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Are these warning signs that I’m involved with a sociopath?

Editor’s Note: Lovefraud received the following letter from a reader whom we’ll call “Cassandra18.”

I’ve been a longtime reader of your website and wanted to thank you for what a valuable tool it is. I figured, I’d finally write in with a question of my own and I was hoping for some feedback from you.

So, the thing is, I have a propensity to date very selfish, controlling people and two of my past relationships have been with verifiable sociopaths.

Most recently, I have been in and out of a relationship with a man I used to work with. Something keeps telling me that something is off about him but I can’t pinpoint it.

Some of the warning signs that have happened while with him:

  • He love bombed me in the beginning and brought me flowers and Starbucks and constantly texted and called. He also wrote me several love letters and left notes on my car. He told me I was his soul mate and poured the compliments on.
  • On our first date he “forgot” his wallet and I paid- He also “forgot” his wallet when we went to Target and I paid for his son’s birthday presents.
  • He had a horrible relationship with his ex-wife and he told me how one morning he went to pick up his kids and she threw coffee in his face. I met his wife and she was nice and seemed like a good mom to his kids. I don’t know what he did to make her so upset to throw coffee at him. I also saw a text from her to him saying he almost forced her into bankruptcy and that he didn’t pay for anything for his kids.
  • He had a bad tendency to talk down to people and over them. He would literally talk over me several times while I was talking.
  • He had anger issues.
  • He had me help serve beer for a fundraiser when he knew I was an alcoholic.
  • He had an odd relationship with 2 elderly woman, one of whom had severe dementia. The other one’s nephew had to block him from calling her and accused him of trying to take advantage of her.
  • He eventually got fired and my boss told me that he had been embezzling money.
  • At work he had a hot head and yelled at one of our co-workers.
  • When we would get in fights he would text my boss who was his friend and he disclosed all of our personal issues.

The list goes on and on…

What are your thoughts? Does he sound like a sociopath?

Donna Andersen replies

OMG – he is a complete sociopath. Dump him immediately and never talk to him again.

 

 


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4 Comments on "Are these warning signs that I’m involved with a sociopath?"

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I second what Donna said! And whatever you do….do not have a child with this man or any sociopath/psychopath/crazy person. Nothing good comes of it. Your kids suffer and your family and friends suffer all while you are flip-flopping in the path of destruction these people cause. You really need to listen to your gut or intuition. It is our only survival mechanism. I didn’t listen to mine and now I’m living a life of utter hell! Get out while you can and get some serious help so that you understand why it is that you are attracting these kinds of people and allowing them into your life. A good domestic violence counselor helped me with that very issue. I now have the tools to spot them a mile away. I have been abuse-free for over 3 1/2 years now. I am remaining relationship free until I can straighten out my life first. I wish you luck on your path of healing.

Total sociopath! Most of the warning signs you list applied to my ex (who was also a coworker). My ex had nothing good to say about his former wives (one divorced and one deceased) or any woman he had ever dated and everything was over the top like your example. They both had mental problems, anger problems, were lazy, blah, blah, blah. After seven years of abuse, my ex abandoned me out of the blue and when I tried to make amends (he had me trained well) he told me he believed I had a personality disorder and he had to distance himself from me because he feared for his safety – totally fabricated. I found out later that both of the former wives were normal and they had had the same issues I had had with him. I have no doubt he told his new women (one he is now married to) what a psycho I was in order to get their sympathy. The love bombing is your first tip off – the minute anyone makes statements out of proportion to where you are in your relationship, GET OUT! If I had listened to my own common sense when this happened to me, I’d have saved myself years of misery, financial loss and PTSD. Your own recovery, health and well being are your priority. Donna is correct – dump him immediately and never talk to him again. There are nice, normal men out there who will treat you with respect and not put you in positions that are bad for you. Be strong!

DUMP HIM ASAP.and run, run for your life. No contact whatsoever. I gave mine 29 years..3 kids (whom he has brainwashed against me). I’m still single after almost 20 years divorced. Still wary of men.

Hi Cassandra! I think there are other questions you ought to ask yourself besides this one!

To start with, I wholeheartedly agree with what other posters here have said. Of course this guy you’re dating is selfish and predatory, uncaring, dishonest, manipulative, aggressive and controlling! It doesn’t matter what label anyone attaches to him, whether he’s a “sociopath” or some other term; who the heck wants a partner like him? You should DUMP him post-haste and never look back!

But that’s just for starters. My questions go further. First I’d like to share with you something I ponder over at times. “momto4kiddos” said “You really need to listen to your gut or intuition.” I do appreciate the spirit in which she wrote that, and there is an essential truth behind her advice.

In spite of that, I myself have trouble processing exactly what all this “intuitive” and “feeling” stuff means. This is probably because we all differ as individuals in the ways we think and feel. Carl Jung’s model of the mind proposed that we have four “cognitive functions” providing us with data to which we respond and make decisions (among other things). These four functions he termed “thinking,” “feeling,” “sensing,” and “intuition.”

For the most part these terms speak for themselves. “Thinking” is a logical process by which we consciously arrive at conclusions. “Feeling” is about our emotions in response to various thoughts, events and other stimuli. (I think Jung made some technical distinction between “emotion” and “feeling,” but those differences don’t matter.) “Sensing” is about what our bodily senses are conveying to us: touch, sight, sound, smell, taste, heat, cold, pain, comfort, whatever is going on with our bodies, and so on. And “intuition” is essentially a kind of “unconscious thinking.” “Intuitive” conclusions pop into our minds without our being aware exactly how we formed that conclusion. We just “feel as if we know,” that’s all.

I don’t say all this is precisely the way Jung saw it, but it’s good enough to get the idea. The thing is, first of all these sources of data can conflict with one another. We may form one conclusion rationally, by means of conscious “thinking,” while our “intuition” seems to be telling us something different. Or we may realize something makes us “feel good”–like one more beer!–when our “thinking” ought to tell us it’s not good for us if we’ve already downed a six-pack! Which function do we act on at any given time? How do we tell which one is “right” for us?

Then when it comes to reconciling these conflicting sources of data, we as individuals do not always give these functions the same weight. This is part of the “Myers-Briggs” categorization of the different ways we think, feel, and process data. Some of us trust our “thinking” (T) more than we do our “feelings” (F), or the other way round. And some of us trust our “intuition” (N) more than we do our “senses” (S), or the other way round. As for myself, I’m an “INTP,” which means (among other things) that I lean more on “thinking” and on “intuition” more than on “feelings” or “sensations.”

But others are different from myself, and obviously I can’t know what you’re like yourself. My point is that what some of these functions seem to be telling us at any given time can be wrong, or “bad for us” anyway. We may feel “exercise is stressful” or “more food tastes good” (sensing) when our “thinking” is telling us the right thing: that exercise is good for us and overeating is bad! In abusive relationships, which is what we’re talking about here, many people ignore their “feelings”–that a relationship is hurting them emotionally–by “rationalizing” away the pain, telling themselves it “doesn’t matter,” it’s “their own fault” or whatever. So faulty “thinking” based on bad or inadequate data can also lead people astray.

But so can faulty intuition! “Intuition,” as I see it myself, is an immensely valuable faculty; yet it is mostly a process of “unconscious thinking.” Like “thinking” itself, the conclusions offered to us by our intuition are only as good as the data they were based on to begin with. As we say about computers: “Garbage in, garbage out!” Some facts in life do turn out to be “counterintuitive,” as we say. When either “thinking” or “intuition” has been “programmed” with erroneous data in the first place, they’re prone to present us with wrong conclusions.

So too can our “feelings,” if our life experience (most of all our childhood experience) “taught” us to associate “good” or “safe” or anyway “familiar and comforting” feelings with the wrong kind of person who was actually doing us harm.

I dare say I’m only being picky if I mention that advice to “trust your gut or intuition” as if they were the same thing is actually overlooking the reality that the two are different. Fair enough, many people do use these terms as though they were the same. But “intuition” is one thing, and the “senses” are another. And a “gut feeling” is really about “sensing.” So what does it mean? Is it that “nasty, sinking feeling” in the gut, a bodily reaction to disappointment or especially to fear? That could be telling us something important, and shouldn’t be ignored!

As valuable as such warnings can be, even a “gut” reaction can be misleading. Some people have been programmed by previous traumatic experiences to be hypersensitive, “hypervigilant,” to overreact with unwarranted fear or suspicion to normal or innocuous situations or behaviors. For instance, I myself have been wrongly accused of “attacking” someone when I did nothing of the kind, by a hypersensitive person who claimed their “gut feelings” are “never wrong.” Plainly they were quite wrong on that occasion!

More to the point, what worries me when some people urge others to “trust their feelings”–the word “feelings” being used in the loosest possible sense!–is “which “feelings” are they supposed to trust? Is it the “feelings” that tell them, quite rightly, that they’re in a painful relationship and ought to get out of it pronto? Or is the “feelings” that tell them they’re “in love” with this person and can’t afford to give him or her up–or that they’ll “never make it on their own,” or whatever? I don’t believe any of these “feelings” should ever be ignored; but how are people supposed to know which part of their mind to trust?

I commend you for being thoroughly honest in realizing you have “a propensity to date very selfish, controlling people.” It’s most important to be aware of that when it’s doing you harm. A great deal of subtle denial goes on in some people’s minds. Some of them don’t even realize how vulnerable they are to predators and other abusers if they don’t watch out, because they’ve never been taught that it’s a jungle out there, with evildoers set on targeting any likely victim.

Others realize that their vulnerability does seem to be “attracting” predators. But “attracting” predators is only one half of their problem. Forming a relationship is a two-way street. Both partners have to consent to forming the relationship. Admittedly this can happen by default. The abuser says “Let’s get it on,” and the target says “Why not? I’ve got nothing better to do right now.” But this is a misleading picture of what’s really happening when these hookups take place. It’s treating the target of the abuse as though he or she were a passive object sitting on a shelf, just waiting to be “picked up” by the abuser he or she is “attracting,” with no say in that decision.

The reality is that usually he or she is not only “attracting” abusers, but also attracted TO those abusers! (And sometimes, for reasons I won’t go into here, attracted to abusers in preference to healthy partners!)

I won’t try digging into that here, but at the very least, a propensity to date “selfish, controlling people” is a failure to REJECT them as unsuitable partners. So here are the questions I believe you need to ask yourself. One is “which part of your mind might be attracting you to this type of partner, and why?” That could be complicated, but the answer most likely lies in childhood experience.

Apart from that, there’s a more basic question. When I read your description of this guy you’ve been dating, my “thinking” function at the very least tells me it’s glaringly obvious he’s no good! That’s how other posters responded as well.

If you say you have “feelings” for him, that’s totally understandable because they’re coming from a different place, the “feeling” or “emotional” part of your mind. Conflict between what different parts of our mind are telling us is entirely normal.

What I wonder about, as a “thinking” type of person, is how you could be so uncertain about what this guy is like when you have so much data about his rotten behavior, combined with the valuable self-knowledge of your own propensity to date people like him. In other words, why do you doubt yourself about what’s really going on?

Is it simply because you do (for whatever emotional reasons) persist in finding him attractive, and you hope to argue yourself into believing that this relationship could ever have a happy outcome?

Is it because you’re not sure which part of your mind to trust?

Or is it because you’ve been taught to doubt yourself, to distrust your own conclusions, and maybe to trust someone else (like him!) to do your thinking for you instead? Were you taught in childhood to distrust yourself and “just do what you’re told” by others, that what you thought or felt yourself was “not important”?

I can’t pretend to know the answers, but I hope questions like these are worth asking, may help you sort out the answers with more clarity and step forward with more confidence in your own conclusions. Good luck to you!

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