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Sean Cate
Sean Cate
February 27, 2024 ·  3 min read

Some People May Seem “Nice” But Are Actually Psychopaths. Here Are 3 Behaviors and Their Subtleties

Psychopathy, a disorder characterized by callousness, lack of empathy, and manipulative behavior, is more common than many realize. Research suggests that a significant portion of the population exhibits psychopathic traits to some extent.1 While identifying a psychopath can be challenging, there are subtle behaviors to watch out for. Here are three key indicators to consider:

1. Sadistic Pleasure in Inflicting Pain

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Psychopaths often take pleasure in causing harm to others, all while maintaining a facade of innocence. Unlike narcissists who only seek power and control, psychopaths do so while also taking delight in the suffering they provoke. This sadism can manifest in various ways, from emotional manipulation to outright cruelty. Psychopaths not only enjoy having power over others but also take a sadistic pleasure in inflicting pain. They may pretend to sympathize or apologize, only to continue their harmful behavior, reveling in the distress they cause.

Moreover, psychopaths are adept at concealing their true intentions. They may pretend to be concerned, but it helps them gather information about their victims to exploit their vulnerabilities further. This insidious behavior lets them maintain control while inflicting maximum harm. Beware of individuals who seem too eager to know your weaknesses, as they may use this knowledge against you.

Read More: Research Shows that Psychopaths Might Prefer To Drink Their Coffee Black

2. Sudden Changes in a Psychopath’s Relationship Dynamics

Sad pensive young girl thinking of relationships problems sitting on sofa with offended boyfriend, conflicts in marriage, upset couple after fight dispute, making decision of breaking up get divorced
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Another telltale sign of psychopathy is an abrupt shift in how they perceive and treat their relationships. Psychopaths can initially form deep connections, often characterized by intense affection and admiration. However, once they get tired of their victims or find new targets, they quickly discard them without remorse. Psychopaths lack emotional permanence and view relationships as disposable. They may shower you with attention one moment and disregard you the next, leaving you feeling confused and hurt.

This unpredictability stems from their shallow emotional capacity and insatiable need for novelty. While they may appear initially devoted, their loyalty is temporary, and they are always on the lookout for the next exciting thing. Pay attention to how your relationship evolves over time. If your partner’s affection wanes suddenly or they seem distracted with something or someone new, it could be a red flag to watch out for.

Read More: A psychologist explains what happens when you embrace your dark emotions

3. Psychopaths use Superficial Charm

Cheerful beautiful young woman with charming smile over yellow background. Beauty, fashion. Cosmetics, make-up.
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One of the most disarming traits psychopaths have is their ability to charm and manipulate others relatively effortlessly. They often present themselves as charismatic and engaging individuals, capable of winning anyone over with their charm. Psychopaths excel at projecting an image of innocence and sincerity. They may share some sob stories to express vulnerability and gain sympathy and trust.

But under this illusion is a calculated agenda. Psychopaths use charm as a tool for deception and exploitation of those around them.2 Despite their outward charm, there are subtle cues that betray their true nature. Trust your instincts and pay attention to any inconsistencies in their behavior. Genuine warmth and empathy cannot be faked indefinitely. A psychopath can plan and adjust for anything, including eventually your gut. If they think you’re onto them, they’ll find a way to turn it against you. Stay in tune with your body’s natural reactions to things. 

Identifying psychopathic individuals requires vigilance and awareness of subtle behavioral patterns. By recognizing signs of sadism, inconsistency in relationships, and charm-masking manipulation, one can protect themselves from potential harm. Trust is earned, not given freely. Stay aware to the subtleties of natural human behavior, and don’t ignore the warning signs – no matter how charming the individual may seem.

While psychopaths may masquerade as benevolent individuals, their true nature often reveals itself through small but telling behaviors. Stay vigilant to safeguard yourself from potential manipulation and harm.

Read More: Identifying a Narcissist – a Psychological Guide


  1. People Who Seem “Nice” But Are Actually Psychopaths Display These 3 Subtle Behaviors.” Thought Catalog. Shahida Arabi. February 9, 2024.
  2. What Is a Psychopath?Very Well Mind. Amy Morin, LCSW. November 7, 2022