Here’s my top 25 signs that you are dating a psychopath. Don’t dismiss the red flags, and trust your intuition. If you think something’s not right – it probably isn’t.
- Moves very fast – declares undying love for you far faster than you’d expect, or wants to move in with you / get married / have babies at a speed that makes you uncomfortable.
- Claims to believe in love at first sight, and uses phrases like ‘it’s you and me against the world’. Very Romeo and Juliet (and you know how that panned out, right?).
- Uses his charm to impress and ingratiate himself with everyone around you.
- Is homophobic or racist – reacts with anger or disgust. You can’t understand why another person’s private life bothers him so much.
- Does not respect your privacy or need for personal space – he routinely reads your emails, knows your Facebook password, scans your text messages, turns up unexpectedly at your place of work, and calls you at 3am. If you leave him, he may stalk or otherwise harass you.
- Displays strange, irrational behaviour or beliefs. My ex thought my dad planted a recording device in his car, and regularly hid the house keys in the light fittings!
- Has ‘The Look’ down to a fine art. You know, the cold, silently menacing one that lets you know you are in for it later.
- Is cruel or disinterested in children and animals, or people who are of no use to him.
- Some people recommend we judge a person by how they treat the server or shop assistant. Beware of ‘the waitress test’! Psychopaths are illusionists, and know how to simulate compassion. My abuser used to make a point of giving to homeless people – often big sums. Privately, he still showed no compassion for my welfare and feelings.
- Exaggerates his personal achievements or talents.
- Has ‘hair trigger’ changes of mood – the classic Dr. Jekyll / Mr. Hyde. You’ll not know what set him off, and be left dazed and confused by how quickly the rage disappears and replaced by softness and tenderness.
- Has unrealistic ambitions or expectations, and puts in no effort towards achieving them. You wonder how he’s going to become a millionnaire when he spends every penny he makes, as soon as he makes it.
- Is a passionate advocate for idealised love. Love at first sight, passion to put The Titanic in the shade, he will definitely (apparently) die for you – or without you. He’s only obsessive and controlling because he loves you, right? If you leave him, he will threaten suicide.
- Displays excessive reactions to real or perceived threats, criticism or if you don’t toe his line. My ex threatened to stab himself in the leg with a kitchen knife because I’d bought the wrong brand of cola.
- Chooses a risk-taking lifestyle – criminal activity, drug use, excessive drinking. You’ll bear the brunt of this and be expected to pick up the pieces as he lurches from crisis to crisis.
- Habitually lies – about small stuff as well as big stuff. Even if you catch him in a blatant untruth, he’ll spin yet more lies until you are so confused and exasperated you give up asking. Eventually, you will know he’s lying but decide that calling him on it will get you no closer to the truth.
- Demands or withholds sex according to your compliance with his ‘rules’. Sex may be like you are starring in his personal porn movie – with him showing off his prowess. Even your pleasure is a reflection on his fantastic sexual abilities. You may find yourself doing things that you don’t want to do as you attempt to please him.
- Never acknowledges your needs, desires or hopes. His come first, and anyway – aren’t your needs the same as his?
- If he does something nice for you, like running you a bath – watch out. Either you’ll never hear the end of it, or he wants something in return! He’ll also use it as an excuse forever more: ‘Darling, you can’t expect me to put the rubbish out today: I did the dishes for you three weeks ago!’ Because, after all, he’s doing you a favour.
- Is paranoid or appears delusional. And, guess what? When he wakes up in the dead of night convinced that there’s an intruder downstairs lying in wait for him – you’ll be sent to investigate. But don’t worry, he’s two steps (miles) behind you!
- Never buys you a Christmas card, or remembers your birthday. That’s because, he says, it’s just one day and not really important. Or, because he simply doesn’t give a damn.
- Laughs at things others find disturbing and has inappropriate responses to suffering in others. Saving Private Ryan? Hilarous. Solution to conflict Syria? Let them all kill each other. Drug-raped woman in the local paper? Silly slapper shouldn’t have been out drinking without a man to protect her. You get the picture.
- Mimics your body language or speech (mirroring), or has an uncanny knack of saying exactly what you want to hear.
- ‘Borrows’ money from you. You never get it back. When you ask, he’s got a great story about why he can’t repay the loan right now. But he definitely will, next week / month / year / lifetime.
- Never says ‘please’ or ‘thank you’ to you – you exist to do his will, after all.