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The Dark Triad: What It Is and How to Spot these Traits in People

Sometimes when we think someone’s a jerk, we don’t look deeper to the fact that most jerks have the dark triad personality disorder.

Sounds mysterious, doesn’t it? The dark triad—oooh, what does it all mean? Well, first of all, it’s not a good quality to have, so if you notice that you suffer from Dark Triad Personality Disorder or someone close to you has these traits, it is something to look out for. But before I delve in and get into any detail, what is the dark triad anyway? [Read: 11 traits that make a narcissistic sociopath so dangerous]

Your dark triad guide

Let’s simplify and say there are two types of people. Type A is selfish, manipulating, dishonest, and cold. Type B is caring, kind, warm, and honest. Now, which one would you want to hang out with? Probably Type B. Well, the dark triad is all Type A.

The dark triad refers to three main negative personality traits that, though different, greatly relate to each other. Psychopathy, narcissism, and Machiavellianism. I know, it doesn’t sound so exciting now that you know what the dark triad actually consists of.

Now that you know the concept, let’s dig in deeper. Learn what these traits consist of and how to tell if someone has these traits. Here’s everything you need to know about the dark triad.

#1 The triangle of three. Like I said before, the dark triad has three negative personality traits: narcissism, psychopathy, and machiavellianism. A person needs all three traits to embody dark triad personality disorder.

#2 Narcissism. The first personality trait is narcissism. The term originated out of the Greek myth of Narcissus. He was a young man who fell in love with his reflection. He fell so in love that he fell into the water and drowned. Doesn’t sound that pretty? Essentially, narcissism is an unhealthy amount of self-love. Narcissistic people manipulate others for personal gain and put people down. [Read: 23 covert narcissism traits people overlook until it is too late]

#3 Psychopathy. People who have psychopathic tendencies are unable to feel empathy, remorse for others, and are controlling and impulsive. Of course, this doesn’t mean they’re a psychopath as many people can have impulsive or controlling tendencies without being a psychopath. [Read: The 30 hidden warning signs of a psychopath]

#4 Machiavellianism. People who show Machiavellianism are cunning, deceitful, and act purely on self-interest. They take lying to new heights and show a lack of empathy. Hence, why they make amazing liars. Blended with narcissism and psychopathy, people with the dark triad mix the worst of these three traits. [Read: All the warning signs of a toxic Machiavellian]

#5 Who has dark triad traits? You may be wondering what kind of person would have those traits. I hate to break it to you, but you’ve probably encountered a couple. Usually, the “bad boy/girl” or now known as “fuck boy” is the perfect definition of someone with dark triad traits.

In fact, now that I think about it, you’ve probably dated or tried to date a person like this. Let’s face it, we all have.

#6 Why are we attracted to the dark triad? People are typically attracted to those with the dark triad due to the superficial charm these people usually exhibit. They’re highly confident, display smooth body language, and peacock through style.

In other words, they look like the ultimate man or woman. The person we always imagined as a partner. Basically, they’re the person your mother warned you about. [Read: 10 things we do in relationships we end up regretting]

#7 The dark triad is successful. There’s a reason why most CEOs have the dark triad. It’s because they are experts at putting themselves first. In addition, they know how to manage people’s impressions of them and exude confidence when needed. Of course, though they achieve levels of success in their careers, due to their lack of morals, they usually end up conducting unethical behavior.

#8 Psychopathic behavior cannot be learned. Someone cannot have the dark triad if they do not have all three components. Of course, you can have narcissism or Machiavellianism on its own or together. However, psychopathy isn’t learned behavior as it’s developed throughout childhood.

#9 Avoid physical communication. If you communicate with someone who has the dark triad, then, if possible, try to only communicate with them through email. People with the dark triad usually rely on their looks and charm to persuade and manipulate others, thus, by communicating via email, you cut out that option.

#10 Keep an eye on their anger. Those with the dark triad do not have good control concerning their anger. Those with psychopathic traits typically have problems with their temper and act impulsively. The best thing to do in these cases is simply to ignore their behavior as it’s not a personal attack against you. [Read: 10 ways to handle dating someone with anger issues]

#11 They cannot maintain relationships. If you’re in a relationship with someone who has the dark triad, you probably haven’t been dating them for long. It’s typical for these people to have a series of short-term relationships as they have a usual ‘strike and leave’ dating pattern. If you’ve been dating this person for awhile, it’s likely that you’re not the only partner in his life.

#12 It’s not curable. If you date someone or have a boss you think has the dark triad, don’t think it’s something you’ll be able to fix. All you can do is learn how to dodge and duck their moves. Learn their tactics and try to be one step ahead, or run. Personally, running from a dark triad is much easier to do, but not all of us are in a position to do so. [Read: 16 signs it’s time to move on and end the relationship]

#13 Your reaction. There’s a reason why you’re reading this. If you’re dating someone who you believe has the three personalities, you already feel the discomfort. You notice the unusual and negative behavior that they display. If this is the case, get out of the relationship. They won’t change because this is who they are.

There’s a reason why you feel like you’ve aged ten years. It’s because they sucked all your energy out of you.

[Read: How to know if your relationship is toxic so you can get out fast]

Now that you know what the dark triad really consists of, try to look at the people around you and see if they have any of these traits. Who knows, maybe you’re surrounded by them.

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