Posts Tagged ‘warning signs’

Reminder: Shrink4Men Radio Airs Tonight, Monday, September 26, 2011 at 9pm EST: What Every Man Should Know Before Getting Married

Just a reminder that Shrink4Men Radio airs tonight, Monday, September 26, 2011 at 9pm EST on the AVoiceforMen channel on BlogTalkRadio.

The topic is What Every Man Should Know Before Getting Married or, for those of you who have already marched down the aisle, What Men Wish They’d Known Before Getting Married.

The telephone lines will be open, so if you have a question or something you’d like to share about this evening’s topic, please Skype in or call 310 388 9709.

Shrink4Men Services:

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.

Embed of Dr Tara Palmatier’s Second Radio Appearance on Crazy-Proofing your Life

There’s a new post on that provides the embed for the May 10, 2011 AVfM Radio program with Dr Tara J. Palmatier. The topic is, Crazy-Proofing your Romantic Life and Life in General. Relationships with abusive women, abused men and children, professional victims, personality disorders, high-conflict people, female predators, parental alienation, bullying in the workplace, toxic work environments and coping strategies are discussed.

Here’s the link:

Listen to Dr Tara J. Palmatier on AVfM Radio: The Crazy-Proofing your Romantic Life Embed

Shrink4Men Coaching and Consulting Services:

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.

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

Shrink4Men Coaching and Consultation Services:

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.


If you find the information I provide free of charge helpful and valuable here on Shrink4Men, please consider making a donation via PayPal to help me maintain the site.

Photo credit:

Veruca Salt and the educated eggdicator on


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

How to Have a Healthy Relationship After Being With an Emotionally Abusive, Borderline or Narcissistic Woman

Shawshank-Redemption-swimming-through-a-river-of-shit-and-coming-out-the-other-side-Tim-RobbinsThe following is a comment posted by a man who was married to an emotionally abusive woman with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). His advice on how to heal from and get over an emotionally abusive relationship in order to prepare yourself for a new, healthy relationship is so excellent, that I’m posting it as its own blog.

Dr. T,

I stumbled upon this site when I was doing research on how to initiate Mother’s Day events between my ex and my children when their mother is emotionally abusive and has not had a consistent relationship with her children in many (16) months. As I began to read the blog entries, I was struck by the fact that few men had posted. This is an excellent site for men , but only women seem to frequent it.

I am a 45-year old man who finalized an 18 month separation/divorce a year ago. I spent my whole relationship hoping my wife would “grow up” and had no understanding of BPD and its impact. What I got from the relationship was adoration, but not love and I mistakenly confused the two as the same thing for many years. I loved that she adored me, I loved being the savior, I loved having the answers, I loved giving my ex-wife the life that she never had as a child – but that was not a loving adult relationship. It was a parent-child relationship.

I would have continued in this cycle for who knows how long if she had not released me through her behavior during the separation. I give thanks to god that it happened and that I have the opportunity to grow and make changes in my life and emotional well being.

I believe the following:

1. Recognize that you were attracted to this person for a reason. Most likely that you were comfortable with the behavior you received from them. Reach deep into your childhood and recognize parental behaviors that might have felt similar.

2. Do not get into a relationship too quickly (I am talking years). When you have been emotionally battered for years, you need time to heal before you try to jump into another relationship. Also recognize that jumping too quickly might push you back into a relationship with your ex-wife. You may begin to compare the new relationships before you are emotionally ready. In-turn you may go back to what feels emotionally comfortable for you – BIG MISTAKE.

3. You must end your relationship with the ex-wife. As adult as you may think you are being by developing a “friendship”, this is not a normal adult relationship and you need to end the behavior patterns in order to move on. If children are involved, communicate by email with very direct, but not curt communications. Do not initiate or engage in any dramatic episodes even on email – Kind, Direct, Simple, the end.

4. Do not identify with being victimized. Be a big boy and realize that you made decisions and you knew the outcomes whether you admitted them to yourself or not.

5. Frequent a therapist. Try to understand why YOU made the choices that YOU did. It is not always easy, but definitely worth it. I remember one time my therapist told me to “stop going back into the museum”. What she meant was stop looking at the past. There is a time for this, but not too soon. What I told her was that the museum was a mess. Valuable artifacts had been broken, overturned and everything was in shambles. I needed to go back into the museum no matter how painful it was and clean it up. Once it is clean, lock the door and only visit it on the occasion when you determine a better spot for a memento.

It has been 2 1/2 years since I separated from my ex-wife. I have concentrated on my children and normalizing their lives and my own. Recently, people have begun to ask me if I am ready to date since they know someone they would like for me to meet. I feel I am now ready to take that next step and will let you all know how it is progressing.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

I am ready to have an adult relationship and my future seems wide open and full of possibilities. However, I have to admit, there is a little piece of me that is afraid I will be attracted to the same type of person even though the greater part of me is determined not to do it again.

—Man with ex-wife with BPD


Thank you for reading and leaving such a heartfelt and well considered comment. It’s all the more impactful when given by someone who’s had your firsthand experiences.

Men who’ve been involved with an abusive woman (or women) desperately want a healthy relationship. Yet, they’re not going to get there unless they do exactly what you describe above. Even men who wait before jumping into a new relationship  can muck it up with a healthy women if they maintain a ‘friendship’ with the ex, don’t do the work to heal from the abuse and/or don’t connect the dots regarding their attraction to abusive women and past relationship choices.

I’ve always found the maintaining a friendship thing puzzling. Would you invite the man who waterboarded you and beat you in prison over for Sunday barbecue after you’ve been released? “Maintaining a friendship” is code for “not ready to let go.”

I’m very happy that you managed to end your relationship and put yourself back together. You’re living proof for other men in similar straits that they can also break the cycle of abuse. I think you’re going to be ok and will find a healthy, loving and reciprocal relationship. You’re an expert on women like your ex now. Pay attention to the warning signs when you meet a new woman. Here’s what I recommend:

How to Avoid Getting Involved with Another Crazy, Emotionally Abusive Woman

1) Do a little gentle digging (i.e., no police interrogation tactics) about her past relationships and why they didn’t work out. Does she blame all of her exes and make them out to be bastards? If so, steer clear. You want to hear a potential love interest take some responsibility for the demise of her past relationships. “I was young and immature. I didn’t know what I wanted. I realize now that I…

Taking responsibility for her choices and holding herself accountable is a good indication that you’re probably dealing with a grown-up. However, don’t confuse self-blame and responsibility. If she trashes herself, puts herself down and blames herself for her failed relationships, get out while the getting’s good.

2) Beware of an inexplicable, instant, powerful and overwhelming attraction to a woman or feel like you already know her because of an instant connection. Odds are you do already know her. She’s probably just another embodiment of the old issues. Yes, instant chemistry exists and this new woman might be as wonderful as she appears to be, but go slowly.

The wonderful, but illusory façade of emotionally abusive women usually cracks fairly soon into the relationship, but gradually, which is why so many men minimize, overlook, deny and/or excuse the abusive behaviors. She seems amazing and then there’s an attack out of nowhere. She goes back to normal for a few weeks and then there’s another incident and another and another and another. In most cases, the period of time between abusive episodes becomes shorter and shorter. Don’t wait that long to get out.

For example, the two of you meet and she’s great. Two weeks go by and she has her first rage episode in which she accuses you of being insensitive or selfish or something equally unfounded. You’re bewildered and left wondering, “What just happened?” This is when you should go on high alert and pay very close attention to what she does next:

  • Does she pretend like it didn’t happen? Does she minimize or deny that it happened? This is called gaslighting and it’s abusive. Get out now.
  • Does she apologize prettily, cry and say she was having a bad day at work and her boss was being mean to her and then when you didn’t call her at the exact minute she was expecting you to call and she just couldn’t take it anymore and snapped? Don’t fall for it. This isn’t really an apology. She’s not taking responsibility for her bad behavior. Rather, she’s blaming her boss and you. Everyone has a bad day from time to time and maybe you want to give her the benefit of the doubt. Ok, but when it happens a second and a third time, she’s not just having a bad day, this is who she is.
  • Does she blatantly blame you for her bad behavior without even feigning an empty apology? There’s no gray area here. She’s an abusive personality and you need to walk away.
  • Does she cry and beg you not to leave her, flushed in high drama, saying things like “I don’t know what I’ll do if you leave me. No one has ever made me feel this way. I don’t want to go on without you. Please don’t leave me!?” Get a restraining order, change your phone number and get a new email account. This is probably full throttle BPD.

3) Beware of grand gestures or extreme selfishness. If she gives you an extravagant gift or orchestrates some incredible fantasy date within a few weeks of knowing her, be alarmed. If she expects you to take care of everything, make all the plans, entertain her, pay for everything and doesn’t reciprocate, be alarmed. The former shows inappropriate boundaries and she’s probably working from the angle of “now he’ll owe me” and the latter indicates you will always do for her and get nothing in return except complaints and criticism. Nothing will ever be good enough for this kind of woman.

4) Getting too close, too fast—BOUNDARIES. Another warning signal is if she tries to insinuate herself into your other relationships and personal space too quickly. For example, you’ve been dating for two weeks, she finds out it’s you dad’s birthday that weekend and buys him a gift. Or she has roommate troubles and could she stay at your place temporarily after only knowing you a month. Or she wants to introduce you to her family in record time. This is evidence that she has poor or zero boundaries and it only goes downhill from here.

When you meet a kind, loving and healthy woman, it’ll probably feel a little strange to you at first. That’s normal. Ride it out. Remind yourself this is what you want and let yourself enjoy it. Consciously make the decision to be open to it and you’ll get there. Relationships really can be that mutually rewarding and satisfying.

You’ve already undertaken the two most difficult steps: You extracted yourself physically and psychologically from the cycle of abuse. You seem to have an incredible amount of awareness and maturity from your experience. I have every faith that if you take your time, exercise good judgment and open yourself up to being treated well, you’ll do just fine.

Counseling, Consulting and Coaching with Dr. Tara J. Palmatier, PsyD

Dr. Tara J. Palmatier, PsyD helps individuals work through their relationship and codependency issues via telephone or Skype. She specializes in helping men and women trying to break free of an abusive relationship, cope with the stress of an abusive relationship or heal from an abusive relationship. She combines practical advice, emotional support and goal-oriented outcomes. Please visit the Schedule a Session page for professional inquiries or send an email to

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If you find the information I provide free of charge helpful and valuable here on Shrink4Men, please consider making a donation via PayPal to help me maintain the site.

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Still from Shawshank Redemption on 100ker.