In one of my latest posts, I talked about psychopathy – a topic that has interested me very much in the last three years – and the profile of psychopathic personalities.
I also mentioned how I’ve always taken a very passive stance in my romantic relationships, and how I did not allow myself to see properly. Even if I was totally capable of identifying red flags in men, something in me chose to idealize situations to give me the right amount of excuses to stay in toxic and unhealthy relationships that weren’t right for me.
What are some of the things that make someone vulnerable and the target of a psychopath?
Boredom, loneliness, the longing to be in a relationship, a recent divorce or breakup, the loss of a loved one, being new to a country/city or school, illness, and a strong need of attention or support are some of the reasons.
Surprisingly, if you are outgoing, socially competent, competitive, sentimental, sensitive, emotional, committed, loyal, compassionate, easy going, and carefree, it might not work to your advantage either, because psychopaths love these traits too.
So, pretty much, anyone can be a potential victim of these wonderful characters.
Psychopaths are keen observers, predators, who often engage in inappropriate behaviors in relationships that exploit, degrade and ultimately end up hurting their partners, family members, and friends.
Psychopaths seek power and control and want to dominate their partners sexually, emotionally, sentimentally, and physically.
They do this by taking advantage of their partner’s vulnerabilities, which is why they love-bomb with lavish demonstrations of attention, affection, and flattery at the beginning of their relationships. In other words, psychopaths know that being in «love» makes a person vulnerable by default.
How is it possible for them to maintain such a powerful control over their targets?
Triangulation is one of their favorite methods.
Triangulation (in psychology) is a manipulation tactic where one person will not communicate directly with another and instead will use a third person to communicate with the second, hence forming a triangle.
Psychopaths use triangulation to seem in “high-demand”, and to make you crazy about them. In a normal relationship, people go out of their way to prove their trustworthiness, but the psychopath does exactly the opposite. Psychopaths will fabricate situations to make you jealous and question their fidelity.
Some ways in which psychopaths triangulate include: Flirting with others in front of their partners or comparing their partners to others as a way to create insecurities in them.
Triangulation also has the added “bonus” of allowing psychopaths access to resources from each and every victim – whether that resource is wealth, financial stability or social status.
It is not that hard for victims to fall into this trap because, for starters, triangulation can happen in furtive and dishonest ways meant to subtly make victims question and doubt themselves.
Unfortunately, being clever, street smart and somewhat savvy doesn’t help here. They are good at this – they observe, they analyze, they pounce…
When I moved back to Colombia three years ago, I decided to see a therapist because I was going through a lot at the time and also wanted to get to the bottom of my relationship issues with men.
I had dated someone briefly, and noticed a pattern in the type of men that were attracted to me, and wanted to hear an expert’s opinion.
After one or two appointments – and knowing some of my family history and background – the therapist concluded that I had been the victim of men with psychopathic tendencies in some (or most) of my romantic relationships.
I was shocked to hear this, of course. I knew nothing about psychopathic personalities. I thought these characters only existed in movies and Mexican novelas.
She had me watch some videos from Spanish psychologist Iñaki Piñuel and then it all made sense to me.
I’ve been through my fair share of tests in life – I went through breast cancer, I got divorced, I’ve gone through periods of low self-esteem, I’ve felt very lonely and isolated at times, I am a single mom…
All of the above, paired with an outgoing, friendly, bubbly, Latin personality – and I’m also kind of cute – makes me a highly tempting target in psychopath world.
Is there a cure or antidote? Do I need to change some of my personality traits? Is there a way to control feeling lonely or in need of some excitement in life?
No, no, and no.
My therapist was confident that I was going to learn how to see and spot red flags in men, especially after motherhood and being back in Colombia.
As part of my treatment, she recommended three things:
- Keep busy – work freelance, part or full time.
- Join a class – learn something new and exciting.
- Five male friends
I was puzzled by the third item on her list of recommendations. I had a lot of male friends growing up and in college, but friendships with the opposite sex change as we age, and most of the men I used to be friends with either live abroad, are married with kids, or are in serious relationships.
Her goal with this recommendation was for me to learn to see men as my friends – my peers – instead of potential husbands, and be able to go to the movies, for coffee, dinner, lunch, without any sexual tension.
Even though it was no easy task to find these male friends, I did my homework. I don’t have five, but I have three male friends who I talk to on a regular basis: The first one is married, the second one lives abroad, and the third one is gay.
The problem of being friends with straight men at my age and, in my particular case, is that at some point in the relationship – and I’m going to be brutally honest – they’ll want to jump my bones (like my married friend), unless they are miles away (like my friend who lives abroad), or are not interested in anything else but my company and friendship (like my gay friend).
Because I live where I live (le sigh), I just want to make something very clear. I am not in a romantic relationship with any of the male friends I’ve talked about.
I guess it’d be a good idea to restart and find some more friends. What a to-do!
I have not gone to my therapist in a while, but I have done my research, I am learning more about myself, and I am working very hard on my better version.
I can’t help being a good target, but I think I will be able to handle the situation very well next time a psychopath knocks on my door.
In the meantime, I will follow Dr. Robert Hare’s sage advice: «Know yourself. Psychopaths are skilled at detecting and ruthlessly exploiting your weak spots. Your best defense is to understand what these spots are and to be extremely wary of anyone who zeroes in on them.»