We all like to think we’re a good judge of character.
Unfortunately, toxic people can fool the best of us. No matter what age, colour, gender, sexual orientation, rich or poor-you are prey to a toxic person.They make an amazing first impression, deceiving not only you but your family and friends.
But sooner or later their mask slips, revealing their true nature, leaving you isolated, alone and trying to gather the shattered pieces of your life, asking yourself-
‘Why didn’t I see the signs?’
Here are 10 signs which may sound familiar
1. Charming – They tell you that you’re different, more attractive, intelligent, cool and talented than anyone they’ve met before. That you stand out from the crowd and you’re too good to be where you are in life no matter how successful, good-looking and accomplished you are. They convincingly tell you that they’d be honoured to be in the presence of someone as amazing as you.
2. Good listener– They ask lots of questions and seem to hang on your every word. They listen intently and prompt you to reveal very personal information, making you feel like you have so much in common. They put you at ease. You feel like you can tell them anything. Even after a couple of hours you may feel that you’ve know them for years.
3. Fast Movers–They initiate sex after the first few dates and are extremely attentive and eager to please you. They are often sexually experienced and (initially) have a high sex-drive. There’s usually something odd about their sexual habits. They may stare at you intently, turn away from you or dislike kissing.
4. Future Faker– They talk of marriage, having children, where you’ll live in your ideal life together. They say you are soul mates and meant to meet and be together forever. They want to meet your family and friends.
5. Fake Integrity .Think- (Jimmy Savile/Bill Cosby/Bernie Madoff/Max Clifford). They often hold a position of trust both professionally or in the community. They have a good public persona and are liked, respected and held in reverence. They also like to tell people how much they care and how much they do for the company/charity/political party/arts foundation etc.
6. Constant contact– They bombard you with multiple texts, calls, emails and Facebook messages saying they want to be with you every spare minute. They spend hours on the phone with you and send hundreds of texts weekly. They follow you on social media and even text you when you’re in the next room.
7. Crazy ex’s – They’re on bad terms with most of their ex’s calling them crazy, bipolar and/or addicts. They may have a few ‘friends’ who they keep in touch with who they insist are purely platonic. They may also have a few dodgy friends and acquaintances that don’t seem to fit with the image they project.
8. Drama and chaos– Most days are punctuated by chaos. Their lives never seem calm and peaceful .They always have arguments with family, friends, work or ex’s. They often have past and current legal problems.
9. Talk down to service staff–Their charm slips when dealing with service staff. They like to be promptly attended to and will complain and demean them showing a sense of entitlement. They get irritated and easily annoyed with airport staff and expect preferential treatment in restaurants or night clubs.
10. Breaks boundaries– If you tell them not to call after 10 pm they will. If you’re going out with friends they’ll try to persuade you to stay in. They’ll make arrangements without asking you and use, charm, flattery, sex and self-pity to get you to do what they want.
If you are dating, living with, leaving or recovering from a toxic relationship you will recognise these signs are the tip of a very large iceberg of an abusive relationship. As a target of abuse by a toxic personality you are not alone, you are not too sensitive and no matter why the toxic person chose you as a target, it was not your fault.
Jacqueline Groves is a counsellor and coach specializing in in emotional abuse recovery from toxic relationships.