3 Signs You Should Stop Hurting the Sociopath in Your Life

So you’re wondering if you’re with someone who has a character disorder? Maybe a narcissist? Or a sociopath? If you are, you might often be accused of hurting that poor person. Here are three things you might be blamed for, otherwise known as red flags:

1. A person with a character disorder is not responsible for his or her life. You are. And if you don’t step up to the plate with a full wallet, lots of energy, and a constant smile, then you’re going to hear about it. About how mean you are. Uncaring. Unloving. Unwilling. Even if you’ve been stepping up to the plate with all of the above for years and are simply worn out by your partner’s inability to invest alongside you. Even when you’re fixing their problems or building their dreams.

They’re masters at delegation. Manipulation. Inspiring others to invest in them. But they’ll never give what you’re giving. They’re already scheming up their second plan as you’re spending your life savings on the first. And when you tire of their unwillingness to put anything of their own into the problems they want you to fix, they’ll attack you for being “mean.” When you’re exhausted of pouring yourself into their ideas, they’ll demonize you and detach. You aren’t who they thought you were. You’re selfish. You’re mean. They want to be with someone new and unknowing. Someone who will pour everything they have into the new dream—with a full wallet, lots of energy, and a constant smile.

So stop being mean. Let that poor person go.

2. When you’re in a relationship with someone who has a character disorder, you are likely to reach a point when they suddenly can’t trust you anymore. They’ll call you “sneaky” and “deceitful.” They’ll accuse you of cheating. Betraying them. Doing something surreptitious. Be warned. This is a common sign that they are, indeed, involved in some sort of betrayal. If you’ve done a careful analysis and haven’t cheated or lied or done anything along those lines, and if you’re suddenly accused of unfounded deceitfulness, then the person you’re with is likely projecting on you. That means they’re doing something behind your back and are projecting that behavior on you—saying that you’re the one who’s doing it.

If you’re living the same life you lived when this person was madly in love with you and completely wowed by your “solid values,” then consider their accusations of untrustworthiness and betrayal a giant red flag.

So stop being so surreptitious and tell your partner the truth. That it’s time to move on.

3. If you’re in a relationship with someone who has a character disorder, you’re likely to be accused of holding them back. At some point, you’ll come to be viewed as the chain that keeps them from doing everything. From forming the business of their dreams. From living a life of love and happiness. From being “truly connected” to their partner. They’ll say they want it. They’ll do almost nothing to realize it. But they’ll talk about everything they’re doing and have done all the time to anyone who will listen.

They’ll ignore your “let’s make this happen” pep talks. They’ll fantasize about it all day long—that greener grass. And then they’ll put their laser focus on you as being the one and only reason why they can’t get it. If they’re violent, they may want to beat you. If they’re cold, they may withdraw into an icy silence. If they’re sneaky, they may start messing around on the side. If they’re disordered, they’ll do just about any hurtful thing to you that you can think of. To punish you for holding them back. Even when you’re the one to fund the travel. To fund the business. To pay the rent. They’ll never acknowledge your contributions; instead they’ll get people to feel sorry for them because you “never cared” about their plans. Even when you’ve invested all you have in just about anything they ever asked for.

So stop holding them back. Let that person fly away.

~H.G. Beverly is the author of The Other Side of Charm.
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27 Comments on "3 Signs You Should Stop Hurting the Sociopath in Your Life"

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This is so so true. Our 16 y/o son is just like this. He never acknowledges anything we do for him, or give to him, only that we don’t care about him, because we will not get him an iPhone like everyone else, or we won’t let him on the computer. Whenever he is on wifi or the internet he will access pornography or steal my debit card to purchase something without asking. WE have given him so much. He never gives anything back. I’m honest with him, but he tells me I’m lying. No one I talk to understands. Our son’s friend’s Mom thinks we are horrible. He is adopted.

cheripik – OMG! We need to talk. Our spath is adopted also. Her adoptive parents were ill prepared and over their heads in dealing with an spath. (Both of her biological parents were diagnosed sociopaths in a social study prior to her adoption.) No one in the family believed them when they talked about some of the things she was doing. We believe them now, but only because we have been involved with her behavior for the past several years and are trying to protect the children she has had from her behavior. She lies about everyone and everything. She has been known to steal. She manipulates people and systems constantly. Her adoptive parents and ex husband lost jobs because of her. According to her… everyone she was in contact with abused her. The entire family abused her. We abuse her because we hold her to the truth and counter her lies. She only appreciates what she is given when it is part of a manipulation, otherwise nothing and no amount of it is good enough or sufficient.

You are in a difficult situation. Our spath could have been diagnosed at 15 except for the reluctance of professionals to label before the age of 18. What little advise I can offer is you need a support system educated in sociopaths. Other adoptive parents may only be dealing with attachment disorder where your son may be a flat out sociopath. Document, document, document everything you can. You need to educate yourself and stay strong. It isn’t easy dealing with a family member who is a sociopath. God Bless!!!!

I took my son to at least 4 different therapists before he was 13. He was very obviously lacking empathy from the time he was small. I hoped time would correct the problem. Little did I know, it was genetic. And little did I know, it was the basic underpinning of sociopathy.

He had all the earmarks of character disorder…. ADHD, impulsivity, played with fire, killed his pet rabbit with his bare hands at age 4, and on and on. He was expelled from 4 schools and kicked out of his college dorm. You’d think someone in the mental health profession would have sat me down and said, “We need to talk!”

To this day, I’m his pivotal blame magnet. Everything bad in his life is my fault. I was too permissive, or not permissive enough. I was too giving, or too stingy. I was too soft or too harsh. I was too smart or too stupid. I was never a person, just a provider. In fact, his parting words were, “Now that I’m independent, what do I need you for?”

With the clarity of 20/20 hindsight, I now understand the dynamics of what I faced. I can see the humor in it. But there is no humor in his loss, regardless of the pain and anguish his presence caused. He was and always will be my son.

For those of you going through the fractured tempest of life with a character disordered child, you have my wholehearted wishes for the strength to create emotional distance and help you face each difficult day. Hopefully, you will find peace in knowing that all you can do is the best you can do, and there is no clear path. Recovery is not a possibility with someone who is not capable of recovering. Managing your heartache is the means by which you will survive. They will not be children forever.

There’s the rub. HOW does one manage the heartache? My child has not murdered or robbed anyone, but there are lies upon lies, and scams upon scams. She’s not psychopath but she is borderline or something similar because she goes into blackout rages. She will rage so intensely and then fall asleep and wake up swearing it didn’t happen, that we are lying about her behavior.

At the least, she is like my mother, so yep, I think it genetic and obviously she got it through me. I didn’t raise her that way and except for grade school temper tantrums, she didn’t act out until she was in her 20’s.

I keep thinking if I had known, I could have done something for her. I am angry at myself for not seeing she needed help. And angrier that I married a sociopath who encouraged her to be cruel, as a way to divide her off from me. He was jealous that I loved her. In his mind, all my care was to be given to him. He punished me for have love for my child. He punished her for being my child.

So… dear jm_short… HOW is that kind of heartache managed?

Because I admit, sometimes I’d like to die and end the pain of it. Not direct suicide, but it’s hard to take care of myself. What for. I thought I’d be a better mother than I had, (my mom was a nightmare terror). Instead I’ve raised a kid who hates me the same way my mom did. ANd I can’t blame my mom for what I did to raise my kid! It’s all on ME. (Just ask! All the websites that give advice to moms who struggle with their kids blame the MOM!)


I hear you loud and clear.

Unfortunately, there is very little information in the public eye about raising kids with sociopathic mindsets. Most people will tell you, it’s all your fault.

Generally, society feels that a child is born as a clean slate…. as if they are vessels we mold and fill as they develop. I’ve realized, after a great deal of research, and reading on the subject, it’s simply not so. Our kids have genetic functions that are indigenous in their character.

Having a son or daughter with sociopathic tendencies, that does not turn out to be a murderer or a thief, is a credit to the upbringing you gave them. They could have become ghouls had you not been a parent who instilled the boundaries that ultimately limited how low they would sink.

Sociopathic kids who grow up with violence are more likely to exhibit Ted Bundy-like behavior. Character disordered kids who develop in more stable and loving homes, although unable to develop conscience or caring, generally won’t chop their neighbors up for dinner. But even that’s not a given. They might.

So if you can gain any solace in your thoughts about your child, it could spring from the fact that, but for your support and love, they could easily have become much worse than they turned out.

It is excruciatingly painful to lose a child to character disorder. Their lives continue undaunted, but full of hatred and without your inclusion. Your future as a family is lost. The more you understand the underpinnings of it, the better at forgiving yourself you’ll become. You didn’t want your child to be this way, yet they are. And the recognition that they are incapable of loving us the way we love them is heart breaking.

You need to find meaning elsewhere. You won’t find it by being their parent. You need to accept that you can’t change them. They are who they are, and it is highly unlikely that they will change on their own.

When my son left, for the longest time, I couldn’t even stand seeing a parent and child walk down the street together. I was grief struck beyond words. His antipathy for me rang in my ears and played over and over in my mind, consuming my thoughts. The heaviness of it was stifling. I needed both an anti-depressant to help tune it out, and a good therapist in order to survive.

I thought my life was over. Everything I’d lived for and strived for came to a screeching halt. I had to grieve that loss in the same way one needs to grieve the loss of a child who dies. The difference is that they are not dead and their cruelty toward you is ongoing each and every day. You have to accept that it’s what they want, be happy that they are not ghouls, and make a life for yourself without them in it.

You can find other meaning for yourself. There are unfortunate souls all around you who you can benefit. And reaching out to help others will give you back your self esteem.

I don’t think there is anything more painful in the universe than losing a child. What I understand today, that I didn’t understand back when he was hurling insults and accusations at me is, it was just a game of manipulation to him. Some kids just don’t feel love’s connection. It’s just who they are. And some children grow up seeking the ultimate in power, by disempowering their parents.

I wish you all the best!

Thank You so much for your reply jm_short.

You have helped me (and surely others similar to my situation). Things you wrote did not even occur to me. I guess my pain is clouding my thinking. Strange to me because my pain about my sociopathic ex husband is what gave me clarity about HIM.

I have tried to find meaning elsewhere, but I recognize that I have sabotaged myself. I have constantly reminded myself that I MUST be arrogant and narcissistic to think I had anything to offer anyone. Afterall, the proof is that I failed the only person who mattered to me, the child that gave my life meaning. I failed her. So who am I to think I have anything worthy to give? Then I realize at the least, I can be someone’s servant, but that is so painful to me, to submit to being treated like dirt; that’s how my ex treated me, that I could serve him and be grateful for food and a place to sleep. I rebelled from his oppressive control because I thought what I offered was worth more than what was essentially slavery, that all the fruits of my labor belonged to him.

Thus I find myself bound up in a catch-22. My spirit wants more than to be degraded, but my heart cries that I am such a failure as a nurturer and mother that I don’t deserve anything more than being degraded.

It did not occur to me that there is a DIFFERENT path to finding meaning. As I read your words, I see that’s obvious, but in my pain, I just didn’t see the obvious.

I also assumed that my trying to blame genetics seemed like scapegoating to me, that I was avoiding the consequences of my failed responsibility of appropriate and proper parenting.

Your final paragraph is especially enlightening to me. DUH! on me! I knew that with my ex, drama wasn’t real, it was him manipulating me. Why didn’t I realize that all her accusations of how “I ruined her life”, “I should be glad that she hasn’t committed suicide from having me as a mom”, etc., those ARE manipulations. Such statements always broke my heart and I’d search my behaviors, trying to figure out what I did wrong that destroyed her so much.

You are so right, that I need to find a way to forgive myself. I’ve been thinking that forgiving myself means I was letting myself off the hook for destroying her life. Letting myself off the hook for anything is VERY hard for me, I’ve always found strength in taking responsibility!

I think this advice you’ve given me is so important for people who have sociopathic children. For me, it’s been a bigger nightmare than my marriage to my ex, because I could see right/wrong with him. I have a hard time seeing right/wrong with my child because I feel responsible for her wrongs and for her way of thinking her conclusions.

Thank you for your kindness, I am so grateful for your reply that makes complete sense to me. I wish I could send you flowers or something. Bless You. Thank you.

NotWhatHeSaidofMe – You manage heartbreak by giving yourself a break! A disorder is just that. Some can be helped, some can be managed, and some just are what they are. You did the best you could for your child with the tools you had at the time. You shut out the outside blame noise and you allow yourself to understand that while you gave her your best, it is now up to your child to determine her future. I tell my children that my job is to get them to 18. Their job is to figure out who and what they want to be and do whatever they need to do (including therapy) to get there. I’ve given them something to tell Oprah, but they can only blame so much on me as I did the best I could with the tools I had at the time. After 18 it’s all on them.

You were a better mom than your own – celebrate that! You mourn the familial ideal that you had hoped for, you accept reality, and you allow yourself to create your own life. You find friendships and interests that support you in a positive way. You nourish your spirituality in whatever form that takes. You become who you want to be and you protect that.

Just give yourself a break. Mothers cannot be blamed for everything. At some point children have to shoulder their own blame no matter how much they want to do otherwise. That you recognize what is happening is HUGE… think of the mothers who cannot or will not see what their disordered children are… you are leaps and bounds ahead of them.

I know it isn’t easy. I have a narcissist son who is 25. I am blamed for so much by him. It came down through the family. I could no more cure him than cancer. I’m thankful that he isn’t anything like my grandfather the violent, mean, racist-sociopath who sexually abused me as a very young child or as horrible as my mother – who allowed him to do it – the narcissist who only wanted a son. I’ve told my brother another narcissist – that if I could have chosen my parents I would have chosen his as they were far better to him than me and they were the same people. I did the best I could for for my son whose father is a violent sociopath. That he is what he is was a genetic lottery. I’ll take my son over my grandfather, my mother, or his father. I love him with all my heart and soul. I recognize who and what he is and I protect myself accordingly. Some days are better than others with him. I also have a sociopath cousin. My husband and I deal with her disorder too as we work to protect her children from her. After plenty of therapy, I have my own life and I make the best of it.

I pray that you can find peace in your life. Heartache needn’t be forever. On the bright side, it’s only there because you are not disordered. Stay strong!!!

Your remark about the bright side is funny and endearing at the same time Bets….

Just as the things that jm_short wrote, I didn’t think of that either… that my heartache is because I am not disordered.

I had wondered if I was fooling myself thinking I was loving, especially since my child says she was never loved by me, that she had to find it elsewhere because I was in fantasyland thinking my parenting was any good (all hindsight, she never said these things during the years I was being her mom. She says these things now, and also says she forgives me for being a crappy mom. But that she has to be NC with me because I am a crappy mom.)

Thank you for your help and advice. You have helped me find a way to move forward out of the captured torment of my failure.

I agree Joyce. I’ve watched our spath’s family grieve her loss. She isn’t dead. They still occasionally get communication from her, but they are several states away and insulated from the greater impact she is currently on society. In that way it’s more like a divorce. The ideal of the familial relationship is dead. It’s altered into a new reality where the child lives on, but a wall is erected – distance, mindset, and whatever armor is needed to protect the non-character disordered from the disordered.

We have all learned in our way to avoid participating in the manipulations. The ache for us is that we cannot stop others from doing so. I liken it to having the knowledge that there is a bomb out there… I know it will go off and that when it does it will damage all in its path… I have this knowledge, but those who NEED to know also are deaf to my warnings. I end up feeling guilty that others are being hurt by our sociopath and nothing I do or say can stop it. These others become active participants in our spath’s manipulations without understanding the danger they are in.

I have trouble reconciling that while I have these feelings of guilt and dismay, our sociopath feels none of this. She goes on perpetrating her own agenda with no regard for who and what she leaves in her wake while I suffer Catholic guilt over it.

I pray for justice for those she damages and peace for me and her children. I pray that nurture can overcome nature. That with our knowledge of who and what she is we can somehow guide her children to a less damaging path in life while she creates more children. All I can say is Karma – HURRY UP ALREADY!!!!!

RE: “One thing I noticed across all comments is the inability of the sociopath to invest.”

Yep. Mine started saying “i tried and tried and tried”. After thinking about how little she had ever contributed to the relationship, i asked for an example of what she had tried.

No answer. So she came up with a new phrase “Im done”.
Again I asked, done with what?
more silence.

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