When I was younger my Guardian Angel worked overtime. So many times in my youth, and even some times more recently, I consorted with mooks, murderers, ne'er-do-wells and crazy people. Having done this from such an early age, and surviving relatively unscathed, it was a second nature to me. I believed that this happened partly because I was an openminded person who took everyone on a case by case basis, and partly because I was predisposed to it. My Dad hung around with shady types. 2 of my brothers say that he worked for the mob. I remember as a child being in a bar & grill that had a bathtub in the john, years later reading in The Westies what that tub was used for at least once. All my Dad did was run numbers, nothing violent. And the old men he knew were sweet to me, bought me Shirley Temples and had me pick out horses to bet on. Somehow I developed a tolerance for the crazy. But crazy can turn dangerous and these days, as psychopathic as society has grown, very dangerous. Here I offer some common sense tips to help avoid getting involved with a crazy/dangerous type (Note: danger appies to emotionally/psychologically as well as physically):
- Check their medications. If they hang around outside the bathroom when you use it, assume they aren't there because they want to keep talking. They're listening to hear if you open their medicine chest. Remember the names of the drugs they take regularly. And check what those are. If any are mood stabilizers/antipsychotics, back off.
- Don't make excuses for their behavior. If they act really strangely for any reason, step back. I don't care if they're brilliant, or gorgeous, or funny, or rich. Weird and abnormal responses to things marks a nut. Observe their behaviors. Do they frequently panic/cause drama/overreact to minor incidents? Has their behavior begun to change your behavior? Run away!
- No matter what, don't have sex with them, especially if you're a woman, until you've checked them out. I'm gonna sound very sexist here, but women do become emotionally involved once sex happens. It's nature and nurture. Protect yourself first in every way. Listen and weigh the words they use. Do they focus on confrontation and aggression? Are they supportive and helpful to you as you are to them? Do they play toxic come here/go away games with you? Drop em like they're hot.
- Take your time. Every time I've gone with overwhelming attraction and plunged into a relationship (friendship or otherwise) I've (so far) lived to regret it. If they are predators, they'll pressure you into something quickly. They'll create dramas that demand your sympathy and allegiance from the moment you meet. Beware of this above all. They're testing their limits and how much they can manipulate you. They may not even consciously know this; it's a second nature to the psycho. Unfortunately, it hits to the heart of the compassionate. If you are a compassionate type (and most people are), your heart goes out to the victim. This is not to say that you shouldn't care/help people. Listen to what your gut says. Don't override it with justifications. Take your own sweet time in getting to know someone. You, your life and safety are worth the extra weeks. Only time tells the truth. Slow down.
- Don't date anyone who wants it kept secret. This really is The Big One. It's universal. If they can't include you in the rest of their life, don't invite them into yours. Yes, it's that simple.
I'm sure there are many more guidelines, these are just what comes to mind. If you, kind reader, have more, please add them in comments. We've all survived toxic relationships- you can't avoid some. But any time you have a choice, err on the side of self-preservation. One psycho can really mess up your day. And your life.