“I could smell the smoke, but I could never find the fire.” That’s how one Lovefraud reader explained her experience with a sociopath. She sensed that something was terribly wrong, but could never figure out what it was.
Other Lovefraud readers described the same situation this way, “I knew something was off, but I couldn’t put my finger on it.”
Why is this? Why can’t we see what later turns out to be massive lying, exploitation and betrayal?
Following are eight reasons why we may suspect that something about the sociopath isn’t right, but we don’t identify it.
- We don’t know sociopaths exist.
No one tells us that 12% of women and 16% of men — 47 million people in the U.S. — are seriously disordered. How can we watch out for trouble that we don’t know about?
- We don’t know the warning signs of sociopathic behavior.
Yes, there are distinct patterns of disordered behavior — I catalogue them in my book, Red Flags of Lovefraud — 10 signs you’re dating a sociopath. But no one tells us them either.
- Sociopaths seem so normal.
Even if we had heard about sociopaths, we believe they’re criminals, drug dealers or serial killers. Who knew they could disguise themselves as pillars of the community?
- We don’t know the sociopaths are lying.
Sociopaths lie like they breathe. They are totally convincing. And humans can only spot lies 53% of the time. We don’t stand a chance.
- The sociopath is saying, “I love you.”
We’re being told how wonderful, smart, talented and beautiful we are. Of course, we want to believe it — so we also believe everything else the sociopath tells us.
- The sociopath always has a believable explanation.
On the few occasions where we do question the sociopaths, they have a reasonable excuse or explanation.
- We try asking questions — but stop.
After a few attempts at disputing the sociopaths — and being told we are paranoid, bipolar or untrusting — we learn it is better to keep our mouths shut.
- Everyone else thinks the sociopath is wonderful.
Friends, acquaintances and co-workers all think the sociopaths are terrific. If we are the only people with doubts, we assume the problem is us.
So how about you? What blocked your ability to perceive what was going on with the sociopath? Please add to the list by describing your experiences in the comments below.