How to avoid a bad relationship 101

Is it really possible to avoid bad relationships? Are the romantic movies wrong – aren’t we doomed to simply fall in love with another person whether it makes sense or not? Or can we really decide how far to let ourselves get into a relationship based on a more objective look at our partner’s current and past behavior?

My answer to the last question is an emphatic YES! Jerk Radar is designed to help you look at what are often called “red flags” – signs that someone may have less than honorable intentions despite their attempts to convince you otherwise.

I researched this question in depth with a large number of domestic abuse survivors, who were themselves very interested in figuring out how they got into these dangerous relationships and how they might avoid such relationships in the future. Their recollections of their Jerky partners’ early behavior fell fairly easily into categories, and those 11 categories form the basis of Jerk Radar. These categories include somewhat subjective assessments, such as being excessively charming, egotistical, and sexually aggressive, to more concrete measures such as criminal history, substance abusing behavior, and prior violence toward partners and children. This assessment comes together with the Jerk Radar Quiz, a quasi-mathematical way to put a partner’s “red flags” into a broader perspective.

It’s important to note that almost all of us engage in some kind of Jerky behavior some of the time, and so everyone will score some points on the quiz. It’s also clear that not all abusive partners are the same, and some will score high in several areas while scoring low in others. So it’s not each individual area we want to look at, it’s the big picture of all these areas considered together.

For instance, a woman might be dating a man who has traditional views on sex roles. He may be very competitive and also exert some over-the-top efforts to charm her on early dates. Is this enough to say he’s a risk for a bad relationship? Not necessarily. It’s possible that he’s a kindly person who needs a little education in the sex role area (or perhaps that’s OK with you), and he may be very safe and respectful as long as his team isn’t playing a game tonight. Jerk Radar can provide some very specific ways to “test out” his Jerky tendencies, mostly without him even noticing that you’re checking at all.

However, if you find that the same person above also says he loves you after the second date (quick involvement), has a spotty work history (irresponsibility), drinks a lot and thinks nothing of driving a car drunk (substance abuse) and talks trash about all his prior girlfriends (poor attitude toward women), he’s probably going to be trouble, and Jerk Radar will let you know this. And if he’s got prior history of restraining orders or assault charges or child welfare involvement, it’s time to call a cab and get the heck out of there!

This is where the Jerk Radar Quiz comes in very handy. You can go ahead and score your current beau on the 11 areas of the quiz and add up the score. He may have wonderful explanations for each and every one of his/her ‘red flags,’ but a high score on the JR quiz almost certainly means you will want to make this relationship a short one. When the domestic abuse survivors I interviewed tested out the quiz on their former abusive partners and compared to more healthy relationships they’d had, we found that the average score for a domestic abuser was near 30 (out of 50), whereas the average for healthy relationships was around 8. It’s a pretty accurate took to predict what’s coming.

So if you really want to avoid bad relationships, run every potential partner through the Jerk Radar quiz. If s/he scores high, read Jerk Radar cover to cover and try out some of the tests I outline at the end of each chapter. If you do, you can screen out 98% of bad relationships right at the start.

So yes, with Jerk Radar in your toolkit, it IS possible to stop a bad relationship before it starts!

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