Many women, while on a first date with a man, are often already picturing the wedding in their heads, before dessert even arrives. If they feel that illusive chemistry, they are so quick to open up before taking the much needed time to actually get to know someone.

You wouldn’t let a stranger into your house and give them carte blanche with all of your stuff and you wouldn’t give them total access to your bank account, just because you thought they were attractive. So why do so many of us not take the same precautions when it comes to dating and relationships?

Psychopaths, Narcissists and all other types of shady individuals are on their best behavior in the early stages of dating. And it’s usually these shady ones that are the most charming and try the hardest to impress. These types are excellent manipulators and con-men. If you’ve opened up to these sorts early on, they’ve gained a great advantage, because you’ve already taught them exactly what buttons to push.

Many women are stuck on their ‘type’ and if their date meets that criteria they give them license to say and do whatever shady behavior that suits them. It makes sense to proceed slowly and cautiously because once emotions get involved, it’s almost like all common sense goes out the window and we stop paying attention to those red flags that would’ve had us hitting the exits early on. The key is to let go of the fairy tales you were taught as a child and keep your feet permanently in reality.

People spend more time trying to figure out what kind of car to buy, then they do on the men they let into their lives. A car can’t screw with your mind, body and bank account. It can’t strip you of your sense of self-worth and self-esteem, or send you spiraling into a depression. Choosing a mate based on a ‘type,’ is like buying a car with a shiny exterior and a crappy engine.

A reader told me that a couple months into a relationship that she and her partner were having problems, so she decided to pick up and move away from her family and friends and to relocate her life and her job, all in the name of being closer to him and making it work. If you’re involved with someone who doesn’t have good intentions, you’ll get a lot of “if only’s.” If only I wasn’t so busy with work, if only you lived closer… that’s generally code for I’m creating distance and I’m too much of a coward to tell you the truth. It’s no surprise that her partner was of the shady variety and she was left all alone in a strange town with no family or friends. Reciprocity is a big part of a relationship and if you are the only one making grandiose sacrifices in the name of making it work you need to stop and ask yourself why?

“I’m just dating. That’s what single people do. They see how other people fit.” – Tom Hanks in Sleepless in Seattle.

Real relationships develop slowly over time. Only, after repeatedly watching someone in different situations, over a long period of time, can you truly begin to know someone. Real intimacy begins after the initial phase of attraction wears off, when the relationship gets comfortable. It’s at this juncture that those of the shady variety, either start to blow cold, or they start to show you their true colours and if you’re already heavily emotionally invested you’re going to engage in ignoring the red flags and making excuses for their poor behavior.

If you are of the type that gives their heart away so easily, it’s like you are carrying around a sign that says pick me, pick me, I’m desperate and I don’t respect myself, so you don’t have to either.

Men with dubious intentions are very skilled at spinning tales and creating the fantasy. They know just what to say and how to act to draw you in and they have a whole arsenal of tricks they engage in, because they’ve practiced their routine over and over.

Some of the most successful relationship often start off with, “I really wasn’t that into him at first. He just kind of grew on me.” This kind of emotional distance allows you to take your time and be objective. When your judgment isn’t clouded by emotions, or your libido, you are more apt to listen to your instincts and pay attention to the warning signs.

When you are treating you in a loving and respectful manner, it sets the tone and shows others how you expect to be treated. You are representing you and only you are responsible for the choices that you make, so if someone’s behavior seems shady then you call them on it right away. Your feelings are at stake and it’s no one else’s job to protect your feelings but yours.

Stop being afraid to look like you’re high maintenance and stop being a people pleaser. You please you first – not everyone has to like you. You stick up for you and don’t rely on the good morals of other people and hope they do the right thing. You do the right thing for you. Because chances are the McShady’s of the world will see that you won’t put up with poor behaviour and they will realize early on, that they are not going to get the immediate gratification that they’re after, so they’ll leave you alone.

Never be afraid to walk away from a situation that doesn’t feel right. Being alone is a lot better than being with someone that messes with your mind and your emotions. Real men respect women that respect themselves and they’re not afraid to put in the necessary time and effort to prove it.

So slow down, stay objective and take your time getting to know who someone truly is, before leaping in emotions first and before you give your heart away, make sure that they are worthy of it.