Q: “Hi Jay. I could really use some tools to help spotting the kinds of women who are genuinely interested in love, intimacy and friendship, as opposed to the ones who have a power-oriented or sadistic/masochistic attitude towards sex and intimacy. I’ve been involved with a few of the latter (one of whom turned out to have been an incest victim) and I do not want to go through that experience ever again. Also it seems a lot of women learn to see emotional vulnerability in men as a sign of weakness to be exploited and ridiculed.


I want to be able to spot these traits in a woman before she gets under my skin and starts working the cranks. As it is, I am afraid that too many negative experiences like that might numb me emotionally and turn me into a man that I do not want to be. Thanks.”


A: I agree that being able to spot these types of women quickly is a valuable skill to have. Any form of childhood sexual abuse can dramatically interfere with a woman’s ability to have healthy sexual relations with a man. In my experience, unless she’s willing to work through her issues with a competent therapist, she will have difficulty creating and maintaining a quality relationship.


These women tend to attract either a-holes who devalue them completely (this falls in line with their own low self-image, so it’s accepted) or men who are total pushovers whom they will beat down emotionally (in an effort to lash out at the man/men who have hurt them over the years). It sounds to me like you might be in the pushover category which, unfortunately, is going to hurt your chances with most women (emotionally healthy, or otherwise).


The first thing I recommend is that you institute a screening process. One of the most dangerous mistakes a man can make is falling in love with a cold, vindictive and manipulative woman. After you’ve fallen head over heels, you’ll be much more likely to put up with negative behavior because you fear losing the connection. Since it’s almost impossible to change someone’s core personality, it’s best to simply avoid the kinds of women you’re not compatible with.


Screening can be as simple as inquiring about her past relationships/flings and looking for common themes. Was every guy manipulative/abusive? Does she always seem to be in the victim role? Has she admitted to doing anything seriously hurtful to any of her ex’s as a justified form of retribution? These are all signs that you may eventually be in the exact same boat as her ex’s if you continue to pursue her.


Second, I recommend that you keep your distance emotionally until you’re sure your dating a high quality woman who doesn’t have any serious hang-ups. And if she happens to have been sexually abused, you should look for signs that she has resolving the emotional trauma or, at the very least, is currently in therapy.


Third, you should begin to examine why you have these emotional vulnerability problems and do your best to work through your own issues. Many emotionally vulnerable men tend to seek out partners who will hurt them, in order to satisfy some deep unconscious need. If you have a pattern of dating women like this, then you need to examine your own motivations. However, if she was the exception, then creating a screening process and a strong set of emotional defenses should be all you need to ensure you never get trapped in a situation like this in the future.


Make it happen,


-Jay Cataldo