Drawing on a representative sample of 140 young couples, the study aimed to assess the distribution and correlates of psychopathic personality traits in a community sample. A related objective was to determine whether psychopathic traits contribute to men-reported and women-reported couple satisfaction, psychological aggression, neuroticism and psychological distress. Both partners completed self-report measures of psychopathic traits, couple satisfaction, psychological aggression, neuroticism and psychological distress. Results for both men and women showed moderate or elevated psychopathic personality traits in a significant proportion of the sample. Actor–partner interdependence analyses (APIM) showed that global psychopathy significantly predicted couple satisfaction through an elevation of personal distress. APIM analyses for primary psychopathy showed the same pattern of results but only in men. Finally, there was a direct negative path from secondary psychopathy to couple satisfaction, but this association was partially mediated by personal distress and psychological aggression. Copyright © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.