I don’t even know where to begin, and I’m aware that what everyone is about to read sounds highly fictional. I promise you, it is not. This is non-fiction, and a true account of my experience. For the first time ever, I am going to use names and pictures, in the hopes that I can possibly save other women from my mistakes.
Hold on to your seats, kids!
How ironic that the very first post on my blog was about The Lawyer, Eric Pryor. Remember him? “Don’t I get some tongue?” Refresh your memory here, here and here. That was back in 2006, when I was new to the online dating world, and excited about the possibilities. He was one of the first people I met, and I’ll admit that I have occasionally wondered what happened to him in the years since.
Now is when I will admit to you who the mystery guy from the last post was: Marathon Guy, Matt Lauder, also known as the Stage Eight Clinger. Back in 2010, we chatted for a long time, and connected very well online, but he was too pushy during/after just one date. He also reminded me a LOT of Eric Pryor, and I couldn’t shake the nagging sense of déjà vu, so I just walked away.
When Matt found me on OkCupid two years later and sent me a message, I decided to give him another chance. Like I said, we connected so well online and went right back to easy, comfortable conversation, like we never stopped talking. He handled my sarcastic sense of humour well, and wasn't a pushover. I’ve been told by friends that I’m too cutthroat and too hard-assed, and sometimes people deserve a second shot. Matt and I could talk for hours about anything and everything, and I felt like he “got” me. I knew he wanted to meet up again, but he told me we could take things at my pace, and he was willing to be just friends, if that’s all we ever amounted to. So, I took my time, and we eventually met up. I was torn after that meeting, because I was never super attracted to him, but I was willing to keep figuring “us” out, and over time, we went out on a few dates, and then there was cheesecake and sex. He began to talk about us in a very serious way that, surprisingly, didn’t freak me out. He mentioned marriage within a couple years. Kids. A life together. I finally allowed some of my walls down, and began letting Matt in.
Knowing things were a little tight for me financially, he offered to help pay for my laser eye surgery, but I refused. He sent me pictures of the “man cave” he was building at his house, and talked about watching movies there together. He was going to teach me to drive. Each day, I let him in a little more. We talked every day, and often at night, too. I finally allowed myself to lean on someone that wasn’t a member of my immediate family, or Stef. He talked me through the bad days at work, which were many, and offered his support in any way I needed. He told me about ex-girlfriends, his family in Kingston, his hobbies and friends, and I realized that I was slowly but surely falling for him.
As you read in my previous post, he suddenly left to take care of his ailing father, and vanished from the face of the earth. I was left confused and hurt, without any closure, but also worried about what had happened to him. Had his father died? Had something happened to Matt? I checked obituaries, but no one in Kingston with the last name Lauder was the right age. Had it all been a game? Stef called me crazy for even considering this, because who would go to that much trouble? Matt had chased me for two years, and there was never a reason to doubt his feelings. Had I done something terribly wrong to scare him off? I’m not the easiest person in the world to handle, I am the first to admit. I am stubborn, honest to a fault, terribly sarcastic, and put my foot in my mouth on a regular basis. I ran through every possible scenario in my head, but nothing made sense to me, and with a heavy heart, I had no choice but to finally walk away.
A year later, I was still at a loss, thought sadly of Matt from time to time, and wondered if I would ever have answers to my questions. I hadn’t dated anyone seriously since him, and I still struggled with it.
Yesterday morning, my alarm went off at 5:30am and I turned my phone on (I often suffer from insomnia, so I put my phone in airplane mode at night). As my WIFI connected and e-mails started coming in, I saw one that stopped my heart for a second:
From: Matt Lauder
25 February, 2013 1:41AM
With trepidation, I opened the e-mail, and realized that his alternate yahoo account had been hacked, probably because it had been sitting idle for so long, like his Gmail address that bounced back to me as undeliverable. The link in the body of the e-mail took me to a page to make money online. Junk.
That’s when something caught my eye, and I could not breathe. The second name on the list of people the e-mail had been sent to:
Eric T. Pryor
Eric Pryor was the lawyer I had gone on a date with in 2006. Eric was the person Matt reminded me SO much of, it gave me nagging déjà vu. In that moment, I knew that Eric and Matt were one in the same, and I’d been had.
You might wonder how I didn’t recognize someone I’d been on a date with before, especially when I have a good memory for small details. Fact of the matter is that it was nearly five years later, and things turn grey and fade over time. Matt had grown a beard, possibly to throw me off of his game. He was using a different name, and never once let it slip that we had met before.
This is not to say I didn’t question my déjà vu. I remember Matt mentioning his birthday in early April, and it triggered something in my brain. I went to my Hotmail account, found some old e-mails from Eric, realized that they shared a birthday, and couldn’t help but start asking questions.
Redhead: So, I’ve figured out who you remind me of.
Matt: Haha, the déjà vu that keeps bothering you? Who?
Redhead: Yes. I went out with a guy from POF years ago. You two look similar. You talk similar. You’re both lawyers. Both only children.
Matt: Whoa. Seriously? Haha, no wonder you had the déjà.
Redhead: Here's the kicker: you guys have the same birthday!
Matt: What? Are you kidding? Okay, you’re starting to freak ME out, Redhead!
I convinced myself I was crazy, that sometimes a coincidence is just a coincidence.
Shame on me for not listening to my instincts, as they have always proved right.
Oh, but it gets better.
I spent yesterday talking it out with both Stef and my co-worker, Stacey. We all agreed that while it answered a lot of questions, it also raised many more. Had he left because he knew I would eventually figure out that he and Eric were the same person? What did he have to lose by just telling me the truth? Did it start as a game, and he got in too deep? Was this vengeance for my running from him…twice?
After dinner and a drink with Stace after work last night, I got home and proceeded to call my mom and my brothers, to tell them what I had discovered. My youngest brother and I are both fans of the interesting documentary Catfish, and he immediately started doing some digging online. That’s when he sent me this:
That, my friends, is Eric Pryor/Matt Lauder/whatever his real name is. Apparently I’m not the only victim of this lying, cheating, manipulative shitbag, and this profile was created in an attempt to save other girls from falling for his lies. I hope this blog post might do the same, but he’s likely trolling the internets using another pseudonym by now.
The “married with a daughter” part makes me sick to my stomach, and I’m horrified with myself for sleeping with him, not that it’s my fault, because there is no way I could have known. This guy is GOOD, and he’s obviously been playing this game with a lot of women for a very long time, and has done an excellent job of covering up his tracks. The years of elaborate lies just blow my mind. I did send a message to the owner of this POF page, but it was probably created years ago, and I may never receive a response.
I needed to write this out, in an effort to process this, and purge the shock and disgust from my system. I keep laughing about the whole thing, I think because of the blindsiding, but also because if I don’t laugh, I’ll cry. I thought I’d experienced it all when it came to online dating, but apparently I was very wrong.
How do I trust anyone online, after this? I’ve just reinforced my high and mighty walls with rebar and concrete.
Thank you, hacker, for the e-mail that blew this open, and thank you to the “anonymous angry lady” (as little brother put it), who created that POF profile to warn others. I now have answers to my questions, and finally, closure.