Honestly , I began to question the behaviours and actions of my person quite a while before the official departure. I consistently found excuses to explain the behaviours. They’re just “All in” in their relationships, they were just an anxious person, theyre just passionate about certain topics.
But after parting ways and trying to figure out how it had all gone so horribly wrong, more and more conflicting information came to light. This person had a face and a story for everybody and few elements were consistent. I finally realised how well they slotted into every element Dr. Hare’s checklist- the tool used to diagnose sociopaths. As someone who genuinely wants to believe in the goodness of the people around me, it was terrifying and sad to realise I had been so close to someone who I no longer wanted in my life in any form.
Of course, there’s a larger lesson at play here other than the obvious “don’t become involved with someone with sociopathic tendencies” (which can very difficult to see). If you suspect something is off about the person you’re involved with, or your relationship is causing you to act in ways you wouldn’t normally or even causing you to question yourself or your reactions- ask questions. Lots of them!! And if you think you might be involved with a sociopath in particular, here are a few traits that helped tip me off.
They Moved In On You Quickly
I still like to believe that some connections happen intensely and quickly naturally because of lots of commonalities or what have you — but I’ll be more wary in the future when someone comes on strong . In order to make themselves seem like an extraordinary candidate for your affections, sociopaths will move incredibly fast, showering you with texts, gifts, affections and attention before what would typically be considered appropriate. This is called “love-bombing,” and results in a flood of dopamine. Who among us doesn’t like positive attention?
The will choose you, seek you out and disarm you with their words, and control you with their actions. They will delight you with their wit and anecdotes. You will be lead to believe that you have huge amounts in common, everything from hobbys and interests to life stories. If you stop making them the center of your world and you start to question some of their actions that’s when the tables will turn and suddenly you’ll find yourself pursuing them. Their actions and interactions are laying a track for dependence and lead you to feel incredibly guilty for daring to question this person who has treated you so well.
They Claim Their Exes/ Old Friends Were Crazy or Terrible — But with you its “Different”
You know that old compliment “You’re soooo not like other women?” Yeah, not a compliment. Any human who pits women against each other really needs to have their feminist card revoked. My Socio was particularly good at disparaging their ex friends and partners, all who came in various shades of crazy and abusive- ALL OF THEM. For a while I even believed that they had just made a string of terrible decisions. What I would have never believed at the time was that I was being conditioned. If I “wasn’t like all the others” I had to act the role, right? That meant accepting everything at face value and not asking any questions. Its the perfect environment for a Sociopath because it introduces a lack of accountability for their actions. Given a sociopath’s lack of empathy and manipulative nature, it makes this behavior doubly effective.- The more you know!
Pity Play is their Forte
One of the best parts of being in a relationship/ friendship is knowing that someone will always have your back. This means that you can talk about the bad things as well as the good. However, if your friend/ partner is constantly bringing up old wounds out of context, they might be going after your pity as a way to distract you from current circumstances. After all, it’s hard to feel suspicious or judge someone you also feel sorry for. Their lack of empathy means that they actually don’t care about you or your problems and talking about themselves means they don’t have to focus on you at all. Again this has a double effect because you feel uncomfortable questioning their actions- no matter how negative, because you feel sorry for them.
Their Favorite Shape Is A Triangle
Sociopaths want to be the center of your world. If they’re not, it becomes much harder for them to exert control over you. To do this, many will introduce another person/ people into the relationship to upset the balance and make you fight harder for their affections. A straight-up affair would be too easy (and risky) to reveal and obviously not applicable to a friendship. Usually, these come in the form of an old friend who just has to come along on your date, a friend they wont stop texting or talking about. To the point that when you complain about it, suddenly you’re the insecure/melodramatic/crazy one/ overreacting. Or they will envoke the pity party- so make you stop. You know the type “I have too much going on at work”, “You know how stressed I am why are YOU doing this to ME”
Denying what they’re clearly doing is called Gaslighting, and it’s an incredibly damaging practice. The Gaslight Effect happens over time, gradually, and often, by the time you are deep into the Gaslight Tango, you are not the same strong self you used to be. In fact, your ego function has been compromised, you have been manipulated and you are no longer certain of reality. Of course this has all been cleverly constructed by the Socio.
They’re Always The Victim And/Or The Hero
The sociopathic mindset is truly fascinating. Generally, they believe they are smarter than everyone else, and because of that, life is set up to punish them. Listen to the way your person talks about themselves. What kind of stories do they tell most often? And what role do they play in those stories? If every story features them one-upping someone or how they were thwarted (by unfair forces clearly out to get them) they may be subtly revealing their worldview.
It’s a sense of entitlement that comes with sociopathy. It stems from an underlying sense of rage. Sociopaths feel deeply angry and resentful underneath their often-charming exterior, and this rage fuels their sense that they have the right to act out in whichever way they happen to choose at the time. Everything is up for grabs with sociopaths and nothing is off limits.As long as they are getting the outcome they desire that is all that matters. They will jump in and save the day- so that they can gain recognition for their actions. They will tell tales of how they were victimised and badly treated to garner attention. They may exaggerate stories to promote response or reaction to gain notoriety or pity depending on the level of attention they seek.
They Will Lie About The Strangest Things
Now that everything is said and done, I’m not terribly surprised that even the little truths were nonsense. But at the time, I accepted them as fact- I mean they were so genuine how could I possibly question it. But hey, if you’re going to be the master of your own reality, control every aspect. Sociopaths are known pathological liars, and that means even the strangest little lies are a constant. Of course, the big ones happen all the time too and they may not even be happening to your face. Instead they may attempt to manipulate how others view you in a further attempt to garner control.
They Can Get Pretty Defensive
Sociopaths don’t like to be called out on their behavior. It stops the game dead in its tracks — and what do they have if they can’t manipulate, intimidate, and get their own way at any cost? If you confront a suspected sociopath about any bad behavior, expect arguing, debate, and outright denial. Don’t expect them to come clean. And certainly don’t expect closure (which is fine — if you’ve encountered a sociopath for any period of time you’re strong enough to give yourself closure.)
Trust Your Gut
Maybe this list doesn’t completely resonate with you. Maybe your person only ticks one or two of the boxes. But if you are so unhappy in your relationship that the idea that they may be a sociopath even occurred to you, consider why. Official diagnosis or not, you deserve someone who won’t manipulate, lie, or discard you the second the wind changes. It’s going to take choosing yourself and making some painful changes. But it’s totally worth it- even if it might not feel like it at the time.