Dating Emotional Predators: Signs to Look Out For


Dating Emotional Predators: Signs to Look Out For by Shahida Arabi

Dating an emotional predator, a narcissist, a sociopath or anyone else who has the potential to be an abusive or toxic influence in your life is a devastating emotional roller coaster of highs and lows. Although many abusers tend to unfold and reveal their true selves long after they’ve already reeled their victims in, there are some key signs to look out for when dating someone that can foreshadow their future behavior.

The great thing about dating is that you are not committing to a relationship, so you can use this process as a way to find out more about a potential partner, and if necessary, cut ties should he or she turn out to have abusive traits without investing further in the relationship.

Here are some signs to look out for.

1) A need for control.  

Abusers want to control and manipulate their victims, so they will find covert ways to maintain control over you psychologically. They can maintain this control in a diverse number of ways:

Excessive contact. Although many people don’t realize this, excessive flattery and attention from a charming manipulator is actually a form of control because it keeps you dependent on their praise. If you find yourself being bombarded with text messages, voicemails, calls and e-mails on an hourly basis in the early stages of dating, keep a lookout for other signs.

It might seem incredible that someone is so besotted with you after just one date, but it’s actually a red flag for dubious behavior and unwarranted attachment. It’s not normal to be in contact with someone 24/7 especially if you’ve only gone on a couple of dates with them. No one has the time to “check in” constantly with someone they’re “just” dating.

This form of contact is perfect for abusers to “check in” with you to see what you are up to, to make sure that you are suitably “hooked” to their attention, and is a form of “idealization” which will place you on a pedestal that at first, seems irresistible. Of course, if you’re familiar with the vicious abuse cycle of narcissists which include idealization, devaluation and discard, you’ll know that you’ll soon be thrust off the pedestal.

An unhealthy response to rejection or boundaries. Unlike dating partners who are simply excited to see you again and express their interest with polite enthusiasm, toxic partners will get considerably upset if you choose not to respond to them right away or if you resist their idealization by giving yourself necessary space. They won’t wait for your response, either: they will continue to persist and pursue you with an unhealthy level of attention without knowing much about you. This level of attentiveness is not actually “flattering” even though it may appear so initially – it’s downright creepy and dangerous. It reveals a sense of entitlement to your time and presence without regard for your personal preferences, desires or needs.

When you place boundaries with a potentially toxic partner, they will be sure to step over them. If you say no to coming home with them on a first date, for example, they may still continue pestering you despite knowing your reluctance. When your “no” always seems like a negotiation to someone you’re dating, beware. This means you’re in the presence of someone who does not respect your right to make your own choices and maintain your boundaries or values.

Physical aggression. As perpetual boundary-breakers, abusers can also overstep the physical space of their victims. This type of behavior may not come out until months into a relationship, but sometimes abusers can be physically aggressive with you just a few dates in. Grabbing you too harshly, pushing you during an argument or conflict, violating your personal boundaries in any way, pressuring you for sex, touching you inappropriately without consent is a red flag that must be heeded.  It’s a sign that things will only get worse in the future.

This physical aggression may happen under the influence of alcohol or other drugs, so you’re not quite sure what to make of it except that you feel threatened and unsafe. Don’t attempt to justify this if it happens with or without the involvement of alcohol – alcohol may lower inhibitions, but it doesn’t cause personality transplants. It’s very likely that the abuser is revealing his or her true behavior even while claiming that the “drink” made him or her do it.

Mistreatment of others. Even if the abuser idealizes you quite convincingly in the early stages of dating, you may witness his or her behavior towards others as a red flag of future behavior. For example, is he or she rude to the waiter or waitress on your date? Does he or she get excessively angry if another person flirts with you, talks to you or hits on you in front of them? How about the way they talk about others? If they call their ex a “crazy psychopath” and include a whole range of expletives about their annoying coworker, recognize that these are toxic temper issues which you will eventually be on the receiving end of.

Demonstration of unwarranted anger is an incredibly important tactic that abusers use to 1) preserve their self-image and their ego, 2) project blame onto others, 3) take back control by recreating a “version of events” that makes them look superior and saintly and 4) evoke fear and intimidate others into doing what they want.

Violencia verbal

    Photo Credit: Fotolia/Barrington

2) Addicted to provoking you. 

Covert manipulators are quite gifted at provocation. As they learn more about you, they are investigating your weak spots and catering their comments towards what they know will hurt you the most. Knowing you’re triggered by their comments gives them a sadistic sense of satisfaction that alleviates their secret sense of inferiority and strokes their delusions of grandeur, control and aptitude. Having control over your emotions also gives them the power to effectively manipulate you and convince you that you don’t deserve any better.

Debasing comments about your personality, your looks, your line of work, what you should wear, who you should hang out with, are all inappropriate, especially when just getting to know someone. If you find yourself frequently confronted with these so-called “helpful” comments in the first few dates, be wary. Nobody should be trying to “change” you immediately when they’re just getting to know you, and if they are, this is a recipe for chaos.

These provocative comments might be disguised as constructive criticism or “just jokes,” but you can distinguish them because they are often comments laced with condescension rather than compassion and consideration. Harsh teasing that serves no other purpose but to ignite your anger or annoyance, put you down and insult you is different from playful teasing which is used to flirt and build rapport with a partner.

Sarcasm. Beware of the tactics of the covert sarcastic put-down. Sarcasm is one of the mighty weapons in an abuser’s arsenal. Emotional predators enjoy invalidating your thoughts, opinions and emotions by making frequent sarcastic remarks that shame you into never questioning them again. Since sarcasm isn’t often considered “abusive” by society, abusers use it as a way to escape accountability for their harsh, condescending tone and belittling behavior. They become more and more condescending in their approach to sarcasm over the course of the relationship – what was once a “playful” sarcastic comment now becomes frequent emotional terrorism that questions your right to have an opinion that challenges theirs.

Efforts at making you jealous. If your date consistently brings up past romantic partners, looks at other women frequently on your dates (while furtively checking to see if you’re observing them while doing so), and talks about having a romantic “type” that is quite far from your description, run.

A healthy partner will strive to make you feel secure and cherished, not insecure and doubtful. This could be a form of toxic triangulation in which an abusive partner attempts to create an image of desirability while demeaning your merits so that you are encouraged to compete for his or her attention.

The silent treatment. Abusers may retreat into silence if you question their authority or bring up their mistreatment. This may provoke you into pursuing them even more, in order to try to coerce them into “validating” your emotions and admit that they are in the wrong. Unfortunately, you’re only giving them more power by doing this. They will eventually come around, but only after you’ve vented at them and eventually apologized for being too “harsh” even when you have doing nothing wrong but express yourself.


Image Source: Office of the Commonwealth’s Attorney

3) Inconsistent character and behavior.

The most skilled abusers will save the “hot and cold” tactics for when they enter long-term relationships, but other abusers may give you a sample of this even within the first month of dating. They do so by the following:

Projection and Gaslighting. Narcissistic dating partners and other toxic people are also proficient at gaslighting and projection, techniques they use to convince society that their victims are the crazy ones and to convince their victims that their reality is inaccurate. The effects of this type of manipulation are incredibly lethal on victims long-term, so it is important to note signs early on in the dating process so that you can detach more quickly from the different type of reality these toxic partners are likely to impose upon you. Gaslighting and projection are very clever tactics that allow toxic dating partners to simultaneously shift the blame of their own characteristics onto you while also enabling them to escape accountability for their hypocrisy, deceit and otherwise unsavory behavior.

If you find yourself feeling at unease about something a dating partner did or said and later denied, minimized or projected onto you, remember that narcissists enjoy calling others “crazy.” It’s a common word they’ll use to describe any valid emotional reaction victims have to their shady and inconsistent behavior. It is gaslighting in its simplest form but over time becomes a complex type of psychological torture in which the victim starts to mistrust his or her perceptions of the covert abuse and feels unable to trust his or own reality. Stonewalling (shutting down a conversation even before it’s begun), silent treatments  and devaluation soon follows in order to maintain control. Narcissists can easily maintain the illusion of their false self whenever their behavior is called out and discredit their victims so that the covert abuse is never recognized or addressed without the dire consequences of you walking on eggshells.

To understand the difference between a partner who provides you constructive criticism or simply disagrees with you and a partner who routinely projects their own qualities and gaslights you, look closely at their actions rather than their words. Does it appear that the person you are dating often accuses you of the same characteristics, traits or actions that they themselves seem guilty of committing? Do they call you a hypocrite when they are the ones who often contradict their proposed beliefs? When you call them out on being rude, do they bring up something irrelevant you did in response, in order to shift the topic back to you instead?

For example, you may meet narcissistic partners who, in the beginning, are very possessive of you, track where you go and who you are with, seem to check up on you 24/7 and call you out if you ever dare to show signs of flirtation or interacting with another man. Yet the moment you ever call out signs of potential infidelity on their part or question any lies that don’t quite add up, they may unleash their narcissistic rage and gaslight you into thinking you are the jealous, possessive one and tell you that you’re  getting too heavily invested in the relationship too soon – minimizing the fact that they had been putting you under survellience from the very beginning.

Be careful – the projection and gaslighting of narcissists is so adept, so sneaky, so conniving, and so utterly convincing, that you are often led to apologize for being alive at all.

Superficial charm. I cannot count the endless number of abusers I have met who begin their ploys with superficial charm accompanied by self-absorption and an actual lack of empathy or substance. You can begin to spot how superficial their demeanors are once you’ve had some practice in identifying nonverbal gestures, nuances in facial expressions and tone of voice. Skilled predators are quite charming and you can easily learn to see through this by observing the way they exaggerate how they feel about you and their glib ways of showing you that they “care” when they really don’t.

For example, hearing “I’ve never felt this way about anyone else,” on a first or second date is not only premature, it’s most likely a lie to impress you. When this charm is paired with actions that don’t align with the abuser’s words, like the fact that this person never actually asks you about your interests or passions despite being so “enamored” with you, you’ll soon realize these are just shallow ways of getting into your head (and most likely your bed).

Pathological lying. Do you catch the person in frequent lies or stories that simply don’t add up? Do they “drip-feed” you information so that the full story eventually unravels over time? A girl he hung out with was once just a “female friend,” and now suddenly he mentions that he used to date her. A man she sees for Sunday brunch is “just” a colleague, but then you find out that it’s an ex-husband. It’s true that everyone reserves some crucial information on the first few dates for later and everyone makes mistakes or tells “white lies” to preserve their self-image occasionally. However, if these lies seem to be chronically common, it’s not a healthy pattern to start off a relationship with. Disclosure, honesty and open communication are foreign words to the abuser, who lives in a world of falsehoods.

Frequent disappearances. In the beginning, the person you were dating was constantly on top of you, bombarding you with calls and texts. Suddenly, they disappear for days, only to come back again as if nothing ever happened. These disappearances, which are often staged without convincing explanations, are a way of managing your expectations and making you “pine” for contact.

Attitude changes towards you. Abusers engage in “splitting,” emotional polarization in the ways they view you. You’re either “the one” when you’re meeting their needs or you’re suddenly the villain if you disappoint them in any way or threaten their fragile sense of superiority. Beware of this “hot and cold” behavior, because it’s another tactic to manage your expectations and keep you on your toes. Even if you don’t even like the person, if you tend to be the people-pleasing type, you might fall into the trap of attempting to avoid rejection and win their favor. It’s “reverse psychology” at its finest.

Intermittent reinforcement. This is a psychological tactic that provokes you into trying to please them, even if the abuser is mistreating you. The abuser gets to have you on your “best behavior” without changing his or her own behavior. Abusers love giving “crumbs” after they’ve already seduced their victims with the idea of the whole loaf of bread. You might find yourself on the receiving end of praise, flattery, attention one day, only to be given cold silence the day after.  Occasionally you will get the same idealization that you received on the first few dates, but more likely, you will get a mixture of hot and cold, leaving you uncertain about the fate of the relationship.


If you notice any of these red flags after the first few dates or within the first few months of dating, do not proceed. Since within the first few dates you are usually presented with a person’s best behavior, you can be sure that things will not get any better. You cannot fix this person and you run the risk of emotionally investing in someone who is  out to deliberately harm you.

Be careful: if you choose to reject an abuser outright, it may infuriate them or he or she may use “pity ploys” or angry harassment to convince you should go out with them again. Going No Contact if someone is bothering you, harassing you or making you feel uncomfortable in any way is a better tactic. Block their number and any other means they might use to communicate with you. If they’ve been disrespectful, they don’t deserve a polite response.

Should they continue to harass you, document the evidence and tell them you will take legal action if necessary. If you’re trying online dating, make sure you block the predator from the site you are using after you document their messages by using screenshots.

Tread lightly when you’re dating someone new. Don’t give out personal information like your address, home telephone number or other means of reaching you besides a cell phone number. If possible, use an alternative like a Google Voice number or other text messaging app while still getting to know someone. You must put your safety and privacy first.

Resist projection and gaslighting. Stick to what you know to be true. Do not allow your toxic dating partner to minimize or deny things he or she may have said or done. When a dating partner attempts to gaslight you or project qualities onto you, know that this is a clear red flag of emotional infancy that will not be suitable for a long-term relationship. It is helpful to keep a journal during your dating process to note any inconsistencies, red flags, emotions and/or gut feelings that may arise. You will want to refer to this journal often in order to keep grounded in your own perceptions and inner sense of truth.

Keep your eyes open. Be willing and open to recognizing both the bad and the good. While we all want to see the best in people, it’s important not to also gaslight ourselves into denying or minimizing the signs that someone is not compatible with us. The signs will always be there, and even if they don’t present themselves quite as visibly, your gut instinct will tell you when something is not quite right.

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Have you noticed any of these signs while dating a toxic person? Do you have any other signs that should be added to this list? Comment below and share your thoughts!

Interested in learning more about narcissistic abuse? Order my new book on narcissistic abuse, Becoming the Narcissist’s Nightmare: How to Devalue and Discard the Narcissist While Supplying Yourself.


Copyright © 2014-2016 by Shahida Arabi. 

All rights reserved. No part of this entry may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without the prior written permission of the author, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical reviews and certain other noncommercial uses permitted by copyright law.

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Featured image by MMIStudio via Shutterstock.

About the Author

UntitledShahida Arabi is a graduate of Columbia University and the author of three #1 Amazon bestselling books. She graduated summa cum laude from NYU as an undergraduate student, where she studied Psychology and English Literature. Her interests include psychology, sociology, education, gender studies and mental health advocacy.

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41 thoughts on “Dating Emotional Predators: Signs to Look Out For

    1. Is not limited just to protecting females…great information for dealing with the workplace environment and women romantically too (especially those trying to “work out” past abuse by finding someone to abuse in the same way).

  1. Aren’t you really describing someone with narcissistic personality disorder?

    Also, as far as protection against the abuser, you stopped short of getting a restraining or personal protection order after documenting all the unwanted contacts.

    1. Hi Exit4A, thanks for your comment. I chose to make this post inclusive of all types of abusers because in dating, you are likely to come across a variety of people, both with and without NPD. Some of these tactics can also be used by people who don’t have NPD, though that doesn’t make the impact of these actions any less toxic. For example, emotionally unavailable people or smooth-talking players (who don’t quite meet the criteria of NPD) can blow hot and cold, be superficially charming, disappear without a word, use intermittent reinforcement (both intentionally and unintentionally due to the many other people they’re pursuing simultaneously), have a harem, all without meeting the full criteria for this disorder. Unlike narcissists, they may still feel empathy towards others while remaining manipulative and unable to enter unhealthy relationships. They may still come across as abusive, while having the ability to feel remorse for their actions. Not to justify their actions, but being emotionally unavailable may serve as a defense mechanism for the hurt they’ve experienced in the past.

      On the other hand, we must remember that these abusers could very well be narcissists who fake remorse. That’s when it can become difficult to tell them apart. Normally what would distinguish them is how they act during and after the ending of a relationship – do they stage a smear campaign? Do they pursue a new partner immediately? Do they attempt to still contact you even while with a new partner? Do they seem to be able to callously discard you without a word? Does it seem they deliberately stage personal attacks against you throughout the relationship, engage in stonewalling, chronic emotional invalidation and gaslighting? Do they frequently triangulate you with others? Do they stalk you if you leave them as a result of narcissistic injury? Do they follow the idealization, devaluation and discard phase to a tee? These are signs that something deeper than emotional unavailability may be going on. See my post on narcissists here:

      Although some tactics are frequently used by narcissists moreso than others – triangulation for example – emotional predators of any kind (with other disorders such as Antisocial Personality Disorder or no disorder) can still be capable of being abusive and toxic. They may have a host of other problems such as anger issues, addictions, control issues and jealousy issues which don’t necessarily stem from that particular disorder. That’s why even if they are not full-fledged narcissists, they are not worth pursuing in the long run and can still be harmful to your mental health.

      Thanks for pointing out the restraining order. As I noted in my post, “Should they continue to harass you, document the evidence and tell them you will take legal action if necessary.” That’s definitely a specific type of legal action victims of abuse should take if they feel it is necessary. Appreciate the feedback! 🙂

    2. “That is, until his marriage ended and we began to love each other. When the affair morphed into a relationship, well, that’s when it stopped being fun for me.”

      This intrigues me “Exit 4A”. There are a lot of questions I have to ask.

      Why did his marriage end? Was it because he was not giving his full commitment, love and attention to his marriage and his wife while having a 26 yo affair?

      You began to love each other after his marriage ended. Why did it take you so long (26 years of an ongoing affair)?

      Isn’t finding love a joy? I envy you!

      1. I’m happy to answer your comment but first, Ms. Miller, how did you get onto my private blog? Do you happen to be a subscriber I don’t know about? Curious…

    1. Thanks so much for taking the time to read, comment and share your story. I am very sorry to hear that this happened to you and I hope that you’re doing well on your healing journey. It’s very true that there are many overlaps in abusive behaviors across contexts. Manipulators come in all shapes and sizes. Sending hugs and blessings your way. <3

  2. My Narc husband of 20 years was a covert. When we started dating he:

    Never pursued me
    Never bought me gifts
    Only contacted me on Thursday’s for a weekend hook up
    Only drank socially
    Was not into drugs, porn or the internet
    Was a Project Manager who worked on building sites. A man’s man with a good body. He would be up at 5.00am, be home at 4.30pm, go to Gym, come home and make dinner (good cook), watch TV and be in bed by 8.30pm.
    He owned his own home and was extremely tidy.
    He played golf, loved footy, did a spot of fishing and camping,
    He was great to be in the company of at lunch or dinner. He was highly intelligent and was never gushy.
    Sex was not kinky, was satisfying and I was never left “hanging”. He would always please me one way or the other. We would lie and cuddle afterwards.
    He was literally tall, dark and handsome

    I thought I had finally met the man who ticked most of the boxes and who appeared to have it all together. He appeared strong, in control and protective. He was not jealous and never needed to know where I was or what I was doing.

    His aloofness I interpreted as him being hurt in the past and was afraid at letting go and loving again. He also told me he brought up his two children on his own which led me to think his first wife was the problem after all to bring up two children on your own he couldn’t be the monster from hell.

    The covert types are extremely dangerous. They disarm you completely. You start to pursue them, you fall in love with them very early because of their aloofness and good looks, their charm and their fake vulnerability. They don’t have to spend money on you or pretend they are something they are not. They start taking from you from day one and you give from day one. You become an extension from day one. Giving them what they need; attention, time, sex, companionship and a date when needed. They sit back and enjoy the ride and if there is any unpleasantness (dare you have needs, commitment etc) they react with passive aggressive behaviour initially and then comes the neglect. This is again extremely covert.

    That was in the first twelve months. The next 19 years I found out he:

    Was an adopted only child
    He fathered two sons by the same woman out of wedlock and had the children adopted out
    He threw his first wife out (his words), giving her $10,000 and kept their two children to prevent from paying child maintenance and spousal support.
    He was worth $2.5 million and debt free
    When he found out she married into money he tried to get child maintenance from her and her new husband
    His third son whom he brought up left home at the age of 16yo because of the abuse
    His daughter is a narc and is now procuring money through social media all in the name of MS

    Me and my family:

    It was twelve months before he physically abused me. Kicking me up the backside as I was trying to get away before pushing me to the floor………because I didn’t come straight away when he called
    He kept in contact with an American woman throughout our relationship who he met before he met me. I found very explicit love letters, emails, valentine cards, Xmas cards, Birthday cards. I wrote to her myself but their communication never stopped. He visited her two years ago.
    After ten years he made it so hard for me I was forced reluctantly for my own peace of mind to move into my home which was vacant thinking we needed time apart for awhile. Within a week I saw him driving around with another woman in his car. 3 months later he got back in touch with me. I forgave him
    I made a choice to give my 12yo son to his father after I saw the Narc continually abuse him calling him names such as Gay, Useless, a waste of time etc while he had my son by one ear on his tiptoes.
    I met him when my daughter was 6yo and my son was 3yo. My daughter is now a policewoman with a law degree (she saw a lot of things) and my son now suffers from depression, is on anti depressants and goes from bad relationships to worse relationships
    The main reason we broke up this last time was because I found out on FB he was seeing someone else. When I questioned him about her he claimed she was just a friend however she had more attributes then I did.

    I have since been diagnosed with PTS and acute adjustment disorder but have been cleared of any personality disorders. The reports, for court, from a Psychiatrist and a Forensic Psychological cost $8,000. Not to be scoffed at.

    The covert narcissistic personality disorder does not prey on your ego. There are no gifts to bribe you, no false promises, no compliments and no sweeping you off your feet. They prey directly on your empathy, sympathy and strength of character, your ability to look after yourself both financially mentally and everything in between. You think you are getting the same strong, financially sound character until they slowly take your soul and more.

  3. Just wanted to say that not everyone with some of these traits is a narcissist/sociopath. People with Borderline Personality Disorder also experience “splitting” but they would harm themselves before they would ever harm anyone else. They may also have problems with boundaries because they didn’t learn proper boundaries growing up. Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT) is the best treatment for BPD. Learn more about BPD on my blog here:

    1. Thanks Joyce, that is a helpful distinction between NPD and BPD, two disorders which often get confused. People with BPD are in fact capable of empathy whereas people with NPD find it very difficult to empathize, though both may engage in splitting/black and white thinking. Thanks for your comment!

  4. This post was somewhat hard to find, only because I didn’t really know what to look for….I have a 14 year old daughter that started dating a 17 year old boy after they met in band….My daughter was dating another band member who was her same age and all of the sudden this guy showed up telling her how beautiful she was and that he would give anything to be her boyfriend, etc (now none of this I knew until the end). Long story short, she broke it off with the other guy and started dating the 17 yo. I was very leery about letting her date someone so much older than her. Three years in teenage years is a big different and she was not that mature anyway. After meeting him, he wasn’t so mature himself. Was just a little guy, I guess if I could use one word, I would call him “cute”. He seemed harmless… we let her have a relationship with him….

    He did not have a license or a job but blamed his mother that she would not let him and gave every excuse of why he couldn’t get his license. So anytime they wanted to see each other, we either had to pick him up or drop him off, etc…which we did because at first we liked him!

    After a few weeks we saw a huge change in our daughter….wasn’t participating in family time, and when she did, she had her phone and was texting the whole time, was asking to see him all the time, anytime she could…Started not hanging out with her friends both at school and in her free time, only wanted to be with him…she didnt want to play sports anymore or be on the ski club….She started to get disrespectful, rude, sassy with everyone in our house. She only would wear sweatpants and leggings and no makeup or anything to school anymore, which was strange for her because she always looked nice… and of course, her grades were going down..I would catch her on her phone past midnight texting him. At that point, we stepped in.

    The next time he came to our house, we sat down and talked with them both about the fact that their relationship was affecting our daughter negatively and that it was too serious and they needed to cool it. They both shook their head and agreed….hmmmmm. Things only got worse from there.

    We finally decided we would take her phone and find out what was going on….There are days that I wish I would have never done that….I don’t want to know what I know now….We found out she had sex with this boy at his house in his room while his mother was there. I was very against letting her go to his house at all because I don’t trust that other parents have the same values that I do. And of course I was right and should have listened to my gut. I even called the mother before she went over there to make sure she would be supervised and that I do not want my daughter in his room, etc…I got, “of course they will be supervised”…There were many texts, pictures, nasty things on her phone, not to mention the sheer number of texts, in one day, she sent 580 text messages. I couldn’t believe it, my innocent daughter, I would never ever see her that way again. In these text messages I started to understand why she had started acting the way she did….He showered her with compliments (which she had never even had a boyfriend more than a week before), told her how much he loved her and they would be together forever. Played on her immaturity…calling her Baby about 10,000 times, etc. I also saw so many texts from her apologizing and saying how sorry she was for who knows what….when I say many texts, I mean the word sorry showed up 200+ ( I couldn’t count anymore) in those 580 texts that happened in one day….what???? I also saw that she would ask him everyday if it was ok what she wore to school and he would always reply, I like it better when you just wear sweats and no make up, etc…additionally, there were texts that said, “I didnt run track so that I could spend time with you, but now you are going off every friday with ski club and I dont get to see you, I guess you dont love me” So now I see the pattern!

    Of course we cut it off. I wanted to call the mother and let her know what was going on, and my husband wanted to call him and tell him he was going to hunt him down, but we decided to let our daughter take the responsibility to break it off (while we were in the room sitting next to her). The first thing he said was can we sneak around? We wont get caught! The hard thing is that she goes to school with this guy and sees him everyday! How do you control that?

    We cut off her connection with the outside world for a while, no phone, no ipod for music, no computer, etc…we tried to make her realize what had happened so that she could start putting 2 and 2 together that this guy was just manipulating her and that he was not good for her. She started to come around, see the light….at least we thought! After about a month, I gave her the ipod back and said no texting, emailing, social media…nothing except music! She agreed. Then last night I walk into her room unexpected and found her emailing him….now he tells her he is going to ask her to marry him….

    I told her if she had anymore contact with him that I would make her change schools…I hate to take all of her friends that she finally got back away just because this emotional predator will not leave her alone….He is not 18 until November so I cannot MAKE him leave her alone….I just don’t know how to save her from him…Any suggestions would be great

  5. WOW!!! How I wish I had read “Dating Emotional Predators:Signs To Look For” 6 months ago! Every sign precisely described the guy I was dating. This would have saved me months of wasted time.

  6. Thank you for this article. My (soon to be ex) husband was controlling from the word go. We met online and he was funny and charming and he offered to come the 150 miles to visit for our first date. He said he’d organise a hotel. He badgered his way into staying at mine. On the date he was full of compliments about how wonderful I was and I was daft enough to believe every word. Soon he was telling me the sob story of how his previous relationship had ended and how his cruel ex had taken his only child from him and disappeared. As time went on he gradually exposed more details until at last he had me thinking it was her fault he’s broken her nose and bruised her repeatedly.
    By week 3 he had taken to randomly turning up in my hometown which I mentioned via text messaging to a friend who told me it was a bit weird. Especially since he knew I had plans. But in my denial I decided it was because he’s missed me. He then claimed my friend had been bad mouthing me and saying I’d said he was a bit stalkerish. He successfully cut me off from her and others too.
    We got engaged after about 10 months together and by then I was treading on eggshells. I paid all the bills while he gambled. Any time I tried to ask for money it broke down into a list of all the ways in which I was lacking. He degraded me and made me feel absolutely worthless so when I accepted it was more because I didn’t think anyone else would ever have me. Don’t get me wrong, at times he was lovely and then I was happy but generally I was pretty empty.
    Things went downhill from there. A close relative commit suicide and he was a great comfort. Too great in fact-he threw a hissy fit with me in the hospital because my sisters who hadn’t spoken to my relative for some time spent time with them before we turned off the machines and he was upset he didn’t get to sit with them for longer because he’d spent time recently with them.
    Afterwards I pushed on with wedding plans to distract myself from how empty everything seemed. I took out a loan to pay for it-he quickly borrowed half of it with minimal resistance from me so I topped it up. I was bursting into tears at random points as I was still grieving and he got fed up of it. He sat me down and told me it was my fault my relative did what they did. He really played on my guilt. And I half blamed myself anyways so it was no trouble to believe him fully. I was so lucky to have such a caring man that would be with a callous bitch like me.
    We got married and I fell pregnant a few months later. He took to kicking me out of the house for hours at a time for no good reason. On one occasion I ended up in a&e after having a panic attack on a street corner. By then I had no friends left and had alienated my family. The doctor wasn’t very sympathetic and told me I was wasting their time which didn’t help. They phoned him without my knowledge and he was lovely to the doctor but pinned me to the wall the second we were out of sight and told me so was a worthless bitch and not to be so stupid again.
    My daughter was born and all was calm for a few days until she was three weeks old and he was back to work. Then he started calling me useless and telling me I had to have tea on the table and that I should be looking after myself better. Then it gradually got worse with him telling me to kill myself like my relative did. One night when my daughter was 4 months old he did it again and I sat considering the best way to end my life. Then I had an epiphany-if I died then my daughter would be brought up thinking his toxic views were normal. The next morning I packed a bag and left.
    I’ve been stay for over a year and a half and I’m now in a supportive relationship. I clearly see what he did to me and I appreciate this article as I’ve shown it to my boyfriend to help him understand how my ex managed to get away with treating me so badly. I’m a strong woman who doesn’t take nonsense which is one of the things my boyfriend loves about me.

    1. Hi Iana,
      It’s always encouraging to read stories about women who’ve gotten themselves out of a toxic relationship. Anyone who has been in one understands how difficult it is to make the cut. I’ve been in one. My friend has currently left her boyfriend, who’d proposed marraige without any real engagements. I hope she will hold strong and stick to her decision, but her ex is relentlessly trying to get her back (without doing anything special at all besides toy with her “guilt” and emotions). I started a life blog last year and would like to know if you’d be interested in contributing your story. I’d publish under your name or anonymous (your choice) and translate the story into French.
      Thanks again,

  7. My predator told me he was crazy about me 2 days after he met me. I tried to tell him it was illogical and he said “you’re smaar….” and trailed off. He knew what he was doing. Clearly, things turned out very bad in the end.
    I think it’s important to say “NO” more often than yes.

  8. I’m in a relationship with a woman 7 years older than me (Im 24). I’ve had a history of mental illness and bd relationships in the past, and I would consider myself possessing some traits of borderline personality disorder (emotional instability; fear of abandonment; identity instability).

    I know we’re not compatible; since the start of the relationship I still had an interest in other girls, and still do. After an initial one night stand, I signalled I did not want a relationship. I did not talk to her or kiss her. But she kept on trying to force her way onto me. Eventually we slept together a second time, and she began to act desperate and say a lot of things which I knew weren’t true such ‘it’s only once or twice in life that people like us meet.’ etc. And eventually I thought ‘what the heck.’ At the time I met her I was depressed, and so in that state of mind I eventually gave in to the idea of having a relationship with her ‘just to see how things went.’ (Not good, I know).

    Well during the relationship I felt I had to tread round egg shells to make her not mad, since she has this excessive temper that is usually directed at other people. She also gets irrationally angry when I talk to other girls, which has put boundaries on the people I associate with. And on one hand I feel that I genuinely have affection for her, but it’s not a relationship I ant to be in. On there other hand, I have this tremendous sense of abandonment and fear for her wellbeing if I do split up. And so the relationship went through ups and downs, but the key point through all of this is that I never really felt free in the relationship.

    The cycle was like this: she would get excessively mad at me for something I did, then she would threaten to leave, then I would apologise. Now 1 year later, on holiday she accused me of sleeping with a girl that I never slept with, and this was the final straw for me. I kept hold of my abandonment issues, and I just let her believe it. I thought ‘what kind of relationship is this in which I have to set like an emotional punchbag to make someone else feel better, and all I get is hassle and guilt.’ Well, at the climax she spat at me, pushed me around, and slapped me multiple times. She then hurled a lot of abuse at me pulling at all the insecurities I have: that I’m crazy, that I can’t get other girls, that she has wasted her time with me, that I’m worthless, that she could have spent time with a ‘powerful man’ or a ‘worthy’ man rather than a ‘degenerate’ like me, that I had a neurotic relationship with my father, that I was talentless, and that I would eventually commit suicide.

    Now I was prepared to end it at that point, but for some reason I let her cool down till she was rational, then we slept that night. Now two days later we had a similar argument, although less intense, and this time I gave her the girl’s phone number who she thought I messaged. She called her and found out that we were only friends. And there really wasn’t an apology for the abuse, just a recognition she was wrong. At this point I was thinking of letting go, but I would wait until the holiday ended.

    At home, we Skype called. Then she said out of the blue ‘I think we should split up’ and sent messages saying ‘thanks for being you, I loved you etc.’ and I was in turmoil that night, and 4 hours later mustered the courage to end it, and sent her a long message. Then she replied immediately saying she was not ready for leaving me. I refused to call. The next day, she kept messaging me. Eventually she called me and told me she wants to stay with me, and she’ll look after me. Now I know at this point that I’m dealing with a volatile person, and so I remain ‘in the relationship’ but I am waiting for a good moment to walk out that will minimise the damage done to both of us.

    She told me that night we argued that she has borderline personality disorder. 1 year into the relationship, then she tells me. She also tells me that I’m her ‘attachment figure’ and she cant function without her attachment. So Im paranoid about whether or not I’m mixing sympathy and pity for love, and whether she is using me in some twisted way to sustain her damaged emotions system. Either way, I fell I have to force myself to change to keep the relationship going, and over time I’ scared these negative feelings will only grow. The worst part is that after 1 year I do have a genuine attachment to her, and I think she does to me too.

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