Still Friends With An Ex? Beware, They Might Be A Psychopath

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Breakups are hard on the best of us. While it can be tempting to maintain a friendship with an ex in the aftermath of a relationship, wanting to salvage any goodwill that may be left, some potential dangers could come along with it, depending on the type of ex you’re dealing with.

When establishing boundaries after a breakup, be sure to really examine what’s going on behind the scenes, as you might find out your now-ex-partner has less-than-wonderful intentions.

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Should You Stay Or Should You Go?

There’s a good chance you’ve been here, standing in the face of a breakup, unsure if you want to remain friends with your now ex-partner. What you’re going through is heart-wrenching, and just seeing them would remind you of what you lost, but on the other hand, they’re a great person who you enjoy having in your life. So, what do you do?

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Do you let them go? Do you try to get them to stay as just friends? Your answer, or the moves your partner makes, might be a dark warning sign.

The Terrible Threes

Before we get into the nitty-gritty, we must discuss a trio of personality traits called "the dark triad."

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The dark triad consists of narcissism, psychopathy, and Machiavellianism. When diagnosing someone with psychopathy, psychologists will go through a questionnaire called the PCL-R, which helps identify any aspects of the dark triad someone might exhibit.

The person they’re testing will have to check off enough of the boxes on the questionnaire to be considered within the realm of psychopathy.

None Of Us Are Free

As for each trait, Health describes them as such:

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Envato Elements

Narcissism is defined as "feeling superior and entitled, but underneath the grandiosity is typically a sense of inadequacy."

Psychopathy is "lacking empathy and being emotionally cold, while also impulsive and prone to taking big risks."

Finally, Machiavellianism is someone who is "highly manipulative, willing to deceive others to get what they want, and having a cynical view of the world."

It’s important to note that everyone exhibits some traits present in the personality types of the dark triad. It’s impossible to avoid your dark parts completely, but it’s how these traits shape you and whether or not they grow into something larger that’s more indicative of a problem.

The Connections

Now, how does any of this relate to staying friends with your ex?

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A study by researchers at Oakland University found that how you relate to your ex could be a sign of psychopathy.

The study involved 861 people who were interviewed about their relationship history. Their current relationships and any potential friendships with exes were examined, then their personalities were compared against the traits in the dark triad.

Lo and behold, those who exhibit large amounts of the dark triad are more likely to remain friends with their exes.

The ‘Why?’

That being said, wanting to be friends with an ex is not immediately indicative of full-blown psychopathy. The major difference present here is the reasons someone might want to stay friends with their ex.

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After all, there are plenty of outside forces that may require two people to remain amicable even if a romantic relationship fails. They could have children they now need to coparent or a business that needs both owners present, or maybe they’re part of the same friend group and you still need to coexist at social events. There’s no need to jump the gun when you hear two exes are friends.

Keeping Doors Open

What are the reasons that might nod towards psychopathy from the one wanting to remain friends?

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The study also covered this, collecting the answers from those with high amounts of dark triad personality traits, largely relating to what their now ex-partner could help them access.

Staying friends for money was a popular choice when the ex is the breadwinner of the relationship. There was also envy present, namely if the person wanting to be friends was jealous of their ex’s friendship circle.

Wanting to remain friends for work reasons was also mentioned, the half wanting to remain friends thinking they could use their ex as a path towards a career in their respective field.

Making It Hard To Leave

Why would someone want to remain friends with a psychopath?

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It’s completely possible that this person didn’t demonstrate any psychopathic traits while they were dating, and no other real red flags were raised, so they don’t actually have any issues staying friends. There’s no reason to not stay in touch if the breakup was amicable.

On the other hand, two known features of psychopaths are not only masterful manipulation skills, but a charming personality.

Come Crawling Back

Once they have your claws in you, it can be very difficult to completely sever ties with someone with strong psychopathy traits. Be it out of fear, guilt, or otherwise, they’ll twist the situation until their ex feels they can’t or shouldn’t leave.

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This spells danger though, as it’s very likely they’ll attempt to get back together with their ex if they remain friends, hoping to wear them down into taking them back after enough time has passed.

All Or Nothing

So, as with many things, whether or not your ex wants to stay friends is less to do with the actual notion and more to do with intent.

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If you ever find yourself caught in this debate, or if you’re on the receiving end of it, take the time to slow down and really think things through. What are your motivations? What are their motivations? Could they be trying to get something from you? Do you feel unsure, uneasy, or uncomfortable?

No matter what any silver-tongued ex-lover of yours says, you have every right not to want to pursue a friendship with them, no matter how much they try to guilt you into it. Your safety and peace of mind come before anything else.

In any relationship, always take stock of your feelings and ask yourself: does this person make you love yourself more? Do you want to grow old with them?

Love is more than just kisses and butterflies, it’s much more than that. If you want to know more on what your birth chart reveals about how you love and what you need out of a partner, check out this personalized report based on date of birth.

Daniel Mitchell-Benoit

Dan is a content writer with three years of experience under their belt, having mostly covered viral media but now shifting toward spirituality and astrology. He’s a strong believer in using one’s beliefs as a means of self-improvement and being in touch with whatever messages the universe has to offer.

He can’t wait to share his insights with a[…]