Tips for Online Dating and Screening for Personality Disorders

Courtesy Wikipedia

Courtesy Wikipedia

The world of internet romance is a playground for the personality disordered.  You do not know who is really behind a profile.  The narcissist, antisocial, and/or sociopath (mostly males) are particularly good at pretending to be someone else to have fun.  The personality disordered has never had an easier time preying on gullible or desperate people.  For the online predator sexual relations are thrilling conquests and nothing more.  Charming and resourceful they are incapable of sincere emotion, shame, guilt, or love.  The narcissist, sociopath, and antisocial person crave stimulation and excitement, live in the present moment unconcerned with the consequences of their behavior.   All personality disordered individuals have character traits that are ingrained, enduring patterns of thinking, feeling, behaving, and perceiving. These enduring patterns are life-long, chronic, and highly incurable.

The female personality disordered tends to be histrionic, dependent, or borderline with smaller percentages who are narcissists.  The histrionic is overly dramatic (extreme drama queen), lively, seductive, and always calling attention to themselves.  They quickly become bored with normal routines and display irrational outbursts or temper tantrums.  They initially come across as charming and outgoing.  Once a relationship is established they become controlling, demanding, and inconsiderate.  The borderline is tricky to spot at first because they present much better than they are but underneath the façade are chronic feelings of emptiness, problems with being alone, emotional instability, intense anger, and identity confusion.  They display impulsivity, self-destructive acts, and suicidal gestures like cutting.  The essential features of dependent personality disorder are a constant demand for attention, lack of self-confidence or the ability to function independently.  The dependent personality dreads making decisions, acting autonomously, and lacks follow through on goals.   They look to others for an identity.  The dependent will do anything to avoid responsibility for his or her self.

With a radar for people’s vulnerability’s the personality disordered can easily manipulate, exploit, control and deceive.  Unfortunately the desperate or naive person’s online profile is easy for them to spot.   A perpetrator can guess a lot about a person’s character through written words and even photographs.   The personality disordered person is superficially charming, likable, and good at starting a relationship.  They have no capacity for empathy and never develop the caring part of a healthy partnership.  In other words, he or she has no real feelings other than rage.  When you ask a tough question, they will change the subject or give a vague response.

Keep in mind that we all share some neuroses.  People can have self-involved narcissistic personality features or a highly dramatic presentation.  The difference is that the person is capable of feeling remorse for being insensitive or mean.  The behavior is uncharacteristic and different from their usual self.  In contrast, the pathological behavior in people with personality disorders is in character and routine for them.  Neuroses may develop at any time; personality disorders are life-long.

If you have decided to give online dating a try it is wise to be aware of your vulnerabilities and appropriate boundaries.  Educating yourself about red flags avoids potential hardship and damage to well-being. You must carefully protect your identity and not disclose personal information quickly.  If you have a history of picking abusive partners it is necessary to ask questions and listen for emotional problems.

Codependents are particularly vulnerable to the breath taking pursuit and initial charm of the pathological.  What is a codependent?  Codependents are people who attempt to keep balance in an abusive relationship and will distort reality in response to the mistreatment.  They try endlessly to please an abusive person.  Codependents deny feelings, dismiss intuition, and feel responsible for other people’s actions.  For example, “If only I had been better sexually, he or she would not have to cheat.  They distort reality to preserve the relationship and avoid the emotional pain admitting the truth would bring.  The high tolerance for inappropriate behavior is often established in childhood with caregivers that are emotionally unavailable and/or abusive.  A typical approach of the pathological is to overwhelm a codependent date with intensity and attention, so the person ignores red flags.  Remember if someone appears too good to be true, your observation is probably right.  A match with genuine intent and healthy boundaries knows true love takes time to discover.

People coming out of a relationship can be vulnerable to the pathological because they need to heal.  It takes time to get over someone you truly love.  Bypassing the grief process stops discovery of the core issues that inhibited a satisfying partnership.  Focusing on a new relationship avoids painful feelings of loss.  It can also make you vulnerable to jump into a new relationship that feels wrong to end loneliness.   Happy long-term relationships are formed by people who are already happy.  Hooking up with the pathological will cause more pain and problems.

So how do you protect yourself from poor choices?  First, know what qualities you are looking for in a partner.  Make a list of these qualities and look at it when considering a meet-up.  You must take your time screening a potential match before jumping into a relationship.  Do not be desperate; stop yourself from acting impulsively.  Temper your longing for emotional fulfillment and love.  If you are using a dating site that offers get to know you questions take advantage of them.  Especially questions about family and past relationships.  See if a potential match answers your questions directly and with some detail.  Have they taken the time to read your profile?  When you receive communication evaluate the persons profile carefully for values and character.  If you are interested, have someone you trust give their opinion of the person.  Is the profile grandiose or shallow?  Is the profile self-serving and irrelevant? Do they describe realistic character traits about themselves and those they want in a partner?   What is important to them in a relationship?  What does their picture(s) say about them?  Are there an excessive amount of vain pictures?  Is there a picture to go along with the person’s profile?

Speak on the telephone before you meet and be discerning, you can tell a lot from hearing someone speak.  Chatting with a potential match is wise and a good safety measure.  If you feel uncomfortable or get a bad vibe just hang up.  Once you know the person’s name, and before you meet, complete an online search.  Verify as much as you can about their integrity.  Be cautious and open minded.  Find out where they work and look at the company’s website to see if they are listed.   Remember to always meet in a public place, drive yourself, and let someone know where you’re going.  Tell a friend or family member who you are meeting, when you plan to return, and the person’s phone number.  If something feels wrong, trust your instincts, and get out.

Screening Questions to Ask Yourself

  1. Does he or she blame their mistakes or failures on others or the world at large?  Listen closely to their relationship, family and work history.
  2. Do they acknowledge their part in the ending of past relationships or problems with their partners, children, siblings, or parents?
  3. Do they push for intimacy, start making future plans, and immediately place you in the role of the love of their life? Run….
  4. Do they talk endlessly about themselves
  5. Have they had police contact/arrests for domestic violence, fighting, or criminal behavior?
  6. Do they look for reasons to be insulted?  Do they rant excessively?
  7. Are they easily insulted by people when you are out in public?
  8. Do they express negative or aggressive statements about friends, poor people, and the mentally challenged, needy or loving person?
  9. Are they verbally violent in their communication with putdowns, brutal honesty, threats, or hostility?
  10. Is the person overly dramatic, and always calling attention to themselves?
  11. Do they quickly become bored with normal routines?
  12. Do they use their physical appearance to draw attention to self?
  13. Are they arrogant or superior in behaviors and attitudes?
  14. Do they disregard or diminish your feelings?
  15. Does he or she call or text you constantly?
  16. Are they demanding, but don’t come through for you in return?


Thank you for reading this post. I’ve dedicated my personal and professional life to the importance of non-violence and self-compassion by teaching from my experience.  As a result, I’ve learned a lot about what it takes to create a decent relationship.  And, as I learn and grow, I teach self-compassion and give advice I use myself, in the hopes that it helps you to improve your own life.