When we hear about horrendous acts of violence, embezzlement, kidnappers, and child predators, we often wonder, “Who are these people?” How could they possibly go unnoticed for so long, getting married, having children and fitting into a community? Often they go unnoticed because they’re attracted to leadership roles, and their charismatic skills allow them to advance in companies and manipulate relationships. In brain studies, psychopaths have areas of the brain that are “dead areas,” which can cause them to lack empathy, shame, guilt, and fear. This makes punishment or rehabilitation extremely difficult; it’s one of the primary reasons there is little hope for reforming a psychopath, which explains why our prisons are populated with them.
In a healthy community, we recognize people who are manipulative and dangerous. Something about them makes us uncomfortable, and we can avoid them or caution others. In heavily-populated cities or online platforms, it becomes more difficult. When everyone is so busy, most people don’t even know their next-door neighbor. This becomes even scarier when you’re dating. 45% of those dating are using apps to meet someone, and that doesn’t include meet-ups with Facebook or other social platforms. In my practice, it’s not uncommon to hear horrendous stories of a client who is entrenched in a relationship with a psychopath.
How do you know if the person you’re dating is a psychopath? It’s important to understand psychopaths are not narcissists. Although they share some similarities, they are different in their diagnosis and ability to change. Narcissists tend to do things in public; they want public praise and adulation. Psychopaths or predators work in secret and prefer isolation. A major red flag, therefore, is if person is trying to isolate you from your loved ones or control your environment. Here’s five other signs you’re dating a psychopath:
You’re put on a pedestal. Psychopaths will go to any length to make you feel most special. In fact, the relationship feels so fresh, alive, and exciting. However, don’t be fooled. This flattery will eventually turn to devaluing and then they’ll discard you without concern of how you feel.
You feel like you have so much in common. Psychopaths agree with everything in the beginning. Normal couples should argue and disagree. Psychopaths want to mirror you and get inside your head so they know exactly what you like and don’t like. They will eventually use that against you.
Your partner has few details about their past. Psychopaths are loners and have few, if any, childhood friends. This is because they burn many bridges. As soon as someone figures them out or confronts them, they move on. This is easy for them to do because they don’t care how others feel. They believe most people are inferior to them and blame their victim. Their thinking with all crimes is that the victim should have seen it coming and they can’t help it if the person didn’t defend themselves.
Triangulation. This is the hallmark of a psychopath. Because their brain’s fear section is empty, dating them will always present a tinge of danger. They will have a story that you’re being chosen over someone else (maybe a significant other), making you feel special. Remember, you should never have to be in a competition to “win” someone’s love; real love is between two equally invested people.
Dating them is wild and crazy. Psychopaths are impulsive, and they have no regard for how others feel. They think laws only apply to others and their main goal is to not get caught. Many psychopaths are criminals, leaving those who loved them ruined. Spontaneity is good and healthy, but reckless, impulsive behavior that puts others at risk is mental illness.
Psychopaths have no care for human rights; it’s their rights and desires they are most concerned with. They can be in any profession. Be aware of the warning signs so you can protect yourself and others.