10/23/2023 | By Amy Dickinson

After 40 years of marriage, a man wants to leave his wife to marry a woman he met online. See what advice columnist Amy Dickinson advises on a “clean” divorce and catfishing romance scams. 

Dear Amy: 

I’m a 67-year-old man, married for over 40 years. I felt pressured into marrying my wife, all those years ago. We have two children, both middle-aged men.

I met “Annie” online and we’ve been chatting and talking for two years now. I really like her! She is a little immature but seems very fun to be around.

She’s 29 years old. She says she’s in love with me, but we’ve never met. I’m hoping to meet her next month.

I’ve told her many times that I’m too old for her, but she starts to cry and doesn’t want to think about not being without me.

I’ve tried various common-sense approaches, but she starts to cry.

What do you think I should do? Will this be a mistake?

I really want out of my marriage, but I don’t want to lose my family.

This decision is very hard for me because I really care for her. I think I’ve fallen in love! She has told me she feels the same way, and also says she wants to have a baby with me.

I’m very confused and would really like your advice.

– Lost in Love

Dear Lost: 

First this: I guarantee that you will not like my advice.

Where to begin? Let’s start with your marriage. If you want to end it, then end it – as cleanly and ethically as possible.

Ditching your wife for the empty promise of an online affair is a rotten, cowardly, low-down way out. If you choose this path, you will lose the esteem of your family. I doubt that your sons will accept your choice to be with a phantom woman a decade younger than they are.

Onto this affair. Do an internet search for the term “catfish.”

Briefly stated, a catfish is an online romance scam where scammers – many from very remote locations – prey on lonely, bored, or broken people.

A romance scammer will run out a relationship for many months – sometimes years – in order to extract an emotional and/or financial payoff.

Questions to ask yourself: 

Message on phone saying "I love you" possible part of an online romance scam.
  • Has “Annie” asked you for money? 
  • Have you provided any credit card or banking information to her? 
  • Have you sent gifts to her, ordered things for her, or shared any online accounts with her? 
  • Have you video chatted with this person and verified her identity? 
  • Have you checked out all social media accounts attached to her name and identity?

Because romance scammers often use phony photos to mask their real identity, I am urging you to be extremely cautious regarding this relationship. If you have not verified her identity, Annie might in fact be “Ernie.” offers information and resources to recognize different ways that scammers work to ensnare people. Do a search on the site for “romance scams” in order to learn more.

In the tradition of the great personal advice columnists, Chicago Tribune’s Amy Dickinson is a plainspoken straight shooter who relates to readers of all ages. She answers personal questions by addressing issues from both her head and her heart. A solid reporter, Dickinson researches her topics to provide readers with informed opinions and answers – ranging from romance scams to asking adult kids to reciprocate and unhealthy romances and smothering love. Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068.

© 2023 by Amy Dickinson

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Amy Dickinson