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.
- 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. 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
Photo courtesy of Martin Fisch via Flikr