Struggles and Scars

What happens when you’re in a relationship with a psychopath

Psychopaths are very clever at sweet-talking their victims into relationships. What are the signs of a psychopath and how do you protect yourself from one?
female psychopath

They thought she was living in the USA

When 27-year-old Akansha Sharma’s parents filed a missing person report for their daughter, at Bankura, a district in West Bengal, they must have prayed for her well-being. The family was under the impression that Sharma was leading a cushy life in the United States of America. But they got suspicious when she ceased communicating with them; this eventually led her family to take help from the Bengal police.

Preliminary investigations revealed that Sharma was not living in the United States of America but in Bhopal. This was the first shocker for the family, but the worst was yet to come. Sharma had been murdered and buried under a marble slab of the house in Bhopal, where she was living with her live-in partner Udayan Das. The police, on arresting and interrogating the accused, realised that they were dealing with no simple criminal but a psychopath, who had also killed his parents as he felt that they were forcing him to study maths, something that didn’t really interest him.

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Psychopaths are more common than you think

Psychopaths are very intelligent and charming, warn most psychologists. Many of us might think that the chances of bumping into such individuals are a rarity. But in reality, the chances of encountering a psychopath is one in a hundred, which is not that slim a chance to encounter at least one psychopath in a lifetime.

Rhonda Freeman, a neuropsychologist, maintains, “Psychopaths are manipulative individuals who use others for their own personal benefit. The pain and anguish of their victims don’t really affect them. No love and compassion can alter the behaviour of psychopaths.”

“No love and compassion can alter the behaviour of psychopaths.”

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Representative image Image source

Then, what actually makes these individuals appealing? Well, blame that on the biochemical reaction that takes place in such abusive relationships, says Jaipur-based psychotherapist Dr Anamika Papriwal. She explains, “In cases where someone is in a relationship with a narcissist or a psychopath, an imbalance is seen in the production of neurotransmitters like dopamine and oxytocin. This imbalance in a way creates a craving for her/his partner and makes one rationalise their abusive behaviour. This in a way makes the victim addicted to the psychopath, who very well uses this to his advantage.”

Ask for help, and seek counselling

Most mental health experts say that victims trapped in such abusive relationships should seek regular counselling from experts. “Remember, each time you try withdrawing yourself, they will make a comeback as a reformed person, begging for a second chance, when in reality they are only manipulating your emotion and taking advantage of the withdrawal stage where your brain and heart is at war. Stay strong and say a firm no and stick to it,” advises Kolkata-based life coach and psychologist, Paromita Mitra Bhaumik.

She adds, “Psychopaths are criminals who do not have the ability to feel for others. They hurt their loved ones and can even kill them if they defy them. If you are in a relationship with a psychopath, remember one thing, they can’t correct themselves. They will never undergo the reform that you keep dreaming of. They will be repeating the cycle of love and abuse, thereby exposing you to extreme behaviour, which further adds to your confusion, when you decide to terminate the relationship. If you realise that your partner’s behaviour has a certain pattern, please seek help at the earliest. For the sooner you decide to leave him the better.”

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Getting out of the relationship will not be quick or easy

However, when getting out of such a relationship, most mental health experts warn that the process is definitely not easy and it will take time to completely dissociate from such relationships. “Get help from supportive friends, family members and counsellors. Also remember, once you take a decision to move on, be firm, as psychopathy or sociopathy can’t be cured,” warns Dr Bhaumik.

break up
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Asked what were the chances of a person trapped in such dangerous relationships ending up like Sharma, Dr Bhaumik said, “These psychopaths are sweet talkers, they can keep you trapped in the abusive cycle right till the end and then just dump you. Also, when they find their partners not submitting to them, then the cycle of violence begins. Most of the murders are well-planned, cold-blooded murders. One should be alert at the beginning of any new relationship. Being sceptical helps, you see.”

struggle and scars

Signs that your partner is a psychopath

Dr Bhaumik adds that you should start thinking of terminating a relationship if your partner is:

  • Not empathetic
  • Callous
  • Manipulative
  • A pathological liar
  • Gets bored easily
  • Charismatic
  • Arrogant
  • Plays the blame game
  • Dominant
  • Aggressive
  • Impulsive

Be safe, be alert. Never forget to reach out to your parents, family and friends, when trapped in such relationships. “In most cases, the victim sides with the psychopath and hides facts from their parents and family as in the case of Sharma, who had even lied to her parents that she was living in the USA, when she was actually in a live-in arrangement with her psychopath boyfriend in Bhopal. In most cases, it gets too late for the victim to walk out and they end up being killed or discarded when their partner’s purpose is served,” adds Dr Papriwal.

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