Avoid "Rescuing" Behaviors in Dating (a.k.a. The Tinder Swindler Part II)

Mar 02, 2022



In my 2/14/22 blog post, I addressed the dating con man story exposed in the Netflix documentary The Tinder Swindler. One of the boundaries I recommend for women in dating (that incidentally would have saved those women from this con man’s trap) is to avoid "rescuing" behaviors.


I thought it would be worth exploring this issue in more depth. What is rescuing behavior? It can range from loaning a man money, to giving him a place to stay, to leveraging your contacts to boost his career. While you may think these things aren’t obviously problematic in dating (and indeed they might be fine in a marriage or other committed long-term relationship) these can be deadly or at least incredibly destructive to your well-being when this comes up in the context of someone you are just seeing or recently started dating.


Why? A man who is love with you is going to want to help you, not seek to be helped by you. A man in love wants to be your hero, leading with his strength, not show you his weakness. When you are shifted into the helping role early on, it puts you at risk of being a target for men who don’t actually care about you such as users, manipulators, liars, narcissists, and even criminals. Remember that serial killer Ted Bundy found victims by pretending to have an injury and specifically asking women for help. Some scoundrels will take advantage of women’s tendency towards helping. As security expert (who works for many public figures) and author of The Gift of Fear Gavin de Becker has advised women re their safety, if a man needs help, let him ask another man.


In The Tinder Swindler documentary on Netflix, a man flashed his extravagant lifestyle (which, sidenote, was financed by conning other women) to lure women into dating him or being his girlfriend, then at some point would text photos of himself and his entourage appearing bloodied and roughed up, saying he was in trouble, his credit cards had been shut off, and asking for a loan of X amount of dollars to fly home. The women would send it, only to later discover that the relationship (as well as the specific "emergency") was a scam. Now, you may say, oh that’s ridiculous, I would never fall for that. But would you fall for this next version?


One woman I worked with was seeing a man and having a good time getting to know him, when he announced he would be moving out of state to take a new job. She was disappointed, but glad for him to have this new opportunity.  A few days before he was set to move out of state he said, “Hey could I stay with you a couple of days? A package I was expecting didn’t arrive in time and I wanted to make sure I don’t miss the package.” (Side note: He could have re-routed it via the carrier for less than $15, but I digress.)  I advised her to say no, that he could handle this any number of ways without seeking her help. She thought I was being overly strict, decided to ignore my advice, and agreed to put him up for a few days. “Where’s the harm in that,” she thought to herself.  Guess what happened?  During a meal they were sharing in the course of his stay, when she stepped away to use the restroom, he dashed into her home office where she then discovered him rifling through her financial paperwork. Thank goodness she asked him to leave and that was the end of it, but who knows what could have happened if he had gotten further along. After that episode, she has taken my advice more seriously. While my dating advice is backed by years of experience, I also draw upon my academic background with degrees in Criminology, Psychology and Social Behavior, as well as Law to inform my opinions.


I'm not the only dating expert to hold the opinion that a man who seeks help from a woman they've started dating should be viewed with suspicion as to his intentions. To paraphrase relationship author Pat Allen, "The difference between a man and a boy is that a man looks at women, children, and animals and thinks, "I wonder what I could do for them. Whereas a boy looks at women, children, and animals and thinks 'I wonder what they could do for me."


I can’t say it enough, ladies, beware of men seeking your help early on in the dating process. At best, it may indicate that he's not interested in a relationship enough to put his best foot forward. At worst, it could put you at risk of predatory behavior.


 - “Coach Cori” at the Love Academy for Women


In any area of life, it helps to have a mentor. Dating is no different. 

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