Common reactions to causing pain within their relationships
(Updated 2020) © 2013 Rhonda Freeman, PhD | All Rights Reserved
There are many differences between a psychopathic love relationship and a ‘normal’ intimate relationship. We’re going to look at one of those differences – their reaction to the pain they cause their partners. We often hear that a major red flag that finally stops a non-psychopathic partner in her tracks to help her realize that something is very wrong, was his reaction to her pain.
As humans we come to expect certain reactions when we have been wronged. Particularly from someone we have shared our love, bodies, and deepest secrets with. We expect this person to care and to immediately try to right any wrong or transgression they have caused. However, for those involved with a psychopath, they are often struck by this absence of concern. It is an odd and often painful experience for the non-psychopathic partner.
When a non-psychopathic partner shares that she is in tremendous pain due to certain hurtful or disrespectful behaviors, there are a range of psychopathic responses. A few examples include
• Fascination with her pain.
• Enraged that she would attempt to hold him accountable.
• Pleased by the observed pain (e.g., derives pleasure by hurting another)
• Stimulated by the act of arguing and/or the chaos created.
• Detached and emotional flatness. Disinterested
• Punitive retaliation
The response will not include regret or accountability. Gentle nurturance, remorse, and a period of contrition are states that tend not to be present from those with psychopathy. Although those responses are appropriate after we hurt someone by our actions (intentionally or unintentionally), those actions and emotions are usually absent within a psychopathic love relationship.
There are some with psychopathy that find the display of hurt feelings by their intimate partner as fascinating. They might approach it like a toddler viewing a fish in a bowl – amazed. Although he will be fully aware of his transgressions and that his actions were wrong, some will ask questions of their partner while she is within this highly distressed emotional state.
“Why are you crying?”
“What are you upset about?”
“Are you acting like that because you love me so much?”
They might use her genuine emotional expression of pain as a learning tool. A tool to gather more information about those emotions for future use.
Some with psychopathy might utilize the encounter as an opportunity to feed their ego and derive pleasure from her pain. To him it is yet another reminder of his superiority. Her distress is confirmation that she is ‘all in’ and bonded to him, while he knows the truth of his secrets and the games played in the background. He knows he is not bonded to her – just stimulated by the experience of her and nothing deeper.
There are others with psychopathy who will become angered by her distress. Although her emotional state is genuine, he might categorize her display of emotions as a manipulation tactic for his attention.
“Sure, try to make me feel bad! Poor you! You just have to get attention. Well those tears aren’t going to work!“
In normal relationships partners care if they caused pain and will do all that they can to prevent causing any harm to the person they love. This is rarely so within psychopathic relationships.
Take care of yourself.
Rhonda Freeman, PhD