What are the signs of a sadistic man?

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In this article we will discuss the various signs and characteristic behaviours of a sadistic man. 

We will also explore what is sadistic personality disorder, how sadistic personality traits develop in an individual, and what can you do if you realise you are in a relationship with a sadistic person. 

What are the signs of a sadistic man?

Some of the signs and characteristic behaviours of a sadistic man can be understood by considering the criteria for the diagnosis of Sadistic personality disorder listed in the DSM III-R.

Sadistic personality disorder is no longer considered a personality disorder in the latest edition of the DSM 5, but the criteria provided can be used to understand what some obvious signs are of a statistic individual:

Use of physical violence and cruelty

A statistical individual will most likely make use of physical cruelty or violence in relationships to establish dominance  and control. 

This means that they will use physical violence and intented cruelty to assert control over their partner such as using physical violence when their partner does not behave in the way they want them to behave- this also include sexual violence. 

This violence is not done for secondary gain such as extorting money but rather simply to assert control.

Use of Humiliation

They will also be observed to humiliate and demean other individuals, especially their intimate partners, in the presence of other people. 

They might call them names, criticise their partners, adn say that that demeans their partner’s value as a way to humiliate them in front of other people- family, coworkers etc. 

Use of harsh treatment and forms of discipline

They will also show unusually harsh treatment as well as harsh forms of discipline- that would be otherwise seen as abuse- towards someone under their control including their children or an employee. 

They will also use harsh forms of discipline such as spanking, belting, lashing, etc as a way to “correct” the behaviours of other people or as a way to humiliate others to assert control. 

Derive pleasure from pain of others

They will derive pleasure and amusement from witnessing or causing the psychological and physical pain of others, including animals and children.

This particular behaviour might be observed early in childhood where the individual might physically abuse small animals such as puppies and cats or birds or their peers. 

They tend to lie often

They will also regularly lie to other people if lying can cause other people pain and suffering. They might also gaslight and feed you false stories in order to hurt people or cause pain and harm to other people. 

They use fear to operate 

Their behaviour usually involves intimidation as a way to get other people to comply with their demands and their wants and needs. 

This means that they use fear as a way to operate their relationships and their day to day life. They might use threats of harm and treats to humiliate others as a way to control them.

They restrict and discourage autonomy

They also tend to restrict the autonomy of people that they are in a relationship with. For example, they might restrict a woman from being employed to restrict her financial autonomy. 

They might also restrict the monument of their children, their spouse and keep track of their day to day behaviour and activities as a way to assert control and dominance 

They also tend to have a fascination with violence

They might also have a fascination with violence, weapons, and torture/injury and often spend time reading up on, or watching media and content related to these themes. 

They might spend time watching video movies, and playing games that feed their fantasies. 

Behaviours emerge in early life

These behaviours are persistent since they were teenagers and sometimes tend to manifest during their childhood as well. So you hear other people describe them as cynical, critical, and a negative personality all around. 

Critical and hostile

People with this particular personality also tend to be highly critical of other people and tend to be hostile towards new individuals. 

They are also observed to express hostility with extremely eruptive tempers because of the way they function where for the offence is the best form of self preservation. 

What is Sadistic personality disorder?

Sadistic personality disorder was recognised as a mental disorder by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) revised version DSM-III-R. 

However, as of the new version of the DSAM, DSM 5, it is no longer recognised as a disorder. 

The first time the personality construct was mentioned in the field of psychology was in the mid-1800s by Krafft-Ebbing in the mid-1800s who mentioned a few characteristics of this personality.

Krafft-Ebbing used the term to describe someone  who enjoys instigation of pain, cruelty, and humiliation as sexual dominance. This was also furthered by the discussion on sadism and masochism by Freud. 

Eric Fromm also later noted that sadism, particularly sexual sadism could be a manifestation of some people’s need to humiliate or inflict pain as a type of attack and assert control over someone else. 

While sadism is no longer considered a personality disorder, Sadism as a concept has made it rounds in mainstream media. 

Sadims is defined as the desire and intention to hurt others in various ways- verbally, Phsycially, psychologically, or sexually- as a way to derive pleasure. 

Sadism involves some form of desire for control and is speculated that the desire could arise from the following experiences of:

  • Poverty
  • Injustice
  • Domestic or child abuse
  • Personal failures

How does satisdict personality or sadistic tendencies develop?

There are not many studies that have been done on sadistic personality disorder or the development of sadims in an individual but researchers and experts believe that this behaviour could have been learned or imitated after being observed through role models- abusive parents and abusive guardians- or through media. 

It is also possible that individuals with trait personality such as impulsiveness and temperament of the individual leading to their inability to regulate anger could also be one of the causal factors of sadism. 

Another important finding from various research is the observation that sadism has a lot to do with control that one might have lacked as a child due to abusive parents. 

They would have internalised hopelessness and used anger and other violent behaviours that they have learned as something powerful and tht assets control to use the same in their intimate relationships during their adulthood.

What to do if you are in a relationship with a sadistic man?

Here are a few things that you can do if you think you are in a relationship with a sadistic man:

  • Seek out safety. Your safety is the number one priority when it comes to someone who is hurting you- physically, emotionally, verbally, psychologically. Move out if you must and find a space to move in with- friends, family, or shelters- if it allows you to get away from someone who is sadistic. 
  • Be aware of their behaviours and how they are hurting you. If their behaviours are abusive, one thing that you can do is document their behaviours and collect evidence of their physical and verbal abuse if possible so that you can use it as evidence later. 
  • Trust your instincts in the first few months of being with them- especially if the cycle involves, hurting you, apologising and love-bombing you, and going back to hurting you again. This is a cycle of an abusive relationship. 
  • If your partner is sexually sadistic, make sure that you and your partner discuss boundaries with respect to what works and what does not work in the bed room. 
  • Get professional help if you notice that their behaviour is affecting you personally and mentally. It is possible that you might be struggling with psychological distress due to their behaviour. 
  • Get support from friends and family because this is what will help you most during this time.


In this article we have discussed the various signs and characteristic behaviours of a sadistic man. 

We have also explored what is sadistic personality disorder, how sadistic personality traits develop in an individual, and what can you do if you realise you are in a relationship with a sadistic person.

FAQ related to What are the signs of a sadistic man?

What makes a man a sadist?

Individuals possessing sadistic personality traits tend to behave with aggression and often display cruel behaviour. This can also include  emotional cruelty, purposefully manipulating others through the use of fear, and violence.

What is sadistic behaviour?

Sadistic behaviour includes behaviours that involve taking pleasure in cruel, demeaning, and aggressive behaviours as a means of control. It can involve anything such as bullying, or verbal assaults that are aggressive, cruel, and that which allows them control.

Are sadists mentally ill?

Sadistic personality disorder was once defined as a mental illness, but the new Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), does not include sadistic personality disorder as a mental disorder. 

However, it can has been catagorised as a paraphillia where individuals are often seen as sexual sadists. 

What does a sadist want?

A sadist usually desires to inflict pain and suffering on other individuals. For them, when people are hurting, they attain pleasure from the control aspect of being able to hurt other people. Seuxal sadism is also one aspect of a sadistic behaviour where individuals either in consensual or non-consensual relationships gain pleasure from asserting control and watching their partner or victim in pain. 

Do sadists have emotions?

Yes, sadists or Sadistic individuals do have emotions. Actually, a sadist is actually reported to experience greater negative emotions even after a sadistic act.


Can Sadistic Personality Be Cured?

Medical Author: Divya Jacob, Pharm. D. MedicineNet. Retrieved on 10th January 2022. https://www.medicinenet.com/can_sadistic_personality_be_cured/article.htm

Susan Krauss Whitbourne Ph.D.10 Ways to Spot an ‘Everyday’ Sadist. Psychology Today. Retrieved on 10th January 2022.  https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/fulfillment-any-age/201503/10-ways-spot-everyday-sadist

Veland, C. Are You In A Relationship With An Everyday Sadist?. Psychcentral. October 30, 2015. Retrieved on 10th January 2022. https://psychcentral.com/blog/psychology-women/2015/10/are-you-in-a-relationship-with-an-everyday-sadist#1

Smith.A. The Personality Disorder We Don’t Hear Enough About. Psychology Today. Retrieved on 10th January 2022. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/and-running/202106/the-personality-disorder-we-dont-hear-enough-about

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