Yesterday was a beautiful early autumn day. It was one of those rare Sunday mornings that we didn’t have anything to do, no company, and no plans for the day. The girls sat on the couch reading. T was in the kitchen putting a coffee cake in the oven, and I was stretched out in the recliner still in my robe. I was messing around on my iPad and thoroughly enjoying the thought of a day without any commitments. My weekend cleaning chores were done, and the girls and I idly discussed what we might do to get out of the house while T watched football.
I heard an email ding and swiped across the screen to check it out. It was a connection request from Linkedin. No big deal. While I don’t go on Linkedin often, I do have over 500 connections, most of them colleagues I’ve met at conferences over the years or former co-workers. I didn’t recognize this person’s name, but I saw that he lived in a city near my own, and we share several connections. I quickly accepted the connection and went back to my conversation.
Several minutes later, I heard another ding. It was a private message from my new connection. It read:
Thanks for accepting my connection. It’s really nice hearing back from you. I only use this medium for business purposes, but can’t take my eyes off your profile. I’m interested in you and would appreciate being acquainted.
I lost my lovely wife to cancer about 5yrs ago and haven’t dated anyone ever since just been lonely. Do you have kids? I’m sorry if you don’t like this, it’s just that I’m interested and can’t keep it to myself. I would be very glad to hear back from you. (Here he writes his phone number, but I’ll be decent enough not to publish that!)
Dr. Kenneth? I wondered who this guy was, so I clicked through to his profile. It was suspiciously impressive. A Harvard graduate! He worked for the World Health Organization! The poor guy was a lonely widower. Yeah…..RIGHT!
To be honest, his profile picture was of an exceedingly handsome man. I giggled for a moment. I’m sure that meeting me would have been a huge disappointment to the handsome man in that picture. I giggled, and then I thought what the hell?? Why was I beating myself up and thinking that I wasn’t attractive enough for a man that I had no interest in meeting? No only am I not looking to meet anyone, but this guy is obviously a liar, a player, and maybe even dangerous. I sat my iPad down, and forgot about Dr. Kenneth for the rest of the day.
After dinner, I sat down with my iPad once again. I had been traveling for work late last week, and I wanted to get a jump on any emails I had missed while I was out of the office. My weekend had been so relaxing that I had slid anything work-related to the back burner. I was startled to see another message from Dr. Kenneth.
“I waited for a message from you all day. I took my horses to race after church and didn’t get back home until later in this evening.
I would really appreciate hearing back from you.
Does that sound strange? I just had to tell you how I felt about you. You are special and I see it in your profile. We haven’t met before. I just stumbled on your profile. I’m truly interested in you and I just can’t keep it to myself.
Will be waiting to read from you soon.
Now I was pissed off. I had such an odd mixture of emotions. I knew without a doubt that Dr. Kenneth was a phony, but what saddened me was that I imagined some sad, lonely woman falling for his flattery. As human beings, we all long for companionship, love, and validation. This man was using his knowledge that somewhere out there was a woman who would jump at the chance to have these things, who would believe that she had found “the one,” her knight in shining armor. Why? What was his end goal? Sex? A fling? Something more sinister? Was he looking for a woman so desperate for love that he could feed a narcissistic ego?
I thought about Dr. Kenneth off and on all day today. I was shaken, and I felt victimized. Men don’t have to deal with this kind of thing. Or do they? Obviously, I was going to block Dr. Kenneth on Linkedin the first chance I had, but it was a busy day at work, and I didn’t get my chance until after work.
It was well past 5:00 p.m., and I was the last person in the building. I felt a wave of fear as I walked down the stairs to lock the front door of the office. I made a mental note to delete this guy as soon as I got home from work. Who is he, I wondered. Is this someone I have encountered in real life? The phone number he had given me was local. Honestly, I was a little freaked out. My eyes swept the parking lot as I walked to my car.
To add to my uneasiness, T is out of town all week for work. Usually, I enjoy these times when the girls and I are home with no men in the house. We giggle a lot, eat what we want, and listen to music that make the men in our lives roll their eyes. Tonight, I made sure to lock the door behind me as I walked in the house, and I made the rounds to check the other doors.
Logically, I know there is nothing to fear, but the thoughtless words of this person has shaken me. I am angry. I’m angry at him for treating ANYONE in such an inappropriate way, and I am angry at myself for not being more careful. I’m upset to have let this shake me up. I think of myself as a strong and independent woman, yet I have let the words of a man I don’t know impact my confidence.
I have blocked Dr. Kenneth from my Linkedin account, but not before I replied to his message.
“I like meeting new people, but I am aware that there are bad people in this world who enjoy preying on women. That is a sad fact of life. I am going to have to err on the side of caution.
Something tells me that you are not being upfront and honest with me, Dr. Kenneth. If I am wrong, then I humbly apologize. If I am correct, please examine your motives and attempt to correct your dishonorable actions.
In your first message, you say that I am an intelligent woman. You are correct. Like most women, I am swayed by flattery. Flattery often blurs our reaction to caution, and I have learned to think with my head and see the red flags along my path in life.
Leave me alone. Please do not do this kind of thing to other women in the future.”
Yikes. And wow. You have always had an energy that draws people to you, and that can work in extremely positive ways as well as dangerously negative ways. I am glad you have learned to stand up against the players, flatterers, narcissists, and sociopaths, spot them early, and call them out. Your self-worth is a work of art, all of your own making, and I am proud of you.