Drawn to the guy who looks at you so intensely you melt? His constant attention making you feel all warm and fuzzy?

Criminal history shows that the most deadly psychopaths have always been the most charming. Scared yet? Well, not all charming guys are predators but all predators are mostly charming.

Clinical psychologist Prachi S Vaish familiarises you with ten signs to watch out for before you agree to give in to that silent stranger.

Morbid interests

Torturing vulnerable animals gives predators a sense of power and a morbid sense of curiosity and satisfaction. So a kick to a yelping dog or morbid interest in an injured animal or stories of how he loved dissecting in science class should mean an instant warning bell for you!

Mr. Touchy

No, we’re not talking about him actually laying hands on you. We’re talking about him being extra sensitive and easily reactive to every little joke or comment as if it is all a personal affront aimed at him. This points towards low self-esteem and possibly has bred a lot of anger and sense of inadequacy which may manifest in twisted ways of regaining power over innocent victims, because in his mind, everyone is a bully.

Unclear family history

Hesitation in talking about his family, deflection tactics, a flash of anger or irritation when you bring up his background, could be signs that there is a possibility of neglect or abuse in his past. And while this may make you want to sympathise towards the “inner child” in him, such children grow up to be angry men with dark sides and you don’t want to take that chance.

Control freak

Almost all abusers and those with psychopathic tendencies are moved by a need for control. It makes them feel powerful. So if he has been trying to control the things you say, what you order in the restaurant, who you look at or talk to , it’s time to rethink this. Peter Manuel, the “Beast of Birkenshaw”, a Scottish serial killer, committed eight brutal murders, most of whom were women and his biggest high was the control and power he felt over his victims.

Need for seclusion

“Don’t you think I’d be able to pay better attention to you if were somewhere private?” “I like having you all to myself” “I don’t like sharing you” these are all warning signs. While you may feel all aglow at his exclusive attention, extreme possessiveness is never a healthy thing; don’t equate it with love and don’t wander off to secluded alleys with him.  This is also an attempt to get too close to you too quickly and according to Professor David Wilson, Britain’s leading criminologist, professor of Criminology at the University of Central England, and an authority on psychopathic criminals, “There is a “grooming” tendency of psychopaths – they are just too friendly”.

Help me please!

A psychopath has an uncanny ability to appeal to a victim’s nurture instincts and he does so by acting helpless in small things like acting al cute about not being able to figure out how something works, or acting heartbroken, or even acting like the silent brooder who stays aloof because he doesn’t want to be hurt by the world. He may even just fake an injury to get your attention. Ted Bundy, the most charming serial killer in history, used exactly this tactic by putting his arm in a plaster cast and ask women to help him load groceries in his car; once there, he would knock them unconscious and abduct them.

Too much focus

What girl doesn’t like a guy notice every little detail about her right? But he’s just a little bit too fixated on a few of your features like your eyes, hair colour, smile, body type etc., just tread a little carefully. Case studies of serial killers almost always bring out their fixation on common criterion among their victims because it’s that trait (because of something in their past) that triggers their complex and activates the killer instinct.

The perfect guy

If you seriously think that he couldn’t be any more perfect, take a peek into his past relationships. If he has never ahd one or has never had a steady one with multiple breakups, and especially if all those breakups were because “she didn’t get me like you do”, whoa baby, hold it there!

Joined at the hip

Suddenly after just two dates, he cannot seem to do anything without you, claims he lies awake at night thinking of you, want to be a part of every minute your day and wants you to be his. Well, he’s probably establishing a toxic parasitic emotional bond with you where he needs to feed off his complexes. Try putting some distance gently like scheduling a night out with your girlfriends or a meeting at work, and see if he reacts with uncharacteristic anger. That’s a definite tell-tale sign!

Trust your gut

All of us are blessed with a sixth sense, or gut feeling if you will. We just don’t listen to it often. If something doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t; if he makes you doubt yourself; if he uses phrases like “if you loved me you would…”; if you have to think twice before you say anything in front of him, something is definitely wrong. He’s probably gaslighting you. Take a step back, and try to understand – that feeling you’re getting in the pit of your stomach before meeting him – is that butterflies or is that dread?

Keep these pointers in mind and I assure you, your predator radar would be as sharp as ever, and believe me, it could really be a lifesaver!

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