Sunday, August 28, 2011

Are You A Romance Scam Target?

Who doesn’t hope that cupid aims his arrow your way, especially if he has already targeted a likely sweetheart. What if it isn’t cupid that is targeting you for romance? Nefarious types have been using love as a lure to land lovelorn men and women for centuries. This isn’t a new game either, but it is played a little differently according to the gender.

How do you avoid being a target? First, watch where you meet people. Surprisingly, more women have confidence in eHarmony for the simple fact that they charge more. Only a man with serious interest in dating would lay out the monthly fee, plus they offer the option to confirm your identity. Free dating sites tend to attract the amateur scam artists who can practice their romantic cons at no cost. Beware of men whose writing skills are limited and their English is odd. There are men from Asia, Africa, and Russia running cons to trick American women out of their money.

Is your man writing beautiful lyrical poetry to you? Maybe you are suspicious of him or the poem. You can look it up on google.loco which allows you to post sections of letters and emails to see if they are showing up elsewhere. Is the guy too handsome to be true, then you can send his photo through to see if he really is who he claims to be or the picture was just photo shopped from online.

Women are usually hit with the con early on, the smitten boyfriend delivers several letters worthy of Nicholas Sparks—there’s a good chance Sparks did write them. Unfortunately, countries separate them, but he is doing his best to get by her side if she could only wire him some money until his clears customs or some other issue.

Another twist on this is the soldier lover. He may really be a soldier, but I doubt it. He needs money to get home. Ladies, the government flies them home free of charge. My son is in the military. He has never paid any type of fee to come home or even fly home. This is a scam using the good name of the United States Military. Don’t send that money, you’ll never see your uniformed Romeo because he doesn’t exist.

Men are usually played a lot longer. Many women actually view the more socially challenged men as meal tickets. I would warn men never to put what they make on their profiles. You have gold digging honeys shopping for the lonely high wage earner. She’ll be sweet before the marriage and become your worst nightmare after the marriage. I would think a smart man would dump this gold digger, but she knows how to work the man. Often she’ll quit her job, making herself dependent on the man. How can he throw her out when she has no place to go? She’ll use her children, his insecurities, even threats of committing suicide if he leaves her. Run, men, run. How do you know she’s a gold digger? Is she very interested in your income? Your total assets? She can even quote the current blue book value of your car? Does she want to constantly go out to expensive venues and expects elaborate gifts? You got a gold digger on your hands. She doesn’t want you honey, she wants your paycheck. No, she will not kill herself because that would make it much harder to spend your money or some other sap’s.

Another way we make ourselves targets is by casually giving away information. I had a good friend who is very frugal. One day at work, she announced she had saved thirty thousand dollars for a house down payment. I was impressed because she worked two modest jobs. Apparently, she mentioned it to too many people because a Latin Lothario suddenly appeared in her life. This man who no one knew, romanced her and asked to borrow her money for a business venture. The money and the fast-talking boyfriend disappeared immediately. The difference between the male con is that they usually come in quick and take a large sum of money and are gone, while the female leech will continue to suck you dry for long periods of time.

Don’t share your troubles, really. Conniving con artists are looking for someone with a recent loss, such as a relationship breakup, a death, even a death of a pet. Anything that has you off kilter and not thinking straight offers them a chance to swoop in to comfort you. Under normal circumstances, you might not look at the man or woman twice, but suddenly they’re your rock. Even though friends might warn you off this trickster, you explain how wrong they are since the trickster helped you over a bad patch. What trickster really did was worm his way into your affections while scrutinizing your checking account, and even your medical plan. A co-worker going through a divorce, inadvertently gave away her ATM number to a trickster friend who conveniently cleaned out her account right before Christmas. Keep in mind, the comforting behavior is grooming, which is exactly what pedophiles do to children to gain their trust. The very thought is sickening.

How do you avoid being target? Date local. Be suspicious. If a date doesn’t feel or sound right, drop him. I’ve gone out on a lot of dates and at least 50% were bad for one reason or another. Is someone asking questions about things they shouldn’t including your job, your income, your medical plan, your ability to have children in the future, etc., leave fast. Do not reveal where you live or your last name until you feel safe. You’d be amazed all the information you can get online only knowing a full name and the city a person lives in. Be careful what you give out in your social network site. After the death of a close friend, a trickster who knew I was vulnerable approached me. He obtained this information from my site, which was marked friends only. Even sites you think are private are not as private as you think.

Ladies, in closing, listen to your gut. As females, we try to be nice to everyone. Don’t. If you feel uneasy about a person or situation move on. Even the simple act of asking for the time is a classic pick pocket con. Sometimes you got to go with what feels right and not with what’s polite.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Telling Secrets

If you’re in a relationship, is there ever a time you reveal all or should you hold back? That is the $64,000 question. I’ve met people who held back that they’ve had been married before, a brief two week marriage that seemed to be a result of drunkenness. Another never confided she had a child when she was a teen until that child found her. These are big secrets, why would you hold back?

Is the secret pertinent to your current relationship? Many relationships often end months, even weeks later. Do you really want this person to know you had an affair with your boss? Information we spew everywhere in a moment of trust is often used against us by a vindictive ex.

Marriage therapists side surprisingly on withholding minor transgressions. A man who is quick to confess a flirtation while on a business trip feels good once he gets it off his chest. His wife is another matter. She wonders if she can ever trust him, and begins to doubt if she even knows him, and questions the stability of their marriage. Of course, the other side of the coin is the man who confesses nothing can continue to flirt without fear of consequences.

Once a person decides to confess a secret, there is a chance they’ll be regarded differently. I will admit to being privy to some bizarre sexual secrets about fellow workers that I didn’t want to know. After knowing, it was difficult to keep a straight face around them. My first thought was they were totally different people than I thought they were.

What if the person you choose to confess to is your sweetie and yours is a burgeoning relationship? It could be emotional dynamite. We are in love with whomever we think our sweetie is even if that image isn’t very correct and vice versa. An entire new chapter might mess with his image. Try to explain to your average guy after you ran with the rich and famous that you discover ordinary is really where it is at

Do you worry that if you reveal the details of a co-dependent relationship where you enabled someone’s addiction, out of love you rationalized, but it was more out of fear, that your current honey will leave? That’s a real possibility, especially depending how early you do it. People tend to relate everything back to how it meshes with them. If you confess to a toxic relationship in the past—they wonder why you are pursuing a relationship with them. They might even feel that they are lumped in the same category as your drug addict mate. If you feel totally secure in the relationship, you can drop that bombshell. It will probably be a relief to share these festering facts. Be aware that your sweetie might wonder big time how well he really knows you. He also might question your level of neediness in the past.

Names, some people want them. This is usually not a good idea, especially if you have a very jealous man who just wants to threaten past boyfriends. My old boyfriend never mentioned my name, but we were a couple so long that it was common knowledge. His girlfriend became my full-time stalker. The only way I could rid myself of this scary female was to elicit the old boyfriend’s help.

What if your sweetie’s name was the same as a crazed old boyfriend? Would you tell him? Your name is a very personal thing. It is who you are. It is something you carried around all your life. Heaven forbid, you decide to confess that not only was the last relationship toxic, but your present and current honey share the same name.

My ex-husband’s name still leaves a bad taste in my mouth because of the way he treated me. I did date two men with the same name as his. They were not successful relationships despite the fact; one was intent on marrying me. Every time I said their names, it was like eating chicken soup out of a toilet. I like chicken soup, but the visual image of eating it out of a toilet turned my stomach. They were both nice men with unfortunate names. I never told either of them that I had issues with their names. I probably tried to say them as little as possible. Should I have told them? I don’t know. Would they have been willing to go by different names to ease my bad memories? I doubt it.

I realize people change. I also realize we date a variety of people to see whom we fit with best. Some of the also-rans will be obviously wrong, horribly wrong, but that doesn’t make us bad. It makes us smart when we get away from them. Then again, these foolish choices do make us look bad to current dates, so we might not want to confess all.

Sometimes we think we need to know things because we don’t want to do the exact things the old girlfriend or ex-wife did. I will freely admit to dreaming of a simple beach wedding if I tie the knot for the final time. It was a bitter awakening to find out that my sweetie already had his beach wedding. Everyone resented it including my sweetie who paid for it. I felt tainted by a woman I never knew.

Do you have to tell everything? I think it is a careful balance. Things you choose to hold back become sticking points when they come to light. Questions about why you hid them may engender a line of questioning you never expected. On the other hand making a clean breast of it by confessing all can sometimes play havoc too.

If you were giving advice to an older couple, who had plenty of skeletons in the closets, what would you advise them to do?

Saturday, August 20, 2011

'Happily Married'

Relationships seem to be a mystery to most people. There is the quandary of finding someone who is equally crazy about you, which is, unbelievably, the easy part. The hard haul is making a relationship work. Young women focus on the wedding as opposed to the marriage and often wake up next to someone they do not even recognize.

Face it, almost 50% of the marriages in the US end in divorce. As for those other marrieds, few are happily married if you listen to them bash their significant others to friends and co-workers. I even had the opportunity to witness full-blown arguments between couples in retail stores and restaurants.

Why are we so surprised in a society that is dedicated to individualism that we would be any different in a relationship? We enter into relationships in name only. A recent article I read from, exemplifies this situation. The article entitled, “She’s Happily Married, Dreaming of a Divorce” by Ellen Tien details the various things her husband does that bugs her. Is he abusive? No, he steps out of his shoes every day when he gets home from work and leaves them in the living room. He does this dastardly deed to trip the author.

The author went onto explain how her husband is an early riser and is cheerful when she gets up. He should know better than to be happy in the mornings because she is not a morning person. Does this sound a bit off to you? A person is obligated to change their entire personality just because it isn’t the exact same as the SO. Get real. I am a morning person and haven’t encountered too many morning people including my children, but surprisingly we can all live together without me changing my routine or personality.

It is lucky I am a morning person so I can get everyone else going in the household. I pointed this out to my SO and he laughingly commented that women do expect men to change their personality to suit theirs. At least all the women he met up to me, he was quick to clarify.

Is this true? I hope not, it explains why there are so few really happy unions in the US, but back to the article. It went on to complain about how the much-beleaguered husband embarrassed the author by scratching his armpit during a parent/teacher conference. We all have done something to embarrass our families at one time. Luckily, they did not write us off. We are all-human and will have human failings. Did you notice his major failing was he embarrassed the author? My old boss would stand in front of us during staff meetings and rearrange his male equipment, I’d preferred armpit scratching. I bet the teacher never even noticed the armpit scratching considering what she dealt with every day.

I related the entire article to my significant other. He snorted and commented it must be her first marriage. He went onto add if she makes the mistakes of divorcing this perfectly normal guy she’ll find there won’t be any perfect men who measure up to her standards. Maybe she’ll get someone who is anal enough to always pick up his shoes, but he’ll gripe about every hair of hers he finds in the tub or sink.

In a relationship, you truly have to understand and think of the other person. If you are interested in what makes the other person tick then they will give you clues as to what they need. A good example of this is an older gentleman I know. He was raised in a harsh environment where he was never praised by his parents, but expected to put forth good work, laps up praise like water. The easy thing would be just to praise him. It such a little thing once you understand the reason, but often instead of praising him for his hard work his wife will withhold any recognition because he didn’t do it her way or do it quickly enough. In turn, she doesn’t get her needs met because he is holding back from her because he isn’t feeling loving or grateful. Either one could break the cycle if they weren’t so self-absorbed.

Think about it. Why did your last relationship fell apart? It may have been because you didn’t do much together. Maybe you felt like he was not invested in you. It could be you didn’t value him and what was important to him. There are a variety of reasons people break up, but the top two are infidelity and money. Infidelity screams self-absorption. No one, but me matters. Money issues usually center around at least one person not on board with the budget program—at least one person who is spending madly on what they want. Been there, done that, and yes that person will rationalize all their purchases too. Before you throw that perfectly good mate away, think carefully if there is anyone better out there? The answer might surprise you.

I will freely admit to being the lucky recipient of a man one woman carelessly threw away in her effort to chase down younger, taller model. Because of my experience and intelligence, I am very aware that I have an excellent man. As for the ungrateful ex-spouse, she now realizes what a tremendous mistake she made. Too bad, she became too smart too late. Of course, her bad fortune is entirely my gain…that makes me smile. It also makes me wonder about the writer of the “Happily Married and Dreaming of Divorce” article. If she shows her husband the contempt she displays in the article then they are far from happily married.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Dating Behavior Vs. Relationship Behavior

Bruno Mars’ Just the Way You Are song has lyrics every woman wants to hear. He tells his girlfriend:

I’d never ask you to change
If perfect is what you're searching for
Then just stay the same.

We women eat this up. These aren’t new lyrics either, anyone remember Billy Joel’s Just the Way You Are? He tells his woman not to change anything.

Don't go trying, some new fashion,
Don't change the color of your hair,
You always have my, unspoken passion,
Although I might not seem to care.

We love the sentiment, but relationships are about change. Think about it. There are good changes and bad changes. An old joke talks about a man and woman getting married. The woman is out to change the man into a more acceptable spouse, while the man wants the woman to stay the sweet, biddable girl he met in high school. Most people laugh at the joke, especially men because it hits a responsive chord closer to home than we might like to acknowledge.

When does the change occur? We have dating behavior and relationship behavior and yes, the two are very different. When we are dating, we are dancing as hard as we can to impress each other. Often the image we are putting out there is not our real self. In the relationship, we figured we landed the other person and stop trying. Most of you know this is true.

This is why men think their woman has changed. What happened to the hot babe that met him at the door with an open-mouthed kiss, pulling him inside for more because she missed him so much? She didn’t change so much per se, than she changed her focus. Before the highlight of her day was her man, now he is just another part of her day, maybe not even an exciting part.

A guy realizes a change has occurred he didn’t approve of and tries to change her back by commenting how much he liked her look before. He’s trying to fix a problem, but she sees it as criticism. He might even mention someone from work as an example. She may fire back he’s put on some weight or other cutting remarks. It’s a definite downward spiral.

Change where we no longer care about the other is never good. This can be simply taking each other for granted. There no guarantees that you’ll be forever. Every day we encounter people who could possibly be a future mate, could steal our guy, or steal us away from our guy. What keeps this from happening?

Always presenting the better hand, allow me to explain. We, humans, tend to find what we don’t have more interesting than what we do have. Stupid humans, animals are smarter than us. Often what someone else has is much, much more interesting. A guy I dated almost two years ago has tried to come back into my life recently. When I told him I was in a serious LTR he has upped his game continually trying to engage me in conversation whenever I encounter him. I am amused that he tells me fate wants us together. The one that got away is ever so much more attractive than the one nearby. Frankly, I wish he’d leave me alone and have told him so.

On one hand, ladies, the ex-date is an international businessman and associates with rock stars and models. If I wanted a brush with glamour, I could lean his way. What I have is so much better. My sweetie is devoted to me and supports my career aspirations. He truly believes I am the best thing that has ever happened to him and never fails to tell me this. I also lucked out because he is a hopeless romantic who is always thinking of new ways to express his love. That is a winning hand. I like to think I am always presenting a winning hand too.

There are ways we can change that are good too. You can grow together and find out more about each other. Before I divorced, I was married for almost fourteen years and yet I could tell you very little about my ex, except he was an indulged child used to having his own way. He didn’t have a clue about me either, my favorite foods, what I liked to do, even my dreams. It is no surprise we didn’t stay together. Friends and family wondered why we stayed as long as we did.

Growing together is the more mature way to handle things. None of us will maintain the twenty-year-old body no matter how hard we work out. Relationships change due to what we discover about the other and we allow our sweetie to discover about us. The more I find out about my sweetie I understand why he reacts the way he does. It also knits us into friends as opposed to just being lovers. Too often, people in relationships fail to become friends. One blogger commented that women who say their husband/boyfriend is their best friend have no friends. How sad for her that she is unable to have that deep of a relationship. I will admit it is hard to get your guy excited about a great pair of shoes that’s when a girlfriend comes in handy.

Instead of feeling cheated how time has changed you or your guy, try to find characteristics you like right now about each other. We really are the same people down deep that we always were. If you fell for someone you didn’t know that well in the beginning it will seem like he changed, but he didn’t really. If you’re able to appreciate each other where you are right now then you got it made. Maybe change the words to the song a little, “We’ll grow together as years go by. My love will never change because I love you just the way you are.” Billy Joel could add if you want to change the color of your hair to hide the gray, go ahead.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Anatomy of a Relationship /Part 2

How I met my sweetie and all the dating mistakes we both made.

During this time, I was still dating other men. Two of the men were taking the exact opposite approach in the respect they let me know they liked me. The followed up on dates immediately. It was all good and made me wonder about the third man and his seemingly ambivalent approach to women. He goes out with me and proceeds to talk about all the women in his past. I would have to say I knew nothing about the women in the other two men’s life. I knew one had an ex because he had a son that was the extent of my knowledge and that was enough.

Too often, we think we are judged by our past and live our lives according to our past. How depressing! I’ve heard men glory in their days as a high school athlete to the extent that they fail to make anything of their present. On the other hand, I’ve seen people bemoan their miserable past and hold onto it as if it were a life jacket. I was at the point that I wanted my past dwelling date to come join me in the present. Dates were awkward when all the previous women joined us. I am selfish enough to only want it to be the two of us.

I will admit to throwing out horrible date stories too. I have a few of them, but it was all getting a little tiresome. It was equivalent to riding a lazy trail horse. You know where you want to go and are aware the horse can get you there, but he keeps wanting to turn and head back to the familiar barn. All the same, I stayed the course. Maybe because deep down I sensed something was different.
How many of you would have made it to date three?

By the third date, I was at the point that I might stop seeing him since I was so unsure of his affections. This was the date where he extended his time with me, including multiple kisses proving that he was very much worth dating. It was the date where I made my decision to keep seeing him. Even though he made his mental decision too on this date, it did not become smooth sailing, far from it. Our phone calls sprinkled with dead zones made me wonder if he hung up on me, but he always promptly called back. His work took him out town and he didn’t push for dates, but rather politely suggested them. He was well aware I was dating other people since I gave him my blog address.

Our relationship developed through emails, texts, phone conversations, and actual dates. The funniest misunderstanding we had was when I was fishing for a compliment on the phone. I asked him if I was prettier than previous girlfriends? (What a needy question. I even expected him to lie and tell me I was.) His response was somewhere along the line that he had dated many beautiful women. That shut my mouth in a hurry. I also took a bullseye to my self esteem and I wondered if I could compete. (When I told him about this, he was shocked because that wasn’t what he meant to say at all. He meant to say I was the most beautiful. I was willing to accept that, truth or not. LOL)

While I dated other guys, I never mentioned it to my sweetie, but I wanted him to tell me to drop the other guys. I wanted a declaration that he wanted me all to himself. Instead, when I told him I closed my eHarmony account, he suggested maybe I should extend my membership to have more fodder for my blog. Stunned, I went out with a man who was pushing for a date, but I wasn’t that interested in. (My sweetie told me later that he was still unsure of me even by date five, but he wanted me to date only him.)Would have been nice if he mentioned this.

When he told me he was dropping his eHarmony membership, I asked him if he was sure. He hemmed and hawed about the service and the lack of appropriate matches, never saying it was only me he wanted to date. (He referred to this as a hint where his affections lay. I’ve had better hints.) So far, you may have noticed our path was far from easy from disconnected phone calls to misunderstandings, to falling back to old behaviors that hadn’t served either one of us well in the past.

Add with this, I was trying desperately to do all the behaviors mentioned in all the dating books I’d read. Sometimes, I wish I put them in my task manager on my cell. We managed to get to date seven where we declared our intentions to see only each other. This was much too soon according to all the various books I’d read, but on the other hand I didn’t want to date anyone else. I could, but it would be unfair because I would be thinking of my sweetie.

That turning point date is now part of my past. We can laugh about how unsure we were of each other. Every day, I learn something new about my sweetie. Little things that he loves corned beef or that he played the trumpet in the high school band. I had misunderstood his initial conversation and thought he was in a garage band when he was young. There’s a big difference between the high school band and rock band. He thought I was a party girl and I am practically anti-party girl. He had female co-workers help him write his profile, which inadvertently was written to attract a “good time” girl. I was able to overlook that because most of the male profiles are like that .LOL

So all in all, the path to love is not smooth, but it is well worth traveling.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Anatomy Of A Relationship/ Part 1

Ever look up and wonder how you got there? I do a great deal of automatic driving when I drive to work or to the gym. The only difference is I have to make just one turn either left or right by CVS. Often when I am not paying attention I make that turn and a few occasions I turned the wrong way. I often joked that I’d rather go to the gym than to work. Relationships are a great deal like that. You tend to do things automatically.

Most work places have a sign posted somewhere that reads: Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. Been there, done that, especially with relationships. We often seek out partners similar to the ones we’ve rejected. Case in point: Donald Trump, ever noticed how all his wives and girlfriends look like Ivana, his first wife? We might qualify this behavior by saying we have a certain type. We do, and if you’re not in a great relationship, you can make a logical jump that it is the wrong type.

My first encounter with my beloved wasn’t totally successful. I approached him via online dating because I sent him a flirt and didn’t hear from him…for a month. If I were dating in my normal fashion one guy at a time, I would have deleted him off my list and moved onto the next. Instead, I was busy dating other males and left his profile open. A month later, I heard from him because he just renewed his membership. Even though I received his profile, he hadn’t been a member for the last two years.

Normally, if I didn’t hear back from a guy in a week he was history. I did not want to play second fiddle or be the fall back gal in case something didn’t work out with the other women. A week is enough time for a busy man if he is interested. Call it fate, but I took a wait and see approach to this profile of a smiling man with a touch of humor in his eyes.

We corresponded back and forth for a while. I found him funny and cute, but unlike the other guys, I met he didn’t push for an immediate date. Most men want to meet to give you the once over to see if you match up to your picture before they invest any more time into you. This made me wonder if this new man was all that interested? Dating other men did keep me busy and did not allow me time to get anxious, but obviously, I had my doubts. Was I just an email relationship? Had one of those before and didn’t care to invest in another.

The next step was talking on the phone, usually hearing a man’s voice tells me how he feels about me. It was hard deciphering his flat accent to find out how interested he was. Looking back, I have to take in consideration I was talking to a left brained person. There were no ups and downs in the voice that I might expect from a salesman or a drama major. Still, we set up the first date.

I should know by the end of the first date where I stood, but I didn’t. I felt a connection, but wondered if he did? We often talked over each other and apologized for it. We spent almost two hours over drinks and appetizers before saying goodbye. I can’t remember if he said he had to go somewhere, but I was disappointed that he didn’t suggest anything to prolong the date. We walked to the entrance of the restaurant where he gave me a brief hug and walked out the opposite door. That was it.

He didn’t even walk me to the car and no kiss. Did I misread the date? I thought we got along fine, but then what do I know? Been on interviews where I was sure I nailed the job, maybe this was the same thing. I drove home trying to understand his behavior. He spent a good part of the night talking about previous bad relationships he’d had. I know I would have never asked him about other women since I can’t even bring myself to ask a man if he has a girlfriend already.

Unlike my other first dates, I didn’t get the immediate follow-up phone call telling me what a great time he had. Instead, I waited. The phone would ring. I’d would rush to pick it up, inhale, so I wouldn’t sound like I rushed to pick it up and it would be…my sister. What was the deal here? I am good at reading people and he was definitely giving off signs he liked me.

I shelved my doubts when he called and suggested a follow-up date closer to my house at a Mexican restaurant. The second date was similar to the first in that he did go back to talking about failed relationships he had and strange dates. I was wondering if he was more in line for a therapist than a date, but every now and then I would see flashes of humor and intelligence and it kept me interested. (He explained later that in previous relationships the women insisted knowing all the gory details of past girlfriends. Ding, ding, did those relationships last? The fact that they didn’t should imply it wasn’t the best method. He was attempting to relate all so I wouldn’t be upset if he left anything out. Finally, I told him enough. Wish I had done it sooner. LOL)

The second date is where he gave me the sister kiss on the hair, which confused me even more. So far, we have a man who doesn’t try to extend the time he spends with me, does not walk me to my car, and never actually kisses me. Often I decide if I want to pursue the relationship based on the goodnight kiss. There are other factors, but the kiss seals it. Honestly, if I hadn’t been dating other men I think I would have given up on my sweetie by this time. He didn’t show me enough of the right signs, and he kept urging me to drink. (Later on, he confessed that he misread something I wrote in my profile about drinking and thought I was a party girl. LOL)

Okay, ladies and gentlemen (if you are reading) would you continue to try to date this man? What messages would you get from his behavior?