Full-fledged psychopaths appear to be rarer than your garden-variety narcissist, but there are narcissists who possess psychopathic traits. When a narcissist has antisocial or psychopathic traits, they are known as malignant narcissists. Most likely, every reader of this column has unfortunately known a man or woman who is incredibly self-centered and self-aggrandizing, who is untruthful and cannot be trusted, who fails to see things from any point of view other than his own, and who is able to eliminate fear and conscience long enough to pursue any means to an end. Invariably, others are betrayed, deceived, and emotionally perhaps financially injured. Only a mental health professional can make a diagnosis as to whether a person meets the criteria for Narcissistic Personality Disorder or Antisocial Personality Disorder. Not all psychopaths will have a criminal history many are also clever at evading legal charges , but there are subtler ways in which they communicate their character. Here are five eerie signs you may be dealing with someone who is on the more severe end of the narcissistic spectrum:.
Has anyone ever said anything insulting about her diagnosis in front of you? They were very upset. Do you feel defensive or protective of her in situations like that? She got diagnosed after you two met, right? How did you react to that news? I took her to that appointment. That makes perfect sense. What led to you bringing her to that appointment?
Is it fair to say that you talked about it together? Was it something where afterward it was a relief, or reassurance that that had been the right thing to do? After the appointment, it felt more like it gave us some answers.
It gave us some quick answers and helped to better understand where we were at, where she was at, and in the long term, where we went from there. Do you remember how far into your relationship this was?
I am dating a psychopath
Probably within the first four years of our relationship. Which for any couple I think is a trying, instructive time in learning how the other person works. Once you had that information, did you feel like that helped you move through conflicts more easily? I said the same thing to her, but it really sounds like you guys have the most healthy, thoughtful, and highly communicative relationship, which I think is so outside the common assumption of a relationship like this one.
Both of us are very secure in who we are, and at the same time, both of us like intellectual pursuits. With or without her diagnosis, it makes it easy for us to have conversations. I am a people watcher. I tend to watch their habits, their responses, as well as look for X factors in their personality — are they married, do they have kids, are they looking to date, and from that you tend to be able to predict their actions.
I can share this with her, and she practices the same thing. We both grow from it. Do you recall any examples of having to explain your way of thinking or reacting to her?
It goes back to those basic people-watching tools. In children, that same type of honesty is admired, and some people are jealous that they can be so brutally honest. I was never looking for a drama queen. In any relationship, the same exact feelings you have in the first two years of a relationship — that insane, intense drive — always tend to change after a couple of years.
They turn to laying your life out with each other. They turn to be more everyday, logical. It becomes about learning about the person and learning what their likes are, learning what makes them giddy inside, and keeping those things in mind, and presenting them randomly sometimes.
Not even a birthday or holiday, just because. Keeping that person in mind shows that they are really important to you. Most relationships end up evolving to a point where the feeling is not the same, and is more day to day. And for her to be able to reciprocate that way to me, on a routine basis, is fantastic. Are there people in your life, who you knew first, who know about her diagnosis?
Very, very few people know about the diagnosis. That was built that way intentionally. Does anyone in your family know? Do you find that having those people who know the situation is helpful to you, if you have a fight or something? But obviously there was something that compelled you to share the diagnosis with them. She has always been very similar, and the diagnosis just fell into place with that.
Has anyone ever reacted poorly to you sharing her diagnosis with them? I will not fault them — they need to make money, which means they need to write stories, which means they have to have a bad guy. As humans we like to understand things, we like to have reasons and justifications for why things happen.
In the case of a relationship with a psychopath, this understanding is missing. For this reason, the victim comes up with the idea that the ex-partner is jealous, or controlling, or crazy, or a player, or a predator or manipulative. Whatever term they use may be accurate, but it is not enough.
It doesn't cover every aspect of the relationship and so the label functions to some extent but it doesn't allow for a complete understanding of the nature of the relationship.A Psychopath Describes His Behaviour
If you want to find a solution, you first have to define what the problem is. If you make a mistake in this first step, then it's often impossible to resolve the problem. So if the person does not realize that they are dealing with a psychopath, they are at a disadvantage compared to someone who does know what they are dealing with.
When a relationship with a psychopath or narcissist falls apart the victim typically is conflicted in many ways. They often want to get away, but want their partner back. They may feel very angry at the manipulator but sorry for them at the same time. They may realize that the partner's behavior was unacceptable or even abusive, but love them a lot.
They may continue to hope for the partner to change with time but realize that the manipulator hasn't changed in the many years during the relationship. They may wish bad luck on their ex-partner but want to look after them at the same time. These contradictory ideas and feelings can be very distressing. When someone knows that they have been abused by a psychopath and that they have a pseudopersonality then it goes a long way to helping to understand these contradictions.
When someone does not realize that they have been dealing with a sociopath, then these internal battles can be devastating. The victims often believe that there is something wrong with themselves because they cannot easily resolve the situation. This is further confirmed by people around them who think they are being supportive by saying things such as, "You are out of the relationship now, just forget about it and live your own life," or "Just find somebody else and move on.
Everything revolves around the psychopath. Everything reminds you of them.
There are recurring thoughts of things that they said and things that they did to you. There will also be memories of the nice times that you had together. These will often seem in sharp contrast to the abusive moments and further add to the difficulty in understanding what happened to you. The nice times convince you that the person did care for and love you and it makes it hard to cope with the fact that this person was treating you badly at the same time.
What it's like dating a psychopath
You may have difficulty getting to sleep or staying asleep with all this contradictory information swirling around in your head, unable to sort it all out. There may be nightmares. Being constantly tired makes it difficult to function. There may be anxiety, depression, irritability, problems with memory or concentration, panic attacks, floods of emotions, a sense of isolation and so on. In fact, many people are diagnosed with PTSD after a relationship with a sociopath.
If you know that you were dealing with a sociopath, then you have a reason and a cause for all these things. Not knowing this makes life after dating a psychopath considerably more difficult. Even if the person goes to a therapist they may not attribute blame where it is due and the therapist ends up treating the victim as the problem. A person in a relationship with a psychopath is changed by the psychopath. Their ideas and beliefs and behaviors are influenced very heavily by the psychopath.
The psychopath for all intents and purposes imposes a new personality the pseudopersonality on the victim.
This pseudopersonality is programmed to be very dependent on the psychopath. This is not the same as codependency - many people who do not realize they are dealing with psychopaths come to believe that they are codependent personalities.
This is simply not true, because when they undo the damage done by the psychopath, the dependency disappears, too. It is not actually part of their own personality. This manufactured dependency can be very strong and the person often needs the psychopath or narcissist to know what to do and how to think. They may even need the psychopath to know who they are. The victims may not realize how dependent they actually are on the psychopath. This dependency kicks in big time when the psychopath leaves, when the psychopath breaks up the relationship.
In fact, many psychopaths do this on purpose, or even threaten to leave, knowing that the victim cannot survive without them, so that the victim comes running back to them.
And this is typically the first reaction the victim has when they think the psychopath is leaving. They become almost desperate not to lose the relationship. They try and make up to the psychopath, promising to do whatever it takes and so on.
This dependency also explains why battered wives and others in abusive relationships end up going back to the abuser. They may be so dependent that they often cannot imagine a future without the abuser and they feel that they are nothing or that they cannot survive without the abuser, or that they will have nothing to live for without them, so they end up going back.
This dependency is one of the effects of the mind control that has been used against the victims and may have nothing to do with the real personality of the victim at all.
12 Signs You Might Be Dating a Psychopath
It's common for those outside the situation to blame the victim saying that they must enjoy the abuse, or they cannot make decisions for themselves or they have dependent personalities and that's whey they return. All these things are mistakes in understanding about abusive relationships. If someone does not realize that they are dealing with a psychopath they may label themselves as the problem and try and deal with their codependency etc.
Even if someone does know their ex partner is a psychopath, dealing with this dependency is a big effort and it takes time and work to undo this aspect of the mind control.
As I mentioned, the psychopaths often know that their targets are dependent on them and they use this against them. For example, they may threaten to leave knowing that this reinforces the control because this is often the one thing the victim wants to avoid so the victim changes their behavior to be nicer and more accommodating to the abuser.
If the psychopath leaves and they couple gets back together again for whatever reason, the abuser is often even more abusive. The manipulator will say such things to the victim as, "Well, you wanted to get back with me, so you have to put up with the way I am.
If the psychopath or narcissist disappears suddenly, often called discarding, the victim may be left broken hearted and broke financially.
The victim is left wondering what they did wrong, what they could have done differently and how could someone just up and leave suddenly like that. They may never figure out that they were taken advantage of by a psychopath. All the contradictory feelings and emotions are in play in this scenario as well, on top of the fact that there is no closure of any sort with the psychopath. This type of complete discard is not actually that common because the psychopath may show up again at a later time.
In fact, even when a psychopath breaks off the relationship and does not do a disappearing act, they will often hang around, maintaining some sort of relationship with their victim. This gives the victim hope that things can improve and the psychopath strings the person along, sometimes for years. They continue to abuse and take advantage of the victim often without the formal commitment of a boyfriend-girlfriend relationship.