The term “psychopath” may conjure up images of Hannibal Lecter, but in reality, most psychopaths are not serial killers.
Instead, they’re people who have a certain set of personality traits that cause them to be manipulative, dishonest, and prone to violence—and they can be found everywhere, from school hallways to boardrooms.
If you’ve been seeing someone for some time and you think they might be a psychopath, it’s important to keep an eye out for these signs:
9 Signs You’re Dating a Psychopath
1. They lack empathy
Psychopaths are known for having problems with empathy, which is the ability to understand and share another person’s feelings.
A person with psychopathic traits may be able to mimic empathy in order to manipulate others and get what they want, but their actions will never match up with their words.
So, a psychopath’s ability to empathize depends on whether it benefits them or not.
They are more likely to show empathy when they need something from you, such as sympathy or help with something they cannot do themselves.
This inability to empathize with others makes them so dangerous and destructive, as they lack the ability to feel remorse or guilt for their actions.
This means that they can abuse other people without feeling any guilt or remorse—and they often do.
If you’re dating a psychopath, you’ll relate to this already.
Maybe your partner is abusive—emotionally, verbally, and physically and they don’t show remorse in any way.
They probably don’t show care or affection when you’re hurt; in fact, they ignore you when you’re sad or crying.
This always makes you wonder if they indeed love you as they claimed.
It’s like they don’t care about your feelings, or they themselves seem emotionally dead.
2. They’re charming and charismatic
Psychopaths often know how to charm and manipulate others to get what they want.
This characteristic is another reason why they can be so dangerous, as they are skilled at hiding their true intentions behind a façade of likability.
I’m not saying all charming people are psychopaths.
However, when combined with other warning signs, charm is a red flag that someone may have psychopathic traits.
Psychopaths are skilled at reading people and figuring out what they want to hear, and they can use this ability to their advantage.
If you’re dating a psychopath, your partner may have used their charm to manipulate you into doing what they want against your will.
They may use flattery, gifts, or other manipulative tactics to win your trust and loyalty.
Over time, you begin to see through the charade and realize that your partner is not what they seem.
3. They have an inflated sense of self-worth
Your partner may be psychopathic if they view themselves as the superior partner and expect you to comply with their every demand.
They expect you to worship the ground they walk on because of their exaggerated belief in their abilities, importance, or status.
Thus, they may belittle or criticize your interests, appearance, or accomplishments and make you feel inferior or unworthy to the point that you start feeling trapped in the relationship and question your self-worth.
This is because psychopaths believe they are superior to others in every way.
This characteristic is sometimes referred to as grandiosity, and it is one of the defining features of psychopathy.
4. They’re pathological liars
It’s not uncommon for people to lie on occasion.
But when you’re dating a psychopath, it’s not just that they’re lying—it’s that they’re pathological liars.
They lie habitually, without any regard for the truth.
They can make up stories on the spot and change them as needed, and they often do this without thinking about it.
They also lie to themselves, which helps them in covering up their true motives or intentions.
Psychopaths lie about everything—their past, intentions, whereabouts, age, financial situation, anything!
They will lie to you, their family, and friends at work and believe their own lies.
Psychopaths have a warped sense of reality and have no moral compass, so lying seems like a normal thing to do.
They don’t even see it as lying because they view themselves as perfect and others as inferior.
So they do it because they can, and it serves their purpose.
5. They’re aggressive
Psychopaths are often described as having “thin skin,” which means they’re quick to get upset and angry when things don’t go their way.
They’ll try to intimidate you into giving them what they want, and if that doesn’t work, they’ll resort to threats or violence.
If you’re dating a psychopath and you haven’t noticed that they’re aggressive by now, you’re probably not paying attention.
They may not be physically violent with you, but they’ll likely be verbally aggressive toward you in some way.
For example, they might tell you that no one else would ever want to date you and that it’s because of your personality flaws.
However, not all psychopaths are violent—it depends on their level of maturity and ability to control their behavior.
6. They’re unreliable
If you’re dating a psychopath, you can expect they won’t be very reliable.
They might show up late for dates or cancel plans at the last minute without explanation.
They might not call when they say they will, leaving you waiting by the phone while they go off to do whatever they please.
They’ll tell you one thing and then do something else.
This kind of behavior is typical of psychopaths because they’re selfish and manipulative, so it’s not surprising that they aren’t reliable.
It’s also not surprising that they don’t care about your feelings or how much it hurts you when they don’t follow through with things that are important to you—because psychopaths don’t care about anyone but themselves.
7. Your partner is impulsive
Psychopaths tend to live much more in the moment than other people do.
They often don’t plan ahead or think about consequences when making decisions—they just do whatever feels right.
And because psychopaths are not burdened by any kind of conscience or guilt, they can make decisions quickly without considering the consequences.
They tend to take risks without thinking about how that risk might affect you or others.
For example, quitting their job without having another one lined up, getting into debt without thinking about how they’ll pay it back, getting involved with someone they’ve just met purely because they find them attractive or exciting—not because they actually care about them, participating in dangerous activities like skydiving or bungee jumping, reckless driving, etc.
8. They lack long-term goals
If your partner is psychopathic, they might show little interest in their career or in pursuing personal goals.
They lack the motivation to improve themselves or to work towards a better future.
They are content with the status quo and may not see the value in working towards a long-term goal.
Even in your relationship, they are confused because they don’t know where the relationship is headed.
As a result, you have no idea where you stand with them.
The worst thing about this is that your psychopathic partner may use their lack of motivation to control you.
They won’t support your goals and may even discourage you from pursuing them.
9. Lack of remorse
One of the most important signs you’re dating a psychopath is that they show a lack of remorse.
This can be seen in how they treat others, especially those closest to them, aka YOU.
For example, if your partner has done something that hurts you and they don’t apologize or make any effort to make it right, they likely feel no guilt or remorse for their actions.
They may even try to justify their behavior by saying things like “you deserved it” or “you asked for it.”
So you end up apologizing every time you fight.
From these nine signs, you can see that dating a psychopath is dangerous because psychopathic behavior can be very damaging to your emotional and physical health.
Now that you can recognize the signs of psychopathic behavior and you suspect you’re dating one, take action to protect yourself.
Set boundaries, seek support from friends and family, or end the relationship altogether.
A psychopath may not respect your boundaries, so ending the relationship might be the healthiest choice.
You can also seek help from a qualified mental health professional who can provide you with guidance and support, especially if you don’t want to end the relationship.
A mental health professional can help you understand the dynamics of the relationship and can provide you with tools for setting boundaries and making positive changes in your life.
With time, support, and self-care, you can move past the relationship and build a brighter and healthier future for yourself.