Shock. Confusion. Disbelief. These are common experiences when you’re romantically involved with a sociopath.
You ask yourself, or your friends, or your therapist, questions like:
- “How can he be talking about getting married one day and ghost me the next?”
- “How can she be so mean and cruel and then act like nothing ever happened?”
- “How can he tell me that he loves me while he’s cheating with someone else?”
Sociopathic behaviors are so confusing because your expectations about what a romantic relationship is, and how people who are supposed to be in love treat each other, are totally different from those of the sociopath.
You believe that when people are in love, you are good and kind to each other. You treat each other with respect. You support and value each other. You don’t lie, and you don’t intentionally hurt each other.
Your sociopathic partner, you discover, doesn’t share these beliefs. Here’s what you need to understand:
1. Sociopaths are fundamentally incapable of love
What is romantic love? You may experience it as a burning desire to be with your beloved, and yes, that’s part of it. But scientists have explored this question, and they’ve identified three components of romantic love.
The first component is attachment — that’s your desire to spend time with your partner. The second component is sex — which should be self-explanatory.
The third component is caretaking. If you love someone, you want to help and protect them. You want them to be happy, healthy and successful. You want what’s best for them.
Sociopaths are capable of the first two components — they want to be with you, and they certainly want sex. But they do not do caretaking. Sociopaths cannot be legitimately concerned about someone else’s wellbeing. They cannot put someone else’s interests before their own. This applies to everyone, including their own children.
The core of sociopathic personality disorders is the inability to love.
2. Sex for a sociopath is only about stimulation
Many people report that sex with the sociopath is the best they’ve ever had, at least in the beginning of the relationship. If this was your experience, you may have interpreted your earth-shattering sex as an indication of your deep and profound love.
Don’t count on it.
Sociopaths are often, although not always, skilled lovers. Here’s why:
- All sociopaths, both male and female, have high levels of testosterone, which drives them to seek sex.
- All sociopaths crave stimulation, and sex is about the most stimulating of human activities. They start young and engage frequently, so they get a lot of practice.
- Sociopaths have no inhibitions and nothing is off-limits, which can make sex with them very exciting.
For sociopaths, sex has nothing to do with love. They like sex because they want the physical stimulation. They also know that if they can hook someone sexually, it’s easier to exploit them.
3. A sociopath’s objective is exploitation
You enter a romantic relationship because you want to share love, support and companionship. A sociopath enters a romantic relationship in order to take advantage of you. Right from the very beginning, you are targeted. Here’s how this works:
First, when sociopaths meet you, they figure out if you have something that they want.
If the answer is yes, they figure out what your vulnerabilities are. They do this by asking deep, probing questions. You feel like they want to know all about you. Actually, they are looking for the deepest place within you to set their hooks.
Finally, they use your vulnerabilities in order to establish the relationship, and then they convince you to give them what they want.
Remember this: Sociopaths always have an agenda.
4. The sociopath’s loving behavior is all an act
In the beginning of an involvement, sociopaths engage in love bombing. They shower you with attention and affection. They tell you how wonderful you are. They want to be with you all the time. While they’re still reeling you in, they appear to be kind and considerate.
After some time, you may see flashes of rudeness or anger. The behavior seems out of character, so you assume your partner is simply having a bad day.
Then the sociopath turns on you. You are shocked to find yourself criticized, denigrated and abused. You wonder how the sociopath can suddenly shift from over-the-top affection to complete devaluation.
The truth is that the love and caring you saw in the beginning was a charade designed to hook you. The cruelty and contempt you are seeing now is your partner’s true character.
5. Sociopaths only want power and control
Most human beings seek relationships with other people in order to feel connected and attached. We find companionship, support and a sense of community to be intrinsically rewarding.
Sociopaths do not. Sociopaths engage in romantic relationships only to expert power and control over their partners. Sometimes it’s a money scam. Sometimes the partners serve as cover for their double lives. Sometimes they initiate romances just for the fun of breaking their partner’s hearts.
Sociopaths like being puppeteers. They want to pull the strings and watch other people jump.
This is why the sociopath’s behavior in your relationship makes no sense. What the sociopath wants out of the relationship is the total opposite of what you want, and this will never change. That’s why, when you realize you’re involved with a sociopath, the best solution for you is to get out.