Something suspect about Internet relationship

My neighbour “Linda” has been single and lonely for years. A few months ago, she told me that she was communicating with a man she met on a personals website.

Dear Annie: My neighbour “Linda” has been single and lonely for years. A few months ago, she told me that she was communicating with a man she met on a personals website. I was initially happy to hear this, but quickly changed my mind. Over the past few weeks, Linda has told me they have lengthy phone conversations every day, although they haven’t met. He originally told her he lived nearby but travels a lot on business. Now she says they will meet as soon as he gets home, but that keeps getting delayed.

I am positive this guy is a con man, but nothing I say convinces her. I don’t know if Linda has already given him money, because every time I bring it up, she gets angry. Will you please share with your readers the dangers of these romance scams? — Concerned Friend

Dear Concerned: We don’t know if this guy is taking money from Linda or if he’s simply a married man, but we agree that something doesn’t seem right. A legit romance allows you not only to meet each other in a public place, but to be introduced to family and friends. A man who finds excuses to avoid meeting you is hiding something. One who never lets you meet his friends or relatives is probably married. And asking for a loan is completely off limits until a genuine commitment is in place.

You cannot protect Linda from her own risky impulses, but you can warn her that not all such relationships are honest and tell her you hope she will be careful.

Dear Annie: Two of my daughter’s friends are joining us in planning a party for her 30th birthday. The invitation they printed states: “Please bring US$37 cash per person for the meal. Alcoholic beverages will be an additional cost. Following dinner there will be a party at one of the local bars which will require more money for drinks.” I have always been under the impression that the hosts pay for the party. I told the other two hosts that if I ever received an invitation like that, I would not attend. Am I just old-fashioned? Is this the way things are done now? — Confused Mother

Dear Confused: The hosts should pay for the party. Otherwise, they are setting a price for the others without consulting them, which is both rude and inconsiderate. Unfortunately, many young people are unaware of this custom and see no reason to follow it. We recommend you bow out of this particular responsibility and let your daughter’s friends throw whatever party they choose. You can attend and be billed like all the others.

Dear Annie: I strongly disagree with your response to “Thrown for a Loop,” whose husband is meeting “Mary,” a former co-worker, for occasional lunches. Now the wife is moving out. You said she is overreacting.

I think that devalues her fears. Possibly, he does miss his job and wants to keep up with office gossip. But if it’s so innocent, why did he keep it a secret from his wife? How humiliating to have found out about the lunches from friends.

He doesn’t have to be having sex with this woman for it to be hurtful and devastating to his marriage. And, if Mary is signing her emails, “Love, Mary,” it’s obvious she is hoping for more than lunch. I think Bill enjoys the attention from his former co-worker and the thrill of meeting her without his wife’s knowledge. — Hope You Rethink Your Answer

Dear Hope: You are right that the husband should not be hiding these lunches from his wife, and we said so. But it seems an overreaction for the wife to simply walk out on her marriage instead of seeking counselling or working on other ways to remedy the situation. And we will stand by that.

Annie’s Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please e-mail your questions to, or write to: Annie’s Mailbox, c/o Creators Syndicate, 5777 W. Century Blvd., Ste. 700, Los Angeles, CA 90045.