A Belfast woman is preparing to meet her American fiancé for the first time. The pair plan to marry, although they have never met, having found each other on an internet dating website.
Patricia Mallon (48) from Belfast will meet her fiancée Joseph McMahon, from Oklahoma, for the first time in three weeks when he arrives to prepare for their wedding.
McMahon proposed to Mallon by phone in April and they now plan to marry just two weeks after they meet for the first time.
McMahon is a divorced father-of-two, who works as a car restorer in Oklahoma.
Speaking to the Irish Sun newspaper, Mallon, a mother-of-five, said, “I can’t wait to meet Joseph.
“People think I’m crazy for agreeing to marry a man I’ve never met but this is the best decision I’ve ever made.”
She admitted, “During the early parts of our relationship I did worry that I’d never even spoken to him on a webcam. There was a possibility he wasn’t even the man in the photos that he had posted. But we’ve got to know each other so well that all the doubt has gone.”
Mallon continued, “I truly believed I’d be alone for the rest of my life.
“I never dreamed I’d find a man — let alone someone who lived 4,000 miles away.”
McMahon said that as soon as he set eyes on Mallon he knew she was his “soulmate”.
He said, “I’m not worried that I'm marrying someone I’ve never met because I already feel like I know Patricia completely.
“The moment I saw her picture online, I knew she was my soulmate.
“Some people, especially Patricia’s family, have criticised our decision saying it's odd.
“But it feels normal to me.
“I’ve spent months daydreaming about our future together, and I can’t believe it's nearly here.”
Mallon, a busy mother-of-five checked out the dating website when her 15-year-old daughter, Courtney, suggested it.
“When Courtney suggested online dating, I told her she was mad,” said Mallon.
“I’d read the horror stories about women meeting up with men who turned out to be psychos.
“But I could see it meant a lot to her, so I agreed.”
Courtney set up her mother’s account on “Are You Interested?” and Mallon started to browse. When she saw McMahon’s profile there was an immediate attraction.
“When I saw his picture I thought he looked kind and genuine,” said Mallon.
“He looked so different from most Irish men who approached me. I felt an instant attraction."
“We hit it off straight away and we spent hours chatting online about our common interests of music and hiking.
“We agreed to take things slowly as we had both been hurt in the past — but secretly I was besotted with him.
“We spoke nearly every day, first of all on Facebook then over the phone.
“Neither of us owned webcams, but we exchanged photos.
“And over time we opened up to each other.
“Although we discussed visiting each other, flights were expensive.”
McMahon, a divorced father-of-two, stole Mallon’s heart with old fashioned romancing. He wrote her a love letter.
She explained that the letter read, “I think you’re the one I’ve been searching for all my life”.
“I couldn’t have put it better myself. Joseph was most definitely The One,” Mallon continued.
“I wrote back, telling him I felt the same.”
Four weeks later, McMahon phoned and proposed to his Irish love.
She said, “It was so romantic I nearly dropped the phone in excitement.
“Without hesitating I accepted his offer of marriage.”
Although Mallon’s children support her decision to marry McMahon, not all of her family are behind her.
Mallon reasoned, “There will always be some doubters in the family, and we will just have to prove them wrong.”
“I can’t wait to meet Joseph. He’s promised me a ‘proper’ proposal in person too — and the first thing we’ll do is shop for wedding rings.
The couple plan to have a small ceremony at a quiet church on McMahon’s 50th birthday, 7th October. They then plan to go to Oklahoma for their honeymoon where Mallon can meet her new American family.
Paying tribute to how this unique couple met, Courtney, Mallon’s daughter, will walk her mother down the aisle.
Courtney said, “I thought Mum deserved to be happy again, so I pushed her to try online dating… She was happy, and that made me happy.”