But I Married Him Anyway! How to spot a jerk at the first meeting. Don’t put yourself in harms way again. Well Friends! I’m not getting any hits on getting this published so will share the introduction! If you are interested a pre-publication let me know. firstname.lastname@example.org
Hi! Maybe you are reading this because you’e been hurt by a guy whoo seemed so perfect and ending up deeply hurting you or maybe you just don’t want to ever have that experience. So I’m writing this to help you. (BTW: All names are fictionalized even though the incidents are true.)
Within the first week of my internship as a clinical social worker at the University of Michigan I counseled a student who told me that she’d met her ideal love. According to her there was only one problem and that was he called her names and had slapped her once. She excused the slapping because it only happened when he drank too much. Her friends were saying they didn’t particularly like him and advised her to end the relationship. Because she was conflicted she asked me what to do. To my relief, after a month of counseling in which her boyfriend increased his verbal abuse, she did end the relationship.
I write this book to share some of my experience about identifying abuse but also feel heavy sadness that it is necessary to write it. I have been a psychotherapist and Licensed Clinical Social Worker in both California and Michigan for twenty-five years. Prior to my counseling career I practiced as a Registered Nurse and saw some of the physical after effects of abuse. At this time I specialize in the areas of post-traumatic stress disorder, women’s issues, relationship counseling and behavioral addictions. I want very much to help women identify those possible love interests that have a likelihood of being a big jerk.
In an era of internet dating and expectations of relationship and sexual immediacy it is essential to stay mindful of how observable behaviors set the stage for future rules in a relationship. While meeting someone can be anxiety laden or a pleasant moment in which to let a relationship develop, it is important remember that what happens between you on that first meeting will establish what develops next. Relationship patterns and thus rules are immediately established within the first meeting and remain in place until renegotiated. It is my hope that I that the information I give will save you deep pain.
If you do take the time to note the behaviors and actions of any man you meet this will help you predict long term contentment or, conversely long term unhappiness. Recognizing a jerk early and then acting in your own best interest will spare you a lot of pain. If you note a few of the jerk signs then you can let any initial fantasy go and move on. Letting go will open new opportunities for a fulfilling, intimate, and lasting relationship.
Imagine you are meeting this potential partner. This is the time to note more than his good looks, humor, and charm. Observe both yourself and him as you interact. Does the conversation evolve with both of you listening to each other or is it weighted toward one person? Who makes the first decision, such as to which restaurant to meet for dinner? Does anyone interrupt? Are there any judgments made regarding others? Is an ex referred to in a derogatory manner? Does he stand too close for comfort?
As an example I will share a personal experience. Several months ago I was invited to a holiday get-together. A group of clinical social workers, psychologists, and counselors mingled throughout the evening. Amidst the bustle of introductions and reconnecting with others I noticed a middle aged man standing close to me wherever I went. After an hour of chatting I asked for another Perrier and withdrew to stand against the wall near the fireplace and observe the group for anyone I may have overlooked. The man who had been nearby the entire evening walked over and spoke to me.
“Hi, Judith, I don’t know if you remember but we met five years ago at Michael Adam’s wedding?” He paused, looking as though he was waiting for an answer.
“Hmm,” I murmured. “You do look familiar but I don’t remember your name.”
“Dr. Garner, Ben. I have a boutique practice with Dr. Madison.” His blue eyes sparkled as though entranced with me and his smile warm and inviting.
With that short reminder, Dr. Garner placed his right and left hand on the wall one on each side of me. He had very quickly made me his social captive.
I quickly excused myself to say hello to an old friend. Before extricating myself Ben asked to meet him for coffee soon. What Ben had displayed was an act of physical containment. Physical containment can be subtle or violent. The subtle occurs early and can be, but not always of course, an indicator of future physical control and violence.
A second example was when John asked my friend Ellen about a favorite restaurant. When she responded that is was India Café he said it was also his favorite and asked if she would like to go there for lunch. An hour before their planned meeting he called and reported that another place was having a seafood special and wanted to change the plan. They could go to the other café next time. By doing so, John not only implied they’d be meeting again which can be emotionally attractive but also assumed she’d want to continue a future relationship. Ellen agreed to this change in plans and did meet with him the second time, at another great restaurant where his friend was chef. John used a bit of charm combined with entitlement. It wasn’t that John was an abuser it was that he prioritized his needs and opinions over Ellen’s. If she had stayed with him she either had to address this in an in-depth conversation or suppress her preferences.
After years of clinical practice, primarily with women, I have helped a number of them leave manipulative and unhappy marriages. We review how they met their partner and the various red flags they either didn’t notice, overlooked or explained away. To assist them I created a list of beware of items. This list includes a worksheet of What I Learned on the First Date. The self-reflection became a tool to heighten awareness to potential emotional abuse in any further romantic search. It has helped them move on and I hope it helps you.
Each chapter focuses on one abusive or manipulative behavior through the lens of a woman’s story. It is my hope that by seeing how each of these behaviors manifests early on in a relationship, you’ll be empowered to recognize them in the men you meet—and perhaps save yourself from years of pain and unhappiness.
This book highlights how to recognize a potential male abuser immediately during the first meeting or encounter.
I will be posting more excepts soon!