New study shows that narcissists and psychopaths like to stay friends with their exes

‘Hey what’s up’

Maybe it was a text suggesting a “catch-up drink”, a friendly Snapchat, or a WhatsApp sharing a link to an article invoking one of your old “in-jokes”. Maybe it was more subtle: liking an Instagram a few days after you posted it, just to plant the Fear (or worse, the Thrill). Many exes rear their heads periodically in the name of “friendship”, and broadly, it seems quite innocent.

Except research suggests they’re probably a narcissist and/or psychopath. A new study from Oakland University in the States has tackled the question of why those with “dark personality traits” (including narcissism and psychopathy) seek to keep relationships with people after they have ended.

Researchers asked 860 people to explain why they are still ‘involved’ with their exes. They also screened the people to work out who had “dark” traits like narcissism and psychopathy. As the Mail reports, those who “score highly for these traits are more likely to pick friends for strategic reasons, and prefer short-term relationships”, and those in charge wanted to know if this applied to relationships with exes, too.

Let’s just go for a walk

The researchers asked people to rate their reasons for keeping these relationships alive by level of importance. Most said that these people were important to them because they were “reliable, trustworthy, and of sentimental value.” But the study also found that those with “measures of dark personality” were more likely to keep exes in their lives for “practical and sexual reasons.”

According to the study, “men rated practical and sexual reasons for staying friends as more important than women did”. Any girl who’s ever received a “hey what’s up” text at 2am on Saturday morning won’t be surprised.