If you’re dating someone who seems like a psychopath, you may be looking for a way out of the relationship. Perhaps you’ve realized the relationship is toxic and has no chance of improving, but breaking up with a psychopath can create serious drama.
A psychopath might act out and not let you leave. They may even resort to emotional manipulation to ensure that you stay.
It may be distressing breaking up with a psychopath, but you can make the process as painless as possible with the tips here.
What is a psychopath?
Before jumping into tips for leaving a psychopath, it’s helpful to learn just what a psychopath is so you understand this personality type and what makes them tick.
A person with antisocial personality disorder tends to disregard laws, and they may engage in behavior that results in arrests. This disorder is also associated with aggressive behavior, lying to others for personal gain, and being unable to feel remorse for hurting other people.
Given the characteristics of antisocial personality disorder, it is no surprise that a relationship with a psychopath can be pretty taxing.
How do psychopaths get people to do what they want?
If you’re in a psychopath relationship, you’ve probably noticed that your partner seems to have a way of always getting what they want from you. This is because psychopath relationship behavior includes lying and using deceit for personal gain.
Your psychopathic partner may manipulate you or others to get their way. For example, they may make up sob stories to get you to feel sorry for them and help them out, or they may be overly charming to get you to want to do nice things for them.
The problem with psychopathic behavior in relationships is that psychopaths may make grand promises to you or make up sob stories to get their way. Still, they have no intention of having a healthy, reciprocal relationship with you.
A psychopath may coerce you into giving them money and then take off and leave the relationship when they no longer need you. They may also lie to get money out of you and promise to pay you back but fail ever to do so.
In the end, lying, manipulation, and charm lead psychopaths to get precisely what they want. Still, sadly, because of their personality disorder, psychopaths will never feel bad for using and abusing you to get their way.
A psychopath can be incredibly callous, and they’ll never feel remorse for this behavior. Given this fact, it’s easy to understand why people are so interested in learning how to end a relationship with a psychopath.
Signs you’re in a relationship with a psychopath
While some general symptoms of antisocial personality disorder may suggest your partner is a psychopath, some specific relationship behaviors may suggest your partner is a psychopath.
If you think of breaking up with a psychopath, understanding their behavioral traits would help you cut ties more effectively.
Psychopaths can be charming. They know how to work a room and win over just about anyone, but it’s all part of their manipulation. They have to be charming to come across as likable. This puts them in the perfect position to take advantage of people.
A psychopathic partner’s lack of empathy makes them emotionally numb to the pain they cause others. They may also be able to walk away from the relationship after causing you pain and trauma and feel absolutely no remorse.
Since psychopaths lack empathy, they have a limited ability to understand the needs and feelings of other people. A psychopath will expect all of their demands to be met but will have a difficult time if you ask them to meet one of your needs, especially if it conflicts with what they want.
An unsettling feeling
Being in a psychopath relationship means that something will always feel off. Your partner may seem overly charming, but deep down, something just doesn’t sit quite right with you. You may catch them doing things that don’t quite make sense or fit with their over-the-top charming behavior.
To learn more about behavioral psychopathic signs, read here:
Given the behaviors that occur when you’re in a relationship with a psychopath, in many cases, it is necessary to find out how to end the relationship.
Research shows that fear often plays a significant role in the functioning of a narcissist. A breakup triggers this fear of losing someone and they are motivated to act out.
If you’re unsure of how to start the process of ending your relationship, consider the 15 steps below for breaking up with a psychopath:
1. Don’t blame yourself
If you’re considering breaking up with a psychopath, you’ve probably been blamed for most relationship problems. This means you’re likely to have difficulty ending the relationship because you may feel guilty. This way of thinking has to stop if you want to know how to leave a psychopath.
You’ll have an easier time letting go if you realize that things weren’t your fault.
2. Don’t excuse their negative behavior
When you make excuses for psychopath relationship behavior, you may stay in the relationship, hoping that they will change when circumstances change. This keeps you trapped in the relationship. Instead of excusing bad behavior, recognize it for what it is.
You may be holding off on figuring out how to leave a psychopath husband or wife because they promise to change, and you believe them. Understand that they are simply trying to manipulate you into staying in the relationship.
Breaking things off becomes easier once you realize their behavior will not change.
4. Don’t fall victim to suicide threats
It may sound callous, but you cannot stay simply because your partner threatens suicide. One manipulative tactic a psychopath may use is threatening suicide if you say you’d like to end the relationship. You still have a right to leave.
Breaking up with a psychopath may seem impossible because of their manipulative threats but don’t let that control your life. If your partner threatens suicide, call the authorities to intervene.
Before you leave a psychopath, it’s important to have your affairs in order. This includes finding a place to live, separating your finances from the psychopath, and having a plan of safety in place.
Psychopaths who are scorned by the end of a relationship are likely to seek revenge, which could include draining your bank account or causing other damage. Being prepared prevents them from fighting back in this way.
6. Don’t break up in person
Once you’ve made plans for breaking up with a psychopath, it’s important to avoid breaking up in person. Remember that this isn’t a usual relationship where you owe your partner respect.
For your safety, it’s entirely acceptable to break up over text and then leave it at that. If you attempt to break up in person, the psychopath will likely manipulate you into staying.
One of the most significant pieces of advice for breaking up with a psychopath is to cut off contact completely. They may try to reach out from time to time, promising that they’ve changed or confessing their undying love for you.
You must ignore the psychopath’s attempts to reach out because this will make them think there is a chance of repairing the relationship.
To learn more about what would a narcissist do when you don’t stay in touch with them, watch this video:
8. Don’t try to be friends
Just as responding to contact from the psychopath is a bad idea, trying to remain friends is also a mistake. The psychopath may try to manipulate you into re-entering a relationship, so it’s important to cut them out of your life completely.
If you are breaking up with a psychopath, there is no room for you to maintain any minor level of contact with your ex.
When you are breaking up with a psychopath, you significantly hurt their ego. In retaliation, they are likely to go on a smear campaign, telling everyone in your life how terrible you are. Ignore this behavior. You know the truth, and you shouldn’t have to defend yourself against their manipulative tactics.
10. Take time for healing
You are likely to feel very hurt, even if you were the one learning how to break up with a psychopath. This is because you were deeply in love with your partner, even if they had no real feelings for you. It’s okay to take time to grieve the loss.
Since a relationship with a psychopath can be quite emotionally damaging, you may benefit from seeking out counseling to process your emotions. A counselor can help you identify solutions for avoiding such a negative relationship in the future.
Sometimes breaking up with a psychopath can get out of hand because they might not react well to it. If you cannot handle things yourself, you might benefit from professional help.
12. Reach out for support
Turn to understanding friends and family members for support during this time. Chances are that some of them even picked up on the harmful effects of your relationship, and they’ll be happy to help you move on and find happiness again.
Research has revealed that various activities can be classified as self-care, but they all enhance an individual’s physical and mental well-being.
Maybe you’re beating yourself up over having fallen for a psychopath. Instead of focusing on negative thoughts toward yourself, take time for self-care. Do things that you enjoy, like starting a new exercise routine, eating healthy, learning a new language or hanging out with loved ones.
When you care for yourself, you’ll notice that you start to feel better.
14. Avoid a psychopath relationship in the future
Now that you are educated on psychopathic behavior in relationships, you’re ready to take steps to avoid such a relationship in the future.
Think about red flags you may have noticed in your psychopathic partner. What behaviors did you notice early on that eventually became big problems? Make a note of these problems so that you can avoid red flags in future relationships.
15. Understand you’re worthy of a healthy relationship
Once you spend any length of time in a relationship with a psychopath, you’re likely to have reduced self-esteem. Your partner likely blamed you for all problems in the relationship, hurt you, and showed no remorse.
You can and will find healthy love now that you know how to spot psychopathic behavior and avoid engaging with these individuals in the future.
A relationship with a psychopath comes with significant challenges. Someone who is a psychopath will be charming, deceitful, and manipulative to get their way. They will hurt you repeatedly and show no remorse because they simply cannot care for other people.
If you’re in a relationship with a psychopath, you can break things off by taking the blame off yourself, giving up on believing that they will change, and cutting off contact completely.
As you move forward, it’s important to practice self-care and be kind to yourself. As you heal, you’ll be able to identify the signs of psychopathic behavior in relationships, so you can avoid falling for such a person in the future.
If you feel disconnected or frustrated about the state of your marriage but want to avoid separation and/or divorce, the marriage.com course meant for married couples is an excellent resource to help you overcome the most challenging aspects of being married.
Jenni Jacobsen is a licensed social worker with a master's degree in social work from The Ohio State University, and she is in the process of completing her dissertation for a Doctorate of Philosophy in Psychology. She has worked in the social work field for 8 years and is currently a professor at Mount Vernon Nazarene University. She writes website content about mental health, addiction, and fitness.
Licensed as both a social worker through Ohio Board of Counselors, Social Workers, and Marriage/Family Therapists and school social worker through Ohio Department of Education as well as a personal trainer through American Council on Exercise.