Coercive Control – 5 Signs you’re dating a wolf in sheep’s clothing

We’ve all heard the phrase when it comes to dating: if it feels too good to be true, it probably is.

It’s easy to get swept up in ideals of a whirlwind romance, grand gestures, and unconditional love, but, all too often, when dating quickly goes to these heights, they’re likely to crash down harder. And sometimes what seems like romantic actions from a fairytale are actually precursors to abuse.

You are in danger of falling for the Charmer- a character of the toxic partner- because you want what appears to be happening to be real; the fairytale romance or Disney love you see in films. You may have a niggling feeling not to trust what is happening or feel a bit pressured that things are going too quickly, but if you feel so loved up you may override the instinct or ignore your gut feeling. A rushed and speedy start to a relationship should always come with a warning.

So what are the early warning signs of an abuser? Here are 5 signs that your partner may lure you into an unhealthy relationship.

Signs of Coercive Control: They tell you everything you want to hear.

No-one is perfect. While you don’t want to dislike everything that comes out of a date’s mouth, if absolutely everything is what you dream of hearing, that’s not as good as it may seem. Spinning you a tale of perfection is a classic tactic of the Charmer. As part of their charm offensive they may say that you are just what they are looking for, that you are special, that they’ve never met anyone like you before, that they feel lucky to have met you. But they don’t mean it.

The Charmer will also re-emerge at the times when you question the way they behave and/or when you want to end your relationship with them.

Signs of Coercive Control: They engage in future-faking

Future-faking is another classic tactic to make you invest in a relationship. A Charmer will promise you the world: marriage! Globetrotting travels! Babies! Fancy dates at expensive places! The vision of love you’ve always dreamed of. But these promises will never be delivered.

Instead, they’ll be dangled over you as bait to get you to stay when things turn bad.

Signs of Coercive Control: They lovebomb you.

Do things feel like they’re moving super fast? If you’re only a few dates in and they’re already showering you with extreme affection, run a mile- this is love bombing.

They are reeling you in to take control of you faster.

Signs of Coercive Control: They buy you big gifts

The Charmer might spoil you by buying you gifts- just like in TV adverts that are designed to instil the belief that when you receive a gift in a romantic context it’s because you’re special. Unless you are consciously aware of this influence, it can be too easy to believe that the reason that Charmer gives you presents is that they really like you.

You have to ask yourself: is the gift to genuinely treat me because I’m special, or was it given to make me feel indebted and to be used as leverage later when they want me to do something I don’t want to do?

Signs of Coercive Control: Your gut is telling you something isn’t right.

Your fate might seem wonderful, but there’s something in the back of your mind that doesn’t feel sure.

Don’t ignore that feeling.

Creeping doubts are our subconscious noticing things that perhaps our conscious mind isn’t aware of.

Are those butterflies in your stomach, or is it a jolt of anxiety when they’re near?

Listen to your intuition and don’t dismiss the sense that things aren’t right.

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