4 Smart, Savvy Ways To Avoid Falling In Love With An A**hole

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bad boy

Know how to spot the red flags.

By Tina B. Tessina

As I was swimming last week, a young couple came into the pool. Instead of doing laps or walking, like most of the gym members, they were just enjoying themselves. He started splashing her, and she said “Joey, stop it!” but she said it in a placating, whiney voice. He just kept splashing her.

I bit my tongue, because what I wanted to do was tell her she was teaching him to ignore her and push past her boundaries.

For all I know, he was a nice guy, and I worried for nothing—but I do know that this is how abuse begins—with small incursions over boundaries. When a potential abuser (male or female) learns that the victim won’t oppose his or her actions, he or she then assumes it’s OK to become more pushy and demanding, and perhaps abusive.

When you’re dealing with a new relationship, it’s important to notice if the other person is not being considerate, or being disrespectful, or being too selfish.

While anyone can make a mistake or fall short of perfect behavior, someone who repeatedly is rude, inconsiderate or obnoxious, and who won’t take “stop” or “no” for an answer, is showing signs of narcissism and emotional immaturity. This is the kind of person who can turn out to be a problem, a bitch or a jerk.

Keep in mind that any person you’re in a new relationship with is on their best behavior—courting behavior. It is not going to get better as you get closer. The more a disrespectful person feels there’s some power to be gained, the more he or she will push.

Here are some ways to notice if a new date has a chance of becoming a problem. 

1. Pay Attention!!! You Have Things to Learn Here!

The most important aspect of a date, in addition to having a good time, is to get to know each other better. No matter how excited, turned on or thrilled you may be about this person, listening to what your date says, watching what your date does and understanding how your date feels are still your primary objectives. 

2. What Your Date Thinks of You Is Not Your Business—Your Business Is What You Think of Your Date.

One of the easiest ways to lose your objectivity and balance in this is to worry about what your date thinks about you. If you spend your time essentially trying to look at yourself through your date's eyes, guessing what he or she is seeing when looking at you, or hearing when listening to you, you'll miss what's really happening.

You're supposed to be evaluating the *other* person, not pretending to look at yourself through his or her eyes. Pay attention so you know what YOU think of your date. 

3. Look for Integrity—Make Sure Your Date Walks His or Her Talk.

Anyone can talk big. Actually, some of the best people *don’t* present themselves well—don’t overlook someone who is not gorgeous, charming and glib, but has all the qualities you really need in a partner.

Be very consistent and careful about your sexual safety until the relationship progresses to the point that you become monogamous, and both have been tested for STD’s. The nicest people can be infected with a disease and not even know they have it. If you have had unprotected sex, have your doctor do a screening for STD’s.

Don’t assume your partner is monogamous—especially if you haven’t discussed it in detail.

4. Know the signs of emotional blackmail:

  • A demand. Your date won’t take “no” for an answer, and requests are really demands.
  • Resistance. When every discussion turns into an argument.
  • Pressure. Your date pressures you to go along.
  • Threats. Your date uses threatening or coercing tactics: threatening to end the relationship, tears, rage, badgering.

Hopefully, because you've thought about the serious issues in advance, you'll still be able to relax and have a good time—so good, that you decide to keep dating each other. Then, you'll need a whole new set of skills.

This article was originally published at BlogHer. Reprinted with permission from the author.