Dear Margo: Oh, and Did He Mention the Brooklyn Bridge?

What if my former therapist is a con artist? Margo Howard’s advice

Oh, and Did He Mention the Brooklyn Bridge?

Dear Margo: I began seeing a therapist because of my weight, plus family problems. He charged $250 an hour. At the first session, he wanted me to take diet pills. Since this guy was a Ph.D., not an MD, I asked if they were prescription. He said yes, but his father was a doctor and could get them. I said, “Sorry, I don’t take any drugs unless I clear it with my physician.” Then he handed me a box of nutritional supplements and said to take them as part of the therapy. They were non-prescription, and he charged me $25. At the next session, he insisted I buy (from him) what he called “pharmaceutical grade supplements” for which he charged me $200. Eventually, I stopped taking them, saying my doctor advised against it.

He then told me he had a client who wanted me to do a voiceover in a big-budget sequel and was offering me $200,000. He just needed a recorded sample of my voice. I gave him one and heard nothing back. Next he told me he had a client who wanted my T-shirt designs to sell in his store and asked me to give him a sample of my portfolio. Over the next few months, I heard “He’s interested” or “He wants to think it over.”

Then he told me he was starting an arms export company and wanted to send me to South Africa as his representative. At this I said, “Are you insane? I could get killed dealing weapons in South Africa. It’s not even legal!” He told me not to worry; he’d hire a Navy SEAL to go with me. This therapist told me that he has top security clearance. I soon discontinued therapy.

Here’s the problem: I suspect he made this stuff up to keep me coming back for more sessions. I saw him for several months and spent more than $12,000. Would I have grounds to sue him and have his license revoked? I feel he might’ve crossed some boundaries. –Swindled?

Dear Swin: Might have crossed some boundaries? It wouldn’t surprise me if the guy had no license to yank and got the Ph.D. from a Cracker Jack box. This quack is clearly a con man, but do check with the licensing board, just in case, and by all means feel free to sue him for misrepresentation, malpractice (if applicable) and whatever the charge is for con-mannery. You might want to see an actual therapist about your extreme gullibility. –Margo, amazedly

Closing Down Ms. Busybody

Dear Margo: I’m 25, and many of my peers are getting married and starting families. I’ve been in a solid relationship for six years, but I’m not yet engaged because neither of us is financially ready, though someday I see it happening. I’m fairly content with this for the time being, but I am bothered by a co-worker who enjoys pushing my buttons.

Anytime there’s an opportunity, she brings it up, asking why I’m not engaged, why aren’t I getting married yet, don’t I want to start having babies? This woman in particular is the worst because she sets a pretty bad example: She got pregnant as a teenager and is now heading toward her second divorce. I’m also not about to propose and buy myself a ring, so getting engaged is kind of out of my control. Do you have any suggestions for a snappy comeback that isn’t rude enough to get myself in trouble? –Perfectly Happy for Now

Dear Per: Your co-worker, the one with amnesia, sounds a bit on the dim side, socially speaking. The next time she starts in, you might answer, “Life is really very nice now the way it is, and we really want to be sure. Don’t you think that’s a good idea?” –Margo, dismissively

* * *

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

Click here to follow Margo on Twitter

76 comments so far.

  1. avatar DonnaH says:

    LW#2…I worked for many years where I was one of only a few single people. For some reason, co-workers were curious about my single state, When they asked, I usually replied, “Why? Do you sell wedding rings?”

  2. avatar Grace Malat says:

    I know up front that I will get a lot of flack for what I’m going to write, and I really don’t care as this is America and as such I can say almost anything I want.

    This has to do with the woman who’s been living with her boyfriend for 6yrs and they’re still not engaged or married but they see themselves eventually moving towards that goal. But they’re not yet financially ready.

    What does she mean by this? I hear it all the time, we live together but we’re just not financially ready to be married. But you are financially ready to live together? And the difference would be what? And you want to make sure the relationship is going to last, that s/he’s ‘the one’.

    I am so tired of hearing this stuff. Here it is, life is life, and it is rare for people to be financially ready for marriage or children, something always comes up, something always happens. If you’re waiting until you have enough to have that big huge wedding that will cost several thousand dollars, and that one day means more to you than the rest of your life, then your priority’s are mixed up. After 6yrs if you don’t know, then when are you going to know? How long do you have to live together before you know? If you haven’t saved up enough money for the wedding of your dreams in 6yrs then your dreams are too big for your budget and you need to be more realistic.

    I love it (sarcasm) when people say they are living together before marriage to see if it will work, if it’s the right choice. Well I have news for all of you, living together is very different than marriage, that ceremony actually means something, that piece of paper means something. It all means that you are willing to or should be willing to fight for the relationship. When you’re living together no matter how committed you are to each other, either one can walk out more easily, it’s a break up, you divide your possessions and go on with life eventually. But if you’re married it takes a lot more to end the relationship, a lot more work, a lot more thought.
    Also when you’re just living together you think you’re seeing them warts and all, but you’re not. And there will be people who will argue that their living together arrangement is just as committed as if they were married, nope, if it were you’d be married, end of story.

    If you love someone enough to live with them then you should love them enough to marry them. And if you don’t love them enough to marry them, then why are you living with them? And living with someone before marriage has not been proven to create longer lasting marriages, in fact the opposite is true. And if after six years you still don’t know, then realize that it’s probably not going to happen and you should cut your losses now.

    I can see people maybe living together for maybe a year before marriage, after that if you don’t know, then you’re not committed enough to the person or the relationship.

    • avatar kchick28 says:

      I am LW2. And as I write this, I am sitting at the childhood desk I had when I was in third grade, next to the single bed I have had my entire life, because I STILL LIVE AT HOME WITH MY PARENTS! Boyfriend has an apartment, I do not. I live at home! WE DONT LIVE TOGETHER and if you read through everything, I said I DON’T believe in living together before at least engagement. Don’t you tell me I’m not committed. And i can say that because this is America.
      In case you didn’t notice, I said I was 25. (I’m actually 26 now since I submitted the letter.) We’ve been together for six years, since I was 19 and a college student. Jeezum crow.

      • avatar kchick28 says:

        And don’t you tell me about affording a wedding. We’ve been TOGETHER for six years, not living together. That means its been six (and a half) years since the third date when we decided we were a couple. And I do know. We will get married someday, when things, as you put it, can come up, and we will be ready to handle them, like kids. Should we have gotten married just because someone decided it’s been long enough? You’re just as bad as my co-worker, except she’s just dim and you’re being judgmental, telling me what’s right for my life…

      • avatar Briana Baran says:

        kchick28, all I can say is…you do what you need to do, in your own time, when you are ready. My little sister (she will always be my “Little Sister”, even though I’m 51 and she’s 46…and she doesn’t mind a bit), lived with her significant other for seven years. They got married on the beach, in Hawaii, last July…just them and a 76 year old Hawaiian Justice-of-the-Peace presiding. She was ready. He was ready. They did it for all of the right reasons…not because of pressures, or demands, or conventions. Neither had ever been married before. And Grace M. can just besa mi culo…because I think they’re in for the very long count. They’re deliriously happy.

        As for “never being ready for children”, in a sense that’s true, because the critters do change your life…but why rush? Is there a timetable? I had mine at 32 and 38, and let me just say, in many ways the last one was a breeze because he barely disturbed our existence…just fit in like a sweet little puzzle piece (of course, now he’s a hulking, sullen teenager…a dramatic, hyperbolic, smelly, emo teenager. I think it might actually be a pod person. Time will tell…).

        kchick, you sound like a mature, discerning young woman. You’re actually thinking about your life. How nice. How rare. It’s a pity that people are so judgmental and that they cannot read.

      • avatar David Bolton says:

        “I can see people maybe living together for maybe a year before marriage, after that if you don’t know, then you’re not committed enough to the person or the relationship.”

        Funny, I look at it in the opposite way—it’s actually more of a commitment to stay with someone in a relationship when the door is open and you could easily leave and detach yourself, but the only thing keeping you is your love for the other person.

        That, to me, is a marriage.

    • avatar K Coldiron says:

      Grace, I’m sure you’re a perfectly nice person, but you’re wrong. Not everyone is the same; not everyone can live happily via the same rules of engagement. Living together is different than marriage for some people, and for others it feels exactly the same.

      And, just to put a totally secretarial spin on it: in some states, dissolving a marriage is a serious hassle, where dissolving a live-in arrangement is only difficult emotionally. Not everyone is willing to go through both during a breakup.

  3. avatar Jon T says:

    A random client that the LW had never met wanted her to do a voice-over in a big budget sequel??? As someone who works in voice-overs, that one jumped right out at me. Not that most people wouldn’t see right through that one, but just in case, let me clarify that casting directors don’t generally hire actors by asking their “therapist” to record a voice sample of a patient they’ve neither heard or even met. Now the arms export company story? Totally plausible. 😉

  4. avatar LCMom says:

    LW1 – Not only do what Margo suggested, but ALSO the fact that “other people” even knew about you is grounds for malpractice and breach of confidentiality – if in fact he was a “real” therapist. Interesting. Get a lawyer.

    LW2 – If this person is at the point where you’ve asked her to stop, given her hints, and told her in clear plain English that you have no desire to talk about this with her, and she persists, take it to HR.

  5. avatar Rapunzel says:

    When your co-worker once again asks about the status of your relationship you should look at her with concern in your eyes and ask her if she is okay because you are concerned about the fact that she has repeatedly asked you the same questions as though she doesn’t know the answer and perhaps she should speak with her doctor about her forgetfulness and repeating herself. That will shut her down permanetly.

    If my comment above somehow wouldn’t work in your situation (too bad) then tell her there is no hurry to marry as you are secure in your relationship and want to be able to enjoy being financially secure before having children as you hear too often about couples divorcing because of the stresses of having children when they are too young or before the couple achieved financial security.

  6. avatar krista griffin says:

    LW1-Aye carrumba!!! OK. Firstly, I’m not sure I believe this letter is real. If so, I’m frightened by the possibility of someone that, um…naive, being allowed out on their own. More for their safety than anything else!! Secondly, IF you were going to have any kind of case. It would be a breach of doctor/patient confidentiality. How are any of these “friends” of Dr. Wackadoo going to know about you unless he’s talking to them about you. (That is, of course, if any of this is true, which I highly doubt) Lord have mercy.

    LW2-After reading many of the comments regarding this letter, I just wanted to share a bit of my grandmother’s wisdom. “Tact is telling someone to go to hell in such a way, that they can’t wait to get there.”

  7. avatar darlean washington says:

    My favorite reply to anyone who asks personal information from me that is sensitive or not appropriate is simply “Why do you ask?”

    It works wonders.