Monday, March 16, 2015

The 13 Types of Men That Every Woman Should Date

The older we get, if we’re single, the more relationships that we have. Some people might find this depressing but, I, on the other hand, think it’s incredible that the world is diverse and vast enough to keep providing us with new options. During conversations with friends, we came to realize that none of us really stick to the same "type" but instead date guys that are different from one another...which is not only fun, but is a constant learning experience. 

I asked my girlfriends all over the world what type of men are "must dates" and most of the types below reflect the majority. My guy friends wanted me to tell them what the women said. 

Before we get into types, The following 5 qualities are what the most women agreed on wanting in a man: 1. Across the board, every woman, no matter what her “type” is, said they wanted a man who is a good cook. Which, to me, is obvious and obligatory for a guy. So men, if you can’t cook: learn. 2. A good dancer. Good dancers are super sexy and a definite hot commodity. So Twinkle Toes, get your dancing shoes on and get ready to be swarmed. 3. Funny. A man who makes us laugh and doesn’t take himself or life too seriously. 4. A good dresser. Know what works and what doesn’t. Be adaptable and appropriate. This is all relative to “type” though. 5. Romantic. Again, what constitutes as romantic depends on the woman and the type. But I will tell you this: every woman wants to be feel appreciated and desired.

But those are just qualities. We’re talking about types. So without further ado here are the:

13 Types of Men that Every Woman Should Date*
(plus 7 bonuses)

The Older Guy: There’s the age old cliche of the older man and younger woman. Older (I'm talking 10+ years here) men are important to date because when we are with them, we experience relationships in an alternative way. Older men talk about different topics, introduce us to new things, and have a strong sense of self. which makes it easier to get to know them. They know what they want, they're less likely to play games, and they tend to have their act together in a way that's attractive, especially if the guys our own age are still flailing about or sowing their wild oats. When I was in university, I dated a guy who was 10 years older than me, and though my friends made jokes, I loved the fact that his goal for the week was not trying to find a different house party (or coed) every night...but instead talked to me about current events, books and theatre, and also gave incredible insight and advice regarding my career. (Which he still does actually.)
Cons: Older men tend to be more stubborn/set in their ways. Can also be patronizing or treat you like a trophy.

The Mr. Good On Paper: We all have qualities that we look for in a partner. I have a LIST ;) and while it's important to have standards and an idea of what we want, in actuality, we might find that what we think we want doesn't actually translate from paper to real life. It doesn't make sense, really, because we “should” be compatible with them, yet we just aren’t. Discovering this is actually a positive because it reaffirms that: when it comes to love, relationships and people in general, we can't control or place limitations on them. We're reminded that a checklist doesn't equal chemistry and that we need to keep our options open and not judge a book by its table of contents.
Cons: There aren’t really any aside from wondering “Why can’t I like this person?”

The Boy Toy aka Younger Man: Ah the younger man. (We'll say 5+ years difference) Younger guys are fun, sexy, refreshing, and usually a lot more devoted and adoring than their counterparts closer in age. I'm not sure why that is, but it seems to be the rule of thumb. But more importantly, younger men are less jaded, less serious, and usually aren't allowing themselves to be held back by their quest to "settle down." As a result, being with them reminds us why dating is FUN rather than stressful. We can let go, live in the present, and just enjoy the moment (and relationship) rather than obsessively stress about the future.  Despite still being teased about being a cradle robber, one of the best relationships I had was with a guy 8 years my junior. 
 I can honestly say that it made me believe in uncomplicated love again, which has been pretty influential in keeping perspective that relationships, which will at times have their tribulations, aren't actually supposed to be really hard and complicated. Most of the time they're supposed to be good.
Cons: they can be immature, don’t have same time restrictions as women, they may not be amused when you refer to them as a "Boy Toy" :)

The Player:  Dating a player is an immensely crucial relationship lesson. Players are usually charming, good looking, fun and they draw you in only to break your heart (after driving you crazy.) So why recommend dating one? Easy: Because they make you appreciate a good thing when you have it. And they also make you a better, more considerate person especially in future dates/relationships.
Cons: Your ego and feelings will be hurt. Don’t worry, you’ll get over it.

The Career guy/Workaholic: Ambition is sexy. It doesn’t matter whether their career path has them in a boardroom, strumming at open mic night or scrubbing toilets. It's not about money or prestige but more about being with someone who is together, driven, and passionate about what they do. Being around people like that is inspiring and energizing and it often makes us set higher goals for ourselves. But there has to be a balance, and dating someone who can’t  or won't balance makes us recognize just how essential equilibrium and being able to prioritize are. 
Cons:  A job is a lifestyle... not just a job, it will always come first and you will constantly be sidelined in favor of work, which feels pretty horrible. Workaholics are often selfish, and you will be compromising all the time. It gets old fast. Remember: You're never too busy to get what you want, so neither should they be.

Mr. Artistic: Musician or painter, writer or actor (etc)...Talent is a turn on. Not just because we, as a rule, like things that are good, but also when people are performing or showcasing their work, they are in their element: radiant, immersed, and oozing a magnetic confidence that draws us to them. They inspire us and make us feel things. (I don't think I'd find John Legend attractive without his melt-inducing voice) It also means they are passionate and can commit, because mastering any art form requires time, desire, and dedication.
Cons: They often work crazy hours, they are away a lot, they can be elitist, John Legend is already married.

The Academic/Intellectual/Nerd: Being intellectually challenged by someone is not only stimulating and interesting, but it is also humbling to be reminded that we don’t know it all.  You have a whole different kind of caliber of conversation: exhilarating debates, constant challenges, and well informed discussions that you walk away from, having actually learned something. It's invigorating. 
Cons: It can get a little stuffy, condescending or elitist, depending on the people. Also, there's no such thing as simple.

Someone that's a Different Race/Culture/Religion: We often surround ourselves with like-minded people because they understand us, and we share the same sense of fun and point of view. But this can be boring and stagnant. Dating someone who is different whether it be their race, their religion, or their culture will open up our mind and realities to a whole other world. We will find ourselves thinking about things that never previously occurred to us and might even find our previous beliefs and conceptions catechized.
Cons: We might face resistance from their/our friends/family. Sometimes the differences can be too much to overcome.

The Insanely Hot-but-Boring Guy: There are some people who are just insanely good looking. So good looking that we are, at times, lost for words when we look at them (and we can't stop staring.) When we start dating them we can't believe our luck, other women are envious and drool over the man sitting across from us at the restaurant. So we date them, and gaze at them and upload photos of them on facebook and Instagram (So many likes and comments!) only to find that, they're really, REALLY boring. Or conceited. Or annoying. Or anything unappealing. And we ignore it for a bit because, COME ON, he's a Prada model. Except after a while he stops dazzling us and we start thinking maybe he's not so great after all. We realize that while being physically attracted to our partner is obviously important, that looks aren't everything and we need something more. So we end it...but obviously save photos ;)
Cons: You will probably never date someone that hot again.

The “Not My Physical Type”: The first thing we notice about someone is what they look like, and our reaction to it. We may even have a type and find ourselves dating people who look exactly the same. And while I tend to gravitate towards men who are over 6’2 and have blond hair and blue eyes, restrictions like that mean we’re limiting ourselves and perhaps eliminating someone people we may be compatible with that we wouldn’t know about if we’re being close minded. So if you have chemistry with someone that you wouldn’t normally be attracted to (the short guy, the weedy guy, the buff guy, the metrosexual etc…whatever is different than your usual type) then go for it. Date them and see what happens, you might be surprised.
Cons: We might have such self imposed limitations that we can’t get over them

The Bad Boy or Just Someone Totally Inappropriate: This is different than the Player because the Bad Boy/JSTI is not necessarily a womanizer, but just someone who makes you feel like a rebel, someone you wouldn’t bring home to meet your parents. They don’t come in any shape or form (but I did get a LOT of “tattooed, Harley driving” comments) but really in this day and age, someone inappropriate could be your boss, your ex boyfriends best friend, or even  someone who has staunchly different views than yours. Just someone who makes you feel bad in a good way.
Cons: Relationships can’t sustain on excitement and thrill alone.

The Best Friend/Friend:  Romantic relationships that are founded on friendship tend to either be incredibly successful or completely disastrous. Dating a friend works so well in theory because we get to skip the whole awkwardness and tension that comes with meeting someone new. Plus, we trust them, are comfortable with them, and we genuinely like being around them. AND, they already know all of our attributes and detriments, which means we can just be ourselves. It’s easy and relaxing but exciting in a whole new way. It is a reminder that we are always learning about people, even the ones we thought we knew so well.
Cons: Being friends with someone and dating someone are totally different experiences. Liking someone platonically does not mean you’ll like them romantically, even if you think you will or want to. Also, knowing someone means that we have higher expectations for them and we also get frustrated more easily if they annoy or anger us because they should “know” how that something make us feel. Or “How don’t you know that?” Finally, if it ends, you might lose them as a friend, which is a double blow. 

The Nice Guy: If I had a type, it would be The Nice Guy, though my friend Josephine would argue that my type is “men who look like dentists.”* Nice guys are GREAT: they call when they say they will, they’re considerate and sweet, they introduce you to their friends and family, they don’t play games, and most of all, you can trust them because they’re honest and reliable. There’s very rarely drama or guessing games, which is also a plus. It’s important to date a nice guy because, by treating us well and with respect, they show us how we should be treated and therefore we start setting higher standards for ourselves, and remind us to not settle for less than we deserve.
Cons: For me, none. For some, they’ll argue the nice guy is boring. Having a bit of an edge is important.

Honorable mentions:
Scandinavian: Because everyone deserves a Viking
Red heads: Because they’re rare, and every redhead I know is awesome.
Athlete/Health nut: Because they're healthy, fit, and usually bring that out in you.
Life of the Party: Because these guys are exciting, always fun and up for a good time.
Shy Guy: Because they're usually the hidden gems
Polyglots: Because speaking multiple languages is HOT. And they're great to travel with. 
The Wanderlust/Adventurer: Because there's never a dull moment, and you'll see/experience cool places with someone whose excitement is contagious.

Something most of these men have in common are that they are passionate about something, which makes them more interesting to be around. A good date/relationship will not only entertain you, but will also challenge you in one way or another. In some cases, these will develop into actual relationships. Others it only takes a date or few before realizing, "Eh, not for me." But these are all enriching experiences as they help direct us to figuring out whats important in a relationship, what values and personality qualities we need, and how to walk away with more than we went in with.  We make mistakes or watch other make them and gain insight from those. These are all eye opening experiences that provide us with the never ending opportunity of learning more about ourselves and others. 

*Authors note:
1. Obviously someone can be more than one type, in fact most are.. 
2. I have never dated a dentist. Or even seen/met a dentist that I was attracted to

Thanks to:
1. My dynamic, vivacious, fascinating women that I am fortunate to call friends for their input, and general love and support
2. The extraordinary, enchanting, and effervescent men who I was lucky enough to date, therefore allowing me the ability to impart some firsthand knowledge in this post (And for encouraging me to include you as examples!!!! Hope I didn’t disappointment in my endorsements)

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

How To Tell if You're Dating a Sociopath

There are a lot of labels for people and behaviours. Labels help us define things, and to know how we should think and feel about certain people and situations. They serve as a road map for how to behave and react. Psychology is still a relatively new science, with new conditions discovered all the time. Sometimes, these conditions are genuine, and a diagnosis can be highly beneficial, and sometimes they’re used to justify actions that wouldn’t normally be tolerated or acceptable.

I was unlucky enough to fall in love with a sociopath. I fell hard and fast and before I knew what was happening, it came crashing down around me. Breakups are never easy, they’re not supposed to be, but this one was exceptionally terrible and I found myself realizing, “There is something wrong with this man. This isn’t normal. People just don’t behave this way.”

So I did a little research and the things about sociopaths could’ve been written by me. It was such an accurate reflection of what I had been subjected to.  I, strong willed and independent woman, had been duped by a sociopath.  A master manipulator whose expertise is in charming, lying, and hurting. While it at least offered me an explanation as to how my dream man turned into a monster, it didn’t make my feelings any less real. The confusion, the pain, the anger. Those remained. I am grateful for my research though because not only did it shed some light on my relationship but it also made me acutely aware of the tell tale signs so that I could ensure that I would be able to avoid sociopaths in the future.

The definition of a sociopath is “a person with a personality disorder manifesting itself in extreme antisocial attitudes and behavior and a lack of conscience. “ Sociopaths are everywhere, unfortunately, and it’s likely that in our lifetime we will have encounters with these people. Often times, we won’t know the person is a sociopath, especially not initially, but their characteristics will present themselves once we establish a deeper, more ongoing relationship with them. It is then that we realize that something is not quite right. We still may not know that they’re a sociopath, but we instinctively will distance ourselves from them because of their behavior.

Here are some of the tell-tale signs that you’re in a relationship with a sociopath:

Being swept off of your feet/moving quickly: This is a bit tricky, because in the early stages of most relationships, we are in the honeymoon stage. We see the good, we can’t get enough of the other person, and it’s blissful. But there’s a fine line. A relationship with a sociopath is all consuming.  It takes over your life. They want to be with you ALL the time, or talk to you ALL the time. They make declarations and promises very early on. My ex loved me after two weeks, wanted to marry me and move in together after three. At the time I thought it was romantic. I was caught up in it. I thought it was cute that when I was away he wanted to Skype for hours every day. Or when I slept at my apartment he called me saying how lonely he was without me. I realize now that none of this was normal. People are supposed to take time to get to know each other. Sociopaths don’t do that because they want to ensnare you and don’t want to give you the time or space to think about what’s happening. It’s all part of their game.

Excessive Charm and the “Soulmate Factor”: Sociopaths are incredibly charming, at least initially. They’re great at getting what they want and know how to make people feel special. Your early encounters with a sociopath will leave you thinking they’re fun, interesting, very likeable, and many cases sexually attractive.  In these encounters they listen to you and study you. They find out exactly how you think and what you want and then they give it to you. You are overjoyed because you think you’ve finally found someone who shares your values, thinks like you, wants the same things. They feel like your soulmate and probably even refer to themselves as such. They give you EXACTLY what it is you were looking for and make you feel happy, stable, and excited.  I was stupid, I had a list of qualities that I was looking for and I let my then boyfriend read it. I should’ve realized at the time that it was impossible that he could tick every item on the 100+ list, but he did. I couldn’t believe it. It was perfect. But that’s what sociopaths do. They also win over (most of) your friends and family. Their charm is only on the surface though, sociopaths have an agenda and use their charm to get something from people. None of it is real, in a way, they are con artists. It doesn’t take too long for their behavior to change which will be highly confusing and sometimes scary. . What to look for: someone who is excessively charming; someone who can happily exist in isolation for weeks at a time (this is because, despite the charm, they are deeply antisocial); someone who changes from delightful to cold in the blink of an eye; someone who seems to know exactly what to do or say to gain your confidence or affection.

Lack of shame/Blaming everyone else/Smear Campaigns. Sociopaths often do or say things that are terrible and heartless. While a non-sociopathic person would feel guilt or remorse for their actions, a sociopath has none. Many sociopaths are highly successful people but they got there by stepping on and hurting people to achieve their goals.  My ex would proudly recount the ways he achieved some of his successes, which were often at the expense of others. He also was blameless. Every problem or stress he had, be it work, in life, with an ex etc was not his fault, of course not. His boss was crazy, his ex was insane, he even found ways to blame and guilt trip me for things.  With a sociopath, there is always an excuse for why things went wrong and how it was no fault of their own. It’s because sociopaths don’t believe they are doing anything wrong, they do not accept blame, they blame other people, and they’re not sorry. If they say they’re sorry it’s a lie. They will also actively run smear campaigns against people, usually those who threaten them in some way. What to look for:  If the person you’re dating brags about the people they stepped on while aiming to accomplish; if every failure or stress in their life is someone elses fault; they run smear campaigns, they feel no remorse (remember, saying sorry doesn’t mean you’re sorry. Real remorse is when people take action to rectify their wrongdoings.)

Constant Lying: Sociopaths lie all the time, and a lot of the time, they actually believe in their lies, or believe that by keeping the lie going, that it will somehow become the truth. Everyone tells lies here and there, but a sociopaths lies are on a grander scale, and if they’re caught in a lie, they will go to great lengths to cover up the lies or make you believe them. They are obsessed with image and appearing a certain way, so these lies are usually to keep that image intact. I caught my ex in SO MANY lies it was staggering.  I am still uncovering the lies. In fact, I’ve come to realize that almost everything he said to me, every part of our relationship, was in fact, a lie. I found myself speechless at times, because some things were so shocking I felt sucker punched. The lies ranged from little to massive, and, at first, I’d call him out on them, only to hear some long explanation or excuse. Never an admission of guilt, sociopaths don’t do that. I found inconsistencies with his stories, with his past and after a while I just stopped asking. There was no point. Whatever he said, I wouldn’t believe.  It is also common, for, when a lie if about to blow up in their face, that the sociopath will seek you out to confess. This is to gain trust or garner sympathy, when in actuality it should have the opposite effect, as they are only doing it because they have no other choice. My ex dropped a bombshell on me, and initially, I was supportive but then realized that he’d been lying about this thing to my face every day for A YEAR. In no world is that acceptable. What to look for: inconsistencies, lies, and their reaction to being caught in a lie (do they keep lying to cover it up?)

Being “Taken Care Of”/Sharing: Sociopaths are very good at presenting a front of equality and strength. They will often use words like “ours” to make you feel like you’re in this together, “our apartment, our money, our future” and they will go to great lengths to cultivate that image and to make you feel as though they’re providing for and taking care of you. It could be as simple as bringing you cups of tea every morning or on a larger scale like offering to financially support you.  They will help fix problems in your life all under the guise of partnership and “us.” It’s not real, and they will take it away as quickly as they handed it over.

Being calm in every circumstance. Now, not everyone who is unflappable is a sociopath, but some of them are. Sociopaths tend to have little or no reaction to highly emotional events or circumstances. This might seem appealing at first. I know personally, that I loved this about my ex. I can, admittedly be a little neurotic at times, or can have outbursts when I feel nervous about something, and he was never bothered by a thing. I thought I had hit the jackpot to have such a relaxed, easy going man who was undeterred by my silliest moments, only to realize later it wasn’t just those moments, but all moments. Which, if I had paid attention, and listened to the way he recounted reactions to earlier situations, I would’ve known something was off. What to look for: lack of outward anxiety or stress ever; remaining unflustered in dangerous or volatile situations; the same emotional reaction to everything.

Intelligence. Most sociopaths are incredibly bright. They use this intelligence to further their agendas and to manipulate people. Sociopaths are usually very successful.

Manipulative: Sociopaths use their charms, brains, and observational skills to figure out ones weakness, and use this for exploitation. They like to be in control of every situation and tend to avoid other strong willed people. They are comfortable deceiving people to get what they want. Like I said before, my ex told me stories about how he achieved certain results. He also manipulated me daily. Sociopaths are all about control, and they hate to lose. The second he felt that I was wavering or about to leave (this happened more times than I can count) he switched back to Mr. Delightful. Made more promises, spouted off hollow apologies, implored me to not give up on him. And I listened. Not because I am an idiot. But because I loved him, and didn’t realize that he was a sociopath, so wanted to give him the benefit of the doubt. I mean, everyone has off days/weeks/months, right? And as a partner, we’re supposed to be there for better or for worse. What to look for: someone always needing to be in control; someone who will lie to get what they want; someone who surrounds themselves with “weaker” or more vulnerable people.

Abuse:  When I first read about the traits for sociopaths and saw abuse listed I thought, “Well…maybe he’s not one. He never lay a hand on me.” But I delved into it and saw that, while some sociopaths are violent (sometimes with animals or defensless people) almost all of them are actually MENTALLY and EMOTIONALLY abusive.  Let’s for a second look at the definition of abuse:  1. to use something for the wrong purpose in a way that is harmful or morally wrong. 2.  to treat someone cruelly or violently 3. to speak to someone rudely or cruelly. So basically, purposely hurting someone. Being mean to them, insulting them, neglecting them, criticizing them, all with malicious intent. Of course, people say mean things to one another from time to time, it happens. But emotional and mental abuse is doing this repeatedly and without remorse. The bottom line is: relationships are supposed to make us feel happy and secure. If we are with someone who makes us feel bad about ourselves and who we are afraid of, that is abuse.  What to look for: angry, violent outbursts; emotional, mental, or physical abuse; someone who is outwardly calm but who could-and does-snap at any moment; walking on eggshells and stressed out by their inflicted abuse; someone who insults or hurts you regularly.

A massive ego. Sociopaths believe that they are the greatest thing in the world. They have a huge sense of entitlement and truly believe that they are better than everyone else. They are completely narcissistic, have an inflated ego, and are unresponsive to criticism.  What to look for: narcissism; a person with a large superiority complex; a person who can’t handle or doesn’t recognize criticism; someone who only cares about their own opinion; someone who spends a lot of time in front of the mirror; someone who has an unrealistic view of their abilities.

Uninterrupted eye contact: Sociopaths usually give intense uninterrupted eye contact, whether it is a way to further their own means or to make you feel uncomfortable.

Lack of REAL friends and connections: If someone has very few or no real friends to speak of, they may be a sociopath. Most people enjoy human interaction and feel it is essential to their lives, whereas sociopaths few people merely as tools to get something they want. When they’ve achieved that, they have no use for the other person and drop them. If they do have “friends” they will be superficial as sociopaths lack the ability to have meaningful connections. They can often go weeks or months with little to no contact with their family or friends. My ex is a charming man who people like to be around. He is also someone whose friendships with people developed because he wanted something from them. Almost every single friendship of his began because he needed or wanted something from them, something he shared with me when I asked how he met/knew them. This is not to say that he doesn’t “like” them now, because he might. But he doesn’t really talk about himself or share things with them. He also encouraged me to not share personal things with MY friends and family. What to look for: someone with no friends from their high school or university days; someone who has a distant or non-existent relationship with their family; someone with very few friends, or friends that they only have a superficial connection with; someone who doesn’t seem to need to be around people; someone who is intensely present and then drops off of the face of the Earth; someone who chooses friendships based on what the other person can do for them.

Lack of empathy: Hand in hand with their hugo ego and superiority complex, sociopaths lack empathy and don’t feel sorry for people. One of the most fundamental and necessary qualities one should possess is compassion and a sociopath has none. Perhaps they will feign interest but not actually care.  Often they will belittle or blame the person for their hardships or they simply do not care. Why would they? It’s of no consequence to them. (At some point, this will be directed at you and it will be confusing and scary because it is unrecognizable from the person you once knew.)  My ex used to say how incredible it was how much I cared about other people, and how they responded to me. Perhaps this is true, but I think what he meant was, how incredible it was TO HIM, because it’s not something he could at all relate to. He’d feign interest but not care.

Isolates you: This kind of falls into the sweeping off your feet category. Sociopaths want all of you all the time. They are enigmatic and mesmerizing so it’s not hard to fall under their spell and find yourself spending less and less time with other people. It doesn’t feel like isolation at the time, it feels like you’re living in your own little bubble. Now, it’s common knowledge that, once in a relationship, we do have to balance our time so see our friends and family less than we used to. Sociopaths are fine with you not seeing them at all. Or being present every time you do. If you’re in a social setting, they will find ways to isolate you, whether it be pulling you into an intense conversation or being overly affectionate. They see you as theirs. I found myself missing events or parties, or wrapped up in a corner with my ex when I did go out, my friendships felt less important and necessary because I had everything I needed. This is what a sociopath wants you to believe and think. Luckily my friends were forgiving and welcomed me back. What to look for: An all consuming love, someone who wants to be with you all the time, doesn't like sharing you with friends, encourages you to stay in with them (or go out just the two of you) someone who dissuades you from sharing your life, feelings etc with anyone else.

Immature:  Sociopaths are immature, even if they appear not to be. This is highlighted by their selfishness, lack of reliability, pathological lying, and inability to deal with confrontation. They can’t be told they’re wrong or handle any kind of comment that could be deemed as a criticism. They will walk away, throw a fit, storm out, change the subject, berate…whatever it is to prevent them from having an adult conversation which would require them to either be honest or apologize. They also have an unrealistic view of themselves and life. If life or people don’t behave exactly the way that they want or expect, they can’t handle it and withdraw. Mature adults work through challenges. They face the, head on, and come up with real solutions. They don’t run away or give up. They don’t quit when things aren’t perfect, because you can’t.

Promiscuity: All kind of people cheat, not just sociopaths but it is one of the defining characteristics of a sociopath. My ex was no different. He cheated and lied. Not just to me, but to her, and to our friends. He said we weren’t together when we were. He told me I was the only one, that he loved me, he was serious and wanted to marry me...we even made plans to get married. All while dating another person, even when he and I were still living together, Only someone truly duplicitous can do that.

 Extreme selfishness: Sociopaths only care about themselves. It won’t be evident at first as they will shower you with love and attention initially but at some point, their true colours show. They won’t do anything that they don’t want to do. They won’t take your needs, desires, or feelings into consideration, and it will be very evident in their actions. They’ll act the way they want to act even if they know it hurts or upsets you. They’ll expect you to conform into their life exactly the way they want you to and will be angry and resentful if you don’t. They will not make an effort to fir into your life. What to Look For: when it’s all about them. It could be something small like, only sleeping at their apartment or only going out with their friends and coworkers.  Or it could be much bigger like missing events important to you, blatantly disregarding your feelings.

Neediness: Sociopaths come off as strong, and they are but their power is fueled by their control over others. They NEED it. They will demand a lot of your time and energy and expect you to be available and receptive whenever they want you to be. If they feel like you’re slipping away they will take drastic measures to not lose you because they enjoy the game and power.

Unready for responsibilities: When we first meet sociopaths, as I said, they come off as charming, successful and together. We’re drawn to them and they make us all kinds of promises. They might even seemingly take steps follow through on  these promises. The problem is that they can’t actually commit to the things they say they can.  Whether it’s them being unwilling to give up their 100% selfish lifestyle, or simply the inability to hold up their end of the bargain, they are unreliable, and can’t be responsible to anything other than themselves and their own agenda.

While I am not a medical professional, I have researched sociopaths, as well as spoken to experts about them. What I can offer is first hand experience as I was deeply involved in a long term, serious relationship with a sociopath.

The thing about sociopaths that is tough is that they are amazing when you first meet them. They’re loving, and charming, and a total dream come true. They make you feel things and think things that you never did before. They sweep you off your feet and make you feel like the most special person in the world. Then they flip out. It happens without warning and then all of a sudden, they’re a completely different person. Unrecognizable. Sociopaths CAN’T be in romantic relationships, especially not serious ones, because it requires them to behave like a normal human being. They are forced to do things like communicate, compromise, and commit, none of which are possible for them. They don’t like people. They only like themselves and the unrealistic existence that they’ve created for themselves. They immediately start to panic and lash out in a destructive and abusive (mental, emotional, physical) way.

I think, in my case, a lot of it had to do with the fact that I am not a weak person, that I have a strong sense of self, empathy and morality and I called him out for his unacceptable behaviour. Or I discovered his lies and questioned him. Sociopaths don’t like that. It was then that he changed from being a great, committed boyfriend to a monster.

My biggest fault was not leaving him immediately, thinking that we could fix it. While every relationship has issues and rough patches, a relationship with a sociopath doesn’t get better, it only gets worse. It doesn’t matter how strong or confident you are, sociopaths will break you down and destroy you if you stay. The only option is to leave, not look back, breathe a sigh of relief, and try and be more aware next time. If someone seems to good to be true: they probably are. If something is moving at lightning speed:  it will probably crash and burn, if someone has very few real friends: there’s probably a reason.  The list goes on and on. As I said, spotting sociopaths is hard at the beginning, but there are signs to look for, and once things start popping up, it’s essential to just GET OUT AND FAR AWAY. Date someone who actually likes people.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

What To Do If You've Been Cheated On

When I found out that the man I was going to marry had been cheating on me… I was relieved. That might seem like an odd choice of emotion, but it’s the truth. Ok, fine, for about ten seconds I was angry. I want to say that I was shocked when I uncovered the deception that spanned approximately half of our relationship but I wasn’t, the signs were all there.  I was perhaps a little surprised, only because he had always expressed contempt and disdain for people who cheated and declared it was something he could never do, especially as he had been cheated on by all of his previous girlfriends. So based on that, I believed him.

My relief was two-fold. For one, I finally felt validated about my feelings of doubt that plagued our relationship since April. I am not a jealous or insecure person, but his sketchy actions made me one. I am, on most accounts, pretty rational and laid back, but with him I was so tightly wound and stressed that I could snap at any second.   This is because I knew something was deeply wrong with our relationship but whenever I tried to address it he lashed out at me, along with other things some of which I discussed in my last post. The truth is the way he treated me throughout the course of our relationship was completely unacceptable and deplorable. Even if he hadn't physically cheated, he was cheating me out of a loving, fair relationship.

He kicked me out of our apartment, something which came out of the blue, was not mutual but apparently was the only way to “save” our relationship. A week later, I miscarried our baby, which the doctor said was most likely due to high levels of stress and anxiety, all of which were brought on by him. His actions and treatment of me at the time made me think that I was going crazy, that maybe I WAS an unsupportive girlfriend, that perhaps he was going through a rough time. I hated myself for feeling stressed, paranoid, and doubt ridden. So finding out that I my feelings were founded in truth and that he is just a manipulative lying cheat? Flooded me with peace and relief. 

The 2nd fold of relief was that we recently got back together but I was having doubts about giving the relationship another shot. I realized I couldn’t do it, and ended it. The next day, I found out about his long term infidelity (that was still going on despite his proclamations of love for me and how serious he was to make it work between us. He even sent me emails saying that whilst on vacation with her!) made things crystal clear. I was done. Moved on, no looking back, good riddance.

It’s never easy to find out that someone we loved/cared about betrayed us but if it happens try and keep the following frame of mind/action

It’s Not Your Fault: Nothing you did or didn’t do makes someone cheating on you your fault, regardless of how they might try and spin it. It is THEIR fault. 100% And don’t forget that. Also, don’t make excuses for them. Do Not. I don’t care how stressful work is, or how hard moving in together was, or how much money they lost etc. Life happens. There are better ways of dealing with negative issues than betrayal.

Don’t Expect an Explanation or Apology: Don’t ask or want a reason. There isn’t one. At least not one that will actually justify it or make you feel remotely better. As for an apology? Are you owed one? Absolutely. Will you get one? Probably not. If you do, will it really make you feel better?

Don’t Let it Define You or Affect your Future Relationships: While our pasts are important in shaping who we are, we shouldn’t let them define or hinder our future. We have to just accept this bad experience as a one off and not go into future relationships expecting or fearing the same outcome. It’s  just one person, so don’t blame the rest of the population. Look at it this way: if you fall down the stairs, do you suddenly become terrified of stairs and refuse to take them ever again? Or grip onto the railing like it’s a life vest? No. because it’s a one off, and shouldn’t be expected.

Don’t Think About Revenge:  It is so tempting seek revenge on someone who has wronged us. To hurt them or anger them like they did us. But don’t. It’s not worth it. Not only will it solve nothing, but there is no need for you to lower yourself to that level. Let happiness and success be your revenge. Example:  My ex has a major aversion to leaving a digital footprint so I was tempted us use his name, job title, company, name of mistress etc in this post so that it would come on in a Google search on him. I knew he’d HATE that, which made me laugh to think about. But I didn’t, because really, I’m so much better than that.

Don't Blame the "Other" Woman or Man: it's easy to say snarky things about the person or people your partner cheated with but the truth is, unless they were a close friend of yours, then they have no responsibility to you. it is your partners responsibility to be faithful to you. The woman my ex was involved with, knew about me, but it's still not her fault. And as much as it's tempting to bash her the truth is that HE is the wrong one.

Don’t Be Sad: Breakups are hard. When my ex and I first ended things I was devastated, grieving this true love that I thought I was losing. When I found out the truth about him, it changed everything. I didn’t even cry. All of a sudden I realized what we had wasn’t special, and he isn’t a great guy, so I had no reason to be sad.  I still haven’t cried.

Trust Your Instincts: Unless you’re a doomsday seeker or excessively paranoid, if your instincts are telling you something, then you should probably listen. I ignored mine, against my better judgement and will never do that again. In fact, my first gut reaction to my ex when I met him four years ago was that he was a scumbag. Should’ve listened to myself :) 

Don’t Let Someone Else Control Your Feelings:  The only person in control of your feelings, your life, and your actions is you. Just like someone can choose to be faithful, you can choose to be positive vs negative, happy vs sad, productive vs lazy, to move on vs wallow. Take control of your life and don’t let someone else sooooo not worthy of your consideration waste a second more of your time.

Know Your Worth:  Everyone deserves to be in a relationship with someone who loves, values, and respects them. Someone who cheats on you,breaking your trust, hurting you, and potentially putting you in harms way (diseases etc) is not worthy of your love and commitment. Find someone who is. This also applies to people who are hooking up with someone in a relationship. You deserve to be with someone who makes you their #1. 

Move On: If someone cheats on you then end it with them and move on. It’s over anyway. It ended the minute they decided to break their commitment of fidelity to you. Are there exceptions? Yes, there are, of course. As I said in my last post, there are one off mistakes. Or more complicated situations. But my rule of thumb is, if the trust is gone, there is no room for a healthy relationship. Get out and move on. Don’t look back.

These are actually a lot simpler than they may seem. Once you decide that you won’t be sad and that you’re better off, the rest comes naturally.  I didn’t have to adjust at all, it was like I suddenly snapped into this mode.

I am not going to pretend that I am not disappointed. I am. Not because we broke up. I no longer believe that I “lost” anything.  I am disappointed that he chose to lie to me for so long.  By continuing to tell me that he  loved and wanted to marry me (a ruse kept up until January 5th and probably would’ve continued had I not told him it was over) he essentially wasted nine months of my life.  So I am disappointed about that but mostly relieved. Relieved I found out the truth. Relieved it wasn’t all in my head. Relieved, so very VERY relieved that I didn’t marry him or have children with him because then I would’ve been tied to him instead of able to walk away. Instead, I'm starting 2015 afresh. Free to do what I want, and available for someone who is worthy of me…and I couldn’t be happier.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

How to Tell if Someone is Cheating On You

Note: When I started writing this, I couldn’t stop. I went on and on, for several pages and realized that there was too much to cover in just one post, so I am splitting the entries into two “How to Tell if You’re Being Cheated On” and “What to Do if You’ve Been Cheated On.” As this subject is relevant and currently  deeply personal to me, I have done my best to remain objective and keep the tone as consistent as possible to my other entries. 

Monogamy: A form of relationship in which an individual has one partner for their lifetime or an extended period of time

While all relationships are different, and some have agreements to be “open”... the “traditional” form of committed relationship is that of two people who have made a mutual decision to only be with each other. They operate with the understanding that they can trust their partner and that their partner is faithful to them. We all know that sometimes it doesn’t quite work out like that. Sometimes, one of the people will break the agreement and engage in extracurricular activities with someone outside of their partnership. They cheat.

There are different degrees of cheating. There is the one-off, which can happen for a variety of reasons and I tend to be more lenient about this. If it happens and it’s a huge mistake and you’re filled with regret and vow to never do it again (and don’t) then I am tempted to say, depending on  the circumstances, to give it a pass. Then there is the serial infidelity, which is a string of affairs or one-offs, which, to me, is not acceptable. Finally there is an affair, an on-going, long term (anything longer than a night) relationship with someone outside of ones relationship, which is also unacceptable. I am at a loss as to why one would want to juggle two relationships, and even more at a loss as to why “the other man/woman” would be comfortable coming in 2nd place.

People cheat for all kinds of reasons, the main one often being that they weren’t getting something from their relationship so they sought it out elsewhere. It could be a physical or emotional component. Sometimes people cheat because they have an addiction to sex, or because they are selfish and weak. Sometimes people cheat for the thrill, or to feed their ego. Whatever the reason, they did it, and it’s wrong and frankly selfish.

Monogamy isn’t easy. Relationships aren’t easy, and I’m not going to pretend for a single second that they are. However, they’re also not mandatory. There is no rule that states that we HAVE to be in a partnership. We enter into our relationships by choice. Just like we stay faithful to our partners by choice. Because it IS a choice. Every day, we are CHOOSING to be with that person and to be committed to the promises that we made to them. To break that, for whatever reason, isn’t down to science, chemistry or basic animal instincts, it’s a conscious decision that we, as consenting adults make, to willingly harm our partner both emotionally but also perhaps physically. We have a choice to not do that. We can decide to end our current relationship, or work on the issues in it. To opt for infidelity is the weak, cowardly, and selfish way out.

Usually, if someone is unfaithful it comes out at some point. The deception and lies catch up with them. Sometimes it’s a shock and sometimes there are signs all along the way. Now I don’t believe in paranoia or not trusting a partner. I think if we choose to be with someone that we should, unequivocally, trust them. I don’t believe in checking up on them, snooping through their things, or questioning them. I don’t think we should search for signs, because I think that’s unhealthy for our mental health and damaging to our relationships. But what I will say, is that if the signs are there, we don’t usually have to engage in any sneaky and covert operations to uncover them. They’re usually pretty obvious, and as much as it’s tempting to ignore them, or make excuses or them, you shouldn’t:

10 Signs Your Partner is Cheating On You:

Change of behavior: The first telling sign is when someone’s behavior changes drastically. If it’s a one-off then we can let it go. If it completely replaces the previous behavior then it it’s something to look into.  If they’ve changed, it’s for a reason. My relationship went from being a fairytale to a nightmare in the short span of a few weeks. We went from planning to get married (and talking about it constantly) to barely speaking at all.

Change of attitude: If the person you’re with has a personality or attitude shift there is a reason why. It could be something as simple and innocent as problems at work, or a family issue. But this is something that should be communicated to you. Partners are supposed to share things. If they suddenly start picking fights, lashing out, or expressing disdain for you it’s an indication that there might someone else involved.  Also if they make over the top grand gestures they might be trying to overcompensate for something.  My ex went from being loving, warm, and adoring to cold, distant, and insulting. He’d look for an excuse to criticize or insult me and then storm off and disappear. I suppose he needed an excuse to justify his infidelity or maybe just an excuse to get out of the house and see her.

Change of schedule:  Lives change and circumstances come up so even the most established of routines will alter at times. The questions are: is it temporary or permanent? And how is going to affect your relationship? Are there suddenly late nights? Is your partner always away? Are you in contact with them? Are they open about where they are and what they're doing? Do they make excuses to not see or spend time with you? My ex had a busy and demanding job which I knew about and was fine with when we got together. After all, so did I. But he just stopped being around. Started "working" all the time: late nights, weekends,  pulling “all nighters.” We went from making plans to him canceling almost everything. We couldn’t go on vacation, make weekend or even dinner plans.  I was lucky if we had a five minute conversation when he stumbled in at whatever hour he came home, usually with whiskey on his breath. The bottom line is this: you’re never too busy to get what you want. Busy people have relationships and somehow make time for their partners. If the person you’re with isn’t able to make room for you in their schedule it’s either because they don’t want to, or because they’re making room for someone else.

Unavailability: If someone is suddenly completely unavailable it’s not because they actually are, they’re just unavailable to you. Most people reply on their phone and email for work which means that they are accessible to some degree, especially if you’re a priority to them. If someone becomes impossible to reach or disappears for period of time, you have to ask yourself where they’re going, and you probably won’t like the answer. My ex went from calling me every lunch break just to say that he loved me to not being reachable at all. Never picked up the phone, nor did he reply to texts or emails. His phone frequently “broke,” "died” or “didn’t have service”  making it “impossible” for any contact to be made. This was such a huge change from the way it was before. If this change is sudden, there's a reason.

Being Defensive: If someone starts becoming overly defensive to the point of aggression or trying to guilt trip you, it’s a sign that they have something to hide. And they’re manipulating you. Questions like, ‘What time will you be home?” “What did you do last night?” “Want to meet for lunch?” shouldn’t be met with contempt. Also, if you question sketchy behavior “Why didn’t you come home last night?” “Why are you bringing your phone to the bathroom?” “why don’t you ever include me in anything anymore?” shouldn’t cause your partner to snarl at you and belittle you. These are all normal questions, and if someone finds them unreasonable, it’s probably because the answers to them is that they’re doing something they shouldn’t be. (My ex once told me it was his "God given right as a human being to not come home at night.” I should’ve walked then and there.)

Strange or unusual correspondence or relationship: If someone random or unexpected suddenly starts popping up in your significant others life, they might be more than just a business associate or friend. I’m not suggesting that we should become suspicious of every new person, that would be unreasonable. We meet new people all the time, and sometimes we interact with them either at high volume levels professionally or socially and that’s normal. But it shouldn’t be clandestine, as a partner, you should know about it. Though it's also a sign if your partner talks about someone else all the time. If the circumstances of their correspondence or relationship seems weird, then it probably is. My ex started getting lots of texts from a woman he worked with, a woman whose role was completely unrelated to his and who had no real need to text him, especially not at high frequency levels and on the weekends. He made up some half baked excuse as to why she was texting and then the sign below happened.

Overzealously protective of phone and email. While I don’t condone reading other peoples texts or emails, I do believe that if someone freaks out if you are near their phone or ipad, or goes from giving you access to their device (for whatever reason) to hiding it and changing their passwords, then it’s because they’re hiding something. Most likely an affair. That’s what happened to me. My ex used to hand me is phone to show me emails or articles or pictures and then, as soon as I asked him why he was taking his phone to the bathroom to send texts, he  suddenly started hiding it or carrying it everywhere he went. He also changed his access password. He told me it was because he thought that I didn’t trust him so he didn’t trust me. WHAT? Talk about projecting.  Behaviour like this screams “I’M CHEATING ON YOU”

Keeping lives separate: I am a big proponent on people remaining individuals while in a relationship. One should have their own interests, friends, and time but it’s important to also do things together. When we first start dating someone, we tend to spend a lot of time with them and as the relationship progresses, we calm down a bit and start reverting back to our old routine a bit. This is normal. But if your partner suddenly and actively starts keeps you away from their life then it is because they are hiding something. When my ex and I first got together, we were inseparable, as most couples are initially. He wanted to spend every waking second with me and we did. He brought me to all of his events and out with his friends and vice versa. Then suddenly he stopped. He actively kept me away from his work events (some of which I should’ve attended for my own job) and he stopped wanting me to go out with any of his friends, ever. He kept me and our time together completely isolated. I realize now that it was because he was leading a double life.

Lack of intimacy: If your partner stops engaging in intimate activities with you, it means they’re getting it elsewhere. Ok yes, when we first get involved with someone we tend to be more excited and spend an inordinate amount of time getting physical with them, and this is often not sustainable. We can’t expect it to be, but if it stops completely, and if you notice other signs: lack of physical contact like holding hands, rubbing shoulder etc, less affection etc it’s because they’re pulling away.  My ex claimed that he was stressed and it was affecting his libido. He even told me his lack of interest was because a few times I "rejected" him and his ego was still bruised.  Lies. The bottom line is that happy couples are physical with each other and if someone suddenly stops then it is a red flag.

Catching them in a lie or many. Trust is a huge component in any relationship. We have to believe the person we’re with, we need to know that they’re honest. Ok, no one is 100% honest, we all tell white lies and for inconsequential things, it doesn’t really matter. Unless the lies are frequent. Or if you catch them in a lie. Once a lie is uncovered, it’s hard to come back from that.  I caught my ex in so many lies, stupid lies that were easy to prove which made me wonder what else he was lying about. (Now I know) It also made me stop believing anything that he said. If you find out that someone is or was lying to you, you have to ask yourself why? What are they covering up?

Anger and Guilt Tripping: This is related with being defensive and change of attitude. If someone gets angry all the time or starts guilt tripping you, making you feel like a bad person or unsupportive partner, when in actuality, you aren't, it's because they're trying to push you away, hurt you, or somehow rationalize to themselves why they are cheating on you and treating you terribly. My ex berated me constantly, told me I was being needy and unsupportive if ever I displayed any signs of discontent for his deplorable behavior. He lashed out, insulted me, and punished me by becoming even more unavailable or distant. Classic signs of someone who is up to no good, and is no good.

Now I am not an angel. I openly admit to cheating on an ex boyfriend many years ago. A decision that I feel terrible about to this day. I hurt him, a man who was loving and dedicated to me, and who didn’t deserve it. I hurt him and I couldn’t be sorrier for that fact, even though he’s gotten over it and remains a close friend. I did it because I was young, and stupid, and too afraid to admit to both him and myself that the relationship wasn’t working. I did it because I was weak and selfish. And I promised myself afterwards that I would never do it again, and I haven’t.  I can’t. If I find myself tempted, I either work on my relationship or end it.

Also, I understand that my absolutist attitude might be considered unfair. As I said, all relationships are different and complicated. If someone is married with children, leaving the relationship might not seem like the best or even a viable option. I can’t comment to that as it’s not a situation I can relate to, but I can say that if there are problems in your relationship, you should work on them rather than look outside of it. If you can’t fix the problems, then end it. If you’re not married, and don’t have children then cheating makes even less sense. The obligations are non existent. Again, work on the relationship or end it. To not do so is degrading to your partner and stealing from them. You’re stealing their time, their love, and their chance to be in a relationship with someone who actually deserves and wants to be with them. 

You might wonder what is wrong with me, why on Earth I would stay with such a person, even if I didn't find out he was cheating on me. My answer is that I made a commitment, for better or for worse, and I truly believed, or at least wanted to believe, that this was temporary, a rough patch that couples go through. And I loved the man that I fell in love with, even though it seems to me now that such a man never existed.