Dear Margo: And I Am Marie of Romania

Could my sometime boyfriend be lying to me? Margo Howard’s advice

And I Am Marie of Romania

Dear Margo: I’ve been seeing a man for a year and a half — but heaven knows not on a regular basis. Sometimes we will see each other a few days in a row, but then he will disappear for weeks at a time. He tells me he can never predict his schedule because he works as an undercover operative for the CIA. That’s also the reason he gives me for why we never go to his place — because “the agency” doesn’t allow it. This is getting to be pretty hard on me because I can’t make plans, I don’t know where this relationship can go, and I fear I might be wasting my time. (I am 40.) What does all this sound like to you? –Wasting My Time?

Dear Waste: To be frank, it sounds like you are extremely gullible. I again trot out my favorite saying about the wishful acceptance of something highly unlikely: “It is like believing that a dinosaur died standing up in the museum of natural history.”

For one thing, I do not think undercover CIA people are allowed to tell anyone but a spouse what they do or for whom they work. (Often, friends of CIA administrative personnel know what they do.) Having actually known a few spooks myself, the thing about not having people over is simply not true. Often, undercover operatives tell friends their employment is working for the government/Department of Defense/FEMA … anything but the CIA.

And so, my dear, I don’t know if this guy is married, a criminal or just a guy who is not interested in a real relationship, but he is lying to you, and I would bid him adieu soonest. –Margo, stealthily

True or Not, a Novel Way To End Things

Dear Margo: I know that this has occurred since the beginning of time, but why do married men think they have the right to step all over someone’s heart? Granted, it takes two to tango, and the heart wants what it wants, but now I wish we had done things differently. We are both married with families, but were drawn to each other in the beginning in what he said was a spiritual friendship. After a year, we were drawn to each other physically. This went on for the next two years. I thought it would be only a diversion, but now I feel I love this person.

Recently, he informed me that he was asked to be part of an old Native American medicine society that requires pure thoughts and actions. He is serious in fulfilling this obligation, and part of this is giving me up. He admits that two years ago, when our relationship began, he was at a vulnerable point in his life. I feel despair at the turn this has taken. I will miss the closeness we had. He wants to maintain our spiritual friendship. I’m not sure I would like to. A part of me feels anger toward him, and now I feel I was a fool. I would like to get over my anger and be friends, but I still have feelings for him. What do you think I should do? –Heartbroken

Dear Heart: This scenario hasn’t really been taking place since the beginning of time … if only because Eve had no one to step out with. But yes, it is an old story. In your situation, you do not say whether this man is a Native American or a “guest” in this medicine society. It is possible he made up this society mandating purity — but that hardly matters. He wants, for whatever reason, to end the intimacy part. I think in some instances it is not useful to remain “friends.” For you to do so would cause you pain, so let the break be a clean and definitive one. Absence will help your feelings diminish, as will remembering that he wanted it to end. –Margo, reconstructively

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Dear Margo is written by Margo Howard, Ann Landers’ daughter. All letters must be sent via e-mail to Due to a high volume of e-mail, not all letters will be answered.


Every Thursday and Friday, you can find “Dear Margo” and her latest words of wisdom on wowOwow

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96 Responses so far.

  1. avatar Katharine Gray says:

    I sincerely hope that LW#1 is a prank because frankly, I don’t know how someone so naive/gullible/dim  could survive 40 years without walking in front of  a moving truck by now.   Assuming it is not a prank, then sweetie, get a grip, change your phone # and email account, sign  off of facebook or anyother social networking sight, and lose this guy.  Best case scenario,  he is married or has one or more other women in his life that he does undercover *operations* with when he is not with you.  Worst case scenario he is a sociopath or con man (I hope you haven’t *loaned* him money or otherwise put your finances  at risk with him).  This guy comes not only with red flags but a red banner as big as the green wall in Fenway. 

    LW#2:  Your *spiritual* journey with this guy is over.  Interesting that you see that only married men have the capacity to break hearts. I suspect your husband, were he aware of your spirtual odyssey with this man(not to mention his wife), would observe that married women are equally capable of trampling on hearts.   I’m not going to say that your lover’s  membership in an old Native American medicine society is as bogus as claiming to be a CIA undercover operative…but… sounds like a way to kiss you off while at the same time making you feel morally inferior.   Its over.  I would like to offer some condolences but am finding it difficult to empathize with you since this spiritual odyssey of adultery was going to hurt someone no matter the final destination and I find it hard to be worked up that the person ending up with a trampled heart is one of the adulterers as opposed to one or both of the innocent spouses. 

    • avatar Constance Plank says:

      I tend to think that both these letters are pranks. However, Katherine, I applaud your response to #2.

      Constance in the Sierra Foothills

    • avatar Sue ZQ says:

      You wrote “I would like to offer some condolences but am finding it difficult to empathize with you since this spiritual odyssey of adultery was going to hurt someone no matter the final destination and I find it hard to be worked up that the person ending up with a trampled heart is one of the adulterers as opposed to one or both of the innocent spouses.”

      Well spoken.

    • avatar Ella Regan says:

      Katherine: Agreed on both counts. Well said.

    • avatar John Lee says:

      Well, I certainly can’t guarantee that LW #1 is NOT a prank, but I know, personally, a 50-year old woman (one of my friend’s mom) who got involved with a “CIA” agent.  That man’s daughter won’t communicate with him.  One time FBI came knocking on her door trying to find him for impersonating a federal agent.  Another time, her own daughter couldn’t flush the toilet and ended up taking it apart and found it loaded with bullets.

      And yeah, she’s still with him.

    • avatar BeanCounter says:

      ooooh SNAP!!!!!!!  (on your reply to #2)

  2. avatar Kate Olsen says:

    LW1 – Have you been living under a rock?  He is obviously married and how you can not realize this is beyond me or any other intelligent person.  I, like others, think this is a crank letter but just in case it is not, run – run far and run fast away from this jerk.  And then take a look at your actions and why you would believe that he is CIA or anything else with out seeing proof – like a badge, etc.

    LW2 – you are just pathetic, you get what you deserve.  You betrayed your husband and children with someone and now whine when he ends it.  I hope your husband finds out and leaves you you worhtless piece of garbage.

    • avatar David Bolton says:

      LW1: Well, I’m going to go out on a limb here against the other bitter harridans on this board and say that you should stay in the relationship with him and try to work on things. At 40, you have little to no chance of finding anyone else—so I would take what I could get. And while living the life of a spy’s wife can indeed be dangerous, from what I’ve seen in the movies it’s also extremely exciting and sexy and full of last-minute travel. Just don’t answer the door if hubby’s co-worker comes over by himself (this means he’s going to try to kill you), build a panic room, and keep a gun in EVERY room, not just the nightstand. Lucky!

      LW2: Your lover left you because of guilt, or boredom, or that he found someone new. Accept it—it’s no different than the disconnect between you and your husband that led to this situation in the first place.

  3. avatar Amy says:

    I’m a little stumped at both of these letters, honestly. I’ve been duped by seemingly unbelievable men in the past – once even within the last three years. I’m not proud, but when love is involved it’s amazing how much people are willing to suspend disbelief. That said, ANY guy who goes off for weeks at a time and won’t let me over to his house, CIA or not – you don’t need suspension of disbelief, you need to run as fast as you can in the opposite direction. Frankly, if there wasn’t the possibility of this guy being a criminal or a creep I’d walk up on our next “date”, point in his face, laugh my behind off and wave him a fond farewell.

    As for LW#2…what nerve you must have, writing in to complain about how married men can break hearts when you yourself are nothing but a homewrecker and a trollop! Seriously, toots…get some perspective and for the love of bacon, don’t try that “men are scum, he broke my heart” routine. You deserve no sympathy and I sincerely hope your husband finds himself a damn good defense lawyer. Some women…yeesh.

  4. avatar Michelles11 says:

    If either one of these letters is for real, I am going to cry in my coffee.  What is the world coming to??

  5. avatar Laurie Deer says:

    LW2 for the record I am Native American and grew up in a very spiritual home. Nowhere in my teachings was I taught to give up things for purity. Our culture is about being in balance with nature. You were strung along for the full advantage of “Limping Horse.”

  6. avatar Robert Smith says:

    LW1:  Most likely married.

    LW2:  P.S.  And stop committing adultry.

  7. avatar Elizabeth L says:

    Margo If school had started I would think both these letters are from Yale on the other hand I have known women as gullible and it never ceases to amaze me.

  8. avatar Cindy Marek says:

    Excellent advice to both letters, Margo.

    As for letter #2, I no longer believe healthy hetero men and women can “just be friends” over the long-term. Never thought I’d come to think that way (liberal that I am), but the past 5 years has generally proved me wrong.  I also no longer believe people who don’t have some sort of genuine mutual *commitment* to each other can share a spiritual bond. And the word “spiritual” can be so vague; basically it seems you were both at crisis points in your marriage, emotional and vulnerable…and your baser human nature (physical involvement) got you both eventually. The only “good” outcome of this is he’s still willing to be friends (which I don’t think is advisable nor will work); he didn’t just overnight coldly cut you out of his life without a backward glance or partial explanation. Let bygones be bygones. It’s already done. **Work on your marriage** now; look to your husband and to your future with him. I’m wondering why you’re still married to your husband, but it’s none of my business. Move on…move on!

    • avatar John Lee says:

      “I no longer believe healthy hetero men and women can “just be friends” over the long-term.”

      Really?  Hum…  Even taking out the moral/ethical aspect of cheating on a spouse, what about the superficial aspect of it?

      I mean, say a happily married healthy hetero man has a woman friend who is also happily married.  They’ve been good friends for a while and while they find each other to be completely unattractive physically, they enjoy some kind of arts or sports together.  I know of plenty of situations like that.  I have numerous women friends in that category.

      You seriously tihnk that they couldn’t “just be friends” over the long-term?  What if the woman was 20 years older?

      Those are extremely examples, but I’m sure plenty of normal healthy men and women can be friends over the long-term.

    • avatar Carib Island Girl says:

      I happen to have very good male friend who I’ve been friends with for over 20 years, even a little crush years ago, but never went beyond a kiss on the cheek. It can happen.

    • avatar Lila says:

      Cindy, I’m with John on this. I mean — are you attracted to every male you meet? Do you think men are attracted to every female?

      I had a male friend who I met scuba diving way back when. He was smart, good-looking, well-read, we enjoyed a lot of the same activities, and had the same views on kids. He would have been a PERFECT match, but for one thing… no attraction whatsoever.

      I went on to be attracted to someone else. We are still together after nearly 20 years and both have friends and co-workers of the opposite sex, no problems.

      And I would still be scuba diving with my old friend, except that he lives 2000 miles away now.

  9. avatar tips says:

    The title triggered a memory so I had to hunt up the poem.  It’s by Dorothy Parker:

     Oh, life is a glorious cycle of song,
    A medley of extemporanea;
    And love is a thing that can never go wrong;
    And I am Marie of Romania. 

  10. avatar Briana Baran says:

    Hmmm…as far as L#1 being a prank…consider just how many people fall for Nigerian banking schemes, faux charities, door-to-door hustlers selling bogus products, etc.. Now, I give you certain bad actors I have known, who convinced their gullible female counterparts that they were, variously, Rhodesian mercenaries, CIA operatives who were working undercover in Honduras and South America, and double-agent spies working for Columbian Drug Cartels and the DEA simultaneously. I absolutely kid you not. It’s always amusing doing a bit of poking around, and discovering that the little creeps have never been away from home for more than a week (from their parents, no less, with whom they’ve lived…generally in the basement…forever), or that they aren’t even old enough to remember when Rhodesia was Rhodesia…or that they were basically declined by the military for physical and psychological reasons…and have never fired a weapon in their puny lives. Yet a certain kind of woman…not all young enough to still have license to be purely stupid…seems to fall for these method actors every time.

    LW1, he’s a poser, regardless of the reasons why. Give it up, already.

    Regarding L#2, why do married women think they have right to step all over someone’s heart? For instance, your husband’s, or those of your children. I’m having a little difficulty reaching down into my heart and finding a squib of empathy for you, for some reason. He’s finished with you, and your “spiritual connection”. Maybe his wife discovered some, ahem, ectoplasmic evidence. Be careful with that righteous anger at being played for a fool (like your husband, for instance? Or the man himself, whom you initially considered only a “diversion”?), and that despair because all that good lovin’s gone…because you can be successfully sued for alienation of affection in quite a few states now.

    Not that he’s any better than you (I keep thinking of his wife and children…and I hope, if she did catch him, she maintains her dignity and ignores you like you don’t exist, and walks it right to him just as hard as she can), but stop whining and kvetching and let it go. He really doesn’t want to be your spiritual friend…and he probably backed off because he sensed your need for more, more, more. He also has been intimately involved with you for two years, and knows that you won’t accept mere friendship…and would be delighted to know that you don’t want to be friends. Not that these make him a prince among men. In fact, one might describe him as a fungus of the slime mold variety.

    But then, dear, so are you.

  11. avatar amw says:

    The first letter screams married man. Wake up!

    The second letter…well, I find it hard to feel sympathy for someone who is just as guilty of stepping on someone’s heart…your husband’s.

  12. avatar redbird825 says:

    LW1–If you are really that clueless, how did you write the letter?

  13. avatar Sweet Dream says:

    These two (letter writters) are an embarassment to all women.

  14. avatar R Scott says:

    LW1 – Margo is wrong. This guy does work for the CIA and everyhing he told you is true. Quit being so mean to him by putting demands on his time. The world is a scary place right now and we need him to be focused on all his spy stuff. You just be there when he needs you. By the way, I’m a Nigerian Prince and need a place to stash some money since the bad people overthrew my really cool government. You seem like a nice, smart lady. Email Margo your bank account number and I’ll put all my money in it (billions and billions) and then give you 10%. Oh yeah, I’ll need some blank checks too just to make sure you’re not going to screw me. Run this by your boyfriend first since, you know, he works for the CIA and all, he’ll know all about it. Thanks!

    Your new friend,
    Gorundii Ka Niaktrallu

    LW2 – Not only are you a tramp you’re a hypocritical and stupid one. Dang lady, did you even read your own letter after you wrote it?  As soon as I’m done working my Investment Opportunity with LW1 I’m going to call your husband.

    • avatar J. Lovely says:

      Your post is even funnier than the letters from those two lunnatics!!

    • avatar Lourdes says:

      R Scott, you made me spill my coffeee, your responses are absolutely hillarious, loved them!!!

      • avatar MB T says:

        I am going to guess that Lt1 has already given a portion of her savings and/or credit card numbers to her very important, super secret, SPY vs SPY boyfriend.  So fortunately, she will be able to allow you to use her bank account as it is already empty! 

        (There is part of me that almost feels a little sorry for her…) 

    • avatar francophile1962 says:


  15. avatar JJ Flash says:

    LW1- this guy just used the same come-on as Bill Paxton in True Lies.  Hey, if it worked to hook Jamie Lee Curtis, why not him? Once again, life imitates art.

    LW2- “spiritual togetherness”?  Now I’ve heard everything!

    • avatar Jen McK says:

      LW1: It had True Lies written all over it for me too! :) Please tell me people really aren’t this gullible at this day and age!
      LW2: You cheated on your spouse with another married person. What exactly were you expecting to have happen? Obviously he’s eventually going to find that his “spiritual togetherness” has flown on to someone else – possibly even his wife if she found out and laid the smack down.