STEPHANIE: John was Scandinavian, muscular, attractive. And when she told him she had to go to the DMV, not only did he offer to come, he made a date out of it. SUZANNE: John was renovating his apartment so we went to CB2 and he was looking for the perfect couch and at one point we had to spoon on various couches to see if they were wide enough for us to spoon on hence they would be appropriate for his apartment.The salesgirl was kind of laughing at us and I was kind of thinking in my mind, does she hate us right now, but at the same time I was having so much fun I didn’t really care. One day, she and John are at the park, and he leaves to go climbing for a couple hours. STEPHANIE: Well, when I asked Phoebe that question, she said this thing that surprised me. PHOEBE: You should already know how to figure this out, pretty much. It’s sad to say that it takes a couple practices to do it. How do you approach dating now to prevent being, getting involved with a guy who preys on Asian women?This week, producer Stephanie Foo tells a story about dating online that is unlike any we’ve ever heard before. But this guy she met, let’s call him John, right from the beginning, John was really warm. He offered her the keys to his apartment really early on in their relationship, which surprised her. Xero Mailchimp ALEX GOLDMAN: From Gimlet, this is Reply All, a show about the Internet. And everyone knows that when it comes to online dating people can be really non-committal, unwilling to settle down.He tells her that she’s the only one he truly loves, that nobody else meant anything to him. And now he was fighting with one of them outside of his apartment. But she remembers the names of a bunch of women she’d seen on his friends list, and she sends a mass-message to all of them saying, watch out. After a storm blows it away, the spider, unfazed, simply begins again. [BREAK ] ALEX: So in the first half of the show ,producer Stephanie Foo was telling the story of a wildly prolific cheater who exclusively targeted Asian women. STEPHANIE: One of the things that struck me reporting this story is that the women that John tricked, they’re all really smart, really successful. STEPHANIE: And it freaked me out, it terrified me as an Asian woman. PJ: That helps me understand and in your case you’re like, “I like girls I can prey on because they’re so easy to prey on.” It’s the associations with it. I mean, I get that not every guy who’s dated an Asian girl is a jerk, right. And then on top of that there are actually all these strangers messaging me, trying to warn me about other guys with yellow fever. A few months ago, a woman I didn’t know saw an innocuous interaction I had with a guy on Twitter. Our theme music is by The Mysterious Breakmaster Cylinder and our ad music is by Build Buildings. And the DVD extras for this episode are available at We’re actually taking next week off to work on a few stories, but we will see you in a couple weeks.And at first she feels bad, like, oh, I shouldn’t snoop on my amazing boyfriend, but her curiosity gets the best of her. And then: SUZANNE: Another box pops up with a girl named Tracey. And I’m wondering is this the same Elizabeth from the photos? CALLER: You know it’s better for me the less girls walking around the city spreading genital herpes, I’ve avoided it thus far so I’d like to continue that trend. What if he was making up a story so he could take advantage of my fears about yellow fever and try to be a hero so he could hit on me too? PJ: Okay so this is a little bit weird but so my girlfriend is Chinese. I haven’t been on a date since I deleted all my dating apps. So when I told Phoebe about not going on any dates she said, that’s not a solution. On the internet, it was so easy for men to look at my picture and see a doe in a field of dandelions. Where they will have to come out from behind their screens.
I’m just, if you met John you would just think he was one of the sweetest guys. STEPHANIE: And, of course, he’s got a girl with him. In their time together though, she’d actually seen John accumulate two cycles of women. But relatively early in our relationship, she asked me this question where she was like, what do the women you normally date look like? That’s why we have to be careful but you’re letting them control your future and I refuse to do it. And that’s when they’ll find out that I have teeth. ALEX: Stephanie Foo is a producer for This American Life.
And then to just suddenly very quickly all of a sudden find out that they’re cheating on you, in real time, that was a lot to take in. She was at his apartment, he wasn’t there, she sent him a text, Hey honey, where are you. PHOEBE: “Oh I’m just watching tv, sitting in our house doing nothing, I have to do homework.” That’s the text message I get while I was sitting on his couch. PHOEBE: And we three of us get in a huge fight and argument about it. In each cycle, he dated up to ten women at once, three to four serious girlfriends, and several casual relationships on the side. I was like, well uh, I don’t know, they can be short or tall. I had no idea, and I think that is is what that question was. ALEX: Reply All is hosted by PJ Vogt and me, Alex Goldman.
Then she gets a text from him saying that he hurt himself at the gym and had to go to the hospital but it’s not that bad, and she should just go to his apartment and wait for him. And at first I’m just telling myself you know, don’t freak out, he’s allowed to have female friends who are, who are attractive. Going through the album, I see photos of them kissing, and I’m just completely gobsmacked. She sees that right now, at this moment, he’s logged in somewhere else and he’s chatting up another girl, let’s call her Serena. CALLER: You are a super curious person, aren’t you? CALLER: Yeah, no the reason I ask is exactly like I stated, it’s just a sort of like a little bit of self-preservation and also a little bit of doing random good deeds. It sounds like online dating as an Asian woman is pretty hazardous. She said that if you’re an Asian woman, it’s your responsibility to already know that this is going to happen to you and just be educated about this stuff. It’s way too many of them to catch them, to the point where it’s like, well, you got to figure it out. PHOEBE: The first thing we asked the list of ex girlfriends, if last five all girlfriends are all Asian then we start asking more questions. STEPHANIE: Well, I don’t go on online dating sites. You can’t stop loving someone because of that one person who hurt you.
Suzanne lets herself in and to kill time, she goes on his computer, starts working on a resume she’d been touching up and she sees this folder labeled Elizabeth hat’s just been updated. STEPHANIE: Suzanne is furious, but more than anything, she feels like she just needs to know more. It looks like they’ve never met, but he’s making plans with her to meet that week. STEPHANIE: What’s the self-preservation aspect of it? PHOEBE: Yellow fever, serial dater, cheaters, manipulators. STEPHANIE: I totally use the same method Phoebe does, because in my experience in confronting guys with yellow fever, I don’t want to date guys who’ve dated more than two Asian girls before me. And because of the way the world works now, I generally don’t go on dates. It just seems too dangerous, too full of skeezeballs, and it seems, it’s too easy for people who would use me to find me. I mean, it’s the same thing with any kind of heartbreak. STEPHANIE: It’s been a couple months since I deleted all my dating apps and the fear has subsided since then.
And one of the things about doing a show about the internet is that people are often suggesting that you do stories about online dating, and we often choose not to, and then a few weeks ago our friend Stephanie Foo who’s normally a producer at This American Life that was unlike any online dating story that either of us had ever heard. STEPHANIE FOO: So a couple years ago, I interviewed this girl. She lives in San Francisco and she’d met this really cute guy on Ok Cupid.
SUZANNE: He just had a way of taking really ordinary little situations and just making them fun and playful and was very thoughtful with like making me breakfast, would hide my favorite snacks in my purse and was just a really sweet, really sweet, loyal person and he was actually one of the best boyfriends I’ve ever had. And he gave her a little shelf for her stuff in his apartment. He even included her in a bunch of his domestic decision-making.