Narcissists, bullies and other toxic people can be charming and exciting to be around when you first meet them. After all, bad boys are often what get our juices flowing. No offence intended to other Doms out there, but with all honesty there’s a fine line between toxicity and dominance and we’re actually sharing a lot of the same traits.
The thing is, when we’re in the early stages of meeting someone, we’re usually out to have fun and we give people the benefit of the doubt and don’t over-analyse their behavior all that much. If someone interests us, we’re flirting and looking for the positives, so subtle red flags can fly unseen.
But no-one wants to be in a relationship with a toxic person, so beyond a one-night-stand (and for some of us, even before a one-night-stand), you really do want to have weeded them out.
So, how do you tell one from the other, while keeping it casual and having fun on your early dates?
Even if you are wearing your rose colored new-relationship-energy glasses, here are six really obvious red flags:
1. He Can’t Respect Anything
There’s a well-known tip that says you should observe how your date treats the waiter and other people you come in contact with during the evening. You can extend that out further: if they park in the disabled lot, throw trash on the floor at the cinema, and generally don’t seem to give a toss about other people then you have been warned, he’ll probably treat you the same way.
2. Nothing is His Fault
If you hadn’t wanted to go to the early show he wouldn’t have got that speeding ticket. He’s having problems at work because his boss is a jerk. Any time he makes a mistake or encounters conflict it’s not his fault. That kind of attitude isn’t going to change and it will prevent him from growing and maturing, and over time it will make your life an emotional misery.
It’s annoying, but the signal he’s also sending is that your words just aren’t as important as his. Most of us have an inbuilt set of social mechanisms that let us listen and respond, so if he can’t do that then it’s because he’s not paying high regard to your thoughts and feelings. Self-centredness is a charm that will soon wear thin in a relationship.
4. He’s Just Plain Rude
Idiots, fatties, poor people, clueless newbies… no-one escapes his crushing observations. The world is full of potential targets and he has an eagle eye for criticism. Why does he do this? Because he’s building up his own ego by tearing others down, and don’t think that you will escape having your own self-esteem hammered by it in the future.
5. He’s King of the Humble Brag
He’s more knowledgable than your average Dom and he’s better with his tools than anyone he knows. His whips are made by the best local craftsmen from the hides of animals that have been ethically slaughtered and his aim is true. His ropes are the finest quality and he knows some Shibari that only direct descendants of Japanese monks have previously had access to. How do you know that? He’s casually dropped it into the conversation once or twice or three times. In the future it’ll mean you’re never quite sure what’s true and what’s hyperbole and your own achievements will always be overshadowed by his own inflated ego.
6. He Doesn’t Just Enjoy the Spotlight, He Needs It
Most of us enjoy an occasional turn in the spotlight, but if he seems to need constant validation from others then he’s probably not secure in his own skin. A wise person (perhaps Yoda) said: “to be a Master, you must first Master yourself”. This is the opposite behaviour to that. It is telling you that he doesn’t think his own validation is enough, he constantly needs it from outside. Until he learns to love himself, he’ll always be searching for approval (and it will never be enough). Is this the kind of person you want to give control to?