An emotional predator is someone who hat enjoys watching (or causing) pain in others. It gives them a sense of powerfulness or importance they may not feel in other parts of their lives.
In their twisted mindset the thinking would sound subconsciously like “What better way to feel important or strong than by the pain I’ve created for someone else?” or “I must be important because they’re thinking about me now!” (Insert maniacal laughter here.)
These emotional predators can show up in any type of relationship, romances, friendships, or in the workplace. While it seems that they might be easier among friends, since they aren’t intimate relationships, be warned: they can wreak havoc in many areas. Being safe in friendships is an incredibly important thing.
Keep in mind: not only do emotional predators enjoy watching the downfall, but if they are the ones that cause it, it’s even more pleasurable for them. There’s a misguided sense of power and a zing of unhealthy pleasure in knowing they caused harm to others.
How to recognize the predator:
- Their jollies and kicks are found in emotional currency. Vulnerability. Authenticity. Secrets. Information. Disagreements with others. And when they get you to open up to them, they look for the weak spots.
- They’ll be wonderful and try to get as much as they can out of their intended targets, as fast as they can. But it’ll seem like so much cotton candy from them up until it’s so sweet your teeth hurt.
And in our ability to open up to them, they look for the weak spots. They’ll be wonderful and try to get as much as they can out of their intended targets, as fast as they can. But it’ll seem like so much cotton candy from them up until it’s so sweet your teeth hurt.
- At first beguiling and disarming, they woo people in with their down-to-earth charms and their “call it like I see it” manner.
- They might seem authentic, vulnerable and genuine.
- Or they may seem super sweet and charming and disarming.
- They might lure you in with that feeling of being in on the “inner circle of trust” somewhere important and special.
- They begin to open up quickly: sharing challenges they’ve had from their childhood (or last week) with you, arguments they’ve had with others in the circle, and expecting the same amount of emotional currency in return.
The emotional coins start small, then get larger and larger, until they want to know the deepest darkest secrets of your soul.
The emotional coins start small, then get larger and larger, until they want to know the deepest darkest secrets of your soul. This is where I caution you, if you somehow feel unsafe sharing with this person, there’s a reason. They may be an emotional predator. Trust your instincts.
Emotional predators can take your shared secrets and spill them like candy on the ground to others, just to watch you squirm. Don’t believe it’s possible? I’ve seen it happen from these manipulators. I’ve seen people share other people’s confidences and laugh at the pain it causes. I’ve seen emotional predators take what would be considered “inner circle information” and spread complete fabrications as if it were the truth.
Emotional predators can be men or women, here are a few examples of women, but that doesn’t mean that only women are emotional predators.
In one heart-wrenching instance at my studio, I saw a 17-year-old girl get turned on by her best friend, a co-worker and a woman in her 20’s. This woman started false rumors about her former friend, shared intimate family details of difficulties, and bandied her friend’s “emotional currency” about as it tore up this 17-year-old girl wondering what was so wrong that someone could turn so cruelly on her so quickly. And enjoy it.
What was the 17-year-old’s big crime? She started pulling back on the friendship because it was getting a little too possessive and her family grew concerned.
And if you’re thinking “that’s just an case of a mean girl”, allow me to share another story. A professional woman who was quite well-known for being outspoken and opinionated befriended a fellow in the office, a jovial lawyer. They became as thick as thieves and while he was married, they quickly became office BFF’s.
As soon as his wife asked him to cool the friendship, all of his secrets were bandied about to his co-workers. The difficulties became so great, he had to leave the firm.
Another woman in a group on Facebook would intricate herself into the personal lives of the group’s participants, and then begin to ask them about their struggles in personal messages. She would share “personal” information that she created and they would be expected to share in kind: emotional currency. After watching her not only copy and share these personal messages, but then begin systematically attacking people with their own secrets, I slowly backed toward the door. It wasn’t safe anymore.
While they may not be defined as narcissistic, or have a sociopathic label (although they could fit into that category in the DSM-V); there is a disordered empathy present which allows them to enjoy the downfall of others. Pain is a type of currency.
I have also witnessed it with those with Borderline Personality Disorder, after the object of their attachment has attempted to move away, similar to narcissists, they find pleasure in dragging them through mud. The “if I can’t have you then I’ll make sure no one wants you” scenario. They find a type of sadistic pleasure in observing the painful difficulties of others. Once again, if they cause the pain, there’s a perverse amount of pleasure in knowing that.
Look for an upcoming article on: Tips to Avoid Emotional Predators
(Or read Arianna Jeret’s articles here and here )
This story has been republished to Medium.
Photo credit: iStock
You make all sufferers of Borderline Personality Disorder sound like they are deliberately causing pain to others. BPD sufferers would rather harm themselves than anyone else. They feel immense guilt after harming others. They do not enjoy it at all. They are suffering. There is a kind of therapy called Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT) designed exactly for BPD. It helped me recover from this disorder. We are the most empathetic people you could possibly know. We often know what you’re feeling before you do. We even take on the pain of others. To learn more about BPD, please visit my… Read more »
Thank you Joyce!
Nobody are as stigmatized as the persons diagnosed with BPD.
Being an emotional predator is not among the criterias to fit into this diagnoses.
You are correct, Silke, being an emotional predator isn’t specific to BPD or any one disorder. We have a lot to learn about personalities, all in the name of healing. Thanks for your comment,
Sadly having been married to someone with BPD, it hurts…really bad. And then you get told that their pain due to having torn your heart to shreds…is greater than your could ever be, as no one really feels pain as deeply as they do. So the majority of any work repairing the relationship is based around healing their pain, at the cost of ignoring or minimizing the non-bpd partners grief/pain/loss.
Trey1963 thanks for sharing and I can’t imagine how tough that cycle has been for both of you. My thoughts go out to you both.
Thank you Joyce, and I did not mean to characterize all BPD’s in any way, that last statement was only mentioning what I have witnessed directly. Thank you for calling me out on it, I had to think about it for a couple of days to sort through my files. There are those with BPD, NPD, or Sociopathic (or also learned about Malignant Personality Disorder recently) that will create havoc for those people spurning them. This is not to say that all those suffering through BPD always do it. Both DBT and CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy-the front runner to DBT)… Read more »