Nobody goes looking to date a psychopath, but many people find out far too late that they are involved in a relationship with a psychopath. The problem, quite simply, is that it can be hard to spot a psychopath. Often, that same person who begins to exhibit psychopathic behavior midway in your relationship actually starts off as charming and agreeable. If you met one in a local bar and struck up a flirtatious conversation, for example, you might not even realize it.
Pathological Love Relationships
So what are the red flags to spot if you’re in a relationship with a psychopath? According to Sandra L. Brown M.A., author of two popular and award-winning books (Women Who Love Psychopaths and How To Spot a Dangerous Man Before You Get Involved), there are several distinguishing characteristics that define what she refers to as “pathological love relationships.”
First and most importantly, it is often the case that your partner will begin to exhibit signs of narcissistic personality disorder. This extreme narcissism is a personality pathology that is an example of what clinical psychologists call Cluster B disorders, and could be a foreshadowing of far more anti-social behavior.
Another potential red flag has to do with the pacing and intensity of the relationship. It can feel good to be “swept off your feet” by a new partner who wants to become quickly involved in a relationship. In fact, one tactic used by many psychopaths is called “love-bombing” – the practice of showering a new partner with love, affection and attention.
The intensity can be so great that many women misinterpret this love-bombing as a sign that that they have finally found their “soul mate.” Often, they have never experienced such a rapid, frantic pacing to their relationship, and mistakenly assume that this is proof of a very real love. But quite the opposite is actually true, says Brown: It is a tactic used to “mask” the true personality of a psychopath.
Too Much Trust Can be a Bad Thing
There is another key defining trait of any pathological love relationship: the tendency of the woman in the relationship to have elevated levels of blind trust and agreeableness. Usually, women who find themselves involved with psychopaths have extremely high levels of empathy, optimism and trust. Thus, they have a tendency to overlook or dismiss clear signals that their partner might be exhibiting classic signs of psychopathic behavior.
So what happens if you find yourself involved in a relationship with a dangerous man? It’s best to run, not walk, to the nearest exit. That’s because it is nearly impossible to cure a personality disorder. Unlike a standard Harlequin romance novel, where a heroine might be able to tame a dangerous rogue lover, there are rarely any stories of pathological love relationships that
Keep a Watchful Eye Out for Red Flags
It’s important to spot the red flags that you might be dating a psychopath before it’s too late. As your relationship continues, it will continue to become more dramatic, erratic and dangerous. This doesn’t mean that you need to be suspicious and untrusting of any new man that you meet – but it does mean that you need to move from “blind trust” to “conditional trust” in your relationship. And if you recognize signs that your relationship might be moving at breakneck speed – such as if your partner starts talking about moving in together too soon – then it might be time to take a step back and ask yourself the question: “Am I really in a relationship with a psychopath?”