How to Avoid Dating Dangerous Emotional Predators

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emotional predators

[PODCAST] Stay safe! Author and therapist, Steven Wolhandler, shares many tips about how to avoid dating emotional predators.

My podcast guest, Steven Wolhandler, is a psychotherapist, mediator, consultant and retired attorney. He spoke with me about how to avoid dating dangerous emotional predators. Steven knows how abusive and manipulative people prey on the emotions of good people – and how good people can protect themselves. He has decades of experience dealing with, and learning from, toxic manipulators, and helping their victims with penetrating insight, effective strategies and humor. Listen as he offers a radically different view of these Emotional Predators and provides practical effective solutions. 

Check out the show notes, and listen to/download EP 358: How to Avoid Dating Dangerous Emotional Predators.

Avoid Dating Dangerous Emotional Predators

What inspired you to immerse yourself in this topic?

I’ve worked for several decades as a therapist and a mediator in the family court system. I’ve dealt with a lot of very difficult toxic people. I’ve helped a lot of people spot them and learn how to deal with them. My clients told me to write this stuff down and share it with a broader audience, [which inspired me to write my book on emotional predators].

What is an Emotional Predator?

Most people are decent. And there’s a small fraction of the population who are dangerous. An emotional predator is someone who exploits other people by tuning into and preying upon the emotions of other people.

  • One of the keys that makes them dangerous is they operate by stealth. They know how to conceal what they’re really like.
  • They relentlessly seek to dominate, win, and control.
  • They have no empathy or conscience to restrain them.
  • Life is a strategy. People are to be defeated or a game piece to be used.

How do we spot emotional predators?

  1. Bait and Switch. They’ll bait you and seduce you with all you want to hear, and then they’ll accuse and manipulate. First, it’s all about you until you’re committed, and it’s all about them.
  2. Relentlessly Manage Their Public Image. If it’s too good to be true, it usually is.
  3. Avoid Giving Direct Answers.
  4. Need to Control. Have it their way.
  5. They Provoke Others Into Emotional Reactions. Put you off balance.
  6. They claim to be the Victim.
  7. Fake Sincerity to Seduce.
  8. Pretend to Be Ignorant or Innocent.
  9. Trap You in a No-Win Bind. Damned if you do and if you don’t.
  10. Tend to Isolate and Gaslight. Happens over time, where they cut you off from friends and family.
  11. They Create Havoc, Confusion, Chaos.
  12. They Disrupt Your Natural Rhythms. Interrupt your sleep or call you at work.
  13. They’re Hypocrites. Ignore the rules when they don’t serve them.
  14. They’ll Say or Do Anything to Get What they Want.
  15. They Tend to Know it All and Are Rigid in Their Beliefs.

Emotional Predators impatient and irritable when they don’t get their way. They can be angry and dismissive or play for sympathy with a big display of false humility or martyrdom.

How can people protect themselves from emotional predators?

  1. Spot them.
  2. Know yourself better than they do. Know your core values and beliefs.
  3. Be willing to adjust your core values. For example, if your core value is to be a good person and open and honest with everyone. You’ll need to adjust it to not be open and honest with emotional predators. The adjustment would be to be open and honest with trustworthy people.
  4. Disengage. Run away.
  5. If you can’t disengage [family members or someone you have children with], be strategic and not emotionally reactive.

Can you share some general tips for staying safe and protecting yourself?

  • Know and love yourself.
  • Treat yourself the way you’d like others to treat you.
  • Know your blind spots.
  • Distinguish between romance and mature love, which is about respect.
  • Be realistic about human nature.
  • Know there are predators, but also learn to recognize good people.
  • Be infinitely curious observing yourself and other people.
  • Check in with trusted friends, and give them permission to tell you the truth.

Are you making excuses, taking blame and responsibility? Stop!
Don’t be afraid to slow down, step back, or pull the plug at any point. A mature respectful person will have no problem with that.

If you do see emotional predator qualities in a person, resist the urge to tell them. Know it, don’t show it.

Get a copy of Steven’s book: Protecting Yourself From Emotional Predators on Amazon.
Or go to his website: to learn more about Steven and reach out for support if there’s an emotional predator in your life.

Please take a moment to rate and review our show on iTunes here. Thank you!

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