Getting out and dating can be a lot of fun, but also need to have your wits about you. We all know that there are people out there that fail to recognise boundaries and can end up sending a lot of unwanted attention your way. A stalker is not easy to spot and to be honest sometimes even a stalker has no idea that their behaviour has crossed the line, so you need to be aware of how to spot the subtle behaviours that will enable you to identify a stalker and how to handle the problems that may arise.
Take Notice. At the beginning of your relationship make some mental notes about how the other person behaves, not so much about what they say but about their body language and what they do.
Stay Objective. With a new relationship is it all too easy to get caught up in the romance and the fast pace at which things can often develop. Don’t just dismiss any inappropriate behaviour that is displayed during this time, try and remain objective and see it for what it is rather than trying to justify it.
Analyse Your Feelings. Stop and spend some time thinking about how the way that they are behaving is making you feel. In a good relationship you should never be made to feel fearful, worried or like you have to keep your guard up.
Look at Your Own Behaviour. Check your own behaviour to see if you have altered it in any way to accommodate that of the other person. Have you altered how you behave to keep them happy? You may not even realise that you have changed to adapt to their stalking behaviour.
Types of Stalker
• The Insidious Stalker
The insidious stalker will ask you questions, lots of questions to account for your actions when you are apart. They might seem innocuous enough but you will find that you are giving details about who you spent your time with, where you went and what you did, right down to what you ate or drank. In the early stages of a relationship there is no need for you to relate information about what you do with your time, and certainly no need to impart any personal information. It’s nice to be asked if you had a good time, but any further questions are unwarranted in the early days of a relationship. This is the time when you are still getting to know each other, more detailed questions and responses are usually kept until later in a relationship when the trust between you is deepening.
Do they make a note of when you are online? If you use certain social networking sites it is possible to see when someone is online. Do you find that as soon as you log in you have message waiting, or are there comments made along the lines of; ‘I thought you were going to log off, but you’re still online, why?’ How does it make you feel when your online activity is being monitored in this way? Do you find that you are changing your behaviour in order to keep them happy? Do you feel as though you are constantly being checked up on, do you see their car drive by your house when there is no need for them to be there, are they checking that you are home alone?
Are you allowed to have any free time without them? Do they ask if you’re a ‘free this weekend’ or do they say ‘What are you doing this weekend?’ If you tell them you are busy and have plans do they try and find out what they are, or will they leave it alone. Your plans really are none of their business and prying into your free time and trying to insert themselves into it should be a big red warning flag. With the insidious stalker everything is questions, after all if you are asked a question you can’t ignore them, you have to give a response and doing so you are giving them the attention that they crave.
• The Overt Stalker
Like all stalkers they are very manipulative people, they have done all of the groundwork to make you believe that they are open and loving people, attentive and caring, almost lulling you into a false sense of security with this perfect persona. Once they have you where they want you their behaviour will change and they will start exerting control over your life. They will start just showing up at your workplace, possibly to check that you are where you should be or to check for any possible threat from the people that you work with. They will also drop in on you at home unannounced, yes they might turn up with flowers or a takeaway but in reality they are checking up on you and making sure that you are not spending time with someone else.
Start paying attention to the amount of times that you ‘accidently’ start bumping in to each other around the town, places like the grocery store or the places you spend time together with your friends. There is nothing accidental about these meetings, you are being followed and checked up on. You should also be wary of them asking to use your computer or laptop, even if they are offering to help you with some technical problem, it’s the perfect excuse to get inside and check whatever documents you have on there and read though your private emails.
To put it simply, if any of these types of behaviour sound familiar get yourself out of that relationship as quickly as you can. Start making yourself unavailable when they want to see you and reduce the amount of contact that you have with them until you can work up to telling them that you are not happy with the way that the relationship is going and you want to break up. Be prepared for a reaction, and a good helping of emotional blackmail from them too.
They will claim to be able to change, they will want to know what they did wrong and pretty soon it will turn into accusations that you have someone else. You do not owe them an explanation at all, the more you give into their questioning demands the more time and attention you are giving them. The only information that you need to give them is that you are not happy and the relationship is not what you wanted. Be clear with what you say. ‘I’m not going to see you anymore’ is a clear statement, whereas ‘I’d rather not see you again’ sounds like it might just be negotiable. Stay calm, keep your voice steady and firm and walk away.