At the heart of every sociopath is insecurity. These individuals crave adoration, praise, and power above all other emotional needs. Decisions are not based on weighing pros and cons, an internal moral compass, or even possible consequences.
Instead, a sociopath will usually make decisions for one of three reasons: putting themselves in a favorable light to be admired by others, hurting someone who is no longer an ally, or personal gain. Of course, their most coveted decisions are those that result in a combination of two or more of these outcomes.
Hiding the Truth
During my marriage, I enabled this process by making excuses for my husband, or pretending he was a better person than he was when talking to family and friends. Maybe it was my own ego not wanting to admit my life was crumbling on a faulty foundation, or maybe it was an attempt to preserve my family, but my behavior only made my separation more difficult when I tried to reach out for support. I was not nearly as good at PR work as my husband at the time.
The Smear Campaign
I have to admit, I’m glad social media was not as common then as it is now. My ex-husband was forced to create his smear campaigns against me by word-of-mouth, which meant having to reach out to people on the phone or face-to-face. I think it must have been exhausting compared to the user-friendly outlets we have today. He even went around to all the neighbors where we lived to tell them his version of events and try to gain sympathy at being ‘kicked out’ of his home by his family.
I’m sure he failed to mention that he told me I would never get the house, and if I wanted to separate, I would have to move out without the children. Of course, his position changed once he saw that I was willing to move out, but with the children, and I would request a temporary restraining order, if needed. When I started asking about apartments to rent, people started to take notice. All of a sudden, my ex realized I was the one getting sympathy, while he looked like a cold and callous villain.
Tantrums and Other Attempts at Control
Almost instantly, his changed his position. Like a spoiled child who wasn’t getting his way, he threw a tantrum, screaming and crying that I would embarrass him by looking for place to rent with the boys, and how dare I try to take the boys out of their home, what kind of a man did I think he was? (I don’t think he really wanted me to answer that), of course he would be the one to move out…
Of course, I thought, now that you found a way for this to benefit you.
He relished the role of the wounded husband, cast aside and separated from his children without any explanation. Every day, I had calls from friends, or was stopped by someone I knew in the store asking me what happened between me and my husband; I can’t imagine what my life would have been like in the world of Facebook and twitter. I have read so many instances of men and women being harassed, smeared, and stalked by their vengeful exes online, and it always leaves me feeling chilled.
The Lure of Social Media
Even though I was not subjected to these tactics, I find that social media can play a more subtle, yet just as harmful role in our recovery from the sociopath. Anyone who has left a sociopath probably experienced the sense of paranoia that follows. The ‘what is he/she planning?’ that keeps us anxiety-ridden and off balance. It might seem reasonable that keeping tabs on an ex to make sure we are aware of what they are doing would help to ease some of this worry, but it doesn’t.
Actually, it has the opposite effect. It can even become an addiction that keeps you tied to the other person and not moving forward in a positive way, and that is just one of the negative effects of the behavior.
There are certain truths about my ex-husband that cause looking him up online to be unhelpful in any way. For one, he will never give away any hint of what he may be planning to do in order to cause chaos in my life. So, by his very nature, he will carefully monitor himself when posting online to ensure he would neither incriminate himself, nor give himself away if planning a surprise attack. That means, searching his Facebook page or other social outlets serve no preventative purpose.
Methods and Motives
Also, my ex-husband, like most sociopaths, tries his very best to make provoking and antagonizing statements hoping to get me to engage in his drama-filled life. Essentially, his words will always play on emotional responses and finding ways to incite reactions. He will lie, deceive, make false claims and accusations, all with the hopes of annoying, enraging, or engaging me in some way. He wants to think that I am interested in his life, because that means he still has control over mine. Once I accepted this, it was much easier to disengage.
At first, I would tell myself I was only interested in making sure he wasn’t doing anything dangerous or harmful when my children were with him. But, inevitably, I would see something unrelated that bothered me- for example, comments and shared photos by my family members. I confronted these family members about remaining in contact, but in the end, nothing changed. It was another waste of time and energy on my part for people who are I knew in my heart didn’t support me when I needed it, anyway.
Eventually, the need to know anything about his life melted away. The less I looked him up, the more peaceful my life became. It was much easier to keep our contact very business-like, as well. I was no longer baited by his remarks or emotionally charged when interacting with him. Ironically, that seemed to make him much more enraged and miserable, but without any effect on me. I was able to take a step back and let him drain his own energy while I concentrated on my recovery.
I can only imagine how frustrating it must be for my ex-husband to spend so much time and energy doing things meant to hurt me, only to get no reaction what-so-ever. But, I have much better things to imagine…my sociopath-free future, for example.