Breakups are never easy. It can be a seriously heartbreaking experience to go through for some people. Typically, one person in the breakup is more hurt than the other, a mutual breakup is rare in comparison. Most people would rather never have to lay eyes on their exes ever again, as a means to get over the loss. However, there are those who like to stay in contact with their exes, no matter how much their heart was broken. Is this a good idea? Or does it make them a little crazy? According to research, staying friends with an ex suggests that person might be a psychopath. But first, what makes a psychopath?
What makes a psychopath?
How would one describe, or diagnose, a psychopath? Well, psychologists will go through a checklist of characteristics and personality traits called the PCL-R. A psychopath will need to tick off a certain amount of those boxes before they are classified.
Through the PCL-R questionnaire, we can see how much of the dark-triad personality type someone exhibits. The dark-triad theory suggests that psychopaths will display three traits: narcissism, psychopathy, and Machiavellianism. According to Health, narcissism is “defined as feeling superior and entitled, but underneath the grandiosity is typically a sense of inadequacy.” Psychopathy is when someone is “lacking empathy and being emotionally cold, while also impulsive and prone to taking big risks.” Then, machiavellianism is when someone is “highly manipulative, willing to deceive others to get what they want, and having a cynical view of the world.“
How does staying friends with an ex make someone a psychopath?
It is worth noting that every single person will exhibit a certain amount of the traits within the questionnaire, but a true psychopath will tick way more. They display an ability, or an eagerness, to exploit others for their own cause, no matter the cost. Additionally, but not limited to, they show no remorse when they hurt someone. Or, if they are caught out on a lie. So, if you know someone staying friends with an ex, be weary, it might very well be a red flag.
According to a study done by researchers at Oakland University, how you relate to your ex could be a sign of psychopathy. The study looked at 861 people and their relationship history. They examined their current relationships, and whether or not they were still friends with their exes. In short, the study showed that people who exhibit a large amount of the dark triad are more likely to be friends with their exes.
However, staying friends with an ex is not exactly a red flag for psychopathy on its own. There are many reasons why people maintain a friendship beyond their relationship, like if you share children, or own a business together. So, it all comes down to the person’s reasons for choosing to stay friends.
Staying friends with an ex for what reason?
Often, relationships have the breadwinner or the person with connections to the world. The Oakland University study asked people what their reasons for staying friends with an ex may be. Those who had high amounts of dark-triad personality traits gave some rather concerning answers. They may have realized that staying friends allows them access to some pleasures in life.
Money is one of the biggest reasons, but there is more to it. Your ex might envy your close friendship circle, and remaining friends with you is a way to stay connected to that group. Or, maybe you are particularly great in bed, and your ex can’t seem to get enough, just for all the wrong reasons. Furthermore, they might want a way into your line of career, so they want to stay friends to get their dream job.
They make it hard to let go
Some people who have never dated a psychopath might not understand how someone stays in these toxic relationships, even just as friends. Psychopaths are master manipulators, but the trick to it, is they are also extremely charming. This makes it hard for some people to let go, no matter how much pain their ex has caused them. The psychopathic ex who doesn’t want to lose their ex will make it so much harder for them to let go. They will bombard them with sweet messages, and convincing gestures. Ultimately, they will stop at nothing to convince their ex to keep them in their life.
In the end, if you are still friends with your ex, it does not necessarily mean they are a psychopath. But, with a little bit of probing, you might find out their reasons. Not all of us are lucky enough to be psychologists, but you can use your discernment on whether or not they are doing this for a good cause, or their own benefit.
Keep Reading: 10 Reasons Why Most Men Can’t Handle A Strong Woman
- “If Your Ex Wants To Stay Friends With You, They’re Probably a Psychopath, Science Says.” Healthy Holistic Living. Abbey Ryan. September 14, 2018
- “If someone is friends with their exes, it could be a warning sign they’re a psychopath — here’s why.” Business Insider. Lindsay Dosgeson. December 20, 2017
- “Understanding the Dark Triad.” Mind Tools.
- “What Is the Dark Triad and Why Are People With These Traits So Dangerous?” Health. Stephanie Booth. December 13, 2022.