Jan is a frequent emcee for the popular southern California senior dating conference series called “To Love Again”, an award-winning columnist, keynote speaker, and author of the award-winning book, Hot Chocolate for Seniors. She may be contacted at www.janfowler.com or at (909) 793-6419.
This month’s topic: Spotting Financial Predators
New romantic connections and fresh beginnings always feel exciting, don’t they? Just knowing we have a new admirer often energizes us just enough to make us feel young and alive again. Let’s face it, being the focus of someone’s romantic attention can be extremely flattering to our ego, besides which we tend to go many more places when we have someone to go with, so it’s also a boost to our social life. Yes, the benefits of having someone special to love generally far outweigh the drawbacks—most of the time, that is.
But if you happen to be a highly prosperous man or woman, please be aware that you could more easily become the unsuspecting target of a financial predator. Which is not to say that the person interested in you doesn’t find you physically attractive or actually feel some genuine sparks of chemistry flying, but he or she could be putting a bit too much value on how you might also help elevate them to a more privileged lifestyle.
Fortunately, we seniors have usually developed a keen sense of judgement and have learned to pay closer attention to our intuition and inner voice–also known as “that gut-level feeling”. It’s important that we listen to our instincts and not hesitate to ask more questions when something doesn’t add up or feels slightly off.
To avoid falling prey to a con artist or financial villain, there are a few easy-to-spot characteristics and red-flag warnings which may tip you off. Here are the questions you should be asking yourself.
~ Does your new romantic connection strike you as being too inquisitive or preoccupied with your level of financial solvency?
~ Does your newfound dating partner seem unusually quick to disclose his or her personal financial status or net worth so early in the relationship?
~ Does he or she seem recklessly premature in expressing love or commitment to marriage to you?
~ Does your romantic connection have an inflated sense of entitlement by expecting you to pay for an unfair or excessive share of expenses?
~ Are you being given a hard-luck story and asked for a loan?
~ Is your date-mate becoming more and more controlling? Or crossing that inviolate boundary of wanting to have a say in how you spend your money?
~ Does your deep-down-inside gut feeling cause you to wonder if this person you’re dating may be lying to you and if you can trust them?
~ Are you puzzled by ongoing secretive behavior?
~ Is your new dating partner still legally married?
Okay, let’s address the above. First of all, everyone should maintain a safe level of privacy when it comes to financial holdings. Matters of this nature are private and personal. Under no circumstances is anyone in a reasonably new relationship obligated to provide the dollar amount of their monthly pension, social security check, retirement benefits, savings accounts, value of stocks, bonds, real estate, business interests, or other investments.
And please don’t be so quick to brag that your house was paid off ten years ago, folks, nor to disclose your social security number, exact date of birth, or driver’s license number. After all, it’s up to you to be sure that your personal identifying information never falls into the wrong hands. And, by all means, stop seeing anyone who presses you for too much information.
If a new romantic partner seems too quick to volunteer their own net worth or monthly income, beware. It could be a phony or clever ruse designed to establish your immediate trust so that you, in turn, feel free to volunteer the same information to them.
And any effort to talk you into making a premature commitment to marriage sounds suspicious. The building of trust and the sharing of confidences takes time—generally about a full year. In fact, it’s often recommended that we go through all four seasons with a new romantic partner anyway just to see how they handle and process nostalgic moments and whether they’re healed from past losses or hurtful memories.
Beware if you feel exploited by being expected to pay for entertainment or other unrelated expenses unfairly. And never give any person a loan despite how sad their hard luck story may sound. It’s also within your right to report them if you happened to have met through a dating service. And for goodness sake, run—don’t walk—from anyone who tries to exert control over how you spend your very own money!
Of course it’s equally important that you not appear needy by openly complaining about your lingering sadness or pervasive loneliness, for predators are expert at sensing and preying on their target’s areas of vulnerability. They are masterful in gaining your trust, so beware not to set yourself up.
If you’ve met and dated the same person several times, yet they refuse to provide a home mailing address other than a postal box in case you want to send them a card, you have every right to feel suspicious. They may be in a committed relationship or are living with a mate. And if you have reason to suspect that they’re dishonestly flirting with others–either on or offline–are still legally married, or are posting personal ads without telling you, by all means drop them fast.
And by the way, never tolerate any sudden outbursts of temper or similar behavior despite promises that “it will never happen again”. Never assume that once you get to know someone better, you can “fix” their attitude or outlook. And never overrate your ability to explain their behavior based on their accounts of having been victimized by early childhood deprivation, emotional trauma from past relationships, or bad luck regarding employer benefits owed.
Financial predators rely on their charm, charisma, and good looks. And if you have already been the victim of such a clever manipulator, ask a professional counselor to recommend appropriate local support groups or online chat rooms so you will not feel so alone, can share your shattering experience, and learn from others.
We’ve all made some poor decisions in life, but musn’t allow past mistakes or setbacks to prevent us from moving forward and enjoying healthy relationships in the future. So reconcile yourself with your past and do not be bound to errors in judgment which are now history. Why? Simply because there are so many wonderful honest, caring, ethical, and loveable people out there who are eager and waiting to meet you!
Just last week, I learned of a 75-year old lady who was hired as a caregiver for a 76-year old man recovering from hip surgery who is now enjoying a wonderful romantic relationship with him! Both he and she are overjoyed to have finally found “just the right person” to go places with and to talk to.
Healthy relationships thrive when two people are well-matched physically, emotionally, intellectually, and spiritually. Once we know that someone isn’t dating us for the wrong reasons, we can concentrate on achieving a balance in all four of these key areas.
Please don’t ever give up, folks, because you never know where or when your true love may show up. I can only tell you that it’s never too late to find love and romance at any age, so please remain open to the possibility of meeting someone new and wonderful every single day!