Few can say that a wrong turn down Romance Road resulted in a short bout of homelessness five states west. But I can.
I “met” someone on a dating website. I was in Indiana figuring my life out, and he was a United States Marine Sergeant stationed in San Diego, California. The distance created an obstacle for us, but his love of God appealed to me. He seemed different than other guys I’d met — more mature. After a series of emails, we exchanged photos and began to talk on the phone.

A week later he was informed that he would be shipped off to Iraq for seven months. We spent those months sharing emails, phone calls and letters. Even with all the sandstorms, bombings and secret missions, the longest we went without speaking was just three days. We just clicked! After a bit of coaxing — okay, quite a bit of coaxing –  I made the decision to move to California to be with him. The fact that I had never spent time with him in person was of no consequence at that point; by then I felt like I knew him. Or so I thought.

I moved there a month before he arrived back home and he did everything humanly possible to convince me that my heart and life were safe with him. He sent money to help me move and gave me addresses and phone numbers of relatives and friends in California so that I wouldn’t feel lonely. I sold most of my belongings, gave away my dog, and withdrew just about all the money I had saved. I packed the moving truck and headed West to wait for my future husband to come home.
I was there to greet him at the hangar when he arrived (no one else showed up), drove him to his base apartment, and we spent a wonderful week together as he introduced me to his friends and family and invited me into his world. But something changed. His phone calls stopped coming. His visits became scarce. He stopped showing me houses and started saying statements like, “You’re smarter than me,” or “I wish I was good enough for you.” Whoa! Where did this come from? I searched my mental rolodex to try and pinpoint the time and place when I may have said something to suggest I found him inadequate, but I couldn’t. How could I? Those were his feelings, not mine.
I have no idea what happened. He vanished. No calls. No visits. The last communication I received from him was a text that read, “Nobody told you to come here with no money. You’re a smart girl. You’ll figure it out.” Pictures soon surfaced online of him and his high school sweetheart. The high school sweetheart he told me about — the woman about whom he always had negative things to say. They were now engaged and expecting their first child. The friends and family I met disappeared as well. It was as if they never existed. In two weeks, my entire world stopped turning.
I was out of money and I hadn’t found a job, I got evicted from my new apartment. I was homeless. No money. No resources. Nowhere to go. No way home.

Luckily, I used the gifts God gave me and my story ended up okay.

Do you have a cautionary dating tale to share? (Remember it will be completely anonymous!) Tell us about it and your story could be featured anonymously on ESSENCE.com. Send your “it happened to me” tales to relationships.essence(at)gmail.com or click here. Thank you in advance for sharing, ladies!


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