I believe everyone has had to deal with a psychopath or a very manipulative person in their lives. It can be a partner, a close relative, a friend’s friend or your third degree cousin. You have had that sinking gut feeling that’s telling you that whatever they’re saying or doing is wrong. You had your heart stop and resume after you’ve seen them in a place they don’t normally appear in. And you have been trying to defend yourself against accusations of all sorts: like flirting with a co-worker or more subtle – not being generous enough or kind enough to them.
Here are some definite red flags that might just save you some time and avoid a hurtful breakup.
- He or she is incredibly charming, in exactly the way YOU find charming. Need someone confident, outgoing and warm? The psychopath can do that. Need someone sensitive and a bit bumbling, but with a heart of gold? He can do that, too. This charm causes you — his target — to fall under his spell while he focuses intensely on you. His focus is very pleasing to the mind and senses, and it disables your personal boundaries, your gut instincts and your self-protective behavior (just when you need them most). It induces a trance-like sate — a pleasant, relaxed and focused state of mind that leaves you open to suggestion. You will find yourself wanting to be back in the focus of his potent charm again and again. This superhuman charm is often one of the first and ONLY early red flags of a psychopath, and it is exactly what makes it hard to walk away. This charm stems from the psychopath’s ability to be completely present as they focus on you while they figure out what makes you tick, what flattery you long to hear, and what buttons to push. You’ll feel like the two of you are the only things in the universe, and that you’ve finally find someone who appreciates you and understands you and sees the good qualities in you that others overlook too often.
- He or she is very much at ease; he may have a demeanor of being anxiety-free and without any social awkwardness. Absolutely comfortable in his own skin. His ease puts you at ease — you feel comfortable with him, like the two of you have known each other forever. He’s not necessarily attention-grabbing or the life of the party, but he is very socially skilled. May come across as unassuming and soft-spoken while still maintaining a distinct aura of confidence and presence. Especially watch for someone who exudes a black-leather toughness and a childlike innocence at the same time.
- He or she is a glib, smooth talker. Never runs out of amusing anecdotes, and can make the most mundane topics seem interesting and entertaining. He does most of the talking most of the time.The purpose of this is to relax you and make you comfortable with him.
They drive past your house at random hours of the night.
I used to catch one of my ex’s doing this all the time and it scared the ever-living shit out of me. I knew if he ever saw me with another guy, he would get out of the car and we’d be looking at a double murder-suicide. I would freak myself out more by saying things like, “This person used to love me more than anything in the world, why would he ever hur….” Okay never mind, he is probably going to kill me.
- He or she will quickly divulge personal details and stories about his past and his life. This will create a false sense of intimacy that causes you to reciprocate with details about your own life so it seems like you two are getting close. After all, you’ve both shared personal things; you’ve both risked judgement and rejection by being vulnerable, yet you’ve supported and accepted each other…
- He or she is fun-loving and fun to be with. Playful. You have never had so much fun with anyone. You do things you never did before, just little adventures that take you away from the mundane, and you realize how small and boring your life had become, and how stale the world had seemed. You’ve come back to life, and you didn’t even know you needed to. Or maybe you did know it, and now along comes the perfect person to help you do it!
- He or she claims to be a happy, easy going person, and he sure seems like one. He may tell you nothing gets him down. Since a psychopath has no conscience and no anxiety it’s probably true, but you’ll see it in a different way and just be happy you haven’t ended up with yet another neurotic mate weighed down by a crapload of emotional baggage.
- He or she is a very active person who is always on the go. He needs a lot of stimulation and can’t tolerate boredom, so he can’t stand being alone or sitting still.
A psychopath is easily bored, but seldom boring.
- You feel very special in his presence and feel that he’s very special, fascinating and unique, and not like anyone you’ve known before.
You come home to find some of your things missing or in a different order.
At first you just think you misplaced some things, then you realize that no, actually some of your things are missing. A friend of mine found out after a year that her psycho ex had stolen a key to her house and had been staying there when she was out of town. He would let himself in and go through her things and sometimes take stuff. It’s worse if you’re still dating and he’s doing that. Violation of privacy and boundaries. Get those locks changed!
- You find yourself becoming deeply enamored with him very quickly, in a way you haven’t previously experienced. You’ll attribute this to his specialness and the specialness of the relationship you believe is forming.
- He looks at you in a way no man has before; he keeps his eyes on you and gives you his complete attention. It feels flattering and seductive. You have never before felt so beautiful, handsome or sexy. You feel very good about yourself in his presence. Your insecurities about your attractiveness and likeability vanish as if they never existed.
- You have become intensely physically attracted to him or her, more than you have ever felt with anyone else or even knew was possible.
- If you meet at some sort of a group setting, such as a dance class, he will give you the bulk of his time and attention. You’ll feel like the two of you are the only ones in the room.
They show-up out of nowhere.
You slipped up on social media and provided a location to where you are having dinner tonight. You are having a great time with your friends and then all of the sudden you spot your boyfriend (or ex). They storm up to you and ask you who that person you were talking to was. You try to calm them down and ask them to leave, but they aren’t having it. You end up getting into a huge fight in the middle of the restaurant (or outside of it if you manage to steer them towards the door)
- When you try to break up, they are in complete denial. They argue with you, “We aren’t over yet! We are love, what are you talking about? Look how happy we are together!” They will not let you breakup with them, even though you’ve moved on to another person about five years ago. They make things up like, “He proposed to me on the beach in front of his parents! We talked about having a family together.” None of this actually happened, but in a psycho’s mind, it did. It only justifies their crazy behaviour. They won’t date other people because they are banking on getting back together with you, even though you’ve told them a million times that you are dating someone else and they should too.
- He or she showers you with attention and affection. You’ll go on frequent romantic dates and spend a lot of time together. You’ll get plenty of phone calls, emails and text messages. He’ll be kind, considerate and complimentary. You may feel truly “appreciated” by a someone for the first time in your life. It’s all positive reinforcement all the time during this early stage. You will not feel neglected in any way at this point. He always has or makes time for you. Although things may seem unusually intense, it will just convince you that this is the best relationship you’ve ever had and that he is your perfect partner. This stage is known as love-bombing. The manipulator will saturate you in as many ways possible with love and adoration, so you don’t have a moment to come up for air. There will be many verbal declarations of appreciation and of their feelings about you and all your wonderful qualities, and amazement at all the things you have in common or at how lucky you both are to have found each other. You’ll believe it’s the best thing that ever happened to you, so you won’t even suspect you’re being played.
They try to break you and your new boo up.
Their mentality is “If I can’t have you, no one can.” One of my friends is constantly struggling with this. Her boyfriend’s ex will not leave them alone and she continues to come up to my friend and tell her deliberate lies about her boyfriend so that they will breakup. His ex even showed my friend fake text messages on her phone from him asking her to come over. My friend believed her until Psycho-Ex’s friend confessed to the scheme and told her it was all fake.
Leaving Voicemails after a breakup.
Example: “Hey, this is Dad, can you call me back? We need to talk about why you only have five cents in your bank account.” A psycho will leave you voicemail after voicemail. The first one will have a really happy upbeat tone like nothing ever happened, “Hey babe! Miss you so much, call me back when you get a chance! Love you!” Ten minutes later in a frantic and sobbing voice: “I fucking hate you so much! Whyyyyy did you do this to me. Oh, god, I’m going to die alone. I need you.” It’s a vicious cycle.
He/She won’t do it and it is all talk, but it can still frighten the other person into getting back together with them. They would say “I can’t live without you, I’m seriously just going to kill myself. I love you. When I die, you’ll be the last thing that’s on my mind.” High school drama class really paid off for you, didn’t it? Modern day Romeo/Juliet, right there. Leave them be. They’ll make it alive to torment their next victim.
- He divulges his “true” feelings for you very quickly, telling you he loves you and has never experienced such love and attraction before or that he never thought he’d fall in love again. And lo and behold, that’s exactly how you feel! Your days of unrequited love are finally over. The relationship will feel…magical. You’re finally experiencing what it means to have found your soul mate, even if you didn’t believe that soul mates existed. The manipulator may even tell you he believes you’re “soul mates” or say “isn’t this magic?” or tell you that you “must have known each other in a past life.” You’ll feel that you never even knew what love was before. You may have only known him for a month, but you’re certain you’ll be together forever. Believing someone is your soul mate is, unfortunately, one of the biggest red flags of a psychopath. Since they’re able to mirror your needs and desires perfectly, they’re able create the persona (or mask) of your perfect mate, but it’s all an illusion.
They give you the “I’m not crazy” speech.
And when you finally decide to confront them about all their insane behavior, they give you a two hour Academy Award winning speech about how they are in fact, not crazy. With this speech you get to see their mastery of acting. They laugh, cry, yell, do a monologue. They try their very hardest to convince you that they are not crazy, but the whole time you have your finger hovering over the call button to 911. The more someone tries to convince you that they aren’t crazy, the more they cement themselves into actually being crazy. Fact.
Finding random gifts after a breakup.
Oh buddy, I used to have an ex that would leave flowers at my doorstep all the time. Flowers, chocolates, you name it, I got it. I would just let it pile up. I felt like if I accepted the gifts, that would give him some hope that I would be open to starting a relationship again. Nope, the hope was still very much alive, despite my refusal of gifts.
“I’ll show you!” Attitude
This is probably the worst one. Your ex tries to hurt you emotionally. Breaking up is a sensitive thing, but this person wants to prove to you that they are totally 100% okay with you breaking up with them, even thought they are really not. They post a million pictures of different hot girls and send you a text being like “Did you see the blonde in that picture I posted? Yeah, I hooked up with her the other night and she was so much better than you!” This is flat-out immature and unnecessary. Deep down, they are hurting and this is the only way they can process their feelings. They feel like if they have to suffer, you are going to have to suffer as well. They try to get back at you and it just comes across as dirty. It has the opposite effect of making you want them back and the thought of you hooking-up with them again makes you get an anti-boner.
Here are some ideas that may help you avoid involvement with a psychopath:
- Take any new relationship slowly, especially an intense one. Control the pace, as opposed to letting the other person control it. Know what you want from a relationship so you don’t become obliviously sucked into following someone else’s agenda (this will help you much more in later stages). Be leery of someone who gets serious quickly. How can someone love you deeply and know they want to be with you forever if they barely know you? That’s often the mark of superficiality, which is in direct contrast from what it may look like. There is no rush. Time is the only thing that will reveal a person’s true character. Time is your friend.
- Develop clear boundaries, and defend them. Be aware of a person who is able to make you disregard those boundaries, even if you believe you’re the one doing it. Boundaries do not isolate you from others — they only protect you from manipulative people who do not respect you or have your best interests at heart (to say the least). They let the good in while keeping the bad out. If you don’t have boundaries, please don’t start any new relationships until you do. Boundaries protect you and all that you value. To develop your boundaries, read a good book on the subject. I wrote one especially for us.