I was catfished by a supposed 'millionaire'
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Welcome to A Millennial's Dating Journal series as we explore real-life interactions and the hurdles of dating in Southeast Asia. The series will feature the dating stories and mishaps of Arika - a 26-year-old straight marketing manager with a penchant for overdrinking - and other millennials.
I met * Tom, 35, at Tinder. His profile looked a little blank and a bio was completely missing, but I figured I could talk to him about it. I tend to be drawn to guys who don't take themselves that seriously. So when I saw him taking some silly photos while diving, I thought, why not? Besides, he was pretty cute.
In retrospect, I should have been a little more careful and definitely detected something.
After we got along on Tinder, we conducted our conversation on WhatsApp. Through our texts I learned that Tom exchanged oil and precious metals for work, invested (his own money!) In startups and other details from his daily life.
In short, Tom appeared to be an accomplished but humble millionaire with a successful career, all by the age of 35. While I knew I was just casually looking for dates, it was nice that Tom bothered to text me every day and seemed pretty real.
We had an appointment on May 16, but when it became known that Singapore was experiencing further restrictions as part of the Phase 2 reinforced warning measures, we cautiously postponed our plans. Even so, we continued to text messages and occasionally even exchange voice memos. Tom also sent me photos he took on his daily runs.
(PHOTO: Getty Images)
Two weeks after Phase 2 HA, Tom asked if I could meet. We wanted to meet outside for coffee and take a nice walk through my neighborhood park.
That fateful day, I met Tom at a Starbucks near Fort Canning Park. It was then that I realized that I had been fished in a way.
Although Tom was the same person in his profile, it was clear that his photos were taken a few years ago. Tom looked much older in real life than his profile photos, and it wasn't just because he'd finished a run and looked warm and sweaty. I immediately questioned everything I thought I knew about him.
Immediately I was turned off. I wanted so badly to give up the date and go home; But I figured guess what, I'd make the best of a terrible situation. He'd also ordered me an ice-cold vanilla latte with oat milk, and I didn't want to go without it.
Tom and I exchanged courtesies and small talk as we made our way to a bank in Fort Canning Park. During our short walk, I tried my best to hide my disappointment. I also began to wonder how I had let this happen to me.
I have never been fished by all of my friends and have (mostly) been strict with the people I meet. Before you tell me I was blinded because Tom was a supposed millionaire, I am generally not impressed with material things.
To make the most of a bad situation, I decided to just have a good chat with Tom and maybe learn a thing or two about his work and investing in tech startups. Due to the fact that I had worked in the tech industry and had some experience with the different stages of investment finance, conversations flowed fairly easily in real life.
I also learned a little more about Tom, his family in the Netherlands and his life in Singapore. During our conversation, I kept thinking about how sad it was that Tom wasn't being sincere - especially when we had such good pants and could talk a lot.
After our date, I decided to do a quick Google search on Tom to check who he was. According to his LinkedIn profile, Tom was at least 42 years old, and while I was relieved that he was actually who he claimed to be, I was disappointed that he lied about his age. In all honesty, I was pissed off that he thought he might be fooling me.
I've always found catfish strange. From what I heard from friends who had been fished, it appeared that catfish generally tried to date with fake profiles because they couldn't do it with their own photos. In some cases, catfish have also used dating apps to cheat people out of their money. I wasn't robbed of my hard-earned money, but of my time, and I was pretty pissed off about it.
(PHOTO: Getty Images)
At one point, however, I had overcome my initial anger; I realized how sad it was that Tom had to lie about his age and how much social pressure he must have felt to appear younger even when trying to get matches online.
The truth is, Tom was impressive himself, and if he hadn't lied, I really felt we'd hit it off and actually start dating.
A few days after we met, Tom texted to ask if he had done something wrong because I was moving. I decided to stay clean and tell him what I found out about him.
Unfortunately, Tom didn't like me to find out more about him and began to berate me about what the concept of honesty "really" is.
We haven't spoken to each other since, and while it's easy to ponder how annoying the situation is, I was glad I heard from Tom before things got any further.
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