“Is it really a vulnerability to respond to somebody (apparently) liking and desiring you? Is that not just a basic human need that we all want to have fulfilled?”
The Lovefraud reader Dorabella asked these questions on a story that I posted a couple of weeks ago, The sociopath as your soul mate. They are great questions. The answers are: Yes, it’s a vulnerability to respond to someone desiring you, and yes, it’s a basic human need. So although these are vulnerabilities, they are also normal human qualities.
To be human is to have vulnerabilities.
A vulnerability is a weak point, and whenever we want something, that creates a weak point. Most of us want a romantic relationships, so if we don’t have one, then yes, that is a vulnerability. But suppose you have a great relationship, but you want a more fulfilling job — then that’s a vulnerability. Suppose you have a great relationship and a great job, but you want to make more money. That then becomes a vulnerability.
The list of possible vulnerabilities is endless — and normal. Vulnerabilities are not faults — they are part of the human experience. But vulnerabilities are also the openings that sociopaths exploit. Therefore, you need to understand your own vulnerabilities and how a sociopath may attempt to use them.
Here are three steps to protect yourself:
1 . Know your vulnerabilities
Are you lonely? Are you struggling to take care of your kids? Are you worried about money? These are all common vulnerabilities, and there are many, many more. A sociopath will snag you through your vulnerabilities. Therefore, you need to know what they are, so that you can pick up when you are being targeted.
How do you discover your vulnerabilities? Through self-reflection and paying attention to your inner dialog.
If you want a romantic partner and don’t have one, that’s an obvious vulnerability. But take a close look at your feelings on this issue. Do you feel like you’re nothing without a partner? Do you feel like you’re running out of time? The more desperate you feel, the easier it will be for a sociopath to target you.
Sit quietly with a pen and paper. Ask yourself, “What do I want? How badly do I want it?” Write down everything that comes to mind. You’ll have a list of your vulnerabilities — which is the first step towards protecting yourself.
2. If your vulnerabilities are rooted in pain, heal them
As a human being, you’ve certainly endured disappointment and grief in your life. You may have also suffered real betrayal and abuse. These experiences create energies of pain and vulnerability within you— and sociopaths just seem to have radar to spot them.
Therefore, the best thing you can do to protect yourself from sociopaths is to work on healing your emotional pain. How do you do this? By allowing yourself to feel the pain, so you can let it go.
This means allowing yourself to cry, grieve or express anger about what happened to you. Sit quietly, permit memories of what happened rise to your awareness, and then feel the emotions of the experience.
This isn’t pretty, so you’ll want to do this either alone or with the help a trusted therapist. And pain usually runs deep, so it will take time to access it all. But processing old emotions is absolutely worth the effort. Releasing old pain clears your internal vulnerabilities, so that sociopaths have less to latch on to. The healing work also enables you to feel happier and more peaceful.
3. If your vulnerabilities are targeted, listen to your intuition
Beware the person who seems to be the answer to your prayers. If someone sweeps into your life and tells you everything you want to hear, there’s a chance that your vulnerabilities are being targeted.
Now is the time to pay attention to your intuition. If you are getting internal warnings that something is off about a person or a relationship, trust your instincts. Go on high alert, or end the involvement — even if you don’t have proof of bad behavior. The time to pay attention to you intuition is before you have evidence of wrongdoing, not afterwards.
Being appropriately vulnerable
The truth is that any human relationship, especially a romantic partnership, requires a certain amount of vulnerability. You have to put yourself out there, take a chance, make a leap of faith. No one is perfect, so there are times that you will be disappointed in your relationships.
But by taking these steps, you can protect yourself from sociopaths who prey on vulnerabilities. Knowing exploiters and manipulators are out there, and understanding yourself, you’ll be able to judge when it is safe to open your heart.