Emotional Predators: How Bullies, Sociopaths, and Narcissists Pick Their Prey

emotional predator
Learn how emotional predators vet others before picking one to prey on. This could literally save your life.

Thousands of articles have been written about how to spot emotional predators. Unfortunately, they’re mostly useless unless you know how preditors think.

Most really bad people have a good side, and that’s the side they show most people most of the time. Emotional predators always put up a facade, otherwise, no one would get close enough to them to be victimized.  

So, how do emotional predators vet their victims? Actually, it’s shocking just how similar predatory people are to predators in the animal kingdom. They size up other people similar to the way animal predators choose their prey.

By gaining a clear understanding of the emotional preditor’s point-of-view, you will be better prepared to protect yourself and your loved ones.

What is an emotional predator?

emotional predators

An emotional predator is someone who intends to selfishly harm another person.

That is the trait that differentiates emotional predators from from the rest of us…intention to do harm and/or a lack of care whether harm comes to the other person.

So, although we all have a natural tendency to be selfish, when it comes to the predatorily selfish people, the tendency to be selfish is disproportional. Their selfish wants completely overshadow the well-being of their intended prey.

To really understand this, you need to understand how these bullies, sociopaths, and narcissists vet prey.

Here are the questions a predatory person asks in order to vet whether you are fitting prey.

Three questions emotional predators ask themselves when looking for prey

Question 1: How pleasurable would it be to ensnare you?

Predator people discriminate between potential victims a lot. The first thing a predator thinks as they size up potential prey is how much they stand to gain. Some things that predators are after are:

  1. The feeling of power
  2. Being the center of attention
  3. Money
  4. Physical gratification
  5. Seeing their victim squirm
  6. Bragging rights

If you think no one could be that cruel, just think of how cats enjoy the game of torturing mice before killing them.

Question 2: Are you “prey?”

emotional predator on the prowl

Predator humans have a sense for the types of people that they can pursue. And, just like in the animal kingdom, each type of predator has its own type of animal that they consider prey. Think cat/mouse dog/cat etc.

So a person that would be a predator to your child would not necessarily be a predator to you. Sounds obvious, but caretakers miss this way too often, so it’s worth reading that last sentence again.

Another seriously important point is, some people radiate their victimhood to predators. If you think you or someone you love is in that category, you might want to be extra careful with the people you allow into your inner circle.  

Question 3: Are you worth the risk?

Of course, some predators are smarter and/or more practical than others. Some are willing to accept more risks while others are more shrewd and subtle. However, every one of them has a self-defending instinct. Call it a predator’s “defense mechanism” if you will.

Some of the main risks that predatory people can be discouraged by are:

  1. Third-party consequences – such as law enforcement or being chastised by friends.
  2. Becoming your prey – Yes, predators can get duped by other predators. Although, I wouldn’t recommend doing it.
  3. Getting dumped before getting to take advantage of you – If you have a healthy amount of self-respect and you’re not too desperate (be honest with yourself!) that’s a big turnoff for predators since those are signs you will have the inner strength to cut them out.

Know your enemy

As the Chinese author and general Sun Tzu wrote in The Art of War, “know thy enemy.” And yes, emotional predators ARE your enemy. By knowing how they think, you will be more prepared to recognize them when you meet themand avoid them.

Now think back. Have you ever noticed this type of thinking in someone you later found out was a predatory person? Do you notice it in someone you’re in touch with today?

Disclaimer: This is not psychological advice, it’s simply some insight into the dark side of the human mind that could prove very very useful to you.