Dear Sandra

March 5, 2003

Dear Sandra,

For the past two months I have been corresponding in chat rooms, emails and telephone conversations with “Jim”. I met him in a chat room for people suffering from depression. We have so much in common and we are both in our early 20’s. He sent me a picture and I sent him one. He is very handsome and said that I looked like an angel. He now wants me to meet him in his hometown, Toronto. I am from Moose Jaw, SK. I have enough for a plane ticket, but not enough for a hotel so Jim has offered to let me stay at his place and pay for my plane ticket back. I really love “Jim” but am very afraid to meet him. Should I forget about the fear and dive in or should I not go?

In love, but afraid.

Dear In Love,

Though I admit relationships initiated over the Internet have worked out before, your situation sounds very dangerous. I’m sure you’ve heard of internet relationships gone bad, where people portray themselves as older, younger, saner or even as a different gender.

First of all, you met him in a chat room for depressed people where predators know that there are going to be vulnerable lonely people. You have exchanged pictures, but you have no guarantee that is what he looks like. He could be a 600 lb pervert with extremely bad hygiene for all you know.

I firmly believe that though you can connect emotionally with someone through writing and telephone conversations, true love cannot develop unless you have met face to face. Your love is probably only infatuation and this man is possibly taking advantage of you.

As for traveling half way across the country to meet a strange man, stay in his home and rely on his money to pay for your way back, that is a very risky situation. If it were me, I’d rather engage in some other high-risk behaviour like skydiving. If you feel that you must meet this man, maybe you could try corresponding through videotapes first, seeing that his voice matches his photo that he sent you.

When you do meet, meet on neutral ground in a café or mall where you will not be alone together. If you cannot afford to get yourself there and back and he is willing to pay one way, have him pay the way there. This way you have the resources to get home if need be. Do not stay in his house. A night in a motel or even a hostel is worth avoiding who knows what if you stay at his house.

It all boils down to going with your gut. If you are afraid, wait until you feel more comfortable with him. It has only been two months and if he’s the real thing he’ll understand your apprehensions. If he’s not he’ll just move onto his next victim.

Good luck and if you do decide to meet him please keep your guard up and take my advice about meeting in a public place, staying in a motel/hostel and being able to afford to get home on your own.



This column is for entertainment only. Sandra is not a professional counsellor, but is an AU student who would like to give personal advice about school and life to her peers. Please forward your questions to Sandra care of