Tag Archives: Psychology Today

Men to Avoid: How to Spot Them and Thwart Them

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As someone who has dated a bunch of different people over my lifetime and failed to find the real Mr. Right, I know a little something about what types of men to AVOID.  An  article in the June 2012 issue of Psychology Today titled DIFFICULT PEOPLE: How to Handle Whiners, Manipulators, Bullies and More prompted me to think about some of these men and the telltale signs that indicated I should RUN AWAY from them as fast as possible.

So in the spirit of sharing some of my knowledge gained through experience (and the experiences of others) and the desire to help us all find a good, healthy match I will begin a series on Men To Avoid: How to Spot Them and Thwart Them.

The first type of man I would like to bring up is the braggart.

My father once told me that if someone has to repeatedly tell you how fabulous they are they probably are not fabulous at all. Fabulous people are simply fabulous and you can figure this out for yourself. The late Carnegie Melon Professor, Randy Pausch of The Last Lecture fame, reinforced this idea in his now famous lecture when he notes that one should pay attention to ones actions rather than their words.

Telltale signs of the braggart:

He feels must tell you everything about himself on the first date.  You will barely get a word in edgewise though he may even deign to ask you a couple of questions he will probably cut you off to talk more about himself. But before the evening is over you will know a lot about his divorce, his ex-wife and HER problems, his career and how critical he was to his company/country/team, what clubs he belongs to, the prestigious places he vacations, how he absolutely must fly first class, how much his former or current house(s) cost and the names of all his most famous and influential friends. He will bore you by literally telling you how wonderful he is, what a great catch.

WARNING: He is really a used car salesman trying to sell you a lemon.

EXAMPLE DATE:

A friend set me up with this man as on the outside he appeared to have many of the characteristics I am looking for in a mate  such as a good sense of humor, established in his career, available (as in definitely divorced), has lived overseas with strong ties to France, interested in travel, food, the performing arts and is involved in charity work.

We met for dinner and he seemed very nice – at first.  Then he started talking about his divorce and how his ex had screwed him over which took up about 30 minutes.  He regaled me with tales of his affairs and how clever he was to keep all seventeen of them from his wife. He shared how his children won’t talk to him though he considers himself a great father. He dropped names of people, places and events.  Then he spent another 30 minutes telling me how honest, loving and caring he is. It was all I could do to keep from laughing out loud -or crying from boredom and sadness of how clueless this guy was.

The food was fantastic, however!

After I made it clear to him that I was uninterested in meeting him again he hounded me with texts for days trying to convince me what a great guy he is and how I should reconsider – completely disrespecting the boundary I set.

This type of person makes a poor relationship candidate.  The are unable to step outside of their own head to be empathetic or very much care about you and the things that are important to you – one of the keys to relationship success. The best course of action is to just say “No” to this person and avoid engagement of any other sort.

Do you have any stories about braggarts you would like to share?

 

DATING TIP:  Always carry enough money to get you home via cab or public transportation on the first few dates with someone so you can feel confident in your ability to escape a bad date if  you wish.

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The Right Stuff

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While visiting my mom over the holidays, I picked up the February 2012 issue of Psychology Today and read an article titled “Are You With The Right Mate?” by Rebecca Webber.  What struck me as particularly interesting was the theory behind this article that much of what makes a long term relationship successful and satisfying is not compatibility but rather by having certain qualities, the absence of addiction and abuse, coupled with a willingness to self-asses and grow plus a genuine interest in putting forth the effort.  This article gave me some insight on why my previous relationships failed and what I should really be looking for in a future mate (in addition to some insight on what I need to work on myself). My friend, Dr. Leticia Flores sums this up as, “Finding a person with compatible neurosis.” (She is very smart.)

The first step is to understand that another person lacks the power to make us happy.  We are responsible for our own happiness in spite of other people.  According to the article everyone reaches a point of disillusionment in a relationship which is the ending of the ever so wonderful infatuation phase- that heady fun beginning part of love or as I like to call it, natures intoxicating trick to induce procreation. Often at this transition point, one sort of “wakes up” and thinks “Oh my gosh! Did I really choose this person? They are totally wrong for me!  AGGGHHHH!”. According to Christine Meinecke, a clinical psychologist from Des Moines, this is the point where we Americans typically blame our partner for our unhappiness but in reality it is a sign for us to work on ourselves.

I really enjoyed reading that because after 30 or so propositions from married men (It happens approximately once per month- seriously- and usually over a business related lunch predicated by the words, “My wife just doesn’t understand me.” – fodder for an upcoming blog) I have come up with the pat response, “That is very flattering but you may get a more satisfying experience by engaging a therapist and working on yourself.”  In other words- I already understand this concept that it really isn’t about the other person it is about being responsible for yourself.

This disillusion is necessary, however for the real relationship to have a chance to grow.  So rather than a panic moment , it is a good thing.  It is an invitation to examine our needs, our fantasies about relationships and how we might contribute to the relationship to make it better and more satisfying for ourselves and our partners.

So long term committed relationships are not about finding the right person but more about becoming the right person.  The trick is finding someone who has the right stuff to work on a relationship with you.

According to the article the characteristics to look for in a potential mate are:

  1. A sense of humor
  2. An even temper
  3. A willingness to overlook your flaws
  4. A sensitivity to you and what you care about
  5. An ability to express caring

All of those with the exception of number 3 you can figure out through dating. That initial rose colored glasses phase of attraction may prevent one from seeing the potential mates flaws clearly so I guess this is where knowing yourself and your bottom line limits comes in handy.

UCLA psychologist Thomas Bradbury says that a willingness of both partners to be open and vulnerable; to listen and care about each other is what makes people the right mates for one another.

Traits that impede relationships include:

  1. chronic lying
  2. chronic worrying or neuroticism
  3. emotional overactivity
  4. proneness to anger
  5. a propensity to harbor grudges
  6. low self-esteem
  7. poor impulse control
  8. a tendency towards aggression
  9. self-orientation rather than an other-orientation
I fail to understand the meaning of several of these danger signs but am determined to learn what they mean and which ones I need to overcome within myself in order to be the best option I can be for relationship success.

Addicts, gamblers and serial cheaters are all in the “bad choice” category.  I have been down the addict road and know for sure that that is impossible.

So the best chance one has for a fulfilling, committed, long-term relationship is to know yourself and be willing to express your needs and expose your inner life to your partner.  In this way we create a sense of connection and expand our capacity for intimacy.

If anyone cares to expand on the definition of 3,7 an 9 from the “things that make a relationship not work list” feel free.