Think of the term ‘psychopath’ and it’s likely that an image of Christian Bale’s blood-soaked businessman Patrick Bateman springs to mind.
But you could have one for a colleague, a friend or even a romantic partner without realising – just ask Jen Waite.
Author of her new memoir, A Beautiful, Terrible Thing, Waite appeared to have the perfect life as an actress and model who lives with her husband, step-son and baby in New York City.
But, after finding out that her husband had been having an affair throughout her pregnancy, Waite also discovered that she was married to a psychopath.
He lies without remorse and refused to take accountability for his actions but, just like Bateman in American Psycho, he also appeared normal, intelligent and even charming.
So, given just how skilled psychopaths are at manipulating others, how easy is it to actually spot one? Speaking to Broadly, Waite reveals the tell-tale signs to look out for.
While it’s completely normal to feel loved up during the honeymoon period of your relationship, Waite says that psychopaths tend to bombard you with flattery, attention and communication at the beginning and it’s something she’s dubbed ‘love bombing.’
“At first it kind of seems too much, and then you get used to it, and it is like a drug. You need your fix,” she says.
The sob story
If you call your partner out when their actions don’t line up with their words, what’s their reaction? Do they apologise, explain themselves or spin you a completely unrelated sob story so that you feel sorry them?
If it’s the latter then you could be dealing with a psychopath. According to Waite, pity play is a tell-tale sign because suddenly they become the victim and prey on a ‘normal’ person’s response of empathy and guilt.
A good place to start when trying to figure out if someone is a psychopath is to look at their past because a lot of them tend to go through the same relationship cycle over and over again, Waite says.
If they don’t have good relationships with family, have a string of broken friendships or a long list of supposedly ‘crazy’ exes, they may well be going “from person to person and destroying those bridges.”
But, what should you do if you think your partner might be a psychopath?
According to Waite, people with the disorder thrive on drama, which can make it difficult to leave the relationship. Instead, she suggests not engaging with the kind of overly dramatic calls and texts that you’re inevitably going to get.
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