Q: I am a sales representative who meets and gets asked out by clients. Since I'm not married, I would like to go, but friends say I should not date clients. I think this is the best way to date because I already know them through work and don't have to worry about anything. Do you agree?
A: People meet, date and marry people they have met through work.
Don't, however, let working with a person or meeting a person through a job lull you into a false sense of safety, if you decide to date him or her.
Dangerous personalities, sexual sadists and even serial killers can have full-time jobs and no criminal records. Just consider Ted Bundy, John Wayne Gacy, Gary Ridgway, David Parker Ray, Cameron Hooker and more, including those who have never been caught for the many unsolved murders.
This doesn't mean you should stop dating; you simply must open your eyes and pay attention to warning signs in a personality, regardless of how much you want to have a relationship with someone special.
Mary Ellen O'Toole, Ph.D. and a retired FBI profiler, with writer and co-author Alisa Bowman, offers critical information and practical advice in "Dangerous Instincts: How Gut Feelings Betray Us" so you make wise decisions no matter what your heart or your friends tell you.
O'Toole says people are taught to fear strangers, but they are not taught to fear the people they know. Fact: "You are much more likely to be harmed by someone you know than by someone you don't know," says O'Toole.
Knowing someone through work does not mean that person is a safe bet to date.
There are myths and warnings signs you must abide by, even if the information doesn't fit in with your plans. Of O'Toole's 14 myths, myth 9 is critical for all to know: "Psychopaths don't work in white collar professions."
"The white-collar psychopath will charm people initially. He or she will do this to win over fellow employees and bosses that they eventually manipulate to accomplish their objectives."
"Myth 3: Psychopaths are psychotic. Psychopaths are not crazy — even if some of the crimes they commit are bizarre and heinous." O'Toole states, "People capable of hurting others can look very normal and come across as charming and nonthreatening."
Again, this doesn't mean you cannot trust anyone. It means you need to pay attention to the behavior you see, without molding it to what you want or rationalizing it away.
People assume they can determine at a glance whether someone is dangerous.
Not even the best of the FBI behavioral analysts can do that. They collect information and analyze it before deciding whom a person is and what the person is capable of. What is dangerous is to allow your personal biases to influence the decision.
People also often base their decisions on superficial features: Is the person handsome, beautiful, well-dressed, articulate?
It's likely that the investors thought positively of Bernie Madoff in all these areas before turning over their money to him.
Don't wait to need to stay away from a person, even if you work together, if that person exhibits any of these traits: impulsivity, inappropriate or out-of-control anger, narcissism, lack of empathy, injustice collecting, objectification of others, blaming others for failures and problems, paranoia, rule-breaking, use of violence, thoughts or fantasies of violence, drug and/or alcohol problems, poor coping skills, equal-opportunity hatred, and thrill-seeking.
You may want to date someone you meet through your job, but skipping your homework could lead to a disaster that you could have avoided. Don't just read "Dangerous Instincts: How Gut Feelings Betray Us," study it. It could save you trouble in the future or even your life.
Email Lindsey Novak at [email protected] with all your workplace questions. She answers all emails.
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