Home > Abusive relationships, Borderline Personality Disorder, Narcissistic Personality Disorder, relationships > Dating Street Smarts: How to Spot Emotional Predators and Con Artists

Dating Street Smarts: How to Spot Emotional Predators and Con Artists

educated eggdicator veruca saltThe dating world is full of predators who will take you for quite a ride if you’re not wise to them. Many men feel like they were sold a bill of goods or “suckered” by their respective spouses, partners or exes and, to a certain extent, they’re right. However, like most victims of a scam, they’ve been willing targets.

A scam artist and/or emotional predator can easily identify a potential mark in the crowd. Bullies, narcissists, borderlines, histrionics and sociopaths like easy targets. They go after people who are kind, generous, trusting, eager to please, self-reflective, competent, talented or “gifted” in some way and, most importantly, people who have a desire to cooperate or work things out and a non-confrontational personal style (Namie, 2003).

These are wonderful qualities, which make you a great catch—especially for an emotional predator (e.g., borderlines, narcissists, histrionics, sociopaths and their variants) because it makes you easier to steamroll. This means you have to learn to be more discerning and develop dating street smarts when it comes to new relationships. Here are some things to consider so you can sort the good eggs from the bad eggs:

1. Picture perfect. No matter how logical and intelligent we are, many of us still want to believe in Disney-fied fairy tale relationships. This is why so many people fall for the carefully crafted facade of predatory personalities. They uncannily intuit what you’re looking for and then pretend to give it to you until they’re confident you’ve developed an attachment to them. Then the mask comes off and the Jekyll and Hyde metamorphosis occurs.

Reality: If someone seems too good to be true, she or he probably is. No one’s perfect; everyone has flaws. A healthy individual acknowledges his or her personal short-comings and works on them. An emotional predator will do her or his best to hide their flaws, cruel streak and self-centered-ness (although, some of them put it all right out there from the get go and incredibly still attract mates).

Once a flaw is exposed, this type of individual will deny its existence or punish you for having witnessed it. Therefore, you need to pay closer attention. Look for the cracks in the exterior. Don’t ignore what initially seems like uncharacteristic outbursts, rudeness or coldness. Don’t let yourself be blamed for her deficits. Remember, no one is perfect. Ideally, you should be looking to meet someone whose flaws, personal quirks and issues don’t hurt you.

A good potential mate can acknowledge things she doesn’t like about herself or would like to change and demonstrate that she is actively working on them. I’m not talking about superficial changes like, I wish my arms were more buff,” but something that would help her to grow as a person and improve her relationships. For example, “I have trouble letting down my guard and expressing my feelings when I’m upset about something, but I’m working on it. It would help if when you notice I’m quiet, clam up or seem like I’m upset if you would try to draw me out a little bit because I want to be able to talk about these things and resolve issues as they arise. I’m afraid you’ll reject me or get mad at me if I tell you how I’m really feeling.” However, if she lashes out at you when you reach out to her after she asked you to do so, let her go. It’s an indicator of a “no-win situation” dynamic that will slowly drive you mad.

2. Flattery will get you everywhere. Many predators drug you with praise and flatteryat first. Beware of statements like “No one’s ever made me feel this way before. I’ve never met anyone like you. I could really fall in love with you. No one has ever understood me like you. I’ve never felt this strong of a connection before.” Be especially skeptical of these statements if they’re made in the first few weeks or hours of dating. This is a con artist’s technique called, mirroring—“using flattering statements to lift a listener’s confidence in himself.”

Reality: It takes time to really get to know someone and build trust. “Instant intimacy” is typically a sign that someone’s stroking your ego into submission and/or that they neither possess nor respect personal boundaries—a hallmark of many a BPD /NPD/HPD/APD individual. It’s natural to want a love interest to notice how special and unique you are, however, this doesn’t happen overnight. Pace your new relationships and remember, the higher the pedestal she places you upon early in the relationship, the further you’ll crash down when she kicks it out from underneath you later. Once these women “catch you,” they almost immediately begin to devalue you, so don’t drink the Kool-Aid.

3. Act now while supplies last! This is a high-pressure sales/con technique that many emotional predators use. They exude supreme confidence and a “you should be so lucky to be with me” attitude. They “casually” mention other men who are interested in them and how their exes keep trying to win them back. This is a device used to trigger a sense of scarcity and competition within you. You then go to great lengths in order to “win” her and thereby set the precedent for a very one-sided relationship. This is a huge red flag. Only a narcissist or someone with equally toxic pathology makes a love interest continually jump through hoops like this. It’s another control device, so don’t bite on it.

Reality: There are other fish in the sea. What exactly are you trying to win? What is she doing to please you or win you over—aside from leading you on a merry chase and getting you to perform acts of service and devotion? What acts of service and devotion is she performing for you? Healthy relationships are reciprocal. Don’t just take her word about all of the things she claims she does for you. This kind of woman will make a grand spectacle of all the things, careers, relationships and opportunities she’s “sacrificing” for you. The reality is that an emotional predator doesn’t sacrifice anything for anyone and rarely does anything that’s in someone else’s best interests. It’s all smoke and mirrors.

Additionally, examine why you’re working so hard to gain someone’s affection or prove yourself “worthy.” This is usually a sign that you have some residual relationship issues from childhood to explore and resolve.

4. All the right words; all the wrong moves. Emotional predators are skilled manipulators and often bald face liars. This kind of woman is well-practiced in telling you whatever it is you want to hear and then doing the complete opposite. When they’re not consciously lying, borderlines, narcissists and other predators are prone to confabulation. In other words, they believe their own BS, which makes it all the more difficult for you to sort the facts from their personal fictions.

Reality: We all employ a little self-deception from time to time. What lies do you tell yourself when you get involved with a woman like this? Do you tell yourself, “Things will get better. It’s not so bad. She must really love me to be acting this crazy. If only I work a little harder. . . ?” When dating, it’s important to pay close attention to your dates words, actions and your reactions. Many emotional predators know all the “right” things to say, but their actions frequently don’t match their “hype.” If you notice a discrepancy between the two, don’t ignore it and don’t lie to yourself about it by making excuses for her.

Spotting emotional predators in the dating pool is a necessary survival skill. Becoming involved with an abusive, entitled and pathology ridden individual is a personal disaster many people bring upon themselves that is easily avoidable if you approach relationships with equal amounts of passion and intelligence.

by Dr Tara J. Palmatier, PsyD

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Dr Tara J. Palmatier provides confidential, fee-for-service, consultation/coaching services to help both men and women work through their relationship issues via telephone and/or Skype chat. Her practice combines practical advice, support, reality testing and goal-oriented outcomes. Please visit the Shrink4Men Services page for professional inquiries.


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Photo credit:

Veruca Salt and the educated eggdicator on alicia-logic.com


Namie, G. (2003). Workplace bullying: Escalated incivility. Ivey Business Journal, 88, 1 -6.

  1. Recovering Alpha
    November 7, 2009 at 7:30 pm

    Great article; one of your best. Hits like a run-away freight train. I truly hope many young men read this and LEARN and USE it in a PREVENTATIVE way. This article and the others on this site should be required reading BEFORE allowing any man (or woman) a marriage license in any state.

    As a personal humorous aside, Lordy!!! I recognized the picture at top of article as the blonde girl in Willy-Wonka’s Chocolate Factory movie who had the tissy fit and was purged out of the contenders. What just scared the tar out of me is that I remember as a middle school aged kid being TURNED ON (like erotic attraction) by that girl in that movie! Already was I a willing target? Scary. (What’s more scary is she has much of the same appearance/features as my ex — AND, SIMILAR AGAIN, A RICH DADDY TO BOOT! Please tell me that we’re not genetically predetermined to do these White Knight/Provider things …)

    • guy
      November 9, 2009 at 2:20 pm

      recovering alpha,

      i don’t think we are genetically predetermined to do the provider thing, our problem is that we attrach bad decision makers and “crazy” = “hot” so we our predetermined state is that we like to live life on the edge of reality……the npd’s and bpd’s fell off the edge and are in their own abyss, where they pull us in and manipulate us into their craziness and turn it around on us.as dr. t has stated..its projection projection projection……

  2. November 7, 2009 at 5:59 pm

    Whooooooooa Folks . Lets not crucify this woman yet. Give her a chance ( sheesh ). Ya gota remember shes nervouse , she made out with him on the first date so obviously really likes em ( not advisable to do but it happens ) and people say and do dumb things when they are excited . She obviously was .

    I odnt know Dr Tara I am no shrink but I am thinking that if one was even tempered and emotionally well balanced they would ……give some one a chance .

    I think your gonna shut some decent people out in the future …..brother

    • Jim
      January 14, 2010 at 5:25 pm

      Hmm. Interesting point. I think it is true that there are “early warning signs” of narcissism. I also think that there are some well-meaning and not very sophisticated people (i.e., women) out there who are not necessarily narcisissts but who have been kind of programmed by our culture and by past relationships to play a “mother hen” kind of role in relationships. Clearly it is OK to “run, not walk” when someone trips your narcissist radar but for those times where the line is a little more blurry, one could perform a rather powerful litmus test. Confront the person (woman) real-time with issues that come up and see if the response is adult or infantile. Example: “I don’t like that you are criticizing the way I talked to the waiter. I am not interested in dating people who criticize others.” If the response is highly defensive, angry or manipulative (bursts in to tears, “How could you say that!” etc) then you know you are dealing with an emotionally immature person. If, on the other hand, her response is “Oh, wow, I am really sorry! I did not mean to criticize. I am sorry I said that the way I did!” or something else which shows respect and an ability to admit wrongdoing, then give her a second chance. In fact, I would say that, since nobody is perfect, relationships are full of people stepping on each others’ toes. No one likes it but when it happens the only thing to do is to apologize quickly and sincerely and try to avoid doing the same thing again. Narcissists can’t do that and they often can’t accept another person’s apology without rubbing it in further to prove to themselves (and you) that they were right!

      • shrink4men
        January 14, 2010 at 5:36 pm

        Hi Jim,

        Welcome to shrink4men. The litmus test is an excellent suggestion. This piece of advice is spot on:

        I would say that, since nobody is perfect, relationships are full of people stepping on each others’ toes. No one likes it but when it happens the only thing to do is to apologize quickly and sincerely and try to avoid doing the same thing again. Narcissists can’t do that and they often can’t accept another person’s apology without rubbing it in further to prove to themselves (and you) that they were right!

        In another post, I write about gauging how a prospective partner handles frustration, disappointment and being held accountable. The inability to acknowledge that you’ve hurt someone and becoming defensive and blaming instead, is at the very least, a sign of emotional immaturity. I think it goes into pathology in conjunction with the incapacity for empathy, having to have everything her or his way, etc. Just one of these behaviors/attitudes may not be enough to run for the hills, but altogether they should be enough to have you search for the nearest exit.

        Kind Regards,
        Dr Tara

  3. NoSeRider
    November 7, 2009 at 3:01 pm


    I seem to go on tangents from the main topic, but maybe it’ll add something to the dialog?

    The above link is to a book that discusses how narcissism is epidemic in our culture and acknowledges this progression since the 1960’s. The book states that between 1992 to 1997 there were 2500 books published on self esteem but only 30 books published about narcissism.

    If you’re a narcissist you already think you’re ‘great’, so self esteem books only justify a narcissist’s behavior. The above book even talks about how we’re raising ‘Royalty’. The Royalty part is probably where the books ties in with this forum.

    The below link is a psychological trial of 35,000 people, and the trial found that 6 percent of these people had narcissistic personality disorder. That would indicate that you have greater then a 1 out of 20 chance of encountering a narcissistic personality….a lot of times that’s greater odds then betting on the ponies at the race track. Dating really is a gamble, but encountering one of these people doesn’t make you a winner.


  4. Miguel
    November 6, 2009 at 8:18 pm

    This post should get the Nobel prize. I’m saving it. It’s like an artistic picture of how my ex got me and manipulated me.

    • Taras
      November 6, 2009 at 8:39 pm

      Now you understand what “Fool me once shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.” is about. That is why you have to look at women with a cold eye when they try that manipulation on you. Letting them know you were not born yesterday and that you’re nobody’s fool is much less costly than wasting months or years of your life with someone who makes your life a waking nightmare.


  5. Ron
    November 6, 2009 at 6:24 pm

    jp :I don’t. That’s why I said “presuming”.
    Even so, wouldn’t you say it was a reasonable inference to draw considering his date said to him “What if our server had been black?”? After all it’s unlikely she would have pointed that out if Rooster were too.

    Yeah, but the server was noot black. I played ball with a ton of black guys. I would often be the only white guy in the gym. We all called each other bro. or cuz.

  6. Ron
    November 6, 2009 at 4:29 pm

    My XNPDW was very much like the woman Rooster described. Tried picking out my clothes, tried to make me a puppet, as her mom had done to her dad.
    Once, whil eating with her mom and dad at their country club, my XW’s mom whipped out a comb and started combing her dad’s hair. She was embarrassed by it being slightly imperfect, in her opinion.
    Interestingly, my XW hated a lot about her mom. Yet, she was her clone, IMO.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    November 5, 2009 at 9:33 pm

    jp :
    I don’t. That’s why I said “presuming”.
    Even so, wouldn’t you say it was a reasonable inference to draw considering his date said to him “What if our server had been black?”? After all it’s unlikely she would have pointed that out if Rooster were too.

    Rooster could be Asian, Native American Indian, etc etc etc.

  8. Laura
    November 5, 2009 at 8:50 pm

    And stay away from Blue eyeshadow and glitter!!! More things to look for in this video:



  9. Kev
    November 5, 2009 at 8:23 pm

    Glad you dodged the bullet, Rooster.

    The whole thing kinda reminds me of one of my favorite stories from The Onion:

    “Girlfriend Changes Man Into Someone She’s Not Interested In”

  10. George
    November 5, 2009 at 7:10 pm

    Dr. T,

    You mentioned three areas that really hit home for me. When I was dating my BPD ex-wife, I overlooked her inability to admit to any personal flaw or personal area that might be needing improvement. This was an area that she refused to talk about even in idle chit chat. Something as silly as, I’d like to work on my ability to be a better listener (for example) would be a topic that was either avoided or totally out of bounds. The next one dealt with reciprocal relationships. I should have noticed early on that the relationship was heavily slanted in her direction. I made the mistake of just overlooking this issue. I deluded myself into thinking that this was somehow good enough. Lastly, talk is cheap and BPDs are masterful manipulators. It’s easy to talk the talk, but its important to see if she will walk the walk. Just becasue they think it in their head doesn’t make it reality. I’d also include one more. I would check to see if they have the ability to compromise, especially on an issue that is a little bit gray. Sometimes you encounter an issue were there are pros and cons on both sides and the answer can be a matter of opinion or personal preference. Sometimes there can also be a middle ground area. My BPD ex-wife had real heartache dealing with these, even if it was just a hypothetical situation we were discussing. For example, once we discussed the merits of public or private schooling. This was before we were married or had children. I remember noticing how much pain this caused her to even think about or consider this topic. I remember thinking that this was really odd for someone not to be able to intellectually consider a topic that might be not entirely black or white.

    • shrink4men
      November 5, 2009 at 7:22 pm

      THE INABILITY TO COMPROMISE is a HUGE WARNING SIGN that you’re headed for a dating and, heaven forbid, marriage train wreck. You’re right, this type of person can’t compromise on even hypothetical matters. Furthermore, they seem to take perverse pleasure in rejecting your beliefs, opinions, favorite pastimes, etc., simply because they’re your ideas or activities that you like. In many cases, these people are neutral on these issues until they discover your stated preference/opinion and then they take the opposite stance in order to prove “you’re wrong” or keep you from having something you want. Kra-zee.

      • Mr. E
        November 5, 2009 at 7:50 pm

        “they seem to take perverse pleasure in rejecting your beliefs, opinions, favorite pastimes, etc.”

        Amen. My wife will tell anyone who will listen that she LOVES to play devil’s advocate and LOVES to “debate.”

        Knocking down my ideas and interests is her hobby, I think. I like to learn new things, and when I get excited about something, I want to share what I’ve found with people I like. She invariably has some nasty comment, tells me I “can’t do it” (eg. “you need to focus on this other thing”) or acts completely disinterested.

        I have a project I started recently, and I keep a blog detailing my progress. I emailed everyone I know who I thought would be interested in it, and have linked to it a couple times from my facebook account.

        She said “I don’t know why you did that.”

        Well, because I find it motivating and enjoy doing it, and because I’ve done the same thing on similar projects. My friends seem to dig it.

        “I just think you should wait until you’re done and have it perfect and then let them see it.”

        OK hon.

        • Taras
          November 5, 2009 at 9:10 pm

          You’ve got that right, that describes my ex perfectly.

      • Aapeli
        August 9, 2010 at 4:27 am


        My NPD girlfriend has put down every single one of my business ideas that I have dared to tell her about. I wonder whether she actually wants me to fail.

        She would ask me questions like “well do you have a business now?” with a mocking kind of tone. Actually what she is doing is easily exposed, because none of those kinds of replies make sense. It is easily exposed… regarding one business idea that I had written down, she didn’t even understand what it was about, but she put it down by saying that it has been done already. When I questioned her about it it was blatantly clear she didn’t understand what the idea was about. I now realise discussing the idea itself was not important to her but it was important to put me down. I have told her several times that she does that and have told her I totally do not accept that behaviour. She doesn’t seem to see anything wrong, though. I have never heard her apologise for that behaviour.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    November 5, 2009 at 6:24 pm

    jp :
    Yeah, nobody says ‘Pally’ anymore unless they’re doing shtick.
    One thing about the date though…she was partly right when she expressed doubt about the wisdom of calling a black waiter ‘brother’ (presuming Rooster is white).

    Err, how do you know what colour Rooster is?

    • jp
      November 5, 2009 at 8:48 pm

      I don’t. That’s why I said “presuming”.

      Even so, wouldn’t you say it was a reasonable inference to draw considering his date said to him “What if our server had been black?”? After all it’s unlikely she would have pointed that out if Rooster were too.

      • bemused
        November 9, 2009 at 3:24 am

        Except for she started that bit off by saying it “made [Rooster] sound ‘ethnic.'” Which pretty much loses her any “racially sensitive” points even assuming she was correct in any way about the “brother” business. And, hilarious. She’s a diplomat AND Henrietta Higgins!

  12. November 5, 2009 at 5:43 pm

    Great thread and my ex NPD did all the above. Now single again and dating I look for those very “red flags” and proceed with caution. Then after dating awhile I will bring up any issues I feel strong enough about. (Example) I will bring up something like “projection” and then ask them how they feel about it. Of course this starts the communication or let’s me see if we can communication about “issues”. So far it’s served me well and have gotten myself out of a few “dates” not wouldn’t have last long anyway.

  13. melove54
    November 5, 2009 at 5:00 pm

    Dr. T,
    I believe the key here is “do not ignore”, “do not make excuses for them or yourself.” As well, “confabulation” is a killer, believing their own B.S. to the point that they create such convincing arguments in their favor. Disorienting their significant other to the point of questioning their own perceptions. Long term it leaves the man in a position of doubt about his ability to be rational, logical, and emotionally cripples him. It’s like mistreating a dog that cowers at the very sound of their master’s voice. Fearing rejection at their every move.

    Recognizing, not ignoring the signs of personality disordered individuals when dating will save everyone a hell of a lot of heartache. Great article Dr. T!

    • shrink4men
      November 5, 2009 at 5:03 pm

      Thanks, melove! As always, I appreciate your observations. Recognition is extremely important. It’s like paying attention to where the emergency exits are located.

  14. guy
    November 5, 2009 at 1:23 pm

    all i can say on this post dr. T is BRAVO .

  15. Rooster
    November 5, 2009 at 1:22 pm

    I’m 43 years old. I’m discovering dating at my age is a lot like buying bread at 7-Eleven; there’s not much of a selection, and what is on the shelf has been there a little bit too long.

    Last night’s date….

    I met this woman at the hockey game last week. We met for drinks last night at a wine bar. She was personable, beautiful, successful, owned her own business, educated, etc.

    We had a few glasses of wine, made out in her car for a bit, and then I drove back home. She called me on my way home, and that’s when the fun started. Keep in mind…this was our FIRST date.

    Her: What kind of car did I see you get in?
    Me: A GMC Envoy.
    Her: I don’t really like American cars.
    Me: I need a vehicle that can tow a 3000lb trailer. My American car does a great job of that.
    Her: I think you’d look really good driving a Lexus, and you can get one with a tow package.
    Me: Um. Ok.

    Then she changed the topic and talked about what a great time she had, how she thinks I’m an awesome catch, can’t believe I’m single, wants to know if I’m looking for a serious relationship, want to have children, etc. Then the fun continued….

    Her: When the waiter brought over our wine, you said, “thanks brother.”
    Me: I spent 9 years of my life in restaurants working my way through high school and my 1st college degree. I always make a point to thank my server.
    Her: I think calling people “brother” makes you sound ethnic.
    Me: Um. Ok.
    Her: What if our server would have been black?
    Me: I’d have said “thanks brother” and not given it a second thought.
    Her: And he would have instantly been offended, and I would have had to jump in and smooth things over.
    Me: Um. Ok.

    So at this point I realized I’ve attracted another whack job, and decided to have a little fun with her….

    Me: So what word do you think I should use?
    Her: I’m glad you asked. I think you should use “pal”, or better yet “palie” instead of “brother”.
    Me: Palie?
    Her: Yes. I think “thanks palie” is much less offensive than “thanks brother”.
    Me: Right. “Palie”. I’m all over it.

    I made it home and got off the phone with her. An hour later I got this text message:

    “I wish u were here with me….I hope I didn’t offend you. I just want my man to reach his full potential, and be the best he can be. just my big heart talkin.”

    I received another text this morning telling me what a great time she had…I honestly think she believes we’re going out again.

    I swear I’m a whack job magnet. At least I was able to spot it this time, and not think maybe I really did need to work on these things, which was a lot different than the way I would have approached it before….

    • Taras
      November 5, 2009 at 2:15 pm

      With the kind of promiscuous as well as anti-social behavior younger women and men have been engaging in for the past several decades, it makes little difference if you’re 23 or 43. But your analogy is correct, and that is why some men such as myself opted out of the dating scene.

    • Anonymous Coward
      November 5, 2009 at 2:35 pm

      Tell her you’ve found a real nice Lexus, but you’re around $5k short this month.

      Leave it hanging, see what she says.

    • Anonymous Coward
      November 5, 2009 at 2:36 pm


      she sounds hot, if you’re going to pass, how about letting me have her number?


    • jp
      November 5, 2009 at 2:48 pm


      That is HILARIOUS. “Palie”?? That would be perfect…if you were on a date in South Boston and it was 1975.

      Let’s see…in one date you found out your car and the way you talk and relate to other people aren’t good enough. (How’d you manage to survive to 43?) Can you imagine how long the laundry list would be by the end of your second date? Your third? When she meets your family?

      But don’t worry…you’re full of potential and because she’s so big-hearted she’ll tell you exactly what you need to do to achieve it.

      Good lord.

      She doesn’t want a man…she wants a hand puppet.

      They always let you know what they’re all about. All we have to do is pay attention. It’s great that you can see it.


      • shrink4men
        November 5, 2009 at 4:16 pm

        “Pally” makes me think of the old Rat Pack movies—something Dean Martin would’ve said to Sammy Davis, Jr or a showgirl.

        How about “Daddy-O?”

        • jp
          November 5, 2009 at 5:35 pm

          Yeah, nobody says ‘Pally’ anymore unless they’re doing shtick.

          One thing about the date though…she was partly right when she expressed doubt about the wisdom of calling a black waiter ‘brother’ (presuming Rooster is white).

          Being folksy across racial lines, at least in the Northeast U.S., is very hard to pull off in the best of circumstances. Add to it that Rooster doesn’t know the guy AND the guy’s in a service position and the risks of putting your foot in it increase exponentially.

          But it’s an irrelvant point because she should have kept her opinion to herself, and her belief that she would have had the polish to smooth it over is delusional.


    • Mr. E
      November 5, 2009 at 3:29 pm

      Yeah, if some one called me pally, I’d think he/she was being condescending at best.

      I’m glad you dodged that bullet.

    • shrink4men
      November 5, 2009 at 4:06 pm

      Good for you, Rooster. It’s amazing how a change in perspective makes this kind of craziness so very obvious. Her post-date texts are priceless. Eventually you’ll get a voicemail or she’ll “accidentally” run into you. It appears as if she’s already lined you up in her cross hairs as “the next project,” which means you have a choice to make: To tell her the truth or lie and say something about being busy and it’s not a good time for you to begin a relationship.

      I think I would tell her the truth and say something like, “Pally, do you mind if I call you “Pally?” I think you said you preferred that last time we spoke. Okay, Pally, while I appreciate your interest in me, I don’t return your interest. After our date, you shared some unsolicited opinions about my car, manner of speaking and how you want “your man” to meet his full potential. Now I have some unsolicited feedback for you.”

      “Where do I begin? First of all, I think I look just fine driving my GMC and don’t care about your preference for expensive German cars (*are Lexuses German? I have no idea). We only had one date and you’re telling me what you want me to change about myself. I can only imagine what would be next—my wardrobe? My friends? My personality? That was a major turn-off. Second, I find your lecture on language presumptuous and offensive. Third, I’m my own person, not your next ‘project.’ I am already living up to my full potential. I’m not your man and given your behavior after our first date, I never will be. Please stop embarrassing yourself by sending texts angling for a second date. It’s not going to happen.”

      That should take care of the over eager, delusional texts and voicemails. Nothing like setting the tone of the dating relationship by saying “you’re not good enough for me” on the very first date. Can you imagine her reaction if you had critiqued her ass and her table manners?

      Actually, you should be glad she called you immediately after dinner. Otherwise, she may have gotten to dates number 2 and 3. People will give you warning signs very early on. You only need to notice them.

      Dr T

      • Laura
        November 5, 2009 at 4:18 pm

        Lexus is Japanese. Toyota makes them…Some models are actually made in the same city where I’m from, here in Canada. She might be bad at parallel parking as some Lexus models can do it without the driver…Check her vehicle for dents. LOL. The Lexus brand is also known to be a quieter vehicle which maybe suggests she loves to hear the sound of her own voice more than the engine/tires on the road/wind…yours…LOL. See, you can tell a lot about people from little things they say.

        • shrink4men
          November 5, 2009 at 4:27 pm

          Thanks, Laura. Clearly, car brand was not at the top of my list when I was in the dating pool.

          I was looking for other qualities: smart, kind, good sense of humor, creative, mentally stable, someone who you enjoy lying on the couch with to watch HBO…

      • Mike
        November 5, 2009 at 9:00 pm

        What about the line that had me laughing the hardest:
        Her: What if our server would have been black?
        Me: I’d have said “thanks brother” and not given it a second thought.
        Her: And he would have instantly been offended, (HERE IT COMES)and I would have had to jump in and smooth things over.”
        Is she a pro bono negotiator?

        • Joesixpack
          January 7, 2010 at 6:18 pm

          LMAO! Yeah, that cracked me up as well. “I’ll have to clean up the mess you (hypothetically) made! What will you do without me? You need me, you can’t make it in this world alone”

          Ditch this gal.

      • melove54
        November 9, 2009 at 5:27 pm

        It is truly amazing how cognizant we become after enduring the crazy making antics of an X-personality disordered woman. It took me a little over 6 months in my last relationship before I ever addressed her incessant b.s. When I did, she went into an absolute crying fit and acted as though I had physically abused her (showing fear in her eyes and clutching at her heart!) You could tell it was an act to make me feel like the perp. From then on, she knew she had me where she wanted,..it only got worse. The signs were there early on and I simply ignored them. Now it’s so easy to recognize such antics and their crazy-ass perceptions of themselves,others, and what they desire in a relationship.

        Rooster certainly had a winner there!!lol! She really conveyed her notions and thoughts quite early! Personally, I would even waste my time to text or call her! Maybe to say “thanks” for being so honest!lol!

    • Nick
      November 5, 2009 at 5:10 pm

      Too lazy to post much but you met a classic, and i’m so very impressed with how you discerned it all. Truly, it could have been my ex exuding all those signs. She picked my hairstyle, vehicles (tried too)…and even my jeans/clothes. It wasn’t about me, rather I, was merely an extension/posession of how she wanted to feel about herself at any given moment. Her: “all my friends wear Tommy Bahama” BARF!!!

    • clarissa
      November 9, 2009 at 3:23 am

      lol funny!!!!!she is definately whacked! stay away from that woman!!!!

  16. Mike
    November 5, 2009 at 1:13 am

    Man, up until the last couple of years I was exactly the “mark” described here:

    “They go after people who are kind, generous, trusting, eager to please, self-reflective, competent, talented or “gifted” in some way and, most importantly, people who have a desire to cooperate or work things out and a non-confrontational personal style”

    This is exactly how my soon-to-be-ex wife (STBXW) got to me. I am a good natured, non-confrontational person. But, now I am wise to the b.s. that these people use to hook me. A few years ago I just kind of “came out of the fog”.

    I had “friends” for 10 years, I just realized a couple of years ago,that were just making me their “bitch”(sorry ladies I just don’t think “minion” is a strong enough word here) so I cut my ties to them when I started recognising how they were playing on my non-confrontational, good natured way.

    The problem is that my STBXW knows that I am no long non-confrontational. Before I did not want to jeopardize my chance at sex that night or deal with “the look” for three days, or until she feared getting frown lines. Now she know my weakness: I do not want to argue in front of our kids (12 and 7)so when she sees an argument coming, or want to tell me off so she can put me in my place, she’ll move the fight to wherever the children are so she can yell at me, but she knows I won’t yell back. If I leave the room she’ll yell TO me wherever I go. So she gets louder, until I give in or leave the house. Then, she can’t argue any more. But, then, she has basically won.

    • Taras
      November 5, 2009 at 2:55 am

      I know what you mean about no longer being non-confrontational. Now I have no problem with confronting anyone who goads me one too many times, and my ex would definitely would not want a confrontation with me because I would feed her abusive behavior back to her on a tarnished silver platter.


    • Anonymous Coward
      November 5, 2009 at 12:20 pm

      You need a new, silent, non-confrontational hobby.

      Ideally more than one.

      I suggest combining “boris karloff evil leering” with “constantly sharpening the teeth on the chainsaw”

      Having said that, in all seriousness, technology is your friend, my fiend.


    • shrink4men
      November 5, 2009 at 3:40 pm

      Hi Mike,

      I have a client whose wife actually calls their young child back in the room when she’s lambasting him after he sends the child out of the room so the kid doesn’t have to witness mom going on a tear while he stands there saying, “that’s not true” or presenting her with the facts as opposed to her distorted emotional reasoning. He’s sent me digital recordings of her doing this. It’s truly despicable how people with these issues basically turn their children into human shields/weapons to hurt the co-parent. They definitely shouldn’t have custody. I don’t even think they should be able to have pets.

      Dr Tara

  17. Taras
    November 5, 2009 at 12:35 am

    This should be required reading for any young man, or woman for that matter. When parents do not prepare their kids for relationships with the opposite sex as adults, a lot of people’s happiness and well being are in jeopardy.

  18. Young Man
    November 5, 2009 at 12:26 am

    Great article. I’m so glad this support and information for males(mostly) exists. After being taken for a ride with a female narcissist I’ve enlightened myself, and tried to enlighten others. However trying to teach my male friends about female abusers usually leaves them thinking I’m some bruised, nancy-boy, self help junkie. It’s nice to have your feelings confirmed that this is a legitimate threat to a normal man’s well being.

    • shrink4men
      November 5, 2009 at 3:26 pm

      Hi Young Man,

      Unfortunately, many people have no conception of these behaviors and people until they themselves get burned. Be glad you’re learning this now. I guarantee you in 15 years time, a percentage of the guys who think you’re over-reacting now will be in a relationship like the ones described here wondering what the hell happened to them.

      Kind Regards,
      Dr Tara

    • smile
      November 17, 2009 at 12:24 am

      same feeling I get….people start giving u this lokk as if u came from another Planet……once I tried to teach her female friend but the next day she stabbed me in the back by making me a joke infront of anyone i know….after agreening with me

  19. Laura
    November 4, 2009 at 10:28 pm

    It’s hard to watch others go through it, though. Or know that someone else is going to be next with these people…It’s quite the learning curve!

  20. Laura
    November 4, 2009 at 10:23 pm

    Wow, I dated a guy that did all of that and I bought it for about a year and a half. Now he’s doing it to someone else. I’m so glad it’s not me! Great article Dr. T.!

    • shrink4men
      November 4, 2009 at 10:26 pm

      Thanks, Laura. I think a lot of people have encountered this type of person. The important thing is to “wise up” and not fall for their shtick again.

      Kind Regards,
      Dr T

    • Susan
      September 27, 2013 at 8:25 pm

      A guy did the same thing to me! I bought it for two years, got divorced, lost my company etc. These people are very dangerous, thank god I woke up

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