Ghosting, Catfishing, Gaslighting, Coercive Control, Grooming, Discarding, Blocking….all sound like manoeuvres in some sort of exotic dance, don’t they? In a strange way they actually are.

I’ve dipped a toe or ten in the online dating scene and even been crazy enough to go on dates with men I knew subconsciously were dangerous. In going through the hell of dating two Casanova Psychopaths ( long term) who fall into the Dark Triad of personality frameworks, I gained a valuable insight into how easy it is to be sucked in, chewed up and spat out of a “loving relationship” that simply ruined my bank balance, career and overall mental health. 3 years later & luckily for you I am now a font of knowledge in how to avoid “the bad one’s” all over social media and lurking on dating sites in particular.

So, what do you need to look out for? Casanova Psychopaths work in 3 steady stages in pretty much EVERY relationship (or hook up) they have.

Stage 1 is called “The Love-Bombing stage”.

The person will hit up your DM’s and phone rather intensely. They are in regular almost suffocating contact. They are highly complimentary, generous, charming and at times it feels very fast moving and often becomes sexual rather soon- they want to test your boundaries and “feed” from your growing interest in them and you may not have even met yet! They adore you. You are perfect. You are “the one”.

It’s intoxicating but you ignore the sense of a runaway train as they just seem perfect for you, mirroring your own lifestyle, desires and plans for the future- on purpose.

Stage 2 is called “The Devaluation Stage”.

The person gets something from you. This is called “Fuel”. By now you have given off signals that you are into them. You may have done some sexual stuff or even given them money or “saved” them in some way. You feel special and swept up but he/she has started to cool. There are strange cancellations of dates, excuses of MH issues or childcare or some drama that now start to speckle your life.

You will feel pressured to “please and calm” the person by doing certain things monetary or sexually for them. They then start to act distant, you start to walk on egg-shells, you are committed now so want to preserve it as best you can. They may start to say things to you designed to unnerve and upset you- comments about your appearance, job, lifestyle etc.

They are “devaluing” you and leading you to devalue yourself. You start acting a bit needy, paranoid and even anxious. You may find out things they lied about. They usually lie to make themselves look better these types- single when married, divorced but told you no one serious before, no job afterall or their job is not as high up as previously stated, they chop years off their age and so on. When you ask about these lies, they react harshly.

They block or ghost you or even end it. They show little to no remorse or empathy but yet…you stay trying with them because the Lovebombing they did, was damn fine wasn’t it!

Stage 3 is where things are sliding down- fast. It’s called the “Discard” stage.

The inevitable break-up and usually not your choice. You feel like they used you. You feel like you are exhausted and confused. You get a bit ( dare I say) co-dependant with an unhealthy attachment to this person who actually brought very little positivity to your life, in all honesty!

You sense a significant shift. They may well be cheating or sexting others. They may relapse in some sort of addiction. They appear to be falling apart but really it’s just their true self coming out. These people cannot be consistent and have no real interest in a proper true loving honest coupling. Their may be some verbal or physical violence. Financial abuse, threats of revenge porn and other men or women “harassing” or stalking you saying that YOU are an interloper…. Hmmmmm. Then the ending.

BUT it’s not an ending. It can be days or weeks or months but the abuser (they are, an abuser) pops back up. I call it “revisiting the rotting corpse to feed”. People with NPD (narcissistic personality disorder) in particular never really “dump” you or go away forever. Even worse, within the final stage they embark on a revenge mission – they sleep with your enemies, contact your exes, stalk you, make up stories about you and even go as far as setting you up as “the bad one” with social services or the police!

Then out of nowhere the “ I miss you” and want to meet for “Coffee” text. This is called “Hoovering”. You need to block, delete, never respond and change any possible contact details to get peace.

Take this on board and you will indeed avoid the bad-ones and find a few good-ones!

– L.W Hawksby

L.W Hawksby is a published author based in Glasgow who has written a mini-memoir on the above issues called “Dangerous Normal People. Understanding Casanova Psychopaths & The Narcissistic Virus”. She offers free coaching to victims of Dark Triad types, is almost finished her second book on the same vein called The Notch & is working on developing other practices to spread awareness and understanding of toxic people in relationships, workplaces and friendship settings.

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