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Annie Lane: Mysterious internet lover

Dear Annie: I’ve been seeing this guy, on and off, since spring of last year. He pursued me, and I went along with it. We’ll have a few intense days or weeks, but then months can go by without seeing each other. But whenever I’ve asked him for help with things, he’s always helped me out. We’ve been intimate many times, to the point that I would think it’s progressing toward a more serious relationship. But he takes off on business trips and vacations without even telling me in advance. How long can I go on like this, when he seems to have no time for me?

— Down at Home

Dear Down: You’re looking for a relationship, and he’s just looking for an arrangement. There are men out there who share your interest in a serious partnership, but you won’t meet them sitting up on the shelf where this guy keeps you. I suggest you end this affair and open your heart up for the real deal.

• • •

Dear Annie: We need to talk more about romance scams that are happening online. I have known two women who got caught up in such scams. The first one was able to realize it and let go. The second one withdrew all her investments, which were providing income, and sent them to this guy because he told her he is an “investor.”

Please ask your readers to share their experiences. Maybe someone will see themselves in this and break away from these romance scams. No one can help you unless you admit there is a problem.

— So Sad

Dear Sad: It is sad, and infuriating, to hear of people scamming other people in this way.  This has become such a problem that the FBI has a webpage dedicated to romance scams. These are their tips for avoiding being scammed:

“Be careful what you post and make public online. Scammers can use details shared on social media and dating sites to better understand and target you.

“Research the person’s photo and profile using online searches to see if the image, name, or details have been used elsewhere.

“Go slowly and ask lots of questions.

“Beware if the individual seems too perfect or quickly asks you to leave a dating service or social media site to communicate directly.

“Beware if the individual attempts to isolate you from friends and family or requests inappropriate photos or financial information that could later be used to extort you.

“Beware if the individual promises to meet in person but then always comes up with an excuse why he or she can’t. If you haven’t met the person after a few months, for whatever reason, you have good reason to be suspicious.

“Never send money to anyone you have only communicated with online or by phone.”

“Ask Me Anything: A Year of Advice From Dear Annie” is out now! Annie Lane’s debut book — featuring favorite columns on love, friendship, family and etiquette — is available as a paperback and e-book. Visit  www.creatorspublishing.com for more information. Send your questions for Annie Lane to dearannie@creators.com.

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