If you get caught up in a romance scam, know that you did nothing wrong. Scams like this have happened to tens of thousands of innocent people.
Dear Ellie: For three months, I was involved with a man online. It started when he asked me to be his friend on Facebook. He said that he was a mutual friend of one of my long-time friends so I accepted his request. I later learned that my friend didn’t know him but this man followed my friend on Facebook so I thought it was all okay. I believed that my friend simply forgot who he was.
After constant contact day and night, our friendship grew very quickly from nice friendly messages, into loving messages. I truly believed it was all real until I realized that it was nothing but a romance scam. He got very upset with me and said it was all over because I wouldn’t send my personal information via a link that he’d sent me.
I realized then that he was using someone’s identity and I was being scammed. I feel so stupid and ashamed that I let this continue for so long. Even though he’s stopped messaging me I can’t stop searching to see if he’s come back. I just can’t seem to let it all go.
How do I really move on from this and will I ever forget it happened? Advice would be appreciated.
Scammed and Hurting
You’ve been on an emotional see-saw, feeling the high of what you thought was romantic pursuit, then crashing from the realization that the pursuer was scamming you.
You can now congratulate yourself that you recognized their true intent in asking for your private personal information. That could have led to identity theft, financial losses, and endless legal problems trying to re-establish your credibility. But you dodged all that.
I understand your hurt and anger. But focus on your safety. Block everything personal about you from this creep and any would-be future scammers.
Know that you did nothing wrong. Scams just like this one have happened to tens of thousands of innocent people. Luckily, and proof of your basic smarts, you caught the scam in time.
The one remaining hurt is in your pride. And in the abrupt drop of that emotional see-saw. Get help rising above those feelings. You may feel better just by looking online for websites exposing romance scams, which happen to a range of people, from lonely seniors to young singles looking for love.
But if your hurt persists, seek counselling help from a therapist with credentials in psychology, psychotherapy, etc.
Dear Ellie: My daughter is only 15 but she’s already struggling with a boyfriend “relationship.” He’s her age, and from my view and experience, he’s a good kid, as is she, and both good students. But they’re in a repeating pattern of ups and downs, and not always at the same time.
He’s pretty well-grounded most of the time, then suddenly tells her he’s having mental-health issues and getting headaches. But my daughter is equally complex, concerned about increasing puberty changes, upset by a very competitive once-close girlfriend, and admittedly unsure herself when it comes to dating a guy at this age. What’s your advice?
There’s no other age group so complex yet readable, scared of emotions yet repeatedly rushing toward them. Luckily, you’re an alert, thoughtful parent. These two need permission to “like” each other as close friends, without having to be too serious about dating. If either needs a “mental-health break,” so be it. If still interested in several months, they may ease toward dating then.
There’s no other age group so complex yet readable, scared of emotions yet repeatedly rushing towards them. Luckily, you’re an alert, thoughtful parent. These two need permission to “like” each other as close friends, without having to be too serious about dating. If either needs a “mental health break,” so be it. If still interested in several months, they may ease towards dating then.
Reader’s Commentary Regarding the woman in a “rocky relationship” February 22:
“I’ve been through separation, with a young child, and an abusive relationship. This couple needs serious help, and many therapists have long waiting lists.
“She should contact resources immediately to set up sessions or a “talking appointment.” Resources below are for Toronto but Halton Peel and Hamilton Wentworth also have resources. Some religious groups/churches offer help.
“If depressed, the quickest cheapest way to get help is for her to book a “talking appointment” with their doctor. It’s code to doctors’ staff that it’s a mental health issue.
“Appointments are for 30 minutes, not the usual 15, and covered by OHIP. If the family doctor determines its appropriate, you can ask for referral to an OHIP-covered psychiatrist who can prescribe medical needs like anti-depressants.
“Sometimes just navigating the system can really ease the stress of the situation, and less-stressed adults hopefully means less stressed children.”
Ellie’s tip of the day
A reader’s resources for parents undergoing marital stress due to separation issues, abuse.
Send relationship questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.