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Anyone here have a parent who uses a dating website?


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My mom is on a dating site for older people.  She is in her early 70's and has been on the site for about 6 months.  My dad died a few years ago and she hasn't dated since he passed away.  She has had a few dinner dates from the website but nothing serious.


Well, now she drops the news on me today that a man she has been talking to (up to 5 times a day) is flying to see her and stay for 3 weeks at her house!  They have been talking on the phone for the past few weeks.  He says he is going through a divorce (he's still married though!) and is a few years younger than her.  He has also recently filed for bankruptcy, she is not wealthy either having filed herself several years ago when my dad got sick, but she gets a monthly check from his SS and her retirement from work. He says he gets some SS money each month.


I know she is lonely and determined to have him come (he already has the plane ticket purchased). I have told her my fears, researched him on the internet (found a drug charge), but he explained it away. She says she is prepared to have her heart broken-but I am fearing much worse.  I have a sibling 30 minutes from her and she has told one friend of hers to be on standby in case she needs her while he is there.  I live seveal hours away.


Has anyone's parents met someone online?  Am I making too much of the situation?  Should I go there and meet this person?  I would have to bring my kids and really don't want them around him.  I have never been in a situation like this before and need any wisdom I can get.


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Can you or one of your siblings drop by for an extended visit while he's there?


I know your mom is an adult and can make her own decisions, but allowing a total stranger to move into her home for several weeks is not a sensible thing to do, and could well be dangerous for her -- not just financially, but physically as well.


The drug charge scares me, too, but I would be worried even if he didn't have anything like that in his background.

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Here are the rules for meeting people you met on the internet:


1) Meet somewhere public, preferably with a lot of cameras.


I'm not a gambler, but the casinos a half-an-hour away are a GREAT place to meet people. There are cameras EVERYWHERE.  Plus, you can get a gauge on whether the person may have gambling or drinking issues.


Okay...we may be too late for that in the OP's case.


2) Have a regular "safety call."


Whether you are meeting someone for a date or flying to Texas for a weekend (I've done both), set up a "safety call" with a friend/trusted family member.  On date nights, I would call my pre-arranged friend at  10pm, and when I was home with the door locked for the night. 


"Hi, I'm just calling to check in because it's 10pm."


If I don't call, then the friend knows to call 911.  They have all of the contact info for the guy.  I'd rather be embarrassed than dead.


Whenever I traveled to meet people, or had people come to stay with me, I would call twice a day: 9am and 9pm.  If we had plans that would interfere with this time of call (like going to the movies), then I would call my safety person before and after, or arrange earlier in the day for a later check in.


3) Have a PANIC WORD for your safety call.  This is something that you wouldn't usually say, but that will tell your Safety Person to call 911 immediately.


For example, if you Panic Word is "Dynamic," then if you say, "Hi, I'm calling to check in.  We had a great day; it was really dynamic!" then your Safety Person will call 911 immediately.



Meeting someone often takes the bloom off the rose.  If he has the time to call and talk to her 5X/day, what else is he doing with his time?  I don't have time to talk to someone 5X/day.  Can he be charming 24/7? 


The reality of long distance relationships is that there can be a lot of deception through omission.


For example, if I got my 3rd drunk driving conviction, and I live out of state:

1) "No, I have no trouble with alcohol at all.  I've never had a ticket."

--outright lying

2) not saying anything about it

--lying by omission

3 ) "I'm trying to be more green by taking the bus."

--putting a bloom on the rose

4) "I got a ticket. That's never happened to me before."

--more honest, but not very honest

5) "I got my third drunk driving ticket, and I lost my license."

--honest.  A flawed person... but at least honest.


A little premature, but......


If she marries this guy:

1) You kids get to walk through the house and take WHATEVER  you want to remember your dad by before he moves in.


My grandfather remarried less than a year after my grandma moved in.  My mom and my aunt cleaned out the cabinets of the heirloom family china and grandma's tablecloths and hid them in my aunt's trunk in her old room.  They figured that the new wife would have dishes and tablecloths of her own.


My mother has declared that if she goes before my dad, we can walk through the house and take whatever we want to remember her if my dad remarries.  If we want to take jewelry from her jewelry box, pictures from the walls, pieces of furniture, dishes from the cupboard, whatever.  The new addition to the family will have her own stuff to add to the household.


2) Prenup Prenup Prenup


This separates assets and security earned over a lifetime with a former partner from someone that you may or may not live happily ever after.


3) A well written will.


Or, consider this completely innocent scenario:

Grandpa dies.  New wife lives in the house for another ten years before dying.  Who cleans out the house?  Do you bustle over there to claim the family heirlooms?  That would be tacky.


So, her family goes to clean out the house.  Not knowing the sentimental value of some items for your family, they claim items for themselves, and send the rest to the antique dealer for a profit for them.  After all, their mother had lived in that house for 20 years.  How are they to know what was hers, and what was your family's?  There is no way they would know.


A well written will establishes what goes to  whom at the parent's death, and at the new spouse's death.  It is not hard for a sentient parent to ask each adult child, "What do you want?" 



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Recollections of my grandpa's third wife leaving family pictures (featuring his second wife, whose death ended their long happy marriage) out in the rain while living in his house after his death...


Also thinking of one or two stupid things I did as an older teen re: meeting people from online.


The safety and pragmatic rules above all sound like good ideas.


Was it just a drug charge, or a drug conviction? And for what drug? and how long ago? All that would factor in to how worried I'd be. A guy who got busted for pot in 1974 and never been in trouble since isn't going to bother me, kwim? OTOH, a recent arrest for, say, trying to sell his  soon-to-be-ex wife's pain medication...that would be a red flag.



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Yes, you should be concerned. I am not against online dating for any age. (I met my 2nd husband on Match).


Here's what I tell clients (who are often in vulnerable places, making the list below more impactful).


  1. Romance feels good. It changes the chemicals in your body and can take the edge off recovery from substance abuse, depression, other mental health issues including bereavement.
  2. Romance in person tends to "accelerate". Online, that can be exaggerated. Often, online relationships develop an unnatural momentum and the persons involved become convinced of the "rightness" of the scene. Even older, mature people can seem to have lost common sense. Think about this one in your scenario. Would you recommend to Mom that she allow someone she met at say, church, 3 weeks ago come stay at her house for a a month? (Please answer no!)
  3. Online romances tend to highlight the good and never/rarely the bad. They seem SO awesome, and that simply fuels numbers 1 and 2.
  4. Online romance disallow reality - hygiene habits, relatives, pets, money.....these issues are minimized during the course of online courtship.

In THIS scene, I am very worried about your mom. Even if the romance is authentic, without ulterior motive, it is dangerously fast. But THIS one has some serious red flags in terms of the motive of the other party.


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Tell your mom to pay attention to the warning signs and stay far, far away. I was executor of my dad's estate and discovered through his email accounts and financial records that he was spending time at a number of dating sites. He was divorced four times and separated from his fifth wife and was in treatment for his third type of cancer in a decade, but still he was out there trying to meet the right woman.


I know this wasn't nice :glare:, but I first logged into his accounts when he was nearing the end, and found several women that expressed interest in him. I replied, telling him that I was his daughter and that he was dying from cancer, and was in hospice care being cared for by his fifth wife from who he was separated from. I hope it at least warned them to use caution and not believe everything they see on a person's profile.

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Thank you for all the replies and wonderful advice!!  I have passed on the advice received here to her.  I plan on calling her tonight and trying to get her to reconsider again.  I would be more comfortable if she would at least wait until the divorce is final along with many other things.  She will say that he has already bought his plane ticket, I will offer to refund it just to keep him away from her.  That is all I can think of, she is a grown adult and she feels that I don't want her to be happy.  If she won't cancel his visit, I will be making a trip there to check on things that is for sure.   My sister is making sure that all of her checking account information is being hidden, social security numbers are locked up, etc...

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