No one goes out intending to meet a psychopath and fall madly in love with them—that’d be crazy. Unfortunately, given that people don’t often make their negative traits all that obvious in the early stages of a relationship, it’s possible to discover you’re with someone more than a little unstable further down the road. Dating one is scary and even a bit dangerous, but there’s a reason psychopaths may be drawn to you: like attracts like.
In a new study published in the Journal of Personality, researchers discovered that those with psychopathic personality traits are more likely to be attracted to people with the same qualities. That’s right: psychopaths are super into other psychopaths.
The experiment consisted of asking 696 participants to imagine an attractive man or woman and construct their personality from a list of 70 possible traits. Strangely, people were way more into what’s referred to as “Factor 1” qualities like manipulativeness, superficiality and fake charm, and lack of empathy over “Factor 2” traits like impulsiveness or irresponsibility.
That in itself isn’t too bad, but when you consider that participants who rated themselves higher on the psychopathy scale tended to be way more into those Factor 1 traits. Incidentally, guys were more likely to rate themselves as having more psychopathic qualities and more likely to be attracted to them than women. (Duh.)
“Our findings suggest that although absolute preferences for psychopathic traits are low on average, individuals with marked psychopathic features and [personality disorders] features more generally are more inclined than others to endorse a romantic preference for psychopathic individuals, at least in the abstract,” the researchers said. Yikes!
Obviously this could be a bit different in real life situations. After all, it’s easy to hypothetically be into certain traits that would be much more difficult to deal with in person. Still, it’s worth considering that if you keep ending up in relationships with psychopaths it might be time for some self-reflection…