8 ways your body warns you about sociopaths

Max PixelIt took millions of years for our species to evolve from apes to modern humans, and during those years we spent a lot of time fleeing for our lives. Our very survival depended upon being able to sense danger from predators. We still have the ability to sense danger, although today it comes not from saber-toothed tigers, but from human predators, aka sociopaths.

This protective sense is our intuition, which is part instinctive knowing, and part physical reaction. Our bodies tell us when someone or a situation poses a threat. Here are eight ways that our bodies warn us of danger:

1 . Fear. This is the ultimate warning sign. If you are ever suddenly gripped by fear when someone is in your presence, consider it the strongest possible warning.

2. Chills. If someone looks at you like you’re the next meal, and the hair on the back of your neck stands up, you could be reacting to a sociopath’s predatory stare.

3. Difficulty breathing. When you find it hard to take deep, even breaths around the person, it’s probably because something about their behavior is profoundly troublesome.

4. Crying. When your interactions with this person frequently bring you to tears, know that this is not normal. It’s a warning that something is terribly amiss.

5. Pounding heart. This may not be excitement or attraction. It may signify that deep down, you’re afraid.

6. Upset stomach. If you feel nauseous around a person, or when you think about certain interactions that you’ve had with the person, perhaps your internal compass is sending you a message.

7. Nightmares. If you have bad dreams while involved with a person, or you have difficulty sleeping, pay attention. Something is interfering with your rest.

8. Nagging feeling. You have a sense that something is wrong, but you can’t identify what it is. Your inner self knows there is a problem, and is trying to get your attention.

Pay attention to physical warning signs

The key to escaping sociopaths is to pay attention when you experience warning signs like these. Unfortunately, we often don’t listen to ourselves.

One Lovefraud reader told me that a stranger walked into her office, and she was immediately terrified. Instead of recognizing the internal warning, the woman berated herself for being paranoid. So rather than avoid the man, she accepted his overtures and started dating him. Well, he was a sociopath, and the relationship turned out to be a complete nightmare.

Most people experience warning signs early in an involvement, but don’t know what they mean. In the Lovefraud Romantic Partner Survey, I asked a question about this. I asked, “Did you have an intuition or gut instinct early in the involvement that there was something wrong with the person or the relationship?” An astounding 71 percent of survey respondents answered yes. But 40 percent of respondents ignored their intuition and continued with the relationship — much to their later regret.

So if you instinctively have a bad reaction to someone, don’t chide yourself for being judgmental or paranoid. Don’t tell yourself that everyone deserves a chance and you should be open-minded. There is a reason for your reaction, even if you don’t know what it is right away.

If you can’t avoid the person altogether, at least be wary. Your intuition is probably trying to warn you of danger.

What warning signs did you experience?

Did you have physical or internal warnings when you first encountered the sociopath? If so, please share what you experienced by posting a comment below.

Comment on this article

Please Login to comment
Notify of

I experienced a sense of not wanting to allow this person to be in charge.i knew that it would be a nightmare to be involved. He seemed to have no problem with cheating. I used to get an odd sensation sometimes when his shoulders sagged a bit and underneath all the charm there was a bullied child.


Crying was a big one for me. I think it started around 6 months in (enough time to get me to trust him and to be hooked) and it was a clear pattern…do/say something mean/hateful to make me cry and then come to my rescue. One of his specialties was making me cry during sex and then soothing me. I can honestly say that the first time it happened, I knew it wasn’t normal and I wanted no further part of it but by then he had groomed me so well. At points during the 7 year relationship, I was crying daily and I mean heart rending crying. He used it to his complete advantage, always soothing after and then being so nice to me. The ultimate proof of his complete control was when, after he discarded me for the final time, all I wanted was for HIM to come soothe me for what HE had done. These men are sick monsters. If you are waffling on getting out, trust me, just do it.


Initially: High heart rate, poor appetite. Basically nervous tension. I thought it was excitement. It wasn’t. It was basically my body in total fight or flight mode. Then, midway, TIRED, and really ‘cloudy’ thinking. Just felt off kilter all the time, no sense of control or self determination. At the end lots of crying and sleeplessness. I had a total feeling of DOOM just before the end.


my intuition’s ‘hits’ were so subtle, I often missed them. Vague, uncomfortable ‘gut’ upsets, a feeling of ‘being poked in the ribs’; stronger intuition: the poked in the ribs was often almost a feeling of being jabbed hard inside, trembling, coldness/clamminess, tightness in my chest. As I came to realize years later, ALL these was my intuition, which I willfully ignored, or overrode by blindly continuing on, with the relationship, to my everlasting regret. A friend of mine re-married a year ago; she’s still ‘in love’ with her new guy (old boyfriend come back). I’m getting the same subtle ‘bad vibs’ around him. I hope she doesn’t get hurt.

I grew up with two psycho parents, so I was immune to the street world indications of sociopathy. After 40 years of therapy, my main indicator is a person that does not look at me directly in the eye when I talk. Yesterday this guy I was hiring for a painting job turned around and lit a cigarette when I was looking at him in the face. I did not hire him. If a person talks a lot without waiting to listen your input, that’s attention-calling big time, and it’s not good. If a person flatters you excessively without reason (Halloween costume, etc) it’s because s/he expects something from you, at some point. Speech says a lot about sociopaths, usually showing an interest in themselves above yours, trying to “sell” their qualities. Avoid being alone with a talkative stranger.


I am the first to admit I am not good at spotting dangerous people. My “go to” instinct is trust and belief in the inherent goodness of mankind. A bit naive for someone in her 7th decade and an instinct that has not always served me well. But I know this about myself, and had removed myself from the dating world for almost 35 years. So when I met someone who professed to want to be with me, I started keeping a journal. Looking back on my notes I realize that I did, indeed, have warning signs, but choose to misinterpret them. For instance, early on I wrote “It’s like I am so afraid of being loved that I find every excuse in the world to not let it happen. Thankfully he is persistent and patient and says he really does love me and is willing to wait for me to make up my mind. Most days I feel I DO love him. Other days I want to go back into hiding.” Looking back – what my gut was telling me is “RUN”..something is not right.” A month later I wrote “Sometimes I fear that he loves me more than I love him and that really worries me.” Again – I wish I had paid attention…that’s classic “love-bombing” and my gut knew it – but my heart ignored it because, after so many years of loneliness, I SO wanted to believe that someone could love me. The day after he asked for the first “loan” I wrote: “I had a panic attack yesterday morning and texted him” His response was to sweetly tell me everything was going to be OK, to promise to come over that weekend (he was in another town) and then to tell me about an alarming doctor visit where he was told his blood pressure was so high it was causing his worsening eyesight. So what did I do? I felt sorry for him and went to HIS town to visit him. Classic sympathy ploy – right?

You get the picture — all through my journal are statements like these — indications that a part of me knew something was very wrong – and my convincing myself they weren’t.

So my advice, from the other side of this relationship — If you are like me and realize you are a pollyanna type, keep a journal and let someone else – someone you trust to raise those red flags for you – read it..and listen to them.


My experience was totally and wholly #7. Nagging feeling that something was amiss. His texts did not fully make sense. He did not fully make sense with his words. I would say to myself REALLY? Or What does this mean? It was like double talk that kept me bewildered. I took to doing some research and boy what I found out about him. Strictly on internet. A lot can be found out by researching. Phone numbers, names, birth dates etc. The Spath did give me a WRONG birth date but I still found his real birth date and is real age. He was 68 years (back then) old so don’t let age fool you. I feel very fortunate that I found out early on about him and put an end to it all before anything more drastic happened. REALLY – listed to that inner voice!


Upon meeting mine. I did not notice him right away. He approached my table where myself, friend and daughter were sitting. I immediately got a gut feeling that said something was wrong. Bells and whistles went off inside of me but I did not know what that meant I just knew my decernment said no!!

My friend more convinced me that he may be a good guy and they started to talk. He followed us out to the beach area but in all honesty even though my gut said no. It took a few weeks but I gave the benefit of the doubt. At first it was great, I totally thought I judged a book by its cover, we grew up with the saying “never judge a book by its cover”, so I believe somewhere deep down in my inner being my morals were telling me I was judging and I ended up second guessing my gut. As you can guess it didn’t work and my gut was right. Always always listen to your gut. I believe it’s the one thing that will never steer you wrong.


It started with fear (but I think that had more to do with my past relationship). In the second month of dating him I had a lot of anxiety, probably caused by the feeling of knowing something wasn’t right. I should have followed my intuition for I experienced everything listed here. One that strongly stuck out is number 6. I became very nauseous after having sex with him, to the point I thought that maybe I had gotten pregnant. After the pregnancy scare it wasn’t long until his mask began to come off. The red flags were everywhere. I was just too blind to see at first. After my close friends began pointing some things out is when I began to question. I brought him up to my therapist who while during my session he happened to be blowing my phone up with messages. It was then and there when my therapist saw the manipulation that I needed to end it. That being said I can say I have started my new year off with no contact. It’s still sad. All of it. I am sad for him too. I know his childhood wasn’t perfect, but who’s is? I guess what I’m trying to understand is how some end up being narcissists or sociopaths, and others become the opposite. It’s all just so sad.



Honestly, it looks like most current information points to genetics. It is a biological abnormality. I tend to think this may be correct because some of these kinds come from perfectly decent, kind, supportive backgrounds. So, upbringing may worsen the condition, but I don’t think it is causative.

I am sorry you are sad. It is normal to grieve a loss. And in these cases we grieve not only the loss of the perceived relationship, but also our innocence about human beings in general; what we want, what motivates us. We grieve that some of us are not motivated by good, and are driven to harm others. This is a terrible (but enlightening) realization.

Send this to a friend