This series is about what a relationship with a psychopath might actually be like. Where there are benefits, where there are downfalls. Why it might fall apart, and what it takes for the two of you to have a chance to make it together. You might hear about relationships with psychopaths on many sites on the internet that will give you a plethora of bad information. if you actually had a relationship with a psychopath and find one of these sites that proclaims to know all they will leave you frustrated by their lack of information.
Relationships with a psychopath, outside of the misinformation that is available in droves, can be very difficult, but not for the reasons that people will insist they are online. There are a number of problems and miscommunications that can happen, and it might leave the neurotypical partner feeling very alone. Hopefully, this series will assist in giving insight as to how psychopaths think when it comes to relationships.
When you first meet a psychopath you might be intrigued by the confidence and friendliness that you encounter. Having no social worries, and not caring what others think of you has a high degree of attraction for neurotypicals. Add to that the fact that we are more than happy to listen to you without butting in or making the conversation about us. Frankly, we have no interest in talking about ourselves, and rarely do for a variety of reasons. This trait is valuable to people that spend a great deal of their lives competing for a moment of notice.
If for whatever reason you are fun or interesting to talk to we may have an interest in continuing the conversation past our initial meeting. This, of course, delights the other person but there is a great deal of difference between what we are experiencing, and what the other person is. Let’s look at the different perspectives, shall we?
You must remember that psychopaths do not process oxytocin. That initial tingly feeling that neurotypicals get when they meet someone that they are attracted to and that attraction is reciprocated. That is missing for us. We don’t get butterflies in our stomachs when someone that is interesting to us finds us interesting in return. Instead, it is far more about our curiosity being stimulated, or our desire to have a good time. If you are fun to be around, that fun is something that we want to partake in. However, we are not on an equal playing field. You have feelings that are linked to your love or relationship map, we have feelings of interest and intrigue.
This can lead immediately to confusion for the neurotypical in the situation. You reasonably assume that we think and feel in a similar way to you, but we don’t. You might anticipate a phone call or a text, to us, it’s either just a conversation, or an annoyance depending on how many texts that are sent our direction. We don’t think about what you are doing when not in our sight, and frankly, we don’t have an interest in hearing about it either. It gives us no ego boost or stimulation to hear that you are thinking about us all the time, nor that you can’t wait to see us when we do whatever plans we have already arranged.
I get that these things are important to the neurotypical, but I only know this because I have spent a great deal of time learning this information. Imagine if I didn’t care whatsoever why you were so different, or if my self-interest was such that I knew but didn’t care. If you want to be around me, you will conform to how I am willing to be in a relationship. Our boundaries will always be strong and high. The level of communication that I am willing to put up with isn’t going to follow the same path that someone who is falling in love would like to go down.
The neurotypical wants to be around the psychopath because that’s normal, that’s natural, for them.
The psychopath wants to spend time with you when it seems fun and interesting, but the more you press them more distant that person may well become.
I have never wanted to be around clingy people, and the more they vie for my attention over whatever it is that I want to do, the less interested I am going to be in spending time with them.
When I spend time with a person, the fun of that interaction is entirely contained within that interaction. This is true of all memories. They are never coded with emotions, so if someone asks something like, “did you have fun?” I will respond with the appropriate response because it is what is expected, but “fun” was never tied to the memory. An example of that would be my liking of amusement parks. I know that I like them, and know that I want to go to them, However, if you asked me about the last time I was there:
I couldn’t tell you to save my life. I would lie if it was required.
Knowing that I have fun there is a cognitive response, not an emotional one. Just as I couldn’t tell you about a trip to an amusement park with emotional language unless I made it up out of whole cloth, I couldn’t tell you with emotional language what I liked about something we did together without making that up as well.
We go, we have fun, and the memory is filed under factual information, not emotional information, so if you ask about it, my response mask off would be a literal telling of going there. Mask on, I will tell you what you are expecting of me. If I say in the moment I am having fun, then I am. If you ask me about that later, there is no connection to that emotion of enjoyment. It is over because that situation is over.
This can be very confusing for neurotypicals. It can appear that our emotions run hot and cold. That isn’t it, they are shallow and they are fleeting. I get that many people who are neurotypical think that shallow and fleeting means something other than it does. Often we are told that our emotions are entirely manufactured because they do not match those of neurotypicals. Not true. They are different. Some are absent, the rest are much quieter, and no memory is remembered with any emotion at all.
About those emotions that are absent. These can cause enormous problems with people around us if we aren’t careful. We don’t have them, and we see the world through our lens. A psychopath’s whole life is surrounded by emotional responses that we don’t have. We have to learn that you do have them, and that those responses are real, not fake. We fake emotions frequently because it is necessary to blend in. However, often we encounter things that we have no idea why they would be upsetting.
Imagine this. You have begun this relationship with a psychopath. You don’t know that is what they are, and chances are, they have no idea either. Most of us don't. You two have fun together, but they seem rather disconnected if you call them. You tell your friends about them, but you have never come up in conversation with their friends. You desire intimacy with that person, but outside of sex, this doesn’t interest them at all. You surprise them by showing up unannounced at their home, they seem to be very blank in expression when they open the door, but that changes when they see it is you.
This person that you are dating feels confusing and mercurial. Why is this? Here is where a lot of problems are rooted. Our experiences are fundamentally different. Those same experiences for the psychopath’s side are this.
We have fun together, but this other person wants to relive it all the time and have me be as equally excited about that past experience as they are. We had fun last night and we have plans tomorrow, so why are they calling me for the third time today? This seems like a lot. You told your friends about me? Why? Of course, I haven’t said anything to anyone I know. It’s no one else’s business but mine what I am doing in my private life. They are always trying to hang on me, lay on me, hold hands with me… why? (This will be the case for the psychopath because there is no processing of oxytocin. Without that, all those activities that you want to have with that person are annoyances. It literally has no payoff for the psychopath.) Who the hell is at my door? Oh, it’s you… why are you here? Oh well, since you are I will put my mask back on.
Imagine you are out with your psychopathic mate, and someone comes up and hits on you in a very obvious way and your partner has no reaction to it. It might make you feel like they don’t really care about you. Well, oxytocin is also the base of jealousy. My Significant Other gets hit on all the time. It doesn’t bother me in the slightest. I know who he is, and he has demonstrated himself to be nothing but trustworthy over the years. Suspicion will never be because of jealousy, it will be from an utter lack of chemical trust in the psychopath. You have to show through your actions that you are worthy of a cognitive investment of trust. Also, to the trust issue, no, a psychopath has no idea what it means to have chemical trust. That is like asking you to know what flobow is. You have no idea, and neither do we. You earn trust, or you don’t in our minds. There is nothing else that informs that decision.
On the other side, a psychopath will never understand your jealousy. It makes no sense to us. If I wanted to be with someone else… I would be, so why are you upset that someone hit on me in front of you? Shouldn’t that just be a compliment on your tastes? If you are an irrationally jealous person, then you are not going to have a good time with a psychopath. They will simply watch your jealous moments with raised eyebrows. Lack of jealousy is not an indictment of your value in a psychopath’s mind. Your jealousy does not speak to you having great care about us either. It’s something that we simply have no concept of.
There is a massive disconnect between what we experience and what you experience. For a relationship to work there has to be compromise. I get that, all of us do. However, something that those around us take for granted, and I do mean A LOT, is how much we already compromise who we are just to get along in this world.
In your mind, you want to be around your new interest all the time. In our minds the more time we are around you the more we have to mask so you are comfortable around us. This means that we spend less time being ourselves, and then this new person in our lives is still demanding even more. That to us will feel like an imposition, but often we will try to match it. Being around you is fun for us as well… until it’s not. I will get into that in the next installment.
The two of you are on very different planets in terms of how you relate to each other. That can be overcome, but it is going to take a tremendous amount of maturity from both of you. Just as neurotypicals can be very immature, psychopaths can certainly be this way as well. Imagine being immature, self-interested, possibly impulsive, and lack empathy and remorse… this is not a person you want to have anything to do with. If you had most of those in a neurotypical you would have every reason in the world to avoid them. Add to it lack of empathy and remorse, and no developed cognitive empathy, that person will wreck your life.
However, immature psychopaths are fun. There is no doubt about this. Just because someone is fun does not make them a good mate. If you have fun with someone who seems wreckless and unconcerned with consequences, have fun with them, but don’t lose your head and go rob a bank with them because they think that they can do it. They saw it on TV once, and they’ve got this. Just… no. You need to have fun in a reasonable way, and if their idea of fun is dangerous, step out.
For any relationship to work you both need to be putting into it. You both need to communicate what is important to you. When I say important, I mean the things that you can’t live without. This is not the time to compromise on what is important and how that the other person psychically figures it out. If they are incapable of meeting what you need and want, move on.
Something to keep in mind here. As long as I have been alive I have been shown images of what “love” is supposed to be. I hear the words, I see the expressions, I have witnessed longing. Just because I see it doesn’t mean that I understand what that is to you. Part of it can look fun. Who doesn’t want to go to an amusement park… the other person being there is purely optional to us, but the park looks fun.
When neurotypicals speak about their wants in a relationship, they do so in terms that we understand from observation only. Yes, I get that chemical love is important to you. I also get the abstract idea that emotionally it feeds you. What I don’t get is, what is that like, and why do you need it. We will only ever understand this in cognitive terms, so when you tell us it’s important, we have to take your word on it. Because it is only cognitive understanding, that means that it will slip our minds that you require it. It isn’t intentional, but it is inevitable.
If you knew for a fact that you are in a relationship with a psychopath, and at the beginning they said:
“I don’t feel love, but I can show you affection if you tell me what is important to you. It isn’t personal, but I don’t need or really desire that myself, but I do really enjoy your presence, and like being around you.”
As the relationship goes on they do their level best to meet what it is that you need, and perhaps they do it so well that you forget that they don’t feel it. You begin to take that for granted. This is true in pretty much all aspects of the mask that are presented to those around us. Even if they are aware that their mask isn’t real, and they will forget that every part of it that is created to make them have a good day is specifically manufactured for them.
It might be totally natural to you as a neurotypical. It is not for us. A lot of times this creation is taken for granted because the neurotypical is just so used to the status quo. That can very much be an annoyance. Not only is this created for you, but now you are demanding more from us. To you, we haven’t done anything at all for you because your needs are emotional ones that we don’t share. To us, we have done everything for you because your needs are emotional ones, that we do not share.
You see the disconnect there? It is one that is difficult to overcome. Provided that you manage it, and you two decide to have a long-term go of it, you still have some steep mountains to climb. In the third part, we will get into the aspects of living with, and being with a psychopathic mate for the long haul, but first, we will speak about relationships from the psychopathic perspective.