Online Dating Surprises

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Finding herself single after almost 20 years of marriage, Sophie is trying her hand at Online Dating. She’s new and unsure about what is appropriate, what isn’t, and shocked by what she encounters. Follow her and her friends as they navigate life in the 21st Century.

Excerpt from 40 Something. A book about life, family, children, marriage, dating, careers, rivals, sisters, friends, technology, abuse, love, and so much more.


Sophie & Dating

It is so weird to be dating again.

I haven’t dated since the early 90s.

It’s so different now.

Before a guy would pick you up in a bar, coffee shop or at school now, my friends tell me that is not how things work. Charlie says that no matter where you go, men don’t come up and talk to women. Go to a bar and no one says boo. Go to a coffee shop and all you get is coffee. Go to the park and nothing. I’m not sure if Charlie is right, but I haven’t met a man in the real world.

It’s all online now.

This online dating thing is a bit addictive. I spend so much time going through profiles to find the ones I like, I hardly get anything done. I read the guy’s message. I think about what to say. I type mine. Then I wait for his response. You’d think I’d get stuff done while I wait, but no, I don’t. I look at other profiles. I have conversations with other men. It’s kinda cool actually. I mean, I get to chat with guys I’d never dare talk to in the real world.

We spend hours messaging back and forth to each other. It feels like a waste of time because we never make any plans to meet, just message back and forth. Once they get to know me and my situation they aren’t too interested in anything real.

A date for dinner tonight.

It’s my first date.

Charlie was kinda pissed when I told her it was for dinner. She said I should only go for coffee because he might be a bore and I’d want to escape. Lindsay thinks she’s just jealous because I got a dinner date and Charlie doesn’t get asked out for dinner or even coffee.

Charlie is amazing. I wish I was more like her. I don’t understand why she’s single and has so many problems with men.

She is much prettier than me. Her face is very pretty. If she’d exercise and lose a bit of weight she’d be a knock out. Her body has a nice hourglass shape with really big boobs. I’ve got nothing for a chest, I could be a boy I’m so flat. She’s so smart. Has a good job and is so confident about everything. I don’t know why she can’t find a guy.

My phone just whistled to let me know I have a text message.

It’s from Al. He’s the one I’m meeting for dinner tonight.

Al: Hey we still on for tonight?

Me: Yes. I can’t wait.

Al: I’m getting off earlier so we can meet at 6.

Me: Sure.

Al: Great. What are you going to wear? Something sexy?

Me: I don’t know yet.

I have a cute dress that I picked up from a thrift store yesterday after we made the date. It cost me $25. I really shouldn’t have bought it, I shouldn’t be wasting money on dresses and stuff.

Al: I like a woman in a dress.

Me: Oh

Al: And high heels

Me: OK

Al: I love the colour red.

Me: Oh

Al: Are you going to want to kiss me?

Me: I don’t know. Maybe.

Al: Maybe? Ah come on hun. You’ll kiss me.

Me: Maybe. I have to go. I have things to do.

Al: Ok babe. I’ll kiss you lots tonight.

Me: See you tonight.

I don’t know him. I don’t know if I’m going to want to kiss him. But I guess. I mean he is buying me dinner. Maybe I will want to kiss him. I don’t know. I wish he didn’t go on like that. It makes me uncomfortable. What’s one kiss?

I guess I’ll find out tonight. I better get going, I do have a lot to do before tonight.

My phone beeps with a text message. It’s from Al and there is a pic.

Oh my god.

I drop my phone.

What the hell?

The phone whistles with a text again. I’m scared to look. It might be another pic. What if my kids had my phone? I cringe. It whistles again. I pick it up and check the messages from Al.

It’s another pic and message. I’m freaking out. I don’t know what to do.

Al: What do you think hun? You like?

Me: Why did you send that?

Al: It’s fun. Send me a couple of you spread open for me.

Me: No. NO. no.

Al: Hun it’s all good. It’s just flirting. We’re adults.

Me: I don’t think so and I’m not sure I want to meet.

Al: I was just testing you. Seeing what kind of gal you are. I like that you won’t.

Me: OK?

Al: You a good girl and I like that. I’ll see you tonight. Can’t wait.

Me: Ok.

I delete the photos of his naked, standing to attention thingy. I can’t believe he sent that to me. I don’t even know the guy and he sends me that. Why the hell did he send me that?

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Who is the story about?

Sophie is one of five central characters.

The Jaded one  – The one who is bitter about men

The Romantic one  – The one who is happily married

The Fun one – The one who parties and loves men

The Tragic one – The one who is hurting and lost

These are the characters I am starting with. I will draw from my life experience and the stories I read, am told, and other share with me to define the characters and their journey through life.

What do you think?  Am I missing someone? Is there a type of relationship or woman that you think I need to explore and add to the group?



Photo on 2014-04-17 at 12.25 PM

In her new Chicklit novel, Shannon Peel is exploring what it means to be a 40 something woman in the 21st Century. Each of the 5 women are personalities that we as woman are made up of in various degrees. We are too complex to be just one. 

For more about this novel and her YA Novel, THIRTEEN, go to www.shannonpeel.com 

Disconnected in a Connected World

I have been thinking a lot about connections recently.

In todays world, we have the tools to connect on a scale that was considered science fiction when I was born, forty some odd years ago. Generation X started their journey in the dark ages and grew with a world that became more digitally connected and more isolating.

I remember watching a news broadcast, years ago, about Faith Popcorn and her theory on how our culture was going to disconnect through cocooning. It sounded like an odd idea at the time. How could we, as individuals, isolate ourselves from each other?

Well We Did

Video arcades, a teen social hang out, no longer exist because we bought our own game consoles.

Cinemas used to be a weekly treat, but they made way for video stores and ticket costs sky rocketed. Gone are the dinner and movie dates, they’ve been replaced with Netflix and chill.

Drive through options have extended our isolation into our cars where we pick up food, coffee, and groceries. Amazon and Online Shopping  keeps us out of stores and malls so we can shop from the comfort of our homes without ever chatting with a salesperson.

We have slowly been removing social hang outs for teenagers and they in turn, have no where to go. Most helicopter parents won’t let their kids ‘hang out’ anywhere because they might get into trouble. So, our children are learning how to stay home.

We Are Home Alone

1795684_666542126736269_214740821_n-2My bank account dictates whether or not I can hang out in coffee shops. With the skyrocketing cost of living in the city, my time in these establishments has started to dwindle. Even when I am in these places for long periods of time, I hardly meet anyone new. Everyone, including myself, is behind a laptop or looking at their phone, the two items that tell those around you – I’m busy, buzz off.

Not to mention I live in a city known for it’s isolation.  Dating in this city is near impossible, let alone finding people willing to invest in a friendship, especially with someone who is overweight. This city isn’t a fan of fat people. 

Work has even become more isolating as many people, like me, work from home. To save money, companies are opting for more remote arrangements for their employees. Making it even harder for people to connect with others and network.

Connected Online

Social media and online tools have grown over the last ten years to improve personal connections, to keep in touch, share our experiences with those we know and love. Are we really connecting though? 

I spend a lot of time online. Taking online courses, writing, posting on social media, tweaking my website, watching Netflix, dating and applying for work. I am chatting with people, virtually meeting new people, learning about people and telling people about myself.

Does this mean I’m connected though? 

What are your thoughts? Which generation do you think was more connected to friends and family in their forties, us or our parents? 

What to do

what-you-seek-is-seeking-you_fotorGetting out into the real world and saying “hello” to people on transit and coffee shops, is a start, which risks the one thing people fear – Rejection.

Volunteer for a charity or cause.

Text friends to see if they want to do something.

Go out into the world for a mini staycation adventure with your kids to build stronger connections with them. The bonus is getting acquainted with the city you live in.

Use Online Tools

Attend events advertised on Facebook.

Go to free seminars promoted on LinkedIn.

Attend meetups to get out of the house, and more importantly, out of your comfort zone. Learn something new while meeting new people.

Use dating sites to make real world meet and greets in a public place. This is really hard because most men seem to think a date is meeting them in private, but that’s for a different post.

Which online connecting tools do you use to help you get out and make connections in the real world? 

Make it a goal to smile more, get out more, and live more. Maybe you meet someone new, maybe you don’t. At least you lived.

 


Photo on 2014-04-17 at 12.25 PMShannon Peel is the author of THIRTEEN a book about a boy and his mom caught behind enemy lines when soldiers attack their North American hometown. The story asks the question, what if it happened here?

For more information check out her website. www.shannonpeel.com

 

 

 

Online Dating Scam Red Flags

You’ve heard the stories.

You know there are people on online dating sites who are only there to get your money, with no intention of meeting you, dating you, or loving you. I’ve talked with a few, and played the game, to find out what tricks they had up their sleeves.

What are the Red Flags?

Most of the time they have a sob story that their wife died in some horrible accident, or from cancer, leaving him a widower and single dad. It’s always a story that will pull at your heart strings.

One guy told me his wife and son died in a horrible car accident on her way to church. He was a soldier in the US army, stationed in Syria, and his daughter was at boarding school in Canada.

What made me suspicious?

He was not in my area. He was in Syria, a war zone, and a US soldier. I realize that the US did send soldiers to train the rebels, however, at the time of this conversation, it was not public knowledge.

He would Skype with me, but the sound never worked and we were still IMing, though we could ‘see’ each other. He had lots of time to talk to me, too much time, he could spend all day on the computer chatting with me.

The photo he sent me of his daughter was an obvious stock photo and not a pic of his teenaged daughter, whom he hadn’t seen in 2 years. According to him, she lived at a Canadian Boarding School all year round.

I Googled to check and boarding schools in Canada cost over $50 K a year. I’m not positive, but I found it hard to believe that a US soldier made enough to pay for a private boarding school.

What I did to verify my suspicions:

I read a bunch about Syria, the climate, the people, the towns, the news, etc. Then asked him general vague questions, like what did you do today? Or what’s it like in Syria now? Or How’s the weather?

He’d take a long time to answer compared to other parts of our conversation. Then he’d send me a link to a news story, a weather update. He Googled the answer instead of telling me about his own experiences.

At one point, I asked him what time it was and he gave me the wrong time. I’d checked to see what the time difference was, so when he told me 10:00, I knew that he couldn’t be in Syria. He was in Russia.

The nail on his coffin was when he told me that his ‘son’ needed a mother. Remember, he had a teenage daughter and his son had died in a car accident.

How to Identify a Scammer:

Scammers have gotten more sophisticated over time. They now have fake Facebook profiles with few friends, none of whom are connected to each other, and were just opened. They have phone numbers registered to actual places in the US. They have addresses of a place near you. They have businesses with simple websites. They will call you and talk to you on the phone.

So, how can you know if that great guy, who wants to get to know you online, is real or a scammer? I don’t have a fool proof formula, all I can do is offer some points to help you.

  1. Keep a written record of the details he gives you, ie, age, location, kids, job.
  2. Keep all messages to look back and compare to new information he is giving you
  3. Ask vague open ended questions to encourage him to give you details
  4. Ask yourself, does his voice, accent, etc, match the photo
  5. Research the information he gives you. Google has lots of information
  6. Keep a written record of the times he contacts you & what time it would be there
  7. Ask yourself, does the information provided make sense?
  8. Do not give him too many details about your life, keep talking about him

Go with your gut. Don’t take anything he says at face value, always question. For example, you’ve kept a record of the times he contacts you and the times he claims he needs to be working. Considering the time difference, do they make sense?

Keep asking yourself questions, without asking him to explain why the information he is giving you isn’t making sense. Keep a record of everything and compare it. If you see a pattern of lies and things that don’t make sense, save yourself time and block him.

I have talked with a few online dating scammers to get a good idea of how they sound, what they promise, what they say. They have a system and if something sounds too good to be true, chances are they are empty promises designed to get you to trust and open up to them.

When a Scammer asked me for money:

Most times I talk to scammers, I shut them down way before they get to the request for money, one time, I didn’t. This scammer was good, at first, then he started triggering red flags, so I went all in. I pretended to be in love, crazy do anything for him love. Planning a future together, everything.

It took a week for him to ask me for money to get home from Taiwan, $50 000 – he had a shipment in customs and needed the cash to bribe officials to get it out. I told him, I didn’t have that kind of money. He asked for $25 000. I told him, I didn’t have that kind of money. He asked me to get a loan. I told him, I wouldn’t. He told me love is about helping each other out.

Yeah, no.

Bottom Line:

No matter how wonderful he sounds, the minute he asks you for money, it’s a scam. Close your computer and run. Run fast. Block him from everything and look for someone who lives close to you.

If he says he can only turn to you to ask for help, do you really want to be dating a guy with that few real world people who care about him? If he’s that alone in this world, chances are, there is a good reason for it. – RUN!

Talk to your friends, trust what they say, and know that there are men out there, close to you, who are not scammers, willing to love you. I know that sounds hollow and sometimes even I have a hard time believing that, however, what’s better? Being alone or getting taken by a scammer?

40 Something

In my novel series 40 Something, someone is gonna get scammed, I’m just not too sure whom yet. Who do you think would most likely fall for a scammer? Charlie, Lindsay, or Sophie? 

More information:

Online Dating Scams, Forensic Magazine. 

How Online Dating Scammers are Making $$ Infographic

Carol’s Story about an online dating scammer


Read Excerpts of the Series

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Photo on 2014-04-17 at 12.25 PMShannon Peel is the author of THIRTEEN a book about a boy and his mom caught behind enemy lines when soldiers attack their North American hometown. The story asks the question, what if it happened here?

For more information check out her website.www.shannonpeel.com