9 signs you are dating a psychopath

There is always a chance you may run into one or even find yourself in a relationship with one of them. Here are the signs to look for.

Sundance Institute

A somewhat common response, when asked why you broke up with someone, is to say your ex is a psychopath (or maybe that’s just me?) but with the recent release and buzz around the Netflix film  Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile about the life of psychopath serial killer Ted Bundy (played by Zac Efron) you may wonder if you actually ever dated a psychopath? The film takes the perspective of Bundy’s romantic partner, Elizabeth Kloepfer (played by Lily Collins), whom he was in a relationship with for six years.

Of course psychopaths do only makeup 1% of the population but they tend to favor certain states over others (watch out if you live in Connecticut, California and New Jersey.) So there is always a chance you may run into one or even find yourself in a relationship with one of them. Here are the signs to look for.


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1. They are very charismatic

Do you know those people who just draw you in? Well, that could be a psychopath. “The most exciting thing for me was being able to sort of lend that Ted Bundy charisma to the part,” Efron told E! News of his recent role. “I hope that’s what comes across the most … The most interesting and exciting thing for me to contribute to the movie was Ted had this thing about him, this facade, his charm, and the way that he worked with people. But all through the charm is manipulation. Ce Anderson, therapist and author of Love TAPSsays, “I cannot stress enough how strategic and manipulative and charismatic these individuals are, all the while weaving an intricate trap,”

2. They are pathological liars

We’re not talking the occassional white lie. We mean constant lying. They have to be lying all the time in order to hide their behaviors. This is one of the defining characteristics of a psychopath.

3. The relationship moves very fast

Yes, it is normal, especially for older people, to have their relationships move at an accelerated speed but with psychopaths, that isn’t a good thing because it is about control and invasion. There is an agenda behind it. David Gillespie, author of Taming Toxic People: The Science of Identifying and Dealing With Psychopaths At Work and At Home said, “They will seem absolutely perfect. Upfront, they will tell you exactly what you want to hear and they will be exactly what you want to be. They will be the best lover you’ve ever had, the most sharing person.”

4. They bring in a third party (triangulation)

After they make you feel like you are the only person in the world they bring someone else in to complicate things and make you not feel like that anymore. Usually it is an ex of some kind to reinforce that other people want them and you should be so grateful to have them.

5. They expect the best

Well after all the abuse you just heard about this one may make you feel good (except for the fact that you are dating a psychopath) but psychopaths believe they deserve the best. They want the best looking person in the room, the most desirable and they believe that is you. They are arrogant to an extreme and think they deserve extreme success.

6. They gaslight you

If you started this relationship feeling confident and now feel completely worthless there is a strong chance this person had a lot to do with it. Gaslighting means they are little by little diminishing your confidence. It can be very subtle. They know how to find your vulnerable areas and pray upon them.

7. There is no real emotional attachment

Psychologist John M. Grohol, founder of Psych Central writes, “They form artificial, shallow relationships designed to be manipulated in a way that most benefits the psychopath. People are seen as pawns to be used to forward the psychopath’s goals. Psychopaths rarely feel guilt regarding any of their behaviors, no matter how much they hurt others.”

8. They trap you

As part of that accelerated relationship, they will make sure you are controlled so it would be very difficult for you to escape whether this be through joint bank accounts or moving in with you immediately.

9. They make you feel grateful for them

Throughout the relationship, they have mostly isolated you from your social circle and friends. This makes you more focused on them and also you start to see them as the only thing you can rely on. Dr. Perpetua Neo wrote for Mind, Body, Green, “This loving creature is the last person you’d expect to hurt you. Unfortunately, they’re a master of manipulation, having spent their entire life perfecting the art of playing people like puppets. The transgressions grow bigger; their refrain that you’re crazy and ungrateful becomes stronger. A lie, repeated often enough, feels like the truth. As you feel more disconnected from others, they tell you you should be grateful they’re still there in your life.”


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Meredith Lepore|is the Deputy Editor of Ladders and can be reached at mlepore@theladders.com.