How to spot a ‘player’

Jennie B. was divorced in her fifties. Ten years later, still single and looking for an enduring relationship, she met Mr. Dreamboat. He looked fifty but was sixty-six. He was in great shape, smart, caring, secure professionally and, best of all, he was unattached and seeking a serious relationship. After their first date he told Jenny how much he enjoyed meeting her. “I’m still vibrating,” he said.


After a long dry spell, he was the first man with whom she had real chemistry. Jenny was thrilled. Ben too seemed very comfortable in the growing relationship. Jenny adored his demonstrative nature. “Before I knew it I was head over heels and convinced he was my forever life partner,” she said.


Ben was a real estate developer and traveled a great deal. Most weeks he took off to supervise various developments that his company had under construction around the country. Consequently, they only saw each other on weekends. During his absence, Ben kept sending little one-line e-mails that were fun and caring and convinced Jenny that the relationship was moving forward.


Early into the involvement Jenny inquired whether Ben had been married before.


“Have you?” he countered.


“Yes, I have been married 32 years of my life. My first husband passed away, and I was divorced from my second husband nine years ago.”


Ben admitted to a relatively short marriage of five years but quickly added that he had been engaged twice thereafter and changed the subject.


Another happy month passed. Ben was lavish with his compliments, but not with flowers or time together. Jenny accepted his setting their schedule, blaming his work schedule. They enjoyed and often discussed life in L.A., their city.” It’s the greatest city for singles in the world,” Ben suggested. “Why is that?” she asked. “It has everything; lot’s of singles, great music, art, business, wonderful restaurants, the beach, great weather, parties. It’s a fabulous life!”


While she noted that there was no talk of family or life together, she was too much in love to push the subject. When she made an attempt, he disarmingly switched subjects.

Two months later the shoe dropped. Ben told Jenny that they had too many fundamental differences and they needed to part. Jenny was devastated, completely unprepared for the breakup, having ignored all the obvious warning signs:


1. Ben’s only marriage lasted five years. When he met Jenny he was sixty-six. Discounting 22 years for growing up and college, five years for marriage, he couldn’t find a life partner in 39 years of single life? Did she ever wonder why?


2. While Ben traveled, his preferred way of communication was e-mail, far less personal than phone calls. An involved partner seeks closeness, not distance. 


3. He controlled their time together 100 percent. She rationalized that his job was the reason. Since Jenny didn’t set boundaries, Ben realized that he was free to come and go as he pleased.


4. She simply accepted his patterns. She never questioned his work schedule or his willingness to make changes for the woman he supposedly loved.


5. His remarks about L.A.’s single life were clear signals that commitment was never on his mind. He practically admitted that he was a sworn single.


When two people fall in love, do they have the same expectations of a love affair or a serious commitment? Partners often change their minds as the relationship evolves.


If the communication is fuzzy, ask for clear answers; don’t repress the questions for fear of losing. Avoiding the truth won’t change the outcome. Read the signals.


Jacqueline Brandwynne has worked in the health and beauty industry for more than 25 years and is creator of the Very Private line of products. Visit her at