Abusive men are choosy in that they won’t pick just any woman to get involved with.
What kind of woman would a controlling man, who has a high propensity for abusing a girlfriend or wife, never get involved with?
An abusive man wants to control. He won’t be drawn to a headstrong, take-charge, outspoken woman.
A controlling man wants a woman who will never leave him, not one who will fight him — fight, as in press assault charges after the first incidence of violence; pack up her bags and leave; file for divorce; or seek revenge in some way.
And yes, some women will fight back physically and be quite successful.
If the man wants a woman who’d never leave him, he’s going to be drawn to a woman who seems needy or indecisive.
Nor will this man be drawn to a woman who upgrades her voice to authoritative when a man angrily interrupts her, as opposed to backing down.
There are all sorts of tip-offs the potentially violent man looks for:
How a woman reacts when a man (or woman) cuts in front of her in a line
How a woman interacts with the crusty mechanic at the body shop
How a woman responds to shoddy restaurant service or someone cutting her off on the highway.
Do not be misled by Hollywood’s portrayal of wife-beating men, who are often brawny-looking and covered in tattoos.
I once lived near a very short chubby man who looked like a college chemistry professor, appearing like the type of geeky man whom a few teenage punks would harass at the bus stop and then beat up. This very man beat his wife.
“We teach people how to treat us,” says Mary Jo Fay, RN, MSN, author of When Your Perfect Partner Goes Perfectly Wrong.
Fay says, “Suppose you meet a nice man and are out on Date 3; you tell him something you did at the job that didn’t turn out too good.
“He says, ‘Gosh, that was stupid. Why did you do that?’ Your radar should be saying, ‘Nobody calls me names!’ You should then share with him that sentiment, setting strong boundaries.
“Then, you keep your radar up for a while to see if he learned how you expect to be treated or not.
“If he never pulls that kind of behavior out of his hat again, great! You’ve just taught him one tiny piece of your expectations of him.
“However, if you said nothing about the ‘stupid’ comments, rationalized to yourself that he was just tired — had had a bad day himself — or it was the liquor talking,” or that you really were stupid, “then you have just taught him it’s okay to call you stupid.
“And guess what: Odds are next time he’ll call you a stupid [fill in the blank], or some other new and improved version because you just taught him it’s okay to call you names!”
Predators quickly learn from “co-dependents” how frail their borders are.
“A woman with strong self-esteem will have picked her purse up by now, gotten up and said, ‘Nobody calls me names,’ and marched out,” says Fay, referring to Date 3.
“This would be way too much work for a predator to follow up on. However, predators also know how to be Prince Charming for as long as it takes to hook his prey. I can’t tell you how many men I know who switched from Jekyll to Hyde on their wedding night.”
Abusive men are not superheroes. Abusive men have weaknesses. They are wounded from a corrupt childhood, and the tough act is only that: an act.
A truly tough man doesn’t beat up on helpless women. This isn’t to say that a wife-beater has never gotten into fights with other men.
But these kind of men will retreat when faced with a challenging woman, the kind of women “who are assertive, who know what they want, who don’t particularly like him ordering for them,” at restaurants, “or telling them what the two of them will be doing, are women he would avoid,” says Tina B. Tessina, PhD, psychotherapist and author of The 10 Smartest Decisions a Woman Can Make Before 40.
Dr. Tessina explains, “He doesn’t go for women who don’t melt when he tells them they’re beautiful, who are slightly suspicious of his charm, and hold themselves back a little.
“Women who understand that ‘too good to be true’ probably is, and wait to see if he lives up to his promises, are not good bets for him.”
Dr. Tessina appears frequently on radio, TV, video and podcasts, and has been in private practice for over 30 years.
Mary Jo Fay is a speaker, author and consultant who specializes in relationships.
Lorra Garrick has been covering medical, fitness and cybersecurity topics for many years, having written thousands of articles for print magazines and websites, including as a ghostwriter. She’s also a former ACE-certified personal trainer.