Sadly, not everyone you meet will have good intentions. That's especially true when you're dating and putting your heart out there. It's always important to be aware of who you're really dealing with. Because according to experts, you never know when you'll come across an emotional scammer when dating.
“Singles should be vigilant when it comes to spotting an emotional scammer because the effects are similar to that of an emotional vampire," Kate MacLean, dating expert at Plenty of Fish, tells Bustle. Basically, these are individuals that are toxic and will leave you emotionally exhausted.
According to MacLean, emotional scammers primarily seek out attention in order to build up their ego. They tend to target people who have a "nurturing or complimentary disposition," so it makes it easier for them to fall victim to emotional manipulation.
"Once emotional scammers have received the validation they’re looking for, they tend to lose interest fast and as a result, move onto the next person," she says. "In some cases, it could be that the person wants to feel like they're in total control of what's happening in the relationship, so they call the shots and move on before you can.”
It's not always easy to spot one right away. So here are some ways to identify an emotional scammer when dating, according to experts.
1. They're Calling You Pet Names
Pay attention to who uses your name in conversation and how they say it. "Players tend to not care so much about the details of your life, including your name," Christine Scott-Hudson, M.A., licensed psychotherapist and owner of Create Your Life Studio, tells Bustle. "People are merely objects or conquests to them. One is no more special than another, one is no more compelling than the next." These are the people who will call you by pet names like sweetie or baby, in order to forge a "bond" right away. According to Scott-Hudson, when someone genuinely likes you, they'll use your name often.
2. They Tell You That You Have A "Strong Connection" That's Unlike Anything They've Ever Experienced Before
"Sometimes it's difficult to know the difference between a genuine strong attraction to someone, or a fabricated one," relationship expert and spiritual counselor Davida Rappaport, tells Bustle. Intense chemistry can sometimes feel like you're connecting on another level, so you're more likely to throw caution to the wind and go along with whatever the person's saying. But pay attention to your gut feelings. If things are moving too fast, let them know. "Many manipulators will give up quickly and move on to someone else if they do not get the response they are seeking," Rappaport says.
3. They Seem To Know All The Right Things To Say
An emotional scammer can be really good at figuring people out. They somehow know what to say and how to say it. "They may be very intuitive or spiritual, but they can also be vampires or users," Rappaport says. If you ever feel like someone is too good to be true, they probably are.
4. They've Told You Their Sob Story Early On
Most of us have drama and emotional baggage from the past. It's usually not something you open up about on a first or second date, though. So if stories of a sick relative or a dead loved one comes out early on, and something seems off, Justin Lavelle, chief communications director of BeenVerified.com, tells Bustle, "this person is probably looking for sympathy." It's just a tactic they use so you can say "yes" to whatever it is they're looking to do next.
5. They Monopolize Your Free Time
If you've started seeing an emotional scammer, they may try to keep you busy so you won't have time to date other people or even check in with family and friends. "When someone keeps you isolated, you don't have time to process your emotions and thoughts properly," Rappaport says. "You should always have room to breathe in your dating and relationship world." If not, consider this a red flag.
6. They Like Staying In Constant Communication
Speaking of having room to breathe, an emotional scammer will try to stay in constant communication with you throughout the day. While it's fun (and completely common) to text back and forth with someone you just started talking to, it can create a false sense of attachment. According to Rappaport, constant streams of text massages are not what relationships are built upon. This can happen a lot if you're online dating and you haven't met in person yet. Constant texting can make you feel like you're already building something solid, but if your gut is sending you warning signals, pay attention.
7. They Talk Non-Stop About The Future
An emotional scammer may talk about the future with you in a way that gets you excited about the relationship. They may talk about wanting to go on a trip together someday or eating at this new place. But you might quickly find out that all those "plans" were just talk. "If nothing is happening in real time, this may be a situation where you are being emotionally scammed," Rappaport says. "They have you so emotionally wrapped up in them that you lose your perspective." It's not uncommon for them to ghost you once you realize they're not living up to their word. So as Rappaport says, "Make sure any future plans that are discussed come after you spend enough time getting to know someone really well rather than assume you do."
It's important to note that getting played by an emotional scammer isn't your fault. Their actions, especially the love bombing, can make you feel like you did something wrong or that you're not enough. But that's far from the truth. But it's important to stay aware. You can still have fun, date, and open your heart to people. But if something ever feels off, pay attention, and try your best to safely leave the situation. You may be dealing with someone who doesn't have your best interests at heart.
Editor's Note: If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic abuse, call 911 or the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1(800) 799-SAFE (7233) or visit thehotline.org.