How Can You Distinguish Real Love From Victimization by a Psychopath?

the wolf's proposal

I’ve been asked the same question several times by people who read “Red Flags of a Psychopath” on this website:

“This sounds like a description of a couple falling deeply in love. How is it different? How can I tell if it’s happening to me?”

First of all, I think most people would never be able to tell and would fall for it, just like we did. The readers asking the question say it best — it looks just like a couple falling in love.

But having gone through it, there is a chance of recognizing it and not having it happen again. So here is some good information for those of us who have been through it already and don’t want to repeat it (and also for those who haven’t, for whatever it’s worth).

I stumbled upon an excellent blog post a few days ago that addresses this issue. Here’s an excerpt, followed by the link:

“Robert Hare and Paul Babiak describe in Snakes in Suits how during the “assessment phase” of the relationship a psychopath will convey to his target four main messages: 1) I like you; 2) I share your interests; 3) I’m like you, and 4) I’m the perfect partner or soul mate for you.

This process constitutes the mirroring phase of the psychopathic bond. Granted, most romantic relationships entail some aspects of mirroring. After all, that’s how couples discover their points in common. But with a psychopath the reflection tends to be instant and total. It’s a simulated bonding that’s way too fast, too soon and too good to be true. This happens before any real emotional connection can take place. It occurs before the partners have gotten to know each other well, over time and in different circumstances. Instant bonding is usually a symptom of shallowness of emotions rather than of miraculous compatibility. It means that the psychopath will detach from you and latch on to another target as easily as he initially attached to you. Yet through their conversational glibness and innate charm, as well as through their extraordinary capacity to identify and reflect your deepest desires, psychopaths can initially make you feel like they’re your dream come true. They present themselves as the only partners who could possibly fulfill whatever’s been missing from your life.”

~ Claudia Moscovici, author of the blog 

 Read the rest here:


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“Such a great gem. One of my favorite books about this subject as the author paints such a clear picture of what these relationships are like.”

“Practical, concise, well-written and researched. Everyone should have a copy of this book. In fact, they should give one to every high school student. That would prevent a lot of people from getting involved in ‘?relationships’? with these hidden, manipulative predators. An easy five stars, I wish I could give it a hundred!”

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10 thoughts on “How Can You Distinguish Real Love From Victimization by a Psychopath?”

  1. Anna

    Wow, this totally describes the beginning of 10 years of complete and total hell I went through with a psychopath. I lost everything financially and personally in that time. I could not believe how far I traveled past all of my outer limits of what I would accept in a relationship during those years. Once I was trapped in a border town with three small children, the mask had long gone off and he knew I wasn’t (couldn’t) go anyplace. Children grow and time passes… I did finally get away. The damage was endless. He had changed who I was. I no longer trusted myself. Birds had more brains in the selection of mates than I had. But, they aren’t dealing with masters of the con. There is so much that I know now, that I wish I had known back then. And the people I went to for help seemed to also know nothing, for they got conned too.

    1. Admin

      I’m happy to hear you got away.

      We wish we knew then what we know now, but how could we? We never knew about the “masters of the con,” as you put it so well. No one can truly understand until it happens to them.

      I hope you trust yourself again. Best wishes.

  2. naturegirl

    I was in a 6yr relationship with a psychopath. You’ll laugh when I tell you I’m wanting proof he is one. Facts, evidence that didn’t come from my mouth. From my faulty damaged pathetic crying victim talk-too-much self.

    1. Admin

      Proof or a diagnosis isn’t important or necessary — you are, naturegirl. Please get someone to help you through this moment when everything looks hopeless. It’s not, and you will realize that soon. Call a good friend, a suicide hotline if needed, and line up a professional counseling session right away. Your local domestic violence organization can be a source of help — call them. I’ll be waiting to hear from you to find out how you’re doing.

  3. naturegirl

    I was vulnerable but had good inner core self-worth. Gone. Worse, seem to be proving him right. Hit the wall and broke down after he threw me away like trash. Independent & successful. in many areas but alone, middle-aged going thru hard times no disguising that when we met at work. Loneliness took me down so perfectly. Fear and memories, the experience of that unbearable pain o

    1. Admin

      Your inner core of self-worth is not gone — it only feels that way right now. And you aren’t “proving him right” — you’re proving just how damaging his words and actions were. You may not see that at this moment, but think about it. There’s a saying I really like: “Words are more real than reality.” They’re not, of course, but words are so powerful that they can change our perceptions, especially when spoken by master manipulators.

      There is nothing wrong or unusual about being lonely or going through hard times; it happens to everyone. What IS wrong is that someone took advantage of it.

      There are many people who have also gone through severe adversity and who have ended up turning it into something that actually improved their lives. You can also do it. Don’t let the unbearable pain crush your spirit. Instead, realize that it will lessen as you learn about your experience and about yourself, and as you make the decision that you’re going to be OK, even if right now you have no idea how that will happen.

      If you look carefully at that wall in front of you, you’ll see there is a door. You may not be ready to walk through it right now, but you will be.

      Best wishes.

  4. naturegirl

    First, thank you’d for helping us. Your words touch me and I can feel your integrity. Can’t believe you answer…I diligently pursued therapy, DV shelter, rery vbook in. :(

    1. Admin

      Ah, there you are. I’m happy to see you’re OK. It’s very good that you are pursuing those those things; keep trying. Don’t give up. When one thing doesn’t work, try another. You will come across things that give you what you need. This is about saving your own life, quite possibly the most important thing you’ve ever done. You’re worth it.
      Don’t continue to be overwhelmed by thoughts of all there is to do. Stay in the moment, and take one day at a time. Some things can’t be rushed, and giving yourself permission to focus on the basic and simple things in life — taking care of yourself, eating healthy, things like that — can bring a lot of relief.
      Have you read my very first blog post? That’s where I started.
      Good luck to you.

  5. mumbo

    Lovebombing is the mimicking of what happens when people fall in love. The difference is the Malignant Narcissist or psychopath will impinge upon your boundaries and you will feel uneasy. Listen to that, it’s more important that a short-lived illusion of love. Another way to tell is if they start putting you down, criticizing you or bringing up things they know are your baggage. Any signs of disrespect, even mixed in with the loving behavior, are reasons to step back or cut it off clean before they poison your life.

    1. Admin

      Good advice…provided a person goes into a new relationship with actual, defined boundaries. Thank you so much for your comment.

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