Avoiding "Dirty John"

The television series and podcast Dirty Johnis based on a sadly true story of an intelligent, successful woman who falls for an emotionally manipulative and abusive con artist, John Meehan. It can be frightening how effective the tactics of a psychopath might be on the most unsuspecting victims. Since there are men out there who are manipulating and using woman who are simply looking for love and a healthy longterm relationship, below are a few checklist items to help safeguard against falling prey to a “Dirty John” type.

  1. Do not date in isolation- Anybody can pretend to be Mr. Debonaire if they are all alone. It is in the presence of others that we see someone’s true character revealed. If your dating partner only wants to be with you solo all the time, be on alert. 

  2. Be wary of suspicious and possessive behaviors- Statements like “I don’t trust other men won’t be able to keep their eyes off of you,” “I want you all to myself,” “Let’s run away together,” or “Let’s move in together right away” may seem charming and romantic, but are cause for alarm as they all hint at jealousy and possessive. Be alert.  

  3. Check out his online presence, run a background check- Colleges do it. Employers do it. Your friends do it. You should do it. If there is no online presence or if there is anything suspicious, stay alert and run a background check. 

  4. Make sure he is a “One woman type of man”- If the man wooing you still has a dating, married or even soon to be divorced status make him wait. As tough as it may be for you, see if he is actually that into you by successfully terminating other relationships so that he can be solely committed to you. 

  5. Look for healthy boundaries and commitment level- If he is wanting to move in, marry or have a baby with you in the first month - RUN! Again, it may seem romantic and similar to a lot of chick flick movies, it is not healthy. Your hormones and love chemicals will say go for it but common sense says wait. Anything good is worth waiting for, and if he cannot seem to wait, then he must not think you’re that good. 

  6. Get to know his family and support system- This is similar to number one. He may want to get to know your family and friends and be quick to win them over which is an enchanting quality. However, if he is not just as willing to introduce you to his family and friends, then several red flags could arise. A few off hand examples are he has another girlfriend, no friends or family, no one can speak to his good character, or he isn’t even who he claims to be. 

  7. Obtain feedback from your family and support system-The saying “love it blind” has truth to it. We need other people emotionally unattached to give objective, healthy feedback on partner choices. If you are worried your friends and family will not approve, then that may be an indicator you, not “love bombed,” would also disapprove.