Whenever I see a bright, successful, beautiful woman dating a cad, there's a small part of me that still gets surprised even though I've seen it hundreds of times before in clients I counsel, with my friends and acquaintances -- and yes, before I was married, a cad or two passed though my door.
Actress Anne Hathaway began dating Italian businessman, Raffaello Follieri in the spring of 2004 when she was a ripe 21. Four years later, Raffaello is facing a dozen counts of money laundering, conspiracy, and wire fraud, as well as being characterized as a "con man" by federal prosecutors. Reports are the couple split in June.
Hathaway studied at Vassar College and the prestigious Barrow Group theater company. She played Jane Austen. How did this real life dating disaster happen?
Many speculate low self-esteem when a woman gets taken in by a cad. But I'm not sure that's always the case. Perhaps they need to be teaching young women and men psychological awareness at schools like Vassar -- something beyond the requisite Psych 101 -- more of an applied psychology that relates to dating and relationships.
Cads are hard to spot because they are magnetic and manipulative, but the key is they are spottable if women are willing to truly see what's in front of them. According to People, "Even as some friends say they warned Hathaway about Follieri, she stuck by him for months as allegations of his wrongdoing swirled."
Not all cads and con artists are created equal. Some are of the boys-will-be-boys (or girls-will-be-girls) variety, while others have a more sinister twist. The "twist" is often sociopathic tendencies or Antisocial Personality Disorder which is characterized by the DSM-IV-TR as "a pervasive pattern of disregard for, and violation of, the rights of others ..." among other symptoms.
The DSM puts the prevalence of Antisocial Personality Disorder in the community at about 3% in males and about 1% in females. This is a lot, keeping in mind that these numbers represent only people with the full blown disorder.
When I advise women and men about how to avoid someone with sociopathic tendencies, I tell them don't expect a monster; instead expect someone oozing with charm. Yet, underneath the heat and charisma are cold thoughts and actions devoid of empathy. Impulsivity, thrill-seeking, and constant boredom are characteristic.
Relationships are used as stepping stones to get them where they want to go. They have an uncanny ability to push someone to the brink, but then suck them back into the relationship again. It's drama, and they love it.
But cads are not infallible. There are always signs. That's why it's so important to educate men and women to see the signs, as well as helping them achieve the courage and willingness it takes to interpret them.