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Staying friends with your exes may be a sign of psychopathy, says new research

Is your ex a psychopath?

Chelsea Ritschel
in New York
Wednesday 20 December 2017 19:32 GMT
Staying friends with your exes may be a sign of psychopathy

If your significant other ends your relationship with, “I hope we can stay friends,” you may be better off declining.

According to a new study published in the journal Personality and Individual Differences, staying friends with exes isn’t a sign of maturity, as you may have thought, but a possible sign of something much darker.

Evidence from the study suggests this behaviour could actually be a sign of psychopathic tendencies - and has found that how people relate to their exes could be a new test for psychopathy.

The study, which was carried out by researchers at Oakland University, analysed the personality traits of 861 subjects and their relationship histories.

The subjects were asked questions about their current relationships as well as whether they were friends with exes, then given a questionnaire to determine narcissistic and psychopathic qualities.

According to the results of the study, those who displayed dark personality traits, similar to those found in psychopaths, reported being more likely to stay in contact with former lovers - for some disturbing reasons.

Apparently, psychopaths are more likely to keep exes around because they can provide the opportunity for access to resources such as sex, money, or information.

As psychopaths are known for the ability to employ false charm, it is often easy for them to continue a strategic “relationship” with an ex long after the actual relationship has ended, allowing them to continue to reap benefits.

New research suggests staying friends with exes may be a sign of psychosis

Psychopathy, a subcategory of antisocial personality disorder, is a psychological term often used to refer to those who display personality traits such as narcissism, sadism, selfishness, lack of empathy, and/or superficial charm.

While all people can display characteristics such as selfishness, psychopaths often display a complete lack empathy - a sign their actions are purely self-motivated.

Responding to this new information, Dr Paulette Sherman, a psychologist and author of ‘Dating from the Inside Out,’ told The Independent, "Dating is hard enough without everyone thinking that every time your ex wants to stay friends that they have psychopathic tendencies or motivations in mind. Having said this, it is an interesting finding in that it points to the intentions of some people for continuing that relationship. They may be interested in doing so for selfish motives like continuing access to sex, information or other practical gains. They may not be thinking of the emotional impact to their ex.”

However, Dr Sherman warns against assuming all of your exes are psychopaths.

She told us, “Having said this, I have seen some clients choose to stay friendly or friends with their ex for normal and even altruistic reasons. These clients want the best for their ex, they enjoy their company and know how to have clear healthy boundaries regarding being friends and not having sex or making unreasonable demands. Many times they are no longer attracted to one another, are both in other relationships and respect those respective partners. This is not always an easy thing to do but it can happen and it’s important not to think that all exes who want to stay friends have psychopathic tendencies or motivations.”

But if your significant other has maintained close relationships with their exes and seems a little too charming, you may want to consider this new research a warning.

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