For a lot of people, the decision to stay friends with an ex after a relationship ends factors in a lot of variables — how long the relationship lasted, how it ended, who broke up with whom, etc. But it turns out that some people who stay friends with their exes just might be psychopaths.
A new study conducted at Oakland University and published in the Journal For Personality and Individual Differences analyzed the personality traits of 861 subjects and determined if those traits had any correlation with a tendency towards psychopathy. The subjects were questioned about their romantic histories and whether they'd remained friends with any of their exes. Then they filled out a questionnaire that was developed to highlight narcissistic and psychopathic traits.
The result? The people with the "darkest" personality traits (like narcissism and sadism) were more likely to stay friends with their exes.
This might seem counterintuitive at first; wouldn't it be the kindest, most caring people who stayed friends with their exes? But this study found that it had to do with the reason some of the study participants stayed in touch with their exes.
According to the study,
Having exes around provides the opportunity for the psychopaths to still get access to certain resources, such as information, money, or sex. By collecting bonds with ex-partners that can’t stay away, psychopaths reported their "strategic" motivations, such as the "practicality and the chance of hooking up."
To be clear, staying friends with an ex doesn't mean you or they are a psychopath. No one is a saint (well, except for actual saints), but what sets psychopaths apart from other people is that they seem to, for the most part, lack empathy. The study is simply showing that those participants with more psychopathic personality traits have a higher tendency of staying in touch with exes.
If you're worried you're a psychopath, you probably aren't. Psychopaths don't tend to worry about much. If, however, you're worried that an ex might be staying friends with you for the wrong reasons, that's something to consider.