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Top 10 Frequently Asked Questions about Relationships with Psychopaths & Narcissists

#2. How are they so happy with someone else? Why is the next partner getting all of this special treatment I never got? Why wasn't I good enough?

  1. Peace
    One of the amazing things about recovery is that we're all united by a common experience that allows us to validate & heal together. Because of these commonalities, we find that survivors often encounter the same pressing questions throughout the recovery process. This article is an effort to compile these frequently asked questions and provide detailed responses in hopes of accelerating the healing journey and lessening the cognitive dissonance. Here are the topics that will be covered:

    1. Is he / she really a psychopath? What if I'm just saying that to make myself feel better about my breakup?
    2. How are they so happy with someone else? Why is the next partner getting all of this special treatment I never got? Why wasn't I good enough?
    3. Can he / she change? What if they're really a good person now, and the problem was just specific to our relationship?

    4. What's the difference between a psychopath, sociopath, and narcissist?

    5. Don't I need to acknowledge my role in all of this? After all, it takes two to tango.

    6. Should I contact or warn the next target?

    7. Did he or she feel anything during the relationship? I've never felt love like that before, how could they have felt nothing?

    8. Why does it always seem like they're winning and getting their way? When will karma finally catch up with them?

    9. Why didn't they just break it off sooner? What was the point of dragging it out until the bitter end?

    10. At some point I need to forgive the psychopath, right? For my own peace of mind, I have to let this go.

    (Additional quick questions)

    11. Okay, I understand the whole psychopath thing, so how can I start trusting again, knowing these people exist?

    12. Why is it taking so long to heal from this? Will I ever be happy again?

    13. What if I'm the psychopath?


    14. I've heard that psychopaths “Hoover” their targets after the breakup, but I was never contacted again


    So let's get started, and as always, if these questions lead to more questions, please feel free to comment and open up a discussion :)


    1. Is he / she really a psychopath? What if I'm just saying that to make myself feel better about my breakup?


    During the early stages of recovery, this question will repeat itself, over and over again. So don't fear, it's completely normal! You're so accustomed to absorbing the blame for everything that you find it difficult—almost impossible—to place the blame where it actually belongs. Even after being cheated on, lied to, belittled, manipulated and criticized, you'll continue to hyper-focus on the small things you did wrong. This is because the psychopath punished you when you stood up for yourself, conditioning you with the silent treatment whenever you expressed your feelings. In a psychopathic relationship, you are not allowed to have emotions or be hurt by anything they do, otherwise you know you can be replaced in a heartbeat. It makes complete sense that you'd continue to doubt yourself in the aftermath of the breakup. You might think, “If only I hadn't reacted that way, then we'd still be together.” You might think, “If I forgive them and forget about all this psychopathy stuff, then I'll finally feel better.” These thoughts are normal, but please do not act on them. At the very least, someone who landed you on a site called PsychopathFree.com is probably not the greatest person in the world, right?

    Keep researching, sharing your story, and reading posts by others. Validation & education expedite the process. Eventually, it will all “click”. I don't really know when this happens, as I can't look back on my own process and pinpoint when I experienced it. But I promise there will come a time when there's not a doubt in your mind that this person is disordered & toxic. You'll look back on them with absolute disgust, seeing someone who represents everything you are not. The thought of being in the same room as them makes you feel physically sick, because you finally see what a monster they truly are. This is your self-respect kicking in, and you'll never look back again.

    Helpful reading:
    Overcoming Brainwashing & The Sociopath's World of Lies
    Stages of Grief from a Psychopathic Relationship
    Psychopathy and Cognitive Dissonance


    2. How are they so happy with someone else? Why is the next partner getting all of this special treatment I never got? Why wasn't I good enough?

    This might actually be #1. Isn't it odd that every single survivor asks this question? It would stand to reason, then, that nobody actually got special treatment. We all think the next target is more loved, more idealized, more respected—and that's exactly what the psychopath is hoping for. They want you to look back on the horrendous end of your own relationship it and contrast it with the honeymoon beginnings of their latest conquest. But it is not possible for a healthy human being to go from abusing one person, to suddenly entering a perfect relationship with someone else. They use social media to shove their happy lives in everyone's faces, but what kind of happy person keeps subtly boasting about how happy they are that they chose one person over another? That's not a happy person. That's someone trying to triangulate you and make you jealous.

    But the thing is, you still have every chance at happiness. And the only way to get there is through no contact & no cyber peeking. I know it seems like you'll feel all better if they break up. That what I thought too. “If they would just break up, then I could know he's not capable of love, and my heart would be at peace.” Nope. It doesn't make any difference. I watched the next relationship fall apart and I was still miserable. All it did was make me feel bad for his latest victim. It's horrible knowing that another person is going through the same confusion & heartbreak. I thought the breakup would be the final validation, but it made me feel worse. Why? Because my healing was still centered around someone else instead of myself. Once I finally closed those doors for good, I never looked back. It was like being set free, finally not caring what was going on in his life and certainly not caring what he thought about mine. No more drama, chaos, ambiguity, and rivalries. For the first time since meeting him, I was living life for myself again. And that's when everything started to transform. Ever since I left that world behind, my sanity returned and my dreams started coming true.

    Helpful reading:
    Torture by Triangulation
    A Letter to the Other Woman
    3 Characters in the Psychopath's Love Triangle
    The Transitional Target


    3. Can he / she change? What if they're really a good person now, and the problem was just specific to our relationship?

    Psychopaths cannot change. Psychopathy is incurable and untreatable. They do not want help, because they believe themselves to be superior to “regular” human beings. You do not have to worry that they're a changed man or woman, because they're not. They may give off the illusion of “goodness” in order to maintain an image of normalcy, but like anything else with a psychopath, it's all manufactured. They are incapable of seeing other human beings as unique individuals deserving of love & kindness. All they see is pawns on a chess board. Someone who is capable of abusing you (with silence, gas-lighting, cheating, and pathological lying) is not also capable of suddenly being a decent human being because they found a better partner. These qualities & behaviors are indicative of a serious personality disorder, not temporary symptoms a bad relationship.

    The media has been having a field day with the idea of “good psychopaths”, which just goes to show the gross misunderstanding of the damage these disorders cause every single day. Do we hear about “good rapists and murderers”? Of course not. Perhaps psychopaths come from abusive backgrounds, or perhaps they simply have messed up brain chemistry. But whatever it is, it’s incurable. It does not change. And so we do not need to waste our time wondering if the right person will magically transform them into an empathetic human being.

    Helpful reading:
    Are Psychopaths Insecure?
    Wise Psychopaths, Honest Narcissists, Empathetic Sociopaths, & Other Virtuous Evil People
    Pathological Lying: A Psychopathic Manipulation Tool


    4. What's the difference between a psychopath, sociopath, and narcissist?

    Psychologists, Google, doctors, and authors in the field will give you completely different answers to this question. And as a computer science major, I'm certainly unqualified to answer it. So here's our philosophy: All of these disorders are toxic, they're all untreatable, and they all follow the cycle of idealize, devalue, discard. This is what truly unites survivors. Not just a label, but a specific pattern of extremely manipulative & hurtful behavior.

    We do not have a hierarchy of abuse, because no personality disorder is better or worse than another. Here on PF, there's no such thing as “just a narcissist”. Whether you were involved with a narcissist or a sociopath or a psychopath, the end result is going to be the same: an extremely difficult road to recovery after having your heart & mind artificially bonded to a permanently disordered predator, through a calculated mean and sweet cycle.

    Helpful reading:
    Idealize, Devalue, Discard
    Different Titles? (thank you, Delilah)


    5. Don't I need to acknowledge my role in all of this? After all, it takes two to tango.

    No, and we have absolutely zero patience/tolerance for this victim blaming garbage here on PF. It's fine (and normal) to ask this question of yourself, but if you're here to lecture survivors about “their part in the abuse”, you're going to be met with a swift farewell from the ban hammer.

    Regardless of whether you're codependent, insecure, naive, vulnerable, or a perfectly healthy human being, abuse and exploitation are always wrong. Nobody deserves to be abused. Abusers toss around words like “codependency” because it unloads all of the blame onto their victim. But being codependent does not somehow make the abuse more acceptable, just like leaving your car unlocked does not mean you deserve to have your car stolen. Victim blamers love to scream about how you'll never recover, grow, and heal if you don't “accept the blame” for your role in the dynamic (because it takes two to tango and blah blah blah). But here's a neat concept: it's perfectly possible to recover, grow, and heal without accepting the blame for someone else's horrendous behavior. That's how we build self-respect and boundaries. That's how we learn to stop absorbing someone else's projection, excuses, and minimization of abuse.

    Please keep in mind, this does not negate the need for introspection & progress looking forward. Once we've educated ourselves, learned the signs, and validated our experiences, we must start holding ourselves accountable for our future actions. We cannot become stuck in an infinite loop of self-defeating patterns—making choices that we know are unhealthy, but following through with them anyway. Repeatedly ignoring help from people who have walked this road before. Assuming our position to be different than theirs. The magical exception.

    Here on PF, you are guaranteed a safe place from judgment about your past. And then, with the skills gained through the healing process, you take full responsibility for the person you’re about to become.

    Helpful reading:
    Codependency & Victim Blaming: Why Abuse is Always Wrong
    Victim Blaming, Concern Trolls, and Chicken Little
    The Importance of Progress


    6. Should I contact or warn the next target?

    We've all been there. Through a lucky Google search, you come across your first few articles about psychopathy and everything starts to fall into place. It's uncanny, overwhelming, infuriating, horrifying, and a lot of other awful emotions. For many of us, our first reactions are:

    - Expose the psychopath
    - Warn the next target

    It's so tempting to take some triggering words from an article you just discovered and send it along in an impulsive email, proving that you know exactly what they are. Please don't do this. Here is the assumption: The psychopath will be scared that you know what they are, finally wiping that superior smirk off their face. The next target will read your letter and recognize all of the red flags and dump the psychopath immediately. You'll become best of friends and have coffee together everyday.
    But here is the reality: The psychopath will use your words to prove to the world how obsessed, bitter, and crazy you are. You have to keep in mind that very few people know or care about psychopathy. So instead, they'll see someone who's still in love and can't handle rejection. Your frantic messages will be used to triangulate the target, making them feel even more special & desired, using your “craziness” as a bonding mechanism. Absolutely nothing good will come from doing this. When you were being love-bombed and idealized, would you have been swayed by a message calling your soul mate a psychopath?

    Helpful reading:
    Exposing a Sociopath: Should You Warn a Sociopath's Next Victim
    Telling a Psychopath You Know They're a Psychopath


    7. Did he or she feel anything during the relationship? I've never felt love like that before, how could they have felt nothing?

    Psychopaths do not experience emotions like you or I do. Your love was very real. Theirs may have been convincing, but it was not real. They did not feel any of the vulnerability, trust, or bonding that you did. They observed and mimicked what you expressed, but they did not feel it. This is why it’s so simple for them to drop & replace you at a moment’s notice, while it takes you months or years to recover.

    A lot of people say “well, it’s always easier for the person who dumped their partner to move on, because they had time to think about it first.” This is not at all the case in a psychopathic relationship. Psychopaths will literally text about getting married & having kids with you while they’re sleeping with another person. The reason it’s easy for them to end things is not because they had time to think about it and process their feelings. It’s easy for them to end things because they never had those feelings to begin with. Additionally, psychopathic targets who dumped their abusers will be the first to tell you that it still takes an extremely long time for them to heal from the relationship.

    Throughout the relationship, the psychopath may have felt some emotions. Envy, at watching you fall in love and feel intense bonding that they are physiologically incapable of experiencing (they ignore this by convincing themselves that your love makes you “weak”). Anger, that you’re beginning to see through their carefully crafted mask, which is an insult to their attempts to appear human and normal—an insult to the persona they built to fool you. Boredom, because psychopaths are always bored. And finally glee, at their temporary boredom relief when they dupe a victim and watch them fall from grace. There is no greater victory to them, than to watch a kind & cheerful person self-destruct.

    Helpful reading:
    What Emotions Do Sociopaths Feel?
    Ending Cognitive Dissonance
    Understanding How Sociopaths Think: Why It Is Good To Ask Why


    8. Why does it always seem like they're winning and getting their way? When will karma finally catch up with them?

    Psychopaths are obsessed with winning. They invent games and trick others into participating, without ever explaining the rules. In fact, their targets are never even aware that they're playing a game to begin with. Psychopaths exploit vulnerabilities and dreams in order to fool others, and then gleefully declare victory when their target is left broken & devastated. By manufacturing and controlling every aspect of the game, they assure themselves that they are always “winning”, but in reality, these games are merely a distraction from their life-consuming jealousy and boredom. Without souls of their own, they feel compelled to destroy the souls of other people. This gives them a temporary sense of superiority, oblivious to the fact that truly happy individuals do not need to harm others in order to feel good about themselves. Psychopaths will always get what they want from the game, because they've orchestrated it from beginning to end. But just because a person gets what they want certainly does not make them a winner.

    Imagine waking up every morning with an overwhelming boredom that plagues your every waking thought. Imagine never being able to enjoy any form of consistency or happiness because of that nagging boredom. Imagine looking at your “friends” and “loved ones” and seeing nothing more than objects to use at your disposal—jesters for your daily entertainment. Imagine feeling no connection whatsoever to those people, beyond what they can offer you in this particular moment. Imagine being unable to feel love, vulnerability, trust, and compassion. Imagine the only highs in your life coming from conning people, watching them scurry around for you. Imagine every one of your relationships following an identical pattern, leaving behind a trail of destruction and confusion that you carefully planned. Never, not for one second, feeling or experiencing the beautiful things all around us that make this life worth living.

    It's hard to see when they're waving their “happy” life around for everyone to see, but the very core of a sociopath's existence is justice enough.

    Helpful reading:
    Please Let Go Of This Idea That The Psychopath Has “Won”
    The Post-Breakup Superiority Complex


    9. Why didn't they just break it off sooner? What was the point of dragging it out until the bitter end?

    One of the biggest questions after a psychopathic relationship is: “Why didn't they just break it off sooner?” They spend months lying, cheating, and courting a new target. They criticize you and give you the silent treatment, acting as if the demise of the relationship is all your fault. But they already found someone new. They already decided to replace you. So the question is, why didn't they just dump you? What was the point of dragging it out until the bitter end? This is where psychopathic relationships branch away from anything you've ever encountered. They want to watch you suffer. They want to watch you self-destruct. They want you to believe you're jealous & crazy, even though they're the ones cheating on you. At some points, you may even get the feeling they want you to dump them. But just when you finally reach a breaking point, they'll swoop back in with ambiguous sentiments and glimpses of the idealization phase. You'll convince yourself that there's still a chance, and suddenly they're in control again.

    The point is to keep you dragged along as long as possible, so they can use your increasingly volatile reactions to show their new target how “crazy” you are. In the end, they choose the most indifferent & hurtful way imaginable to abandon you. You'll think it's due to insensitivity, or that they couldn't dump you because they didn't want to hurt your feelings. But the reality is just the opposite. They had plenty of chances to end things, but actively chose to maintain it and watch you suffer. No normal human being could willingly watch someone else beg & plead for them. Only psychopaths are capable of using someone else's devastating pain as a way to flatter someone else. Only psychopaths cheat on a partner and accuse them of being “jealous”. The answer to your question, Why? Because psychopaths are eternally bored. And because watching you scurry around for them temporarily alleviates that boredom.

    Helpful reading:
    It Could Not Have Ended Any Other Way
    4 Reasons for the Cruel Breakup
    Psychopaths & Projection


    10. At some point I need to forgive the psychopath, right? For my own peace of mind, I have to let this go.

    Many of us go through a phase where we think “If I just forgive my abuser, I'll be happy again.” We view it as the final step in the healing process, but it’s important to remember that healing is really a lifelong journey. There’s no linear start & end to it, but if you do choose to make forgiveness a part of your recovery, just keep the following in mind.

    The old saying goes that time heals all wounds, and that’s true to an extent. The problem with recovery progress is that it also encourages you to forget about how bad things really were during the relationship. It’s a healing mechanism for your heart—selective amnesia to protect you from the painful memories. You might find yourself thinking about forgiveness and meeting up with them for lunch, just to find some peace from the whole thing.

    Don’t be mistaken, you will just be dragged right back into the same old mind games. You are only projecting your recovered state of happiness and optimism onto your memory of the relationship. This is actually healthy, because it helps to quell the racing thoughts. But you absolutely should not act on these improving moods. Take note of the progress as a tribute to your own efforts. Understand that you are feeling better because of your time spent away from the psychopath—not because you’re ready to seek closure. Bringing them back into your life will only throw you right back to the earlier stages.

    If you choose to forgive the psychopath, please make it a personal process. Just because you forgive them does not mean they should ever have a place in your life again. And you certainly should not feel the need to tell them that you’ve forgiven them. True forgiveness comes from within, not from another person validating your compassion.

    If you choose not to forgive the psychopath, that’s good too. It does not make you jaded or bitter or a grudge-holder. You can be gentle without forgiveness. Some survivors feel that forgiving their abuser would be an insult to their soul, and I completely understand. This is your decision, and I could never hope to understand the inner-workings of someone else’s heart. Do whatever brings you the most happiness—only you will know how to do that.

    Helpful Reading:
    Forgiving Yourself After Abuse: The Reconciliation of the Heart and Mind
    Closure Without Contact
    The Art of Gentleness
    When a Christian Meets a Sociopath


    Some other quick links to questions that get asked a lot:

    11. Okay, I understand the whole psychopath thing, so how can I start trusting again, knowing these people exist?
    Trust After Emotional Abuse
    Sex After Psychopathic Manipulation

    12. Why is it taking so long to heal from this? Will I ever be happy again?
    Why Does It Take So Long to Get Over a Psychopath?
    Stages of Grief From a Psychopathic Relationship

    13. What if I'm the psychopath?
    No, You’re Not a Psychopath
    Working Through Rage After Abuse

    14. I've heard that psychopaths “Hoover” their targets after the breakup, but I was never contacted again
    A Damaging Myth: Abusers Will Stalk You After the D&D

    I'm working on a new book about this stuff. If you would like to be notified when it's released, you can enter your email address below. This is not a mailing list. Just a one-time notification:

Article Author: Peace