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Befriending Your Ex May Be A Sign That You're A Psychopath

People with 'dark personality traits' keep their exes around for 'practical' reasons
by Khatrina Bonagua | Jun 20, 2016
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It's the question that has haunted us since time immemorial: Should we stay friends with an ex?

Befriending an old flame is not an easy thing to do, but it can be done. Recent studies warn us against it, though. If you are trying to be friends with him or her after a breakup, there could be something more serious going on. Turns out, you might be a psychopath.

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A study published in Personality and Individual Differences surveyed 860 people to list the motives for their continued involvement with their exes. In the first part of the experiment, researchers asked more than 300 participants to reason out their decision to still be friends with their former partners.

The arguments were narrowed to seven concrete categories, which included "reliability/sentimentality," "pragmatism," and "sexual access." Researchers then assigned high scores to positive replies—like the ex was "reliable, trustworthy and of sentimental value"—and lower scores to more adverse kinds like practicality and sexual access.

For the second test, a list of the seven categories was given to approximately 500 new participants, who were asked to rank them in order of personal significance. They were also provided with clinical assessments measuring the prevalence of dark personality traits.

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The verdict: Those people who got high scores in dark personality traits said they were more likely to choose practicality and the chance of hooking up as key drivers to remain friends.

"Individuals who score higher on measures of dark personality tend to choose friends for strategic purposes. Thus, it is likely that these traits will be associated with valuing friendships for utilitarian or instrumental reasons, such as to maintain sexual access," an author of the study said.


Your ex might also want to keep you close as a power play, the study suggests. Maintaining a friendship will allow him or her to potentially target you, even if it seems like you're on good terms.

Of course, this isn't applicable to all your exes. Though it wouldn't hurt to think twice if you've got an old flame that just can't seem to cut off communication. There might be an ulterior motive that points to psychopathic tendencies. You've been warned.

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