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The Little Black Book of Big Red Flags: Relationship Warning Signs You Totally Spotted . . . But Chose to Ignore Excerpt from The Little Black Book of Big Red Flags: Relationship Warning Signs You Totally Spotted . . . But Chose to Ignore

by Natasha Burton, Julie Fishman, and Meagan McCrary

He's a Player

From t-ball to table hockey to fantasy football, men love to play games. Hard-wired for competition, they can easily fall into the habit of treating a woman like just another notch in their headboards. Most often, it's not just about sex, but bragging rights, too.

But a guy who's slept with a lot of women isn't necessarily a player; if he's sleeping with several of them simultaneously, however, he is. When a man manipulates you into believing you're his one and only when you're actually his one of many, he's officially hit player status. Julie's college roommate was strung along for over a year by a guy who constantly swore that he was going to break up with his girlfriend to be with her, but never actually did, leaving her disappointed and drained.

Falling victim is easier than it sounds because players are smooth -- after all, they've been practicing since puberty. They know just what to say and do to make you think you've found your very own Prince Charming -- which is why it's hard to move on when you begin to recognize that your guy's more Don Juan than "happily ever after."

The truth is, if he sounds too good to be true, he probably is. This guy knows all the lines to lay on the charm and all the moves to make you swoon. It may sound like he's acting from the heart but, really, he's just acting.

So, keep a lookout for the signals below and have the self-confidence to move on and find a man who treats you like a precious gem, not just another rock to kick around.

He tracks his conquests.
If a guy is keeping a running list of the women he's "had," sex is obviously less about the individual girl and more about his ability to vanquish territory. We've heard of men keeping sex diaries detailing every intimate encounter they've had, and while a guy may track this info in his head, if he writes it down it may mean he anticipates his list will grow too long for him to remember. His behavior could also signal a deeper issue -- seeing the number of women he's bedded in writing could help him reaffirm his masculinity and worth, characteristics that shouldn't revolve around sex.

He's inflexible with his time.
If planning a date with your dude is more complicated than nuclear physics and he gives you weekly time slots that he can "fit you into," he's probably fitting himself into a myriad of women (if you know what we mean). If he's inflexible with his time, don't be so flexible with your legs.

Since a player is experienced in the art of deception, he'll convince you that his time is limited because he's such a good person -- hard-working, family-oriented, and loyal. Likewise, common excuses will be late meetings with a coworker, his younger brother's soccer games, or dinners with a friend in crisis. When you ask to meet said coworker, brother, or best friend, you may be able to catch a wrinkle of worry on his face, but it will quickly fade as he coolly replies that his coworker is so boring you'd never want to hang with him, his brother has Asperger's, and his friend just left the country for a few months. Don't buy his bull.

A man who wants you in his life will not just fit you in, but plan around you, no matter how busy he is. Even if he's not spending his time with other women, what's the point of seeing someone if you never get to actually see them? Sure, if you're in a long-term committed relationship you may make an exception, but this shouldn't be his M.O. from the start.

He's too good to be true.
Unlike the cut-to-the-chase fella in the previous chapter, a player won't lay his carnal intentions out on the table during the first date. Instead, he'll tell you everything he thinks you, and all women, want to hear. A too-good-to-be-true player will set you up to fall hard with lines like "I've never felt this way before," knowing the harder you fall the less likely you are to get up and walk away. Every time you grow suspicious, he hopes you'll think back on the romantic things he's said or done and decide that your gut has just got to be off.

We've got news for you: A woman's intuition is her best defense against getting played. Don't deny common sense -- you'll just end up kicking yourself down the road when your gut feeling is confirmed.

When it feels like your relationship with a guy is in fast-forward, hit pause and re-evaluate the reasons he claims to be so into you. If he never offers concrete reasons why you're specifically the one, he's trying to manipulate you into dropping your drawers. Since players are adept at reading and maneuvering women's emotions, keep yourself in check: Focus on what you like about him besides his promises of 2.5 beautiful children he'll send to the best private schools.

He's not interested in getting to know you.
While players will talk about the far-off future you supposedly have together, they usually avoid discovering you in the present. If your guy's not asking the basic questions, like how many siblings you have or what hobbies you enjoy, it may be because he's only interested knowing you in the biblical sense. When you voluntarily offer info, he'll likely feign concern but then quickly move to the physical. For example, you tell him you had a bad day and he'll say, "I'm sorry babe," move in for a kiss, and whisper, "Why don't you let me make it all better?" And within minutes you're getting busy. 

He tells you he's a player.
While this one seems obvious, we've talked to a lot of women who've ignored this flag because they thought they could "fix" a guy's wanton ways. The he'll-change-for-me attitude is certainly romantic, but the odds are not in your favor. Whether he tells you he's a player directly or hints at it, he's doing it so that he can say he warned you when you find out he's hooking up with multiple chicks or when he refuses to let you call him your boyfriend.

Perhaps a player's appeal is not that you want to fix him, but that he presents a challenge. If it's less about the actual guy and more about competing with other women, join a softball team -- winning a plastic trophy will be far more rewarding than winning a guy you don't really like in the first place.

While immature men may think that being a player is cool, it's really a form of misogyny: Players work to establish control over a woman's emotions in order to manipulate or use her. Even if a guy's debonair attitude seems to speak otherwise, you'll most likely never be more than an object to him and your feelings won't factor into the relationship, leaving you hurt and violated.

Players prey on the most susceptible women -- they sense low self-esteem and know how to make you feel like you're wanted and loved. When you realize that's not the case, your self-esteem drops even lower, creating a dangerous cycle. If you keep ending up in this situation, it may be time to take a break from dating and work on your confidence so that you can separate bullshit sweet talk from genuine conversation and learn to trust your intuition. After all, the best way to avoid being hurt by players is not to fall for them in the first place.

An honest man will ask questions about your goals, dreams, and desires but he typically won't promise to fulfill them before getting to know you on a deeper level. A guy who focuses on the future, instead of learning about you in the present, is looking to charm you into the bedroom, not into his life. Remember, there will always be players, but you can opt not to play their games.

The above is an excerpt from the book The Little Black Book of Big Red Flags: Relationship Warning Signs You Totally Spotted. . . But Chose to Ignore by Authors Natasha Burton, Julie Fishman, and Meagan McCrary. The above excerpt is a digitally scanned reproduction of text from print. Although this excerpt has been proofread, occasional errors may appear due to the scanning process. Please refer to the finished book for accuracy.

The Little Black Book of Big Red Flags: Relationship Warning Signs You Totally Spotted . . . But Chose to Ignore (Adams Media, a division of F+W Media; June 2011)