You know what they say about hindsight being 2020? Never has this been as true as when we look back on the red flags in our past relationships. With the help of distance and some time, we’re able to pinpoint the things that weren’t quite right in the relationships we thought were great while we were in them.
Maybe your ex was too controlling, self-absorbed, distant or manipulative, and you couldn’t quite see it. Turns out you’re not alone, and you’re not a sadist.
It turns out we’re attracted to reg flags at the beginning of a relationship
In a 2016 study called ‘How Alluring Are Dark Personalities?’, Jauk et al. studied the effects of psychopathy, narcissism, and Machiavellianism within a speed dating setting.
According to Psychology Today, the research team defined these ‘Dark Triad’ traits as the following:
- Narcissism: self-admiration and grandiosity.
- Machiavellianism: cynical thinking and detached effect and coldness.
- Psychopathy: callousness, manipulativeness, and antisocial behaviour.
The study found that all three of the above traits can contribute to successful short-term mating strategies, and narcissism is linked to both short and long-term appeal. Researchers believe this is due to the attractive traits that accompanied the narcissistic participants (both men and women); such as extraversion and physical attractiveness.
How to flag them as red flags
‘Some personality traits are beyond dark; they are dangerous,’ writes career trial attorney and author, Wendy L. Patrick, JD, Ph.D. in Psychology Today. ‘Yet even an aggressive predisposition can masquerade as attractive assertiveness on a first date.’
Through her work prosecuting domestic violence crimes, Patrick has identified the ways in which red flags masquerade as attractive qualities at the start of a relationship:
- At first, possessive appears protective.
- Controlling appears comforting.
- Aggressive appears assertive.
- Violence appears passionate.
- Rude appears direct.
- Condescending appears confident.
It’s because of this inability to see red flags as what they are that Patrick recommends getting to know a potential partner well before becoming too involved. ‘First dates are all about first impressions, yet they are also the time you should be at your most objective. So become informed before you risk becoming infatuated. Examine a date’s behaviour, temperament, and suitability early on, to ensure that seemingly desirable qualities are truly as good as they look.’
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