First date danger signs [Archive] - Glock Talk


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The Pontificator
01-22-2007, 11:32
(good advice for men or women here)

You sit at a table in a nice restaurant trying not to watch the clock as your dinner companion drones on about work in agonizing detail. It feels as though you've endured two hours of nonstop monologue. When the bill finally comes, your companion is short on money and sticks you with the check.

Here's another scenario: You're smiling in delight as you discover yet another shared interest with the person across the table. In fact, the evening speeds by in such a blur of laughter and intense conversation that you've barely glanced at your watch. When you do get the bill, you're disappointed that it arrived so quickly.

If you've dated much, one or both of these experiences may be familiar. Going out for the first time with a new person can be fun and exciting, and most people hope it will turn out to be like date number two. But many first dates are clunkers -- useful only as fodder for great stories to tell friends later. The guy who wore the T-shirt with the obscene slogan to your first (and only) rendezvous, or the woman who put on eye makeup at the table and criticized every dish are good for a few laughs around the water cooler.

But some first dates go far beyond horrible. They can be downright dangerous. People who are prone to violence or emotionally abusive behavior tend to exhibit certain traits that you should watch out for before agreeing to another get-together. You may even need to check out early.

How can you tell whether a date is just a dud or a real threat to your health? Here are just a few of the clues.

The server test

If you're dining out at a restaurant on a first date, gauge the way your companion behaves toward you and others in public. How does your date treat the people waiting on you? Does he raise his voice or make a scene if the wine isn't chilled just right? Does she berate the server, finding fault with everything from the appetizer to the dessert? According to psychologist Joseph Carver, PhD, the way your date treats the wait staff is often an indication of how he or she will treat you after you've known each other a while. And blowups that are way out of proportion to the events that triggered them are typical of abusers.

The blame game

People like to put their best foot forward on first dates. That's not a bad thing in general. It's often difficult to relate what happened in a failed marriage or previous relationship. But if your date recounts story after story about all the awful things that other people did to him and how they are never his fault, watch out.

People who are emotionally abusive often see problems as someone else's fault, and are unable to recognize their own culpability. If your date likes to push blame off on others, it probably won't be long before the finger of blame is pointed at you.

Story time

Listen to the stories your date tells -- they'll give you insight into his or her personality. If she talks about the cruel revenge she took on a woman at work, or the nasty way she dumped her last boyfriend and laughed about it with her friends, the odds of her being a warm and supportive girlfriend are pretty slim. If he talks about how he beat up some guy in a bar fight, or boasts that he never takes guff from anybody, better steer clear. People who see violence as an admirable trait may inflict it on their partners.

Moving too fast, too soon

Be wary of the date who seems enthralled by you immediately and probes relentlessly into your past relationships or sexual practices. Feeling chemistry with someone isn't a bad thing, but going completely gaga over someone you don't really know yet is not healthy.

Watch out for someone who likes to invade your space, too, either by getting too close or touching you in ways that make you feel uncomfortable. If your date keeps pressuring you to go home with him or makes unwanted sexual advances, take a cab home rather than ride in the same car. And don't go to the rest room and leave your drink unattended on the bar or table -- that's often the way date-rape drugs are delivered.

A few too many

A person who drinks way too much on a first date is someone you want to think twice about seeing again. Even if excessive drinking doesn't turn out to be an indication of alcoholism, it points to a lack of self-control. And if she can't control her drinking, ask yourself if she's likely to be able to control her temper or her jealousy.

Pressuring you to drink is also a suspicous sign. Be careful if he orders drinks you don't want or keeps offering drugs when you've already said no. According to one study of date rape, 75 percent of men and 55 percent of women had used drugs or alcohol before the assault occurred.

Rohypnol, a sleeping aid not legally available in the United States, and gamma hydroxybutyrate (GHB), a strong sedative that's legal in the United States only for research purposes, are now commonly used in date rape. Slipped into a date's drink while her attention is diverted, these drugs can cause sedation or even unconsciousness. Once she's awake, a woman is unable to remember what happened while she was passed out.

Dating and violence

A date shouldn't be dangerous. But among young people, violence on dates is becoming increasingly common. More than a third of date-rape victims are between 14 and 17 years old.

Young people in their 20s are also at risk. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than half of 1,000 female university students surveyed at a large urban university had experienced some degree of sexual assault, and 12 percent of those incidents occurred on casual dates. Based on a review of available studies, the CDC estimates that about 22 percent of male and female high school students have also experienced nonsexual violence on dates. Although experts don't know how many of these incidents took place on first dates, these statistics emphasize why it makes sense to be cautious when going out with someone for the first time.

Of course, high school and college students aren't the only ones who are vulnerable to sexual violence, emotional abuse, and other types of assaults during dates. It happens to older people too, and it happens far too often. Anyone who is going out on a first date should proceed with caution.

Staying safe

Always choose a safe place for a first date, especially if you don't know the other person well. A coffee shop, a restaurant, a museum, and most other public places are good choices. Think twice if he suggests his apartment or an isolated park, or if he suggests driving you somewhere. On the first date, you should also be wary if your date insists on meeting in a sketchy location or rushing into having sex. These rules apply regardless of whether you're dating someone of the opposite sex or the same sex -- don't be lulled by a false sense of security into thinking that a same-sex partner will have the same strength as you do and so wouldn't be able to overpower you.

When on a date, accept drinks only from the waiter or bartender. Make sure you have a good exit strategy from any date. Carry cab fare, or make sure you can get to your car or public transportion easily.

And trust your instincts: Don't feel shy about a do-it-yourself background check if you sense something is wrong. One woman dating on the Internet felt that the business executive who responded to her ad sounded overly smitten, even obsessed. Doing a quick Google search, she found that he had been sued for sexual harassment. In another search, she found out that a charming suitor who claimed to be single and available -- yet was unable to give out a home or cell number -- was married with children.

Paying attention to your intuition -- and to behavioral warning signs -- may save you a lot of grief down the road. First dates can be memorable, traumatic, or somewhere in between, but at least they won't be dangerous if you stay alert to signs of trouble.

-- Nancy Montgomery is an associate editor at Consumer Health Interactive.



Warning Signs of Dangerous Relationships. Noelle C. Nelson, PhD.

Warning Signs That You're Dating a Loser. Joseph M. Carver, PhD.

Dating Violence. National Center for Injury Prevention and Control. U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Date Rape Drug (Rohypnol). National Women's Health Information Center. HHS Office on Women's Health.

Talking About Dating Violence. Office of the Attorney General, Washington, D.C.

Sexual Assault/Rape: Alcohol and Other Drugs. UC Berkeley. 2003.

Mrs. VR
01-22-2007, 19:53
thanks, good info to share!

01-25-2007, 10:06
Makes me glad that I don't need to date anymore!