The trailer left me asking, “How could these women have been taken in by his false persona?”
Questioning whether this was genuinely a true story, I did a quick internet search, which led me to the report by Norwegian newspaper, VG—and what I read and saw fascinated me. I had to watch the documentary ASAP.
The first thing that struck me was how each of the women, however secure in themselves they may have seemed, were all longing for love, and were willing to throw themselves straight into a serious relationship and committed friendship—investing their time, emotions, and money.
It appeared that they each had a dream of finding a loving partner to share their lives with, and they wanted him to be the one—they wanted it to be real. This yearning makes it easy to ignore red flags, relax our boundaries, and focus purely on what we hope is true.
The “Tinder Swindler” may be an extreme example, as it’s alleged that he purposefully entered into these relationships with the intention of committing fraud and stealing thousands of dollars from each of his victims. But, there are many who fall in love with a dream that someone appears to be offering, rather than with the actual person and their reality.
Even when we get to know the truth of who they are, it’s easy to overlook any areas of our lives that are misaligned, because we want to love and be loved.
Falling for a dream is not a new phenomenon; decades-old books, personal accounts, and news articles tell stories of people choosing unavailable partners, or those leading double lives. Despite the ability to search for individuals on the internet and on social media, romance scams are on the increase. Thankfully, dating apps such as Tinder are taking action by highlighting the dangers and banning known perpetrators.
Of course, in the case of Simon, Shimon, David, or whatever other alias he used, he created convincing backstories, forged documentation, photo-shopped images, and had fake websites to present his fantasy persona.
It’s easy to think that I would have spotted the warning signs, which I believe were visible to someone cautious enough to consider them—but I’m human, and therefore, also hold that basic desire for a partner to share my life with. What I am certain of, is that in a similar situation, I would have reacted differently due to my past relationships and life experience.
So, here’s my take on how to avoid falling for the next potential Tinder Swindler:
As relationship expert Matthew Hussey says in one of his podcasts, “Good relationships, relationships with solid foundations, arise out of an abundance of conversation.”
It’s through these discussions that we’re able to establish whether we have a similar outlook on life, the same values, complementary goals, and an aligned vision for our shared future.
2. Natural progression.
Developing a relationship at a natural pace happens when it feels completely comfortable and right to both partners. This would involve learning more about each other through conversation as well as in-person interaction—getting to know each other in a variety of life situations, and with friends and family.
Variety is more than the spice of life, it enables us to learn about each other’s perspectives, preferences, and lifestyle choices. If we are only ever texting and exchanging voice messages, how can we really be sure that we are compatible?
4. The vital question.
When assessing a new relationship and especially if we are being asked to fast-forward the stages of natural development, it would be pertinent to consider, “How well do we really know each other?”
5. Fairy tale.
Hollywood has inspired us with many romantic scenes and blissful happy endings, so we often create stories inside our heads—visions of how we would like our personal fairy tale to play out.
It’s easy to focus on our dreams. What’s important though are actions as well as words, and how someone makes us feel. Both partners will need to choose each other and the relationship, every day—and put in the effort to maintain it long term.
“A good strong powerful relationship is when you have your own back and you get to take a stand for your own success, and who you are, and your integrity. And you’re taking a stand for them, and their success and their integrity. And you’re taking a stand for the two of you together.” ~ Jayson Gaddis
The “Tinder Swindler” left me wanting to scream at the television, “How come you didn’t check what transactions were being made against your credit cards? Why didn’t you suggest that he reach out to his wealthy family or friends for money?”
But, mostly, “Why would you want to be in a relationship with someone who isn’t available to hold a conversation, doesn’t make the effort to meet your family or friends, and rarely takes the time to come and see you in person?”
I feel great compassion for his victims; this was not the dream relationship they had envisioned—it was a nightmare.