Toxic and unhealthy relationships can be disruptive and destructive. For people who have been involved in this type of romance, it is not uncommon for them to wonder if their partner has a disorder. Could there be an underlying neurological cause for the manipulative, abusive or dangerous behaviors? For some, the answer could be, “Yes”.
Individuals with personality disorders, particularly psychopathy, have difficulty relating to others, have shallow emotions and are not able to empathize, resulting in turbulent relationships. Of the personality disorders and mental conditions, psychopathy has a very high potential for traumatizing their mates due to its symptom profile. The partners of psychopathic individuals, are often left with traumatic experiences, leading to emotional and physical scars.
Determining if our partner is mentally healthy or if their behavior pattern is indicative of a problem can be problematic. Listed below are a few warning signs or red flags on how to spot a person with psychopathy and how these signs can have the potential for saving your relationship. Take note though, this is not a list of diagnostic criteria for psychopathy.
- Superiority complex
Individuals with psychopathy often convey to partners that they are superior and their partner is not good enough. Within relationships of this type, the oppressed partners often have the opposite complex. They feel inferior, worthless or less worthy than their psychopathic partner. The mates of controllers are often kept off balance chasing after what they think will appease the disordered partner.
For psychopaths, their new partners are groomed rather than courted. The difference is that the former (grooming) is a game or ploy while the latter approach attempts to make a genuine connection. Several individuals with psychopathy have a grooming stage when they pursue a new partnership. Grooming is considered as intentional manipulation, wherein the psychopath’s kindness, attention, money, time, trips, and presents come with strings attached. They expect a full repayment from their partners when the honeymoon stage is over.
- History of multiple romantic partners
A psychopathic girlfriend or boyfriend will often seek out new partners due to a tendency to become bored easily and an inability to bond after the excitement has worn off. The result could be an overlap between mates or affairs while still in a serious relationship.
- All-about-me personality
A psychopathic partner would usually come across as powerful, narcissistic, and callous. They are hypersensitive when it comes to their “selves”, but they are insensitive when it comes to others, especially their partners. This hypersensitivity in psychopaths is manifested when they feel criticized, slighted, or challenged. This personality comes from their belief in their superiority and power. They will not tolerate their weaknesses being highlighted and will usually emotionally destroy anyone they feel is speaking to them in a manner that implies they have flaws or weaknesses.
- Unhealthy winner attitude
For individuals with psychopathy, being a winner is very important to them. In every situation, regardless of how small it is, they will want to be winners. This attitude can pose a problem in relationships where cooperation, sometimes submission, compromise, and even an apology are needed.
- The relationship is taking its toll on you
The feeling that your thinking abilities and confidence are beginning to weaken is not uncommon for those with an extended exposure and experience of a psychopathic relationship. Partners of psychopathic girlfriends or boyfriends may begin to feel that their memory, concentration, attention and organization are compromised.
- Lying and deceiving
Deception and manipulation are the common methods of those with psychopathy. They lie openly, they keep secrets and they withhold or twist information about themselves. They are unapologetic about their lies when found out and would just compound their stories with more lies.
- Twisted sense of morality
Psychopaths are often characterized as prone to social transgressions and poor morals because of their disregard for the consequences of their actions and their effect on other people. They could lie, cheat, steal, harass, stalk, or even physically attack anyone that stands in their way.
- Shallow and superficial emotions
Psychopaths often are incapable of showing deep, genuine emotions. They can be great actors and actresses in a relationship, pretending to feel love and care for a certain period of time; then easily shift to their unhealthy habits.
- Victim player
Individuals with psychopathy use this mode of manipulation when they interact with empathic individuals. When we have compassion for someone, we are primed to excuse their transgressions. This is what psychopathic individuals do to take advantage of the empathic person. They’ll let the psychopath off the hook for behavior that was intentionally engaged in for their own gain.
Again, I would like to reiterate the following disclaimer: The topic about psychopathy is a sensitive one. Maybe it’s so sensitive a topic because there is a slippery slope here. Mild versions of these explanations can so easily be found in many people, not just psychopaths. Finding one or more of the characteristics in the checklist from an individual doesn’t always mean they are psychopaths. The list presented above is a self-help tool, not a diagnostic tool. The diagnosis of psychopathy should be best left to a licensed specialist.