How I Fell In Love With Myself On The Internet

28/02/2017 12:07 GMT | Updated 01/03/2018 10:12 GMT

In September of last year at the tender age of 42 and after two years of being single, I tentatively set out to find my soulmate the second time around. Being an incredibly busy working mum whose main events only introduce her to a plethora of women I realised that if I was going to find love again I would have to turn to the Internet.

At first I joined a couple of popular dating sites but quickly got bored of trying to have intelligent conversations with men who mainly tried to converse in text speak, so I took a chance and I put my dating profile on my blog. I figured that with a decent readership there had to be lovely readers connected to suitable singles and so I crossed my fingers and waited.

Before too long a charming man came forward, introduced by a mutual friend and for the next three months we chatted every day online and our weekly Skype dates were the highlight of my week. I stopped going out in the evenings so I could stay in and chat online to my new beau, every message I held dear in my heart, the skies were bluer, the sunshine brighter, the colours more vibrant and when the opportunity arose to travel to meet him just after Christmas I jumped at the chance because I had this feeling that I had found the man I was looking for.

Okay, so I know what you're thinking, older woman, goes to meet the single man she met on the Internet and gets defrauded to the tune of £20,000. Yes, we've all heard those tales of love, woe and the Internet but this isn't one of them, well not quite...

You see, and here's the thing, when we did meet, we had a great weekend, he was everything I hoped for but it was pretty clear from some of the things he said that he just didn't feel the same way I did. It killed me inside. How could I have thought up to that point that he reciprocated all of my feelings, how could I have been so very wrong?

And then, I realised...

I had fallen in love with myself on the Internet!

You know how it's sometimes hard to have conversations online because it's hard to add expression in short messages other than with an emoji? Well, for the most part, we were growing our relationship (I thought) using Twitter, our Skype dates were just fun four-hour conversations, and although he was the first person I ever Skyped, he was regularly Skyping other friends.

It seems each word and each message he wrote I'd almost put too much expression into because I was so convinced that I'd found the real deal. I heard what I wanted to hear and I ignored the rest. When it all blew up I had to go into hiding (from the Internet and Twitter at least) because I was so mortified and embarrassed.

I'm over it now and I'm continuing in my search to find my soulmate but I'm a little scared. What happens if I do the same again? After all, when I was married I'd always thought that my ex-husband was so much lovelier when we messaged throughout the day than he was in person and now I know it's because of the very same reason. I'd love to know what the answer is, I know it's my brain, which doesn't work so well. I'm hardwired to be a hopeless romantic and always see the best in people so I think my only alternative may be to hope that I bump into someone in real life and never communicate via anything other than phone, Skype or actual real life.

Mandy Charlton, Photographer, Writer, Blogger