Tindenburg! Readers’ tales of online dating gone awry

Oh, the humanity!

click to enlarge Tindenburg! Readers’ tales of online dating gone awry
Illustration by Lee DeVito

Thanks to the proliferation of online dating apps, it's never been easier to swipe your next potential soulmate (or at least a hot fling) into your life. Stigmas against online dating have eroded in recent years, and today, nearly half of the public knows someone who uses online dating apps or who has met a spouse or partner using online dating, according to a recent Pew Research poll.

That means there are more people swiping than ever. But more swiping also means more of a chance things could go down in flames ... a "Tindenburg" if you will.

We asked Metro Times readers to share their stories of online dating that, looking back, had gone hilariously awry. (You know, as they say, tragedy plus time equals comedy.) We didn't want to hear stories of "happily ever after." We wanted to hear about the most comical, most ridiculous Tinder dates you've ever been on (or OKCupid, or Bumble, or Grindr, or whatever). These are your stories.

Going down in flames

My worst date was with a guy from Match.com. He suggested Buffalo Wild Wings, so I said sure. Got there and realized an MMA fight was on, which is why he wanted to go. The entire time, in between matches, he kept picking up his phone, sighing really heavy, and setting it back down.

"Everything OK?"

"Yeah. It's just ... I found out my ex-fiancée died in a plane crash today."

"Oh my God! Seriously?"

"Yeah. It's just been really tough, but I didn't want to cancel on you."

I told him we could end things early because he obviously had some stuff to take care of (and I was super bored) and he agreed. He walked me to my car and said, "So, you wanna come over and make me feel better?"

Uh, no.

Next day, after I Googled plane crashes and determined there hadn't been any, he texts me that he had a great time. Me, being polite, said I did as well. He replied, "It's too bad you were such a buzzkill at the end."

Tindenburg! Readers’ tales of online dating gone awry
Illustration by Lee DeVito
Saved by Bruce

The most memorable dates for me were in the early days of Internet dating. I can't remember the site, but it was before OK Cupid and such.

Once, I met this gal on there. We chatted by email, then by phone. We made a date. I was to pick her up — dinner, movie, etc. When I got to her door, she got in the car, and brought this big book with her. It was a big astrology book of birthdays. She asked me my birthday, opened to the page, looked at it for about two minutes, then said "Yeah, this won't work out." She then got up and left the car. I never heard from her again.

One time, I met another gal on there. We chatted by email, then by phone. We made a date. I was to pick her up — dinner, movie, etc. I went to her apartment to pick her up. I was just supposed to pick her up and we were supposed to go out.

Instead, she let me in. I sat on the couch and she didn't interact with me. I tried to talk to her, and she was very "yes" or "no." I didn't know what to do. I was very young then —19 or 20 — and I didn't have much dating experience. But I decided to hang out with her and watch TV — although, again she didn't interact with me much. The only reason why I decided to watch the shows she was watching was because they were the episodes of Xena: Warrior Princess guest-starring Bruce Campbell and, being a huge fan of Bruce Campbell, I had to watch. After about two hours, I left.

Probably not the craziest ... but, the most memorable for me.

Tindenburg! Readers’ tales of online dating gone awry
Illustration by Lee DeVito

Meet me at the 7-Eleven

A few years back, I went on a date with a guy from the Clawson area. He was a little older and, judging by his pictures, it could go either way — he looked either super handsome or unattractive, there was no in-between. That made me nervous, but I figured I would take a chance. Some people don't photograph well. Plus, talking on the phone, he was very charming.

We decided to meet up at On the Rocks in Clawson (RIP) for a few drinks on a Sunday night. I was at the I-75 and 696 exit when he asked me to meet him at 7-Eleven on 11 Mile. I was almost to the bar, but he was very insistent I meet him there first. I was uncomfortable, but went along with it.

My fight or flight kicked in hard, but as a lifelong chubby girl, I knew how it felt to be judged for my size and so I thought I couldn't leave.

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I arrived at 7-Eleven first and parked on the side of the building so I could see cars pulling in, but they couldn't see me right away. Finally, he stepped out of his car and my heart sank. He was a good 10 years older than his pictures and 50 pounds heavier. He went in the store, unaware I was in the lot. My fight or flight kicked in hard, but as a lifelong chubby girl, I knew how it felt to be judged for my size and so I thought I couldn't leave. Older, more confident me would never have even met him at 7-Eleven. I would have just went home.

He finally exited the store and walked around the lot until he found me. After some awkward convo, I asked if he had to stop at 7-Eleven to "buy something for later, haha." He just stared at me blankly. God knows why, but I agreed to follow him to the bar.

The bar was packed and it was karaoke night — not exactly an ambient, sexy date night. Long story short: Like Trump, he lied constantly and had a very high opinion of himself. He also called our waitress, who was swamped and running with her head off, "white trash" for no real reason. After practically inhaling my drinks, I made up some bullshit excuse about having to work early. He insisted on walking me to my car.

I jumped in my car and tried to slam the door, but this MF put his boot in the door frame and started to lean in for a kiss. Somehow, I got the door loose from his death grip and sped off into the night.

It actually wasn't the worst date I've ever had, but definitely the weirdest. To this day, I still don't know why I had to meet him at 7-Eleven.

Tindenburg! Readers’ tales of online dating gone awry
Illustration by Lee DeVito

Riding the Storm out

I had Tinder for about a month and matched with a girl who went by the name "Storm." She and I went through the typical chatting within the app. We finally upgraded to chatting by text message, and the first bump in the road was that her text box didn't turn blue. It was green — and I hate that, to be perfectly honest. But it's cool! Who am I to judge a potential mate on the color of her texts?

After about two weeks of very light texting we finally agreed to go see Daddy's Home 2. I had never seen the first one ... but she wanted to see it. The movie was scheduled to begin at 7:15 p.m., so I got to the theater at 6:50 p.m. and sat and waited, wondering, "Will she be even cuter than her pics? What story should I lead off with? Oh right! I'll tell her about my trip I just took with my old man! That'll be good!"

Then the phone buzzed at 7:10 p.m.:

Me: "Hello??"

Storm: "Holy shit. I just left the gym and I am heading home to shower. I am so fucking tired! Which theater did you say again? Where are you?"

"Hey! Well, I am at the movies, I am just—"

"What? Why the fuck are you there so early?"

"Well, the movie is going to start in 5 minutes, but there is an 8 p.m. show. Do you think you can make that?"

"Ugh, fine. I'll be there as soon as I can."

So I waited, and at 7:55 p.m. Storm walked in looking just like her pics. Cool! Then she launched into how sore she is, and how she had to rush to get there, and asked again why I was so early, etc.

We walked to the counter and I asked for two tickets for the 8 p.m. show of Daddy's Home 2 and the young man told me that time was not in the system. A manager came over and said, "Oh, did you read these times online?" I said, "No, I am looking at your monitor right above your head."

He said, "Oh, right. Sometimes our online times don't match up. Make sure you always go to our official site for movie times."

I said, "Guy, I'm looking right at the monitor! I didn't go online!" At this point, I could see Storm was fidgety. I told her about the "mix-up" and she mumbled something about time-travel. Yes, time-travel. Anyway, I knew of an open mic happening in the area and offered that as a potential activity. She agreed! So off we went.

As we entered, we found two stools at the bar. Storm said, "Get me a shot of tequila, I need to take a piss." So I got her the shot and when she returned she immediately slammed it. I don't really drink, so I got a nice strong IPA and sipped it. Storm noticed this and commented with, "You drink like a pussy."

I'm sure at this point you're wondering why would I endure this? What could I have been thinking? Well, my dear friend, this was not a bad date — it was a catastrophe! It approached divine perfection of total shit. And I have to admit, I was so amused and curious. What would she say next? Could it get worse?

It did! She ordered another shot of tequila with a side of jalapeño (she said the jalapeños were in case I tried to kiss her). She then admitted that she did four shots of tequila before she left the house! She then went on about how stupid everyone is and how smart she is — for quite some time. I never told Storm one detail about my own life that we didn't cover in text or on the app.

After about an hour and a half, I told Storm that I really needed to head home. She grabbed my IPA and said I had to finish it. I said no way ... so she slammed it. I drove her back to the theater where she went on about what a "good guy" I was and how she is normally more "chill than this." Or something ... I thanked her for coming out, and waited for her to get out of my car. She sat in my car and told me more about herself for another 30 minutes ... I politely nodded and muttered "uh-huh" and "yeah yeah," until finally ... she left.

I drove home, un-matched us, and blocked her number. Godspeed "Storm," or whoever the fuck you are! Godspeed!

Tindenburg! Readers’ tales of online dating gone awry
Illustration by Lee DeVito

The Cuckfish

Almost three years ago, I matched with a beautiful 22-year-old woman on Tinder. Let's call her Laura. We hit it off rather quickly. We both had similar jobs, and had a lot in common. I'd like to think we would have started dating, but, unfortunately she wasn't into my situation: I'm in a non-monogamous open-relationship. I was essentially looking for friends with benefits, and Laura was looking for something more serious. It was a bummer she wasn't interested in meeting after I told her, but I understood. However, we connected on Facebook and Instagram and stayed in touch for about 18 months, periodically catching up on our lives, mostly talking shop or about our most recent Netflix binges. Although we never met, I considered us friends. She even sent me her résumé to pass along to my work for a position.

During this 18-month period, Laura met a guy who she seemed to really like — let's call him James. Laura and James dated for a year or so and eventually got engaged. My already sparse contact with Laura became basically nonexistent after their engagement. We didn't talk for maybe six months.

Then, one day, I got a Facebook message from Laura out of the blue. She asked what I was doing and if I wanted to come over and drink some wine with her. To my surprise she lived just down the street from me. This was weird and out of character for Laura. We had never met, she was engaged, we hadn't talked in months, and now she wanted me to come over? I asked her if James was there, and she said no. I started to feel excited. I admittedly always had a crush on her.

But I had to ask: Where was James? Was he OK with some guy he never met coming over to drink wine with his fiancée? Laura told me he is not only OK with it, he wants this — it's what they are "into," specifically her being with other guys. Laura says she thought of me because she remembered I was in an open relationship and figured I might be interested in something like this.

She was absolutely right, but I was still skeptical if this was really Laura and not some kind of trick or prank. I'm a cautious person, I wanted another way to verify that this was for real, so I resorted to finding Laura's mobile number on the résumé she gave me months earlier and texted her (we had only ever talked via Facebook messenger). I texted her. "Laura, are you talking to me on Facebook right now?" She texted back, "Yes!" and "This isn't a joke" and "I won't beg, come over!"

That was enough to convince me. I dropped everything and nervously yet enthusiastically walked over to her house.

From the moment she opened the door it all started to feel like a dream. She was even better-looking in person. I had fantasized about this type of scenario many times, but this wasn't a fantasy — it was happening.

I had to ask: Where was James? Was he OK with some guy he never met coming over to drink wine with his fiancée?

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After catching up over some wine for 20 minutes or so, things got hot and heavy quick. Everything seemed to move fast, yet time seemed to slow down. We made out on her couch and eventually made our way to her bedroom, and although I wish it had lasted longer, it was some of the best sex I've ever had. When it was over though, Laura said it could only be a "one-time thing" as part of her agreement with James. I was bummed, but, regardless, I was happy it happened at all. I skipped home with a shit-eating grin on my face.

That night we texted, re-living the evening, going over what we did. She didn't want me to leave out any details. But eventually she stopped responding. I figured she fell asleep. After all, it was late, and it had been an eventful day.

I wouldn't hear back from Laura until three days later, when I got a text from an unknown number not in my contacts saying, "It's Laura." She said she dropped her phone in the wash the night we were texting and it broke, and she was dealing with getting a new phone the last few days. She said she took over James' phone until her contract was up, and he got a new phone — something about their plan or whatever. Sounded weird to me but I didn't think to question it, I was just happy I was hearing from her again. We started to text more and more frequently. Our conversations almost always turned dirty, often asking to go over the details of our passionate night together, begging me to send her pictures of my dick and me touching myself. She told me she was going to talk to James about their "one time only" policy. We both wanted more.

After she told me James said she could see me again, we tried setting up another get-together, but at the last minute she canceled. This is how the next month would go: we would sext, set up another date, then she would cancel or ghost me the day we were supposed to meet. I eventually would get frustrated. I was clearing my busy schedule to make time to meet her — then she would flake out. If she just didn't want to meet, fine, whatever, but she acted like she really wanted it. After a while she realized she was losing me. I wasn't going to be played with — I was getting tired of recalling our one night together over text to get her off every other night. I wanted new memories with her to pull from.

As a way of apologizing for flaking on me, she started sending me nude photos — something erotic and dirty to win me back, to keep me interested and the dick pics flowing. I was frustrated and annoyed, but I felt like I couldn't complain too much. After all, a beautiful woman was sending me nudes. Even if we never met again, I wasn't suffering.

But during these two months of sexting and flirting, some red flags arose. First, Laura removed me from Facebook and Instagram shortly after our night together — a weird and seemingly unnecessary move, but she told me she wanted to be able to tease me with pictures she sent me and not allow me to see other pictures of her. I guess that made sense. Second, Laura would allude to falling in love with me. This was usually at the apex of our dirty conversations so I kinda always wrote it off to being in the moment and nothing more than dirty talk and not a reflection of any actual feelings, but this talk of falling for me and wanting to be with me started to reach new heights and get more explicit. Sometimes when Laura would flake out on meeting me, she would later text things like, "I'm worried I'm falling for you" or "I'm scared what will happen if we meet again" or "I don't want to ruin our relationships." This always seemed so irrational and extreme to me. After all, we had only met once. I'm good in bed, but not that good. Granted, I had some warm and fuzzy feelings for her at this point, but I wouldn't say they were anything resembling love — that would be crazy.

Then late one night, we were texting and she started sending me things like, "I'm worried I'm falling for you" and "I think you're the one for me" and "I think I found actual true love". Then suddenly I get a FaceTime call from Laura.

I stared at my phone not sure what to do. She had never FaceTimed me before. Right when I was about to answer it, the call ended before I was able to. I texted her back, "Did you mean to FaceTime call me?" No reply. I waited. I started to get a weird and visceral suspicion, a suspicion I had thought a few times during these past two months but wouldn't let myself accept as a real possibility. I started to let myself think that maybe this wasn't actually Laura.

Maybe that unknown number that texted me a few days after we had sex was never actually Laura texting me and was, in fact, James. I started to realize I had been sexting and sending pictures to a dude for the past two months.

Once I let myself entertain this idea and not write it off as paranoia, it all started to make a lot of sense: the constant requests to recount the evening we slept together, the flaking out on all of our second date plans, the irrational falling in love with me. It finally dawned on me that this whole time she had not really been the funny or interesting person I had become friends with over the last couple years. I had been completely blinded by the prospect of more sex and the nude photos. It all made sense now, but I needed to be sure.

I decided to call Laura, not the number I had been texting the past two months but her original number, the one she apparently got rid of. It rang, and rang. No answer. I texted her, "Is this Laura?" Then, after a minute, she texted back, "Yes?" I texted, "Please tell me you've been texting me these past two months from a different number!?" She responded with, "No? What are you talking about?" I called her, and she answered this time. She sounded like she's been crying. "What's going on?!" she asked. We talked for nearly an hour. I had to send her screenshots of our conversation, including the nude photos of her James sent me to make her believe me because James was apparently denying everything.

We confirmed everything I was afraid of. I had been texting James these past two months. I hadn't actually talked to the real Laura since the night I went to her house and slept with her. Apparently when I received that strange FaceTime call early in the night, that was James accidentally calling me, and the noise from the FaceTime ringing had woken Laura up and everything started to come to light on her end too when she questioned who James was FaceTime calling so late. As they were fighting, I started calling the real Laura and James's shtick was up.

We were both mortified by James' actions. I was upset, but more embarrassed than anything. Laura was a wreck. She felt betrayed by her future husband. She felt like her relationship was over. Laura explained to me that James thought he was into Laura sleeping with other guys, but had become jealous and possessive after she slept with me and removed me from her Facebook and Instagram so I couldn't contact her. He was apparently more into the idea of her sleeping with other dudes than the actual act of doing it.

I also found out I wasn't the only guy James was doing this to. It seemed James enjoyed pretending to be his wife and having the ability to turn on and get off guys who lusted for Laura. If I had to diagnose it, James has an extreme and twisted "hot wife" fetish, where he pretends to be Laura and "catfishes" guys, so he can cuckold himself via text. In retelling the story, I like to call him a term I coined: the "Cuckfish."

I don't talk to Laura anymore, which is sad because at one point I really did consider us friends. It's weird to think you're getting to know someone, especially in the most intimate of ways, only to find out that person wasn't actually part of any of that. One day, months later, I did see both Laura and James walking down the street together. They must have made up because they were walking their new dog.

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