How to spot a dangerous man Workbook A Survival Guide for Women
By Sandra L. Brown
Hunter House Inc., Publishers Copyright © 2005 Sandra Brown
All right reserved. ISBN: 978-0-89793-452-7
Chapter One PART ONE
Assessing Your Risk Level
Categories of Dangerous Men
There is, in their tone, a dangerous gentleness-so much gentleness that the safe reserve of their soul is broken. - D.H. Lawrence
From my years of working with dangerous men and the women who get involved with them, I have concluded that dangerous men generally fall into the following eight categories. For an in-depth look at each of these groups, see Chapters 3 through 10 in How to Spot a Dangerous Man Before You Get Involved.
THE PERMANENT CLINGER * He is a needy, victim-based man who will give a woman a lot of attention in return for all his needs being met all the time. He fears rejection above all else, so he is jealous of other people in your life. He will ask you to give up your outside life and make your world revolve around him. He will try to convince you that he has been wounded and that you can "heal him with your love" if you will focus only on him. He may threaten to be "wounded forever" if you don't do as he asks, or he may useguilt to try to keep you in a relationship you no longer want to be in. Women have the overwhelming sensation of "having the life sucked out of them" by these men.
THE PARENTAL SEEKER * He wants a parent, not a partner. He needs you "so much." In fact, he needs you to run his life for him. He has a difficult time doing adult things like working, completing chores, making decisions, being consistent, or paying his bills. He may give you lots of attention, but he will function very poorly in the real world.
THE EMOTIONALLY UNAVAILABLE MAN * He is married, separated, engaged, dating someone else, or "just breaking up" with someone. He usually presents himself as "currently unhappy with" or "not quite out of" a relationship, but he is willing to have you on the side. Another type of emotionally unavailable man is the man who is preoccupied with his career, educational goals, hobbies, or other interests, to the exclusion of ever having a true interest in a long-term relationship. With the emotionally unavailable man, there is always a reason why he can't fully commit to you, but he's usually happy to keep stringing you along. After all, the situation is still convenient for him as long as you're willing to keep seeing him or sleeping with him on a "casual" basis despite the fact that he can't or won't get involved in a serious relationship with you.
THE MAN WITH THE HIDDEN LIFE * He has undisclosed other lives that might include women, same-sex partners, children, jobs, wives, life-threatening addictions, criminal behavior, disease, or other histories that remain unrevealed to you for the long term or until you have been in the relationship a while and discover them yourself.
THE MENTALLY ILL MAN * He can look normal on the outside, but after you've dated him for a while it becomes obvious that "something is amiss." Most women lack the training to know exactly what is wrong, but depending on his diagnosis he may be able to convince you to stay and "love him into wellness." He may hold you emotionally hostage by telling you that "everyone" leaves him, or by threatening self-harm if you leave.
THE ADDICT * Many women do not recognize up front that he has an addiction, or they mistake it for his being a "fun-loving guy" who just wants to "party." Addictions can include sex, pornography, drugs, alcohol, thrill-seeking behaviors, gambling, food, or relationships. There are also what I call "pseudoproductive" addictions, which include addictions to work, perfection, outside approval, and achievements.
THE ABUSIVE OR VIOLENT MAN * He starts out as very attentive and giving. But then Mr. Hyde appears-controlling, blaming, shaming, harming, perhaps hitting. Women who think abuse comes only in the form of a physical assault may miss warning signs of other kinds of abuse. Abuse can be verbal, emotional, spiritual, financial, physical, or sexual, or it can be abuse of the system to get his way. (Each of these is described in Chapter 9 of How to Spot a Dangerous Man Before You Get Involved.) With an abusive or violent man, anything goes when he decides he's in control, and he will always be in control. Abusive or violent behavior always gets worse over time.
THE EMOTIONAL PREDATOR * He has a sixth sense about how women operate. He knows how to play to a woman's woundedness. Although his motives might be to prey on a woman's financial or sexual vulnerabilities (to name just a couple), he's called the "emotional" predator because he hunts for his victims by targeting their emotional vulnerabilities. He can sense women who have recently been dumped, or who are hurt, lonely, or sexually needy. He is a chameleon and can be whatever any woman needs him to be. He is very tuned in to a woman's body and eye language as well as to the subtle messages behind her words. He can pick up on hints about her life and turn himself into what she wants in the moment.
Many dangerous men fall into more than one category. I call these men combo-pack men. For instance, some addicts are also violent. Clingers and seekers almost always have interwoven mental-illness issues. Addicts are typically emotionally unavailable. Emotional predators usually have hidden lives, because hiding what they do is half the fun. Many combinations are possible, and some are fairly predictable.
Familiarize yourself with all eight categories even if you have not dated men from every category. You will want to have this knowledge for the future.
The mistakes made by women who get involved with dangerous men are based on myths. These women grew up believing false information taught to them and lived by their families, or they developed their own mythical beliefs about relationships by repeatedly dating dangerous men. Each go-round with a dangerous man teaches women falsehoods that they adopt as a part of their internal way of thinking about men and relationships. For more information about mythical assumptions and how women adopt them, review Chapters 2 and 12 of the main book. This quiz will help you to uncover your own mythical assumptions about dangerous men. Mark each statement below as true or false:
_____ Dangerous men usually have professions that would seem obviously "dangerous" to an outsider, such as bodyguard. It is fairly easy to detect a dangerous man by his career.
_____ Dangerous men aren't firemen, social workers, teachers, or ministers.
_____ Dangerous men must come from dangerous families. You should be able to look at his family and tell if he is dangerous.
_____ Dangerous men look dangerous.
_____ Dangerous men do not look clean cut, handsome, conservative, or classy.
_____ A dangerous man will only come into my life once. If I've already dated one, I probably won't date another.
_____ Dangerous men have taught me well. If I was hurt by the previous one, I know I will see the next one coming.
_____ Dangerous men won't spend a lot of time getting to know me. If I have talked to a man for weeks by phone or in person but haven't yet dated him, he isn't a dangerous man.
_____ Dangerous men don't go to church, volunteer, help their mothers, or give to charities. If he is involved in community or religious activities, he isn't a dangerous man.
_____ Dangerous men don't disclose anything about themselves. This man has told me all about himself, so he couldn't be hiding anything.
All the above statements are false. Dangerous men do all the above and more!
Universal Red Flags Some red flags indicate undeniable truths. Women everywhere respond to these universal red flags when they're in the presence of a dangerous man. The wise woman will memorize, pay attention to, and utilize these signs as opportunities to reexamine the relationship-or to exit, if necessary. For more about red flags in general, review Chapter 2 of the main book. For lists of red flags for each category of dangerous man, review the sections titled "Red-Alert Behavioral Checklist" in Chapters 3 through 10. Tell yourself the truth about your relationship. Take this quiz to see if any universal red flags are present in your current relationship. If you're not currently dating anyone, answer the questions as they relate to one or more of your past relationships, whether serious or casual. Check all the following that apply, even if only remotely:
_____ You feel uncomfortable about something he has said or done, and the feeling remains.
_____ You often feel mad or scared, or he reminds you of someone else you know with a serious problem.
_____ You wish he would go away, you want to cry, you want to run away from him.
_____ You dread his phone calls.
_____ You are often bored with him.
_____ You think no one else in his life understands him.
_____ You think no one else in his life has ever really loved him/helped him.
_____ You think you are the only one who can help/love/understand him. _____ You have the urge to "love him into emotional wellness," if that were possible.
_____ You think or wish you could help him "change" or "fix" his life.
_____ You let him borrow money from you or ask your friends to lend him money.
_____ You feel bad about yourself when you are around him.
_____ You only feel good about yourself when you are with him.
_____ You find your identity in your relationship with him.
_____ You feel he wants too much from you.
_____ You are emotionally tired from him; you feel he "sucks the life out of you."
_____ Your value system and his are very different, and it is problematic.
_____ Your past and his are very different, and the two of you have conflicts over it.
_____ You tell friends you are "unsure about the relationship."
_____ You feel isolated from other relationships with friends and family.
_____ You think he's too charming or a little "too good to be true."
_____ You feel in the wrong because he is always right and goes to great lengths to show you he is right.
_____ You are uncomfortable because he continually says he knows what is best for you.
_____ You notice he needs you too frequently, too much, or too intensely.
_____ You wonder if he really understands you or instead just claims to.
_____ You are uncomfortable because he has touched you inappropriately or too soon.
_____ You notice he quickly discloses information about his past or his emotional pain.
_____ You sense he is pushing too quickly for an emotional connection with you.
_____ He pushes you early on in the relationship to disclose information about your past.
_____ Although you don't believe it, he claims to feel an immediate connection with you (a sign of false intimacy).
_____ You see him pushing too quickly to get sexually involved with you, and you find yourself willing to abandon your sexual boundaries with him.
_____ You see him as a chameleon; you notice he can change to please whoever is in his presence.
_____ You notice how soon he tells you about his earlier failed relationships and about his previous partners and their flaws.
_____ You notice he mostly talks about himself, his plans, his future.
_____ You notice he spends a lot of time watching violent movies or TV or playing violent video games; he can be preoccupied with violence, death, or destruction.
_____ You have heard him confess to a current or previous drug addiction.
_____ You have information about major relationship problems that he handled poorly.
_____ He has confessed that he has been violent in the past or uses drugs or alcohol when stressed.
_____ You know he has multiple children by multiple partners, is inconsistent in paying child support, or rarely sees his children; you find yourself blaming the mother of his children for his behaviors.
_____ You find yourself accepting him "for now," even though you have plenty of red flags that would help you terminate the relationship if you paid attention to them.
_____ You find you would rather be entertained in this go-nowhere relationship than be bored alone.
_____ You make excuses for why you are dating him.
_____ You make excuses for his character and minimize his behavior.
_____ Your friends or family don't want to be around him.
_____ You make excuses and don't allow others to be around him because of what they think of him.
How many check marks do you have? ____________
Is this relationship going in a direction that will fulfill your needs? Answer here: ____________________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________________
Family Traditions and Early Conditioning Our family is part of the training ground that teaches us to either ignore or respect our red flags. We internalize our family's beliefs about women, men, relationships, boundaries, safety, verbalizing needs, or keeping quiet about unmet needs. These things are all taught to us by our families, yet the lessons are mostly unspoken. Within families, women teach girls the same things that earlier generations of females were taught about men's behaviors, dating, marriage, and dangerousness in men. In some homes, women have normalized generations of negative behaviors by reframing or renaming them. They might say, "The Smith men always have tempers-it's the Irish in them," or, "The Schultz guys like their beer-it's in their blood," or, "The Brown men have a roving eye, but they always come home again." This kind of rationalizing trains young women to discount or ignore dangerous behaviors, minimize their unmet needs, and attempt to make relationships work at any cost. By internalizing these lessons, many women learn to consistently ignore their urgently waving red flags until they finally grow numb to them. For more about the role played by family conditioning in women's dating behavior, review Chapters 2 and 12 of the main book. Did your family teach you any of the following, whether the lesson was spoken or unspoken? Mark all that apply. Did you learn-
_____ to never say no to anything or anyone?
_____ to feel bad if you did say no?
_____ to rename men's problem behavior as something less threatening?
_____ to never give up on a failing relationship no matter what he has done?
_____ to remain forever optimistic that all men, no matter what their problems are, can change?
_____ to rescue unstable men from their own lives?
_____ to accept any kind of male attention and be glad to have it?
_____ to avoid speaking up when you feel you should because you're afraid doing so would bother him?
_____ to allow people to violate your boundaries without consequences?
_____ to violate your own values and morals by dating married men?
_____ to minimize dating married men?
_____ to not refuse a date simply because you are initially uncomfortable with a man?
_____ to resist labeling a man as alcoholic, mentally ill, problematic, or anything else that might make you reluctant to date him?
_____ to not expect people to earn your trust, but rather to trust them immediately?
_____ to expect addictions in men?
_____ to accept abusive behavior in men, whether it's verbal, emotional, physical, sexual, spiritual, or financial?
_____ to override your feelings of fear, concern, or discomfort with a man?
_____ to minimize a man's dangerous behavior?
_____ to normalize abnormal behavior that no one else would find normal?
_____ to avoid talking about these types of things with people outside the family?
Scoring (Note: This is not a clinically verified scale.)
How many check marks do you have? ____________
Under 5 Your relationship choices are affected by your family conditioning to only a small degree.
5-10 Probably half or less of your belief system about men and relationships has been tainted by your family conditioning. You are at moderate risk for choosing men based on this training. Consider seeing a counselor to work through this faulty framework of beliefs.
10-20 A large proportion of your belief system has been actively tainted by your family conditioning. You are at significant risk for choosing men based on these faulty beliefs. See a counselor immediately to address the toxic messages you internalized from your family of origin.
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