You hear it before men with dark triad traits get laid more.
And psychopaths, supposedly, are the most successful of them all.
But is it true?
This post will answer this question.
The Attractive Traits of Psychopaths
Here are some of their attractive traits:
- They seek more partners: the single and most underappreciated advantage. It’s not so much that psychopaths are more attractive or better with women, but they simply desire and seek more partners than the average guy
- They go for it: psychopaths also take more chances. While most men are worried about what the woman might think, or what people might think, psychopaths tend to go for what they want
- Risk-taking: risk-taking means lots of losses, but also lots of wins
- Confidence approaches: psychopaths tend to approach women with less fear, which makes them seem more confident
- Gib and charm (at least superficially): not all psychopaths, but many dark triad men have learned to come across as smart and polished
- Good game: Dark triad are better at playing seduction games, including:
- Power dynamics mastery: psychopaths and dark triad men are more aware of general power dynamics and dating power dynamics, so they come across as more dominant, and more leader-like
- Love bombing: Initial overload of whirlwind romance, followed by emotional unavailability that leaves the victim desperate and need
- Triangulation: psychopaths are notorious for playing triangulation games, which makes them come across as pre-selected, and makes her invest more through jealousy
- Power and dominance over women: psychopaths crave power, and we know that women like more powerful and dominant men. Later on, they will realize it’s toxic dominance, but it might be too late
Let’s examine a few of these
#1. Fearlessness & Risk-Taking
A bold entrance can make the difference between a boring seduction, and a whirlwind romance that sweeps women off their feet.
Here is an example of a famous psychopath in movie history: Joe Pesci.
The psychopathic trait that worked for Joe Pesci here is fearlessness.
See it for yourself:
He meets her, greets her, walks her to his car, and pushes her head down for a blow job
You bet that risky approach will backfire a lot of times and lend you into some troubles over a lifetime.
But psychopaths are driven by present rewards while being undeterred by risks and possible future troubles. That risk-seeking approach does help them increase their notch-count.
#2. The “Edgy” Appeal: When Risk Intersects With Excitement
The “edgy” and dangerous side of psychopaths appeals to women.
Especially to a certain subset of women high on extraversion and, themselves, high in excitement-seeking (Brown, 2009).
At the extreme of these women are the serial-killers groupies (but they’re a minority).
The vacuously-intense stare of the psychopaths, for example, can stoke fear and excitement, which heightens and/or is confused with “butterflies love” and sexual excitement.
Adelyn Birch, author of “30 Covert Manipulation Tactics” says that the psychopath stare is scary and unattractive from a stranger, but it makes women weak at the knees when the two are already close and gazing at each other in an intimate setting.
#3. The Power and Dominance Advantage
The most important trait that makes psychopaths effective in seduction is the power, dominance, and confidence they can convey.
Psychopathy, as much as sociopathy, is all about seeking power and control, And women like powerful men.
Psychopaths are attractive because men who approach women from a position of power, dominance, confidence and leadership are all attractive, whether it comes from a position of positive leadership or from a destructive one.
Indeed, women are also initially attracted to non-psychopathic power-hungry men for the same reason they attracted psychopaths. And, as well, they are also attracted to otherwise moral and ethical leaders: these men all show power and dominance over them.
We saw that with Obama, where his power-position as the president allowed him to make this woman go all giggly just with his presence:
The man who behaved more psychopath-like was Mike, the girl’s boyfriend.
But Obama could have easily taken his girlfriend as an empath, because of the power, position and authority he had.
#4. Machiavellianism and The Willingness to Play Games
Machiavellian sociopaths see life as a big chessboard.
That helped them learn dark psychology strategies and techniques to help them persuade and manipulate others.
Most normal guys don’t learn persuasion that well, and they are wary to play any games that might hurt people.
They are well versed at maneuvering others.
#5. The Advantage of No Conscience
This is the dark side of psychopathy and section.
On top of being good at maneuvering others, psychopaths have no qualms in harming others.
That, of course, offers an “advantage” over men who do not want to harm women or, as the old pick mantra went, over men who to “leave women better than they found them” (Strauss, 2005).
As an old headhunter might say: it’s always easier to bring home the reward if it’s “dead or alive” instead of “alive only”.
The Psychopaths’ Disadvantages
Psychopathy can provide some mating advantages, as we saw.
But it also comes with some heavy ballast that keeps the psychopath from enjoying the runaway success that the top tier men enjoy.
And while most people do understand the psychopath’s advantages, few people understand the drawbacks of psychopathy.
Sampling bias we will see later is one of the reasons why some people misunderstand the topic of psychopathy and mating success.
And the second reason stems from a misunderstanding of evolutionary psychology.
#1. Psychopaths Struggle to Acquire Resources
We talked about this more than once:
Women prefer men with status and resources.
And albeit Machiavellian men are good at gaining status and resources (Buffalmano, 2020), pure psychopaths are bad at acquiring social status and resources.
Some exceptions can be made, and some more violent psychopaths can acquire status in the underworld, but that’s not a prerogative of psychopaths.
On average, men very high in psychopathy, especially the criminal and violent psychopaths, tend to populate the bottom rung of society (or of prison).
That can work against them in acquiring mates.
#2. Psychopaths Do Not Maximize Looks
We’ve seen it already:
Psychopaths chase quick rewards.
That’s why they often sleep with more women than the average guy: they need that new stimulation.
Aware, they often chase all types of quick rewards, including the high and buzz of alcohol, drugs, and sometimes even food.
Chasing rewards today comes at a cost for tomorrow.
Some psychopaths are drug addicts, alcoholic, or even food addicts.
James Fallon is a neuroscientist who became famous when he found he was a psychopath, and wrote a book about it.
Fallon says he loved seducing women for the power it gave him. But look at James Fallon:
A good caption would be “can I eat that microphone”?
My point is: Psychopaths obey the laws of the sexual market place just like anyone else.
And if they don’t have many attractive qualities, they will struggle to get laid just like anyone else (especially with high SMV women).
Note: it’s different for dark-triad men
The above is true for pure psychopaths.
But it’s not true for men with some psychopathy traits and who are also high in narcissism. Those guys do care about their looks.
#3. Psychopaths Struggle With High-Quality Women
When you meet a woman who is treated poorly but she is in love with him, she is often in a relationship with a man high in psychopathy.
Some of those psychopaths get drunk, sleep around, treat her like crap… And women still clean after them.
However, as you can imagine, women who stick with poorly behaving psychopaths and bankroll their debauchery are rarely the highest-quality women around.
Usually, they are lower SMV women, or women with low self-esteem and/or who come from abusive families.
Studies also show that dark triad men, especially psychopaths, have lower standards when selecting mates (Jonason et al., 2011).
Even their strategies are often targeted at women with fewer options.
Love bombing is about chasing hard, and showering with attention. And that usually works best with women who have fewer options.
Psychopathy expert Sandra Brown never say so, but if you read her book “Women Who Love Psychopaths“, you will quickly realize that in her sample size there are no women who would normally have lots of dating options.
And if psychopaths are not great at dating high-quality women, they are even worse at keeping high-quality women -or simply just healthy women, for that matter-.
The Psychopaths’ Myths
Let’s now reviews some myths around psychopaths and their success with women.
#1. Psychopaths Better Defend Women
Says Rollo Tomassi, a popular red pill author:
“(dark triad triad) were survival traits in the past.
Those were the guys who got things done. Those were the guys who took care of their own. Those were the guys who were volatile enough to be fun in bed. Those were the guys who had the capacity to kill off a rival, to defend the woman with his life.
Tomassi is not fully wrong:
A woman’s genetic inheritance might be better off mating with a strong psychopath than a weak man with little to no status.
That’s especially true in violent environments and societies.
But in more peaceful societies, a woman might be better off mating with a man who can provide resources, who will stick around… And who will not abuse her.
Especially because psychopaths do not defend their women.
Psychopaths are selfish, do not love, and do not create bonds with others.
#2. Psychopaths Make For Great Leaders
The myths here are similar:
- Psychopaths can be heroes
- Psychopaths make for strong leaders (to serve their community)
It’s a popular, romanticized view of the “bad guy who’s actually good”.
You know, the guy everyone thinks he’s bad, but that he truly has a heart of gold and defends people with his life?
Yeah, that’s good for a Hollywood script, but it’s wrong 95 times out of 100.
I have addressed that fallacy in “do good and evil overlap” but, in short, here it is: psychopaths lack empathy and are extremely selfish.
They get the small stuff done, but rarely they accomplish the big things: psychopaths can’t stick to things.
And especially the more violent-prone ones, they rarely manage to make others want to follow them.
It’s more like the opposite: psychopaths need a larger society to leach off to.
Psychopathy indeed is a frequency-dependent strategy (Mealey, 1995). That means that psychopaths depend on a larger society of collaborators, and cannot function effectively on their own.
#3. Serial Killers Are Attractive
This is pure sampling bias.
People see a famous serial killer and a few women who want to fuck them, and from “some women are attracted to some psychopaths”, they generalize to the whole population with the wrong conclusions that “women are attracted to psychopaths”.
(..) every time a new violent criminal like Nikolas Cruz the guy who shot up the school in Florida, or Chris Watts the guy who killed his pregnant wife and their two daughters (…) as soon as they get convicted almost immediately they get female fan clubs.
Sure, some women are attracted to serial killers.
Some lust the thrill and excitement that go with the fear, and some others feel (mistakenly) that the serial killer makes them safer.
However, we shouldn’t overblow this phenomenon.
There is a subset of women who are attracted to almost any man who’s famous and attractive. There is a fan club for almost any non-ugly, famous man.
Rollo there also displays the typical poor understanding of the psychopathy phenomenon that leads to the wrong generalization of psychopaths’ attractiveness.
To begin with, as psychopathy researcher Kent Kiehl explains, mass murderers are committed by men suffering from psychosis, not psychopathy (Kiehl, 2014).
Second, even if we only consider serial killers only, not all psychopaths are serial killers.
And not all women go wild over them. Not nearly as the number of women who go crazy over your average pop singer talking about heartbreaks anyway.
#4. Psychopathy Is Attractive
Psychopathy is a mental disorder.
Per se, it’s not attractive.
But if the man affected by psychopathy is attractive, then that man can be attractive.
But it’s not necessarily because of psychopathy, that he is attractive.
As a rule of thumb, women tend to be attracted to attractive psychopaths, not to any psychopath. And, of course, not all psychopaths are attractive.
Many psychopaths indeed have NO gib and charm, are ugly or completely socially retarded.
As a matter of fact, the more violent they are, the less likely it is they are socially intelligent and successful with people.
The smart ones tend to do less violent crimes and more white-collar crimes (see “Snakes in Suits“).
And, of course, there are also psychopaths who are total losers.
Dr. Hare, a leading expert on psychopathy, explains that some psychopaths go on a killing spree because they had no success with people and women whatsoever and feel rejected and “wronged” by society (ie.: the definition of a loser).
This is a bit like we’ve seen for the different roles of lover or provider that men take in seduction: the role does matter, but it’s quality matters more than the role (see: lovers VS providers).
In this case, it’s more about individual psychopath and his level of game, skills, and attractiveness, than psychopathy as a disorder.
Psychopaths who don’t know what they’re doing are rapists and only get laid through hookers.
So, even here, quality makes a bigger difference than “psychopath” or “non-psychopath”.
5. Psychopaths Have Great Game
What would you think if you saw a man trying to pick up women pretending to be in need of help?
These days you might call him a beta male, or a simp.
But that’s exactly what the most famous psychopath, Ted Bundy, did.
Bundy, touted for his attractiveness to women, used pity plays to lure his victims and pretended to need help.
6. Amorality and Aggression Are Attractive
Again, there is a speck of truth.
Some women can be perversely attracted to a total lack of ethics and morals.
And aggression can also be attractive, especially to some women.
But let’s not exaggerate and overgeneralize.
Here is a rule of thumb, instead:
Cold-heartedness and aggression would backfire when first meeting a woman far more often than it would succeed.
Says Geoffrey Miller in “The Mating Mind“:
Very few psychopaths flaunt their lack of sympathy like Hannibal Lecter, because very few of them are glamorous, urbane geniuses.
Mostly, they are just ordinary creeps who beat their girlfriends, stab guys in bars for no reason, get caught (…).
Most psychopaths instead feign kindness and, often, go to the extreme and into what’s been referred to as the technique of “love bombing”.
Love bombing consists of ardent pursuit, fast-pacing the relationship towards more and more commitment, professing unending love and writing, calling and texting more than any normal man would.
Miller says that females’ appreciation for kindness might have evolved to avoid psychopaths and psychopath-like men:
If sexual preferences evolved to avoid anything, they should have evolved to avoid psychopaths.
During human evolution there may have been a three-way arms race: females developed better tests for male sympathy, male psychopaths developed better ways to fake sympathy, and male non-psychopaths developed sympathy-displays that were harder and harder to fake. Just as fitness indicators evolved to advertise freedom from harmful mutations, perhaps sympathy indicators evolved to advertise freedom from psychopathy.
Women who failed to recognize psychopaths faced bigger challenges in raising their children compared to more empathic parents.
Challenges not big enough to completely root out psychopathy from humans’ gene pools, but enough to make psychopathy the exception and not the rule.
Psychopath Lose Out Against High-Quality Empaths
Yes, psychopaths have an advantage over too nice guys.
But psychopaths don’t look nearly as good by comparison when pitted against equally strong, empathic leaders.
Top quality women tend to pair up with the top quality men who are near the top of the social hierarchy. And, albeit there are a few notable exceptions, the men at the top of social hierarchies tend to be “normal” empaths much more frequently than they are psychopaths.
Many psychopaths spend too much time pissing off people (or in prison) to build the social support that leaders use to get to the top of social hierarchies.
This is true today as it was true in our hunter-gatherer days.
In the ancient world in which we evolved non-psychopaths were most likely not the most successful men of the tribe.
That is why, from an evolutionary point of view, moral leadership is more likely to trump and defeat the “psychopath” amoral approach to power and social dominance.
Writes Geoffrey F. Miller, an American evolutionary psychologist:
One could imagine a primate species in which females happened to develop a sexual preference for psychopaths, and males could obligingly evolve into violent bullies.
But groups playing that psychopathic equilibrium would go extinct in competition with efficient, peaceful groups playing the good-leadership equilibrium.
Thus, group selection is likely to favor non-pscyhopathic leadership as much as intra-group selection and social dynamics are likely to favor non-psychopathic individuals.
Geoffrey Miller, by the way, is one of those researchers who hates political correctness as much as I do.
When he writes that he is not trying to promote ethical leadership VS “bad behavior” and nudging his readers towards the former.
He is simply analyzing the status quo.
And bringing psychology and science -game theory, to be precise- to explain what worked in human evolution.
Should You Aspire to Psychopathy?
Some men seek to develop dark triad traits as a sexual advantage.
That’s what I realized during my research to write the “Analysis of The Red Pill“.
On that Reddit community, some men discuss how dark triad traits allow men to sleep with a lot of women.
Well, they might be onto something.
Even actual psychologists have written books on the advantages of psychopathy and how to acquire some of those traits.
See for example:
This same website could be seen as a big guide to become a pro-social, high-quality dark-triad individual.
But that “high-quality” and “pro-social” are critical.
Pure psychopaths are not high-quality people.
And if you need one more warning, take mass murderer Nikolas Cruz. Cruz asked on Quora how he could “pretend to be a psychopath” (apparently his answer was to kill a lot of people :S).
Psychopathy can provide advantages in mating and dominance hierarchies under some circumstances and in the short term.
Some of that advantage is because psychopaths seek more mating opportunities, while men with more secure attachment styles will be happy to stop with a single partner -and maybe some cheating on the side for some of them-.
That’s why, because of his short-term predisposition, a good looking, high-functioning psychopath will get laid more than an equally good looking, but more average man.
The psychopath’s advantages are most obvious when pitted against average or lower quality, fearful men rather than with a high-quality, strong and empathic men.
A psychopath strategy was particularly bad in small tribes and fares relatively better in larger societies, albeit it’s still not the best strategy available.
It works better in the short term and more poorly in the long run.
In relationships, psychopaths then use a host of different techniques to keep their partners under their thumb, but that’s a topic for a different article.