By analysing a previous abusive relationship one catches patterns.
For example, to make a person cry might seem idiotic to a normal person, but to an Abuser it is winning the lottery. To an Abuser this signifies he controls the emotions of his victim. He can make her cry at his will.
Because Peony had been through the standard Abusive relationship, because she had analysed it, she was able to make the links.
Sure, maybe you ask a guy a question, or a guy wants to confide in you and tells you something which makes you cry.
But if a guy turns Date One into a tear fest, why is he trying for a repeat of the water works on Date 2?
By making Peony cry that first time, Neil felt in control. This second date, he would exercise his control again.
But Peony, realised this.
She thought, (But wait! We are on a date. The last one he gave me his tear jerker. Why he is doing a rerun). She stopped listening, disconnected, rudely interjected some unnecessary report on her work place. This truncated his verbiage, which showed that she held control.
That he could not make her cry.