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Do you have traits that make you vulnerable to psychopathic manipulation?

There are certain traits we may have that make us more likely to be victimized by psychopaths. This in no way suggests a victim is to blame — the predator is clearly the one to blame. Everyone has vulnerabilities, but that’s only a problem because there are those who will exploit them.

These traits apply to both men and women. As you read them, you may find you have several. It’s important to know what yours are, so you can be alert for someone who is zeroing in on them.

To learn more about vulnerabilities, please read “Why You?”

Traits of the psychopath’s victim:

  • A general demeanor of vulnerability, which the psychopath can easily detect. Vulnerability can come from many things:

Not having gotten love, support or validation from your family of origin

Isolation from friends and family

Loss of a job

Being new in town

Longing for a relationship

A strong need for attention, approval or support

A previous victimization that is unresolved


Long-term stress

Loss of a loved one through death, divorce or a breakup

Weak or unclear personal boundaries

  • Boredom. When you’re bored, you have the desire for excitement. A brand new relationship can relieve boredom quickly — especially one with a psychopath.
  • Loneliness. If you’re lonely, your unmet social and emotional needs create an opening for a psychopath to enter your life. You’re probably also bored, which elevates risk. You may have gotten used to feeling like this, so it just seems like life as usual. But a psychopath — who is very adept at reading people — will recognize it for what it is, and take advantage of it.

Even traits we normally think of as positive can be used against us by a psychopath:

  • Are you extroverted? This can increase your risk, because extroverted people are easily bored and generally curious, and are usually looking for excitement.
  • Do you “go with the flow?” This trait could make you more willing to accept the chaos a psychopath creates in your life.
  • Are you competitive? Then you’re better able to deal with a psychopath’s dominant personality. You’re also more likely to stubbornly hold on when it seems the psychopath is doing all he can to get you to end the relationship.
  • Are you sentimental? Then you may be more likely to focus on the good memories of a relationship instead of the bad ones.
  • Are you sensitive to other people’s feelings? You probably care a lot about what others think of you, and tend to put their feelings ahead of your own.
  • Are you relaxed and carefree? Then you may not see danger in a person or situation as readily as a cautious person might.
  • Other traits that will put you at risk are being overly trusting, very loyal, and committed to helping others reach their potential.

Notice that most of us are described on this page. Most people are at risk, whether they think so or not.

Awareness of the vulnerabilities and traits that put you at risk is an important part of preventing involvement with a psychopath.

To learn more about these and other traits, read the book by Sandra Brown, M.A., “Women Who Love Psychopaths.”

“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.”

Dr. Robert Hare, How to Spot Social Predators Before They Attack



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