Double standards are one of the many hallmarks of being in a relationship with a sociopath. Trust me, as a well-educated woman who was taught that she could hold her own with any man, I didn’t think I had married someone who viewed me as a puppet and whose only purpose for me was to service his needs. But, as months slipped into years, profound double standards emerged in my relationship with “Paul.” Of course, now that I believe Paul is a sociopath, I understand that Paul held these double standards all along. Although he did not display them at first, at some point, they became part of the poisonous air I breathed.
Double Standards Deliver Double Benefits For A Sociopath
These double standards were not only a natural outgrowth of my sociopathic ex-husband’s sense of superiority and entitlement, but it was also a tool that eroded me–further fueling his need for superiority and his need to play the role of master puppeteer. Changing a person for the worse, getting them to accept what they once considered unacceptable, is pretty heady stuff. Being the root cause of such a transformation and noting the negative emotions that are now chronic in this person is part of what fuels sociopaths. “Look at what I made happen. Look at how powerful I am. Look at how unimportant she’s allowed herself to become. Look how sad she is. Yummm. More!”
Double Standards Become A Benchmark For Your Children
As I gradually accepted greater and greater double standards, the assumption inherent in that acceptance was that I just did not warrant respect and consideration. Not only did these double standards pollute the lens through which I viewed myself, but also the lens through which my children viewed me and through which they were learning about male-female relationships. Gosh, I wish I had a do-over.
Details About My Ex-husband’s Whereabouts Were Always Sketchy, Yet He Always Knew How To Find Me
While Paul always knew where I was and how to reach me, he rarely informed me of his travel plans for work—just what day he’d be leaving, what day he’d be returning, and about what time (e.g., “after dinner,” “before bedtime,” etc.). Business trip after business trip, he neglected to give me any specific information–not flight numbers, not hotels stayed at. He had a cell phone. Why did I want to know what plane he was on or what city he was visiting or the hotel at which he would be staying? If I needed to get in touch with him for any reason, I could just call his cell and leave a message. He’d get back in touch with me when he could.
Double Standard In Action
One night, I was expecting Paul home from a three-day business trip. At about 10 p.m., I was seconds from being finished with my work when I heard the door open.
“You’re home!” I called from my home office so Paul could hear me. “I’m just finishing up. I’ll be right there.”
Paul did not respond or pop into my office. Instead, I heard the television go on. I finished the last sentence I was writing, saved the file, and powered off my computer. No more than a minute or two later, I greeted Paul in the family room.
He scowled. “I’ve been away for three days, and you can’t even get up to say hi?”
As always, I stupidly went into defensive mode, explaining myself and assuming he had some valid reason to be upset with me instead of labeling his complaint as a setup to establish that I was somehow selfish and inconsiderate, when that was far from the truth.
“Paul, I didn’t know when to expect you home. Anyway, it’s great you’re here. How was your trip?”
“I can’t believe you didn’t even get up to say hi,” Paul repeated.
“Paul,” I replied with as caring a tone as I could muster, even though I was growing annoyed, “I was just finishing up. I don’t understand why it’s such a big deal. We’re talking about sixty seconds. You could’ve come in to see me. I just needed to finish the thought I was writing down. I didn’t want to lose it and—”
“It’s pretty disappointing after how hard I’m working…”
It’s My Fault If Paul’s Needs Aren’t Met
I could not change Paul’s perception that I was being uncaring, inconsiderate, and unappreciative. The absurdity of Paul’s accusations in light of what had actually happened—that I did not immediately stop my work to jump up and see him when he could have easily walked into my office to say hello—penetrated me. What was really going on? My mind percolated. Did Paul view our relationship as so lopsided—he entitled to come and go as he pleased but me needing to be available to him the second he was ready to talk to me or wanted something from me, including to simply not be alone? I did not sleep well that night.
The Sociopath’s Equation Once They’ve Hooked You: Them = 100%; You = 0%
In Paul’s mind, because he mattered and my only role was to serve him, he was allowed to change our wedding date, work while I was in labor, work on vacations, and be in the office all weekend (ostensibly), cancelling personal plan after personal plan for the sake of his career, and be chronically late for commitments with me (but rarely other people), but I could not be a moment late for him, nontheless busy or distracted the second he wanted something from me.
This was “sociopath math” in action. Yet, it would take me years to understand that sociopaths are plentiful, Paul was likely one, and that valuing my needs and humanity at “zero” was how sociopath math worked–it’s a double standard in which the sociopath values himself/herself at 100% and you are valued at 0%.
My own cautionary tale of unwittingly investing almost twenty years of my life into a relationship with a sociopath and sometimes diverting from the best path, is chronicled in my book Husband, Liar, Sociopath: How He Lied, Why I Fell For It & The Painful Lessons Learned (available via Amazon.com, just click on title above). As I don’t get a “do over,” hopefully some of my painful lessons can help others impacted by these toxic people.
Identifying names, places, events, characteristics, etc. that I discuss here and in my book have been altered to protect the identity of everyone involved.
“Not only did these double standards pollute the lens through which I viewed myself, but also the lens through which my children viewed me and through which they were learning about male-female relationships.”
So true. I struggle with this now. My children are dealing with a lifetime of being told that I am stupid and don’t know what I am talking about. I ask them to pick up a dirty sock and I am being an abusive monster. They go to grandma’s house and clean up after themselves with a smile on their faces and without being told. It is a slow process, but we are starting to make some progress with respecting me as a human being.
In your excellent book you write of a time when you asked for help with your college homework and Mr. Paul refused on some moral grounds making up some excuse like he had already taken the course and knew the professor’s view on the subject and did not want to bias you. One of the many sociopath’s I came across claimed to be excellent in math; algebra, trig, and calculus. Yet when I asked him to help me with my kids high school math he couldn’t; it was all a lie he knew nothing about math, but was boasting to make himself look good; same with Mr. Paul, he boasted of taking the class but knew nothing having no doubt cheated and hid his ignorance with a “moral” excuse. This same spath got arrested and asked me to post his bail 3600.00 which I did. As soon as I posted his bail the judge told me that if he had any fines or fee’s it would come out of the bail money. He did not show up for his first court date and the court took the bail money faster than lighting and told me it was my responsibility to find him and arrest him and bring him to the jail if I wanted to get my bail money back. Never pay anyone’s bail, you will not get it back.
You are writing my story. My precise story.
I’m lucky not to have gotten as far as marriage with mine. So much damage done though. That 100% – 0% is so true, but it didn’t start out that way. I guess for him it had to be all (for him) and nothing (for me). I regret that my devaluation happened across so wide a group of people that I am ashamed to show my face. I think I lost almost everyone’s respect. Glad to be reminded of all this. He’s coming back around again, but I will not make contact. Thanks for this.
Even beyond “It’s My Fault if His Needs Aren’t Met” is that his intention is to attack, criticize, and demean, no matter what the victim does or doesn’t do. In my experience, my ex decided to pick a fight so he could attack and harm me, and I would get blamed. In the post here, if she jumped up and greeted him right away, he likely would have criticized her for not giving him space, for smothering him, for not recognizing he was tired from travel and needed to rest alone before interacting, etc. etc.
His ‘needs’ are the power and delight he gets from abusing and harming a victim; and he meets them in the diabolical way described so well in the post.
Validation yet again from the sisterhood of those whose lives have been dramatically affected by a sociopath. Thank you for a snippet of your story. Amazing how, when at one time we all must have felt so alone – and in my case not even registering just what seemed ‘so wrong’ with my husband, that we have this site to vent, connect, and feel like our crazy making world was not ours alone.
I sometimes wonder going forward in another relationship (been divorced for 3 years and deliriously happy on my own with beautiful friends, male and female) just how much I should reveal about my 12 years of all too frequent chaos once I many get somewhat serious with someone. I am ready to start dating again but I’m thinking many of you would understand my reservations. Unless you’ve lived it – it’s really hard for someone to understand just how much it has affected souls. I am at peace about it now and the sense of peace in my life is worth gold.
Any feedback gals, would be really appreciated.
I decide what to share with someone based on the facts and circumstances of the relationship and the personality of the person with whom I’m interacting. Every relationship and every person is so unique. I find I may divulge more to someone I meet in public somewhere who seems to get it, than I share with long time work colleagues.
Over the past several years I shared more than I wished I had a couple of times, so now I tend to be reserved until I know it is safe and the relationship will be enhanced by the other person knowing some of what I’ve been through.
I keep in mind that I can always decide to tell someone something, but once it’s been told I can never decide to take it back.
I am about 4 years out now, and I find that I have less of a need to share, except in a very general sense usually when someone else has experienced similar and is likely to understand.
I’ve not been in a serious romantic relationship since the psychopath, but I think that I would prefer to get to know someone from the point of view of what my life is now and who I am now. When I’ve spent enough time with a potential partner to get to know him well – who his friends are, what his career and colleagues are like, his family, and observe how he conducts himself in a variety of situations with a variety of people – if I feel it will enhance our relationship and make us closer, I would share my experience with the psychopath in broad terms, along with other experiences in my past both positive and negative.
As a man who got put through the meat grinder by my exwife, a spath, I do not talk about it because it portrays me as weak and looking for sympathy. In the book the sociopath next door by Martha Stout, it tells of one honest answer from a sociopath: he was asked what do you want most from people? Simple he replied: your sympathy. When a Spath has your pity they can then exploit you for everything you got because after all they are a victim and can’t be blamed for their behavior, so when someone starts with a I have been mistreated story, or feel sorry for me, it puts ups a red flag in my mind “WARNING SPATH!” even though the person may not be a spath, it is a pavlovian response. People like strength and despise weakness so I now say “I am wiser from it”
Dear wiserfromit. You have majorly made some good points! From reading what you say here, I realize — again, but it’s been a long time since I did, and had forgotten — that I mistook sympathy for being in love. I had a lot of pity for my ex-es. (How on earth is ex’s or exes spelled anyway…) I do wonder if in actuality men have a bigger problem with this than women do, on the whole? At least in my generation, girls were taught to put on a front of the helpless waif. So that a good, strong man could protect her! I remember witnessing this transformation in some girls when they entered junior high school. They instantly became different people, the minute they walked through the door of the junior high school. They played “cutsie” and shy, where they’d been real people in 6th grade at the other school. I’ve often wondered if they had been coached to do that sort of role by the mothers or older sisters. So, what I’m really saying here is that maybe a lot of men play into the Cinderella role, same as so many of us girls/women do or did.
Hi you two — Ed Haynes, singer songwriter has two great songs about women and strange men — one is called “Wedding Veil,” and the other one is “I Love You So Much I Hate Myself.” You can find both of them on You Tube. His songs are sort of allegories or satire. Hope you like these as much as I do.
Song “Wedding Veil” is a “veiled” reverence to the woman’s consciousness. (It took me a while to figure that out….) She has a veil over he eyes, literally and figuratively, so that she can’t “see” or realize what she is doing by marrying a guy who’s incarcerated at San Quentin.
Dear DonnaC and Annette, and others, could someone please tell me how to start a new thread? Thank you, Synergy.
Both your posts here this afternoon started a new thread. My post here should show up as a reply on a thread you started.
Oh all right…Thanks Annette. Syn