Marriage and family therapist, and author of the book “Dating Game Secrets for Marrying a Good Man”, shares the warning signs for spotting a potentially harmful relationship.
Internet Safety & Dating Rules
(Adapted from Dating Game Secrets for Marrying a Good Man by Alisa Goodwin Snell; published by Cedar Fort: Springville, Utah)
1. If you or someone you know has never met the man with whom you are considering a first date, do not give out your home or work phone number or address. Do not give any information that would make it easy for them to find you. General information is fine, like I live in Salt Lake City rather than I live at Shadow Valley Apts.
2. Do not share any telephone numbers that can be used to get your address from the Internet. This includes calling them from your home phone. Your number may show up on caller ID, unless you have it blocked. How do you know what numbers are safe? If you go to google.com and type your telephone number in the search engine and your name and address appears, with options for driving directions to get to your home, someone else can do this as well; thus, that number is not safe. Call your telephone company and ask them to make your address and name unlisted before you use that phone.
3. Look for the important warning signs in his behaviors and statements, reflecting a lack of empathy, self-control, and personal responsibility. This is a brief list. More complete lists (as well as a three-date rule for identifying the potentially abusive and manipulative in Dating Game Secrets for Marrying a Good Man. Refer to chapters 3, 4, and 5 for more details.
Lack of empathy:
• they want to see you right away and usually that night
• they call you after 10 p.m.
• they want to talk sexually right away
• they ask for money
• they want your address and seem put off if you don’t give it to them right away or if you insist on meeting them in town
• they want you to come to their place
• they tell you not to be so stuffy or uptight (or high maintenance)
• they insist that you can trust them (even though you just met them)
• they state that they don’t want to waste their time if you aren’t ready for a relationship right now
• they dominate the conversation and talk primarily about themselves
• they criticize you
• they quickly get in your space, touch you, kiss you, cling on too you for longer than you feel comfortable
• they touch your purse, check your phone, ask you what you are doing and with whom
• they ask you deeply personal questions right away and pry until you give them more and more details
• YOU FEEL LIKE YOU HAVE TO PLEASE THEM. YOU FEEL ANXIOUS. YOU FEEL INADEQUATE. YOUR GUT FEELING SAYS THAT SOMETHING IS WRONG BUT YOU FEEL PRESSURE TO BELIEVE IT MUST BE YOUR ISSUES FROM THE PAST THAT ARE SABOTAGING YOUR RELATIONSHIP. The potentially abusive and manipulative are good at identifying emotional vulnerability and exploiting it.
Lack of self-control:
• they talk sexually right away
• they want to meet you right away
• they are willing to drop their work, plans, family, friends, etc., to be with you right away
• they want to be with you or have contact with you all of the time (e-mail, text, etc.)
• the get angry, annoyed, critical, sulky, or play the victim if you say no
• they quickly swing from adoring you to being critical of you
• they talk or gloat about their past impulsive behaviors from being drunk to aggressive to spontaneously quitting a job they needed
• they describe angry explosions with others as if they are no big deal and their behaviors are justified (bosses, mothers, spouses, girlfriends, cops)
• they talk about their past relationships with love and hate
• they have few long term relationships and openly admit they fear being abandoned and alone
• they jump from one relationship to the next
• they seem to be frivolous about spending money
Lack of personal responsibility:
• they seem too perfect, too good to be true, too confident – you can’t find anything wrong with them
• they talk as if they are the ultimate nice guy who keeps getting dumped on by others
• they talk about everything they have, their possessions, their career, the admiration of others
• when talking about their past relationships, they show little insight into what they might have done wrong or how the other person might have been feeling
• they can’t identify their feelings, beyond anger, sadness, and hurt
• when asked specific questions about their behaviors, they often seem confused, change the subject, or blame others
• they talk with a passive rather than active language (someone out to do something about this, I wish my life were different, stuff just keeps happening to me, etc., instead of talking about what they are actively doing and changing in their lives)
• their stories don’t match up, you catch them in lies, something doesn’t seem right or consistent after you walk away from the conversation and especially when you talk to friends
• they seem quickly and easily offended
• they have issues with authority figures (cops, bosses, church leaders, teachers)
• they act as if they are better than and/or no more than others (even professionals and those with specific training)
• they think they are above the rules, the rules don’t apply to them, they are entitled to do what they want
4. Very early on, set boundaries that support your feelings, needs, and
rights, and limit what you are willing to do or not do during your Internet chats, phone calls, or dates.
This should include:
• not talking about sex,
• not talking about your children (names, ages, where they go to school, etc.),
• not giving personal information (especially about past abuse) until you know them well. Time is THE teller of truth, not intensity. No matter how much time you have spend with them immediately, a good manipulator can maintain a deception for up to about four to six months, especially if you are too trusting right away. Too much time with someone can even make you more vulnerable to their lies. Protect your children from early contact and be leery of anyone who insists on meeting them or pries to get a lot of information about them.
5. Expect him to meet you in a crowded place for the first date or interaction. Choose a lunch or early dinner date and at a restaurant you know well and can expect will be crowded.
6. If in doubt, ask him to go on a double date. This can always be a good idea because your friends may see issues you don’t. Although double dates can be awkward for some, an emotionally mature man who really likes you won’t mind.
7. Expect him to call you and see you during reasonable times of the day. Any man who wants to call you right away and past 10 or 11 p.m. is likely not acting emotionally mature in his life. Most good men have jobs and a need to get to bed at a reasonable hour. They also have a sense of appropriate boundaries. This is a simple way to sift out the emotionally immature.
8. Tell a friend everything you know about the man you are going on a date with and where you are going. Set up a code word and a time when she will call. In case there is a problem, she can send help.
9. Take your cell phone and extra money. This is always a good idea. If you are prepared and the date starts to go bad, you can always get a cab or call for help.
10. Do not use drugs or drink when on a date. It is never a good idea to impair your judgment. You don’t want to loose control over the situation because you are intoxicated. Also, keep an eye on your drink to prevent anything being slipped into it.
11. Act and dress in a manner that engenders respect. If you dress feminine, attractive and modest, you are more likely to feel self-respect and get respect from your date. Furthermore, you will be more likely to get help from others if you need it.
PLEASE NOTE, A good man will never make an issue about these rules, a jerk will. Thus, this is a great way to sift the jerks from the gems. These simple steps can save you from a painful experience as well as years of abuse and manipulation. It is much easier to end a bad relationship before it gets started than months and years after the fact. You want a loving relationship with a good man. This is the first important step in the right direction.
For more advice on how to be safe, confident, and successful in the Dating Game, check out www.askalisa.org and Dating Game Secrets for Marrying a Good Man by Alisa Goodwin Snell.