Susannah Birch was 15 years old when she met a man in an online chatroom. What followed was "an intense online relationship for three years," and then a proposal. The two had never met in person.
The engagement was ultimately called off, and Birch went on to marry another man, staying in touch with her online pen pal all the while. It was only last year, she told HuffPost Live, that she discovered that the man she'd been communicating with for the past 12 years was not the person he'd made himself out to be.
"I actually found out that he's 63 years old, with children and grandchildren," she recounted.
Despite having been deceived by a person who she'd considered a "really good friend," Birch recalls feeling relieved upon finding out his real identity.
"All these years it'd kind of been like he was never able to meet me. He always had an excuse," she explained. "As a teenager he was busy with school, and then he had [university] and stuff, and I was always like, 'Why didn't he want to actually take this anywhere?' And then I was like, 'Oh wait -- it wasn't me. It was actually him.'"
So why did it take so long for Birch to get suspicious in the first place?
"I got past the idea that he was fake because you read all these lists online about how to tell if someone's fake, and he never asked me for money. He never did any weird things," she said. "I guess he was such a part of my life [that] by the time that I did question that kind of thing, I didn't question him."
Watch more from HuffPost Live's conversation about the hardships of online dating here.
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