Early Warning Signs He's an Abuser
Would you order for me, please?
Way back when, I had a little thing I’d do on first dates to feel out the guy and learn a little bit about him. We’d go to dinner and I would not pick up the menu. I would ask him to order for me.
Many dates over many years reacted so differently to this request.
Some would remember I mentioned I was a vegetarian, or that I loved avocado. Some would offer some guidance: “This place is known for its manicotti.” Some would ask me if I wanted this or if I want that, without being able to bring themselves to make the decision without a lot of input. Some were so clearly uncomfortable I wound up having to punt it to the waiter. Some took commanding control without checking twice and ordered fine meals without blinking.
There was no right or wrong answer really. But 20 years ago when I was dating several times a week, it was just one of those things I would do to get to know the person.
It was not my own personal version of that scene in the movie A Bronx Tale where the guy tests his date will lean across the bench seat of the car to unlock his car door for him. This wasn't a test. This was just an ice-breaker. It was just fun. And very revealing.
One of these first dates was a guy I worked with at a big corporation. He was successful, nice looking, from a good family, I had known him for a couple years but he had always had his professional face on at the office complex.
When caught off guard with my request he became a little flustered. Immediately his reaction turned to anger. The first thing he said to me was, “What is this, a trick? To make me look stupid?” I could see the rage building in him for absolutely no reason. Then he told me I better eat whatever he ordered.
Of course I didn’t stay for the rest of the date. I immediately got up, said, "Nevermind," and left.
A guy that can turn like that on a dime is an issue. Add that to his projection that you’re trying to make him look stupid, plus his thinking he can order you to do anything, and you’ve got a very abusive boyfriend.
There are always early warning signs
What does he say about his ex-girlfriend? How does he treat the waitress? His dog? What is his attitude toward others, especially women.
His ex may be a total bitch, his boss may be a controlling conniver. The waitress may really suck. But take the way he says those things for the insight it gives. Don’t look for exceptions to define the rule. In general, you know in your gut when someone’s attitude is uncalled for.
It's one thing to be laying in bed on a lazy Sunday afternoon, laughing and playing around, and complain privately about your jobs. 'Saying the boss is an inept douchebag, while you feel safe with your partner is one thing. Barking in a rageful, hateful, accusing, paranoid way is something entirely different. And you know the difference.
Is he condescending? Does he speak down to people? Is he rude or cruel? If you think that’s not going to translate into the way he treats you, you’re wrong.
Do his moods swing from one direction to the opposite for apparently no reason. What is his temper like? Anger is a normal human emotion but there is a world of difference between someone getting mad within reason, and someone showing rage for literally no real reason.
An abusive relationship doesn’t come out of nowhere. Learn to trust your instincts and detect those early warning signs so you can get out before you’re in.
Ask Yourself These Questions:
1 – Do you find yourself apologizing to him for no reason other than that whatever you said or did, upset him?
2 – Do you avoid certain conversations because you anticipate his disproportionate negative reactions?
3 – Are you afraid of him?
4 – Do you find yourself covering or making excuses for him? Are you so embarrassed by his actions or words that you find yourself apologizing to others for him? Do you try to rationalize the way he acts to yourself and others? Are you lying about what he said or did?
5 – If you really listen to the way he speaks to you, would you say he orders you to do things, and threatens you with consequences? Does he speak as if he's in charge of you? Does he ever listen to you, or care at all that you are upset by the way he speaks to you? Does your opinion matter as much as his, in his mind.
If you said yes to any ONE of these 5 questions, then your partner is a person you do not want to be involved with.
The moment you know
Every woman in an abusive relationship had a moment of reveal, like the one I had at that first date.
I could have tried to explain to him that all I did was ask him to order for me. I could have calmed him down and said no one was trying to make him look stupid, and I could have eaten whatever he ordered. But those would have been poor reactions on my part, because they would have perpetuated the date. They would have validated for him that he can behave irrationally and aggressively with me. Explaining myself would have been the dumbest thing I could have done. The best thing was the only thing I did - I removed myself from that situation. I did nothing to draw him in, I didn't try to engage him. I simply left.
I don’t think it takes a special talent to see that first sign of trouble. I think the problem isn’t in recognizing it, it’s in trusting that recognition and getting out.
I was fortunate that he revealed his true colors so quickly at the onset of a first date. Some don't, some are sneaky and conniving, some can lead you on. But whatever the case, there is a point where they reveal themselves. That's when you get out. That's when you trust yourself.
Every lady deserves a gentlemen. The term gentleman by definition, refers to chivalrous, courteous or honorable man. There is something terribly less than honorable about any male that scares or harms you.
A Bronx Tale - The Door Test
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