If A Guy Does These 7 Things, He's An Emotional Psychopath

Sneaky bastards.

is he a psychopath or Sociopath Getty

My ex-husband was abusive: physically, sexually, and most of all, emotionally. (Whoever came up with the expression “sticks and stones can break my bones but words will never hurt me” obviously lacked any ability to harbor feelings.)

In short: my ex was an emotional psychopath — a complete sociopath.

When we split after a nearly 8-year marriage, he left with a suitcase packed with pieces of me: my pride, self-worth, hopes, dreams. He didn't take those things using his hands; he took them using his words.


But here's the sly thing about emotional psychopaths and sociopaths: they're very good at not coming across that way — so good that it's often tricky to spot the signs that you're being emotionally abused.

What is a sociopath?

According to the Mayo Clinic, sociopathy — sometimes also referred to as antisocial personality disorder — is defined as:

"...a mental disorder in which a person consistently shows no regard for right and wrong and ignores the rights and feelings of others. People with antisocial personality disorder tend to antagonize, manipulate or treat others harshly or with callous indifference. They show no guilt or remorse for their behavior."


RELATED: 5 Signs Of A Psychopath — And How To Know If You're Dating One

What is the difference between being a sociopath and a psychopath?

This question has been around forever and even incited many discussions surrounding several famous serial killers like Ted Bundy and a case study of the Milwaukee Cannibal Jeffery Dahmer.

WebMD puts it this way: a sociopath is more like a "hot-head" — that is, they don't think about how their actions affect others around them. A psychopath is "cold-hearted" — that is, they are calculated in their plots and manipulate people around them to get what they want.

"A key difference between a psychopath and a sociopath is whether he has a conscience, the little voice inside that lets us know when we’re doing something wrong... A sociopath typically has a conscience, but it’s weak. He may know that taking your money is wrong, and he might feel some guilt or remorse, but that won’t stop his behavior," says Michael A. Tompkins, EDd, a clinical psychologist at the Sacramento County Mental Health Treatment Center.


One common misconception is that a psychopath can't feel emotions. That's partly wrong, even though psychopaths are emotionally unstable most of the time.

Psychopaths lack emotions like anxiety, fear, and sadness, but they can feel other emotions like happiness, joy, surprise, disgust, and emotional pain just like the general population. And, believe it or not, psychopaths can cry.

If you are still confused between the two, you can look at narcissism or borderline personality disorders, especially since there is a lot of crossover between Narcissistic Personality Disorder and psychopathy. These disorders have the same type of personality involved, which is how the narcissistic psychopath was born.

How do you tell if he is a psychopath?

Psychopathic disorders can be traced down all the way to "biochemical abnormalities, genetic and environmental influences, and psychological and social manifestations", says Willem H. J. Martens in his article "Antisocial and Psychopathic Personality Disorders: Causes, Course, and Remission — A Review Article." 


Martens studied a number of people, including psychopath-free people, to see what exactly caused the psychopathic traits to arise.

Some common signs include pathological lying, socially irresponsible behavior, disregarding or violating the rights of others, an inability to distinguish between right and wrong, difficulty with showing remorse or empathy, a tendency to lie often, manipulating and hurting others, and recurring problems with the law.

According to the practice of forensic psychiatric (the study of people in criminal cases to diagnose them if they have a mental disorder), "Psychopathy is a personality disorder characterized by lack of empathy, grandiosity, shallow effect, deceitfulness, impulsivity, irresponsibility, and disregard for the well-being or rights of others."

Unfortunately, it can be incredibly hard to spot a psychopath, especially in romantic partners because psychopaths show you what they want you to see. They have hidden suffering that they won't show a single soul.


My hope is that you can learn from the clues I (eventually) picked up on. And even if he's not a psychopath, you should do what you can to get away safely.

Here are 7 signs of emotional abuse that are also red flags the man you're in a relationship with may be a sociopath or psychopath.

1. He makes you believe everything is your fault.

Emotional psychopaths aren’t always outright mean; most of the time they're very charming and compassionate.

One minute you're fighting, the next he's sweetly telling you, “Baby, look. I don’t want to fight with you. I know you couldn’t help ruining our evening and that it's hard for you to stop being so emotional all the time."

See what he did there? Instead of focusing on the actual problem at hand, he made you feel as though the fight was somehow your fault.


That's because emotional psychopaths have no accountability and nothing is ever their fault. So pay attention to how he words things.

2. He gaslights you.

Gaslighting is when an abuser changes, twists, and makes up information with the intention of causing someone to doubt their own memory, perception, and sanity. It's also a popular tactic of emotional psychopaths. It's one of the many mind games psychopaths play.

I’ll never forget when I found out my husband was cheating on me because he accidentally left his email inbox open.

When I confronted him, instead of apologizing he exploded and began yelling at me. "You misread them. I can’t believe you don’t trust me; this is just like you to not trust me. I can’t believe I put up with this! You're ruining our marriage."


After several days of unrelenting insistence that he wasn't cheating, I actually found myself questioning whether I'd made this all up in my head.

When an emotional psychopath knows they have no excuse, they make one up (all the while making you feel like you're the delusional one).

RELATED: If You Have These 7 Personality Traits, You're A Psychopath Magnet

3. He sees everything negative as your fault.

This point looks similar to number one, but trust me when I say it’s different. In this case, we're talking about an emotional psychopath's tendency to blame others for all of their life problems.

He's doing poorly at work? Well, that’s your fault because you stress him out at home.


In trouble with the law? Well, you made him so angry he got all heated up and caused a problem.

Unhappy in your marriage? It's obviously because you're such a horrible partner.

In short: Everything bad that ever happens is because of you, you, you, and never them. They're perfect, you're defective. End of story.

4. He tears you down.

Emotional psychopaths know they don’t have much going for them so they exert control over their victims in an effort to control the way they think. (Because if you could think for yourself, you might realize how much better you deserve.)

Psychopaths feel in control when they control you. So, if he can pound into your head just how ugly/useless/pathetic/stupid you are, you'll start to believe it yourself and cling more tightly to him because you (incorrectly) think it's the best you can do.


And once you believe your self-worth is non-existent, emotional psychopaths can make you believe anything he wants. And what he allows you to believe only serves one person: him.

5. He isolates you.

He'll discourage and prevent you from seeing your friends because — gasp! — they might actually have two wits about them and convince you to leave him.

If he’s putting in a good effort to “fix” you, he can’t tolerate your friends ruining his hard work — not with their "bad" advice and misguided ways.


A psychopath partner will convince you they don’t really "understand" how much he loves you and will try to convince you that you don't need friends because you have him. This also falls in line with his antisocial behavior most psychopaths exhibit.

If he sentences you to social isolation, this is a big red flag that he is emotionally abusing you.

6. He gives you the silent treatment.

Psychopaths use the silent treatment as a way to gain power over someone or to create emotional distance.

So, if he uses this form of "punishment" frequently, it is crossing the line into emotional abuse and needs to be addressed. The silent treatment can make you feel alone, even ostracized, which can be detrimental to your own mental health.


7. He withholds attention.

After the "love-bombing" phase, a psychopath will become distant.

He'll seem bored by you and annoyed you want to carry on with a passionate, fun-loving relationship he started. He'll make you feel like a chore, something he dreads having to do.

This is emotional abuse because it makes you believe that you are a chore and that you shouldn't need so much attention. You may even start thinking you are the selfish one instead of him.

Long-term effects of emotional abuse from a psychopath or sociopath are not good for you, and you should absolutely leave them. No one is worth that.

RELATED: How To Instantly Spot A Sociopath Or Narcissist


Eden Strong's work has appeared in publications like Yahoo, Today, Scary Mommy, Bustle, Ravishly, and many more. She can be found speaking what's left of her mind on her blog.