Abusive dating is becoming a bigger and bigger problem across all age groups. That’s the bad news, the good news is that in many instances the signs of a would be abuser can be seen within the first few dates, that gives you plenty of time to cut things off before you get in too deep emotionally and before you get hurt.
When we go on our first few dates we have a tendency to overlook warning signs. Of course these signs almost always become more obvious the longer the two people are together, but if you know what to look for, you can usually get some signals very early on.
Here are some early warning signs that the person you are dating might be an abuser:
1. As silly as it may sound, be careful of a man who seems to be trying too hard since this is often a sign of someone who is very insecure and insecurity is often a precursor of abuse. If he seems to constantly be bragging about who he knows, or how much money he makes, etc, it could be something to be on the lookout for.
Now, I know that everyone wants to make a good first impression when they start dating and many men seem to think they need to impress so sometimes it can be hard to tell if all the bravado is just nerves or something more. To determine what it is just keep your eyes open on the second and third dates. If he keeps up with the show off attitude you may want to end things since he is most likely showing you his true personality and not just a case of nerves.
2. On the first few dates, make note of the way he treats other people. Sure he may be showering you with attention since he wants to make a good impression, but how is he treating the people in line at the movie, or the wait staff at the restaurant? How does he act when he does or says something embarrassing? Does he get angry and defensive or can he laugh about it with you? If he gets upset or is rude to other people this again could be a sign of an abuser (even if he isn’t an abuser he is a jerk and you probably wouldn’t want to get involved with him anyway).
3. If possible, try to meet his family fairly early on. The way he treats his family, and they treat him, can be a very good indication of how he relates to people.
4. Does he listen to you when you talk? Does he seem genuinely interested or does he just shut up long enough for you to say something and then jump right back in talking about himself and/or his interests? Does he make subtle criticisms of your job, your clothes, your weight, your friends, your hairstyle,etc? If so, he is already abusing you and it’s time to go.
Obviously, not all of these things would mean that someone is an abuser, but it could mean that you won’t have a good relationship with them. It’s best to cut ties early on, than to ignore warning signs and have to deal with ending the relationship after trouble starts. Just make sure when you are keeping an eye out for abusive dating traits, that you don’t begin to expect perfection. You will need to find a balance, a good guy won’t be perfect but he won’t feel the need to treat you poorly in order to feel like a man.