Ted Bundy: Are You Dating a Psychopath?

If you’ve seen Zac Efron’s performance in the Ted Bundy biopic Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile, you likely have a lot of questions about psychopaths and relationships. The movie might have you questioning whether Ted Bundy’s ex-girlfriend, Elizabeth Kloepfer, knew she was in a relationship with a psychopath. How can you know if you’re dating someone with antisocial personality disorder? The Cheat Sheet reached out to experts to learn more about this topic. This is not an exhaustive list, but here are a few signs you might be dating a psychopath.    

Over-the-top charisma

One red flag you might be in a relationship with a psychopath is if your partner displays charisma that seems over the top. Shari Brady, a therapist and author, says it’s easy to be lured into a relationship with a psychopath because they seem so caring and charming in the beginning:

The psychopath is extremely charming, lovable, and caring in the beginning stages of a relationship, as they are committed to securing their next victim. To date a psychopath is to date someone who does not have the capacity to form emotional attachments to human beings… They have the ability to put on an act and be the most romantic loving partner anyone would ever want. They find out exactly what someone would want in a partner and then they become that person.

Lack of empathy

Another tell-tale sign is a lack of empathy. In a relationship with a psychopath, your feelings don’t matter. Dr. Brian Jory, author of Cupid on Trial as well as professor and director of family studies at Berry College, says a psychopath has no intention of caring for his or her partner. “Psychopaths lack empathy for you, they minimize your thoughts, mock your feelings, and knock you down with their words. Their goal is to play you, not care for you,” Jory told The Cheat Sheet.


Take notice if someone you’re dating tends to be inconsistent with facts. If you become aware of constantly changing stories or lies about things such as employment or family, be on guard, advises  Ramani Durvasula, a clinical psychologist, professor of psychology, author, and expert on narcissism:

Red flags include inconsistencies in their stories and “too good to be true” stuff that doesn’t check out (credentials, job, wealth). Somehow their wealth is mysteriously “unavailable” at the present time.   There may be gaps in their histories that don’t seem to be accounted for or even in their lives.  Their stories may not add up (they say they were on a business trip but their answers to a question suggest otherwise). 


Zac Efron and Lily Collins| Samir Hussein/Samir Hussein/WireImage
Zac Efron and Lily Collins| Samir Hussein/Samir Hussein/WireImage

Psychopaths are master manipulators. They use their charm to get people to do what they want. Cali Estes, a therapist and founder of The Addictions Academy, says a psychopath is so good at manipulating people that they can create situations that are so convincing you won’t ask questions or be concerned:

Psychopaths are usually devoid of emotion and rarely cry or get mad; they are very stoic. They are also very good at manipulating and will create a scenario such that you buy into a certain concept without actually asking a lot of questions or giving any concerns. If you do voice any concerns or raise any red flags, they will either leave you or destroy you. A lot of them cannot hold regular jobs and will generally work third-shift jobs or be dependent on their significant other or even end up in prison.

Read more: 12 Signs You’re Dating a Psychopath (and What to Do About It)

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