Dating Emotional Predators: Signs to Look Out For

Self-Care Haven by Shahida Arabi


Dating an emotional predator, a narcissist, a sociopath or anyone else who has the potential to be an abusive or toxic influence in your life is a devastating emotional roller coaster of highs and lows. Although many abusers tend to unfold and reveal their true selves long after they’ve already reeled their victims in, there are some key signs to look out for when dating someone that can foreshadow their future behavior.

The great thing about dating is that you are not committing to a relationship, so you can use this process as a way to find out more about a potential partner, and if necessary, cut ties should he or she turn out to have abusive traits without investing further in the relationship.

Here are some signs to look out for.

1) A need for control.  Abusers want to control and manipulate their victims, so they will find…

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How We Attract the Narcissist Vibrationally

Let Me Reach with Kim Saeed

Higher Vibration ~ Journey of 1000 Days

A common theme regarding Narcissists is how they all behave the same.  They use the same brainwashing techniques, they say the same hurtful things, and they participate in the same sadistic behaviors.  It’s as though “Narcissism 101” is offered in universities all over the world.

What we often overlook is that their victims participate in their own behaviors, too.

We fall for the love-bombing, we make excuses for him, we allow him to leave the relationship and come back whenever he pleases.  Many come to realize that their Narcissist has another lover, and somehow accept it.  When the relationship ends, victims all suffer the same torment, obsessive thoughts, depression, and worse…some go on to take their own lives.

Before I go further, victims do not by any means deserve what they get from the Narcissist.  The information in this article is for demonstrative purposes only.  I…

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Improving Yourself: What Do You Have to Lose?

Remember the old adage, you have to love yourself before you can love others? And that you have to love yourself before others can love you? In the same family of sayings is one which can fondly be remembered as coming from the universally loved Disney sidekick, Sebastian. And that is, if you want something done you’ve got to do it yourself. Because in the end, who else will?

As Dan Gilbert has said, the only constant in our lives is the fact that we are always changing. If we stay fixed in the mentality that we are done growing, how can we improve ourselves? The common quest of humanity is the search for meaning in one’s life. We adapt our behaviors and attitudes to conform to the world around us. Through this process, we learn more about ourselves and about what is and isn’t working.

To shut yourself off to the possibility for change by not allowing yourself to be vulnerable is to cripple yourself from enriching your life and cultivating meaningful relationships. Listening is a dead art in our society, as we become more narcissistic and engrossed with controlling the image of what others think of us. This causes us to be unreceptive to feedback on the impact some of our actions have on others.

At some point we all reach a crossroads. We can either choose the path of being stagnated in a state of willful ignorance, or we can make the conscious decision to open ourselves up to the idea of making a commitment to improve.

sneaky bart simpson

It could take an unexpected life-altering event, or it may just be a realization that sneaks up on you.

Or maybe it just turns out you chose the “right” path because it happened to be the path of least resistance (shh, I won’t tell anyone). Because even if you’re not a money-hungry, greedy, self-absorbed jerkpie, eventually something’s got to give. To make it in this world, you have to rise up to the occasion against all odds and move forward, or risk being swept away by the (very powerful, and it doesn’t get any easier so bite the bullet) tide.

This is the first step to finding out what we want in life. As Bill Murray said in the cult-classic (in my opinion, anyway, having personal experience as a foreigner in Japan as well as the overall experience of social isolation) Lost In Translation, when you know what you want, things get to you less. And when things get to you less, well…that certainly gives you a lot more time and energy to focus on improving yourself, doesn’t it? After all, what choice do you have?

Sometimes it feels like this idea of improving is impossible. After all, our personality is fixed, and people don’t really change, do they? WRONG!

Perhaps as we get older, and the novelty of life wears off, we are left with a history of experiences that leave us feeling like we know it all and are on top of the world and can take on any challenge…but sometimes it also leaves us with a sense of learned helplessness. This is a psychological concept of which I am very familiar, that originates from the behavioral school of thought. It is actually central to the theory of how depression develops (a series of failures which lead to the conclusion of why bother even trying?), according to behaviorists.

Ever hear those stories of people that hit “rock bottom,” only to pop out of the hole, suddenly enlightened as if they discovered the fountain of youth down there?

Well, don’t feel bad if that hasn’t happened to you. Don’t think that it can’t happen to you. Enlightenment isn’t some unattainable, ethereal concept. The dramatized version isn’t the only one! Real life is a bit more complicated than that. Things tend to happen so slowly we don’t even realize things are changing. Ever start a task wondering how in the hell you were going to complete it? And by the time you’re finished, marvel at the work you’ve done?

My point is that once you’ve finally exhausted all your options by escaping facing yourself and your insecurities (or demons, as some might say) for too long, or you’re just sick of being miserable, the only option left is to make it better, right? You don’t have to be Mr. Extrovert who is just brimming with confidence and can land any job he desires with minimal effort to have the capacity to be content with yourself. Maybe you can even take comfort in the fact that he’s probably not happy with himself either. How else would he distract himself from what’s really going wrong in his life?

It may seem like a Catch-22. On the one hand, you feel that you need love from others in order to love yourself (belonging). But another part of you realizes the bitter truth that you need to love yourself before others can love you. The solution? Just not giving a fuck.

This is way, way, WAY harder than it sounds. You’re probably sick of hearing things like “just stop caring so much about what other people think!” As my trusted pixel-composed mentor Phoenix Wright does, flip the “case” on its head and look at it from a different angle. Flex your brain muscles to reconsider it as simply energy conservation. If you allow yourself not to care about what every Tom, Dick, and Harry think about you, you’re left with a lot more time to think about what’s actually important to you. I really want to drive this point home. When you frame things selfishly (it’s okay you’re not a bad person!), they somehow magically become much easier to digest.

Baby steps. You can do it. What do you have to lose?

Gender Roles and Socialization

Gender roles are a very real presence in the overall socialization of people, not just something talked about in classes or on dates.  Most of it is so subliminal, we don’t even realize its effect on us until we are able to possess a sociological imagination, and see the world through multiple lenses.

 In my sociology class, we had to write a paper on gender roles in U.S. society, and how messages are shown through items such as toys and clothing.

I went to a Toys ‘R’ Us store and looked at the toys and clothing. When it comes to the packaging and advertising slogans used to market products to children, the dissemination and perpetuation of stereotyped gender roles is painfully evident.  Girl’s toys seemed to depict a child playing a role as “mother,” and many of the toys revolved around family or some form of community gathering (such as “parties”).  Many also used words like “magical” and “princess,” and focused on emotions.

Boy’s toys, on the other hand, focused on some form of competition and expressions of aggression.  One remarkable example was the same toy packaged differently for what could be logically concluded was the intended target market (boys or girls). The toy was a microphone.  The one intended for the girl had a picture of a young female child, and in the lower left-hand corner, an animated female character in a tiara.  The one intended for the boy had a picture of a young male child, with the main character from Monster’s Inc. (a Pixar animated film) in the lower left-hand corner (Mike is a male character).  In the center of the image of the children, one said “Ready to Roar!,” while the other said “Sweet Singing!”  Other than these things, the packaging was almost identical (color of the box was blue).

Another classic example of dissemination of traditional social gender roles through family interaction that I have heard about in many psychology and other socially oriented classes (e.g. anthropology), and even in movies, is the expression “you cry like a girl.”  This is usually said to men by people occupying various roles in the person’s life, including parents, coaches, teachers, etc.

Today I experienced this firsthand, and it confirmed many of my preexisting ideas about socialization of gender roles in early life.  I volunteer at a domestic abuse shelter, occasionally supervising children by either helping them with homework, or watching and participating in playtime.  Today I was alone with an African American child named Dom (short for Dominic), aged five years old.  He was a confident and rather cheeky child, but clearly intelligent.  He drew a picture of his family; he was on the far left, and his father on the far right.  His father had just “come back.”  In between them were his cousin “Deuce,” and another girl whom I caught was named “Danielle,” but it was unclear who she was.  The child would not speak of his mother.

His cousin Deuce, about the same age as Dom, came in to join us after Dom was finished with his homework.  Dom changed his mind frequently about what game he wanted to play, from building a batman house, to racing toy cars on a track made of Play-Doh, but finally settled on playing house by preparing a pretend dinner.  After setting out some plates on the table at my suggestion, we all sat down to eat.  They had placed a “pancake” in my plate earlier.  After Deuce took the pancake and put it on his plate, Dom mentioned that he wanted pancakes.  Deuce said “That’s my panny-cake,” and tried to prevent him from taking it away.  I suggested why don’t they cut it in half, that way they could both have some?

Classic, right?  Telling everyone to share and get along–I’m sure we’ve all heard that when we were young.  Though some of us probably scoffed at the time, it is still a teaching that serves well in life, in my opinion.  We all must learn to share.  I felt very bad for Deuce to see Dom treating him that way, but felt helpless at the same time.

Later a woman comes in, who I assume is Dom’s mother.  She was in for a few minutes earlier, watching the boys.  Now it looked like she had come back to escort them to dinner.  Deuce had started crying, and the woman told him to “shut up…shut up Deuce,” followed by “quit crying like a little girl.”  Down the hall after they left, I could hear at least one more additional “shut up, Deuce.”

I’m not here to judge, or tell parents how they should raise their kids.  But I can say that I felt heartbroken at the sight of that poor child being told to “shut up” and “stop crying like a little girl,” when what kids need most, especially in those formative years, is understanding, love, and validation.  But even if I could do something with such an individual case, it is not about changing that one woman so much as it is about changing the way gender roles are socially constructed and communicated to children through socialization.

Through human agency, we all must act rather than sit back.  Only through changing the ways through which gender roles are conceptualized in our society can this change be filtered down through to mothers and families, and ultimately to how we raise our children.  Rather than teaching men to suppress their emotions, we instead need to show them love and compassion, leading to a much healthier and stable society overall.

Anti-Bullying Marketing Campaign

No matter how you look at it, bullying is everywhere.  It is an epidemic that plagues our society.  Starting at a very early age, it is virtually impossible to make it throughout grade school unscathed.  Young students have practically made it a sport to prey on poor unsuspecting children, and moral fiber has unfortunately gone out the window as society’s values and respect for the fellow human being is a thing of the past.  Common decency is rapidly unraveling and dissipating as people feel an increasing sense of self-entitlement, existing only in their one dimensional islands.  This leads to an increase in crime as punishment for such behavior has deteriorated.  In some cases, our society even rewards it, and this inherent reward system must be removed directly if we want to begin to disentangle the intricate web of bullying that has sprung forth.

This brings me to the point of an anti-bullying marketing campaign.  Our lives are constantly bombarding us with images of what we should be perpetuating feelings of inferiority and insecurity.  We are never good enough.  This damaging of already precarious sense of self in the younger American citizen serves to make them easier  prey for the tormenter who mentally abuses them in their effectively weakened state.  It is almost as if this dissemination of images we measure ourselves by to this reference group is a form of bullying in itself, a kind of meta-bullying.

Remember the last presidential election, when celebrities were involved in an advertising campaign to advocate for people to vote?  Or the fact that you almost never see people smoking in the movies anymore?  It can be presumed this is in effort to reduce smoking.  By not being in movies anymore, people smoking all over the place, smoking is no longer seen as “cool.”  These two examples clearly demonstrate the powerful effect the media has on the population at large, including our behaviors.

These images shape our perceptions on a subconscious level about what we should or shouldn’t do (or be like), and what’s cool and what’s not.  It is through this reasoning that one could logically conclude that issues such as bullying can be addressed directly and/or indirectly through the media.  More movies could be made with commonly idolized celebrities occupying main roles.  To communicate subliminally that it is “un-cool” to bully, and conversely “cool” not to bully.

Rather than ineffective policies, let’s not do the same thing over and over, but instead try something new.  In an environment where teachers and parents do not solve the problem, we must instead attack it from the sides.  However, these methods must be used in combination.  It is worth noting that I myself am writing a pseudo-autobiographical novel, which involves bullying as central to the story.  Though the longer term goal should be to reduce media’s effect on our young and vulnerable society, perhaps in the short term we should use whatever tools are available to deter bullying.