Can you spot The Charmer? (Picture: Getty/Metro.co.uk)
There’s a saying that’s oh so spot-on when it comes to relationships: ‘if it feels too good to be true, it probably is’.
It’s easy to get swept up in ideas of whirlwind romance, grand gestures, and unconditional love, but all too often, when dating quickly goes to these grand heights, it’s just a harder crash down.
And sometimes, what seem like romantic actions straight out of a fairytale are in fact precursors to abuse, says psychotherapist Cathy Press.
‘If you find yourself in the midst of a charm offensive and are feeling that this person is too good to be true, you should probably take this thought seriously and take a step back,’ she tells Metro.co.uk.
‘You are in danger of falling for the Charmer – a type of toxic partner – because you “want” what appears to be happening to be real – the fairy-tale 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.’
Five signs you’re dating a wolf in sheep’s clothing
So, what are some signs that things aren’t what they seem? What red flags can alert us to a wolf in sheep’s clothing?
Cathy breaks it down.
Don’t get swept up in a whirlwind romance (Picture: Getty)
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 (obviously), if absolutely everything is exactly what you dream of hearing, that’s not as good as it may seem.
Spinning you a tale of perfection is straight out of the abuser handbook. This is who Cathy describes as The Charmer, and notes that an abuser will take on this personality to lure you into a false sense of security.
‘As part of their charm offensive they may say that you are just what they’re looking for, that you are special, that they’ve never met anyone like you before, that they feel lucky to have met you,’ Cathy explains. ‘They don’t mean it.
‘The Charmer will then re-emerge at those times when you question the way they behave and/or when you want to end your relationship with them.’
They engage in future-faking
Future-faking is another classic tactic to raise up your hopes and make you invest in a relationship.
A wolf in sheep’s clothing will promise you the world – marriage! Globetrotting adventures! Babies! Fancy dates at expensive restaurants! The vision of love you’ve always dreamed of!
These promises will never be delivered. Instead they’ll be dangled over you as bait to get you to stay when things turn bad.
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.
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They buy you big gifts
‘The Charmer might spoil you by buying you gifts – just like in TV adverts designed to instill the belief that when you receive a gift in a romantic context it’s because you’re special,’ Cathy says.
‘Unless you are consciously aware of this influence, it can be too easy to believe that the reason the Charmer gives you presents is because they really like you.
‘You have to ask yourself: Is the gift to genuinely treat me and make me feel special? Or was it given to make me feel indebted and to perhaps be used later as leverage when they want me to do something I don’t want to do?’
Your gut is telling you something isn’t right
Your date might seem absolutely 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 do you just feel a jolt of anxiety when they’re near?
Listen to your intuition and don’t dismiss the sense that things aren’t right.
Cathy’s new book When Love Bites: A Young Person’s Guide To Escaping Harmful, Toxic and Hurtful Relationships publishes on April 11, 2022 priced £14.99. For more information, visit Escape The Trap.
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