Predators and abusers use tactics designed to gain your trust. You might feel a sense of something being "off" when these tactics are being used, but you might not be able to pinpoint why.
Keep in mind that “good people” don’t use tactics. They are genuine in their goodness, and it comes across as authentic and real. Not fake, like someone using a "tactic".
This is why you notice the "off" feeling when a person is trying to gain your trust without being trustworthy. Their authenticity is missing, and your body feels it, even if you are unable to pinpoint the "why" of what you feel.
Here is a list of the tactics used by predators to befriend you or gain your trust:
Forced teaming – Someone who approaches you and uses the words “we” or “us” without knowing you might be trying to gain your trust. Here is an example: if you are walking on Main Street and someone comes alongside you and says, “it looks like we both needed a nice walk today”. Pay attention to this when, in reality, there is no “we” or “us”.
Charm and niceness – Are all nice people trying to harm you? No! But keep in mind that niceness does not equal goodness. People trying to control others will generally present as a nice person at first. You can reject the advances of someone you don’t know, especially a person that makes you feel uncomfortable. It is not your responsibility to keep them from feeling bad or rejected.
Too many details – A stranger who starts telling you about themselves or their lives might have bad motives. When people are telling the truth, they don’t feel doubted, and they don’t feel the need for additional support in the form of details.
Typecasting – If you are approached by someone and you let them know you don’t want to talk with them, they might typecast you by saying something like, “I knew you would be one of those mean girls”. Or, “you obviously think you are better than me”. Typecasting involves an insult that you might feel responsible to defend in order to let them know you are not like that. Your best strategy is to avoid responding and/or walking away.
Loan sharking – A stranger who tries to help you for no reason could be trying to place you in his/her debt. A person will often feel guilty saying no to someone who has been helpful. Don’t place yourself in a position where you feel you owe someone something. And remember, you do not owe ANYONE ANYTHING.
Unsolicited promise – This sounds like, “let me walk you to your car. I won’t hurt you, I promise”. Why is this person making this promise? Good people are generally not thinking of doing anything harmful, so they don’t think of telling you they won’t. Someone with bad intentions might seek to calm any gut instincts you have. ALWAYS listen to your gut instincts rather than a person’s words.
Discounting the word “NO” – Pay attention to someone who will not respect your “NO”. If you meet someone at a party and they ask for your phone number and you say “no”, that should be the end of the conversation. Be wary of assuming that a person that won’t take “no” for an answer has a crush on you. In reality, it is a person who is not respecting your boundaries and potentially has bad intentions towards you. Unfortunately, rom-coms have taught women that the person who won’t take “no” for an answer is their knight in shining armor.
Keep in mind that our bodies are designed to detect danger. If you feel uncomfortable with someone you have every right to leave the interaction. You are not obligated to make sure they don't feel bad about your reaction.
Do what you need to do to feel safe, every single time.
***If you want to learn more about the body's response to fear, read Gavin DeBecker's book called THE GIFT OF FEAR.