Female sociopaths and narcissists are dangerous precisely because their manipulation often flies under the radar. Although there is an ongoing debate about the definition of “sociopath” versus “narcissist,” it’s safe to say that both types exhibit the following:
- A callous lack of empathy.
- A tendency to manipulate and con others for their own gain.
- A sense of egocentrism and excessive entitlement along with blatant disregard for the rights, needs and feelings of others.
Sociopaths and narcissists on the high end of the spectrum take it one step further. Those who meet the criteria for the Dark Triad (narcissism, psychopathy and Machiavellianism) often lack remorse for their destructive actions. They use cognitive empathy to assess their target’s vulnerabilities but they lack the affective empathy to truly care about the welfare of others. They are often sadistic in provoking and deceiving others, feeling pleasure at the sight of another’s pain. Studies show that these toxic types experience positive feelings when seeing sad faces (Wai & Tiliopoulos, 2012).
The reality of their malice becomes darker when we consider that females are socialized by our society to be covertly aggressive. As a result, they are more likely to bully others through underhanded methods such as relational aggression – abuse through sabotage of someone’s social relationships and reputation – all while mastering the guise of a sweet exterior.
Here are six signs you are dealing with a female sociopath or narcissist on the high end of the spectrum:
1. They mirror and love-bomb you in order to get information.
When a female sociopath first meets you, they are on a mission to collect as much information about you as possible. The female sociopath is assessing whether you’d make a good target. As her unsuspecting victim, she ‘zooms in’ on you with an excessive amount of attention. Her warm and nurturing façade helps to facilitate her covert machinations. On the outside, she is friendly and inviting, but within, she is vindictive, ruthless and cunning. Yet in the beginning, it’ll appear as if you both have so much in common.
She’ll play to your sympathy and pity by pretending she has similar life experiences as you. She’ll claim she has similar interests, hobbies, passions, life goals and values. Little do you know, this is a cold and calculating gesture used to find out as much as possible about your strengths and weaknesses so she can exploit both to her advantage. Under her hawk-like gaze, the female sociopath mirrors you to win your trust and to make you disclose personal information that she plans to use against you.
In the initial stage, she will build for you a beautiful pedestal so that you’re tempted to buy into her con. Once you’ve sufficiently invested in her false mask, she has no problem using you and your resources for her own gain. Whether it’s sex, money, a place to live, status, reputation, fame, or even just the duping delight of one-upping someone – it is all about power.
2. They are superficially charming and demonstrate exaggerated speech or gestures which lack authenticity.
Much like a male sociopath, a female sociopath’s projected kindness rarely meets her eyes. She is reptilian in her demeanor and you might notice a flash of her envy, anger or greed from time to time when the mask slips. Otherwise, she is eerily calm and lacks a startle response even in situations that warrant fear or anxiety (Lykken, 1957). She might exaggerate her speech patterns, expressing more enthusiasm and joy than she actually feels. She may slip up and into a condescending and contemptuous tone of voice which may reveal her true intentions.
Yet her charm, while superficial and glib, can be just as convincing, if not more, as a male sociopath’s. This is because as a society we are conditioned to see females as the “gentler sex,” incapable of violence. Yet the violence a female sociopath can inflict can be just as psychologically destructive and dangerous as her male counterpart.
3. They sabotage you covertly.
The aggression of a female sociopath is unprecedented, yet it is carefully hidden beneath multiple layers of constructed traits that one can mistake for sincerity. Remember that narcissists and sociopaths are chameleons, adapting to social situations based on what they suspect will bode well and will best suit their hunt for victims. So, they present a very alluring and charitable image, especially to those who can benefit them. However, to those they have no use for or those who evoke their narcissistic rage and envy, they reveal more of their true selves.
Much of the female sociopath’s manipulation is channeled through relational aggression, which involves damaging someone’s social relationships or reputation to destroy one’s sense of self. In the realm of female friendships, female narcissists especially are always looking to protect themselves against outside threats that may overtake their “Queen Bee” status in the cliques they create.
That is why they underhandedly bully their chosen victims (usually those they perceive to have something they covet) by excluding them from social groups, pitting people against them, accusing them of things they did not do, spreading rumors or gossip, slandering or smearing them and also creating rivalries among people. That way, their victims are unable to gain validation or support for the abuse they’re experiencing.
4. They demonstrate little to no remorse in harming others to get what they want – and they exhibit internalized misogyny.
Whoever is in a female narcissist or sociopath’s way will pay dearly – even the ones who pose the slightest threat. The female sociopath harbors a sense of entitlement to everything and anything. They are especially threatened by other women who possess what they cannot.
Female narcissists and sociopaths exhibit internalized misogyny: they despise other women getting ahead or posing a threat to their grandiose ego.
To see another woman achieving in a way that she is unable to do, or to get the attention she feels she must have, is a threat to her very sense of self and sense of entitlement. That is why the female sociopath is notorious for belittling her more successful or attractive female friends, covertly sabotaging and bullying those she is jealous of and having affairs with men who are already in committed relationships (with their friends nonetheless!). Her life motto is “It is all about me, and if it isn’t, I must make it so.”
5. They are sadistic and enjoy inflicting pain.
Female sociopaths and narcissists enjoy seeing people squirm, just for the hell of it. There is nothing they love more than to take down an innocent, good-natured person who was “naïve” enough to believe in them. That’s why they make lofty, false promises they fail to carry through – just to delight in another’s sense of disappointment and depletion. That’s why they deprive their most threatening victims of attention and affection, just to lather other, more loyal cronies with excessive praise.
That’s why they set up scenarios where they know their victims are bound to fail. That’s why they manufacture chaos out of thin air, to create a blend of crazymaking and love-bombing that leaves onlookers confused, on edge and constantly walking on eggshells.
6. They thrive off of male attention (or female attention, depending on their sexual orientation).
Female sociopaths and narcissists enjoy being the center of attention because it gives them power and a harem from which they can derive endless amounts of “narcissistic supply” in the form of praise, sex, and resources. Sociopaths enjoy this because it gives them a power trip, the ability to control others at a whim and play everyone like puppets. Narcissists enjoy it because it feeds their inflated ego and gives them validation.
Female predators are not opposed to using their bodies to get what they want; they have no qualms using their appearance and sexuality to climb the corporate ladder, to take advantage of a doting boyfriend or to seduce a stranger, so long as it benefits them. They get off on the power and control – and their thirst for new victims is insatiable. They are notorious for having extramarital affairs, engaging in numerous flirtations and indiscretions and constantly surrounding themselves with admirers (everything from exes to potential replacements).
They can lie, manipulate and con their way into people’s hearts and lives, pulling the wool over your eyes quite easily while they pursue their own agenda. Yet once they are done with you and you are no longer useful, they will rarely give you the same amount of attention, respect or affection you’ve grown accustomed to. They will discard you without blinking twice. To them, you are merely an object to suit their purposes, nothing more.
The Big Picture
If you have encountered a female malignant narcissist or sociopath, take heart in the fact that their behavior is not your fault. Many have been bamboozled by these toxic types because of how convincing they are. Rather than blaming yourself, examine the ways in which you’ve been manipulated to resolve the cognitive dissonance that might arise. You may still be reeling from the discrepancy between their true self and their false self.
It’s common for survivors of sociopaths to doubt themselves and their experiences. It’s important to close that gap by documenting what you’ve experienced, seeking validating professional support and engaging in self-care healing modalities which will enable you to rise above their malice and move forward into a future without their toxicity.
Centifanti, L. C. M., Fanti, K. A., Thomson, N. D., Demetriou, V., & Anastassiou-Hadjicharalambous, X. (2015). Types of Relational Aggression in Girls Are Differentiated by Callous-Unemotional Traits, Peers and Parental Overcontrol. Behavioral Sciences, 5(4), 518–536. http://doi.org/10.3390/bs5040518
Ekman, P. (2009, December). Duping Delight. Paul Ekman Group. Retrieved from https://www.paulekman.com/deception-detection/duping-delight/
Lykken, D. T. (1957). A study of anxiety in the sociopathic personality. The Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology, 55(1), 6-10. doi:10.1037/h0047232
Wai, M., & Tiliopoulos, N. (2012). The affective and cognitive empathic nature of the dark triad of personality. Personality and Individual Differences, 52(7), 794-799. doi:10.1016/j.paid.2012.01.008