Dating in the 21st century is different than in any other time in human history; when else could you conduct the early stages of a relationship without seeing each other, but lightning fast—the Internet has mixed it all up. Instead of speaking, more and more we text or email each other; none of these things are good or bad, just vastly different than how it was even thirty years ago. And as the speed of courting has hastened, it has become easier for people to hide their true natures until a relationship has developed—so it’s more important than ever to stay vigilant to your potential mate’s true colors. Here are ten signs you may be dating a psychopath.
1. Lack of empathy
The definition of a psychopath is “a person suffering from chronic mental disorder with abnormal or violent social behavior”. One very clear indicator of this disorder is a total lack of empathy, which is a natural emotion. If you and your mate witness something disturbing, like an act of violence against a vulnerable person, the natural human response is to feel pain for that person, and try to help—a lack of any response belies something really wrong. If you see the person you’re dating responding with pleasure to horrific images or movies, best to move on.
2. Pathological lying
Psychopaths lie about everything—it’s a way of maintaining control, taking away the other person’s free choice. If you catch your partner in lie after lie, it’s best to cut the strings. Some psychopaths lead double lives, dating multiple people at the same time—look at Ted Bundy.
3. Dripping with charm
Excessive charm at the start of a relationship can be a red flag—no one knows just what to say to all your friends and family without some sort of plan. If the person you’re dating is constantly charming you, never showing displeasure or boredom, something’s up. And they’re not going to stay charming forever—that’s just to get you attached.
4. Quick attachment
The charm phase of psychopaths is connected to their need to form a quick attachment. Usually within a few weeks of dating they’ll announce you’re the love of their life and they want to be with you forever. They’ll shower you with gifts and promises, pouring energy into their target. This is all actually a negative sign; normal, healthy people take a long time to enter into a serious relationship, because so much is at stake. And as easily as a psychopath enters into a relationship, they’ll break out of one when they grow bored.
5. Frightening temper
A bad temper in and of itself is not a sign of psychopathology; a lot of people have trouble controlling their anger. But psychopaths use their temper, and its violence, to intimidate their mates. First, they’ll demonstrate indirect violence, like breaking a chair or throwing things—this is a form of intimidation, and a way to habituate their partner to acts of violence. Eventually they progress to hitting and pushing their partners, and destroying the other person’s property. When you sense the person you’re dating is using anger to back you into a corner, get out. If you’re already afraid for your safety, look up a domestic violence hotline number; they’ll help you get a restraining order, if necessary.
6. Isolates you from friends and family
Like a lion picking off a stray zebra, a psychopath separates their prey from their families, friends, and colleagues. They do this in several ways: overt criticism, following their partner around when they’re meeting friends, subtly turning their partner against his/her family and friends. In the face of increased verbal abuse, interrogation, and sometimes physical abuse, people in relationships with psychopaths often choose to withdraw from their family and friends.
7. Tears you down
Destroying your self-confidence is a favorite tactic of psychopaths, particularly in longer-term relationships. Psychopaths usually prefer short-term affairs and flings (they like the thrill of the hunt), but when they do enter into a longer affair, it’s with people who they can manipulate. After the flattery phase, the psychopath starts chipping away at their partner’s self esteem. They point out every minor mistake, criticize your personality, make you feel unintelligent, and cut you off from anyone who would support you. The worse you feel about yourself, the more you’ll cling to them.
8. Attitude after sex
How your partner acts after sex is a good indicator of their real nature; if they get up without a word, take a shower, and walk out the door, you probably don’t mean that much to them. Worse still, do they treat you badly after sex, which is the closest two people can get? Abuse or disinterest after making love is a red flag.
9. Never admits fault
Psychopaths don’t accept blame for anything—this is another control mechanism. They accuse their victims of lying, distorting reality. If they hit you, it’s your fault for provoking them. If the person you’re dating never takes personal responsibility for their behavior, they could be a psychopath.
10. All controlling
Paranoid control is a hallmark of psychopaths; they’re always suspecting other people of the same deceptive behaviors they are exhibiting. They’ll cheat on a spouse and fear the spouse is cheating on them too—psychopaths think everyone is just as unscrupulous as they are. Paranoid control is the only way they can feel safe in a relationship. If your datee is baselessly accusing you of lying and cheating, and constantly demanding to know your whereabouts after a normal workday, it’s time to break it off.