Five Ways To Help You Spot The Wrong Girl
How well do you know the person you’re dating?
The text was brief and to the point. NARCISSIST. No explanation, no punctuation. At first I assumed it was a mistake—a random stranger had sent me a message meant for someone else, right? But no, it was definitely from her. A few minutes later came another message. “I will never stoop down to your level.” I sat down on my bed and took it in. It was Saturday, close to midnight, and I had been about to drift off after a rockin night in with Netflix. But I was suddenly wide awake—what the f**k was going on?! This girl, let’s call her Dana, and I had been seeing each other casually for about three months while I was in London and I’d been really upfront: I wasn’t looking for a long-term relationship or anything long-distance. I cared about her but didn’t want anything serious.
We’d been on half a dozen dates, dinner and drinks in the city, a backyard barbecue, dinner at her new apartment. Then it came to our final date before I was due to head back home. We had dinner in Soho and, after a few glasses of wine, our discussion got heated. Not in relation to our relationship but about the constant complaints she had about her ex. I was curious about why she was still so angry so I asked her to elaborate. I realized she was literally refusing to take any responsibility for the break-up and I figured she might appreciate a different perspective (ok so hindsight tells me this might not have been the best timing, but anyway…) I explained that, outside of domestic violence, we are always partially responsible for any conflict in a relationship—by definition it takes two people to argue. Putting all the blame on the other person isn’t helpful and mostly just nonsensical. I gently suggested that she may have been as much to blame as her ex. She clearly didn't agree. But she said it was good to be challenged, that she needed it sometimes. We parted with hugs and tidings of mutual appreciation, invitations to catch up whenever we were in the same city again.
Three days later I got THE TEXT. It came totally out of the blue and seemed completely out of character. I was stumped.
It got me thinking about dating and how well you can ever really know a complete stranger. I realized that I had never met any of her long-standing friends or her family. Nor had she met any of mine. We had never been in any stressful or awkward situations together. And I had taken everything she said at face value. I had assumed that if she felt something, good or bad, she would just say it to my face, just as I did to her. Then it dawned on me that this was perhaps one of the most stupid assumptions I have ever made. Most of us assume that we can spot someone who is going to be bad for us a mile away, but our dating history usually proves the total opposite.
So how can we learn to spot the wrong girl? From my experience there are a few tell- tale ways to help you figure out if your new gf might not be for you.
If she talks repeatedly about how awful her ex (or exes!) was without ever taking responsibility for anything. Ever. Except in cases of domestic violence and abuse, both parties should accept that they are responsible for conflict. There are two people in a relationship and, by definition, conflict requires at least two people to partake. One person might have ‘started’ it. But the other person has to react for it to turn into an argument. If your lady claims she is always blameless, it’s only a matter of time before you are the ex she is bitching about to her next gf.
The Vacation ‘Stress Test’:
Taking a mini-break (or for the brave, a full-blown vacation) together has a funny way of exposing the cracks in our dating armour. Don’t pick the most luxurious resort - go somewhere out of both of your comfort zones, even to a place where neither of you speaks the language, and see how you both react. If she has a meltdown, blames you for everything and/or is rude to total strangers (unless she later apologises profusely), you’ll soon know what the future might hold for your relationship.
Beware though - if you have been hiding your nastiest traits, they may well sneak out when you least expect it.
Listen to how she talks about her friends or, even better, meet them. We can’t choose our family but we can definitely pick and choose our gal (and guy) pals - if she bitches about them and/or blames them for everything, this might be a sign that, again, she has precious little self-awareness. And if her friends are rude to you or you just can’t find anything to like about them, maybe there’s something you’re missing about her too?
The ‘Help’ Test:
This is a useful judge of character for anyone, but for a potential gf it is particularly effective. You can learn a lot about a person from how they interact with people whose job it is to serve you. Take note of how she interacts with waitstaff, bar tenders, bellboys, cleaners, secretaries, delivery staff, taxi drivers, fast food servers and so on. Anyone in those professions will tell you that they often get treated like crap by people who assume that if it’s someone’s job to serve them, they don’t deserve respect. I have been a McWorker so I know what I’m talking about. Everyone is allowed an off day—she might snap at someone and then instantly regret it, and that’s ok. But if she is consistently rude to strangers then you need to ask yourself what it was you saw in her in the first place.
The Gut Factor:
Sounds pretty simple but we have all missed this one at least once (myself included). If you don’t feel good when you are around her, even if you can’t quite put your finger on it, then you should trust your instincts. It’s not her fault you feel this way—sometimes it’s just not meant to be.
If we learn to read the signs better early on, we might save ourselves the time and trouble of dating someone who would be better off seeing a therapist than spending her free time browsing through HER. But we should also remember to be kind to our potential new gfs, no matter how much they are repressing a desire to scream about how unfair you and the rest of the world have been to them—they are in pain and don’t deserve your judgment. Just be kind and honest and walk away slowly.
As for Dana, after politely asking her to explain her messages and receiving more abuse, I calmly said sorry for anything I might have done that hurt her feelings, wished her well and quietly deleted her from my social media and phone contacts. I was a little sad, but thanked my lucky stars I hadn’t got in too deep.
And if you are the person who always blames her exes for everything that went down in your relationship, consider this—you are the only common factor in all those relationships that didn’t work. And if you have ever sent an abusive text, consider that this might not be the best way to deal with your anger, even if it feels really good at 2am after your eighth super-strength margarita. Angry people are never happy people. Go talk to someone, read some self-help. Get the joy back in your life and only then find a woman who makes you smile all day long.
And if we ever match on HER and hit it off, I’ll be booking that wilderness camping minibreak in Alaska…just in case…