Thursday Thought — 8 Red Flags when Dating
During a presentation Lundy Bancroft was asked, “If you were speaking to a group of young women what would you say about what to watch out for in a relationship?” He replied with these eight red flags.
1) Watch out for jealousy and possessiveness.
To young women in particular this tends to be really flattering — “Oh, I’ve never had a guy care for me like that before. “Oh, he’s just crazy about me.” “He gets so upset if I even talk to another guy.” That feels like love, but it isn’t. It’s ownership. And it’s one of the top warning signs of domestic violence.
2) Watch out about a guy who is controlling.
Again, that can be exciting at first. You hear him described as a “take charge” kind of guy. But you have to ask, what happens when you don’t want to do what he wants to do? What happens when you don’t want him completely in charge? That’s what she has to really pay attention to. How does he react when she doesn’t want to go along because if he has really bad reactions to that — that’s a really bad sign.
3) Watch out for the guy who’s got problems with women in general.
For example, the kind of guy who says that all of his previous girlfriends were “you know what’s, but you’re different”. Or who says, “You’re the first girl (or first woman) who has understood me.” If you’re the first female that’s ever understood him I want to know why. Why is he so hard to understand? If a guy is telling you now that you’re different from all other women, what he’s going to be telling you in a year or two is that you’re just like the rest. You’re going to go from being the exception to being part of the rule. So watch how he talks about women in general and including — you might listen to some things about how he talks about his own mother — but particularly how he talks about his past wives or girlfriends.
4) Notice how he deals with challenge.
This is often the litmus test. What happens when he is stood up to?
5) Do you feel respected by him?
Because sometimes women tell me that they feel terribly loved by the man, but when I say, “Yeah, but do you feel respected?” they say, “huh?” It’s odd that we can even separate love and respect, but we do. For example, is he actually interested in your opinions? Does he actually care what you think about things? Or does he think that your opinions are just something to be altered to fit his? I remember this old Malvina Reynolds song where she says, “Everybody thinks my head is all full of nothing. Wants to put his special stuff in.”
6) Are things never his fault?
Or he gives these apologies but they’re not very sincere sounding apologies and then he demands that that be adequate. He says [with sarcasm], “Well, I said I was sorry!” First of all, an apology that sounds like that is never going to be very satisfying, but an apology also isn’t necessarily enough. Often when someone apologizes you also want to tell them some things about how they affected you. “Well, that’s great that you apologized, but I’m also going to tell you some things about the mess that you made or the harm that you did.” He’s going to say, “No.” He doesn’t want to hear that, he apologized [and] that should be enough.
7) Another additional one that’s sometimes revealing is to notice whether he treats you different alone than when other people are around.
This actually tends to do a flip between teen years and adulthood. During teens years he often treats her worse when other people are around and better in private. In adulthood the abuser starts to flip and he starts to be worse with her when there’s nobody watching and better when there are people around.
8) With teens I really emphasize — “Is he pressuring you to have sex?”
Because he’s telling her, “If you really loved me we would be having sex.” “We’ve been going out for two months and we’re not doing it yet”, or whatever it is. And that’s so clearly not respect, that’s so clearly not love. What I say to teens is, “If someone really loved you would he want you to be having sex before you felt comfortable or ready for that or what you really wanted? Is that love? That’s a really good in to get that conversation going.
(excerpt from a Q&A. The entire presentation can be found on youtube here. This particular Q&A starts at 1:27:47.)