Dating – don’t do it! Some thoughts after blogging about psychopaths

Simply writing and reading about about human wickedness has a sobering effect on one. When reading what follows, please keep in mind the author has been, if not frighted rigid then, had his protectiveness ratcheted way up.

I once wrote a piece – mainly for women’s eyes – about how dating (by which I meant dating in the hope of meeting a partner/spouse) doesn’t work.

My argument was that men have an aversion to that kind of ‘energy’. (I could have written another piece about how what is attractive on a first date is a very poor predictor of what works in a long-term relationship.)

But I was talking there about decent men. What about dating when they’re, shall we say, not quite so decent?Advice from a female criminal profiler
Pat Brown from The Daily Profiler knows a thing or two about how things can and do go horribly wrong. Her advice:

Speaking of MO [criminal modus operandi], ladies, here is a suggestion about dating: don’t. Dating is a good way to become familiar with other MOs of the fellow you are getting to know, but by the time you realize he has repetitive concerning behaviors, it may well be too late to get away from the creep. Instead, get to know men in groups and in social activities involving many people so you can weed out the ones whose actions raise red flags. If you get to know someone well enough through group activities to feel you would like to get to know them even better, don’t get into a sexual relationship until the man has proven himself to be an honorable gentleman who treats you like gold. I guarantee most control freaks and psychopaths won’t be very interested in a girl who takes that long to get to get into an intimate relationship. The right man is worth waiting for and the right man will wait for you as well.

I know, I know – it’s very old-fashioned, etc.

Stalkers and partners
Then in response to a reader’s comment about stalkers who aren’t put off by women who don’t rush in to intimate relations ships she answered thus:

You are speaking of erotomania, the kind of obsession of certain stalkers where they make up a fantasy of connection to an individual and then exaggerate it in their minds. While these kinds of stalkers can be dangerous, they mostly go after people in the public eye (I have had two of them myself and it can be unnerving). On the other hand, the majority of stalkers who kill women are men who dated or married them and then the women wanted out of the relationship.If you are going to become a celebrity or a very public figure, stalkers pretty much come with the territory and there is jack you can do about it. But, for most women, it is the men they “love” that will do them in and, therefore, it is wise to be very selective in choosing who you become intimate with.  


In my piece on dating I argued that it wasn’t commitment phobia which makes dating such a bust for finding a partner. I used a metaphor of smell to make my case:

It’s not that the woman literally smells. Rather it’s that the affect (basic emotion) the man experiences is not fear (commitment phobia) but dissmell (commitment aversion). Dissmell is one of the six basic negative emotions identified by the great psychologist Silvan Tomkins. It is rooted in the our physical reaction to a bad smell, say sour milk. The head pulls back and the corners of the mouth are pulled down.

Here’s the awful truth. Men ‘smell’ her desperation and without mentally processing it go, No, thanks all the same!

Again, that’s decent men. Let’s return to the picture of the dating couple, but insert the psychopath. If the ‘smell of deperation’ is a sour one for the regular guy, it is sweet for the psychopath. Desperation = vulnerability = weakness. And we know that the psychoapth is drawn to weakness like the cat is drawn to the mouse. 

As Sgt. Phil Esterhaus said in Hill Street Blues: “Hey, let’s be careful out there!”

(The post immediately below accompanies this one as does a guest post by Donna Gallagher of on Jan. 3.)


19 thoughts on “Dating – don’t do it! Some thoughts after blogging about psychopaths

  1. Re–dating don’t do it. Amen. I believe in love relationships, but it’s tough to run the cultural obstacle course to reach it.

    I feel a rant coming on. I suggest abolishing the war on drugs and launching a war on romance. I’m sure if you totalled up all the real casualties of romance in terms of deaths, injuries, and ruined lives, it would rival or exceed the destructiveness of drugs. The situation begins absurdly–hormone saturated youths in love with their own affect. That’s what romantic love is all about. Add to that the absence of real persons; instead, the two are presenting personae they think will attract the other. Isn’t it a bit spooky how during courtship all lovers act the same, have the same romantic script of sensitivity, tenderness and selflessness? As a friend once said, in courship, all lovers look alike. And the situation ends in slamming doors and broken glass when the real persons emerge to confront each other. And later on we have the tragic (middle-aged or older adults on a quest for the thrill (read “high”) that has long gone out of their lives. Most married couples begin to worry about their marriage when they come down, as they must, from that romantic high. And some pathetic souls go from divorce to divorce, or relationship to relationship seeking that elusive lasting high.

    A sane society would have abandoned the myths and fairy tales that became the cultural norms of romantic love hundreds of years ago. An insane society instead expended fortunes on diversionary media entertainment, cosmetics, plastic surgery and, we must not forget Viagra–adolescent romantic love forever! Ultimately, the quest is no more successful than the drug addict’s chasing the high. Romance is no place to seek love.

    Returning more directly to the theme of dating, you know there is something wrong when the moves of the game can be described according to game theory win-lose. You try to get the other person to say “I love you” before you have to say it to them. Isn’t that what the strategy is? They’re vulnerable, you’re not, you win. That’s not a motive of a love relationship. (It might be a great sociopathic motive.)

  2. dumuarier-smith – But what do you really think? Just kidding – the romance scene is a mess (and a playground for narcissists and psychopaths, you’re right).

    You’ve captured an entire social phenomenon with this aphorism: “Romance is no place to seek love.”

    A couple of bugbears:
    1. The focus of the wedding (instead of the marriage).
    2. The idea that, because a long term relationship is not like the ‘honeymoon period’, the sexual relationship will deteriorate. Unless one has a wierd more-often-is-better view, this is wrong. (Though I suspect that many married couples buy into the cultural myth and give up the ghost.)

  3. When I imagine someone close to me, like a sister or daughter (or a brother), starting to date someone I do get gloomy. I mean both parties will have gone into the deal with the romantic mind-set DuM-Smith talks about and so WILL be disillusioned. (And that not to even talk about dating a criminal-type!)

    That’s if the two met as daters. If they met at work, say, I would much more optimistic because they will have seen each other relatively mask-free and still found each other desirable enough to then go out together.

  4. mensch – The entire ethos of dating relative strangers encourages so many wrong things:
    Judgementalism – think of Jerry Seinfeld: “Could I spend the rest of my life with a woman who eats her peas one pea at a time?”
    Crazy sexual expectations – I want a great sexual experience (but can I really marry a playa/slut?)

  5. Mensch: Yes. In addition to seeing someone “bare-faced” in their social/work groups before one gets too romantically involved, it’s a good idea to see someone in their family group, which is where they assimilated their communication role expectations and styles. Although I’ll describe these roles relative to traditional family, they also hold for non-traditional, same-sex parent families.

    We all say we’re not going to be like our parents, yet we find ourselves doing and saying the things they did in similar situations. People don’t marry their parents. They marry someone that makes the communication style that they learned from their family functional.

    “Little girl lost” had a mother who was were traditionally feminine, and she attracts and is attracted to traditional (macho) males even if she hates the idea of such domination. This is because her communication behaviors are enabling of that style, which in turn enables her own. Thus the spontaneity of their romance is enabled. Of course, when the thrill is gone, they wake up and say, “Who the hell are you? Where’s the person I knew and loved?

    “Little boy lost” is the male whose mother was the dominant partner and the father was laid back and had already assimilated from his father the message that there was no use initiating anything because it wouldn’t be satisfactory. So the grandson, most comfortable waiting for the other to initiate and make decisions, will end up witn a dominant female partner, resent the dominance he invites, and echo the sentiment of his sires: “Women! Can’t live with ’em, can’t live without ’em.”

    Family dynamics vary. A daddy’s girl’s communication style may reciprocate her father’s behaviors rather than imitate the mother’s competitive behaviors, and the same with a momma’s boy. Assimilation involves both symmetry (same, imitative) and complementary (opposite, completing). And while family dynamics vary,

    Everyone involved in courtship should take a hard look at the other’s family–and an equally cold-blooded look at their own, and what kind of person their own communication would attract or repel. Unfortunately, we don’t set out to learn communication to do things. We learn by participating in whatever there is where we are. And that can get very weird sometimes.

  6. Sorry about that doubling post. Out of habit, I clicked my cursor on a section on the published page I wanted to delete, and found myself back on the composition page. In escaping that, I resubmitted. Sorry. Nothing there so profound as to deserve two readings, but I don’t know how to delete it.

    But let me add since I’m asking for indulgence and taking up more space, nothing I wrote is about more than observed tendencies. I believe we are fated only if we drift.

  7. dumuarier-smith – You say: “People don’t marry their parents. They marry someone that makes the communication style that they learned from their family functional.” This is like taking the notion of transference and complexifying it – nice.

    I enjoyed reading your scenarios very much. (Talking about synchronicity) I just happened to have been responding to the author of when I read your comment and it struck me again how succinctly you’re able to capture something about human beans.

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