Red flags

Joey Garcia

I’m 69 years old, twice divorced and still dreaming of the right man. I’m also building a business, but the only attention I’ve attracted is from a man on LinkedIn. His profile says he’s Greek, in the oil business and affiliated with the Saudi Council of Engineers. Flattered, I responded. We’ve shared 290 texts since November 1. His first questions were whether I live alone, how big is my house, if I own or rent. The third day, he asked if I want to marry again. He calls me his queen and promises I’ll never be lonely. He says I gave him a reason to live. He wrote: “I believe in love at first sight. I’m ready. I think of you and kiss my pillow!” I have tried to trace this man but can’t. We finally talked by phone and he has a thick accent but is monotone. He said I couldn’t find him online because after his wife died he couldn’t work. I’m black and know of a Greek man who fell in love at first sight with a black woman, but I don’t fully trust the scenario I’m in. Thoughts?

I’m with you. Catfishing—luring someone into a relationship by using a false online persona—is a hobby for some people and an entry into criminal activity for others. So don’t allow your desire for love to distract you from self-care. Instead of falling into infatuation, add up the red flags.

The first red flag: His initial questions assessed your vulnerability and finances. A homeowner might tap her equity if her man says he requires surgery or needs an infusion of cash that will pay off (or so he promises) in millions they can share. These loans often end in the woman’s bankruptcy.

Second red flag: His over-the-top romancing. Set aside your hope that he might be your true love. Consider a grown man kissing his pillow and pretending it’s you. Ewwww, right? If you can be his queen, so could anyone else he barely knows.

Third red flag: You can’t find him online but his excuse seems legit. Falling into a depression after a mate’s death is understandable. But an extended bout of depression would not erase all internet mentions of him or his career. After all, we warn teenagers that what they post lives online forever.

Fourth red flag: You—a woman he just met—are his reason for living. A mentally and spiritually healthy person would not make that claim. He may be struggling with his mental and emotional health or operating from a script designed to hook women who yearn for partners. But no one can promise you will never be lonely. Loneliness is the internal experience of feeling disconnected from others. Even people in loving relationships sometimes feel lonely.

Fifth red flag: You are trying too hard to believe in magic. Reaching into your past for evidence of love at first sight won’t ease your discomfort. Staying present and adding up the red flags will.

I could go on, but I’ll stop here and congratulate you for not trusting an untrustworthy situation.

Meditation of the week
“Keep some room in your heart for the unimaginable,” writes poet Mary Oliver. Imagination is the creator’s playground. Is it time for recess, yet?

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