I Promise You, I’m No Gigolo!

“I promise you, I’m no gigolo!”

The psychopath I was involved with said those words to me one night, out of nowhere. As it turned out, he absolutely was a gigolo. Even worse, he was a psychopathic gigolo. His promise had been broken.

When he made that promise, I was flummoxed. Why would he think I might consider him a gigolo, of all things? It had never even crossed my mind. What I should have asked myself was, why does he have gigolos on his mind? why is he making this promise when I never voiced any concern? why is he trying to convince me he’s not a gigolo? His unsolicited promise was a “tell,” a clue to who he really was and what was going to happen.

Just a Gigolo ~The Soundcasters


Beware the unsolicited promise,

which is a promise to do—or not to do—something when no such promise is asked for. It usually means that promise will be broken.

Unsolicited promises are considered “pre-incident indicators,” according to Gavin de Becker, author of the book The Gift of Fear. What drives a person to make an unsolicited promise is the need to convince you of something, anticipating your doubt. He says you must ask yourself, “why does this person feel the need to convince me?”

An unsolicited promise is often a warning sign of impending victimization of one kind or another, and should never be ignored or believed. It can be a way to buy time or to create an opportunity to get control over you or the situation.

Some examples of unsolicited promises:

“I promise I won’t hurt you”

“I promise I’ll leave you alone after this.”

“I promise I’ll never cheat on you.”

“I promise I’ll just have one drink and then I’ll leave.”

“I promise I’ll just help you bring in your groceries and then I’ll go.”

“I promise you, I’m one of the good guys.”

“I promise I’ll never lie to you.”

“I promise I’ll never let you down.”

An unsolicited promise isn’t a guarantee of anything.

It’s a way to convince you of something.



Other Pre-Incident Indicators

 (from The Gift of Fear)

Some of these happen without ill intent, but must still be considered serious warning signs:


In this strategy, the con artist labels a woman or other victim in a critical way: snobby, stuck-up, etc. Most people don’t like to be labeled as being uncaring, snobby, unkind or paranoid, but these labels can be used deliberately to get you to react in the opposite direction. The idea is that you will then be compelled to disprove this charge, which gives the person an opportunity to win your trust. “You’re probably too beautiful to go out with a guy like me.” “You’re probably too snobby to talk to me.”  The defense is silence, acting as if the words weren’t even spoken. Ignore it. If you engage you may win the point, but you might lose something greater.

Loan Sharking

A person does you a favor—one you never asked them for—not because he or she is nice, but because they want you in their debt. When they ask you for something later, you will find it difficult to refuse.

Not Taking “No” for an Answer

Refusing to accept rejection. Perhaps the most universally significant signal that bad things are to come. “NO” should NEVER be discounted. You tell someone that no, you do not need their help, but they proceed to insist on it. Of all the signs one should pay attention to, this is the one that De Becker emphasizes. He says that “no” is a “a word that must never be negotiated, because the person who chooses not to hear it is trying to control you.” Criminals and manipulators go through a victim selection process involving an “interview” in which they test you to see if you can be controlled. One of those tests is to ignore the victim’s protests to see how they react. If you let someone talk you out of the word “no,” you are telling the perpetror that they are in charge. 

The worst response when someone fails to accept “no” is to give ever-weakening refusals, and then give in. Another common response is to negotiate (“I really appreciate your offer, but please let me try to do it on my own first”). Negotiations are about possibilities, and providing someone access who makes you apprehensive, is not a possibility you want to keep on the agenda. When someone becomes insistent on giving you help you don’t want, say loudly and in no uncertain terms: “I SAID NO.” It’s worked for me more than once. When you feel you may be in danger, forget being “nice.”

Always remember this: 



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Forced Teaming

A strategy designed to establish a premature trust, it’s the projection of a shared purpose or experience where none exists. The con artist uses this manipulation to create a sense of “togetherness.” This is when a person implies that he has something in common with his victim, acting as if they have a shared predicament when that isn’t true. Speaking in “we” terms is a sign. This technique is meant to bypass healthy distrust. “It looks like we’re in the same boat.”  “We’re in quite a predicament.” “We’re not like them.” “We don’t need to talk outside… Let’s go in.” “How are we going to handle this?” “Now we’ve done it.” Forced teaming is done I many contexts for many reasons, but when applied by a stranger in vulnerable situation, it is always inappropriate.

Charm and Niceness 

De Becker has little good to say about charm. He believes that charm is almost always a directed instrument, which means there’s a motive behind it. To charm is to compel, to control by allure or attraction. Charming people do not all necessarily have sinister motives, but because it is a strategy used by manipulators, it is prudent to be aware when it’s happening and stay alert. De Becker particularly warns women to rebuff unwanted approaches. He specifically makes the point that women are expected to respond to any and all communications from men (and those who are not willing and compliant are viewed as being cold and uncooperative).  Niceness does not equal goodness. Niceness is a decision, a strategy of social interaction — it is not a character trait. People seeking to control others almost always present the image of a nice person at first.

Too Many Details 

If a person is lying they will sometimes add excessive details to make themselves sound more credible. Even though it sounds credible to you it doesn’t to them (because they know they’re lying), so they keep adding details. This tactic also works to make you feel that you know someone better than you do, which makes you more likely to trust them. The defense for ‘too many details’ is simple: Bring the context of the conversation into conscious thought. Is it someone you just met? Watch out.

25 px blank spaceThe opening chapter of The Gift of Fearis truly chilling. The author shares the true story of a woman named Kelly, who was nearly killed by a serial rapist-murderer. All of the pre-incidence indicators were there and her gut signaled danger, but with persistence the rapist was able to make her act against her fear.

Kelly arrived home carrying several bags of groceries. She headed up the steps to her apartment building, noticing the door had been left open again. “Stupid neighbors. That’s not safe! Anyone could just come in!”  She latched the door behind her.

Kelly began to climb the four flights of stairs to her apartment with the groceries. She didn’t manage to make it all the way up before one of her bags broke, and a can of cat food rolled down the stairs. A man’s voice called up the stairs that he would bring it to her (NICENESS and LOAN SHARKING). There was something in the man’s voice that she didn’t like. When he came up the stairs and rounded the corner, he was friendly-looking and smiling (CHARM). He offered to help her carry the groceries the rest of the way. She refused multiple times, but he was insistent (NOT TAKING “NO” FOR AN ANSWER).  He claimed he was also going up to the fourth floor and was running late due to a broken watch (TOO MANY DETAILS). He implied that she was being too proud (TYPECASTING), and she finally allowed the man to help her. “We better hurry,” he said. “We’ve got a hungry cat up there!” (FORCED TEAMING).


She still felt apprehensive, but she shook it off and scolded herself. After all, he was so nice, and he was only trying to help. After getting to her apartment door, she thanked him and tried to take the groceries from him, but he refused to allow her to take them, instead saying he didn’t want her to drop the cans again and he would just set them inside and be on his way. She hesitated and he laughed, saying, “Hey, we can leave the door open like ladies do in old movies. I’ll just put this stuff down and go. I promise.” (UNSOLICITED PROMISE). She gave in. But he didn’t leave. Instead, he raped her for hours.

After raping her, he got up from the bed, got dressed, and closed the window. He started glancing at his watch and rushing around. “I gotta be somewhere. Hey, don’t look so scared. I promise I’m not going to hurt you.” (UNSOLICITED PROMISE). Kelly knew, without a doubt, that this man was now going to kill her. He told her he was going to the kitchen for a drink of water and promised he would leave after that (UNSOLICITED PROMISE). “Stay right there,” he said. “Don’t move.” She assured him she wouldn’t move, but got up the moment he turned his back, and followed him so closely that he might have felt her breath on his neck. He paused to turn up the volume on the stereo and continued into the kitchen. Kelly did not follow him there. Instead, she walked through her living room (and as she did, she heard him rummaging through the cutlery), and slipped out the front door. She walked straight into her neighbor’s apartment across the hall, knowing somehow that it would be unlocked.

Kelly survived the ordeal, though she wasn’t meant to. What made her sure he was going to kill her? Part of her registered first the shutting of the window. The three hour ordeal had occurred with the window open; why was he shutting it now? The same reason he stopped to turn up the volume on the stereo; he was concerned about noise. If it were truly over and he was going to leave as he promised, those wouldn’t have been details he attended to. Kelly’s mind interpreted the window closing as a red flag and that gave her the energy and willpower to escape with her life. The man proved that intuition correct by digging through the cutlery drawer in her kitchen. His last victim had been stabbed to death.

Looks like Pinocchio’s got a loose screw


Messengers of intuition

Be aware of what de Becker calls “messengers of intuition,” warnings from our subconscious mind that range from urgent fear to more subtle feelings and clues that something is wrong:

Nagging feelings
Persistent thoughts
Dark Humor
Gut Feelings
Hairs prickling on the back of your neck
Chills going down your spine
Lack of comfort or ease around a certain person

The Gift of Fear is about heeding our gut feelings and intuition. Never ignore feelings of discomfort or fear. The problem, though, is that psychopaths and some others are often very good at disarming our gut instincts. Mary Ellen O’Toole, PhD, a psychologist, retired FBI profiler, and author of the book Dangerous Instincts, advises us not to count on gut instincts to keep us safe. Instead, she lays out a procedure to follow using advanced planning and critical thinking that one can use when dating someone new, hiring a repair man or babysitter, or when there’s a knock at your door. Read more about that in the post, Never Trust Your Gut… Unless It Tells You To Run. To find out why curiosity and wonder are considered warning signs, read Curiosity Killed the Cat: The Harbingers of Intuition .

Love to all

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“Excellent, excellent book! It brought me understanding and closure!”

“Invaluable. Having been in a relationship with a psychopath for many years, I desperately needed some insight into what had happened and why. I have gained a tremendous amount of strength and knowledge toward healing from years of abuse by reading this book. One of the best.”

“Five Stars. Very helpful.”


“You will feel the healing power of finally being understood.”

“I loved the author’s ability to simply and compassionately describe why, and how, I feel victim to a monster. For me, she eloquently describes the most complex, confusing, horrific experience of my life. It’s critical to organize the voluminous amounts of information in a way that, even if you have never met a Psychopath, you will have a clear, concise understanding of how these predators operate. To the author, I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart.”

“The BEST Manual on how to protect yourself from becoming a victim again…

“I am going to recommend it to the facilitators in the divorce support group I am attending.”

“This small book was full of tons of useful information. I don’t usually write in my books, but my copy of Boundaries has underlining on almost every page. I was really glad I bought it.”

“My eyes have seen the light. How I wish I would have read this book years ago.” 

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14 thoughts on “I Promise You, I’m No Gigolo!”

  1. Jenny

    You kindly helped me two years ago and I was able to tell you that my pshyco had moved on remarried and I was recovering.
    This week he has reappeared emailing me and phoning at work.
    As if nothing wrong had happened!
    Please all be aware, I am witnessing that they can just re emerge as if nothing was wrong ….. I’ve had email and phone now blocked at work as well as home. I don’t want him thinking of me again .

    1. Adelyn Birch

      I’m sorry to hear he’s trying to get back in your life, Jenny, but glad you want no part of it. Amazing how he can act like nothing had happened! Keep up the no contact, and he will disappear. Best of luck to you! I’m happy to hear I was able to help you two years ago.

  2. Emilia

    Interested in adding this book as well to my library.
    Thank you

    1. Adelyn Birch

      It’s a good one; one that everyone should read, but don’t read it alone at night. I made that mistake.

  3. Jenny

    And I did think back then it was odd that he felt the need to tell me “I would never hit a woman” when we watched a news bit about domestic violence together…. years later I knew it was a lie and immediately remembered this odd unsolicited promise….. alongside his complaints how today’s women were all so cold and selfish…. which made me try and prove to him that I was the exception. … and to some extend I still do now, after being happily divorced from him for over a year! No contact is not an option as we coparent our daughter… but largely I found ways to distance myself from his continued attempts to still control my life….. happy days!

    1. Adelyn Birch

      Good for you, Jenny, that you’re able to distance yourself as much as is possible while co-parenting your daughter. And Happy Mother’s Day to you!

  4. janes aka Lady Vigilant 2

    U are so funny, where do find all these great pics? LOLz

    1. Adelyn Birch

      “I Said No” has got to be my favorite piece of art ever. Maybe I should do my windows like that…

      The “pants on fire” pic is a great image. I love that one. Next time someone lies to me, I’m going to hand them a copy.

  5. Amy

    Good point. As I like to say now (now that I know I have been abused by false, selfish egomaniacs more than once in my life: “Nice is different than good.”
    If someone is overly nice to you and you don’t even know him, he’s after something. He is neither a giving person nor does he instinctively like you because you’re so special or something of that sort.
    Now, when I meet someone who is too open with his feelings towards me on short acquaintance, I run for the hills.

    1. Adelyn Birch

      Nice is different than good, and it’s different than kind. I used to be nice, but I can’t even stand the word anymore. There’s nothing good about it; it’s all about gaining someone’s approval, for whatever reason. It’s not sincere. Neither is someone being too open and telling you overly personal things before they even know you.

  6. Pamela

    It has been 1 year since I escape from my psychopath. He has stalked me for 4 years prior. I have never met such a persistent man, finally gave in and we were dating steadily. I was verbally tortured, insulted, ridiculed, he stole expensive items from me, cheated with other women, threw my clothes at me, locked me out of my own house, told me I was crazy. I sought help with an EPO but, it was dismissed in the courtroom since he is an attorney. He knew the judge. During that process, I found out that his x-wife also sought an EPO on him but it was dismissed. During this very turbulent process he maintained he never did anything wrong. I have him blocked on LinkedIn, Facebook, cell phone, text and the security guards at my work protect me from him. My Psychopath always makes it out of the building before they can get to him. My neighbors all know about him and text me when he comes to my home. I have such a long paper trail on him that I don’t have to take another EPO out on him. I will just call the police. This past year he has sent me letters constantly professing love for me. In one of them he asked me to marry him. After I got that one I threw the others in the trash. A week ago the block on my cell phone ended he sent me a text. He always acts like I should be happy to see or hear him? I blocked him again. I used to be terrified he was going to kill me. I have a lot of protection now and feel sorry for the next victim. We haven’t had a conversation for over a year. Your Blog has saved my sanity. Reading your messages have help me to become more centered and understand who I am dealing with. Thank you ever so much Adelyn.

    1. Adelyn Birch

      How terrible! I’m sorry that you went through this, and that he’s still pursuing you. It must be very difficult having to deal with it; I hope you have the support you need. Good to hear that you have protection! The fact that he thinks you should be happy to hear from him is ludicrous. I hope he’ll give up and go away very soon.

      It’s wonderful to hear the blog has helped you–thank you for letting me know. All the best to you, Pamela. Please let me know how you’re doing.

  7. Clarity

    This entry creeped me out so bad it gave me a stomach ache…

    1. Adelyn Birch

      Sorry, Clarity! It is a lot of really horrible stuff, but good to know.

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