Dating after Narcissistic Abuse: Red Flags and Sav’s Dating Do’s and Don’ts

2014 - Jun Posted by Savannah Grey 28 comments

The post-date analysis was one of my favorite pastimes. It was a special time, when my girlfriends and I would get together, usually over a meal, or coffee and we’d laugh about what colossal dating faux pas Savannah made this time. Throughout my various stages of emotional health, I have blundered my way through oodles of men, chalking up one epic dating failure after another, enough to supply RomCom writers with copious amounts of material for decades.

Through it all I have laughed, I have cried, but most importantly I learned. I’ve learned how to discern what certain behaviors and patterns mean, what to watch out for, when to proceed and when to climb out the bathroom window.  I know many of you are absolutely terrified at the prospect of dating and you’ve asked for a few tips, so I’ve compiled a few of my many hard learned lessons, to hopefully prepare you better and alleviate some of your anxiety. My first suggestion though, is to grab a pen and paper and write down exactly what you’re looking for in a partner. When you’ve got it out there – it means you’ve given it some thought, it’s in your conscious mind and you are more apt to notice it when it comes waltzing past you. So, without further ado:

Beware the quiet, angry, brooding, smart guy:  This used to be my type to the letter and not surprisingly, every encounter with one, was an epic disaster.  These types have problems. They’re angry and brooding for a reason. They have unresolved trauma that they haven’t dealt with and in every relationship they have, these unresolved issues will always be at the forefront of every single thing they say and do. They are extremely irresistible to nurturers, those individuals who like to take care of and fix other people. There’s nothing here for you, so if you run into one of them – that’s a sneak out the bathroom window kinda date.

Beware the addict:  Drugs, alcohol, porn, sex, gambling, if you discover your date has any type of compulsive behavior, that they can’t control – it’s time to hit the pavement in a big, big way, before you’ve made any emotional investment.  The red flags are smacking you in the face here – see them and skedaddle. I don’t care how cute, sexy, or funny they are, there is nothing here, but problems – stop it before it begins.

Beware the jobless, homeless guy: If at some point over dessert, your date informs you that they are couch surfing, living in their buddies basement, or that they don’t have a job at the moment, I’d be doing my best road runner interpretation and heading for the highway.  I’m not talking about teenagers, or those freshly out of college I’m talking about grown-ass adults that are still trying to find themselves. Right out of the gate, they are showing you that they have honed their manipulation skills. Because adults that don’t have jobs have to rely on the charity of somebody – make sure that somebody isn’t you. And no they don’t get points for being honest about it.

Beware of Mr Charming: Is he Prince Charming or Prince Harming? Being charming is a good quality, but there’s a difference between charm that comes from a healthy sense of confidence and fake charm that stems from a need to con and manipulate. How do you tell fake charm from real charm? Fake Charmers:

  1. They use the Pedestal Effect – this is where they love bomb and over compliment you. Who doesn’t like it when people pay them compliments, right? It feels good when someone is acknowledging your good points. Keep in mind that when you are just getting to know someone – they don’t know your good points. They don’t know you, so I’d take all this flattery with a grain of salt and a pinch of ‘they may have an agenda.’ Remember the higher they build you up, the harder the fall will be – these highs and lows are what creates the toxic type of intensity relationships rather than intimacy relationships.
  2. They’re really touchy-feely – Touching people is good – right? Again if you’re having your first, or second date with a person and they are overly aggressive with the touching – flags are happening people. This is about implied intimacy. This is a tactic manipulators use to get closer, to make you feel like there is an intimacy between you. You don’t know this person and they are touching you like you’ve been lovers for months – no. There’s a flag on the play.
  3. Watch out for people who try to share too much, too soon. This is how manipulators create trust in their victims. If I share something very personal with you, I’m showing you that I trust you. It will also encourage you to share personal things about yourself with me – thus developing a trust bond between us. It gives the illusion of closeness and intimacy – this is why so many people walk away from these kinds of encounters thinking, wow we really have a connection. No you don’t – you don’t know this person, be aware that any secrets or vulnerabilities that you’ve shared, could be used later on, as buttons to push, when they want to manipulate you. Dating is about getting to know another person, and sharing things is a big part of that, but understand the difference between: My favorite color is blue (good-getting-to-know-you sharing) and my mother used to beat me and my siblings (not so good sharing) There are things that eventually you may want to tell your significant other, but it definitely shouldn’t be in the early stages.

Beware of those that trash talk their ex: These are individuals that have a sob story about their past relationships and blame everything on their former partners. Everything, all of the problems and the break up was entirely someone else’s fault. They were just hapless victims.  I remember a date I had with a guy whose face, actually twisted into this mean hideous mass, as he spoke about his ex-wife. I still have a mark from where that flag hit me. I also dated a guy who had nothing nice to say about his sister. ‘I guess they don’t get along I thought,’ until I noticed that he had nothing nice to say about any female. Male Narcissists are misogynists, so pay attention to what your date says to and about the females in their lives.

Beware the future faker:  These are the ones that move way too fast – You’ve only just met and already your date is talking about your future together, wanting you to meet their family, how much you would get along with his mother, talking about how much you have in common, making plans for tomorrow- next week-next month-next year. They talk about things they want to show you – like where they want to get married (happened to me) and crazy nonsense like that. While you want someone to like you, and you really do want a second date, this is way over the top. You’re a perfect stranger to this person and the fact that they are planning the wedding on the first couple of dates, screams of desperation and future faking – it’s a massive red flag.

Beware of guy with the harem: If your date has way too many friends of the opposite sex, that’s a flag people. We’ve discussed this in previous blogs, but it’s worthy of repeating. If your date likes to recycle his exes and hates to throw away a good piece of supply, you may have caught yourself a Narcissist – at the very least an intimacy dodger. This isn’t something you should ignore because chances are if you do – your relationship will be tossed in the recycle bin faster than a one legged man at a butt kicking contest.

Beware of the future excuse maker: Have you ever dated someone that seemed to be giving you an excuse early on, which would guarantee him/her a free pass down the road? A casual comment such as, “I have a lot of friends and we spend a lot of time together.” So, if three weeks into dating, you’re getting ignored and you haven’t heard from them in days, or weeks, this excuse gives them the perfect out, “Hey I told you, I spend a lot of time with my friends.” Thus making it your fault for feeling ignored and being treated poorly.  “See I told you that and you were ok with it then.”  I actually went on a blind date with someone, who I could tell right out of the gate wasn’t interested in me, he gave me the excuse that, he may or may not have to work early the next day, that his buddy would call him and let him know. We walked around the beach and I lived very close, so I showed him where I lived and when we went inside he started kissing me. He pressed me for sex, I declined and then he said he had to use the washroom. I could hear the sounds of his phone receiving several text messages and as soon as he got out of the bathroom his phone rang, and surprise, surprise, it was his buddy telling him he had to go to work early the next day, so he ought to get on home and get some sleep. As if…

Probably the most important thing to be aware of, is a simple phrase. This phrase is more commonly used among individuals bent on causing harm, than any other and it is:

You’re too good for me.

If someone says this to you, they aren’t being modest. They’re telling you the truth, so believe them, they know something you don’t.  So take them at their word and vamos.

Sav’s Quick Do’s and Don’ts of Dating:

Do: Know what you’re boundaries are before you go out on a date. For instance if you’re looking for a relationship, it’s probably not a good idea to sleep with someone on the first date, or if someone seems overly aggressive physically, make sure you know where your line is and don’t be afraid to let someone know they have crossed it.

Don’t: Talk about your ex and how you were abused and survived through a lot of trauma. While it may be a great story, this is not good dating conversation. If some point down the road, when you’re serious about someone, you could mention it, but it’s not necessary and certainly not info you should be passing as you’re just getting to know someone.

Do: Give yourself permission to walk away if you feel uncomfortable, or feel threatened in any way. You don’t have to stick through a date when you’re really not enjoying yourself. If you want to be polite allow yourself to say something like, “I’m really not feeling well. I’m sorry, I think I’m going to call it a night.”

Don’t: Overly concern yourself with whether or not your date likes you. Instead put your focus on whether or not you like them and if they’re right for you. People pleasers want people to like them and will spend the entire date making sure that their dates are into them, without putting any thought into whether or not that person has qualities they like.

Do: Be honest and upfront about your interests and hobbies. Dating is the get to know you phase of a relationship, so it’s important to be yourself. If your date seems to be interested only and entirely in what you are interested in – that’s a red flag.

Don’t: Put yourself into a state of high anxiety. If dating is making you feel crazy, insecure and your emotions are all over the place, then don’t do it. Cancel – you’re not ready and that’s ok.

Do: Trust your instincts. If something in the pit of your stomach doesn’t feel right, trust that feeling and act on it.

And finally – You are not going to survive dating if you don’t develop a thick skin. Understand that rejection is a big part of dating. It isn’t personal and you can’t internalize it, or let it eat away at your self-esteem. You have to understand that 9 times out of 10, rejection isn’t even about you and someone’s reasons for not wanting a second, or a third date with you, don’t invalidate your worth as a person, or mean that you aren’t good enough in their eyes. All it means is that that person isn’t right for you. That’s it. Next!!!!

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