There are a lot of phenomenal studies on the traits and characteristics of psychopaths. For professional research, check out Cleckley’s criteria or Hare’s psychopathy checklist. A quick Google search ought to do the trick. The red flags in this book are intended to supplement those resources.

So what’s different about this list? Well, for one, it’s specifically about relationships. But it’s also about you. Each point requires introspection and self-awareness. Because if you want to spot toxic people, you cannot focus entirely on their behavior—that’s only half the battle. You must also come to recognize the looming red flags in your own heart. Then, you will be ready for anything.

1. You feel on-edge around this person, but you still want them to like you. You find yourself writing off most of their questionable behavior as accidental or insensitive, because you’re in constant competition with others for their attention and praise. They don’t seem to care when you leave their side—they can just as easily move on to the next source of energy.

2. They withhold attention and undermine your self-esteem. After first hooking you with praise and flattery, they suddenly become reclusive and uninterested. They make you feel desperate & needy, ensuring that you are always the one to initiate contact or physical intimacy.

3. Plasters your Facebook page with compliments, flattery, songs, and poems. They text you dozens, if not hundreds of times per day. You come to rely on this over-communication as a source of confidence.

4. Quickly declares you their soul mate. And for some reason, you don’t find it creepy. They tell you how much they have in common with you. On the first few dates, you do most of the talking and they just can’t believe how perfect you are for them.

5. Compares you to everyone else in their life. Ex-lovers, friends, family members, and your eventual replacement. When idealizing, they make you feel special by telling you how much better you are than these people. When devaluing, they use these comparisons to hurt you.

6. Lies & excuses. There is always an excuse for everything, even things that don’t require excusing. They make up lies faster than you can question them. They will always blame others—it is never their fault. They spend more time rationalizing their behavior than improving it.

7. No startle response. Total absence of anxiety, fear, and worry where there otherwise should be. They are also very easily bored by the familiar. You write this off as calm and cool, often feeling inferior and over-sensitive because you have normal human emotions.

8. Insults you with a condescending, joking sort of attitude. Smirks when you try to express yourself. Teasing becomes the primary mode of communication in your relationship. They subtly belittle your intelligence and achievements. If you point this out, they call you hypersensitive and crazy.

9. Uses social networking to provoke jealousy and rivalries while maintaining their cover of innocence. They once focused all of their attention on you, but now they post ambiguous videos and statuses to make you doubt your place in their heart. They bait previously denounced exes with old songs and inside jokes. They attend to new activity and ignores yours.

10. You find yourself playing detective. It’s never happened in any other relationship, but suddenly you’re scrolling back years on their Facebook page and albums. Same with their ex. You’re seeking answers to a feeling you can’t quite explain.

11. Surrounds themselves with former lovers and potential mates. Brags that their exes still want to sleep with him/her, but assures you there is nothing to worry about. These people make you feel jealous and give off the perception that your partner is in high-demand.

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