What Did Mrs. Weinstein Miss?
© 2017 Megan Hunter, Bill Eddy
2017 will go down in history as the year that changed the culture for women in the workplace. One-by-one, in rapid succession, high-profile male actors, producers, directors, politicians, athletes, coaches, media broadcasters, and others have fallen from grace after sexual abuse and assault allegations were made by female subordinates and others. Serious allegations that ended careers and forever changed their families, including some headed for divorce.
News reports have coined a term for those around Harvey Weinstein, Charlie Rose, Matt Lauer and other powerful men--those who kept their mouths shut: the "complicity machine". Some knew what was going on and others didn't.
Which leads us to wonder whether the alleged offenders' spouses or partners knew what was going on from 9-5 in their romantic partner's work life. We will never know. If they did, was it because they were in vulnerable financial positions? Wanted to keep their families intact? Or perhaps they turned a blind eye in favor of a posh lifestyle.
Were the women in vulnerable financial positions?
More than likely, they didn't know. People with such aggressive and remorseless behavior often have high-conflict personalities which allow them to harm, manipulate and deceive those around them—even their closest family and friends. They live a lie every day. They tend to see all relationships as inherently adversarial and up for manipulation. We saw this with Bernie Madoff and his wife, Ruth, who denied knowing about the multi-billion dollar Wall Street scheme of her husband. While we can’t be certain, it seems quite likely that she really didn’t know, like many of the former spouses tell us in high-conflict divorces. Their life partner turns out to be a stranger.
Of course, Mrs. Weinstein (Georgina Chapman, who is now separated from Harvey) may have known something, but not the extent of the egregious behavior. This type of behavior certainly wasn't on the dating bucket list when they fell in love long ago. So, how did Mrs. Weinstein miss the signs, if there were any, before they walked down the aisle? Were the signs there? We may not know until she pens a tell-all book.
In the meantime, women everywhere are discovering a new-found empowerment, a right to stand up for themselves and to stop accepting abuse and bad behavior by their male counterparts. But that's in the workplace. Will they know how to make the same assessments in their romantic life?
Here's a list of a few things every woman (and man) should watch for during the recommended year-long waiting period we describe in our book Dating Radar. We included the results of an online survey we did to get the opinions and stories of several hundred people who later realized they had dated or married a very different person than the image they fell in love with.
Here’s some of the warning signs we found and Mrs. Weinstein may have missed:
1. Overly charming
High-conflict people (HCPs) can pour on the sugar when they want to. When starting a new relationship, they are masters of charm, which can distract their dating partner from the little negativities that may start popping up now and then. This sugar can be so overwhelming that you think the person is almost too good to be true. Well, that’s a warning sign right there. As one of our survey respondents essentially said: Avoid the person who’s a 10+ on a scale of 1-10; look for the 7’s and 8’s, because they’re more real.
This is a common trait of most HCPs, because they are trying hard to bend their reality, which needs bending because it isn’t all that great. Lies are necessary to keep up their false image that they want you to fall in love with. And if you’re not careful, you’ll eagerly believe their lies. Surprisingly, they also come to believe their own lies much of the time, because they feel so desperate to get what they want.
3. Exaggerated stories about other people
High-conflict people are always telling stories about other people. Often, they’re saying how terrible other people are and how awfully they have treated them. But sometimes they will tell you about all the high-status people they know, to impress you with the idea that they must be high status too.
4. Putting people down
In order to keep up their own image as a superior person, HCPs are constantly putting other people down. You may notice this in private conversations, but they also may do this in public, in order to humiliate someone. You can often tell that they enjoy other’s pain, because it makes them feel so superior. This is a warning sign for sure.
By now, you should be able to see the pattern of how HCPs try to bend reality so that you will have a wonderful impression of them. While they will manipulate their public (and private) image as much as possible, they also will manipulate their partners. They will get them to cover up for their misdeeds. They will get them to feel inferior, unless they do what the HCP tells them to do. Sometimes they are con artists, and can really fool everyone, including their partners. And if you challenge them, they will manipulate you into thinking that there’s something wrong with you.
Overall, Harvey Weinstein may have done all of the above. After all, he is a powerful and persuasive person in one of the biggest industries in the world; an industry that many people want to be part of. When the future Mrs. Weinstein was dating him did she experience any of these things and did she know they were warning signs? We don’t know and it’s possible that she overlooked or dismissed all of this. But nowadays, we should all learn from her experience and beware the charm, the little lies, and all the rest.
Anyone can be fooled. Think about it. The leading men who are falling today were masters of image-making at the top of the industries of image-making: entertainment, news and politics.
Bill Eddy and Megan Hunter are co-authors of Dating Radar: Why Your Brain Says “Yes” to the One Who Will Make Your Life Hell and co-founders of the High Conflict Institute. Bill is a lawyer, therapist, and mediator. Megan is a publisher, author and speaker.