick him up until the following Monday.

By Sunday, he called me crying… his mom had passed away and he hadn’t made it back in time to say goodbye or to be there with his daughter. He would be heading there tomorrow and would make funeral arrangements and then bring his daughter back to Canada to live. It was very sad. I spoke to his daughter on the phone and she sounded like a very sad, sweet girl.  I felt so bad for both of them.

He informed me before he left that his company wanted him to come back to the rig to finish his contract because there was a problem and they needed him to solve it. He asked me to help him decide what to do because he wanted to take my opinion into account. I told him he should do what he needs to do… we would meet whenever he got home.

He went back to work and then within the week I didn’t hear from him again, and again knew that something was wrong. The next day he told me, that he had gotten word that his daughter had run away from the house where she was staying because she was upset to be left there while he worked for another 2 months. Having lost her mom 10 years earlier, she was not taking the death of her grandmother well at all. I was very worried about her. I have a 15 year old daughter myself and I know how it would feel if mine were to runaway and I had no way of getting there to look for her. Finally, the next day he let me know that she had phoned and was at her friends house safe and sound. All was good. He could not wait to finish this job and be on his way back home to meet me.

All the time we would message each other, he would call me at least every couple to days just to say hi and he would send me more pictures of himself. With stories to go along with them. Once, I asked what his room was like on the rig. He told me it was really pretty good because he’s a Director. About half an hour went by and he sent me a picture of himself looking right into the camera. Said he looked all over for candles to make it look romantic for me. It was so sweet of him.

The following week the problem at work had been determined to be a part that he and a team would have to go to Beijing to replace. They would leave next week, make sure the part got on a boat back to the rig and he would then have 5 days where he would be able to come home and visit me, before returning to work. I was ecstatic. I could hardly wait.

They were in Beijing for about a week. He said they were just about to wrap it up and he’d be here by the weekend… that’s when I stopped hearing from him. I thought maybe I would get a call that he was here in Vancouver. He would surprise me. Three days went by, before I got the call that something was terribly wrong. He had gone to make the transaction for the part on his own instead of waiting (he was in a hurry to get home to see me). When he came out with the money, he was attacked and robbed. He was stabbed by one of them with a broken bottle. His company was holding him responsible and the authorities found it suspicious and took his passport until an investigation could be done. A week went by. He was a wreck… he was deserted there by his company, he was out of cash and had no access to any money, he was kicked out of his hotel and hadn’t eaten in days… He needed me to send money. If I had any I would, but, I’m so sorry I can’t… I looked up the address for the Australian Consulate  for him and told him to go there to get help. He was offended by this and I thought it was because he was so distraught and not thinking straight.

I called the Consulate myself and explained what was going on with him. I asked what the best plan of action was in this situation and told the woman that I was extremely worried. That’s when the helpful woman on the phone asked me if I had ever met ‘this person’ in real life. I admitted that I had not. She asked the name and I gave it to her  with his date of birth. She was gone for a few minutes and when she came back on she explained to me that this person did not exist. There was no record for this person.

I didn’t let on that I knew this and I didn’t want to believe it, but, in the back of my mind, I knew, I’d been had. I didn’t go back online for about a week. He came on IM immediately and told me he had a big surprise. He was at the airport and on his home. He told me that he wouldn’t be seeing me though, because I had not stuck by his side. I had disappeared when things got tough. He was right. I was a bad friend. I had left him when things were tough. Surely, there must have been a mistake with the consulate… maybe, I had spelled his name wrong.

That’s when he became abusive to me for the first time. I said there was nothing I could do about the way he felt and could not make him care about me. He said he was sorry but, he had fallen in love with me and I had let him down. He said that I had loved him too, but, I would never get to meet him now.  I replied that he had indeed, fallen in love with me, but, that I had fallen in love with an idea. A fantasy. I told him that I had found out he didn’t exist. He admitted that it was true… he was a scammer. He told me his real name was Gerard and that he lived in Ghana. He told me that he had no other way to make money.

This man created a story that was so rich and full of emotion… he preyed on my soul and entangled himself into my heart by using his own mothers death, his daughter, his wife’s death, his tears.

It’s been 5 months since my joy was taken. I think it’s now slowly returning, but, I’m not sure I’ll be as open to trust in the future.