Explaining the sociopath

8 reasons why we can’t see what’s wrong with the sociopath

“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.

Find yourself explaining common courtesy and common use of language? Maybe he’s a sociopath!

Husband Liar Sociopath

Confusion over common courtesy, typical use of language, and purposeful misrepresentations

If you find yourself in conversations that come down to common courtesy, common understanding of language, or purposeful misrepresentations (especially if the language used creates a misunderstanding but is not an outright lie), get out, and get out fast. Sociopaths are masters of:

  • doublespeak
  • word salad
  • playing games with semantics
  • planting distracting misinterpretations of events
  • purposefully misleading.

The result is that you get tied up in knots just trying to agree upon the basic facts or “normal” human behavior. This is a warning sign! Most people want to communicate effectively and resolve conflict. But sociopaths often do not share these goals.

Psychopaths can consider another’s perspective — if they want to

Angry psychopathPsychopaths can understand what their victims are thinking, but they just don’t care. New research cited in The Atlantic has looked into the psychopathic “theory of mind” — the human skill through which we consider the perspective of someone else.

It turns out most of us have the ability to do this automatically. Psychopaths, however, do it when it will help them achieve their goals — and otherwise switch the ability off.

How psychopaths see the world, on

Link supplied by a Lovefraud reader.

Signs of a sociopath: Double standards

Husband Liar Sociopath

Signs of a sociopath: Double standards (continued)

After a sociopath has won you over , things start to change that erode “you” and shift the power to the sociopath. Looking back on my horrible, unwitting marriage to a man I have come to believe is a sociopath, one of the things that emerged was double standards. At first, our relationship seeming loving and mutually respectful, but over time, things changed drastically.

Eventually, he expecting me to honor all commitments to him  even when circumstances had changed significantly, but he felt free not to honor his commitments to me.  

Sociopathic deception: A plan or second nature?

Man with maskLovefraud received the following question from a reader:

When a sociopath targets his victim, does he think and create a plan as to HOW he is going to manipulate his prey to glean what he wants, or is this just second nature to him?  How can he spend MONTHS being such a kind, considerate person, going out of his way to do the “little” things that matter in life, before turning into the evil monster?

When you have been deceived and manipulated by a sociopath, the most difficult idea to grasp is how totally different people with this personality disorder are from the rest of us. Their behavior is different from everything we thought we knew about human interaction.

Contempt and double standards = sociopath red flags

Husband Liar Sociopath

Subtle signs of a sociopath

Last week, I was on a long walk when I passed an older couple walking on the sidewalk in the opposite direction. I nodded as we passed, and I honestly don’t recall receiving any acknowledgement. They clearly seemed “together,” yet the way they were walking signaled something was very wrong. Briefly, I had a sense of knowing. “I bet he’s a sociopath,” I thought. You see, although they were on a walk “together” he was walking about ten feet in front of her, and had been ever since I spotted them walking toward me. That simple act communicates a lot—none of it good, as it signals an underlying lack of respect.

How could such a wonderful young man turn into an evil sociopath?

Editors note: Here’s a letter Lovefraud received from a reader whom we’ll call “Charlotte18.” Donna Andersen’s response follows the letter.

About a year ago, my husband was arrested for kidnapping a couple of friends of ours. Since then, I have been discovering so many other nefarious things he was doing behind my back, such as stealing money for a living, having relations with other men, committing tax fraud, and the list goes on.

Gaslight–how the movie mirrors real life




Last weekend I watched the classic movie, Gaslight. For those of us who have been in a relationship with a sociopath, it is a great reminder that we weren’t imagining things and how good these puppeteers are at what they do. We were not paranoid, or too sensitive, or unable to take a joke, or fill in the blank. We were being purposely manipulated and deceived by someone who never loved us, has no ethical rudder; and, at our expense, was using us for their personal gain. To weaken us in order to achieve those goals, the sociopath has many tools that go beyond gaslighting—making us question our own reality.

Are you “too sensitive,” or is your partner a sociopath?

Husband Liar Sociopath

You’re too sensitive!

As I think back about my life and my unwitting marriage to a sociopath, a phrase haunts and repeats like an old-time broken record, “You’re too sensitive.”

For decades, I believed that hearing this phrase should trigger self-reflection and attempts at self-improvement. If I’m “too sensitive,” the underlying assumption is that I should work to become “less sensitive.” I believed this because this is what I’d been taught as a child, and it was reinforced through my adult life by two people I loved and respected at the time—my father and my now ex-husband. Yet, now I believe that hearing this phrase repeatedly by key people in one’s life should trigger another type of self-improvement—better understanding the red flags of being in a relationship with a narcissist or sociopath, and establishing appropriate relationship boundaries.

Are highly empathetic people particularly attracted to the calm, confidence exhibited by sociopaths?

Husband Liar Sociopath

The Fear Factor: How One Emotion Connects Altruists, Psychopaths, and Everyone In-Between: Part B

As I mentioned last week, I recently read the book The Fear Factor: How One Emotion Connects Altruists, Psychopaths, and Everyone In-Between by Dr. Abigail Marsh, Associate Professor of Psychology and Interdisciplinary Neuroscience at Georgetown University. Her book sparked some “light-bulb moments.” I shared the first two last week, and I am sharing the third and fourth light-bulb moments this week. For those who read last week’s post, you might want to skip directly to light-bulb moment number three, below.

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