Psychopaths aren’t the “crazy” people you might think.
When you hear the word psychopath, your mind might conjure up all sorts of scary imagery; like Annie Wilkes from the movie Misery or Hannibal Lecter in the flick, Silence of the Lambs.
But are these really accurate representations of people who have psychopathic tendencies? The answer to that question might surprise you.
According to behavioral research, psychopaths make up about 1% of the population. Most of them aren’t violent killers and don’t go around chasing after people with knives or axes.
In fact, the vast majority of psychopaths are well educated, well-spoken and hold steady jobs. They can be men or women, straight or gay.
So who are these people, really?
They’re folks like your ex-lover, who all your friends think of as “awesome”, never knowing how he secretly treated you like crap.
Or it’s your co-worker – the one that pretends to be your friend but backstabs you whenever he gets the chance.
And finally – it could be the guy you’ve been dating.
Believe it or not, psychopaths look like anyone else. The big difference is they don’t have a conscience.
That’s because metaphorically, they don’t have a “chip” that lets them feel guilt, shame or remorse for their terrible actions.
Many are excellent chameleons, teaching themselves how to fake human emotions but never really experiencing any of those feelings.
To make matters worse, they view some emotions as commodities to be exploited; like trust, love and forgiveness.
To the untrained eye, most psychopaths slip by unnoticed. Many are friendly, likeable and completely charming. But if you are unlucky enough to get close with a psychopath, a hellish life awaits.
It doesn’t start off that way.
Those first few encounters can seem like something out of a fairytale. Over the course of time, however, the “perfect romance” often gives way to crazy making.
Do you sometimes wonder if you’re dating a psychopath? Curious if someone you know might have psychopathic tendencies? The answers to your questions are about to be revealed.
What follows are 10 tell-tale signs your boyfriend could be a psychopath that might surprise you. These red flags come from clinical data, coupled with observations made from the online support group, Psychopath Free.
Remember to read these in context and avoid focusing on just one sign. Look for a pattern – a mosaic of behaviors.
1. He’ll initially charm your pants off
Psychopaths will move with the speed of lightening to sweep you off your feet. Their goal is to make you think you are the center of the universe with the hope of reeling you in. Psychopaths often:
- Mirror your hopes and dreams
- Make claims of shared interests
- Offer super flattering compliments
2. Exhibits “Crazy Making” behaviors
Psychopaths often deny their own toxic behaviors and will make you think “you are the one” with the problem.
- Dismissive of evidence that proves they’ve lied.
- Blame you for their unacceptable behaviors without taking any responsibility.
- Will engage in activities to make you think you are “nuts”, like denying they said something when you just heard them say it.
3. Makes you think They’re “In Demand”
For people who have psychopathic tendencies, there is an innate need to manipulate others into thinking people want them. When you get into a relationship with one of these people, you may see:
- Narcissistic comments to suggest others want them. “I can’t help it that people find me attractive.”
- Behaviors that demonstrate they haven’t truly ended a previous relationship.
- Few close friends but lots of “acquaintances” who seem to want their attention.
4. Will shame you for feeling emotions they provoke
One of the cruelest things psychopaths do to their victims is engage in behaviors that provoke an emotional response – and then shame you for your feelings. Examples include:
- Giving you the silent treatment for days and then calling you “needy”.
- Flirt with other men in your presence and deny it. Afterwards, they call your “jealous”.
- Will call you offensive names. When you emotionally respond, they will call you “crazy” or “hysterical”.
5. Pathological liars
One of the hallmarks of a psychopath is pathological lying. In fact, they lie about almost everything. What’s more, when you call them out on a lie, they will deny ever saying it. Examples:
- Will say something one minute and when you bring it up to them, responds with: “I never said that – you’re crazy!”
- Denies abusive behaviors towards you from the past.
- Rationalizes a lie by saying they “misunderstood”.
6. Will slowly erode your self-esteem
The confusing part about psychopaths is their yo-yo- style approach to relationships. One day they will shower you with attention and kisses. The next, they will ignore you or use facial expressions to cut away at your self-esteem. Example statements:
- “Should you really be eating that donut?”
- “Maybe if you exercised, I wouldn’t be checking other guys.”
- Will complement the appearance of other men and ignore yours.
Related: Confidence building tips for gay men
7. Makes you feel constantly anxious
Before connecting with a psychopath, you may have lived a calmer, more balanced life. But after getting into a relationship with one of these types of people, that calmness gives way to extreme stress and anxiety. On many days, you will feel:
- Drained and emotionally depleted
- “Unhinged” and disconnected
- Empty and tearful
8. Will cause you to isolate
Psychopaths often create a codependent dynamic where the person abandons close friendships that the victim once treasured. Their goal is to rob you of support systems and make you emotionally dependent on them. Examples:
- Makes you feel guilty for spending time with friends.
- Will offer unsolicited, negative commentary about your interactions with family.
- May accuse you of “cheating” with one of your ex-boyfriends or best buddy.
9. Emotionally and sometimes physically abusive
True psychopaths never “lash out” when they become abusive. Instead, they carefully plan and execute how they wish to inflict pain on others. Most often, the abuse is emotional. On rare occasions, it’s physical.
10. Will exploit your weaknesses
Many psychopaths have a knack for identifying their victim’s weaknesses and then exploiting them to gain advantage. Here are some examples:
- Will use your body image issues to shame you or make you feel unattractive.
- May use knowledge of your past trust issues to engage in hurtful behaviors (i.e. cheat on you because he knows how much it will hurt you).
- May encourage you to spend money you don’t have and derail your financial goals.
Summing Things Up
If you are in a relationship with a psychopath or want to avoid being involved with one in the future, there’s a great book you should consider.
It’s called Psychopath Free by Jackson Mackenzie. Inside, you will find tons of insight on how psychopaths think, behave and operate.
What’s more, you’ll learn how to avoid getting involved with these types of guys in the first place.
Here’s a poll that asks you about your experience with psychopaths.