Why We Shouldn’t Make Fun Of Women Scammed By Love

March 4, 2015  |  

There is something insidiously evil about people who love to scam people out of things.

Some may say that it is folks who make their foolish hearts readily available that are to blame. You know, the men and women who willingly deceive themselves while also trading money and gifts for love. It is true we do have to wonder about the mental health of a person who would fork over large amounts of cash and other gifts just for the company of another. But that is the point: there is nothing right about a person who does that sort of thing. Therefore, to take advantage of a person who more than likely has some serious value issues, is pretty messed up.

And that’s what I kept in the forefront of my mind as I watched a recent episode of the Dr. Phil Show. Normally, I’m not a fan; however everyone kept talking about this pitiful and desperate woman who had given most of her inheritance away to a man she claimed she was in love with. And I just had to see it for myself. I have to say, it was quite disturbing to watch.

In in the episode, which aired last Thursday, we meet a twice-divorced 50 year old woman named Sarah who is madly in love with Chris Olsen. They have been dating for a little over a year and Sarah is hoping that they can one day, marry. According to Sarah, her boyfriend Chris has expressed his hopes of the same conclusion too. The problem is that she has never met him in real life. There relationship has existed online and through telephone calls. Apparently Chris, who is an Italian national, is stuck in Benin, West Africa. The government over there is supposedly holding his passport in exchange for some back taxes he owes. They are also threatening him with jail time.

Thankfully Chris has a lawyer who has graciously allowed the stranded Italian national to surf on his or her couch until his legal matter is resolved. But of course, to get it resolved, it’s all gonna cost money. And being the loving and caring girlfriend that she is, Sarah has been more than willing to chip in. Thus far, to the tune of $1.4 million dollars.

Obviously, this dude is a scammer. Anybody with regular access to their Gmail account spam folder could see that. But Sarah is blind and her myopia may have been caused from something other than being in love. As these comments, which she told to Dr. Phil, help to demonstrate:

An attractive person came on there and said ‘you look like you wouldn’t hurt a fly’,” she told the Dr Phil Show.

“I thought ‘wow, this guy is really handsome, I can’t believe he’s talking to me.’”

It’s pretty telling that she never felt herself worthy of having someone “attractive” talk to her. And unfortunately, for some women over 50, the feeling is not all that unheard of. According to the report from NBC News.com, “romance scams make up more than 10 percent of all financial losses to online fraud — and women 50 and older account for 61 percent of those losses.”

And as author Arlene Schindler writes in the Huffington Post a couple of years ago:

As a woman in my 50s, walking down a city street, I feel invisible to almost any man walking past me. I’ve been that unseen woman over and over again. Friends have echoed this experience to me as well. Single? No one wants to date a midlife woman either. Check the world of Internet dating, where most men, no matter what their age, list themselves as only interested in women up to 44 years old. A friend turned 46 and wanted to try online dating. I told her the age range factoid and instructed her to, “Pick an age from 40 to 44. Then just do the math when they ask questions about your childhood.”

In the case of Sarah, this marginalization is further highlighted by the indifference from her family. While Sarah’s family members readily admit that she is likely being scammed, they often are her biggest enablers including helping her to wire money overseas to the con-man. They seem to indulge her because it “makes her happy.” But throughout the episode, you also get a sense that her family was just “happy” she had something to do. You know, to keep her busy?

Particularly her daughter, who expressed concern about her mother’s fictitious relationship, but was more concerned about how the money that went to Chris, could have been better spent on her upcoming wedding. She might as well have been an inanimate object. No one cared about how this woman may feel. Nor do they understand that what she feels like is missing in her life, she is searching for in this fictitious partner. Not even the show’s host.

In fact, this episode pretty much solidified my belief that Dr. Phil is a horrible human being. No seriously.

Granted, someone needed to intervene in this situation before Sarah went totally broke buut Dr. Phil’s version of tough love, most times, completely surpasses the point of being helpful. Instead he often delves head first into mockery and humiliation. During the episode, he aggressively calls Sarah out for for missing the signs that she was dating a scammer. He rereads aloud conversations she had with “Chris” via text and highlights on the big screen 12-months of her personal budget to illustrate how much money she has given over the course of a year. And all the while, the audience is laughing or sucking their teeth or shaking their heads.

And poor Sarah is balling her eyes out because once again, she is being played for a fool, but this time in front of a much bigger audience.

And for what exactly? It’s quite easy to tell someone they’re being stupid for falling in fake love. However, there is a much harder conservation to be had about how we as society treat and relate to older women in particular. Women who are still physically and emotionally able to experience love, romance and even great sex; yet, they can’t seem to find it reciprocated out in the world. And how it’s a sentiment that is in deep contrast to older men, who society tells us are still virile and important, well past the age of retirement.

Instead we, the viewing audience, at the encouragement of Dr. Phil, make her feel bad for wanting to be loved or even thinking she deserves having someone attractive think she is attractive too. And then we cut to commercial.

I really do feel like Sarah needs serious help. She needs someone to get all up in that head and show her that while physical love with someone else is nice, self-love is the greatest love she could give herself. Yet nobody had sympathy for this woman to help her see that. Instead, everyone laughed or shamed her. And by the end of her segment, it was clear why she didn’t believe in herself.

What’s interesting to note is that Sarah was married twice before. She is not exactly naive to both the joys and pitfalls of love and romance. And quite honestly, after two marriages you would think she would give up on notion of love altogether and just move to Italy, buy a bungalow and smut around with men half her age. Hell for the amount of money she was spending, she could have had a harem of Italian lovers. But when women have been raised on a lifetime diet of putting their needs last to what society expects of them – and that includes being chaste or in respectful relationships until they are near the grave – it’s hard to want to claim that bit of happiness for yourself.

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