11 abusive behaviors you’re likely to see from sociopathic partners

Angry woman yelling at manWhen Lovefraud readers ask me for personal consultations, it’s because someone in their lives usually a romantic partner acts in ways that they simply cannot understand. The readers describe an unfathomable mixture of affection, attention, contradictions, deception, blaming and rage. It makes no sense and it’s behavior that they’ve never seen before.

So imagine the readers’ surprise when I say, “Yeah, they all do that.”

It’s true. Sociopaths all seem to engage in the same abusive behaviors. Recognizing physical and sexual abuse is straightforward enough. You may also be aware of psychological and emotional abuse.

But if you’re involved with a sociopath, you may also see some of the following:

  1. Blaming you for his or her bad behavior

No matter what the sociopath does, from disappearing without explanation to cheating on you to physically assaulting you, he or she will say it’s your fault. You weren’t attentive enough, or you complained too much, or you pushed his or her buttons. They will tell you this with so much outrage that you may actually start to believe it.

  1. The smear campaign

Long before you have any inkling that there is a problem in your relationship, the sociopath is trashing you behind your back to family, friends, neighbors and the authorities. He or she may say that you’re mentally ill, cheating, doing drugs, or other lies. The objective is to take down your support network, so that when you finally realize what is going on and reach out for help, no one believes you.

  1. Telling you that no one else will want you

In the beginning of your involvement, the sociopath showered you with compliments you were beautiful, smart, fun and sexy. Now, the sociopath tells you that you’re old, fat, ugly and stupid. The sociopath says he or she stays with you out of obligation or pity, and you’ll never find another partner. This is designed to weaken your confidence and self-esteem so that you are afraid to leave.

  1. Constant calls and text messages

Early in your relationship the sociopath may have called and texted constantly, claiming he or she was head-over-heels for you. You may have though it was cute, proof of true love. But gradually the calls and texts became intrusive and are now used to control you. If you don’t answer the call or text back immediately, he or she may fly into a rage.

  1. Demanding to know everything you do

Calls and text messages are the first stage of controlling behavior. Eventually the sociopath may make you account for every minute of your day, demanding to know what you did, whom you spoke to and what was said. The consequences of providing the wrong answer: rage. Eventually you may be afraid to do anything without the sociopath’s permission.

  1. Relaying what others are supposedly saying about you

The sociopath may tell you that your family, friends and neighbors have bad opinions about you, or think there is something wrong with you. Everything the sociopath says is likely a lie, and he or she is fabricating all the stories, but you don’t know that. The objective is to drive a wedge between you and your support network, so that you feel you can’t turn to anyone for help.

  1. Manipulating the money

Sociopaths typically drain you financially in one of two ways. 1) They get you to pay for all the expenses and run up your credit cards until you are broke. 2) They convince you to quit your job, perhaps to take care of the kids, and make you financially dependent on them. Either way, when you’ve had enough and want to escape the relationship, you don’t have the resources to leave.

  1. Accusing you of cheating

Many sociopaths will accuse you of cheating on them. Even though they have no basis for making these accusations, they say you’re sleeping with your co-workers or still involved with previous romantic interests. Why do they do this? Because they are cheating, so they assume you are also.

  1. Using your deepest secrets against you

Back when you were in the honeymoon phase of your relationship when the sociopath was showering you with attention and you thought it was true love you may have shared some deeply personal information. Perhaps you’d once been abused. Or you had an addiction. Whatever. Eventually, the sociopath uses that personal information as ammunition to hurt you.

  1. Electronic surveillance

Today’s technology is great but unfortunately it has a dark side. Software to monitor your computer and cell phone, GPS tracking devices, and tiny microphones to bug your home, are all cheap and easy to install. If you feel like the sociopath is reading your mind, it may actually be that he or she has you under surveillance.

  1. Threatening suicide

As shocking as it may seem, threatening suicide is a typical sociopathic behavior. The idea is to guilt you into staying in the relationship. The sociopath may be bluffing with the suicide threats, or may be serious. Either way, know that you are not responsible. The best thing you can do is call 911.

Strategies of power and control

What you need to know about all of these behaviors is that they are sociopathic strategies of power and control. The sociopath does not engage in these behaviors just because of you. All of these forms of abuse come right out of the sociopath’s playbook. He or she likely treated other people exactly the same way.

Why is it important to understand this? Because by recognizing that sociopaths engage in these behaviors all the time, you can take back your power. The sociopath’s actions are not your fault. In fact, it doesn’t matter what you do the sociopath’s behavior will not change.

So you might as well get out.


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70 Comments on "11 abusive behaviors you’re likely to see from sociopathic partners"

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I went no contact with the N. I think this is what he is. I wrote here asking if they come back? Lo and behold, the N is back laying it hard on me that he wants us to be back together. I had educated myself big time and healed with EMDR. As it work wonders. I thank my therapist, she is my angel. I got stronger and do not want him in my life. I know he is disordered, but he does not know that I know this. However, I have playing him like the puppeteer, the way he played me. I know I should go no contact, but I wanted to show him that he did not break me. He hurt me, confused me, bruised me, but I wasn’t broken. As I been through Hell and back with having my baby killed, molested by my father, beaten and living in abandoned buildings at the age of 13 and dealing drugs for my father for the fear of being beat to death as a child. Yes, this made me stronger and more compassionate towards others, so I’m resilient. He does not know any of this as I did not want to share it, because he was persistent in knowing everything about me very early on, (red flag). So I never told him. However, since he’s back I asked him that the only thing I wanted from him was an apology. I know this is repellent to them. He is the letter I wrote him.

________, the reason I asked you to please answer my last email is to make sure that I’m not dealing with a malignant narcissist, (please don’t take offense to this.) I feel I need to protect myself. As people with this disorder are some type of crazies and this disorder scares me. As we been trained on them. This disorder comes from alienation from a child being neglected by him mother in a sick way, of course this broke my heart that any child would have to go through this, as I love children.

When the child is neglected by his mother the poor child creates another personality which comprises of mimicking other human’s behavior just to get by and creates a protective self that lack empathy and compassion towards others. The mother has showed the child that he/she is worthless, but of course no child is worthless. A child is precious and valued, and there are mothers who should never have been mothers.

Just thought I educate you a little on the disorder. Just being safe and not saying that you do have it, but understand that this is important to me.

Malignant Narcissist won’t apologize for this reason the narcissistic personality relies on the creation of a grandiose ’false self’, a version that the narcissist perceives as ’special’ and ’unique’. To have this false self threatened as not being omnipotent feels like emotional annihilation, and the narcissists will expend all energy or use any arsenal to defend his or her false self, (copied from another source)

So before, I embark on moving forward I thought I should just ask to be on the safe side, (no offense). People come in all shapes and sizes and I don’t know you very well except those 9 months of 2 or 3 meetings and phone calls. I hope you understand this and hope that you can keep an open mind to this. I hope that you can be honest with me, since you stated that you wanted me back and were willing to work for us.

I don’t think that he will be back, since this man is a textbook N. But I found it funny that he would go through all this and I repel him like the bug he is.

I will follow up with what happens. I hear crickets at 4:30 today, lol


This place kept me sane while I escaped, and stayed away from, the path. It is VERY easy to feel confused and guilty when a disordered person opens their mouth and talks. I don’t mean that to be a funny statement. I mean it, seriously.

If they are talking and the words are going into your ears then mostly you will feel confused and strangely uncertain or guilty. This is because disordered people use words to lie and manipulate, not as a means of connection and communication. Instead, words are used as weapons.

Everything he has said is a twisted lie. “I wasn’t serious when I said that” ” “I was only joking” ” “Guess I can’t kid around with you anymore” ” “I’d do anything for you and your family”

Look at it from the opposite point of view: He wasn’t joking, he was serious, and he won’t do a thing for you but take what he needs.

His comments are strictly to make you feel like you don’t know fact from fiction, have no sense of humor, and are totally ungrateful for everything he has ever done for you and your family (or would do, in that elusive ‘future’ disordered folks are so fond of!). All manipulations to make you feel BAD (guilty, confused, anxious, uncertain, obligated, fearful).

None of it was meant to soothe you or to convey remorse. You do not need to feel the least bit guilty or obligated to help him. Believe me, he will land on his feet and will be just fine. He won’t ‘really’ by hurt, insulted, or otherwise burdened. He will move on with ease.

So, think about YOU. It’s OK in this set of circumstances to disregard social niceties. Stick to the legal and ethical behaviors you know you have to live with. But push aside your need to be more ‘personal’, kind, and loving. These will be wasted in this situation.


Very well said.
It still amazes me that the behavior is so dead on consistent.
This consistency is the very thing that has helped me understand what the hell was going on.
I look back at it now and still believe no contact is the only contact.
Distance is key.
It’s the only way to regain clarity.
I love reading your posts, very spot on.

Thanks Strong! At this point in my ‘recovery’ I don’t see the ‘details’ of each situation as much because, just like you noted, there is SO MUCH consistency in a disordered person’s character and behavior, that getting caught up in talking about the details of the situation no longer seems relevant to me.

Not that it isn’t…I don’t mean that. I just think it can be a bit of a trap. Because the disordered person cannot attend to life’s details and circumstances in any other way than a disordered way, us getting too caught up in those details, and trying to manage them in our ‘normal’ way, just keeps us stuck dealing with the abuser.

Not to say that I don’t feel total compassion for each of our individual stories, and the amount of betrayal, money lost, and chaos created in our lives. And we do have to manage our situations with some differences (like needing lawyers, or to protect our children).

But, in general, I think being able to SEE with the greatest amount of clarity that there are specific tactics and behaviors that disordered people use is very helpful when we are trying to get away and stay away. It relieves us of the burden we carry…that they PUT on us. WE are NOT responsible for what THEY are doing.

They are so masterful at helping us take all the blame. They do ‘smoke and mirrors’ like no one else can.

I am really glad to hear more strength in YOUR voice! I know you still sometimes feel pain, and that WILL pass. But you ‘sound’ like you are making some real headway. Good for you.

Thank you for the encouragement.
I really am in a very different place now.
The pain is just about gone.
It was not real.
I did have a hard time understanding what the hell he wanted from me.
It all makes sense now.
I now know and more importantly understand what happened.
Looking back to when he was around it’s very easy to see exactly what he was doing.
The greatest gift I have received was him moving far, far away.
Once he was gone and yes he tried to keep me around, still does but I have come so far in my emotional healing and understanding why I kept allowing people like that in my life.
I had zero boundaries and I did not love myself enough back then.
I now have no problem bouncing people out of my life that disrespect me or if they don’t meet my criteria then next.
Sometimes it’s nothing personal but if I want XYZ and they can not meet that need then we are just not right for each other.
It’s been a long road, but I can say that this is something that was necessary for me.
I really enjoy reading your posts here.
I too feel safe here.

Thank you Slim! This is just what I needed and continue to need. I will continue to come back here. Although its very sad that so many of us have gone through or are currently going through a relationship with a spath, I don’t feel so alone … and I thank God for this site. Its like some of the weight has lifted and I can breathe a little easier. The second-guessing is still there, but it’s there because I’m still living with him. Having the daily contact with him is what messes with my head. Once I leave, I know I will be in a better place – mentally and emotionally. I just need to get there! And although he doesn’t have ALL the characteristics of a spath, there’s enough there to have me come to this site. I cannot believe I’m in the situation I am in. UGH!


I understand. We can feel so isolated when we are unhappily coupled with one of these emotional terrorists. This is the best place I found to be safe with other people who really get it, and are supportive and kind.

You WILL be in a much better place. I hope you get there soon…

Remember: put that guilty obligation aside, and focus on you. It is perfectly right to do this now. It is essential.


Hi, as per my post he apologized. I understand that they won’t apologize. What gives? Where does he fall under? This has confused me. I told him that I cannot let him back in. I answered the phone and he actually apologized for everything, but I know it’s not true. I was under the impression that they don’t apologize. I don’t know why he’s back, as I had a feeling he would be. He stated that he let me go, because he wanted me to be happy. I stated, Really? So why are you back then, why not continue to let me be happy if this was you intention, because I am happy without the drama and chaos. He stayed shut, of course and went around in circles. I asked him? “It’s it because you didn’t break me, now you are back to try and break me? He says, “No.” In robotic mode. Anyway, any advice will help me. He’s emailed, but I have not answered. I told him that I no longer cared, which I don’t.

Equanimity113, As I’m currently in a spath relationship, trying desperately to get out, this is what happens to me. When he does or says something that’s not the “norm for a spath”, I start second-guessing my thinking … I misjudged him … maybe I’m wrong about him … etc. What is happening to you, and to me, is why they say “NO CONTACT”. If you truly mean what you said, that you don’t care, then DO NOT answer his email. There’s no point. You have to stay away to remain level-headed. Take care of yourself now … he’s in the past. Let him remain there.

Look at the actions of the person.
He is doing things that are not normal regardless of what we call him.
This questioning of the behavior is what they do, it’s how we are left sitting there like WTF just happened.
He was nice to me and didn’t lie to me this time.
Then you let your guard down and they do something horrible again or give you a clue to bad behavior.
This keeps you off balance and this behavior is not normal.
Just sayin

They will say whatever they think will work to reel you back in. Sociopaths may apologize, but it is only because they are using the apology as a tool to go after some other goal. Normal people apologize because they realize they have hurt someone’s feelings or caused someone harm and they feel bad about it.

I forgot to add that as long as you are listening to him or responding to him, you haven’t gone No Contact. He will toss all kinds of word salad at you hoping something will stick. The only way to free yourself of the second-guessing is to go NC and stay NC. The longer you are away, the more clearly you will see the manipulations that were used on you.

If you are happy without him, why are you giving him more opportunities to be back in your life?


Hi Equanimity,

Oh my gosh! They will apologize, cry, carry on like they mean it. They will tell you that they cannot believe how amazing you are to give them a second chance. They are MASTERFUL ACTORS. That is what they do, ACT their way through life, to get WHATEVER they want. One of the things they really want is NEVER TO LOSE. So, if you dump them, they HAVE to get you back so they weren’t on the losing end of the breakup stick.

You are making a familiar mistake (and I mean this with kindness, as I did it too). You are trying to reason with him, using your knowledge of disordered behavior. You are asking him if he is being disordered. HE DOESN’T KNOW HE IS DISORDERED. He thinks he is normal. Most disordered people don’t ‘think’ they are sick and different. They think they are amazing and unique, skilled, and good, and ‘just being themselves’. Which, if you think about it, they are!

You will not make any progress with him doing this. HE is disordered. He will continue to lie, manipulate, and dramatize….because that is what his illness demands of him. He can morph his disorder to meet the demands of his current situation, BUT, and this is BIG BUT…he will NOT be able to stop being disordered. He cannot simply ‘decide’ to be a normal person.

And the likelihood is he cannot see himself AS HE TRULY IS. Only you can see that the ’emperor has no clothes’.


I wish there was a “like” button for your post!

I felt the same way when I read Slim’s post.

They will “say” anything.
The words do not mean a thing.
I’m sorry but trying to rationalize with him like this will not work.
What it will do is let you have another go round with a mentally ill person that does not think like we do.
It’s impossible for them.
Yes they are able to tell you what they think you need to hear in order to regain control but this is sure to backfire.
The bad behavior will only get worse with time.
Every time you communicate with them they are inside saying to themselves, they have control.
They can apologize, they are only words.
Don’t waste your time and precious energy trying to figure him out or try to get him to understand how you feel.
It’s pointless, to them you are like the teacher in the Peanuts cartoons.
He does not want you to be happy.
I know this because they are all the same.

Your description of sociopath matches the description of every guy I’ve been with. I answered YES to every one. The one ex that disturbs me the most is my ex J. I really believe he is laying in the weeds waiting for a chance to prey on me. After the break-up 4 1/2 years before, he contacted me last Christmas with a 5 PAGE letter, then he called a few days later. His plan didn’t work. But, he is still 3 years behind on his property taxes. So I believe he will try to hook-up with me again. Cause he preys on others to pay his way through life.

Apparently he found a new sucker, cause his 2011 taxes have been paid, and recently someone paid his 2015 property taxes.

I know someone paid it for him cause he is so far in the red that there is no way he got caught up on his own, cause you gotta have income to pay bills.

Last year I was behind on my property taxes. I still owed $90.00 past July 31st. I was charged $25.00 for each month I was late. I was struggling cause my boyfriend at the time R. was using my car and gas and refusing to pitch in for gas, and he was telling me YOUR TURN !!! to pay for us to eat out. R. lasted about 1 or 2 months and I was DONE and BROKE.

So if the county charges $25.00 for each month late on property taxes, what would a person owe if they are late by 5 years? Even though the person got caught up on two years this year, they gotta be in the red by the thousand !!

Well I came back to town after accomplishing nothing when I left my ex husband. He is now focusing on alienating our son after he got him expelled from high school his senior year. I was and still am so angry. He was reinstated and graduated early, yet, I can’t help being so mad at this man. He is doing his usual socio pathic dance of bed hopping with this one and that one and on the other hand, trying to convince people I came crawling back to be with him. I’m not that stupid. I told my son that I’m going to get us a place to live then get a restraing order and hope it covers the entire complex and where ever he works because will make the excuse that he should be allowed go visit any friends that live there or apply. This is a complex for those who have low incomes. He makes $16.?? an hour and thats after he was demoted along with my alimony payments and 4 garnishments.
All I know is he will have reason to want to act as if we never existed. It is his dream coming true and ours.

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