Another check in at the LwL coffeehouse.
It’s fun to sometimes speculate about the kinds of people who make for dodgy limerent objects. It’s also useful to adopt a more mocking or cynical view of your LO if you are trying to deprogram yourself out of the trap of limerent idealisation. It helps counter the unrealistically shiny view of them that limerence brings.
One personality type that I haven’t considered before is the so-called dark empath. Here’s a video primer:
Although it sounds a bit like a character from a fantasy novel, a dark empath is someone who is able to perceive and understand other people’s emotions, but is not moved to care about them or sympathise. They don’t mirror other people’s emotions, they just monitor them.
Someone with this trait would make for a formidable limerent object. If you feel the glimmer for a dark empath, they would be very effective at keeping you hooked. They’d notice your regard, for one thing, they’d know how to behave to manipulate your emotions, and they’d probably get away with it because you’d be too limerent to pick up on the underlying insincerity.
They’d also have no compunction about hurting you, once they’d got what they wanted.
It seems a contradictory mix, this combination of empathy and dark triad traits, but it makes a sort of sense that someone would be able to sense others emotions even if they didn’t care about them.
Looking back over my life, I can think of someone who fits the description. He had an amazing facility for making friends quickly and deeply, but people who had known him for longer often ended up suspicious of him and his motives.
Many of them had been burned by getting too close to him – being drawn into his life and his schemes, and then struggling to extricate themselves because they felt indebted – and ending up entangled in his frequent dramas. He also had much more success with women than I would have (naively) predicted.
I could see him fitting the dark empath mold. He wasn’t callous; he was attentive, considerate, outwardly compassionate, but there was something just a bit off – like he was acting the role of a empath, rather than, you know, actually caring.
In the end, most of his relationships broke down.
So, I think we can safely add the dark empaths to the list of unsuitable LOs.
And cross fingers and toes that we never become besotted with one…
Limerent Emeritus says
Clip of the Day:. “Reflections on Empathy” – Heinz Kohut (1981)
Pay attention starting at 1:45.
I think I’ve encountered one or two dark empaths but I never dated any.
Oh my goodness!! Narcissistic didn’t quite fit a former LO but came close due to his lack of accountability and self awareness… but this diagnosis is spot on!!!
I think he was so addictive because he appeared to care SO MUCH and almost seemed to read my mind and my thoughts… eerily so, now that I think of it.
He was so thoughtful and always there for me in any crisis or reason to celebrate… but there was always this slight unease, me wondering if all this empathy was real.
And the way things turned out, he definitely didn’t truly care about my feelings.
And he did have a history of long term relationships turning into disasters.
Fascinating stuff here!!
Yeah, I think this kind of fits the bill of the people I seemed to end up attracted to, in the past. Ugh.
Limerent Emeritus says
WRT: The Dark Triad:
In “Snakes In Suits: When Psychopaths Go To Work,” Hare & Babiak estimated that 3.9% of top-level executives showed psychopathic traits, over double that of the general population. Later estimates, put the executive rate at 8%-12%. (https://www.forbes.com/sites/jackmccullough/2019/12/09/the-psychopathic-ceo/?sh=7660e413791e)
The rate of psychopathy in prisons is estimated to be 15%. Maybe people think CEOs are crooks because they may really be crooks.
I’ve never worked for a psychopath but I had a clinically diagnosed psychopath working for me in the Navy. Dealing with him was something right out of “One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest,” except we didn’t lobotomize him. We took him to the brig in irons and he was booted out of the Navy.
After reading Herve Cleckley’s “The Mask of Sanity” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Mask_of_Sanity), I’m convinced one of my wife’s best HS friends is a psychopath. My wife agrees. The woman still owes us $300.
My accountant claimed she married a psychopath and the marriage counselor told her to get rid of him and watch her back. She was deathly afraid that that psychopathy was genetic and her son might develop into one. She’s a CPA and her ex almost destroyed her financially. Had he father not intervened, her ex likely would have. It took her years to recover. My accountant turned me on to Cleckley.
If you have to deal with one, they can be a real handful. I can imagine it’s worse if you’re sleeping with one.
I wonder whether this is a permanent personality trait or whether it can also be temporary.
I’m usually more of a real empath, but once I started to become too attracted to a potential LO + texted with her in secret, hiding from SO that I met and kissed her once, I definitely turned dark.
I still very much understood my SO, knew what to say and do, but no longer felt anything. Instead, I’d cherish every opportunity to be by myself and in touch with the potential LO – who is probably a dark empath herself.
When I disclosed to SO + she made me cut contact, I was totally mad at her in that moment. But the next day I felt totally relieved – as if some evil part of me was gone and I was able to see my SO in a loving way again.