The sociopath’s predatory stare, revisited

I was recently asked to comment on the sociopath’s “predatory stare,” and my first thought was to play it down somewhat. Not all sociopaths have this stare, or else it would be pretty easy to bust them for the “look.”

On the other hand there’s a form of the “predatory stare” that I want to remark on briefly in this short article that signals my return to the blog, again, on a more regular basis. It is really the “predatory stare,” but masked as the “romantic stare.”

Again, not all sociopaths deploy the “romantic stare,” let’s not kid ourselves. But some do.  I’ve worked with many woman (and a few men) who can attest to it, and I’m sure many of you have had experience with it.

What is it? And what is its purpose?

It is an intense stare, a stare of very intense concentration the sociopath fixes on you, whose effect is at once unsettling and stimulating. It isn’t meant so much to be experienced as a “stare” as much as, well, an “experience.”

The sociopath wants you to experience him as experiencing you as the sole concern and interest in his universe. He is transmitting to you what he wants you to experience as his voracious interest in, and concentration on, you.

As I said, one is likely to experience this as both disconcerting and seductive. Why? Well, we are not used to experiencing ourselves as so totally captivating to another. So it’s a somewhat heady, exciting feeling to experience ourselves as engendering, seemingly, such a romantically hypnotic effect on another.

It is safe to say that the sociopath is in his grooming, seductive mode here.  The imperturbability and fixity of his gaze is as if communicating, “I am totally into you. Totally. I can’t even take my eyes off you, that’s how totally into you I am.

“Even though what I’m doing, in truth, is a form of my manipulating and controlling you, yet I want you to experience this as a case of your controlling me!

“I want to you to experience me as so enthralled with you, with the magical effect your beauty, voice, face, style has on me, that it’s as if I literally can’t take my voracious, probing eyes off you!

“And so, as I gaze at you with this intense, almost unblinking, laser-like attentiveness, I want you to experience me as helpless to do otherwise. That’s how powerfully, helplessly attracted I want you to experience me as!”

I italicize “as if” because many sociopaths, as we know, are“as if” personalities—often acutely focused on creating the right “effects” to support the perceptions of themselves they’re seeking to establish.

Now this doesn’t mean you aren’t beautiful and don’t deserve to be looked at with genuine admiration, maybe even awe. But when that gaze is unbroken, sustained for too long, to the extent that you are feeling uncomfortable with, even if a bit excited by, its intense, probing scrutiny, take heed.

He may be staring into the face a very beautiful woman; you may be staring into the face of a sociopath.

(This article is copyrighted © 2011 by Steve Becker, LCSW. My use of male gender pronouns is strictly for convenience’s sake and not to suggest that females aren’t capable of the attitudes and behaviors discussed.)



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I was actually amused at this post from Steve Becker. I’ve seen this “romantic stare” so many times and have to admit that it was effective in manipulating me so often. I eagerly accepted the control because I felt so special. Of course the entrapment became toxic for me.

However, as I read his description of the “romantic stare”, I picture it as being so ridiculous that it’s almost funny. It could be a scene on a sitcom. In fact, I’ve seen similar stares from Ross, Joey and Chandler on the old sitcom “Friends”. How can something so absurd and obvious be so powerful and potent? These sociopaths truly believe that their victims will “fall” for the ploy and are confident that their appeal will be more powerful than any logic about such ludicrous behavior. And they are right! The victim falls for the delusion and are instantly vulnerable. Who wouldn’t want to feel so special.

Calculating, clever and completely aware of the impact of their unscrupulous actions, they are always looking for a mark. If only someone could record this behavior and expose them for the embarrassingly pathetic losers that they really are. Creepy,for sure!

‘HopingtoHeal’, you hit the nail on the head re “the stare” with the above but especially, “Calculating, clever and completely aware of the impact of their unscrupulous actions, they are always looking for a mark.”

I had to share the following exerpt from an online social media conversation between my ex-spath to a friend of his I discovered which then led to the breakup – fascinating stuff!

ex-spath – “I felt like a sorcerer when I learned how powerful my eyes could be…”


I’m laughing at how these fools see themselves. A sorcerer, bahahaha. Only in his own mind. Two notable comments from my spath husband – “the minister said I reminded him of Jesus Christ”. That would be no because your the size of a Polly pocket with Northern European features . The other comment was “All these beautiful women want me, even their mothers are attracted to me”. You know he’s the Adonis of Alabama. 🙂

I saw Spathtardx do the predator stare…….there was NOTHING romantic about it. I saw him do it to other women, men and a 12 year old girl. I caught him looking at me once like this…..dark, creepy, surreal,,,,,,,,w t F??? and he would do this weird thing picking his index finger with his thumbnail when he was really locked it to someone.

Ah…the predatory stare. The one I was with only did it during sex. Only, with him it was unnerving. Almost reptilian. Kind of angry, but blank. I asked him about it and of course he denied it. So, from then on when I looked at him during sex he had replaced it with a smile which was equally disturbing because it reminded me of a clown with a fake smile plastered on his face. Maybe about a year later I met one of his friends on two different occasions. Once at the hot springs pool and once at the local ski area.
I still hadn’t heard of the “p” stare. The friend stared me down both times. I mistook it for interest. Then later I learned what it actually was. The friend is also a sociopath. That explains why he shows up on dating sites hunting for women from 25 to 40 yrs old. He is about 58. Some of his other friends (men and women) are questionable also. Yep, they hang together

I only recently discovered this site, and this article made me absolutely ill. I haven’t been able to talk about this to most of my friends, I even tried a therapist who seems to think I merely need to start dating again, and the idea of pouring out my anger and humiliation to a website full of strangers is completely foreign to me. No offense, please. And forgive the length of my first post.

One of the first things I noticed about my ex was the intense eye contact. I used to joke about how he was probably one of the few men that I’ve ever worked with that actually knew what color my eyes were. We had slowly progressed from mere colleagues to friends over the course of a year. I’m very slow to warm up to people, highly independent, and very sarcastic. I have frequently been described as having a wall 15 feet high around me…and he apparently saw that as the ultimate challenge. We got together in June, it lasted two weeks before the silent treatment began with no warning. Confused as all hell, and trying to be considerate of his traumatic past (that’s another post altogether), I let it drag on until August before I had enough and went NC. I used a pre-planned trip I was taking as the perfect opportunity to escape and heal. I flew 4000 miles and hiked across the Andes to approach normal again. He emailed a few times while I was away, and called once when I returned, but I was complete NC since mid-September. I was doing great – I had met another man unexpectedly; a sweet, wonderful man who tried to understand my reluctance for a new relationship, but thought that it couldn’t have been so traumatic because it was so brief. He also unfortunately lived a long distance away. I was happy, not thinking of the ex at all, and three days away from making another trip to see the new man when the ex resurfaced with text messages from King Lear about asking for forgiveness. That was late October. I should have listened to my body. The reaction when I got the first text (at 2AM) was pure foreshadowing: my heart rate jumped, sweaty palms, rapid breathing, and the taste of adrenalin. I work in emergency services, I deal with the worst of humanity every day, I know what that means…why didn’t I just delete the text and continue NC? Long story short, I didn’t want to string someone along in a long-distance thing if I didn’t know what I was going to do about the ex. So I ended it, and flew home to give the ex a second chance.

I still don’t know what happened; I’m still not sure if my ex was truly a sociopath or merely a world-class jack###. My perception of reality and memory of events has been so distorted by his gaslighting, and in such a short time span that it’s probably far more humiliating than any of the vicious things he said to me. I thought I was being so smart (during Round 2)….never hesitating to call him out on questionable behavior, thinking I was standing up for myself and demanding to be treated like a person, as opposed to a toy. I even calmly said to him one night that he exhibited all the signs of being a sociopath, and that I understood why he targeted me. He of course, became upset that I insinuated he was “out to get me”…but then he also admitted that he probably was a sociopath.

I’m kind of lost as to what I should do next. From what I’ve been reading, I believe the devaluing process began in December, culminating with a discard (by email) on Christmas….but since he had bought expensive tickets to the ballet when he was trying to lure me back, he still expected me to go with him a few days after Christmas. I should have just gone NC again right after that horrid email. I should have stood him up and stuck him with the tickets.

I tried talking to him. I told him that if he did another disappearing act, he needed to lose my number. He suddenly thought I was too needy and demanding, and that he didn’t think he could do anything to make me happy. It was too much effort for him, and he had nothing left to give. He tried the ‘let’s be friends’ tactic, saying that he didn’t want to keep me off balance and miserable. He couldn’t bear to have any influence over me, so if I wanted to leave, I should leave. He wasn’t going to ask me to stay, because he couldn’t bear to fight with me and see me angry. (He had been giving me the silent treatment throughout December because I had a really bad day and lost my temper on him – something which I made sure to call and apologize for (it took 4 text messages and an email to get him on the phone so I could do that). He knew I hated the Silent treatment. He knew it made me angry. And when I admitted that it did, he had this total Aha! Told you so! reaction.

I knew the moment the silent treatment began again that I needed to get out, and permanently. I began looking for houses. I waited for the silent treatment phase because I was afraid that I would let slip that I was looking to move. The morning after that horrible night at the ballet, we were having a civil conversation, and I asked him to call me later so we could finish it. He flipped out like I asked him to sacrifice one of his children, screamed he wasn’t going to make any promises, and hung up the phone. He did call me the following day, acted like a spoiled child, and hung up on me again.

I got a few calm, impersonal texts from him on New Year’s. I was so tired and scared (even though he was very careful to never threaten me, and always told me to leave if I wanted, I am somehow terrified of him) and fed up, I called the phone company about changing my phone number the next day. Later that week, I found a new house. I had to move in February between all those annoying snow storms.

Now I’m sitting here in my new house, knowing he cannot reach me (except by email, and he hasn’t)…and all the old doubts are creeping back. Did I overreact? Did I imagine the sinister intent? How long am I going to have to look over my shoulder? I know physically I’m healthier – I’m no longer having nightmares, I stopped losing drastic amounts of weight. On the advice of my therapist to “get back on the horse”, I tried signing up for dating sites – he’s quite active on all of them. If he shows up on my search radius, I’d show up on his so I promptly deleted all my accounts. Does the fact that he’s trolling so hard for a new victim mean that I’m finally free? And more importantly, why oh why oh why do I miss him again?

Mkhasbeenduped…you miss him because of the drama…the back and forth and up and down. We get addicted to that. It’s not boring…it’s exciting. You even mentioned it when you said you got his text at 2AM and your heart jumped and your palms became sweaty, etc. I know it all too well. We become addicted to the adrenaline and all that goes with it. Trying to do anything to please them. It sounds like it is done…PLEASE make it done. If you don’t, it will drag on and you will become more and more hurt to where it affects you permanently. I got a text one time at a pivotal point in the relationship I was in. It said, “I am sorry.” I truly believe he meant it at the time and I should have taken that apology and ran, but I didn’t and he pulled me in even more, but when he was done, he was done. I was discarded forever. It sounds like you are okay though…you are already thinking about dating again whereas I never want to date ever again in my life…it’s been four years. Just please take this as a lesson. You’ll hopefully know the signs the next time and not let someone else do this to you.

Mkhasbeenduped – welcome to Lovefraud, although I’m sorry for your experience.

Involvements with sociopaths are highly addictive. They cause chemical and structural changes in the brain because of the “psychopathic bond” that forms. This is why it is so difficult to break free of them. I’ll be writing more about this in a post soon.

Also, it is not a good idea to start dating again until you have recovered from this experience. Right now you are vulnerable, which means you are a target for another sociopath. You should focus on your healing for the time being. The first step is No Contact. We have many articles on Lovefraud that can help you.

Dear Mkhasbeenduped:

He sounds like a classic sociopath replete with all the gaslighting and crazy-making behaviors. The first and most important thing you must do is get away and stay away. Never contact him again. Ever. When you start to experience the withdrawal, this is where you need to work on breaking the addiction. It’s really good to get some help. Personally, I’ve found energy work (cellular release) very helpful. There are also therapists who work with trauma – and yes, you have been traumatized. There are repressed feelings inside of you that fuel the addiction, and you will need to feel all these feelings. If you can, you will break the addiction and become stronger. However, if you don’t do the work first, or just do it partially, you will continue to bring men into your life who will disrespect you in some form or other, even if they are not sociopathic. So I agree with Donna – hold off on dating for a while until you’ve done some healing. If you really feel you want to get out there and date, decide ahead of time where your boundaries are – what you will and will not tolerate. Then stick to it. I don’t think there is anything wrong with having male attention and male energy in your life, as long as you’re clear where the boundaries are. One way I get this is salsa dancing. I get to feel feminine, have fun, lose weight, and get attention from men. But I always make sure I go home alone at the end of the night.

I have been dating for the last several years post-sociopath, and I’m finding that I’ve done *some* of the work, but there is more to do, because I’m still drawn to men who are not completely available. The one saving grace is that I have made it a point not to have sex with any of them until I feel I can completely trust them – and I let them know this. Usually they just bolt. Good riddance. Sometimes they stick around but become scarce (probably because they don’t want to give up their other women who are a sure thing for a booty call). Good riddance to those, too. I am celibate at the moment and reeling from some disappointments with potential relationship candidates who didn’t pan out. But I know where my boundaries are, and this feels good. To me, this feels like the normal stuff of weeding through the bad ones to find the one good one…kissing a lot of frogs etc.

I do see and believe it is an addiction, one that they themselves created in us to keep us trapped. I do not believe that it is an addiction to drama and excitement. It’s an addiction to the love chemicals and hormones we were tricked into producing. Once the education takes place and NC severs the bond, the chemicals start to SLOWLY leave and then (for me) the really painful part happens……….you see the entire relationshi* clearly, for what it actually is/ was, which is NOTHING but a lie, an illusion, a trap, a trick. Even the good memories are horrific, more so than the bad for me, because they are all BS!! All part of the game. The only thing real about the POS is that he is a POS.
Yes, I am attracted to bad boys……I believe there is something they do to me at a level that is very primal. I actually can’t imagine finding a man who will stimulate my sex drive and be safe for me emotionally. I HATE that! He pretended to be both…….actually in the beginning he was so sexually docile I wasn’t THAT attracted to him……part of the trap.

I know it’s an addiction due to the chemicals and hormones. I just meant that the drama and excitement goes along with it…that is part of the addiction…it has to be. There wouldn’t be an addiction from the chemicals, etc. in the first place if there wasn’t drama and excitement, yeah?

SER……no, the drama and excitement is not what created the chemicals. It’s the whole bonding process, the brain chemicals that help create the glue that helps to hold people together. Mother’s and babys have it. The Spath creates the illusion of something that becomes real for the victim in this way but not for him. Chemistry Happens!

Yeah, but why does the chemistry happen?? It sure doesn’t happen in a BORING relationship. OK…

SER, sure it does! Togetherness creates the brain chemicals and hormones that foster bonding. It’s not the drama…..just the togetherness. That’s why they want to be with you and touch you and gaze into your eyes right from the get go. It causes you to go into a oxytocin trance!
Even normal healthy relationships have this affect, without the drama, manipulation, deception, etc, etc, etc….

dorothy2…well, for me personally, it does not happen with “good” guys. Just like you said, you are only sexually attracted to the bad boys. Same.

SER, I here ya. Honestly, I think it’s apples and oranges because there are SO many other elements involved when you are involved with a socio-ppath that it is more intense? The trauma they inflict, the isolation, etc…..the aftermath/ withdrawal is just a different animal. For me it has been anyhow because he hooked me in a very old old primal wounded place. he pretended to be all that and a bag of chips to me emotionally and turned out to be a dirty diaper.
And it’s different for everyone even in it’s sameness.

dorothy2…yes, it is all very damaging no matter which way we slice it…unfortunately. Very unfortunate. I am telling myself now that it was only a dream and never happened. Perhaps that will help me get over it.

It seems and feels like a dream……SO Sureal. That tells you something in and of it’s self.

Dorothy, I can relate to your being attracted to unavailable men. I am looking at this pattern right now as I am out there dating. I believe it is in fact possible to break the pattern. It is an energetic pattern stored in our body, and it is fueled by repressed emotion. There are forms of energy work that can help break destructive patterns and addictions. Again, the work is very freeing, but it’s also very painful, and it takes some courage and willingness to face the pain that fuels the addiction. I recently had a Cellular Release session, and it has been helpful, though I walked around feeling like total crap for a few days before the feelings started to surface. Since this small amount of work, I have found myself less attracted to a guy I’ve been dating who hasn’t been giving me the attention I want. In the past, I would become clingy and obsessive, trying to figure out what I did wrong to scare him off. Today, I can recognize him as “unavailable” and know that it has nothing to do with me. I can then downgrade him to the proper distance to where he cannot hurt me. That may mean a friendship only. Or it may mean no contact at all. I haven’t decided in the case of this last one. He is not a sociopath – just not available to me in the way I want from a man.

I have been sociopath-free for 5 years now. But my dating struggles are still very relevant to these discussions.

My situation was very complex Stargazer, much more than I can put into words. It was in some way kind of atypical but had a LOT of the typical elements mixed in. On my side, in this one way, I shot a hole in the bottom of my own boat: I was drinking heavily when the two of us entangled. I’m sober for two years and i’m not attracted to unavailable men nor attracted to available men. I don’t date…..of course i’m in no condition TO date after this whole mess but I just do my thing, live my life, etc……….
When I say I’m attracted to bad boys, I mean sexually. Unfortunately, I haven’t met too many reformed bad boys! LOL! THAT is what would be the solution. For not I seek nothing from no one.
Interesting, my bio mom was a bad boyaholic. I’d bet my bottom dollar my bio father was a bad boy.

THE STARE OF THE MASTER SEDUCER… many woman can he get to have sex with this week?……..all too well known in my case.

He would walk into a room with that intense stare beaming in on all women there….

In his case, he was so sexed up all the time and so therefore turned on all the time, he would stare as if he wanted to take the woman right there…..

On one of our dates: We left the restaurant and he stopped and looked into the air and said “I could have had her”…..referring to our server, a young girl….I saw him staring at her…but inside his brain he was seducing her all the while “listening” to me….sick

He would stare at couples in restaurants. I found out he was into threesomes, group sex and sex sites to find sex partners into anything and everything imaginable…sex clubs….

He would sit in restaurants and if a third person joined a couple, he would point it out and say that it was a threesome getting ready to join up together….

He was so casual about the sex he had in threesomes that he told me stories how he would meet up with a couple and go bowling together, then go have sex…..Why I didn’t run away is because he said how he had put away that life and wanted a pure relationship….

So that stare is all about power, sex, control…..and they don’t change. That is who they are….and whatever you find out about them is only the tip of the iceburg…trust me…



All I can say is Ewwwww, Your story makes the “Stare” even more disgusting than it already was to me. I’m still so naive that, until now, I could only relate the stare to an aggressive “come on”. Now, the image of this predator is burned into my brain. I will be MUCH more aware and cautious now. Thank you for the info,


Ewwwww is right…In the beginning, as the article by Steve above states, I thought it was for he and I. That it was a special charisma all for us….little did I know it was for all women he met or just saw anywhere.

That stare was not special….it was not a love stare for me….it wasn’t the look of love….it was a hard, intense, and meant to seduce sexually…

And upon realizing this fact and knowing it was for all women, I was disgusted too and will never forget it….

Yes, his stare is burned into my brain as well and I sure am very aware and cautious of “that stare”…glad to share if it helps…..

So glad to be free…..
Vision I see a woman free, happy, and in real love…

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