Women erroneously think that a dangerous man in a relationship is only a violent man. While the violent man is indeed one of the categories of dangerous men, there are seven others that are often overlooked. These omitted categories are exactly how women get into dangerous relationships. These lapses in information leave women without the knowledge to respond to the face of dangerousness when he is in their life through a relationship. Since much of the information about ‘what’ makes a man dangerous has not been taught to women, they do not recognize nor respond to covert dangerousness.
Most women have learned to ignore their red flags during a relationship–their biological response system that tells them that something is not quite right. Our research indicated that 100% of women understand red flags, have red flags, and many of them go on to ignore the very red flags that can alert them to unsafe relationships. Women sited various reasons for ignoring red flags which included societal training that women should be polite, gender differences that taught them that women are to be hyper-tolerant to less than appealing male behavior, and female role modeling in their childhoods where women in their families tolerated dangerous male behavior in relationships, renamed the behavior to something less threatening, and then stayed.
Overtly lacking in today’s women’s programs are the outright names of dangerous diagnosis, the labeling of specific dangerous behaviors, and the teaching of why dangerousness is not something that can be treated, more less cured. Most women cannot cite any elements that make a man ‘incurable.’ They don’t understand that the issue of dangerousness is based on a person’s inability to grow or change, in or out of the relationship. And furthermore, they do not know what ‘an inability to grow or change’ looks like or acts like.
No wonder record amounts of women are or have been in as many as four to five dangerous man relationships before they changed their patterns. Often the only reason change came at all was because of extreme violence and subsequent near death injuries. Others were killed in the relationship. Sadly, once a woman has dated one dangerous man her chances of being in a relationship with more dangerous men dramatically increase. This is because one of the notable side effects of being in a relationship with pathologically dangerous men is that women begin to normalize abnormal behavior until dangerous men look normal and are the only types of men they date. Even more shocking, women will adapt their own behaviors in the relationship to the pathologically ill man so that his behaviors are less disturbing to her. This results in the woman mimicking sick behavior and also learning to tolerate this type of behavior by increasing her negative coping skills which allows her to deny, justify, minimize or in any other way ignore or discount dangerous behavior.
Universal signs of a bad relationship choice can be learned and should be by all women. But until recently, the categories and types of dangerous men were known only to the therapists who treated them. The 7th Great Wonder of the World (psychopathology) was undisclosed, unexplained, and never taught to the lay public. Women’s patterns of perilous relationship selections continued on without the benefit of knowledgeable intervention that included how to spot dangerousness. Girls, teens, and women are all told not to date ‘bad men’ but no one taught them what bad men were or what made them bad.
A woman’s capacity to choose differently is only as effective as the information she has to choose wisely. Women begin to make different relationship selections when they understand the incurableness of some men, what makes them untreatable and unsafe, and how he can impact her long term quality of life by his own destructive dangerousness. Women can understand and do respond when they have the information to choose differently in relationships. They also learn to choose differently when they learn to reconnect to the red flags that their bodies are faithful to send them. Information and awareness become powerful tools for healthier relationships and long term change.