How Netflix’s You highlights the dangerous side of modern dating

As Netflix’s unsettling thriller You returns to our screens, social media has once again become flooded with women professing their attraction to the fictitional killer Joe Goldberg. 

But Elaine Parker, CEO and Founder of Safer Date, has warned that this tendency to focus on the character’s charming and attractive side is worrying, because if you do the same in a real-life relationship, it’s easy to miss the warning signs of violent and controlling tendencies. 

Elaine told FEMAIL: ‘When it comes to dating – and particularly online dating – everyone needs to be aware that there are no legal standards for the dating industry, so you could literally be talking to anyone online – even serial domestic abusers and sex offenders. 

‘When it comes to You, we’ve seen a lot of women on social media say that they have a guilty crush on Joe despite his violent tendencies. These definitely aren’t qualities you should be looking for in a partner. 

‘However, watching his character on TV, we can see how easy it is for Joe to hide these characteristics, and that’s why it’s so important to look out for red flags like ‘love bombing’ and possessiveness.’ 

After Netflix’s unsettling thriller You returned to our screens last week, a safety expert has revealed how to spot relationship red-flags, including relentless ‘love bombing’. Pictured, Penn Badgley as fictitious killer Joe Goldberg 

She added: ‘If you are dating and you see any red flags – trust your gut and get out of the relationship. 

‘Please look out for your friends too. If any of your friends are dating online and you feel something isn’t right, ask if they’re okay. 

‘It’s not always easy to talk about what’s going on behind closed doors, so if you see less and less of them and they are becoming withdrawn, reach out. It’s difficult to start those conversations, but it could make a huge difference.  

Elaine Parker, CEO and Founder of Safer Date, (pictured) revealed how to stay safe dating online

Elaine Parker, CEO and Founder of Safer Date, (pictured) revealed how to stay safe dating online

Here, Elaine reveals how to stay safe dating online by spotting the seemingly innocent signs that could be pointing to something more sinister. 

They seem too good to be true

The world of dating can be hard and you might have a lot of anxieties. When you go out, do you pay half, offer to pay in full, or wait for them to pick up the bill? 

Conversations like this can often be awkward. But it may be a red flag if you are dating someone who always pays for your date, showers you with compliments and gifts, and makes grand gestures as a way to show their affection and make you fall harder for them.

This is called ‘love bombing’ – the relentless way a partner bombards you with love at the start of a relationship in order to gain love and trust. Often, they are manipulating you to get what they want. 

You may think that receiving this affection would be nice, but the truth is the good part of ‘love bombing’ only happens at the beginning of the relationship. Once they have won you over to get what they want, the love suddenly disappears. 

They pressure you into rushing things   

Love bombing is often coupled with gaslighting, but not how you might think. Using affection as a reason or excuse for bad behaviour, such as exclaiming “I love you” as the motive for suffocation or privacy invasions. If you feel like you might be getting ‘love bombed’, it’s important to take a look at the whole situation and trusting your gut instinct. 

By asking your partner to take things slower in a relationship, you will be able to see someone’s true intentions. If they are genuine, they will understand and respect your decision. 

A ‘love bomber’, however, may attempt to make you feel guilty and ashamed for ‘halting’ the relationship.

They check your phone

If you have ever caught a partner going through your phone, laptop, or social media messages, you almost instantly feel that break of trust. 

What are they looking for? Why not just ask? Why don’t you trust me? It can feel very invasive, like a theft of your privacy. If your partner can’t trust you (and has no reason not to), then It’s important to address the issue and have a conversation if this happens. 

Your partner needs to understand and respect your privacy and work on building your trust back. If they can’t do this, then you shouldn’t be in a relationship with them. 

Elaine warned that because the character is charming and attractive, it's easy to miss the hidden red flags which point to his violent and controlling tendencies - from rushing relationships to 'love bombing'

Elaine warned that because the character is charming and attractive, it’s easy to miss the hidden red flags which point to his violent and controlling tendencies – from rushing relationships to ‘love bombing’

They want all your time…or none of it

When you’re in a relationship, it’s fun to spend time together and bond over your mutual interests. But if you find your partner criticising you when you spend time with your friends or family, they may be jealous that you’re not spending all your time with them. 

It can be more than just family and friends that a narcissist can be jealous of, even showing affection to your beloved pet can annoy them. As a result, they might try to isolate you from your other loved ones so they are the only relationship in your life.

Calling or FaceTiming you constantly, or demanding an immediate response to their last message can also be quite suffocating, leaving you with no time for yourself. On the contrary, someone not calling, getting in touch with you, or dodging any communication over a period of time can leave you confused over where you stand.

These actions are often those of a partner trying to control not just the relationship but also you. It’s important to talk to your partner and reaffirm that even though you are together, you also lead your own separate life. 

You could encourage your partner to start a new hobby or spend time with friends pursuing their own interests. An added bonus here is that gives you both something new to talk about. 

Being in love doesn’t mean you have to spend all your time together – it’s important to keep a line of communication, but as they say, absence makes the heart grow fonder.