Many patients come in feeling distraught after a whirlwind relationship gone wrong quickly. They describe it as perfect in the beginning, suddenly awkward, then a dramatic end that usually involves the other person disappearing into thin air. They are left with the feeling that they never really knew the other person at all.

This is the relationship pattern of psychopaths. It is a cycle that includes: reeling the person in, devaluating them and, finally, a disappearing act or a painful break-up.

What are the red flags?

In the first stage, the psychopath seems perfect. They like everything you like. They listen to your every word. They declare their love intensely and quickly and promise you everything you had ever dreamed of.

In this stage, what they are actually doing is evaluating and studying you. They need to know how your mind works, what motivates you and, mainly, what makes you insecure or vulnerable. Do not confuse this with empathetic communication. This is a person carefully evaluating their victim in order to see what hurts the most. They need to feel powerful and that they have the tools to leave you feeling that you are worthless.

In the second stage, which come after a fast “I love you” and “I want to spend the rest of my life with you”, the psychopath begins to devaluate you in a very subtle manner. It is almost unperceivable: little comments, jabs, jokes just to see how you react. My patients describe feeling very insecure during this period of the relationship. They feel something is wrong but are not sure what it is. When they confront the psychopath about their comments, they usually are called “oversensitive”. Another common feeling is that the amazing person that was there in the beginning has begun to disappear and they sometimes only get a very blank, indifferent look when trying to explain how they feel. It is as if the charm in the first period of the relationship suddenly just shuts off, and there is only coldness and distance left.

When the psychopath realizes that they are losing power over the person, that they are being evaluated or studied, they reel the person back in with compliments and gifts. This cycle of pushing away and pulling back in can last a very long time. The other person is always hopeful that the psychopath has changed, but have been made to feel so insecure that leaving the relationship is difficult.

The psychopath is always looking for new victims, so as soon as they are bored with one, they move on to the next. They also have simultaneous relationships in order to guarantee that they always have someone to abuse. The main goal when they get tired of the relationship, is to destroy the person they were with, so they look for the most painful way to break up with them and/or just suddenly disappear.

What is a psychopath’s main motivation?

To use and hurt people as much as they can. To drain them for attention and whatever needs they have. They do not feel guilt, so reasoning with one is not effective. If you suspect that you are in a relationship with a psychopath, get professional help immediately in order to learn to break away and heal.

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