Your Cup Runneth Over and How to Put a Lid on It

Your cup runneth over; therefore, you are at risk…but because it runneth over you can survive.

There are some who see their cup as half full with the perspective that life is full of opportunity and hope. There are some who see their cup as half empty with the perspective that life is a struggle and trouble abounds. But…. what if your cup “runneth” over? What if you have so much to give, so much to share that your cup spills into the lives of others? Sounds good – all of these great qualities…sharing, giving, generosity, just spreading their power and joy to all whom you meet. But here’s the catch – and there is always a catch. What if someone has an empty (or nearly empty) cup? What if someone came into your life and nuzzled (or pushed) their cup right up against yours? What if they NEED what you have to experience excitement, to feel powerful? This “empty-cup” person will surely catch the spillover, they will surely gather up and collect all that they can. Now, think about this from the opposite perspective: an empty cup moving through life SEEKING an over-flowing cup, finds it, takes from it (in fact, empties it) until they are full and you are empty…what results is inevitable harm.

The Institute’s research has shown us that you posses temperament traits to a higher than average degree than other women (there’s your cup – running over). In fact, the research has shown that, in most of the traits, you scored 85 to 97% higher than other women. That means a lot. It means that if someone is normally empathetic they clearly understand others’ perspectives. But for you, empathy means feeling the feelings that others feel….and wanting to do something about it. It means that you NEED to feel purposeful, responsible, loyal or trustworthy just to feel like yourself – not because you lack it. This is not just WHO you are it is WHAT YOU DO.

The good news is that these qualities are the things that people want and should have. These are the temperament traits that create strong, conscientious, goal-directed, focused people. These are the traits that allow you to be successful in both your personal and professional life.

So, here’s the bad news. They are also the traits that psychopaths need. They are the traits that attract the “empty cups.” They are the traits that let psychopaths know you will play the game with them. They are even the traits that keep you in the game…that keep you fighting for the relationship.

This may be new news to you. I have worked with many women who have said to me, “I needed something…that’s why I stayed with him.” I get that…there is a feeling of something missing when you are in a relationship with a psychopath. But it is not because you do NOT HAVE these things…it is because HE TOOK THEM from you.

Here’s the evidence. Look at your life before the psychopath. Look at your life outside of the psychopath. What do you see? I’m guessing it is a pretty good life. Without being too presumptuous, let me guess that you have friends and family who love you and who you love; you have a great career that you created based on what you love and what you are good at; you are sociable, friendly, giving and often find that others like to be around you. This is you – either before him or when you are not in his presence. This is true because this is who you are. Shocking? I hope not! That thing you needed was not something he had. It could have been the fantasy relationship you created with him but it is not something he brought to the table.

Speaking in detail about all of the traits identified in The Institute’s research as risk factors, be clear – they are also the things that will get you out and keep you out. They are the things that have allowed you to create a great life before him and will allow you to re-build a great life after him.

Let’s look at how your traits put you at risk and then examine ways in which you can use that to begin detachment from the relationship and create a healing path along with techniques for building each trait.

But before we begin that process I need you to PUT A LID ON IT! If your cup is over-flowing it is time to put that lid on. Here’s what I want you to do:

  • Get the information. Once you know better you have to do Read the materials provided on the website ( site to begin to understand the dynamics of these relationships and what your risk factors are. Read Chapter 7 of Sandra’s Book “Women Who Love Psychopaths”, 2nd Edition.
  • Use your traits. I know that your cup may “feel” empty but it really isn’t. These are character traits that cannot change. They don’t just go away. But you get used to not using them so it feels like they are gone. They are not. You probably use them at work, with other loved ones, with friends. These traits are there. (Another great benefit to using them is that if you haven’t done it in a while, it will confuse your psychopath and he won’t know how to react.) Finally, the more you use these wonderful traits, the more your cup will re-fill itself. You will begin to re-gain your confidence and personal power. And that brings detachment and healing from the relationship.
  • Most importantly! Only use them when someone deserves it or earns them through time and demonstrated by behavior. These traits are precious.

Now you know how precious they are and, if you are not careful, you will end up in an endless cycle with an empty cup. There is no need to throw trust, empathy, responsibility, or even helpfulness around to every person you meet. You can take a moment, breath and evaluate each situation using time, reason and demonstrated behavior as determining factors. Be good to yourself and treasure who you are…you owe it to yourself.

(**If we can support you in your recovery process, please let us know.  The Institute is the largest provider of recovery-based services for survivors of pathological love relationships.  Information about pathological love relationships is in our award-winning book, Women Who Love Psychopaths, and is also available in our retreats, 1:1s, or phone sessions.  See the website for more information).