Anyone who’s tried online dating knows that there are plenty of horror stories on the way to finding true love. Awkward dates, people lying about their appearance, etc. It can be quite an ordeal.
But one woman has a dating story that puts them all to shame—a story about a disastrous match that took an unexpected twist, and led to something real.
In 2015, Emma Perrier, originally from France but living in London, was finding it hard to find love. The 35-year-old restaurant manager was still reeling from a recent bad breakup, and the local dating scene wasn’t promising—most of the men seemed to only be interested in bars and nightclubs, with no interest in the kind of commitment Emma was looking for.
“I’m a romantic,” Emma told The Atlantic.
“I love to love, and I want to be loved too.”
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She was skeptical at first about online dating. But one night, after months of hanging around her apartment alone watching The Notebook, she received a message—from a handsome stranger. He was dark-haired, Italian, and looked like a model.
“I was blown away by his picture,” Emma told The Mirror. “He was tall, dark and handsome.”
It was through Zoosk, an online dating site. To read the full message, she had to pay to join. She agreed.
The message: “You look beautiful.”
Emma was surprised by the message. “I’m very natural,” Emma told The Atlantic. “I mean, I’m nothing. I’m very simple you know… so I was flattered.”
She was also surprised to learn that, for such an exotic-looking person, he had a fairly ordinary existence: he worked a blue-collar electrician job, and lived nearby. He told her his name was Ronaldo Scicluna.
The two quickly found a lot of common ground and hit it off. They flirted nonstop, eventually moving to chat apps outside of Zoosk.
“We were talking from morning until night every day,” Emma told The Mirror. “I couldn’t believe my luck.”
As weeks went by, things started getting more serious.
The two opened up to each other, becoming each other’s confidantes, sharing stories about their families.
“As soon as I saw your picture I wanted you,” Ronaldo told her.
Emma was swept up in the new love, telling Ronaldo that he “changed something” in her.
But something wasn’t right.
There was a major red flag in their relationship, one that Emma was too smitten to see: Ronaldo never wanted to meet face-to-face, not even over webcam—no matter how much Emma asked.
“Just a dinner to start with,” Emma begged him one night, according to The Atlantic. “I can do the travel… then if the connection is really there we will find a way.”
But Ronaldo always had an excuse. Emma believed them all—but her friends didn’t. They warned her that her new love could be not who he says he is—or even someone dangerous.
“I didn’t want to listen to them,” Emma told The Atlantic.
As hard as it was for her to accept, she did start to get suspicious—and decided to investigate. She downloaded a reverse image search engine and put it to the test.
The results set off a heartbreaking discovery:
“Some pics Ronaldo had sent me of food from a holiday to Italy traced back to a Tripadvisor account,” she told The Mirror.
“And the name on it was Alan.”
Emma remembered that Ronaldo had once sent her an email from the name “Alan Stanley.” He had an excuse at the time, but Emma finally pieced two and two together. “Ronaldo” was not who he said he was.
She had been “catfished.” All this time, she had been talking to Alan Stanley, a balding, 53-year-old man.
“It was devastating and I felt sick,” she told The Atlantic. “You have no idea how much I’ve been hurt inside.”
“He told me he was bored and lonely. He admitted he was a dad, over 50 and divorced…. He said he found the pictures and used them because he thought no one would talk to him if he used his own.”
She found out that the photos she thought were Ronaldo were actually Adam Guzel, a model and aspiring actor living in Turkey.
Emma tracked down Adam’s Facebook page—and it was the handsome stranger she thought had messaged her months ago.
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She decided to contact him, letting him know his photos were being used.
“I wasn’t sure if getting in touch with you was a good idea but I just need you to know,” Emma wrote. She was nervous.
But Guzel thanked her for letting him know. He said he had heard of his photos being used that way before—but he was saddened to hear Emma had been manipulated like that.
Amazingly, the two began talking and it hit off—and to both of their surprise, Adam asked if she wanted to video chat.
“It was crazy,” she told The Atlantic. “I wasn’t sure it was him, I was always in doubt.”
“I never do FaceTiming,” Adam added. “But somehow I wanted to do it with her.”
Emma was stunned to be talking to the man behind the photos after all this time.
“You are so real,” Emma said. “You really exist!”
But it was more than his looks—as Emma got to know Adam, something real developed. She had just as much a connection with him as she thought she had with her catfisher.
“It was really him,” she told The Mirror. “The man I had fallen for with was real. His English was perfect too.”
The two eventually decided to meet in person, and Adam agreed to fly into London. Fittingly, it was April Fool’s Day—and ironically, when Emma told a stranger she was meeting someone she met online, she warned that people online aren’t always who they say they are.
But the real Adam stepped off the plane—and, despite being nervous, they had a perfect first meeting.
“He came up to me smiling and we hugged,” Emma recalled to The Mirror. “I burst into tears.”
They started dating—and are still together, sharing an apartment in London.
“We are taking each day as it comes, but I have never been happier,” Emma told The Mirror.
“My catfish became cupid and now we’re living happily ever after.”
It’s a remarkable story—and even Alan, who has since expressed guilt and apologized for lying to Emma, can’t help but feel happy for the couple.
“I think it’s brilliant Emma and Adam have met,” he told The Mirror. “It’s almost like fate.”
And likewise, they can’t help but give him credit for, in a weird, inadvertent way, bringing them together.
“We are grateful he tricked me because it led me to finding the love of my life,” Emma said.
“There’s no point holding grudges. I hope Alan meets someone nice too who will love him for who he really is.”