There was a time when the most charming guy in the room got my attention. If he went out of his way to ply me with flattery, riveting his attention on me, I was hooked and wanted a relationship desparately. I believed that charm aimed at me equaled real desire. In my mind, that desire was fueled by the intention for a real relationship. I was so tempted, and I usually succumbed. Boy was I wrong!
Now, my husband and I laugh about his opening line to me the night we met: "Hi, my name is Mark." No charm, just a genuinely nice smile and an intention to get to know me. By that point in my single life, my attitude had entirely changed. I was no longer charmed by charm; I was suspicious of it. I had good reason to be, and so do you. A little charm is natural and normal for many people, but when you see that it is a person's dominant trait, be very careful. Highly charming people are likely to be addicts, sociopaths, users, abusers, con artists or personality disordered.
If the charming guy in front of you is one or more of those things, you are about to embark on a roller coaster ride with your very life at stake. It's time to step back and don't let yourself be charmed. Instead, look for something better. The far better trait to look for is authentic, meaning that what you see is what you get.
The authentic guy isn't interested in charming you. He wants to get to know you and is genuinely interested in you. He asks thoughtful questions and listens. He openly shares about his life, including some of his own foibles, because he has nothing to hide. He has no agenda; he's not out to charm your pants off—literally. He's not trying to take advantage of you in any way. He wants to discover if the two of you could be a couple. It's as simple as that.
So, how can you tell if the cute guy you're standing in front of is your Prince Charming? Here are some of the warning signs:
- He talks a lot about himself and his stories make him sound larger than life or superior somehow to others
- He flatters you a lot, glossing over your attempts to be self-disclosing
- He offers a lot of future talk; i.e., the wonderful things the two of you will do together, someday, one day
- He never tells one on himself; his stories about his life make him sound almost perfect
- He steers conversations about you back to him
- He uses persuasion a lot: to his point of view, his philosophies of life, his preferences in a woman and/or a relationship
- He has little or no acceptance of you as a separate, in many ways different, individual; he drives your interactions so that he can see you as like himself in all ways
- He's highly manipulative: if you look closely you can see that he's always trying to get what he wants rather than focusing on what you want
- He detests personal boundaries: you learn quickly that it's his way or nothing, including the speed at which you have sex for the first time and how frequently you see one another
There are loads of other warning signs, but the best one is that knot you feel forming in your belly or the little hairs raising on the back of your neck in the presence of the charming, possibly sociopathic, guy. No, that's not excitement as a signpost to a passionate love affair. It's your own body's early warning system trying to tell you something. We are wired, as empathetic, feeling human beings, to feel a sense of danger around those who are not empathetic and who are possibly dangerous.
Reconsider how you think about charm. Instead of it being an attractive, desirable trait, think of it as a dangerous trait. When you meet someone charming, hold out for loads of evidence that it is simply a little charm and nothing more. Even better, when you see the guy who isn't surrounded by women, gravitate toward him, even though you don't instantly get butterflies. Give that guy a chance. Odds are, he's Prince Authentic, and that trumps Prince Charming every time.
About the author: Nina Atwood, M.Ed., LPC, is a nationally known psychotherapist, author of five self-help books, and frequent expert media guest. Read the book that will transform your life and your relationships with men: Temptations of the Single Girl: The Ten Dating Traps You Must Avoid. To successfully date online, get Nina’s $0.99 cent eBook Internet Dating for the Savvy Single. Get loads of free advice and Love Strategies at www.singlescoach.com.
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