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Survive, Transform, Soar! - Issue #55
What Super Traits Attract a Toxic Partner?
All Bad Break Ups Are Not Created Equal, Part 4
Article by: Sandra L. Brown, MA  in SurviveTransformSoar.com | Friday, March 30, 2018
Puzzle Piece #3--A Partner with Super Traits
Note:The Institute for Relational Harm Reduction & Public Pathology Education equates these bad break ups with what we call Pathological Love Relationships (PLRs). To identify if you are in a PLR, we have broken down the ‘identifiers’ of a PLR into four Puzzle Pieces. When all four Puzzle Pieces are present, you are relatively sure this was not merely a bad break up and you were in a PLR. The ‘puzzling’ aspects of ‘what kind of relationship was this’ can be answered by identifying the four aspects. The first Puzzle Piece #1 helps identify if your partner had a Cluster B/Psychopathic disorder, Puzzle Piece #2 helps identify if you had ‘dramatic and erratic’ relationship dynamics. This article will identify if you have ‘Super Traits.’ And the next article will identify the last puzzle piece. 
* * * * * *
Just who do emotional predators of the Cluster B/psychopathy flavor pick for relationships of ‘inevitable harm’? Are there those that fit the bill for what they are seeking? We wondered that too.

Predators share the ‘pre’ of the word ‘premeditation.’ They aren’t random people wasting their time, slinging a bunch of dung on the wall and seeing what sticks. They are, instead, little human psychologists who have studied people to understand who responds to their pathology and who sticks around longest before they ‘get it.’ They have done their research…so we decided to do some too.

Over 30 years and thousands of survivor partners, we noticed a ‘pattern’ to PLRs. As laid out in the previous articles, those PLR ‘identifiers’ included one partner with a Cluster B/psychopathic disorder, the dramatic and erratic relationship dynamics and also, unusual traits in the survivor victim. Because it takes two to tango, we thought we would look at who they consistently picked and why.

Picking is not really the right word. Picking implies mutuality—when two people choose each other for relationships, which is what happens in normal relationships. The correct word is ‘targeting’ and means something that is ‘fired at.’ Yeah, that’s more like PLRs.

Why He Needs You
Mr. Antagonistic with his pile of hard-wired pathology has a few ‘issues.’ He’s got some problems in his dating life—he can’t be faithful, is impulsive so chases anything that tickles his fancy, communicates by manipulating, has no empathy, can’t cough up real intimacy in relationships, can’t direct his behaviors and has no brakes for his behavior, and his identity is a little shaky. He is missing some key components like conscience, guilt and remorse and he’s pretty high on himself, thinking he is way more than he really is.
"You're the woman I've been looking for my whole life" (he said to all of us).
But what’s a poor psychopath to do? He needs ‘love’ too, right? So a little pathology on his end isn’t going to keep him out of the dating pool; he just needs to pick the ones that help highlight his best features—his gift of gab, charm and rapid pace dating.

He needs someone who reflects a bright glaring light that camouflages his defects with her brilliant attributes. Something has to balance that bottom line personality package of deficits he’s carrying, so… with his big 0 on the healthy personality scale, she will need to be packing a lot of the stuff he doesn’t have to make the scale balance so the relationship can appear normal—at least initially.

The Research
That’s what we thought…so we set out to see if our theory was correct. Thousands of survivor partner clients clued us in that we were probably right. So, we did some testing almost a decade ago and there it was…the personality traits of the survivor partners in all their abundance counter-balancing his lack in the exact same traits.

To make extra sure, we contacted Purdue University and asked them to research our clients with the latest and greatest testing instruments. And again, there it was---similar outcomes as before. Three testing instruments later, it was triple confirmed that the survivor partners had unusual personality trait elevations that were a counter-balance to his utter personality bankruptcy.

It isn’t rocket science—we all know ‘opposites’ attract. It’s just that in the beginning of PLR’s, Mr. Antagonistic doesn’t look like an opposite. That’s because, as a human psychologist, he has studied what works in targeting and quickly morphs into a mirror image of you.

All that deep talking you did, he was data collecting to reflect back to you all your hopes, dreams, likes and dislikes until he was the exact shape of you, creating what feels like ‘soul mate status.’ We call that ‘mirroring’ or ‘parroting.’

In actuality, he was far from similar to you, which would be revealed further down the relationship road after you were snuggled up and bonded in the relationship. We call that ‘the big reveal’—when his mask slips and you figure out he isn’t anything like you. But in the beginning, with all the mirroring and parroting, it feels like twin-ship.   

So…Why Did He Target You?
But what was it in you that he liked—uh hem…targeted? What are the polar opposite traits of yours that would balance his deficits and create the perfect surface from which to build a relationship?

The glaring evidence of three testing instruments on female partners of Cluster B/psychopathic intimate others, revealed two significantly elevated personality traits. (Remember, personality is born with, innate, always operating…). They were the traits called ‘Agreeableness’ and ‘Conscientiousness.’

These beautiful traits have endowed you with what other normal people love most about you. They have probably helped you be the success you are in your career or other relationships. And nowhere have these traits been problematic in your life except in the hands of pathological individuals—hence, why you may never have been aware they were elevated. If you have had normal relationships, these traits were adored, but in the hands of a pathological partner, they can become a weapon of mass destruction, proving they can use anything, even good things, against you.

No surprise that Mr. Antagonistic would ‘need’ someone agreeable because when ‘the big reveal’ happens, it is this trait that will keep her from bolting immediately. Agreeable traits include:
     • Kind
     • Sympathetic
     • Cooperative
     • Warm
     • Considerate
     • Cooperative
     • Values social harmony and getting along with others
     • Has an optimistic view of human nature
     • Empathetic and altruistic
     • Trusting and trustworthy
     • Approachable

From This List, We Can See a Number of Things

How these traits played into the approach by Mr. A.:
     • Warm, cooperative, kind, approachable

How these traits played into the longevity of the relationship:
     • Optimistic about human nature/that he can change, values getting along with others so tries again and again, sympathetic and empathetic so feels bad for his deficits, trusting so hard to arouse distrust
     • Tends to see others through who you are and assumes others’ motivations are the same as yours

How these traits played out in the breaking up/making up cycles:
     • Optimistic, empathetic, cooperative, kind

How these traits play out in her ‘aftermath’ trauma and symptoms:
     • Optimism about human nature means your ‘world view’ is forever changed to a grimy film of pathology
     • Trust is affected and feels like no one is safe to trust, can’t trust your own judgment so you remain fearful of future relationships
     • Fear your cooperative nature and sees it as the reason for boundaries being violated
He tried to look like you...but under it all he was still just a predator.
And Then There Is the Trait of ‘Conscientiousness’
Another fabulous trait that has contributed to you being a valued friend or partner and a success in your vocation…but not by the Cluster B/psychopath:
     • Self-disciplined
     • Aims for achievement
     • Likes planned rather than spontaneous behavior
     • Dutiful
     • Not impulsive
     • Thoughtful
     • Goal-directed
     • Persevering

We can see how these traits played into the approach by Mr. A, the longevity of the relationship, the breaking up/making up cycles and the aftermath trauma symptoms.
     • Dutiful and committed in the relationship so not likely to bolt at the first sign of problems
     • Not impulsive so isn’t going to break up quickly
     • Thoughtful so will give every consideration to the gaslighting excuses
     • Aims for achievement so wants to achieve a healthy relationship
     • Persevering so can stay through many failed attempts at relationship restoration
     • In recovery, conscientiousness will feel like naiveite because you ‘didn’t see it’ or persevered in the face of betrayal and your lack of impulsivity will be hated because you endured.

The combined ‘Super Traits’ of Agreeableness + Conscientiousness create a powerful dynamic:
Optimistic about human nature + cooperative + empathetic + values social harmony + trusting + self-disciplined + aims for achievement + not impulsive + persevering = INEVITABLE HARM
To read more about Super Traits, visit our website or read our book, Women Who Love Psychopaths

If you have some of these wonderful traits and you now realize they were targeted in the relationship, then you might put a check mark next to this puzzle piece too, indicating the possibility that you were in a PLR. 

How someone else’s pathology (Cluster B/psychopathy), the dramatic and erratic relationship dynamics and the Super Traits of agreeableness and conscientiousness impacted your trauma symptoms are the subject of our next article. Stay tuned!

* * * * *
Sandra L. Brown, MA is the founder and director of The Institute for Relational Harm Reduction and Public Pathology Education, the largest provider of recovery-based services for survivors of pathological love relationships. Sandra is a former psychotherapist in the field of psychopathology and is most noted for being the first to research the effects of psychopathy on female partners. She holds a Master's degree in Counseling and is the award-winning author of Women Who Love Psychopaths and How To Spot a Dangerous Man.
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