As Netflix’s unsettling thriller You returns to our screens, social media has once again become flooded with women professing their attraction to the fictitional killer Joe Goldberg. 

But Elaine Parker, CEO and Founder of Safer Date, has warned that this tendency to focus on the character’s charming and attractive side is worrying, because if you do the same in a real-life relationship, it’s easy to miss the warning signs of violent and controlling tendencies. 

Elaine told FEMAIL: ‘When it comes to dating – and particularly online dating – everyone needs to be aware that there are no legal standards for the dating industry, so you could literally be talking to anyone online – even serial domestic abusers and sex offenders. 

“When it’s to You, we have seen a lot women on social networking say that they have a guilt crush on Joe despite him being violent. These are definitely not qualities you should be looking at in a partner. 

“However, when we watch Joe on TV, it is easy for him to hide these traits. That’s why it is so important to be aware of red flags such as ‘love bombing’ and possessiveness. 

After Netflix's unsettling thriller You returned to our screens last week, a safety expert has revealed how to spot relationship red-flags, including relentless 'love bombing'. Pictured, Penn Badgley as fictitious killer Joe Goldberg

A safety expert has revealed how to spot red flags in relationships, including ‘love bombing’. Pictured, Penn Badgley as fictitious killer Joe Goldberg 

She said, “If you’re in a relationship and you see red flags, trust your gut and get out.” 

“Please be kind to your friends. If you feel that something is not right with any of your online friends, please ask. 

It’s not always easy for people to openly discuss what’s happening behind closed doors. If you are seeing fewer of them or they become more distant, reach out. Although it can be difficult to have these conversations, it can make a big difference.  

Elaine Parker, CEO and Founder of Safer Date, (pictured) revealed how to stay safe dating online

Elaine Parker, CEO and Founder of Safer Date, (pictured) revealed how to stay safe dating online

Elaine explains how you can stay safe when dating online by spotting signs that seem innocent but could be pointing towards something more sinister. 

These sound too good to true

Dating can be difficult and you may have many anxieties. Do you offer to pay half of the bill, wait for them to pay full price, or do you just pay half? 

These conversations can be awkward. This could indicate that you are not dating someone who pays attention to your needs, gives you gifts and compliments, and is willing to make sacrifices to make you love them more.

This is called ‘love bombing’ – the relentless way a partner bombards you with love at the start of a relationship in order to gain love and trust. They will often manipulate you to get what they want. 

While it may seem like receiving this affection would make you happy, the best part about ‘love bombing’ is only at the beginning. Once they have won your trust and you are willing to give them what they want, then the love will disappear. 

They pressure you to rush things   

Gaslighting is often used in love bombing. But it’s not what you might think. Intimacy as a reason for bad behavior, such as exclaiming “I Love You” to the victim in order to suffocate or invade their privacy. If you feel that you might be being “love bombed”, it is important to examine the situation and trust your gut instincts. 

Asking your partner to slow down in a relationship will help you see their true intentions. If they are sincere, you will be able to understand and respect their decision. 

However, a ‘love bomber may try to make you feel guilty or ashamed for ‘halting the relationship’

They will check your smartphone

If you’ve ever seen a partner looking through your phone or laptop on social media, you can almost immediately feel the loss of trust. 

What are they looking at? Why not ask them? Why don’t I trust you? It can feel intrusive, like someone is stealing your privacy. If your partner can’t trust you (and has no reason not to), then It’s important to address the issue and have a conversation if this happens. 

Your partner must respect and understand your privacy and work to build your trust back. If they don’t, you shouldn’t be in a partnership with them. 

Elaine warned that because the character is charming and attractive, it's easy to miss the hidden red flags which point to his violent and controlling tendencies - from rushing relationships to 'love bombing'

Elaine warned that because the character is charming and attractive, it’s easy to miss the hidden red flags which point to his violent and controlling tendencies – from rushing relationships to ‘love bombing’

They want all your time…or none of it

It’s great to be in a relationship and spend time together sharing your interests. If your partner is critical of you spending time with your family or friends, it could be a sign that they are jealous. 

A narcissist may be jealous of more than just their family and friends. Even showing affection to a pet can cause them irritation. They may try to isolate you and make sure they are the only ones in your life.

You may feel suffocated if someone calls or FaceTims you constantly or demands an immediate response to their last messages. Contrarily, if someone doesn’t call you or gets in touch with your within a certain time frame, it can leave you confused about where you stand.

These actions are often a sign that a partner is trying to control you and your relationship. It is important to have a conversation with your partner to remind them that, although you are together in marriage, you still live your own lives. 

You could encourage your partner in pursuing their interests or to start a hobby. You will have something to talk about, which is a bonus. 

Being in love doesn’t mean you have to spend all your time together – it’s important to keep a line of communication, but as they say, absence makes the heart grow fonder.