Could you be dating a sociopath? Here are the signs to look out for

Is your charming date as perfect as they seem? (Picture: Getty)

Did you meet your perfect new partner just as you were feeling vulnerable? Did he or she sweep into your life when you needed them most – after a split, a loss or a derailing of your life?

If so, beware that knight who steps in to ‘save’ you. Because just one step down from a psychopath is a sociopath. They too are charming, affable and manipulative – and they could be gunning for you right now.

‘They smell prey,’ warns therapist Paul Levrant. ‘A sociopath spots weakness a mile away. They’ll home in on women (or men) of all ages, but maybe not the younger ones because they might not have enough assets and wealth to identify them as a potential victim.

‘A sociopath will seek out someone who is vulnerable or recovering from a relationship – and they’ll use that person to their own ends.

‘While a narcissist tends to be a sexual predator, because sex is a way of being adored, sociopaths are interested in power – and they like to watch people suffer.

‘They will take your money and then enjoy making their victim squirm.

‘It’s terrifying – but these people really do walk among us.’

Christine Handy with her former partner Mark Hatton, who called himself Alexander-Marc De Rothschild and claimed to be a millionaire and a member of the Rothschild family. During their two-year relationship he fleeced Christine for £600,000.Chrissy Handy with her former partner Mark Hatton, who claimed to be a millionaire and a member of the famous Rothschild family (Picture: SWNS)

Sociopaths are having a TV moment, with dramas such as Killing Eve depicting them, while online support sites such as warn victims of red flag signals.

If your perfect partner has a flash temper, warns Paul Levrant, it could be a sign that they are sociopathic.

‘They hit out in anger and self-
interest,’ he says. ‘It’s like the flick of 
a light switch.’

All this is familiar to Chrissy Handy, author of hard-hitting new memoir Seduced By A Sociopath.

When she confronted her partner and father of her two-year-old son, asking what had happened to her missing £565,000 supposedly ‘invested’ in Geneva, he ‘flipped’.

Chrissy wrote a book about her nightmare relationship, as a warning to others who might find themselves involved with a sociopathChrissy wrote a book about her nightmare relationship, as a warning to others who might find themselves involved with a sociopath (Picture: Supplied)

Chrissy recalls: ‘He screamed “f*** off, bitch!” The veil suddenly dropped. I was so shaken. I was staring at him, the man I was supposed to be marrying and the father of my child, and I thought: “Who are you?”

‘It was so shocking, I had to back off and drive home. Within a couple of hours he turned up with a bunch of flowers, saying, “I’m under so much pressure, I’m so sorry.”

Hatton, 49, from Cirencester, was sentenced to a total of 18 years at Bristol Crown Court for fraud. He was also sentenced to 15 years for raping a teenager. Pic: Nick RazzellHatton was sentenced to three years for fraud and 15 years for an unrelated case, the rape of a teenager (Picture: Nick Razzell)

‘I had never seen him snap before and I realised he had a totally different personality – one I’d never seen before. It was a horrible awakening.’

Handy’s gripping new book reveals how she was targeted by conman Marc Hatton just as her life was coming together following 
a divorce.

‘I was 38 and had just bought my own house in Cheltenham and was preparing to start a business course at university when an immaculately dressed man introduced himself to me at a coffee shop,’ she says.

How to tell a sociopath from a narcissist

Sociopaths are driven by personal gain, not status, says therapist Paul Levrant

  • They have none of the usual restraints society places upon us. They will often break laws, might behave violently and may even murder. Hurting people physically and emotionally is completely acceptable to them, and they can be wildly aggressive if thwarted or challenged.
  • They’re often chaotic, disruptive and incapable of productive work.
  • They are motivated by the control of and power over others.
  • They’re not concerned with their image and might not appear vain. The views of others leaves them unaffected because others are worthless.
  • They will usually have a long history of being at odds with authority and would likely have been involved in particularly cruel behaviour when young.
  • They’re incapable of feeling guilt or empathy and see ‘normal’ behaviour as weak.
  • They will ruthlessly pursue whatever it is they want at any particular time.
  • They cannot maintain relationships or monogamy.
  • They can rarely be successfully rehabilitated but can con others into believing they’re contrite.
  • They will form the bulk of early-release prisoners who subsequently violently reoffend.

Narcissists are more driven by a need to be adored and will break rules (all the time) and laws (less often) if necessary to fulfil the uncontrollable need of their ego.

  • They will exaggerate and lie about their achievements and qualities in order to garner adoration.
  • They are vain and although they consider others to be inferior, they are still very concerned with what others think about them.
  • They are fantasists and think only of power and status. They are jealous and possessive.
  • They want power and success at all costs but not usually through violent means. Violence will sometimes occur but as a means of exerting control, not for its own sake.
  • They crave status and acknowledgement that they are ‘special’, and will demand special treatment from others.
  • They might be surprised at their behaviour being described as criminal, as image is vitally important to them. Rules are for lesser mortals.
  • They would take no particular pleasure in hurting others but ‘collateral damage’ in the pursuit of their goals is acceptable.
  • They can sometimes be successfully treated and rehabilitated but you still wouldn’t want to live with one.

‘He showed me his passport in the name of Alexander Marc Alphonsus Nathaniel d’Ariken de Rothschild-Hatton – and said he was the illegitimate son of Edmond de Rothschild.

‘He used to send me song lines like “You to me are everything” by text, and love-bombed me with flowers and plans for our future. It is flattering when somebody likes you. I’m intelligent and I don’t think I’m anyone’s fool but it’s easy to be conned.’

Chrissy recalls how when she confronted Hatton about her missing £565,000, he screamed at her to ‘f*** off, bitch!” Picture: Warren SmithChrissy recalls how when she confronted Hatton about her missing £565,000, he screamed at her to ‘f*** off, bitch!’ (Picture: Warren Smith)

In Handy’s case, she was fleeced of £565,000 and left with a then two-year-old son, Marcus, and her three older children from her previous marriage, when Hatton fled the country.

He was eventually arrested in America and jailed in February 2010, receiving three years for fraud and a further 15 years for the rape of a minor in an unrelated case. Hatton was released on licence in February 2021, and Handy wrote her own book as a warning to others. So what advice does she have?

‘Your head can make excuses and 
make allowances for behaviour but 
listen to your gut,’ she says. ‘If you feel uncomfortable, take a step back and give yourself time to seriously think this through.’

Chrissy with her son MarcusChrissy was left with a then two-year-old son, Marcus, and three older children from her previous marriage (Picture: Chrissy Handy)

Handy decided to confront her partner, who never lived with her, after Hatton’s sister-in-law warned her he was a con man. But she says: ‘People don’t want to warn you. It turns out some of the mothers from school had doubts about Alexander but they didn’t think I’d believe them.’

Can a sociopath ever change? Handy thinks not. ‘Having spent years researching sociopaths, I think we’re all born with a tendency to have a little sociopathy but you learn empathy as you grow up,’ she says. ‘But Hatton had no remorse at all.’

When it comes to relationships, Handy recalls advice from a detective who helped her bring Hatton to justice.

‘He said, “If you can smell fish, there’s fish.”’

Seduced By A Sociopath by Chrissy Handy (HarperCollins) is out now.

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