A few years ago I dated a man who said that he loved me.
But hundreds of unanswered phone calls and dates that only I showed up for made that hard to believe. Still I knew that if I was patient and loved him hard enough that he would eventually change.
It took a phone call from the wife that he conveniently forgot to mention to make me realize that that probably wasn’t going to happen.
Many experiences (and a master’s degree) later, I’ve come to understand that my former lover, and those like him, are sociopaths: a unique breed of individual that is incapable of empathy or any other proper connection to other human beings.
Now when you think of the term “sociopath,” it might conjure up images of the lone stranger who gets off by dismembering people in his backyard. While this may be true, the term isn’t reserved for only felons and serial killers.
This is because the sociopath’s desire doesn’t have to be murder. Sometimes it’s money. Sometimes it’s sex. Sometimes it’s control. And while many people have these same aspirations, what makes a sociopath a sociopath is that they are more than willing to hurt someone to get what they want. So if your feelings or your well-being have to be sacrificed in order for them to achieve that need, that’s exactly what will have to happen.
They’re the man who sleeps with his partner just for her paycheck; the boyfriend that has sex with his girl’s sister, or even the husband that has managed to keep a secret, second family on the side. Most heartbreaking are the partners who think they can love or pray these individuals into being better people. But unfortunately, that’s simply not possible. Because unlike most people who suffer from some sort of mental disorder, sociopaths are perfectly happy being just the way they are. It’s the people that they come across who are miserable. So the only way to ensure that you’re not hurt by a sociopath is simple: stay away.
And what are the criteria for a diagnosable sociopath?
1. Unlawful Behavior
Sociopaths are arrogant creatures who often think they can operate above the law. Because of this, they may repeatedly perform criminal acts. However, because they are usually crafty and highly intelligent, they rarely get caught.
Lying! But not the random or compulsive variety. Sociopaths lie for a purpose, which usually includes some type of financial, sexual, or political gain. Lies may be grandiose in nature and are told as a vehicle of control.
Sociopaths act on instinct and without thoroughly planning ahead. They may enter relationships quickly and passionately, but lose interest just as fast.
Sociopaths are usually easily irritated and may be prone to repeated physical fights.
5. Reckless Disregard
Sociopaths are likely to partake in risky, thrill seeking behaviors as they constantly need to be stimulated. In the context of relationships, this includes highly promiscuous sexual behavior usually without protection.
You know that person that can’t seem to hold down a job? Not because they’re lazy, but because they just don’t want to work? They may just be a sociopath that thinks they’re too good for a regular nine to five.
7. Lack of Remorse
Sociopaths don’t feel bad about anything. This includes not returning your calls or sleeping with your best friend. And to add insult to injury, sociopaths will come up with reasons to rationalize their messed up behavior. Her friend wanted me and what she doesn’t know won’t hurt her. Right?
Bottom line is a sociopath has one concern: himself. And while they know their behavior is devastating to those around them, they’re charming enough to make sure that there are always people in their lives to take advantage of.
You just have to make sure you’re not one of them.