So that charming guy you met at the gym asked you on a date? Or you’re dating that guy who gives amazing dates and creates super intense and romantic moments? Ya, it seems great now… but how do you know if they are genuinely amazing and interested in you (read: 6 Signs Someone Is Genuinely Interested In You) or if they just know how to turn on the charm? (Over the years, I have realized that the people you need to be most wary of are the really charming ones.)

Read: The 5 Questions You MUST Ask On A First Date That Will Tell You EVERYTHING You Need to Know

I recently conducted a survey asking women about the state of their relationships, and if they had ever experienced mistreatment, cheating or abuse in either a past relationship or a current relationship. Unfortunately, almost 70% of women who answered this survey indicated that they had experienced abuse of some kind in their relationships. When I asked women why they had stayed in these abusive or cheating relationships, a lot of them mentioned that they ‘did not know it was abuse until it was too late.’

Having done a lot of research into this topic, and realizing how important it is for women like you to be able to recognize the warning signs of a potentially abusive or toxic relationship, I decided to include that information right here for your convenience. Here are some of the red flags you can look out for so that you can avoid a bad relationship and choose a man who is worthy of you:

1. Moves too fast in relationship & rushes commitment
Yes, we all want a man who will commit, but be careful of the man who tries to rush into a commitment too quickly! This is usually an indication of possessiveness, controlling behavior, jealousy and toxic insecurity. Relationship experts who have researched abusive and toxic relationships have discovered that the abuser usually comes across as extremely charming and romantic during the beginning stages of a relationship, but rushes commitment because he wants his victim to ‘belong’ to him. This is not to say that every charming or romantic man is trouble, but if he is rushing commitment, be careful!

2. Unrealistic expectations of you to be perfect, or meet his idea of ‘the ideal woman.’
If you find yourself dating someone who has an unreachable standard that he expects you to attain or has a certain idea of what the ‘perfect woman’ is and wants you to be that for him, it may be a sign that he is bad news. If your partner starts saying things like “don’t wear that, you should wear this” or “you shouldn’t miss a yoga class” or (my personal favorite) “should you be eating that?”, then he is exhibiting controlling and abusive behaviors that should act as a warning to you. Look out for the ‘should’ and ‘shouldn’t’ commands and comments.

3. Critical of you and others, and considers himself superior
He may have a lot of critical things to say about his ex, his coworkers, and friends… and even about you. He may be critical about the way you dress, the color of your hair, the way you eat, the way you walk…  anything you do, say or are could be susceptible to criticism. At the same time, he considers himself to be superior to those he criticizes and will let you know that.

4. His reactions are out of proportion to reality
The waitron may have brought the wrong order, or perhaps you spilled food on the sofa, but instead of handling it as a normal, respectful person would, he throws his toys out the cot and makes it known that this event has completely ruined his evening. He will make you feel responsible for his outbursts or for ‘ruining the day.

5. Guilt trips you, or pressures you to do things you don’t want to do
He may use guilt as a way to get you to do things, or you may find yourself feeling pressured to do things you wouldn’t otherwise do. This could apply to a number of scenarios, but this tactic is usually used to get a woman to comply with sex or a sexual act she isn’t comfortable with. He will say that he loves you, but he constantly threatens the relationship to keep it on his terms and get what he wants. “I love you, but you know how important sex is to me. If you can’t do that for me, then we need to break up.” His love is conditional and depends on your willingness to meet his demands.

6. Cannot admit fault but blames you and others for his problems
This is the guy who plays the victim every time something happens. Somehow, its always someone else’s fault (and possibly even your fault. He will often underplay his own problems, or assign the blame for those problems to someone else. However, he will subsequently overplay your faults and problems and frequently use them against you.

7. Inflicts pain instead of solving issues
When an issue arises, instead of working with you to resolve the problem, he will lash out at you, bring you down and try to make you feel pain. Then, when you are at your lowest point, he will try to make you feel better. This is a power-play tactic, where an abuser tries to regain control over a situation he felt wasn’t in his favor or control initially.

8. Isolates you from family or friends
If you find yourself in a situation where your partner doesn’t support or encourage you to spend time with friends or family and wants you to spend less time with them, then run. This is a tactic to isolate you and cut you from your support system so that you become solely dependent on him.

9. Excessive gifts
One of the oldest tricks in the book is to give someone a gift and then hold it against them later or use it as ‘evidence’ of all the great things they have done. Perhaps you are upset because he came home in the early hours of the morning with no explanation, he will use the “I’ve done so much for you” or “I’ve given you everything” line and reference all the gifts he has given you in the past. Or maybe he showered you with gifts, and now expects certain things in return.

10. Compares you to other women or defends others over you
If he says things like Why don’t you dye your hair blonde like that girl? You would look so much better. Blondes are way hotter than brunettes” or “have you considered getting a boob job? Your boobs are quite small”, then get out.  If he is obsessing over another woman and/or openly comparing you to someone else, it is not okay. These scenarios are technically considered emotional abuse, and you do not have to endure it. At the same time, constantly defending or taking sides of other women over you is equally not okay.

11. Mean or abusive towards others
Does he speak to his parents or the waitron (or anyone else for that matter) with a manner of disrespect? Is he abusive or mean towards animals and children? Is he demeaning towards people of different cultures, backgrounds or ethnicity? Does he talk down to people who are not as successful as him? If you can answer yes to any of these, tread carefully. These are just some of the questions you can ask yourself to pick up on early warning signs of abusive behavior.

12. He puts himself first and doesn’t acknowledge or consider your needs
This is someone who will not give all of himself to you but expects you to give all of yourself to him. Again, it will be one-sided, conditional love. He will expect you to go over and above for him, with very little reciprocation. He will be the kind of guy who will spend vast amounts of money on himself (usually on drugs, booze, fun activities, cars, electronics, etc.), and then claim that he can’t afford to take you on a date or buy you flowers…. Or pay his half of the bills.

13. He’s cheated before
If you met him while he was still with someone else, or he’s mentioned to you that he has cheated before (even if it was emotional cheating and he didn’t ‘do anything’) then you can be pretty sure he will do it again. It won’t be any different with you.

14. Your gut tells you something is off
If you have a little twinge of a feeling that something is not right or that he is not being totally honest with you, trust your gut! You are more insightful than you think you are, and if your instincts are telling you something, then you should listen. Your instincts are there to protect you.

15. Your family and friends warn you
If your friends and family members don’t like him or have noticed things that you haven’t, listen to them! Your family and friends genuinely want what is best for you. They are your ultimate support group, and they will look out for you no matter what. If you find yourself defending him to the extent that you are prepared to sacrifice your relationships with others to be with him, then there is a big problem, and you should end it with him.

Not all men are prone to abusive or cheating behaviors, in fact, most men are good men! As a goddess, it’s important to know your worth and be able to differentiate between a high-risk man and a high-quality man. You deserve to find a high-quality man who will respect you, partner with you and give you the love that you deserve.

RELATED: The 5 Questions You MUST Ask On A First Date That Will Tell You EVERYTHING You Need to Know

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