The Dark Triad

The Greatest Risk to Women: the Dark Triad

The Greatest Risk to Women

What is a woman’s greatest risk factor in her life? Getting into a relationship with a member of the Dark Triad who has a dark personality. Do you think the chances are slim? Think again. One out of five people have a dark personality. It has been estimated that Dark Personality Disorders cost the United States over $650 billion each year in medical and mental health costs.

According to a report by the Chartered Insurance Institute, divorce leaves women financially vulnerable, especially if they have invested time in their 30s and 40s caring for children rather than working full time and building a pension. This is why careful selection of a marriage partner is essential for young women. Rising rates of living together instead of marrying also increase financial risks to women. I’m a feminist and a realist. Women still are responsible for most of the childcare and this affects their ability to hold a job that comes with a pension.

The other reason this is so important is that, at a time when everyone is calling for more female leaders in the C-Suite and Boardroom, Dark Personalities love to target high-performing women. They are more fun to take down. Women leaders and entrepreneurs often have that mixture of being agreeable, cooperative, conscientious, and self-directed that make them prime targets of Dark Personalities. 

The problem is that these people are hiding in plain sight. Many of their personality traits are actually revered: manipulation and charisma are often viewed as career skills. It’s common practice to climb the corporate ladder on the backs of other people. 

Myths about the Dark Triad

Here are four myths about the members of the Dark Triad of Narcissism, Machiavellianism, and Psychopathy: 

  1. They are rare. Nope. 1 in 5.
  2. They are violent killers. Most aren’t physically violent.
  3. They cannot function in society and work. Most can and do.
  4. They look different from other people. When their mask slips, you will see the darkness in their eyes and face, but the mask rarely slips. 

Because we believe these myths, we underestimate that the greatest risk to women comes from the Dark Triad. 

Sicker than we are Smart

Dark personalities are sicker than we are smart. They lack a conscience, have very low empathy, and low impulse control. They swoop in, move fast, and do a psychic lobotomy on their targets. Destroying psyches and souls brings them delight. Their only anchor in the storm of their personality disorder is controlling other people. 

So how do we detect and guard against these people? By understanding Personality Science, Dark Personalities, and who these predators target. Not everyone is a target for a Dark Personality. They choose their victims precisely and carefully. 

Not a Mental Health Issue

A personality disorder is completely different than a mental health issue. You only form your personality structure one time in your life. Your personality affects how you think, feel, relate, and behave. Most of us don’t understand our personality beyond our Myers-Briggs score. 

A healthy personality sees self, other, and the world in a pretty accurate way. Healthy personalities also assume that most people are like they are. If you are agreeable, you assume that other people are too. If you are highly empathetic, you think everyone else is as well. 

Dark personalities see the world as they are – disordered. They assume that the world is a dark and dangerous place and everyone is out to get them. So they strike first. 

By recognizing their pattern of operation, a woman can fortify herself against it. The best way to heal from a pathological relationship is not to get into one. 

They Target Their Prey

MRIs have shown that Dark Triad brains look different from normal brains. One difference is that their reptilian brain leads them to approach their prey like a true predator. They seem to be able to sense vulnerability and elevated personality traits. 

Certain life experiences make women more vulnerable. These include experiences that make you feel grief, loneliness, or overwhelmed like moving to a new city with few friends, the loss of a loved one, losing or changing jobs, and the end of another relationship. If you have experienced any of these, reach out to friends or pursue a hobby to make new friends. Do not get into a new relationship when you are hoping that relationship will meet your emotional needs. 

Assess Your Personality Risk

I also recommend that women take either a Big Five Factor (BFF) personality assessment or the HEXACO personality assessment

After you take one of these, notice if you are on the high side in Agreeableness and Cooperativeness, you might be easy to love bomb in the early stages of a relationship. You will have red flags, but because you are naturally wired to be Agreeable and Cooperative, Darkness will override your intuition. You will invest in the relationship before you know what you have invested in. 

You are not codependent. You score low on the Dependence trait. You are just naturally wired through your personality to please other people. This is different from the learned behavior of a codependent people pleaser who people pleases because of low self-worth and dependency issues.

Darkness will get you to share personal details of your life and your values before he discloses anything about himself. He will then mirror all of your values, beliefs, and interests so that you think you met your twin. You might think to yourself, “Wow! Nobody gets me the way he gets me.” There is an entire industry dedicated to teaching men how to put women into a trance state so that they can have sexual relations with them. You might mistake the intensity of the dark personality disorder for intimacy and soulmate status. 

Once in a relationship with Darkness, your high integrity will make it hard for you to leave. Which is why it is best to avoid these relationships. Providing details of how the relationship spirals downward quickly while keeping you entranced is covered in Sandra Brown’s excellent book, Women Who Love Psychopaths

If You Are at Risk

Hopefully, you have learned that members of the Dark Triad are lurking in plain sight, are not uncommon, and target high-performing women like they are prey. This is the greatest risk to women: the Dark Triad. The best way that you can protect yourself is to:

  1. Understand your personality and determine if you have natural vulnerabilities.
  2. Assess your life situation and don’t look to a romantic relationship to fill a void.
  3. Let the relationship build slowly. If he wants to be with you 24/7, run!
  4. If you are spending less time with your friends and on your hobbies and most of your time with him – big red flag.
  5. Learn his personal story, values, life goals and history before sharing details of yours. 
  6. If he claims you are his soulmate, run!
  7. If he feels like your twin, beware. There are no psychological twins.

Move slowly. Do not invest in the relationship until you know what you are investing in. Do not trust anyone that has not earned your trust.

Hopefully this opened your eyes to the fact that there are dark personalities in the workplace and dating world who prey on amazing women. The problem with trying to secure our dating lives ourselves is that we are blind to our own vulnerabilities. I wish that I knew what I know now 20 years ago when I was at my most vulnerable moment.

This is why I offer coaching support to women who have high career aspirations. We need their genius in the world and cannot afford to have them be targeted by the Dark Triad. If you think you might be vulnerable, get coaching support.  

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