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.
Why are so few of us warned about sociopaths?
Given how much my unwitting marriage to someone I believe is a sociopath derailed my life and cost me emotionally, psychologically, and financially, there are moments I wish I had a time machine and could return to earlier years with the knowledge I currently have about these masked vultures. But of course, I can’t. Still, given how destructive these types of people are, I remain incredulous that everyone isn’t warned about them, repeatedly!
Little Red Riding Hood
Why isn’t everyone read the story of Little Red Riding Hood, and taken aside and told, “Here’s what the story is really about. There are wolves in our midst. They will seem like friends, but beware! They are not. These wolves are so common that you must learn to look for the subtle signs of someone who is pretending to care about you only so they can get close enough to exploit and hurt you. They do not do this because of some insecurity that you can help them overcome. They do it simply because diminishing, hurting and controlling others feels good to them. To do this, they must first win your trust, and often your affection. Be careful! Be very careful!”
From my experience, there were red flags that emerged or got even worse as my relationship with my husband, “Paul” (not his real name), progressed after the after the initial “falling in love” stage.
Lack of respect
Any sign of contempt or a lack of respect is a huge red flag. Subtle examples of this include:
- walking ahead of you rather than with you
- being chronically late
- not contributing one’s fair share to chores and other necessary but undesirable tasks
- canceling on you at the last minute
- flirting with other people in front of you but then denying it
- not forwarding important information to you
- not eating dinner with you, even when both of you are home together (watching television or focusing on other electronic devices instead)
- being dismissive of your ideas
- criticizing you in ways designed to hurt you and put you down
Even if someone is not a sociopath, lack of respect is a well-documented relationship killer. You might as well get out of the relationship once you notice it, because the relationship will not make you happy, and it probably will not last anyway.
The sociopath only cares about him or herself and views you as an object to satisfy his or her needs, so what is considered acceptable for the sociopath will be considered unacceptable for you, such as:
- you walking ahead of him
- being even a little late
- going out with friends
- canceling plans at the last minute
Is he inside watching the baseball game while you are outside raking the leaves? Come to think of it, can you remember the last time he helped rake the leaves?
After the love bombing stage, and after you are committed to the relationship, especially when there is no audience, any need of his (no matter how small) will trump any need of yours (no matter how big). I refer to this as “sociopath math,” and “sociopath math” is a huge red flag.
Identifying names, places, events, characteristics, etc. that I discuss here and in my book have been altered to protect the identity of everyone involved.