Son Has Met Girl Online and Wants to Go Live with Her

Updated on September 14, 2013
K.D. asks from Cary, NC
19 answers

My 21 year old highly functional autistic son has a girlfriend that he met online recently. They skype for hours on his laptop everyday. This isn't catfishing, because they see each other while they talk. He lives at home with us, his parents, in the U.S. and recently lost his bakery job at Krogers. She lives in Canada.

She wants him to come visit for 6 months or more. She wants to buy him the plane ticket and he is working on getting a passport. He thinks she can get him a job at the restaurant where she works. So my first question is - don't you have to have a work visa?

I feel that since he is 21 years old I cannot stop him and he gets very angry when I try to pose the problems with going. He meets with a counselor/psychologist that he really likes and has an appointment with him next Tuesday, so I am hoping he can talk some sense into him.

Here are some things I plan to do and as well as the work visa question I am looking for any other input or suggestions.
* Get her full name, address, and phone number.
* Google earth her address
* Buy my son a new cell phone - are there phones that are better for international calling?
* I wanted to call her before she left, but he gets very angry when I suggest that. So at a minimum I want him to call that number and let me listen in and know that it is a good number.
* I was thinking about having a sister from another state call her number and make sure it works.
* If the plane ticket is not roundtrip, make sure he knows he can call us for a return ticket.
* Look her up on facebook via her friend association with my son. I already did and found out where she lives in Canada and what she looks like. It looks like she is a chef, which is weird because my son thought she was a waitress.
* Have a condom talk with him and/or his counselor talk with him about it, since he is a virgin and she is not. She is 20 years old, btw.
* I am not helping him at all. He is getting the passport on his own.
* Give him a debit card with $100 behind it and I could put more behind it if he calls and wants to come home.

He does not have any income, so that is not her motive. I think she is probably just very lonely, although I could be wrong. She told him a story about how she went to visit another U.S. boyfriend. It was arranged and expected, but then he wasn't there. Rather than tell her that he didn't want to meet, he skipped out of town. I think my son's motivation is the appeal of having a real live in person girlfriend and having sex for the first time. He has had 2 other online girlfriends, but they never met in person.

He gets furious when I say I want to talk to her on the phone, so I am pretty sure he would get furious if I suggested she come visit us. I think he is probably lying to her and she doesn't know that he is living with his parents.

Adding some stuff due to some responses. As I said above, I don't plan on stopping him. Only trying to make it as safe as possible. It's funny the range of responses, as always, isn't it? All the way from calling me helicopter mom to suggesting I hire a detective. I am somewhere in-between both of those. It's also funny the assumptions some people make. He has washed his own clothes since high school and I only cook for the family on holidays. He makes his own meals. He has a government sponsored job coach and we send him to a counselor who is working on getting him to do things he normally isn't comfortable doing. The goal was to get him into an apartment.

My son is very gullible, a little immature, and somewhat socially inept so he totally trusts this girl and I am just doing all I can to make sure he is safe but I will not stop him from going. I wish we could delete responses on mamapedia, because I would delete the one calling me a helicopter mom. Don't judge me please, you have not walked in my shoes. I have always known my son would be vulnerable to anyone who wanted to be friends, because he doesn't have any offline and in person friends. But I may have to let him get hurt. I hope it doesn't traumatize him and I hope he comes back in one piece.

And no, I will not take away his Internet access. It is his only social outlet. Otherwise I think he would get depressed and lonely and perhaps suicidal. He also talks to male friends a lot online.

Please, no angry put-down responses. If my question angers you and you don't like me as a person, keep it to yourself. I do not need to know that. :-)

What can I do next?

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So What Happened?

She made up a story and asked him to send her a "loan" of $400. He said yes but then talked to his counselor who convinced him not to. Then she broke up with him a few days later, not over the money she says but because she lost that feeling for him. Whew. He was sad but seems recovered by now. Now to get him a job, back into community college, and out on his own.

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answers from Philadelphia on

Could you invite both of them to a weekend get away? You could offer to pay for her travel expenses. That way you could at least meet her and get a feel for her intentions.

I would be concerned too. People who have never met in person do not typically make plans to live with one another for 6+ months like this. I am thinking/hoping they are both desperate to find love but this is alarming.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

My cousin and her husband met online. They've been very happily married for 10 years. Just to give you another perspective.

Bottom line is he's a grown man. I wouldn't fund this trip if you don't agree with it, but there's really nothing you can do about keeping him at home either.

2 moms found this helpful

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answers from Oklahoma City on

I can imagine you are frantic. Message her yourself on FB and ask her to please try to understand how this move is scary for you. That you'd love to meet her and get to know her too....blah blah blah.

Let her see the potential mother in law as a wonderful loving person who is welcoming her into the family sort of thing. It's much better to hold someone close so you can see everything they're doing instead of pushing them away.

If you make her your friend in any way you can, which she may resist, you can honestly say you've done all you can.

If she's looking for love, and a family, then she has found one in you guys. One that comes to visit and it's a happy occasion.

Talk to her like it's a done deal, he's coming, you're excited to get to know her, welcome to the family, you're looking forward to coming to Canada to visit, all sorts of welcoming things.

Then she's not going to have anything bad to say, you've been very nice, and she may run the other way.

8 moms found this helpful


answers from St. Louis on

Do you have the money to fly her to you guys for a visit? Just you would like to meet her, all happy and all that? It is just you should meet someone before you move in with them, nothing against the person, just common sense.

I have Tmobile, the coverage area is north America so it doesn't see Canada any differently than the US.

Don't panic but also make sure he understands your concerns are not based on his disorder, even perfectly normal folks meet people before they move in, normal parents would be scared if they didn't. I am saying every concern you have you would have if your son was what people say is normal.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Columbia on

Couldn't you simply not assist him in doing this? Is he even capable of getting all the paperwork straight on his own, packing up, obtaining transportation, and getting there?

Stand your ground and simply don't help with this.

ETA: It's your house....the internet password is easy to change.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

I actually have experience with a very similar issue, one of my relatives (who also has a similar disability) went through something like this.

So here is my advice, based on what worked:

I agree with you that he might not have told her that he currently lives with his parents. Ask your son about that. Can you get your son an apartment or a long-stay hotel room near you, and then he could encourage the girl to visit him instead? In his mind, right now, he probably thinks there is no way for him to be with this girl other than going to visit her.

My other suggestion is that you should plan a vacation and invite her to come with you and your son. Pay for her plane ticket.

Make your son feel like you support this relationship. BUT, for your own peace of mind, try to orchestrate some opportunities to meet this girl.

ETA: Based on my relative's experience - which I won't go into detail about for privacy and because I don't want to scare you - the BEST advice I can give, the MOST IMPORTANT thing, is to make sure you get him to meet her NEAR YOU (near home) BEFORE he takes any long trip to visit her.

Also ETA: Just some "food for thought" - one way that my relative's parents helped him to feel "grown up" while maintaining their own peace of mind about his disability was to set him up with an apartment near home. He has his own place, his "bachelor pad", but he is close to home.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

I would also ask why move out there? My nephew was involved with a girl online and his mom was beside herself. One of the things she did was ask him to please, please go out there for only a week or something. Not to uproot himself and move. I don't know the full regs, but there are laws about citizenship and visas and how long you can visit before you get into trouble. If you cannot stop him (and I would not help him), I would ask him why he wants to move wholesale vs meeting her first. I know from experience that online vs in person can be very different. I'm glad I visited a friend before I got further involved because the chemistry fell flat in person.

All good things to talk to his counselor about. He may not be reading subtle things that other people see.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

Ugh - what a situation.

She may not be catfishing, but she may not be completely legitimate either. Checking out her address and facebook page is a step but not enough. People put up fake profiles even if it's their real photo. She could have one account, or 20.

She may be expecting him to support her or bring all his money to help her out. Does he get SSI or have another form of income that she thinks can be diverted to her? She may be delusional, she may be incredibly needy. How did they meet? Through a legitimate dating service like Or through something less up-and-up? Not that you can't meet creeps on, of course, but it is a way for people with mutual interests to connect.

It sounds like he doesn't know anything about laws allowing him to work or not work in Canada. Has he ever lived on his own or had a relationship? Does he know anything about sex and disease prevention? Has he been the victim of others because he is gullible or doesn't read social cues? Did he lose his job for any particular reason? Or is it just one of those things and now he's "at sea" and looking for a new experience? Has he been over-sheltered and is trying to rebel and break out on his own? Is his anger over the top, or is it the typical "grown kid mad at the parents" anger?

If she is giving him the ticket, you cannot force her to pay for a round trip ticket. Even if you did, he could cash it in. I'd figure out the money you have saved by not buying his ticket, and use it for yourself to go there or to fund his return.

You could hire a private investigator to go to the restaurant and check her out, stop by her address and see who lives there, etc. Your lawyer can help you find someone, either through a Canadian law firm or through a directory of an association that PIs join (which would include Canadian firms). That would at least tell you if the story she's told your son is true. And it would give objective evidence to your son even though he will be absolutely furious with you.

If he goes and you can't stop him, you need to be sure he knows you aren't mad and that he can call you anytime. Don't cut off the communication - he may need a safe place to fall, and that's his parents.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Cincinnati on

I don't even have any great advice, because I have never even close to being in your shoes!
You have EVERY right to be concerned. You have EVERY reason to be worried. And If you weren't, then there'd be a problem!
You say he is high functioning autistic? So he doesn't have a "guardian" or POA? So you couldn't stop him if you wanted to?
I think you are being very pro-active by making it clear he WILL be welcomed back home if things go awry. I also don't find it wrong to check this girl out! Although all it may do is prepare YOU for potential fall out.ha he will probably not listen if you discovered she was really a man....
Dating on-line can be very risky. But so can dating period.
Take a breath, and realize that at some point he was going to have to try and leave the nest. You just need to keep doing what you're doing so that he falls hard, he'll be comfortable enough to come home.
I am sorry that you are so torn by this. I would be too. But you sound like a great mom, who just wants the best for her son, even if it's hard for you.
Hang in there. Trust your judgement. If you think something's fishy, it very well may be.
Good luck momma! Disregard all the negative comments, you are a MOM. You're supposed to want to shield your child from pain and failure!

3 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

I know you're scared but try to think of it this way, what's the worst that could happen? He goes and it doesn't work out. If he's stuck there you send him a ticket home and he learns a valuable life lesson.
I wouldn't do any of the work for him, if he wants to go HE needs to figure it out. And I wouldn't give him any money either, well not much, maybe some cash for food/taxi while he's traveling.
Though I WOULD talk to him about really thinking this through. Remind him that MOST people do not move in with a mate or get married without bringing that person home to meet the parents (or you going there.) Don't make this about his autism, make it about being a thoughtful and responsible young man. My 20 year old son has been dating his college girlfriend for over a year now and she's been out here to visit twice. He has also visited her family a few times (a few states away.) I believe this is a normal, healthy progression for a serious relationship, and if you do as well try to put it in those terms.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Lansing on

Not sure its possible being she is from Canada but I'd look into running a full background check on her.

Also, I would have a conversation with your son about how nervous this is all making you and while you know at his age you can not stop him. Out of the consideration of your feelings could he have her come to the U.S. to visit him first. Maybe even offer to pay for her travel to come here. (Of course maybe after you run a background check on her first if possible)

And just from a quick google it doesn't seem you need a work visa to work in Canada...but it was a quick google search that determined that.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from New Orleans on

Maybe flip the invitation and invite her to come visit/stay with you all for a week or so.

He is 21 - legal - so unless you get him declared incompetent you cannot prevent him from going. You do not have to facilitate the trip however. Give him a list of things he needs to know about - airfare, passport, work visas and let him suss it out. He does need a work visa.
See if you can "negotiate" a shorter visit with him. Go out for a week or two instead of 6 months.

Talk to his therapist separately, before his appt next week. Express your concerns. The therapist may agree with you, or he may assess that your son is capable of doing this.

And, honestly, if it were my son, I would call the woman. Does she know that your son is autistic? Are there accommodations that would need to be made for him? Etc. Etc. In other words, if she is legit, does she have the entire picture?

It would freak me out if my son wanted to take off for 6 months to basically live with a stranger.


2 moms found this helpful


answers from Muncie on

I am 7 years married to a man I met online. It can be a happy ending, it could also be a terrible mistake.

I visited my DH twice for two weeks each, the first time I stayed with friends of his for a while then stayed with him when they had to leave town suddenly. The second visit he was able to met my parents and my older sister and her kids. It was my Grandfather's funeral and my DH drove me two hours across states to be with me. I came home with a ring. The final trip I stayed. I've gone back home every few years as finances have allowed and stay for a month so my parents can have Grand baby time.

If your son is truly set on going your ideas are wonderful precautions to take. Make sure you let him know he can always come back home.

I don't have a feeling this relationship is going to last though or it's atleast not going to be a healthy one. His anger and rage at you wanting to meet this girl and make contact with the person he "loves" is a HUGE red flag to me. I understand that being Autistic can make him volitile, but I would think that if he loved her and had faith that this was going to last he would want you to know her too. You know the whole "meet the future in-laws" thing that dating long term couples do. Also does she know what his Autism involves, what his special needs are? Does she even know that he is? More flags.

Maybe you can ask to talk to him in a better way? "Hun, you love her and I just want to get to know her like you do. She's going to be a part of your life, shouldn't she have a chance to know me too?"

I hope this is helpful.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Honolulu on

I'm sorry you got some negative responses, it sounds like you are doing everything you can and are making this as safe as you can. I think since he wont let you talk to her I would encourage him to get a work visa and even start job hunting and breaking down expenses where he is planning to move.
Good luck

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Seattle on

Honestly I am surprised that there is no one mentioning that your son is an adult and that he needs to make his own mistakes.

Yes, he may have a disability. But if you believe that he cannot function as an adult with all the rights and responsibilities then you need to get a lawyer and get power of attorney and/or conservatorship over him. That way he won't be able to go and see her.

If he is indeed functioning at a level that does not preclude him from having all the rights and responsibilities of an adult man, then you need to butt out and let him stretch his wings and fly. Just let him know that he can always return to you and that you will always be there to pick him up if needs be. No questions asked or "I told you so's". I wouldn't be surprised if he came back after a few weeks... these kinds of romances tend to burn out fairly fast.

On the other hand I would also make sure that he finances his little endeavor by himself. Responsibility comes with the rights... so no $100 debit card, but maybe a prepaid cell-phone for emergencies.

You are not doing him any favors by keeping him dependent on you. Honestly if I was your son I would be embarrassed and furious about the depth of your involvement as well: having a talk about being safe and legal requirements to work in Canada - fine - stalking his acquaintance online and having relatives call her anonymously - not OK.
Talk about a helicopter mom...

Good luck.

ETA after reading your SWH:

I am sorry my answer offended you. That was not the intention, but I appreciate that it got you thinking.
I work with young adults. I just recently had a few in depth discussions with clients who feel very resentful towards their overprotective parents. Things like mom's getting involved in their relationships, meddling in school or college, even one person whose mom would call the young man's employer to demand a raise for her son! Needless to say the guy lost his job.
The overarching result is young men (mostly, some women) who feel that their parents have socially stunted them and made it harder for them to live adult lives.

A certain degree of trauma as in broken hearts, disappointment, rejection, making mistakes and dealing with the consequences is a necessary, absolutely essential part of growing up. By protecting him from getting hurt you are only keeping him in an immature, gullible, naive state.

I do understand it, really I do. My daughter is little and when she gets her feelings hurt at school my heart breaks for her every single time. But honestly: getting her feelings hurt and her heart broken, building and loosing friendships is how she will learn to judge people's character and eventually identify those people who are compatible with her to for real, long term relationships.

Unfortunately your son seems not to have had that opportunity when he was younger. Maybe it is because of his disability (and I absolutely understand that that makes it much harder for him than say my DD), maybe because you protected him, probably a combination of both. But you have to face the fact that you can not screen his friends, call them, make sure they are good for him forever.

Sometimes the best intentions backfire terribly and I am absolutely sure you are a wonderful mom with the very best intentions for your son.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

Honestly, it sounds like you're doing every single thing you should do.

Let him go. Let him be the unique grownup he's going to be.

And, have a solid, well, not rescue exactly, but homecoming plan in place if this doesn't work out.

About the only other thing I can advise is talking to someone else there -- the girl's parents, or someone in that role -- who will help you keep tabs on your son.

And if he'll let you, and finances permit, visit as often as you can.

But you're doing great, mama.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

You are not a helicopter mom. That's just silly.

Like you said, do all you can to make sure he's safe, and then he will have to go out and get his life lessons the old-fashioned way -- through experience.

Almost all kids your son's age get mad at mom's interventions, but good moms keep putting in their two cents and intervening where possible. And your son is high-functioning autistic, so mom's intervention is even more necessary.

I would do everything you are doing, and anything else you can think of. Fortunately your son is a boy. This would be more worrisome if he were a girl. Who knows, maybe they really are a good match. Try not to worry too much.

Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Boise on

You have a lot of good responses, so I won't repeat a lot of what's already out there. You asked about needing a work visa. If I'm not mistaken, Canada requires either a work visa or a "sponsor". Meaning, someone who is already there that will vouch for the person to enter. Also, I _think_ you have to be financially stable to begin with. (?)

Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Norfolk on

He gets furious when you want to meet/see/talk to her?
That worries me right there.
I'd be worried that he'd be exploited as a laborer in the restaurant.
It's possible - and there are people who have no qualms about taking advantage of innocent/gullible people - you know NOTHING about her.
It's possible she might be after a green card.
If she gets pregnant the child will be eligible for dual citizenship (is she a Canadian citizen?).
Where in Canada?
The winters can be pretty brutal depending where you are.
I'm sorry but good things just don't come from situations like this.
I'd try to get him involved in some local volunteering so he can meet people and he needs to find another job and maybe his counselor/psychologist can help him get his own apartment in some halfway house.
If he wants to be grown up - fine - but that comes with responsibility and some self maintenance - not running off across international borders for sex with someone you've never met in person.
It's possible you are enabling him by helping him too much.
If his internet access goes away, how can he meet girls online?
If he wants his independence - he should be independent - shop for his own groceries, cook his own food, buy/wash his own clothes, pay his own bills and with all of that comes the ability to have a girlfriend over to his place for an intimate relationship.
He needs some challenges in his life.
See that he gets some.

Socializing on the internet isn't real socializing.
He's not meeting people face to face and interacting and learning social cues.
His 'outlet' is a crutch which is keeping him from actually BEING with people.
He'd get more out of meeting a friend for coffee than sitting in front of a screen all day every day.
Maybe his moving away IS a good idea after all.
But I still think a halfway house would an environment that offers the most potential for his personal growth and development.

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