Dear Amy: I met my boyfriend (online) a year ago. I lived in another state, was independent and had a decent job, but struggled financially.
I have no family left. When my guy and I talked, it was electric! This man offered me so much. After only a few months, he asked me to move to his state. He said he would take care of me. He is seven years older than me (I’m no spring chicken).
We discussed this at great length. I didn’t want to move and be stuck with some crazy lunatic.
After being here for a short time, our sex life went downhill. We now sleep in separate rooms. He has taken care of me financially (like he said he would). He has five corgis that I have fallen in love with, but I now feel like I am being used.
He has gone on several “work” trips, and I have kept his dogs. He is now planning a three-week trip, saying that it’s “work,” but signs (and my gut) say otherwise!
The problem is that I am broke and dependent on him. I feel I am being used as a housekeeper, cook, and dog watcher — period.
I am at a loss. I’m so scared to start over. I have health issues that prevent me from doing the type of job I’m used to.
If I catch him in this lie (my friend suggested a GPS tracker), do I have grounds to go to court to sue for financial aid?
He is good to me otherwise, although I do have issues with his racism and his habit of damming God.
— Lost in Bama
Dear Lost: This is a dangerous game. You ignored your own sense of caution, and have landed without a safety net. You should make efforts to get out.
If you are a religious person, you should join a church to meet people, and ask for help with housing. You might be able to rent a room in someone else’s home in exchange for the same services you are offering this man. If you are an able and enthusiastic dog lover, once you are out of the home, you might be able to charge him (and others) for dog sitting.
Use the internet to explore other creative living options, with the same enthusiasm you used this medium to meet him. People who have seasonal homes sometimes hire house sitters to stay in their houses during the off-season. An internet search reveals several ways of connecting with house-sitting services.
I hope you will vet these opportunities more carefully than you vetted this man.
Dear Amy: A friend with whom I’ve occasionally traveled recently retired from a major airline. He has great travel benefits. Now that he is retired, he has time on his hands, and expects me to drop what I’m doing and take off with him, but I still work full time.
My friend is not financially well-off, while I am comfortable.
The real reason this friend is so keen to have me as a travel partner is that in the past I’ve paid for hotels as a way of saying “thank you” for the free or reduced-cost airfare.
Not only do I not have the time, but I don’t enjoy traveling with him because he is selfish and expects me to do what he wants and not what I have an interest in.
I told him I won’t be traveling with him because I prefer to travel solo, and now he isn’t talking to me. This hurts — after more than three decades of (supposed) friendship. What now?
— Traveling Solo
Dear Solo: You have nothing to lose, and because you miss this friendship, you should try to rewire it by contacting your friend and kindly offer to bury your differences.
Tell him, “I really value our long friendship. I just don’t want to travel together. I hope we won’t walk away from these decades of companionship over this.”
Dear Amy: I loved your advice to “Lucky Sibling” regarding sharing her wealth, but you perpetuated a common misunderstanding regarding the tax implications of gifts. Most people believe that the “gift exemption” rule applies to the person who receives the gift. It applies to the giver.
— Tax Adviser
Dear Adviser: I have heard from dozens of advisers, helping to correct my mistake. Most importantly, anyone giving a substantial gift should contact their own financial adviser, as I suggested “Lucky Sibling” should do.