DEAR AMY: I have recently started dating again after 10 years. I met this guy five years ago on an online video game. He has suddenly gotten in touch with me after five years, and has confessed that he’s been in love with me the whole time. I was shocked. I have never been the one to clue in when someone likes me. We have started Skyping and have become very close over the last month. Things got serious very fast, and I feel I have fallen for him. I am in Canada and he is in the United States, but we have talked about visiting each other. He said he’d move to Canada to be with me. He sent me a text of a painting he had done for me, it was beautiful. I don’t know why I did this, but I Googled the image, and came up with another artist’s Facebook page. The painting was listed as hers. When I asked him about this, he said she was an old school friend of his, and he didn’t know why she would post his painting on her site. She’s got many paintings similar to this style, so it’s obviously hers. I messaged her, and she said she had no idea who he was. Is this a big enough red flag to worry over? Is he spinning tall tales? I have never felt this way about anyone ever, so I don’t want to believe the worst about him. But I am also insecure because of the distance between us, so I am second-guessing things. Do you have any advice for me?
DEAR WORRIED: Red flags here are: This man’s sudden appearance in your life, after five years. Claiming to love you when you don’t really know one another. Offering to move to your country when you haven’t met in person. Having the gall to steal an artist’s work that is not his own, and the hubris to double down by lying when you confronted him.
It is very easy to be taken in and to actually fall for someone who is persistent and compelling. Trust me here. This man has done this before with other women. More digging on your part would likely reveal this.
Please reconsider having any further contact with him — the deeper you allow yourself to be drawn in, the more painful his eventual betrayal will be.
The good news is that you can fall for someone. If you are open toward other relationships and continue to be smart and careful, you will feel this way again.
DEAR AMY: Our 27-year-old daughter’s boyfriend just broke up with her. They had been in a loving relationship for more than two years, and we had enthusiastically welcomed him into our family. As my daughter struggles, I am struggling too. Our family loved this young man and we feel blindsided and betrayed, as it was so unexpected. He has not contacted us. Everything about their relationship looked like “forever,” and I know in my head I was planning their wedding and grandkids. I understand my daughter is heartbroken and I am trying to be there for her, but it’s hard because I feel so depressed too. I know it’s not about me, but I am surprised at the depth of my sadness. Any guidance?
DEAR MOM: This is a very common reaction to the sudden ending of an intimate relationship.
This man will probably not contact you. If he is severing his relationship with your daughter, he is also severing his relationship with you.
Your daughter is mourning the death of possibility, just as you are. You will adjust, just as she will.
What you should not do is expose your daughter to your own grief and sadness. It is the unique burden of parents in your position to remain fairly neutral about the ex (they may get back together), and supportive of the partner left behind.
DEAR AMY: Responding to the letter from “In the Middle,” I faced a similar situation where a friend of a guest left his shoes on our boat. The person hounded our guest about his shoes. Then, I was hounded in turn to return the shoes immediately. The shoes were returned in about a week, via U.S. mail, at my expense, with nary a thank you or acknowledgement of receipt. Another example of an ungracious, clueless guest.
DEAR FURIOUS: If you want somebody to do something for you, it’s best to be charming about it beforehand, and grateful about it afterward.