We think of a psychopathic person as someone murderous, extraterrestrial, outside of society, that can only be seen in movies. But, says the scientist who has spent his life studying them: you could have one as a colleague, friend or spouse.
There are some things that we take for granted in social interactions with people. We assume that we see the world in more or less the same way, that we all know certain basic facts, that words mean the same thing to you as they do to me. And we assume that we have fairly similar ideas of right and wrong.
But for a small – but not so small – subset of the population, things are very different. These people lack remorse and empathy and feel emotion only superficially. In extreme cases, they may not care if you live or die. These people are called psychopaths.
Some of them are violent criminals, murderers. Others may be leading a very normal life, but making life stormy for those who live with them.
Signs that can tell you if you are dating a psychopath.
These are 20 signs that you may be living with one of them.
You feel like you’re going crazy.
Psychopaths are masters of manipulation. They turn everything around. They make you feel like you’re the one going crazy instead of them. It could make you paranoid.
You may worry about what you wear and what you say and freak out if someone changes their plans or something unexpected happens that you have to explain later. If you are a calm person, you may find yourself constantly struggling.
You can explode when you get too frustrated. You feel like there is something seriously wrong with yourself.
You feel like you have to treat it with surgeon’s forceps.
You are not quite sure what will break them, but you are afraid that something you do will make him lose his temper.
Get a job offer in another state? Study at the University? Take care of your sister’s baby? It can be whatever, you might be afraid of what your partner will say or do if you tell them.
You feel like you are dating “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.”
It seems that your partner is two completely different people. Like pushing a button, you can drastically switch from one extreme to the other. One day, he is warm and loving and wonderful, and the next, he is hateful and furious.
It used to put you on a pedestal, and now all it does is try to knock it down.
You feel like you have no voice.
You are afraid to speak, or when you speak you feel like you are never heard, your words are taken out of context, misunderstood, or blatantly ignored. From little things to big things, you feel like your partner never listens.
You may want to go to the movies, your partner will make you go to dinner instead. You might think that the Bears are the best soccer team, your partner will convince you that you are stupid for thinking that way.
You could say that you don’t feel comfortable spending the night together, your partner does it anyway. You could try talking about how you feel, your partner turns everything around and starts talking about everything that you are doing wrong.
A psycho has no regrets.
He or she might get angry, especially if you try to break up or say you’re leaving, yet there is no underlying remorse for hurting you. Even though they hurt you, they make you feel bad for the pain it has caused them.
They will never be to blame for anything.
They can say sorry if they hurt you (hit you, yell at you, cheat on you, etc.) and promise it will never happen again, but their apology is more manipulative than sincere.
Often, actually, psychopaths don’t feel guilty for what they’ve done, just that they were trapped. He or she cannot be held responsible for anything.
They always have an excuse or a story or someone to blame: someone made them act, are the way they did. You did something bad first to blow them up. The police have been after them even though they “never do anything wrong.”
Teachers and bosses are trying to make things difficult for them “on purpose.” No matter what they do, or have done, nothing is their fault.
Always lies to you.
They lie about what they do. Who they talk to? Where were you. They lie about things that they don’t have to lie about. They can look you in the eye and lie. They can swear on their life that they are not lying. If you discover them, they change their story.
Psychopaths are chameleons.
They act in one way when they are with you, but completely different around your parents, and completely different around their friends.
In the beginning of the relationship, it might seem like he’s everything you’ve ever wanted, and usually this is because they’re trying to act like everything you’ve ever wanted. They change to suit whatever group they are in.
You feel isolated and alone.
Your partner finds fault with your friends or makes you feel bad or uncomfortable about any time you spend with other people. Little by little, you lose your friends until you feel that your partner is the only person you have left. You don’t have a support group and therefore your partner gains more power.
You feel like you are on a roller coaster.
Your partner goes into cycles from mean and vicious to sweet and loving, and then back again. And again. Up and down. Back and forth. Every time he hurts you, he apologizes and promises that it won’t happen again or that he will change.
You want to believe that this is possible, but the cycle repeats itself and your self-esteem is increasingly eroded.
You have no confidence or self-esteem.
Your partner knows your weaknesses and goes after your most vulnerable parts, doing harm where they know they will do the most harm. You feel bad about yourself. You feel ashamed, lost, alone, confused, numb, scared, crazy, stupid, ugly, fat, worthless, ashamed, undeserving of love, bad.
Tortures animals, is mean to children or unpleasant to waiters.
He could hit or kick your dog every time he gets close. You could set traps for squirrels or rabbits and then torture them. He or she can be bad for people who think they are “below them”, or helpless people, like children.
A healthy person is consistent in the way he treats people, regardless of their condition.
Has a bad reputation or a tradition in “troubled relationships”?
They might even brag about the fact that they have left a trail of “tears” behind them. They can talk about being cheated on, or be proud of their reputation. They could speak ill of a previous partner, claiming that he or she was insane, or a whore, jerk, etc.
Other people who were your partner can warn you of that person if they have a history of abuse, it is most likely only a matter of time until they abuse you.
Your friends and family want you to break up with him or her.
You may get angry with people who try to convince you to break up with your partner, or make excuses that you are with your partner because you are convinced that you are the only one who understands.
The psychopath will play with this by claiming that other people are jealous of what you have or that they are trying to make them break up.
Has an inadequate sense of entitlement.
They feel entitled to act the way they do. For example, if someone hurts them, they feel they have the right to retaliate. If a teacher fails them, or a co-worker says something bad about them, they feel entitled to revenge.
Or, if they do something good for you, they feel entitled to a reward, and if they don’t do what they want, they have the right to punish.
Embarrasses you in front of other people or talks badly behind your back.
It can spread nasty rumors about you. You can talk to other people about how bad it is and how difficult it is to date someone like you. They can call you fat in front of their friends, or make fun of your clothes.
They might lose their temper in the middle of a restaurant, as they think you are flirting with the waiter. They can refer to personal issues at inappropriate times.
One and one never add up to two.
You are not always sure what the problem is, but things don’t add up. Nothing seems correct. You never feel like you know the whole story. You don’t understand what went wrong, or why your partner is acting the way they do, or what you can do to make things better.
If you follow what they say, things still do not improve. If you work hard to fix one thing, they will find something else wrong. Even if you were perfect, your partner makes you completely messy.
If he or she does something that is clearly wrong, they will find a way to make it look like you did it, that it was for you. If it hits you, it will make you feel like it’s because of something you did wrong.
If he cheats on you with someone, he will blame you saying it was something that you could not provide. If you catch him lying, they change his story, you start to feel like you are playing a game where there are no rules and there is no way out.
You have to know where you are and what you are doing at all times.
Did you miss a phone call from your partner? He will accuse you of cheating. If you talk to a member of the opposite gender, they will question you about it. Did you come home an hour later than usual?
It is best to be prepared to explain where you were and what you were doing and why you were doing it.
He can spy on you, checking the messages on the phone; talking to your friends without you knowing; It has people checking what you do, hacking into your email or Facebook account to see who you’re talking to.
They might tell you that they won’t let you date a certain person anymore, or wear a certain shirt, or go to a certain restaurant. Of course, your partner allows themselves to do what he or she wants and does not allow questioning, but they will control everything you do.
You feel sorry for your bad choice.
Because, depending on the case, he has a depressing family life, they come from a broken home, he had parents who did not love him properly, he is in debt, he cannot keep a job, he has a disease, he is a psychotic ex, a broken heart, he has low self-esteem, whatever his story is, he will make you feel sorry for him.
Often times, these stories are sad and heartbreaking. But they make you feel like you have to stay with them no matter how they treat you, or that they can’t help the way they act.
So, it may seem so real and sad that it is a trap that keeps you glued. You can’t control what happened to them, and figure it out for them.
He likes to be the life of the party.
They are charismatic. Charming. A lip. They always joke. They can be fun, easygoing, exciting, and engaging. They radiate magnetism. You are attracted to him and they make you feel special.
Over time, this can turn into arrogance. They act like they are the smartest, the most attractive, the richest or the most successful person and everyone knows it. They will even tell you if they get the chance.