How to recognize and recover from the sociopaths – narcissists in your life › Forums › Sociopaths, narcissists, psychopaths as partners › How do I know for sure if my ex is a sociopath?
December 1, 2019 at 7:05 pm #55270
I’m in the healing process of recovering from a 6 year relationship with someone I think is a sociopath.
He hid many of these traits until we were married when I saw a completely different side to him.
He is a pathological liar and he would lie about the smallest things. His lies would be so ridiculous but he would manage to convince me even when my gut told me otherwise. He would gaslight me to the point I felt I was going crazy. He had a gambling problem and would steal and manipulate me to get money. He showed no remorse and no empathy. I can’t figure out whether he was a sociopath or whether these were traits of an addict?
December 2, 2019 at 12:14 pm #55273slimoneParticipant
They are signs of both. But it does sound like he has a personality disorder. He exhibits many antisocial behaviors. Pro-social behaviors are things like honesty, trustworthiness, kindness. Antisocial behaviors are things that tear apart both personal and societies norms, boundaries, and agreements.
So, he sounds antisocial: Dishonest, Opaque (wearing a mask until he had you in his control), mean, manipulative.
These behaviors shredded the ‘fabric’ of your relationship.
However, on the other side of your question, it really doesn’t matter if this is ‘addiction’ (and remember: people with personality disorders are also (generally) exhibiting the characteristics of some form of addiction) or malignant narcissism. If he is destroying your life and sanity he is best gotten rid of. You are better off getting away from him, and never looking back.
This doesn’t mean you are cold-hearted. It doesn’t mean you are turning your back on someone, who if they got help, might turn into a fabulous person. It means you are respecting yourself. Any decisions you make in regards to him HAVE to have self respect at the core of the decision. It cannot have respect for HIM, over regard for yourself. Any decision where you put him before you will end up with you suffering more abuse and indignity.
December 2, 2019 at 3:20 pm #55277polestarParticipant
Hi lovehappiness –
From your post, I couldn’t tell if you are in No Contact with your ex. There are different stages of recovery, and your question pertains to the “ education “ stage, whereby you begin to put the pieces of the puzzle together towards understanding the concepts of psychological abuse. I can see that you already have much knowledge in this area because you were able to identify his abusive behaviors : his lying, his gaslighting, his stealing, and manipulating ( relating to his gambling ). Also his lack of remorse and empathy. I can understand that you wonder if these are traits that are the result of an addiction, or of a psychological abuser. I think psychopathic abuse stems from a need to control, gain power over another with hatred into the mix. Psychopaths can be addicts, but not all addicts are psychopaths. So if an addict gets help and is able to overcome the addiction, the abusive behaviors stemming from the addiction’s need will abate. I think from your question, you are asking if you should or could take steps to help your ex deal with their addiction, and that hopefully he will recover. That is why I wished to know if you are in No Contact presently. What you are faced with is a huge risk – the first part of the risk is that not all addicts who do attend programs will actually stay away from their addiction without backsliding – again and again. If that happened, and even if he wasn’t a psychopath, you would still be entering a life of suffering with the abusive behaviors returning, when he resumed his addiction. Also, if an addict wants to recover, they need to find the motivation to attend meetings and to get the help they need independently. Having someone influence them to get help, from my understanding of the literature regarding this situation, does not work. The next problem is that if they did recover from their addiction, it may still be possible that they are a psychopath. Here again is a big risk you would need to take – if you stood by them through the addiction recovery process, and they turned out to be a psychopath, you would have thus been subjected to a very long time of psychological and monetary abuse, which would in the process of standing by your partner, would give him plenty of time to mess up your mind, your emotions and your core self. In other words, you could be destroyed in the process. That’s a big risk to take. On your side of the equation is the fact that you are still in the process of recovering from all the abuse that has already been hoisted upon you. So you aren’t in a position to help him, even if it was solely due to addiction. You need healing and recovery yourself. That in itself takes significant time and effort you need to focus on you. From your post, it sounded like he is not doing anything to address his gambling problem. It seems to me that your two paths cannot converge without it being extremely detrimental to you.
Blessings to you.
- This reply was modified 4 days, 5 hours ago by polestar.
December 2, 2019 at 5:30 pm #55288newlife4meParticipant
I think I can answer this for you pretty possitively; sounds like your ex is both!
What you describe is the behavior of my ex who I was married to for 25 years. His mask didn’t slip until the last few years of the marriage. It was beyond devasting and perplexing to say the very least. The last year of the marriage I attended GamAnon (thinking he only had an addiction) and I wanted to see how I could help him. On the flip side he did not want to get help. He said he did but came up with every excuse in the book. As I attended GamAnon meetings and listened to the horror stories of many it helped propell me forward enough to want to save myself.
By the time I left that marriage I was a shell of myself. I was financially devasted but worse; had such little self esteem I didn’t think I could survive without him. I hadn’t realized that over the years he had slowly manipulated; gas lighted; abused me emotionally and financially and I was living on egg shells.
Fast forward today; the ex is still gambling; still a compulsive liar; still abusing and manipulating. I am healthy emotionally after 10 years and cannot believe I could not see through all of his personality disorders years ago.
You are very fortunate that you realized what you were dealing with early and you got out. You are one brave and smart lady!
Life is too short and precious to live like that. I am happy and emotionally healthy and thankful everyday of my life that I lived through that marriage and came out a whole person. Every day of my life is to be cherished and I refuse to allow any disordered person (male or female) into my life again.
December 2, 2019 at 5:52 pm #55289
Thank you both for your replies. It’s been 6 months since I left and I’ve had no contact at all. The moment he found out I was leaving, he turned cold and threatening. He had a chilling, evil vibe about him that day and made no attempt to resolve anything and hasn’t since then. He is very arrogant and has a grandiose sense of self so I don’t believe he would ever grovel to get anyone back. A month after that, he tried to get a restraining order against me saying he was afraid but it didn’t work as the judge threw it out of court. Since I have left, I’ve found out so much about him. I knew he was married previously but have found out what he told me his wife did to him, he actually ended up doing to me (and had previously done to her). He is currently making everything difficult e.g not signing papers and dragging everything out (I’ve recently found out it’s what he did with his ex wife and feel like it’s a form of control and still having a hold on me). However, I never during the relationship felt like he was trying to control me. Polestar, I agree I definitely think I’m in the ‘education stage’ and trying to understand what happened. I’ve always thought it was just the addiction that caused the behaviour but the more I research, he tick most of the boxes for a sociopath. I don’t know whether I’m putting him into those boxes so I can make sense of it myself or if he actually was. I just think knowing would help with the recovery process. Best wishes
December 2, 2019 at 6:06 pm #55291
Hi newlife4me, I attended Gamanon too and like yourself was horrified at the stories. He also refused to go to Gamblers Anonymous. After I began attending Gamanon, I realised the seriousness of the illness and the fact it was a lifelong disease. But because everyone kept calling it a disease, I felt it was something that could be cured and wasn’t his fault which is why I stayed longer than I should have. What i cannot get over is how different the person I was dating is to the person I was married to and why someone would try and trap someone into a marriage? I was so badly gaslighted and manipulated that I began to believe it was my fault. You are so right that life is short to live like that. The problem I’m having now is I keep playing corrupted scenarios in my head trying to make sense of it all. I guess it’s part of the healing but I kind of wish I could just erase that whole part of my life. Thanks for the advice.
December 2, 2019 at 6:20 pm #55293RedwaldParticipant
lovehappiness, I’m sorry you had these six years of misery, but thank goodness you’re on the path to healing now.
As for what precisely was wrong with your ex-husband, Polestar is right of course that for purely practical purposes it doesn’t really matter. What does matter is that his behavior toward you–and in general too–was bad, abusive, predatory (stealing), and ultimately intolerable.
As an aside, I can’t resist the opportunity to mention that there are some partners of abusers whose problem is partly that they’re “too focused” on their abusive partner at the expense of focusing on their own rights and needs. It’s natural to want to know “what’s wrong” with a troublesome partner, but some people get stuck on that question, thinking that if they only knew or understood, they could fix their partner’s problem–which is not necessarily true! Or else they worry whether they’re doing (or did) the right thing in leaving, if their partner’s problem was fixable after all. If they obsess over these questions to the neglect of themselves and their own wellbeing, they can end up getting stuck. I remember one woman for instance who, after some discussion, concluded–probably correctly–that her abusive boyfriend had borderline personality disorder. Her very next question was “how do you go about getting treatment to cure borderline personality disorder?” Sorry, best of luck trying to do that!–on another person, anyway. So I’m glad you’ve had the sense to get out of this disastrous marriage.
In spite of all that, it’s still natural to want to know what exactly was “wrong” with an abusive partner. And the question here seems clear enough. Your husband had a gambling addiction that led him to steal and to manipulate money out of you in order to feed it. And he told a lot of lies, no doubt in part to cover up his addiction.
Now on the one hand, addictions in themselves can lead to a lot of bad behavior. Everything else in life becomes subservient to the addiction, which rots away the addict’s moral fiber, so to speak. Addicts may not care about others when they’re solely obsessed with getting their next “fix.” They may steal and commit other crimes to feed their addiction, if they’re desperate enough. And of course they lie to hide their behavior and their addiction from others.
But on the other hand, psychopaths display all these behaviors too. More to the point, psychopaths are highly prone to addictions of various kinds: alcohol, drugs, sex, gambling, whatever–because they’re constantly in need of stimulation to relieve the chronic boredom of an empty life. So it boils down to a chicken-and-egg debate. Which came first, the chicken or the egg? Did your husband’s addiction cause his bad behavior? Or did psychopathy cause his addiction, along with the rest of his bad behavior?
The question is relevant, because some addicts can be cured and turn their lives around–though only if they’re motivated enough to make the effort. They can’t be “made” to do so. Psychopathy on the other hand has no cure.
Out of these two choices, I’d unhesitatingly label your husband a psychopath, given the evidence you’ve presented.
Donna has rightly pointed out in the past that we can’t jump to a conclusion about anyone’s diagnosis based on just one or two symptoms. Personality disorders involve a pattern of behaviors–and they don’t always present the same pattern.
But to start with, you mentioned that your husband “showed no remorse and no empathy.” Well, I dare say someone can be so wrapped up in an addiction that they have no time or feeling to spare for anyone else. However, let’s not forget that the absence of empathy–and consequently of remorse–is absolutely central to the very nature of psychopathy.
Just as important, you described him as a “pathological” liar. Now my impression, rightly or wrongly, is that constant, habitual, pathological lying” is a strong marker of psychopathy.
Again, we have to bear in mind that people lie for all kinds of reasons, and don’t have to be “personality disordered” to do so. At their best, people tell “little white lies” out of kindness, to spare someone’s feelings. They lie to cover up something they’re ashamed of, or that they don’t want others to know. They lie to gain an advantage in some situation, or to avoid negative consequences to themselves. People suffering from feelings of inferiority may tell lies about themselves to make themselves “look bigger” in the eyes of others. And so on.
But all these lies are directed toward a specific (and usually limited) purpose. Lying is not a “habit,” a “way of life” for most people. For the psychopath, it is!
For most of us, I think that most of the time, when we make a statement, we’re expressing what we believe to be true. It’s anchored in reality–or anyway in our perceptions of reality, and our opinions about reality, although we may be right or wrong about that.
I’m not sure if it works that way in the mind of a psychopath. I get the impression that what psychopaths say to others is frequently detached from reality, and calculated to serve a different purpose entirely: not so much to express what the psychopath believes to be true, but solely to have an effect of some kind on the listener. Psychopaths say whatever is expedient for them at the time.
Needless to say, when we ourselves say anything to anybody, we’re also aiming to “have an effect” on the listener. But it’s usually a benign one: to inform them, to gain their sympathy or help, to give them comfort or help, to get something done, or whatever; and what we say is generally subject to what we believe to be true. With the psychopath, “truth” may be irrelevant. All that matters is to “have an effect,” and an effect that benefits them in particular, not their listener.
Often of course they do tell the truth–when it gains the confidence of others! But at other times, no!
The clue, to me, is in the habit of lying, even when lying seems to serve no purpose! “Gaslighting” of course may serve a purpose in the mind of a psychopath. Commonly it’s a way of denying something the offender has done, in order to avoid repercussions–even when it’s a pathetically futile attempt, because the offended person knows perfectly well what the offender has done. Or it can be a way of “messing with someone’s head,” a practice from which psychopaths seem to gain a sick sense of amusement. But overall, “constant, pathological” lying about anything whatsoever is probably a good indicator of psychopathy.
Anyway you’re well rid of this guy, and I wish you good luck with your healing.
December 3, 2019 at 3:51 pm #55307Jan7Participant
It boils down to:
Is this person treating you with love, kindness & respect?
Is this person trustworthy, honest & sincere?
If the answers are NO…they you are most likely dealing with a disordered individual.
lack of empathy
are all top of the list of sociopath or psychopath.
My ex was exactly the same with regards to lying about little things. He would lie about what he eat for breakfast, even if I cooked it for him. He lied, lied, lied = disordered individual. He had zero empathy for anyone and never showed remorse ever!! I even stated this in marriage counseling without even realign I was listing traits of a sociopath. It was not until I finally escaped the hellish nightmare I was living did I learn the truth that he was a sociopath (more likely a psychopath). This guy you are with is dangerous to your mindset and physically. Keep the NO CONTACT RULE IN PLACE for EVER!!!
LISTEN TO YOUR GUT…WHAT DOES IT SAY ABOUT HIM!!!! Your gut is screaming that he is a sociopath!! Why do I think this? Because you searched for answers which lead you to Lovefraud and you believe that he is.
If you are dating a normal person you will not find yourself here at Lovefraud but, if you are dating a sociopath it will lead you to Lovefraud. You have stated endless things that sociopaths do & say.
LISTEN TO YOUR GUT!! IT IT NEVER WRONG…Ever.
THIS IS ALSO A KEY STEP IN SEEING THE TRUTH…your gut is NEVER wrong. Google “Oprah Gavin Debecker you tube” to watch their interview on listening to your gut instinct always. Gavin Debecker’s book is The gift of fear. Your local library may have it. If you do a search on LF up at the top, you can find Donna’s book review. Also I would recommend that you purchase Donna’s book “Lovefraud 10 signs you are dating a sociopath” to clearly see the truth with this guy.
Wishing you all the best. Keep asking questions it helps to open your mind up to the truth. Keep reading everything here at love fraud your mind will open up & you will see he is definitely disordered. And not healthy be be around ever.
December 4, 2019 at 12:15 am #55312Jan7Participant
ps Donna wrote an article on this very thing Addict person vs a sociopath so do a search in the top of LF for the article.
What you have posted = sociopath = lack of remorse & empathy are the key to why he is more likely a sociopath.
December 4, 2019 at 3:06 pm #55327polestarParticipant
Hi lovehappiness –
I haven’t yet read Donna’s article about the addict vs psychopath, but she is so insightful that I am sure it will answer many of your questions. In the meantime, I wanted to reply to your last post with understandings that I have gleaned from my own healing journey. Thank you for clarifying that you are definitely No Contact and that the issue for you at this point is to understand all the craziness that you were subjected to ( “ trying to make sense of it all “). That is an important step in your healing and as I said, the step of education. Because of the addiction element in the obnoxious behaviors, there is another facet to sort out but it is totally doable even if you are not sure if your ex is definitely a psychopath or an addict ( or both ). The deepest distinction between the two is that an addict destroys your life inadvertently because of their own unrelenting desire for whatever their addiction is about, whereas the psychopath destroys your life due to their malevolent intention to do so. But actually, in my view, a psychopath is also an addict – because they are addicted to “ narcissistic supply “, which in essence is wanting power that manifests as needing power over someone else. As an aside, you mentioned that your ex did not demonstrate the behavior of control over you. Here is an important point regarding psychopathology – because it is so often such a hidden abuse, it can be difficult to perceive actions as being controlling ( manipulative ) /one such example is passive aggressive behavior. But I won’t go into that issue here because it is part of the education process, and I think down the line you will have many “ ah ha ! “ moments. What I want to focus on now is how to deal with the dilemma of a non recovered addict vs. a psychopathic predator. A way to understand this is to realize that both have an overwhelming psychopathology, and that this can destroy one who stays too long in relationship to them. What keeps many stuck to an addict ( which thank heavens is not your case ), is that the partner will think, “ oh, but it’s not their fault, they don’t mean to destroy me, they have a disease.” And so they stay with their partner out of a false sense of compassion and a false understanding of the situation as it pertains to themselves. This is also due to the fact that the recipient of abuse in both cases, focuses more and more on the perpetrator and less and less on their own need for self clarification and self preservation. Another problem concerns the addiction community, because they have no program for the recipient of abuse which the addict hoisted upon them. There are many programs for the addict’s recovery, and they generally believe that the codependent programs will heal the partner. The codependent programs, though, are for people who have the problem of codependency, but these do not address the problem of those who suffer from the effects of psychological abuse – and that is an important distinction. Therefore, there are many who are stranded and alienated due to that situation. The predominant and mainly accessible place to find the healing road from psychological abuse is in the discoveries found in the research from the healing community’s research about character disordered, and psychopathic individuals. Therefore, in your situation, it is important not to get stuck in trying to determine if your ex was only an addict or an addict and a psychopath. You do need to navigate through this carefully though as you proceed through your healing process. Your mind will have the tendency to get stuck in ambivalence between going back and forth when analyzing scenarios, between if your ex meant to hurt you or not. I realize that you are No Contact, but your mind will still seek answers ( as you well know ) and this dilemma will cause strain and confusion. How to get through this is to put that question aside, because it is focusing on the abuser, and instead to put the spotlight on you and how the abuse affected you. Therefore, study and learn about psychological abuse through books and all the avenues available here on Love Fraud etc. Learn about all the patterns of abuse and determine which of those patterns match your ex – without, as I am sure you won’t, giving him any excuses or justifications. Once you have gotten the concepts learned well, then you will be able to apply them with skill. That is done by being able to label your ex’s abusive behavior as it is presented to your mind via memory. Naming something gives you power over it, and frees you from the power it had upon you. Without education, abuse will destroy it’s victims. Then you will have the clarity you seek and you will be able to continue on the next steps to your complete healing. The next steps are also explained in much of the literature and other communications in this field, and of which you are a part of this healing community.
Blessings to you.
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