Is Your Husband a Psychopath? Here Are 10 Warning Signs

By:
Michael Tierney
Updated
September 3, 2022

Generally, we like to think we know the people we marry. After all, there is an extensive "getting to know you" process before the concept of marriage is ever broached. The dating phase allows us to assess romantic partners to see if they are the kind of person with whom we want to spend the rest of our lives.

Unfortunately, some people are not as genuine as they might appear in the early days of the relationship. Almost everyone has some secret or other they decide is not worth disclosing to their spouse. Most of the time, these secrets are innocuous and are not a major issue that will impact your marriage. Other times, the secret is something that has clear signs and presents a major threat to you.

Psychopathy is easily one of the most dangerous mental conditions in the world, as it can lead a person to do unspeakable things. Psychopaths are individuals who cannot feel empathy and have very poor behavioral control. Many infamous psychopaths have committed horrific crimes, while others are immoral or hostile to the general public.

Solution What makes psychopaths even more dangerous is that more than a few can mask their condition until it is too late. Recognizing the signs of a psychopath is imperative if you think your husband might fall into the category.

Psychopathy vs. Sociopathy

Before we get into the signs of psychopathy in your husband, there is an important distinction that must be made. The terms psychopathy and sociopathy are frequently and erroneously used interchangeably. A sociopath is very different from a psychopath in ways that cannot be ignored.

Man Dealing With Mental Illness

The main differences between the conditions are as follows:

  • Sociopathy: Sociopaths are capable of limited empathic responses and remorse. They might be aware that their behavior is inappropriate but try to rationalize it. Sociopaths are highly impulsive and struggle to maintain normal social behaviors.
  • Psychopathy: Psychopaths are incapable of any empathic responses or remorse whatsoever. Unlike sociopaths, who genuinely attempt to maintain normal behaviors in the face of their impulses, psychopaths fake their normal behaviors to achieve their goals.

Additionally, psychopathy can be the result of other psychological trauma and develop in later life. Sociopathy is a psychological condition that the person is born with and is not a result of traumatic incidents. With these differences in mind, we can begin assessing the signs of psychopathy in your husband.

Sign #1: They Have a "Silver Tongue"

Solution Psychopaths are typically aware that they lack the empathy needed to function in society with the average person. This means they often adapt to overcome this handicap by faking simple social behaviors as a form of camouflage.

These behaviors are often used to overcome initial warning signs about their personalities and can allow psychopaths to attract romantic attention from you.

Man Comforting Wife

Ultimately, these behaviors are impossible to maintain long-term, but a psychopath might be convincing in an argument and know how to hit all the right notes. If your husband is a particularly smooth talker, it might indicate psychopathy. That said, this is not the most reliable indicator since those without psychopathy can be just as silver-tongued.

Sign #2: They Are Egotistic

Despite lacking empathy, most psychopaths are prideful and believe themselves somewhat superior to others. The ego of a psychopath can vary, and it is not always as obvious as outright claiming superiority. Rather, the superiority complex of psychopaths instead lends itself to their disregard for the consequences of their actions.

An Egotistical Husband

However, the ego of a psychopath is not always as simple as being self-centered and more a matter of believing they are beyond the judgment of those around them. A psychopath might view your opinion of them as inconsequential due to their own perceptions of themselves.

Sign #3: They Lack Anxiety

While psychopathy is a longstanding mental health issue in human beings, it is still not fully understood.

The lack of understanding about psychopathy has led the most recent version of The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition, Text Revision, colloquially known as the DSM-5-TR, to outline several personality traits associated with psychopathy. Among the currently recognized psychopathic tendencies is a general lack of anxiety or fear.

Person Dealing With Anxiety

Typically, situations that elicit anxiety in others might have them feeling otherwise detached or disinterested. If your husband shows an almost unrealistic level of fearlessness or calmness in the face of adversity, it might indicate psychopathy.

Sign #4: They Lack Empathy

Similarly, to the previous sign, psychopaths, by nature, cannot process empathy. Empathy allows us to understand and recognize the emotional state of others. This lack of empathy makes them unable to connect with others profoundly or understand how their actions affect others. To someone with psychopathy, the feelings of those around them are unimportant; thus, they feel no remorse for their lack of empathic response.

Husband Lacking Empathy

Insofar as your husband is concerned, the lack of empathy will likely become obvious the longer you remain married. It could signify a lack of empathy if your husband seems confused or otherwise unconcerned with your emotional state, including sadness, anger, and anxiety.

A lack of empathy is very difficult to diagnose if you are not trained to detect it. However, it could give you the basis to broach therapy with your husband.

Sign #5: They Are Manipulative

One of the key signs of a psychopath is how they interact with others to ensure they get their way. Despite lacking empathy, most psychopaths are highly intelligent and retain the desires common in every human. The main difference is that a psychopath will go to greater, more nefarious lengths to see their desires met.

Spouse Manipulating Partner

Usually, this entails manipulating those around them to serve their goals even when they are counterintuitive to the other person's. The lack of empathy that psychopaths suffer does not prevent them from learning the vulnerabilities of those around them. Instead, it allows them to weaponize and use them as tools to manipulate others into believing they want to help. If your husband is prone to manipulative tactics and phrases, psychopathy might not be too difficult to believe.

Sign #6: They Have a Poor Attention Span

Another common sign of psychopathy is a poor attention span.

This inability to focus on what is being said to or going on around them is often misattributed as a sign of Attention-Deficit Disorder (ADD) or Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). However, ADD and ADHD are conditions where the inability to focus is born of impulsivity and distractions.

Husband Not Paying Attention

A psychopath's inability to focus on what is around them results from being bored. Psychopaths seldom are interested in situations or stories that are not directly related to them and will be bored with listening or addressing them. They will be prone to abandoning current conversations, goals, relationships, and so on for more exciting alternatives. They will abandon even things believed to be important to them if it no longer excites them.

If your husband expresses boredom with you, your relationship, your children, or anything else he seemed to care about, it might indicate a psychopathy diagnosis.

Sign #7: They Lie Pathologically

One of the most nefarious signs of psychopathy is their compulsion to lie, which they do frighteningly well. Like most people, a psychopath will lie to get out of trouble with their friends and family, but they also take it a step further. A psychopath will lie to make themselves look good to you or strangers. They will also use more lies to cover up the previous ones, which can eventually expose them since keeping all those different stories straight is difficult to accomplish.

A Psychopathic Person

Even if you challenge a psychopath's lie, they will only adjust the story and try to obscure the facts to suit their needs in the current situation. When you are married to a psychopath, catching them in a lie is much easier. So, if you constantly catch your husband in lies, they might be a psychopath, though this criterion is far from definitive.

Sign #8: They Are Promiscuous

This sign of psychopathy is slightly rarer given the lack of affection a psychopath has for their sexual partners. Nevertheless, promiscuity is a sign of psychopathy, depending on the situation. Unlike other promiscuous partners, who seek a new romantic relationship or are only interested in sex, a psychopath is likelier to weaponize sex. They might turn sex into a means to an end, using it to get what they want from someone else.

A Promiscuous Husband

Combined with their lack of remorse or concern with consequences, they will often cheat and engage in unprotected sex with their supplementary partners. This behavior usually exposes you to sexually transmitted infections (STI) or inadvertently siring a child with their other partners. Promiscuity is not necessarily a sign of psychopathy in your husband, but it is a factor to consider if you believe they are.

Sign #9: They Play the Victim

Part of a psychopath's manipulative nature is their ability to turn themselves into the victim regardless of who is really at fault. When an argument arises, or you find yourselves in an avoidable situation that was your husband's fault, he will likely try to turn himself into the victim. He will also likely recount multiple stories of how others took advantage of him, even if those stories are highly inaccurate or outright lies.

Husband Playing the Victim

They do this because they not only need to be the focus of your attention but because they are unable to take responsibility for their actions. Psychopaths will take measures to avoid being held accountable for their failings and shortcomings. If your husband is a psychopath, he is liable to try and turn you into the villain privately and to your mutual friends and associates.

Sign #10: They Have a History of Failed Relationships

Everyone has had a relationship that ended poorly. It is an inescapable part of the human experience for those who have dated. Some people even had marriages in their past that ended in divorce. Psychopaths are no exception to this; they are far likelier to have failed marriages in their past.

A Failed Marriage

The history of failed marriages in psychopaths is generally because their psychopathic tendencies drove their past spouses away. Likely, the same reasons your husband's previous marriages failed are the same as those causing yours to deteriorate. It could be a red flag if your husband has a long trail of ex-wives or husbands behind him. Again, not necessarily a sign of psychopathy by itself but can contribute to such a notion when combined with the other flags.

Learn the Law

Divorce is already difficult to endure. When the marriage and life you built with your husband ends, it is difficult not to feel a sense of remorse. The situation is only made worse if your husband is diagnosed with psychopathy, especially if he presents a clear and present danger to you or your children. Psychopaths can become violent; without help from a trained psychology professional, it can be difficult to identify them as such.

Unfortunately, the warning signs of psychopathy are not unique to that particular mental health issue. Alone, these red flags are not always sufficient to identify your spouse as a psychopath. You can only make such determinations if your husband simultaneously displays most, if not all, of these signs. Additionally, you must observe more warning signs of psychopathy, but only a trained professional can effectively identify them.

Woman Removing Wedding Ring

If your husband is diagnosed with psychopathy, your divorce might seem like a saving grace from an otherwise tumultuous and terrifying marriage. Nevertheless, your husband will retain his legal rights and can pursue his personal interests in the divorce. Aside from a mental health diagnosis, the divorce process does not change significantly compared to others.

The only way to effectively protect your interests in the divorce is to seek as much knowledge as possible about what situations or issues might arise throughout the process. This information can equip you to protect yourself from the legal machinations of a man who already lacks empathy and remorse. We know this is terrifying and unpleasant, and we hope you never need this list.

Written By:
Michael Tierney
Michael is a legal writer and graduate of WSU. Prior to becoming a legal writer, he had 6 years of experience as a legal assistant and office manager for a family law attorney. He's written about numerous legal subjects from helping spouses who are stuck in toxic situations to the intricacies of custody battles. In his spare time, he enjoys hiking, rock climbing, and building custom keyboards.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Learn Divorce Law Newsletter
Subscribe to receive information, free guides and tutorials