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Need advice for how to spot red flags when meeting new people

Ecdysis

MyPTSD Pro
So, I used to think that I was a pretty good judge of character.

I think a big part of that is having learned to be hypersensitive to clues that something is off, and learning to have really fine antennae for that sort of thing, as a child growing up amidst chaos and abuse.

However...

In more recent years, I have made two serious judgement errors - one regarding a job, the other regarding a relationship.

In both of these cases my prospective partner and my prospective boss wooed the heck out of me and seemed super nice and compatible with me.

In both cases, it turned out that these people were nutters and that they first idealised me and then treated me like sh*t - both for no other reason than whatever the heck was going on in their weird brains.

Ever since I've been so scared that this could happen again.

In fact, for a long time, I thought anyone being "nice" to me was just doing it to trap me and then to tear me down, like sh*tty ex and sh*tty boss did.

I'm meeting a potential new landlord tomorrow and he sounds really nice.

Not over-the-top nice like ex and ex-boss were, just normal down-to-earth decent person kind of nice.

But part of my brain is like "What if I'm totally misjudging this person and I sign a lease and living there turns out to be hell and I regret that I made that decision...??"

Both the situation with ex and ex-boss really f*cked me over mentally and emotionally...

And I was sooooooo angry at myself for missing the red flags. Whatever happened to all that PTSD hyperawareness and ability to sus out whether people are basically decent or not?

It's totally rattled my trust in people, my trust in my own judgement and my trust in my ability to get along with people and to be in equally satisfying friendships/ relationships/ work situations.

Edit to add: Ohhh.... I think I see where the "clueless" bit is coming from as opposed to the "good at picking up on clues" thing... Yes, one aspect of being a traumatised child is that you become hyperaware of cues, clues and other signs of danger or saftey.... BUT... the other aspect is that as a child starved for love, trust and safety... if you see something that looks great, then you really, really want it and you're willing to close your eyes to any negative signs or red flags because you want and need this thing to finally be something good that fills the hunger in you to have good people and things around you... I guess that explains why in some situations traumatised children (and adults who were traumatised as children) will sometimes be super good at spotting when something is off and sometimes really oblivious to it...

Not sure what that means for tomorrow... It's kind of a situation that I want to turn out well, but also a situation that I'm being pretty sober and pragmatic about... Hmm... who knows...? I wonder whether I can channel both of those elements of the traumatised child? The one who is naive and genuine and wants things to be good and also the one who is wise and sees through things and is experienced and picks up on subtle signs...?
 
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i haven't found my foolproof answer to this one. i am beginning to wonder if my search for foolproof answers is proof that i have vastly underestimated fools.

when i accept that all humans are mixed bags of good/evil, i still think i might be a pretty good judge of character, after all. i'll trust you to fix my plumbing, but you ain't getting the keys to my secret gardens.
 
My own personal set of red flags

- Anyone that seems overly keen to please/over the top nice
- Anyone that doesn’t have their own life, hobbies/friends etc and wants to immediately mesh with mine
- Anyone that can’t disagree with me or have a distinct or separate point of view
- Any sort of racism, or overt sexism
- Anyone wanting to control or separate me in any way from my life (friends, hobbies, family, work)
- Any revolting comments or jokes but not jokes about women
- Cheats, liars & thieves
- Anyone without their own clear moral code (and no, I’m not talking about the law)
- Anyone who can’t stand up for themselves
- Anyone that expects me to baby them and never disagree, never challenge them on anything
- Anyone who after a period of time never shows frustration/anger/irritability. You never know a person till you’ve seen them pissed
- Anyone who talks down someone who is isn’t academically talented
- Anyone who can give it, but can’t take it in return

There’s prob more I’ll come back and add as I’ll def have forgotten some but there the glaring ones anyway
 
But part of my brain is like "What if I'm totally misjudging this person and I sign a lease and living there turns out to be hell and I regret that I made that decision...??"
Then you find a new place, and move in there; either breaking your old lease or using a clause to get out of it Scott free. Either way? That won’t show up on your rental history until the next time you move, and you’ll have solid rental history following it. No fuss no muss no problem.

i haven't found my foolproof answer to this one. i am beginning to wonder if my search for foolproof answers is proof that i have vastly underestimated fools.
Yep. They really do just keep inventing a better idiot; attempting to idiot proof anything is largely a waste of time.

Ever since I've been so scared that this could happen again.

It probably will.

“Normal” isn’t living a life where these kinds of things don’t happen, but being able to handle it easily/effectively if/when it does.
 
In more recent years, I have made two serious judgement errors - one regarding a job, the other regarding a relationship.

In both of these cases my prospective partner and my prospective boss wooed the heck out of me and seemed super nice and compatible with me.

In both cases, it turned out that these people were nutters and that they first idealised me and then treated me like sh*t - both for no other reason than whatever the heck was going on in their weird brains.
I would contest that these are judgment errors… unless …you stayed AFTER realizing they were nutters.

That’s one of those waving red flags that someone HAS been abused, not walking away when there is a problem.

Most people encounter people they dislike (for every possible reason) in every area of life (personal, professional, housing, neighbors, strangers, service people, parent on your kids team, teacher at you OR your child’s school, etc.) and distance themselves. Either mentally/emotionally (dude’s an asshole, ignore him), or physically, or both. The people who just sort of sit there and take it? Or worse, encourage it? (Whether we’re talking the extreme of freeze/fawn, or simply zero self confidence & shite for boundaries)… whether the person is someone any rational human being would dislike (cannibal pedophiles on drugs) or “just” a personality conflict? People with abuse histories are notorious for just sitting there, &/or encouraging people they dislike to be a bigger part of their lives, than strictly necessary.

You WILL run into people you dislike, in every area of life. Just like you will run into bad drivers (hopefully not literally!) on the street, and every other “bad” thing that doesn’t phase you… because it’s not about how you didn’t avoid them in the first place, so it’s “your fault” for not seeing the red flags… but just part of being in the world, means we come across people we want nothing to do with. (Bad train commuters, bad line waiters, bad beggars, bad talkers, etc.)

Trying to reverse engineer a situation so you never have to face it, again? Is a super trauma-fueled “It’s all my fault” kind of thing to do. As opposed to the things that don’t hit your trauma-buttons…. Like you happen to be on a train car with someone transporting cheese, and leeeeeets work our way down to the next car, or even get off on the next stop, and catch the next train!

There’s no magical way to “spot” them, when you first meet them, unless they’re doing something you dislike, when you first meet them.
 
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There’s no magical way to “spot” them, when you first meet them, unless they’re doing something you dislike, when you first meet them.
Very much this. And I’ve heard that a good rule of thumb is “three strikes you’re out” for developing relationships. Does everyone have a bad day? Of course. But sometimes the baddies give compliance tests to their partners/friends to see what they will put up with and then slowly ratchet up. So it can be hard to tell what is considered a strike (and all but impossible if you were conditioned to accept abuse). Plus the baddies can be very patient while they reel you in, using love and attention as lures, spacing out their compliance tests. So it’s good to have a list, like what @No More shared, so you know what to look out for, what your personal boundaries are.
 
Cheats, liars & thieves
Definitely I struggle to have any kind of healthy relationship with people who are persistently cheating, and I try and stay clear of thieves!

To be honest though, there’s a huge proportion of people that I work with (and pretty much always has been) who live with significant mental health issues, so everything else on that list? I’m totally okay with. Further, most of people I work with (and have an excellent rapport with) would tick multiple of those boxes.

To me? Healthy relationships are a lot less about making quick judgments of other people based on a set of criteria, and more about my own healthy boundaries.

With healthy boundaries in place, I can allow other people to have all sorts of complicated personal issues going on.

Which is nice, because I’ve got a lot of complicated issues going on as well.
 
Very much this. And I’ve heard that a good rule of thumb is “three strikes you’re out” for developing relationships. Does everyone have a bad day? Of course. But sometimes the baddies give compliance tests to their partners/friends to see what they will put up with and then slowly ratchet up. So it can be hard to tell what is considered a strike (and all but impossible if you were conditioned to accept abuse). Plus the baddies can be very patient while they reel you in, using love and attention as lures, spacing out their compliance tests. So it’s good to have a list, like what @No More shared, so you know what to look out for, what your personal boundaries are.
Ehh, depends. If someone is trying to isolate me from friends, they aren’t getting three strikes. They can f*ck off outta here the first time round with that shit.

It’s different as well if we are talking professional relationships or personal. I’ll tolerate a lot more shit talk in professional relationships because I just ignore it and go about my business - it doesn’t really seep into my personal life. I’m quite used to asshole bosses, totally normal in my industry (people in sport who are super goal focused & motivated aren’t known for their ability to be considerate and tactful 🤣) I work perfectly well with it. I’ll tolerate a lot less in my personal life. If you’re going to be in it, you have to be adding to it.

Again, I don’t do well at all with people who are clingy, need lots of reassurance & don’t have a lot of independence or sense of self. So they’d be flags for me that perhaps this person isn’t right for my life at this time. They could be perfect/green flags for another person who enjoys that sort of relationship where both people mesh together and do everything as a couple & is able to provide endless reassurance and support. I’m not there with my own mental health to be my partners whole world at the drop of a hat.
 
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they aren’t getting three strikes. They can f*ck off outta here the first time round with that shit.
Well I think this is really ideal, in terms of not wasting time or draining energy! But sometimes it’s hard to tell. Some of us conditioned to accept manipulation have to really work hard not to give the other the benefit of the doubt or blame ourselves.
 
So, I used to think that I was a pretty good judge of character.

I think a big part of that is having learned to be hypersensitive to clues that something is off, and learning to have really fine antennae for that sort of thing, as a child growing up amidst chaos and abuse.

However...

In more recent years, I have made two serious judgement errors - one regarding a job, the other regarding a relationship.

In both of these cases my prospective partner and my prospective boss wooed the heck out of me and seemed super nice and compatible with me.

In both cases, it turned out that these people were nutters and that they first idealised me and then treated me like sh*t - both for no other reason than whatever the heck was going on in their weird brains.

Ever since I've been so scared that this could happen again.

In fact, for a long time, I thought anyone being "nice" to me was just doing it to trap me and then to tear me down, like sh*tty ex and sh*tty boss did.

I'm meeting a potential new landlord tomorrow and he sounds really nice.

Not over-the-top nice like ex and ex-boss were, just normal down-to-earth decent person kind of nice.

But part of my brain is like "What if I'm totally misjudging this person and I sign a lease and living there turns out to be hell and I regret that I made that decision...??"

Both the situation with ex and ex-boss really f*cked me over mentally and emotionally...

And I was sooooooo angry at myself for missing the red flags. Whatever happened to all that PTSD hyperawareness and ability to sus out whether people are basically decent or not?

It's totally rattled my trust in people, my trust in my own judgement and my trust in my ability to get along with people and to be in equally satisfying friendships/ relationships/ work situations.

Edit to add: Ohhh.... I think I see where the "clueless" bit is coming from as opposed to the "good at picking up on clues" thing... Yes, one aspect of being a traumatised child is that you become hyperaware of cues, clues and other signs of danger or saftey.... BUT... the other aspect is that as a child starved for love, trust and safety... if you see something that looks great, then you really, really want it and you're willing to close your eyes to any negative signs or red flags because you want and need this thing to finally be something good that fills the hunger in you to have good people and things around you... I guess that explains why in some situations traumatised children (and adults who were traumatised as children) will sometimes be super good at spotting when something is off and sometimes really oblivious to it...

Not sure what that means for tomorrow... It's kind of a situation that I want to turn out well, but also a situation that I'm being pretty sober and pragmatic about... Hmm... who knows...? I wonder whether I can channel both of those elements of the traumatised child? The one who is naive and genuine and wants things to be good and also the one who is wise and sees through things and is experienced and picks up on subtle signs...?
I sincerely recommend reading The Body Keeps the Score if you want more insight into how trama affects brain development. In the meantime, best advice I ever got was to move slow when making important decisions and there’s none more important than who we allow into our lives and where we call home. 🍀💖
 
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