I Can’t Get Enough of You | You’re not Good Enough for me
Psychopathic love cycle
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The psychopathic love cycle can be a painful and confusing experience for their intimate partner. Unfortunately, psychopathy hampers an individual’s ability to bond and genuinely care about others.
Most of us trust our new mate when he or she tells us how special we are to them and that they feel a deep connection and chemistry us.
We often believe this because we might be feeling those emotions too.
But what we know about many individuals with Cluster B Personality Disorders is that this stage of bliss is temporary. Soon to be replaced by a consistent pattern of darker traits. Soft sweet words and support often become criticism, taunting, and disdain.
Such an unexpected change in behavior can easily fuel insecurity and cause anyone to ponder, what did I do wrong? What’s wrong with me to cause her (him) to dislike me so.
Given the symptoms of psychopathy, those who possess strong traits of this condition tend to lose interest in their mates. They often excel in the area of the chase and romance, however severely lack the ability to bond, empathize and connect.
But isn’t it the bond, connection and empathy that’s key to a stable and secure relationship?
Can we love someone if we have no bond to them? If we don’t care what happens to them? And if it gives us pleasure to dominate them and behave in a manner that ensures they feel inferior, uncared for, and insecure?
This pattern of behavior is not only unfortunate to the mate of an individual with the disorder but for the person with psychopathy as well.
Rather than experiencing a deep connection, their intimate relationships are often chaotic and emotionally unfulfilling for all involved.
Therefore, they often meet the love of their lives; the woman of their dreams; the one they cannot live without, time and time again. A dysfunctional cycle of ‘romantic love’ tends to repeat itself with different partners.
As the romance disintegrates, it is not uncommon for the individual with the psychopathic traits to create excuses that places the fault with someone or something else outside of themselves:
“You’re trying to control me! I didn’t want to put up with that!”
“You keep holding onto the past … I said it was a mistake!”
“You’ve got issues!”
“How do you expect me to be attracted to you after you gained all that weight!”
The morphing of the relationship is a tough position to be in. This often leaves the unsuspecting mate feeling blindsided and betrayed by the drastic shift in emotions from their once attentive partner.
What might be the cause? | Psychopathic Love Cycle
In the beginning, the intoxication felt with ‘someone new’ is intense for those with psychopathy. You’re probably not surprised to hear that there is likely a bit of neuroscience behind this behavior.
Some researchers have found that individuals with primary psychopathy are highly sensitive to rewards. Particularly, the period leading up to a reward – the Chase. But once they have the reward they’re done. Many lose interest and prefer to move on to a new reward.
In a study of individuals with psychopathy, Buckholz, and colleagues (2010) found there to be a hyper-reaction within an area of the brain associated with reward.
They suspect this particular pattern of responsiveness within the brains of individuals with psychopathy could be a major factor in their impulsive and antisocial behaviors.
Could the functioning of their reward system be a variable in their relationships?
Could this be a part of the explanation of why there tends to be pleasantness at the beginning of their relationships that often fades and is replaced by a darker pattern of traits and behaviors?
I cannot know for certain without a study that looks into these specific variables (i.e., brain response in their excited love stage vs. brain response during their devaluation stage).
However, I suspect the reward system and its responsiveness is a contributing variable to their behavior in intimate relationships.
Although individuals with psychopathy feel the dopamine rush that we all experience when we are newly ‘in love’ (e.g., butterflies, heightened attention, rush of energy) – there is a difference from those without psychopathy.
Often individuals with psychopathy experience an attraction to their new target that is extremely strong, all-consuming, blind …. but fleeting.
Then all of a sudden, everything changes. It’s over.
The ‘love of their life’, ‘woman of their dreams’, and the ‘one they could not do without’ becomes their enemy. A person they harbor feelings of contempt.
This disinterested, disdainful and blame shifting stage seems to happen whether or not the non-psychopathic partner demonstrated any negative behaviors.
The cycle seems to be inevitable.
Illustration of a Common Psychopathic Love Cycle
• Stage one ~ “There’s no one better than you.”
• Stage two ~ “You’re not good enough for me.”
• Stage three ~ “I hate you. You disgust me. I might even feel compelled to destroy you.”
• Stage four ~ “There’s a chance I’ll come back periodically (without contrition) and do what I like.”
In this process commonly described as idealize, devalue, and discard, the individual with the personality limitations is inclined to blame their partner for the demise of the relationship.
Perhaps their tendency to blame their disinterest/ hate on their partner is due to poor insight into their behavior. It could also be due to an inability to hold themselves accountable when they hurt someone. Most likely their blame shifting is, at least, a combination of those factors.
But what is clear and fairly consistent is that they lose interest in their partners and the kind treatment she or he may have demonstrated in the beginning vanishes.
It can be a difficult road for the non-psychopathic mate who is not familiar with this type of romantic love cycle.
[The above discussion reflects a common, not only, relationship approach of those with psychopathy. It is important to point out that the above pattern may also be demonstrated amongst others with a Cluster B Personality Disorder.]
© 2013 | Neuroinstincts
Buckholz, J., Treadway, M., Cowan, R., Woodward, N., Benning, S., Li, R., Ansari, M., Baldwin, R., Schwartzman, A., Shelby, E., Smith, C., Cole, D., Kessler, R., and Zald, D. (2010). Mesolimbic Dopamine Reward System Hypersensitivity in Individuals with Psychopathic Traits. Nature Neuroscience. April; 13 (4): 419 – 421.
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