How To Detect An Abusive Man Early On

How does a smart, successful woman end up with an abusive boyfriend? Sometimes there were hints all along, but most of us are socially conditioned to look for the best in others or ignore someone’s shortcomings.

Women in particular are expected to “play nice and be polite at all times” when it comes to social conditioning. But this kind of optimism can sometimes blind people to important warning signs. Instead of looking for a man’s “good side” women should seek the truth instead. A person’s instincts are often correct, and most women can easily spot an abusive man if they keep their guard up, and pay close attention. Here are 4 warning signs that a man might be abusive.

1) He Needs to Control the Conversation

There is certainly a difference between simply being loud, and being controlling, but watch out for a person who won’t let anyone get a word in. Some people need to feel like they have full agreement on any opinion that’s raised, and won’t settle for less than complete victory in an argument. If a man can’t agree to disagree on a first date, that’s a red flag for future disputes. When two people are just getting to know each other, all opinions and differences need to be respected. After all, there’s nothing to gain by forcing someone into your way of thinking. It just means they won’t call you again.


It’s impossible not to have a single difference of opinion, whether it be on religion, politics, or even whether cats are the superior house pet. If a date can’t seem to drop a disagreement until you admit that dogs are in fact superior, just imagine this argument translated to something like marriage or women’s rights. Spare yourself the headache, and don’t sign on for a second date.

2) He Brings Up Offensive Topics

When a date brings up something obviously inappropriate in a first date setting, it could be harmless nervous talk, but it might be an indication of something darker. Everyone is a little socially inept when nervous. While bringing it up something controversial once might be a mistake, introducing offensive topics multiple times is a test. He is testing to see how much his date is willing to put up with. It could be that he doesn’t consider the topic offensive, but everyone knows the general social standards of what is and isn’t polite conversation.

It’s said that people who claim to be brutally honest enjoy the brutality more than the honesty. There is no reason to be impressed with a man trying hard to be controversial or shockingly honest on the first date. These things aren’t positive traits, they are only warnings of what is to come. Acting polite in these situations is a clear sign to him that you’re ready to be a doormat on these issues. If you’re not the kind of woman to walk out in the middle of a date, at least don’t be the kind of woman who accepts a second one from a rude Randy.

3) He Disrespects Other People

This is one of the most well-known traits of abusers around the world. It may be cliche, but it’s true that a man’s character is easily seen in how he treats the wait staff. If your date can’t rein in his bad behavior for a single night, how is it going to be six months from now? This also applies to bad-mouthing people who aren’t present. If a date is gossiping about everyone who’s not in the room, what happens when you leave the room?


Talking about exes on the first date is another no-no that many people can’t seem to avoid. If a person has a long string of “crazy” ex girlfriends, it can be a warning sign that perhaps they were really the insane one. It’s easy to blame the other person for everything that went wrong in a relationship, but do you want to be the next crazy ex on the list? Demonizing exes is a huge warning sign that he can’t accept personal responsibility.

4) He Uses Physical Intimidation

Using physical intimidation and disrespecting another person are two interrelated traits that many abusers share. A guy who feels that he needs to show off by starting a fight or intimidating another person is eventually going to use those tactics on a woman he’s dating. Does he corner people and loom over them when speaking? Does he make you feel like a princess by stomping on others? Does he invade personal space even with total strangers?

Physical Intimidation

These are all warning signs and shouldn’t be ignored. The number one red flag in this area is if he always forces you to be the gatekeeper of physical intimacy. A guy who doesn’t use or understand words and body language, but instead needs to be pushed away before he stops, is not someone you want in your life. And having to do this on the first date is the biggest warning sign of all.

All of these things seem intuitive and obvious, and once you’re watching for the signs it’s easy to spot an abusive man on the first date. It’s willfully ignoring signs that gets smart, capable women into trouble. Don’t “give love a chance” at the expense of your own physical and mental health. There are plenty of good men out there who won’t require that sacrifice. Listen to your intuition and protect yourself. If you or someone you know is suffering in an abusive relationship, please check out the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services for access to resources.