We have all been there to a certain degree. After a stranger has caught our eye on Instagram, we’ve strategically “hearted” two or three photos (avoid loving too many pictures, though – you don’t want to look like a cyber-stalker who’s perving on their next victim!). When the object of our study reciprocates our actions, we send him a private message. Nothing too fancy or intense. You want to come across as witty and flirty without trying too hard. It’s a behaviour now normalised. After all, every social media platform seems to have morphed into an unofficial dating/cruising sites. Fast forward a week of back-and-forth messaging where you concentrate on what you have in common while you decide to ignore any red flag shining bright under the emoji sun, and finally, off you go on a date. A month later, you realise you’ve ended up dating a weirdo, with disastrous consequences to your already fractured and damaged sense of judgement.
Meet Philip. Philip is not his real name, not that it matters because Philip is the vessel within which I will take you through five tell-tale signs that you’re dating a nutcase.
1. He kisses you WITH HIS EYES OPEN
Who in their right mind would do that? Only someone who needs to be always in control. So, you have a snog, and it feels wrong. And when you eventually open your eyes to investigate, you’re greeted with a close-up bunny boiler wide-open Glenn Close Fatal Attraction stare an inch away from you. Once, I woke up to Philip sitting in bed, observing me in my sleep. I thought I was in a dream. I was reliving the movie Misery, but instead of Katy Bates, the actor in the leading role was now a man in his late twenties with a south London accent who was very possibly considering smothering me with a pillow if I ever walked away. His deadpan explanation? “It’s because I don’t want to miss a thing, and I want to know EVERYTHING, even what you dream. I am falling in love with you”…which leads straight to the next point.
2. He love-bombs you
At first, you find it cute, and you cannot even believe your luck: “Bless him! He’s so sensitive. He wears his heart on his sleeve,” you tell yourself to justify the craziness. And then you notice how Philip gets upset if you don’t repay his apparent devotion with an emotional reaction at least ten times stronger than his original outpouring. In truth, Philip is trying to feed his narcissistic tendencies by making you love him out of guilt: “How dare you not love me the same way I love you?” Of course, I didn’t love Philip at all, but I found myself stuck in mirroring his behaviour for a while because the love attacks would catch me unawares.
3. He forces you to take an online personality test
“I don’t want to repeat the same mistakes,” he’d tell you. The truth is different. Philip wants to understand how emphatic you are to use your kindness to manipulate you accordingly somewhere down the line. He will try to deflect your attention, gain your sympathy and trust, and probably tell you how he was a victim of a narcissist in the past to hide in plain sight, like a polar bear hunting in the Arctic ice caps.
4. He gaslights you
Suddenly, engulfed by Philip’s narrative, you lose sight of who you are. For me, it was like reading a never-ending thread from Donald Trump’s now-deleted Twitter account. And may it rest in peace. There was nothing true, and yet, I’d kept asking myself if Philip’s behaviour was a direct consequence of my actions, words and many apparent flaws.
5. He ALWAYS has to have the last word
Always and forever. Once, Philip sent me a WhatsApp message that ran to 1,000 words (yes, really!) and then blocked me immediately after. As it turned out, he was never interested in any positive feedback. Therefore, out of curiosity, I clicked on the Read more dot dot dot highlighted in blue seven times to get to the bottom and find out how long the tirade was, and then, I deleted the whole convo without reading any of the last messages. After that, I’ve never looked back.
So here you have it, your essential guide on avoiding dating a potential psychopath. You have only one thing left to do now that you have made it to the end. In a world where you can do anything, stay clear of Philip. At all costs.
Disclaimer. To create Philip, I’ve melded together three different individuals I’ve met over the years. Mind you. I’ve attracted all of them into my life, a destabilising fact. So, I suppose I must ask: what does this tell you about me?