The month of ‘lluuuvvvv’—Valentine’s Day–the time where everyone thinks about their relationships. But at this time of year, we are thinking of it mostly in romantic terms. In our surveys, we have found that women spend far more time on learning how to ‘attract’ or ‘keep’ a relationship, then looking at the health of it, or leaving it.
If you look at most of the relationship books, it’s all about how to find him, attract him, keep him, and get back together with him. But what if what you always seem to attract is unhealthy men? Then your Guy Magnet is not a good thing. Women who have been in dangerous relationships are often more ‘attracted to’ the bad boys then healthy men. In fact, most women say that if given the choice between the ‘nice guy’ and the ‘edgy bad boy’ they would pick the guy with ‘the edge.’ Women say they often don’t even know what ‘healthy’ is in a relationship. Even knowing that they don’t know what ‘healthy’ is does not slow them or stop them from dating until they figure out what healthy looks like. They keep doing the same thing and getting the same thing–dangerous relationships.
TIME OUT: GAME OFF! If your last 3 or 4 relationships have been unhealthy or even downright dangerous, STOP. Put yourself on a ‘Do Not Date Program’ until you get some help to find out ‘how to spot’ unhealthy and dangerous relationships. YOU CAN’T CHANGE WHAT YOU DON’T SEE.
What are some ways to find ‘Safe’ love?
1. Stop dating until you can learn to recognize the difference between healthy and unhealthy. If you can’t name the 14 signs of a bad dating choice, you shouldn’t be dating! If you want to know what those are–get the book How to Spot a Dangerous Man.
2. How are your break up skills? Women worry more about their dating skills then their break up skills. But if you keep picking the dangerous guys, you better know how to quickly and safely end it! These guys do not break up like normal men do. Additionally, women who have been in more than one dangerous relationship tend to be women who wait to be ‘released from the relationship’. That means they wait for him to end it and stay far longer than they feel safe doing. However, since they don’t know ‘how’ to end it, they don’t. To find ‘safe’ love, learn how to break up.
3. You steer the ship. Women often let the man decide the pace of the relationship–how often they see each other and how fast they get serious. Guess what? Predators have agendas. They want to see you 24/7, they want you to ‘think’ you have this fast and deep relationship when you’ve only been dating a few weeks or months. You are their ‘soul mate’ and it’s ‘never been like this with anyone else.’ 24/7 does NOT mean he’s ‘that into you.’ It is often a red flag for predatory agendas. Women should be in charge of the pacing. If you have been doing the 24/7 Tango, pull the plug. Tell him you need a breather for a few days and would like to get to a normal dating schedule (a few times a week). Normal men will accept that. Pathological and dangerous men will guilt you, rage, blame you, accuse you of seeing other people, threaten to break up, call you/text you 40 times a day. That’s NOT normal. But it’s best you see that now rather than when he has moved in. Women should always PLAY with the pacing and see what kind of reaction he displays.
4. Learn his history. The best predictor of future behavior is past behavior. What is his past? If you feel like you can’t take his word for it, then for $29.95 you can find out ALOT about what he has been up to in the past. Things I always look for as a therapist are his criminal history, his relationship history, his mental health history.
And contrary to what he might be saying, all the other women weren’t ‘witches, psycho, or ignorant.’ His relationship history is his alone and points to how successful he is at handling the challenges and hurdles of relationship life.
5. Listen to others. STOP dissing your girlfriends when they tell you the TRUTH about him. The people around you are your best opportunity to hear about him, to tell you if they are concerned about something, to tell you if you have changed for the worse during this relationship, or to point out patterns they notice in the men you choose. Take your fingers out of your ears and hear it.
Women who want healthier and safer relationships have to begin by acknowledging what they have been in up until now and take the steps to learn and change.
(**If we can support you in your recovery process, please let us know. The Institute is the largest provider of recovery-based services for survivors of pathological love relationships. Information about pathological love relationships is in our award-winning book, Women Who Love Psychopaths, and is also available in our retreats, on-on-ones, or phone sessions. See the website for more information).