As we make friendships and build relationships through life, we tend to look for the best in others. When someone appears to be friendly, outgoing and kind, it can take us off-guard when they start to act differently.
Predatory behavior is particularly dangerous because it takes advantage of our willingness to trust people. Using manipulation and control, predatory behaviour is often only understood in retrospect. When you look back at the behaviour of someone in your life, whether a friend, relationship partner or co-worker, you may only recognize the signs of predatory behavior when you are able to see the full picture, from charming and attentive too cold and manipulative.
If you conclude that you may be in a predatory relationship or exposed to a toxic situation at work, it is important to speak to someone you trust. If you are in an unhealthy romantic relationship, remove yourself, even if it means moving or finding a safe place for temporary shelter. At work, it is important to let your employer know that you are uncomfortable, not only for your own well-being, but also for the safety of others and the creation of a healthy workplace culture.
Since predators are so often skilled at fooling others, it is important to be aware of the common signs of predatory behavior. We hope these signs of predatory behaviour are helpful as you determine the safety of your situation. Make sure you avoid isolation and let others know if you are in a position of jeopardy.
Sign #1: The World Owes Them
A sense of entitlement is one of the most common signs of predatory behavior. A predator tends to believe they are better than others and deserve special treatment over everyone else. This feeling of entitlement allows them to use others, without worrying about repercussions. If others are afraid, a predator will take advantage, feeding their feelings that the world somehow ‘owes’ them.
Sign #2: Unusual Charm
Because predators can appear so normal, even charming, on the outside, the signs of predatory behaviour can be difficult to identify. At first, predators are often extremely personable, fun to be around and probably the one to engage you in an interesting conversation.
They may seem highly interested in you and your opinion. They can appear kind-hearted and have magnetic personalities, but underneath their life-of-the-party appearance, they are waiting to manipulate and control.
Sign #3: Never Wrong
The signs of predatory behavior can be identified if you are familiar with the pattern. You know the type—the people who seem incapable of accepting blame, or admitting they’ve done anything wrong. These people make difficult classmates, neighbours and co-workers. When combined with controlling tendencies, this can be a red flag for predatory behavior.
Sign #4: Often a Victim
Because predators easily find fault in others and refuse to take blame themselves, they often play the role of victim. Even if they say or do something clearly offensive or dangerous, they will blame the person against whom they have lashed out.
Often explosive in their approach, playing the victim is a key strategy for predators to manipulate the emotion around an argument or event. This victim strategy can be seen in both relationships and work scenarios.
Sign #5: From Hot to Cold
The signs of predatory behavior are often volatile. When victims look back at the way their relationships with predators started, they often remember feelings of intensity, and perhaps a notion that everything seemed too good to be true or that maybe things were happening too fast.
A predator is skilled turning on the charm in the early stages of any relationship, making things seem better than expected. Once they feel they have gained your trust, they will often test the waters with small, undermining comments, escalating over time to damage your confidence and increase their control.
Sign #6: Good at Faking
Predators are masters at faking the emotions they feel they need to show. They will often fake vulnerability, kindness and / or intimacy in order to gain your trust. Often, however, these feelings are just a mask, the predator’s way of discovering the weaknesses in others, in order to exploit them later.
Sign #7: Emotional Games
Emotional manipulation is a hallmark of predatory behaviour. Part of the reason this is so easily accomplished is that predators rarely feel empathy towards others. In other words, they are simply unable to feel and understand the emotions of others. They may pretend to understand your pain but will quickly change the conversation to talk about themselves.
Sign #8: Carefully Crafted Image
A predator may seek to gain power over others because they are hiding deep pain of their own. They may have low self-esteem, but it is hard to see at first as many predators have a carefully curated image that they like to present to the world.
In the workplace, a predator may appear outgoing, charming and intelligent while they are controlling others behind closed doors, whether playing power games or sexually harassing a co-worker. Only a workplace investigation may reveal the malice and signs of predatory behavior.
Sign #9: Control is Their Main Game
Ultimately, a predator seeks to control others. Once they have isolated their victim, leaving them feeling trapped or emotionally alone, a predator can easily control their feelings and decisions. This is damaging for the victim, whether they are trapped in a relationship or in an uncomfortable situation at work.