She makes you drinks and home-cooked meals. He cuts your lawn and fixes your car. Your new romantic interest just can’t seem to do enough for you. You never felt so cared for. It must be love!
Maybe it is. Or maybe it’s a sociopath who is trying to soften you up for later exploitation.
I’ve often written on Lovefraud that sociopaths do not have the ability to be caregivers. Many readers find this confusing — the sociopath they know was always doing things for them. So let me explain.
First, some background.
Three components of romantic love
The core of sociopathic personality disorders is an inability to love. What, exactly does this mean?
Scientists have determined that romantic love has three components. They are:
- Attachment — people who are in love want to be with their special person
- Sex — for physical closeness and procreation
- Caregiving — people who are in love want to take care of their special person. They are truly concerned about their partner’s wellbeing and growth, and want the best for their partner.
Real love includes all three parts. Sociopaths can do the first two components — they want to be with the object of their desire, and they certainly want sex. But when it comes to caregiving, they simply cannot put the needs of someone else before their own.
Sociopaths are not truly interested in their partner’s health, growth or wellbeing. They are only interested in what their partner can do for them, or in how their partner’s achievements reflect on them.
It’s not caring; it’s seduction
Sociopaths frequently engage in caring behavior — professionals call it “pro-social behavior” — in the beginning of the involvement, when they are trying to reel you in. In fact, doing things for you is a function of love bombing. It’s one of the ways that they shower you with attention and affection.
This apparent caregiving also speeds the relationship up. Why? It makes you feel that you need to reciprocate. So you start doing things for them. Your emotional investment grows, pulling you deeper into the relationship.
You’re being seduced, but you might not see their true agenda right away. Some sociopaths are in for the long con. They may have targeted your assets, and if it takes them five to ten years to get your money, they’ll continue playing the game. Or, they may be using their involvement with you as cover for a secret double life.
Here’s what you need to know: When sociopaths care for you, they always have an ulterior motive.
Real caring or a sociopath?
Of course, when someone really does love you, he or she will do things for you. So how do you know if you’ve met your true love, or a sociopath? The following nine questions will help you discern the truth.
- How does your partner treat other people, especially wait staff in restaurants and clerks in stores? Is he or she rude, demanding and critical — totally different from how you are treated?
- Does your partner’s actions match his or her words? If your partner promises to do something or be somewhere, does he or she follow through?
- When your partner does nice things for you, is it help that you really want or need, or is the partner doing things that he or she likes to do? What happens when you ask your partner to do something that he or she doesn’t like, or would be an inconvenience?
- What happens when you’re sick? This one is tricky, and can vary depending on where you are in the seduction process. If the sociopath is still reeling you in, he or she can dote on you, bring you everything you need, and never leaver your side. But when sociopaths perceive that you are hooked, typically they won’t lift a finger to help you.
- Sociopathy isn’t one trait or behavior, it’s a collection of traits and behaviors. So do you see other warning signs of sociopathy? If you don’t know what to look for, they are thoroughly explained in my book Red Flags of Love Fraud – 10 signs you’re dating a sociopath.
- If your partner has children, how does he or she treat them? Look closely. Is the parent truly concerned about the children’s welfare? Or is the parent more interested in how the kids make him or her look?
- Is your partner really helping you — or is he or she exerting control over you? For example, some sociopaths start driving their partners around. They act like they’re helping, but what they are really doing is controlling their partners’ movements.
- Does your partner’s caring behavior ramp up when you start pulling away? That means he or she is turning on the love bombing again.
- Did you in the beginning, or at any point in your involvement, have a bad feeling about your partner? Did you sense that something wasn’t right? Your instincts are designed to warn you about predators. Trust your instincts.