A therapist says these 5 dark psychology tricks are used a lot in dating. Here's how to spot them early on.

A therapist says these 5 dark psychology tricks are used a lot in dating. Here's how to spot them early on.
  • Narcissists and manipulative people often use dark psychology tricks when dating new people.

  • A therapist shared the most common ones, according to her clients' dating experiences.

  • Love bombing, gaslighting, and isolation are among the dark psychology tricks used in dating.

Dating someone new can be scary. Beyond first-date jitters and worrying that they like you back, there are grimmer possibilities, such as missing red flags or dating a narcissist. Of the latter, social media is littered with posts about the idea of "dark psychology" and how it's used to manipulate partners.

"They're hacks or cheats to get what you want faster," Annie Wright, a relational-trauma therapist in Berkeley, California, told Business Insider. "What you're doing is fundamentally not getting what you want, which is a relationship based on trust and mutuality."

She said she'd seen dark psychology tricks being used a lot in dating. At her practice, her clients have reported experiencing these tricks the most. Wright also gave advice on how to spot them early on.

1. They go overboard with affection

Wright said love bombing was one of the most common manipulation tactics she'd seen. She described it as someone "showering you with excessive attention and affection early and often to gain your trust and dependency."

For example, one of her clients dated someone who would "plan very extravagant outings and send constant, affectionate messages" only days after meeting, she said.

It's a tactic used by narcissists and dark empaths because it can speed up the bonding process, which otherwise takes time and consistency, she said.

Of course, some people are genuinely that excited early on, and not all grand gestures are necessarily love bombing. Wright said a good way to tell the difference is by the intensity and severity of the affection. Someone saying they really like you on the first date isn't the same as someone sending flowers after every date or declaring love after a few weeks.

If you're still unsure, she said to think of the people you know really well in your life, such as your close friends or family. Would they seem as intense as this person if they were madly in love with you?

2. They gradually belittle you

Wright said devaluation is another common dark psychology trick — and it usually happens after the idealization or love bombing phase. She said it can look "super subtle" and tricky to spot sometimes because negative comments can be disguised as helpful notes.

One client said they were put on a pedestal at the very beginning of the relationship, only to have their partner switch to making "suggestions" on how they could improve, such as their appearance. Suddenly, they went from being absolutely perfect to needing an Equinox membership.

"It's a basic, fundamental human need to feel attached," Wright said, whether we're dealing with romantic partners or our parents. "When something happens that threatens that attachment, we organize ourselves in ways to try to get that attachment back."

Hot-and-cold dynamics can be intoxicating; however, the instability can cause damage to your physical and mental health, Wright warned.

3. They only want to spend time alone

When it comes to isolation, Wright said people usually think it only shows up after a couple has been together for a while. But it can also appear in the early stages.

One of her clients wanted to introduce her new date to her friend group. They would respond with, "I thought you wanted to focus on us tonight," as if including other people meant they didn't think their partner was enough on their own.

Isolation is a serious abuse tactic, so it's important to question why a new partner seems reluctant to interact with your friends and family.

4. They allude to better options

Manipulators love "introducing a third party into the relationship dynamics to create jealousy and competition," Wright said. The intention is to lower their partner's self-esteem and make them easier to control.

A few of her clients have said their date would mention how attractive or interesting a mutual friend was, subtly suggesting the said friend could be a better match for them.

Wright said it would make her clients "feel insecure and eager to prove their worth."

5. They only have one version of truth — theirs

Gaslighting is when the manipulator makes their victim question their own reality, Wright said.

In the early stages of dating, one of Wright's clients "noticed their date was frequently contradicting things they had previously said or done," she said. When called out, the date would accuse Wright's client of misremembering conversations, causing them to second-guess themselves.

"When you're imbalanced and disoriented, that can make you more susceptible to other seeds or agendas that are planted," Wright said.

She noted that while it's possible for two people to remember an event differently, a tell-tale sign of goodwill is "a person's willingness to even be curious" about the other's perspective.

If a partner can't admit fault or consider different points of view, that's the biggest sign they're not emotionally mature enough for a healthy relationship. No amount of dark psychology tricks will ever bring them close.

Read the original article on Business Insider