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.