Reply To: Was I dating a Psychopath?



Hi starryeyed,

I’d say your judgment is right on the mark. I think this guy was indeed a psychopath. While I’ve no doubt it was disconcerting (to say the least) to be “ghosted” this way, it’s a blessing in the long run that you’re rid of him and didn’t get entangled with him any worse than you did.

And congratulations for not being entirely “taken in”! Oh, I realize you must have been “taken in” to some extent. But you did spot major “red flags,” and besides, checking up is always a wise thing to do, to stay grounded in reality. I’m guessing this guy sheered off when he realized he was rumbled, because you weren’t going to be fooled by his fake “cancer reports.”

Granted, there are other kinds of abusers and personality disordered people who are not psychopathic—though they still need to be avoided like the plague! And some of the symptoms you saw might not be psychopathic. Quite a few people are estranged from friends and family, though it’s always well worth asking why! So he was “charming”? Some people are genuinely charming, and sincere besides. But if the “charm” seems slick and superficial, that raises suspicions of psychopathy. Faking is a prime specialty of theirs.

Love bombing, jealousy, and possessiveness? That could arise from the sheer neediness (and resulting clinginess) of some abusers: the borderline types, for instance. Lying and “gaslighting”? Well, people often lie to avoid admitting they “did something wrong,” and to evade the fallout from it. Naturally that’s confusing to anyone who senses that it must be a lie, and it can “drive them crazy” trying to figure it out, even though that’s just a side effect and not necessarily always the liar’s primary intention.

But that’s all about “lying for a purpose,” which many people do, as deplorable as it is. What you described is incessant lying even when it serves no purpose: “lying for the sake of lying,” we might say. That’s a strong marker of psychopathy. So too is the “mirroring” you described. It’s how they construct their fake persona to draw you in. You were dead right to ask yourself whether this wasn’t all just “too good to be true”!

Why did he give you all this nonsense about “having cancer”? Partly to gain your sympathy, I’m sure, in the hope of binding you closer to him. Yet it was also an outstanding example of a needless lie, one he never needed to tell to retain your affection. I wonder if you’d already told him about the loved one you lost to cancer before he came up with this story, and he decided to use your loss to play on your sympathies. That was a cruel thing to do.

Most of all, his apparent lack of empathy is at the root of the very nature of psychopathy. I can see why you found this odd: “alien,” in fact. I’m talking about his bizarre reaction of laughter when you told him about your fall, and your friend’s car accident.

Of course there are situations in which normal people can laugh at another’s misfortune: for instance at slapstick comedy, or when stupidity or irony is involved. However, it seems clear that this guy’s laughter was totally inappropriate in the cases you mentioned. Where anyone would have expected a sympathetic reaction, he had none. Quite the opposite.

All I say is that I’m glad he’s out of your life. I hope you have better luck in the future!

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