10 Signs You’re Dating a Sociopath

And the author should know – she is one.

Researchers estimate that as many as 1 in 25 people are sociopaths, which means that if you’re putting yourself out there, you’ve probably dated one or two of us. Yes, I’m a sociopath and I’m the first to admit that dating me can be an interesting experience.

It’s often difficult to interact and compromise with people, especially if they have vastly different personalities, different backgrounds, and different values. Now, imagine dating someone whose brain is wired to see people as chess pieces and life as a game. You think you’d notice, but you probably wouldn’t. Unless you’re a trained psychologist, you’re not likely to recognize the signs: low empathy, no guilt, shallow emotions, failure to conform to social norms, manipulative, impulsive, narcissistic, without a conscience. What you’re likely to do is shrug and say, “She’s my kind of crazy.”

After all, sociopaths can seem exciting, come off as deliciously deviant, and make great co-conspirators (example: that girl with the dragon tattoo). Plus, master manipulators are good at hiding their tracks. You’re much more likely to identify one of us by looking for the following extremely specific behaviors. Bare in mind that you might end up happy being with a sociopath, but you won’t be happy if you don’t know.

1. She Will Be Eager to Data Mine You

If sociopaths are narcissistic, they must love to talk about themselves, right? Wrong. A female sociopath is more likely to keep directing the conversation back to a new acquaintance as much as possible. Unlike narcissists, who artlessly demand others’ approval, sociopaths have a will to power. Consequently, your sociopathic date would rather data mine you than discuss her day.

2. She Will Be Everything You Want Her To Be

For millennia, women have been using their powers of seduction to align themselves with strong, wealthy men. Old habits die-hard. If a sociopath targets you, she will attempt to ensnare you emotionally by conjuring the impression that she is your ideal mate. Like Goldie Hawn in the movie Housesitter, she will reveal personal information strategically, often to create a false sense of intimacy or trust: “You were a nerd in high school? Oh my God! I was such a nerd too!” Revelations of actual personal truths are very rare and probably won’t line up with her other stories. If her most emotional reactions feel like a slip of the mask, you may have reason for concern.

3. She Will Be Charming Until She Isn’t

Sociopaths are chameleons. If keeping a low profile is not working for her, she can easily flip the switch and become the life of the party. In her role as performer, she’ll easily win over large crowds with her confidence. Ultimately, she’ll vacillate between extremely charismatic and not. As one sociopath observer remarked: “You know how to dance and sing in just the right way in just the right key to make others mesmerized by you.” Once in a while, she may take it just a bit too far, however, perhaps flirting with your boss while his wife stares daggers at her or making hilarious but highly inappropriate jokes about deformed babies. If she’s becoming a hot mess, she might just be angling to be rescued.

4. She Will Always Want Something

Most people manipulate here and there; sociopaths do it constantly. Everything they do is calculated to achieve a particular effect with their audience, whether that effect is to make you feel loved, make you feel grateful and consequently indebted, or make you feel like you’re in the wrong and should grovel. Although the sociopath may have a few rehearsed lines as her classic go-to’s, most of her performance is improv. Consequently, you can sometimes pick up on “tells” that the sociopath is overthinking what should be a natural reaction. For example, sociopaths frequently hesitate before responding in a conversation. It will be unclear to you whether that means she is bored, annoyed, lying, or all three.

5. She Will Remain Calm

Sociopaths have a super-human power to stay serene in even the most upsetting circumstances. The world could be collapsing around your sociopathic girlfriend and she would calmly considering how best to profit. She will also never be embarrassed. A woman once walked in on me removing my tampon in a public toilet. She was mortified and I was in hysterics. Another time, after an intense cross-examination of a witness (I was previously a lawyer because of course I was), the judge remarked that he had wanted to come back to check my pulse because I seemed so unnaturally calm. Sociopaths are in constant need of stimulation, so they enjoy risky and novel situations. Shallow emotions blunt any impact of nerves. 

6. She Will Give Zero Shits

Ever brought a girlfriend home only to have her get into a fight with your mom about how the government handled Benghazi? This will not happen with your sociopath girlfriend. She does not have strong opinions about politics. It doesn’t bother her in the slightest that the components of her phone were made by sweatshop child laborers. She is definitely not a vegetarian. She understands that certain things are considered right and other things are considered wrong. She may even have her own idea of what is good and bad behavior in herself and others. But she doesn’t do moral outrage, which can actually be kind of nice.

7. She Will Be Great in Bed

Lack of strong emotions plays out in the bedroom in a way that most find pleasantly surprising. Sociopaths have zero shame in the bedroom, no insecurities about their bodies, and no performance anxiety. Sex isn’t intimacy to your sociopath girlfriend. She doesn’t “make love”; She fucks. The goal is to draw you in deep enough that you’d rather feel pain from her than pleasure from anyone else.

8. She Will Be Emotionally Unavailable

If you have ever needed a sympathetic shoulder to cry on or have been that shoulder for someone else to cry on, you are probably not a sociopath. On the other hand, your sociopath girlfriend thinks you look ugly when you cry. If you’re crying because she’s hurt you, she will not apologize. She will get angry. She may even punch you in the face to give you something to cry about. Maybe you’ve noticed that she has a cold indifference to one or more family members? Seems awkwardly inappropriate at funerals? Somewhat resembles an android, like Data from Star Trek or that one guy from Alien? Be careful what you say in anger, because she has an unsettling tendency to take sarcasm or figures of speech literally. You probably don’t really wish that the guy who cut you off were dead, so you should clarify that for her. Otherwise she might make it happen.

9. She Will Be Hard to Describe

Is your girlfriend vaguely ethnic? Does she have an accent that’s hard to put a finger on? Do people spend a lot of time asking her where she’s from? As much sociopaths strive for conformity  there is something undeniably alluring about being “different” that many of us find hard to resist. If your girlfriend is the most singular person you’ve ever met, she might be a rare flower. She also might not.

10. She Will Be Unclear About Her Past

She’s wicked clever and not just a little bit wicked herself, and she seems to have had a thousand past lives and adventures that make you wonder whether she might not be lying about her age. With equal ease she moves seamlessly between taking charge and appearing to defer to your lead, all while anticipating your needs in a way that seems unrealistic outside a Mad Men episode. She’s not a “good girl,” that much is clear to you, but you just can’t seem to put your finger on why she seems so bad. If this reminds you of your girl, you might want to consider how many other bells this list set off.

Photos by Everett Collection