I dated a psychopath! – Recognizing unhealthy relationships & How to guard yourself

Learn how to recognize a psychopath, their characteristics and actions. See if you are at risk for being targeted and how to guard yourself against becoming a victim. Learn what happens when you are in a relationship with a psychopath, what it looks and feels like from the inside and outside. Notes from an interview with mental health professional and psychopath victim, Sara Elizabeth Brown. 

Characteristics of Psychopaths

  • they have a lot more energy than other people
  • they speak in monologue, interesting stories about themselves, people feel intrigued by them, they seem very interesting
  • they are addictive
  • smart
  • charming
  • charismatic
  • love predators
  • attack emotions, they start to manufacture emotions in you
  • they are excellent at reading people and will morph into exactly what they perceive you need and want, they will appear to be your perfect soul mate
  • progressing the relationship very quickly
  • jealous
  • extroverted
  • dominant
  • strong
  • status oriented
  • manipulative
  • doctors/lawyers


Are you at risk for being targeted by a psychopath? Characteristics of victims/targets.

  • they target people who could easily morph into what the psychopath wants them to be, people who are not strongly attached to their own identity, people who are unguarded
  • open, generous people
  • have a high moral standard, would not do to others what was done to them
  • someone who would not retaliate
  • nice, sweet
  • tend to take responsibility or take blame for things that happen even if its not their fault
  • highly empathic
  • disorganized
  • extroverted, strong
  • adventure seeking
  • did not necessarily come from an abused background, they’re are not re-enacting trauma
 Women Who Love Psychopaths by Sandra Brown

I felt like he was the one person who believed in me” -Sara Elizabeth Brown


On describing/depicting relationships with psychopaths

  • His Girl Friday (1940) really depicts what a relationship with a psychopath is really like
  • its not co-dependence and its not sex addiction
  • it actually looks like 2 strong people together, it doesn’t look like someone is a doormat
  • you will experience longing and obsession
  • you will feel repulsed and excited the entire time
  • the psychopath will positively reinforce your submission


Actions of Psychopaths in a relationship

  • The beginning (Idealization Stage)
    • love bombing
    • constant communication
    • they want to be with you all the time
    • constant and abundant affection, love, and sex
    • usually you feel like you’ve met the love of your life
    • mirroring (everything you are into they appear to be into as well)
    • everything about you is right, you feel like its too good to be true
    • you feel addicted to them, if you feel high around them, or feel like you’re on drugs around them
    • gets very sexual very fast
    • the will test and push your boundaries to see how far you will allow it, they are testing you to see if you’ll play
  • Middle (Devalue Stage)
    • their mask starts to fade
    • the psychopath will start making devaluing comments, that you will laugh off at first
    • after a while they disappear, silent treatment (the beginning of the devalue)
    • on the psychological abuse you endure whine a relationship with a psychopath
      “You don’t realize it’s happening, you don’t take it seriously”
    • you start to blame yourself for everything, you take responsibility for everything
    • negative conditioning, “they hook you into always wanting to please them, you get addicted to pleasing them”
    • they make you feel like you’re the crazy one
    • they want you to merge with them and lose your identity “That is the risk we are talking about, is you losing yourself. Its a serious risk, its a very serious risk.”
    • verbal abuse
      • ignoring you
      • gas lighting- “I think you’re imagining things, you’re blowing it up, you’re exaggerating”, it causes the victim to feel crazy, “you start to doubt your reality…which makes you more dependent on their reality”
      • triangulation- psychopath will compare you to the other women in your life
      • over talking- psychopath will wear you down by exhausting your attention, until you give up
      • they do something to provoke a reaction and then when you react they act like you’re crazy and tell you you’re being jealous, crazy, possessive
    • silent treatment
    • psychological torture
  • Final (Discard Stage)
    • the relationship ends

The stages of the psychopath relationship: Idealization, Devalue, Discard


How to guard yourself against psychopaths

  • don’t change your routine for them, anyone who tries to push you off your routine
  • your routine is your guard
  • don’t change your values
  • don’t give up on relationships with others (family and friends)
  • if someone makes funny degrading comments
  • if someone starts to make you feel crazy, they’re out
  • if someone starts giving you the silent treatment or disappears for periods of time
  • if its a maybe, its a no
  • if someone is oversharing too much
  • they’ll try to isolate you from friends and family “they’re not good enough for you, you’re so much better than them”
  • they’ll try to isolate you from everything that’s important to you
  • have a more fixed or guarded personality
  • know who you are
  • have hard rules for yourself, things you are unchanging on, “You don’t mess with my money and you don’t mess with my creative work.”
They can’t keep the mask up very long”- Sara Elizabeth Brown
Most people think of serial killers when you mention the word psychopath. It is true that most serial killers are psychopaths, but most psychopaths are not serial killers. Many are highly successful in life and business with no criminal record.

Personal biases on submissiveness & Why you should complain more

Don’t oblige anyone. Out of respect or subservience. 

Question everything. Why am I doing this? Is this good for me?

I’d like to start by talking a little about myself, about my own biases, and how I view this topic. The importance of recognizing bias especially as an author, to me, is under considered. I know my own history, but you don’t. I would like to share my history with you over the course of this blog so each article can be more objective or at least more understood.

I am a dominant woman. I’ve always been this way, I think. It is not necessarily related to confidence, it is more so how I think and act. I speak my mind with ease. I let people know how I feel, what I want, and when I want it. If something is making me unhappy you will know. I do complain, but I don’t see it as a bad thing. I don’t expect everyone or everything to cater to me. But I do think it is better that they are known rather than not. When my needs are vocalized I am leaving it up to other people to decide if they are willing and happy to cater to them. If I keep it to myself, I have taken power away from the ones I care about. I am devaluing my own needs by not expressing them.

If my needs are not expressed they are non-existent in the eyes of others. I am not giving those who care about me the benefit of knowing my needs. Some may see this as complaining. The act of complaining is often viewed as negative. It is discouraged. A person who complains is looked down upon, viewed as weak, as not being capable of dealing with hardship or pain. Why?

I think the reason lies in our inability to empathize with the person complaining. We cannot understand their pain. We cannot see why it is affecting them so much. We cannot understand why they would need to vocalize it, especially if it is not a pain we ourselves would disclose. If their pain tolerance is different than yours they will be judged. Even though I can’t see their reasons this does not mean the reasons are not there.

If I were someone else, if I grew up in their childhood home, with their family telling me stories, bringing me to church, being part of their community I would be them. If I went to their school, was bullied by their bullies, experienced their loss and hardship I would be them. Why would you set a standard for someone else based on your own life experiences? Just think a minute about this.

No one view of the world is objective. No one’s view of the world is objective.
Have you ever questioned someone else’s voting decisions? How they raise their kid? The kinds of jobs they will take to get by? Why they would pierce, slice, or color their body? I have. You have. I project my own completely arbitrary and randomly selected values onto them and feel they should understand and comply.
There is no universal standard of ethics, values, beliefs, or morals. So don’t pretend like yours is the shit. It’s not. It’s just yours.

Your standard is not mine. So stop judging me by yours.

Triggers of submissiveness: people, places, and situations

Things that make you passive, submissive, overly accommodating, or quiet.

Read through the list below, check mark anything you recognize in your own life.

I don’t stand up for myself when…

  • I am tired
  • I have low self worth or value
  • I have low self confidence
  • I am embarrassed
  • I feel uncomfortable
  • It is a taboo subject
  • I am at work
  • I’m with my kids
  • I am with authority figures
  • I am with a dominant person
  • I don’t value my own needs or wants
  • It’s not important enough to speak up
  • I don’t want drama
  • I feel it will not make a difference
  • I am being bullied
  • I am being socially pressured
  • I don’t want to complain
  • I don’t want to be annoying
  • I don’t want to be noticed
  • I don’t want to cause an argument
  • I am being passive aggressive
  • I think others should know how I feel
  • I think my partner should intuitively know my needs
  • I am in a group with more people than I feel comfortable expressing myself in front of
  • I am depressed
  • I am not feeling well mentally or physically

These are your triggers. Know them.

Do you feel less comfortable expressing your needs and wants to a particular person?

Write a list of people you have at times been unable to say “no” to. Include as few or as many names as you can recall.

Here’s what my list looks like:

  • My Grandmother
  • My Mom
  • That one, scary, dominant, ex-sheriff uncle
  • My teachers
  • Other figures of authority in my life

Who in your life do you most like to accommodate? Write down the names and your relationship to them. This can include people you make sacrifices for, people you like to see happy, those you live with and care for. It can also include people you know professionally or friends. For me, it’s a short list which includes: myself (this is always #1), and my current romantic partner.

How to clearly communicate your needs and wants (breaking the submissive mold)

No one can read your mind.

From passive to active, changing the way we speak to clearly communicate our needs and wants.

How to get what you want:

1. Speak clearly and directly, always.

“You should have known how that would make me feel.”

“You hurt me. I did not want you to go out and I should have expressed that directly to you. I should not have just said ‘do what you want, I don’t care’ because that was not true.”

2. Never make your audience deduce meaning or solve for x (feelings, wants, needs).

“Do you want to get lunch?”

“I’m hungry and ready for lunch. Are you ready for lunch and would you like to get lunch with me in 10 minutes? I want indian food.”

3. Be overly specific in your expression of needs and wants.

“I want an orange.”

“I want to go to the farmer’s market this Saturday morning with you and buy some organic, naval oranges.”

4. Don’t wait. Do it right now.

You should express yourself when…

  • the feeling is strongest
  • the need or want comes first comes to you
  • when you can clearly state what you mean

5. Your feelings are important and worthy of being expressed.

If there is anyone in your life that does not agree with this statement eliminate them. Not in the strictest sense though. They do not respect you and decrease your self respect, confidence, and independence.

6. Your needs and wants have great value.

You deserve to have your needs met and your wants considered. There is a difference between a need and a want. Make sure you know clearly if what you are asking for is a need or a want.

7. The needs and wants of others have great value.

Others deserve to have their needs met and their wants considered just as much as you do. Listen to others. Let them finish their thoughts without interruption of flow. Breakdown what they are saying and try to understand what they are expressing. Is it a feeling, need, or want? What are they asking from you? Mutual respect is the only way to get your needs met and your wants considered.

Still unsure how to clearly communicate what you want to? Sit down with someone you want to communicate better with. A partner, friend, or close family member. It should be someone you feel comfortable around to start. Each of you should answer the following questions. Answer each question one by one and discuss your answers to each after you have both answered.

Expressing how you feel:

  • How are you feeling today? ex. content, bothered, annoyed, happy, peaceful, loved, neglected, embarrassed, isolated, rejected, etc
  • How did you feel when you woke up?
  • What events throughout the day affected how you felt? What were the changes you perceived?
    Expressing what you need:
  • What is the most important need you have right now that is not being met?
  • Is this need dependent on other people?
  • Why do you think it is not being met?
  • Have you previously expressed this need?
  • How long has this need not been met, and how is this affecting your daily mood
  • What actionable steps can we take together to meet this need today? Break it down into 5 mini steps.
  • List 3 needs you have daily, is each being met? Why or why not?
    Expressing what you want:
  • Name 3 things you want at this point in your life. One should be immediately achievable in the next 2 days. One should be achievable within 1 week. And the other should be achievable in 1 month.
  • For each of the 3 wants listed above rate each on a scale of 1-10 how much you feel you deserve each. (1 being not at all, 10 being you really feel you deserve to have this)
  • Why do you think you rated your wants in this way?
  • Repeat this exercise at least once per month.

* If you regularly rate your wants at a 4 or below you may be undervaluing yourself and may be struggling with expressing yourself because you feel your needs and wants are unworthy.



Whatever your past looks like. Whoever you are right now whether naturally submissive or dominant I hope you will feel empowered to take control of your circumstances. You are in control. Even though you may not feel that power you have it. It just needs to be recognized and seized. Submissiveness is circumstantial and situational.It is not a defect. A personality. Or a state of being.It is not permanent. It is not a diagnosis. It is not who you are or who you must be.
Every day is an opportunity to practice.
Every situation is an opportunity for change.
Every circumstance you encounter gives you an experience for your book.
Each person you interact with can influence how submissive you act based on social roles or your mutual history.

Recognizing unhealthy submissive behavior

Do you submit to the will of others without realizing it?

Do you struggle to ask for what you want?

What does submissiveness really look like?

I don’t explicitly say how I feel. I want tacos. He wants subs. We eat subs. I say I’m fine, but I really want someone to ask me what’s wrong. I’m not interested in someone who is interested in me. But, to avoid awkwardness, I haven’t told them directly. I expect them to read the signs, which to me seem clear. My friend wants to date my ex. This makes me uncomfortable. I feel like I can’t say “no.”

What you want is just as valid as what someone else wants.

I struggle to say “no”, especially around certain people including my family, friends, and authority figures. I make decisions based on what is expected of me, because I feel pressured to do so.

Sometimes these decisions go against what I want for myself…

  • My parents want me to study law or medicine. I want to be an artist.
  • I feel pressured into starting a family even if I am not ready.
  • I got engaged after 2 years and married after 3, but ceremony was never important to me.
  • I dated boys, even though I was secretly crushing on Sara.
  • I performed sex acts I did not want because I felt pressured to please my partner.
  • I took ballet, instead of karate.
  • I went to graduate school instead of pursuing my own business.
  • I work in corporate America and I hate it.
  • I stayed near my hometown instead of moving away.
  • I married a good man with a stable income. But I am not in love.
  • I did drugs at a party because it was cool.
  • I was being polite and didn’t want to say “no”.
  • I have lived someone else’s life.


Submissiveness in the bedroom. Can you relate to these experiences?

  • My partner is not interested in learning how to satisfy me.
  • My partner thinks they satisfy me, but I never have an orgasm.
  • I’m afraid to tell my partner that I am unsatisfied. I don’t want to hurt them.
  • We don’t talk openly about what we like sexually.
  • My partner is always on top or directing me what to do.
  • I want to try new kinds of play (BDSM, Kink, Toys) but I’m afraid to bring it up. Will I be judged?
  • I don’t feel comfortable directing my partner in how to give me pleasure.
  • I want to have multiple orgasms but my partner always stops after one.
  • My male partner finishes first.