- Extremely possessive and/or jealous of people and/or things. May not be toward you at first, but might be observed in other relationships, or with possessions. Irrational with jealousy, anger, or fear for safety of self, you, or any other person. May try to convince you that something you have been doing for a long time is unsafe – especially if they aren’t included for any reason.
- Treats other people as objects or personal possessions, giving only superficial acknowledgment of the fact that others have similar emotions, wants, needs, hurts, experiences…
- Frequently angry, with self or others. Critical, thinks their way of doing things is better than others.
- Displacing blame onto others, unable and/or unwilling to accept responsibility for their own problems and/or mistakes (at work, with family, neighbors, etc.). May have some apparently very good reasons for blaming others for the problems in his/her life, but, places blame for inappropriate actions and emotions onto others, for example may say, “If you hadn’t said/done _______ , I wouldn’t have said/done ________.”
- Attempts to isolate you, usually simply by monopolizing your time at first – either in person, on the phone, or by asking you to do things with or for them. Some degree of increasing time together is to be expected as a relationship develops, however, requests for alone time, or time with other friends/family should be welcomed, not resented. Also, both need to spend time with each other’s friends and family.
- Rapid involvement – serious fast, knowing the person for less than a year before it begins to get serious, or, knowing them only superficially for an extended period of time, but getting serious within less than a year of really beginning to explore and develop a friendship.
- Fails to regularly show common courtesy. Rarely, if ever, says Please, Thank you, or You’re welcome. Rude to and/or short-tempered with sales people and others who are waiting on him/her, for example in a store or restaurant. Short-tempered and/or impatient with other drivers, considers him/herself one of, if not the best driver on the road, irritated that others get in the way, weaves in out of traffic frequently.
- Three or more years difference in ages. (My guess is this applies most strongly to the 20-something dating relationships and is less of a factor, or might be stretched out somewhat for those over 40.)
- Lack of financial responsibility – anything from extravagant spending to failure to pay debts and or obligations, either legal or moral.
- Last, but certainly not least, any indication of a tendency toward physical violence – striking people or objects in anger, throwing things, kicking things, screaming…
The counselor that gave me this list many years ago said that it would not be unreasonable to see one or two of the things on this list present to some degree, but, they should certainly serve as warning signs to say slow down. Take your time here.
It’s easier for all parties concerned to be cautious before making any kind of commitment, than after a commitment has been made. Take time to know any person very well, and to see them in a wide variety of situations before you become too deeply involved. If there are three danger signs present, be very cautious, and really take extra time. If there are four or more, you’re likely either involved in an abusive relationship, or headed straight for one. If that is the case, get out NOW! Don’t waste any more of your time or affection on this person. This relationship will bring you serious heartache and quite possibly physically endanger you and/or your children. You cannot change this person (or any other for that matter), and the probability of this person making permanent changes in his/her behavior for you is extremely small.
I hope this information is helpful to you. I know that if I had this information when I was dating, AND, if I had been willing to honestly evaluate the behavior of the person I was dating, and their relationships with others as well as myself, I could have saved both myself and my children a lot of grief. I hope that now that I have this information, if I start dating again, I will keep my eyes wide open and use this information to protect myself. I have also found it to be a good thing for me to occasionally look at myself from the perspective of this information to see if there are things in my attitudes and/or behaviors that need some improvement.