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I have two friends who are polar opposites. One is genuinely kind and compassionate; she’s the one I know I can count on to give me good advice and be there for me when I flop in life.
The other friend is somewhat strange, and he does weird things like staring at me, being calm when he should have an emotional reaction, and hinging between control and impulsivity.
Considering my strange friend, I began to wonder about the weird things psychopaths do to watch out for and wondered if these things applied to my friends.
What Is a Psychopath?
In psychology and personality theories, there are usually two sides to each scale, and it’s rare to be all-out on one side of the sliding scale. One such scale is that of psychopathy.
On one end of the scale you have a real psychopath, while the other side of the scale has a complete empath. Most of us won’t be on either end of the scale, and we may hinge between the middle of the scale, alternating between a few psychopathic tendencies and being more empathic and genuinely kind.
For someone to be considered a psychopath, they would need to display characteristics that classify them as having a personality disorder. Yet, psychopathy is not classified in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V), which means it’s extra hard to know if someone is a psychopath or simply has narcissistic tendencies.
To be clear, narcissists can be psychopaths, but not all narcissists are psychopaths. I tend to think of it as sliding down the ladder of personality from being a feeling and empathic person through narcissism and right into psychopathy.
A psychopath usually displays these characteristics, but their accurate diagnosis will depend on the extent of these characteristics:
Why Someone May Have Psychopathic Tendencies
To detect some of the weird things that a psychopath may do, it is a good idea to keep the suspected psychopath’s past in mind. Why do they do what they do?
Most psychopaths who have been studied had a poor parent-child relationship. When I think of my two friends, the empathic friend had a warm and caring home, and while her dad was an alcoholic, he managed to show her love and affection most of the time.
The friend who struggles to connect to people and has psychopathic tendencies grew up in a “perfect” home, where his parents barely spoke to each other (much less spoke to him), and he never learned what love is or how to show it.
Negative Side Effects of Being around a Psychopath – Getting Burned Alive
It’s a no-brainer to know that being around a psychopath isn’t a great idea, but what do you do when the psychopath is someone dear to you, or perhaps even a family member and you have no choice but to be near them?
Knowing and countering the negative side effects of being near a psychopath is where you start. Look out for the following negative effects to protect yourself as much as possible:
13 Weird Things Psychopaths Do to Watch Out For
Psychopaths have peculiar things they do (almost compulsively), which hint at their fragile state of mind and lack of real connection to other humans.
When you suspect someone you know may be a psychopath, you can look out for the signs that can signal their deteriorating mental state.
1. Long Pauses Before Speaking
While it’s good to think before you speak, a psychopath tends not to speak within a normal timeframe.
They have to really think before they can connect what is an appropriate response to any given situation or conversation (and then often fail to do so) as it doesn’t come naturally.
At the same time, a psychopath may also launch into a lengthy monologue, running their mouth about totally unrelated topics, while not needing any real response from their “audience.”
Essentially, a psychopath can regale you with amazing stories that make them out as the charming hero, but they struggle to have real two-way conversations that require on-the-spot thinking.
Note: Some psychopaths can learn to fake sincerity and show false empathy, which can lull you into believing they care about anyone but themselves.
2. They Live on the Wild Side
Psychopaths love adventure and thrills. Often, these thrills are found on the wrong side of the tracks, and they are often brought into conflict with the authorities or engage in questionable behavior.
Note: Psychopaths have a feeling of entitlement, and they believe the laws that apply to other people (mere mortals) don’t apply to them. They may also have perfectly planned explanations of why they don’t have to play by the rules.
3. Their Body Language Is Over Exaggerated
Ever met someone who tends to show extreme emotions, but the smaller in-between emotions are lacking? Chances are that they are a psychopath. Since psychopaths don’t read emotions well, they also don’t feel the full spectrum of emotions.
A psychopath may hinge between dark rage and extreme joy, but they lack the softer emotions like sorrow, confusion, fear, and insecurities. They get confused between negative emotions and positive ones.
Instead, they usually have blank moments when they feel nothing and show nothing. Their facial expressions and body language tell you they have gone off the emotional tracks.
Note: Look out for exaggerated body language such as severe facial expressions, swinging arms, balling fists, and stamping feet, as a psychopath struggles to restrain themselves and also have bits where they are in neutral.
4. Psychopaths Get Caught Out in Lies
Since psychopaths aren’t capable of genuine feelings and struggle with consistency in their concept of truth, they lie frequently. Their lies also change as they tailor their reality to get what they want, which means they often get caught out in lies.
Note: A psychopath may lie straight to your face without any sign of discomfort because they actually believe their lies (even if their lies are contradictory).
5. People Are Disposable Commodities to Psychopaths
When you interact with a psychopath, you can expect it to be a win-lose situation – in their favor.
Psychopaths always aim to get the best of any situation, even if there’s a way for everybody to win. To further inflate their ego, psychopaths will intentionally throw you under the bus.
Note: Being needlessly conniving, haggling until they get the best of every possible situation, and seeing equal agreements as a failure are all attributes of psychopaths.
6. Psychopaths Are Loyal to Themselves First
In life, we want to know if we can count on people, but psychopaths are only “loyal” to you as long as it benefits them. When they can gain more from betraying you, they will do so without even a moment’s hesitation or remorse.
Note: Remember, psychopaths will recreate reality so they feel they didn’t betray you, and that their disloyal actions were justified.
7. I, Me, Myself … and More of Me
Everything is about a psychopath. When you have an accident, they were the ones who saved you, or their day was so much worse than yours. A psychopath will recreate their day and life, so they are always the leading star.
Note: If you outshine your psychopath partner, they will intentionally tear you down so they can shine and be the best.
8. Gaslighting Is Their MO
As you can probably guess, a psychopath will usually make use of gaslighting to get the better in any situation. If you try to talk about the strange way in which they behave, they will easily reverse the conversation and say they act oddly because they are scared of losing you or they feel insecure around you. You end up feeling guilty while they get off without having to actually face your concerns.
Note: Not all gaslighters are psychopaths, and gaslighting is often a learned behavior, but most psychopaths will use it as one of the many weapons in their arsenal.
9. Psychopaths Are Often Promiscuous
Since psychopaths have very little feeling, they are quick to jump to having casual sex and use sex as a weapon. For them, sex isn’t an act of love but rather a power play, which is why psychopaths may also engage in rape as a way to dominate their partner.
I think of the scene from American Psycho, where Christian Bale’s character engages in a twisted night of reckless sex with multiple partners that is aimed at dominance and humiliation for his partners.
Note: A psychopathic partner may use sex as a way to keep their partner with them or to dominate and use their partner.
10. Dating Escalates into Love Bombing
A psychopath will often escalate quickly when they date a partner who meets their needs. From a first date to constant acts of romance and expressions of love, you can expect a psychopath to rapidly shower you with over-the-top affection and lavish gifts, but it is only until they have you. Then, the cruelty takes over.
Note: Beware a partner who only wants to talk about you, tells you little about them, but acts like they are the best thing that’s ever happened to you. Relationships where you are being “bought” with lavish gifts and money can indicate you are in a relationship with a psychopath.
11. Basic Needs Come First for Them
If you come home late and your partner freaks out because you haven’t prepared dinner (despite your dreadful day), then a psycho partner will show a complete lack of empathy and only be obsessed with their basic needs (and you drop everything to take care of those). Like a child that cries to be fed, clothed, and spoiled, a psychopath will demand their basic needs are met first.
This insistence on meeting their needs above all else may also turn ugly when a psychopath has children, as they won’t understand the children should come first.
Note: Self-preservation is a natural response and instinct, but a psychopath focuses on it so directly that they will never step up and be counted on for their family, as they don’t have “loved ones.”
12. They Are Calm in the Storm
I remember the day we had a massive fire in the office building and my “friend” simply continued working to earn that extra commission until the fire department finally made him leave.
People were sitting outside the building with burn wounds and coughing from smoke inhalation, but he merely continued tracking the stocks he had just purchased online from his phone – oblivious to what was going on around him.
Psychopaths can be extremely calm in moments when they shouldn’t be. Drama and trauma that don’t directly affect them don’t concern them.
They have no fear of situations that don’t directly threaten them. People see this as shock, but they aren’t shocked; they don’t react because they don’t care.
Note: If the psychopath can, they will overreact to rise as the hero of the situation – running into a burning building because it makes them a hero (not to save someone).
13. They Are Antisocial
Not all of us are social butterflies, but a psychopath will intentionally create drama and pick fights in public so they can feast on the emotional fires around them (remember, they can’t feel those emotions themselves). You can expect a psychopath to suddenly scream out loud at an event, behave obnoxiously, challenge their peers, and even get into physical altercations.
Note: Psychopaths often struggle to fit into social settings, and they have no patience for the social niceties that are required as this doesn’t excite them. Violence is often their go-to default in this case, as they would rather stir trouble than be bored.
Final Thoughts on Weird Things Psychopaths Do
There are many weird things that psychopaths do, but all of these boil down to a few basic realities about psychopaths. They are:
Life with a psychopath can be dangerous, and most importantly, it can destroy your sense of self. One of the best ways to regain yourself and get the strength to walk from a relationship with a psychopath is to engage in self-care.
And if you're looking for more resources on personality types, be sure to check out these blog posts:
- 15 Best Online Personality Tests to Learn About Yourself
- 11 Signs That Someone is a Self-Entitled Person
- 7 Sigma Male Tests to Test Your Personality
Finally, if you want to identify YOUR personality type, then take one of these 11 personality tests to better understand what makes you tick.