Watch for Indicators in a New Relationship
You and your new man are in a cozy corner at a trendy restaurant enjoying candlelight and conversation. You’ve been spending a lot of time together and you think he may be the one. The server appears and places your entrées on the table. “This isn’t what I ordered!” he barks to the server. “Do you have a problem understanding English?” His outburst snaps you out of a dreamy trance. Hostility over a minor incident is a dramatic departure from the kind and caring man you were getting to know.
You’ve just witnessed what could be an indicator of trouble ahead in your relationship. A rare incident of disturbing conduct can be chalked up to having a bad day. But if your Prince Charming is frequently disrespectful or aggressive toward others when he doesn’t get his way, he is revealing a side of his character that he may turn on you.
The importance of knowing how to spot and interpret less obvious signs of a controlling personality should not be underestimated. It could mean the difference between choosing partners that have your well-being in mind or those that are more interested in bending you to their will.
Balance your attraction and excitement with a realistic assessment of potential mates. Pay careful attention not only to how they treat you, but also to how they treat other people. Watch for telling behaviors such as the ones listed below. If they have a pattern of questionable actions and lack remorse for the effects on others, it’s a strong indication that you’re entering a relationship with an emotionally abusive person.
How they treat others:
Hothead – Using anger to intimidate others into submission could mean your partner will be possessive and demanding and will not respect your independence. Anger is an effective way to manipulate others because most people want to avoid trouble. Hotheads are particularly effective with people pleasers.
Shirking the Blame – Mishaps are always the fault of someone else. Failure to take responsibility for inappropriate conduct or something that didn’t turn out well demonstrates an inflated sense of self-importance. One big clue is harsh criticism of former partners while projecting a saintly image of themselves.
Whitewashing – Painting over insensitive remarks or actions against others by arguing that they overreacted or exaggerated the remarks. Whitewashing shows a lack of empathy.
Guilting – Seizing opportunities to make others feel guilty and refusing to forgive them so they will feel indebted. People who guilt others don’t want to resolve the issues.
Blowing Bubbles – Making promises as if they are bubbles that will soon pop into thin air. When others complain about the lack of follow through, bubble blowers deny the promise, make excuses, or get angry.
How they treat you:
Intense Pursuit – Pursuing you with an intensity that seems over the top. Showering you with attention, gifts, and favors to the point of making you uncomfortable. Expressing love for you too soon in the relationship. Pressuring you into something you’re not ready for, such as living together. Listen to your intuition and don’t be rushed into doing something that you may not want.
Cobwebbing – Like spiders, cobwebbers spin yarns to catch their prey. They weave fictitious stories about their personal circumstances, social status, or material possessions to attract lovers. They may divulge problems in their past, such as job loss or trouble with the law, but they maintain they were innocent or charged unfairly. Ask questions and hold them accountable for stories that don’t ring true.
Scamouflage – Prospective mates may seem to have decent personal values, such as integrity, honesty, and respect for others. But until you witness how they handle diverse situations over time, you won’t know their true character. Most people exhibit their best conduct when dating. They may camouflage their dark side until you commit to a relationship. Gradually, admiration and support become criticism and demands. Attentiveness and dependability become distance and lack of trustworthiness. Be sure they have the character traits you want in an intimate companion.
Idolizing – When partners put you on a pedestal so you can do no wrong, they may be going to extremes of idealization and devaluation. As your relationship develops and you disagree with something they say or do, they will demote your status in the relationship. Excessive praise can be an effective method of control.
Foraging – Collecting nuggets of information about you and using it to their advantage at another time. They may seem sympathetic toward you during the hunt, but their real intention is to use their spoils when they need it to control you.
In the excitement of a new love interest, there may be a tendency to minimize, excuse, or deny problematic actions. But failure to recognize and respect the warning signs of manipulative behavior can result in a lifetime of heartache. Controlling people often become emotionally abusive to their mates. They could be driven by a deep-seated need to have their way at all costs.
You may believe that you can improve the behavior of your new guy or gal. Understand that controlling and manipulative people won’t change unless they assume responsibility for their conduct. They must exert the considerable effort and discipline it takes to change their core belief that other people’s feelings don’t matter.