Married to high functioning sociopath

This topic contains 11 replies, has 8 voices, and was last updated by  Sunnygal 6 months, 1 week ago.

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  • #39540


    I belong in a rare category of a long term marriage to a highly intelligent high functioning sociopath. To say we’ve had difficulties would be an understatement. But there has been no violence, no cheating and no lying. We have kids who are neuro normal. There are the usual problems that come with the biggies: lack of ability to love, to feel empathy, remorse and fear. And biggest of all, he trusts no one. Ever. He has triggers that send him into uncontrollable anger, after which he goes all cold and reptilian. Then a switch is flipped back to business as usual. Can anyone identify with my situation? My marriage looks otherwise very normal with affection and laughter. The affection is comforting to him (and me) but is shallow by his own admission. He simply cannot feel (besides rage) deeply.
    We only recently discovered this true nature and I’m still grieving for what I thought was real but does not exist.
    I really hold little hope there is anyone here in a similar situation but I’m guessing this high functioning variety is out there, usually unaware of what they are. Most likely working in solitary jobs where they call the shots and no one questions their authority. I would love to find the spouses of these people. I feel very alone in a situation where I love my spouse, he cannot love me back but also has no contempt for me (unless triggered. Then hell breaks lose) and is generally a fun person to be with. He has always been a good dad and acted loving toward his children. But when asked he admits his love for them is also conditional. They’ve always known he was a bit “different” on the inside.
    He is not the stereotypical sociopath. But no sociopath is easy to live with and I’ve taken some emotional abuse for which he feels only cognitive remorse.
    I feel badly for a man who has a section of his brain that is an emotional desert. He cannot help it. And despite the rages and insults, at the end of the day I still feel love towards him. Anyone else out there able to still love and live with their sociopathic spouse?

  • #40259


    I don’t know of anyone in this situation but hope you find someone.

  • #40269


    Honestly, I am not an expert, but your husband does not appear sociopathic in my opinion which is purely layman. However my Dad had Aspergers and I can see more similarities. Does your husband stick to a certain topic in company? Does he socialise badly? If yes, then I think that is the Road you need to look to. However Asperger sufferers, even though they cannot extreme emotion easily, and can cause distress, are very good people. If your husband were a sociopath you would be sucicidal.

  • #40270


    I have to add having read your post again that your husband, again in my opinion, is not a sociopath and lucky you. The inability to show emotion etc is all Aspergers. If this is the case you are a very lucky woman. Someone with Aspergers will admit, accept, and listen to reason about the condition. A sociopath will NEVER do that. Research Aspergers and your problems could become a lot less. IF that is the case rest easy, it will not be easy, but an Aspergers sufferer can be a wonderful, very intelligent always, companion and father. However, patience is needed.

  • #40272

    Donna Andersen

    Sun – I am very sorry for your situation. It might help you to understand that sociopaths are not all the same. Personality disorders are both a syndrome and a continuum.

    A syndrome is a collection of symptoms that are usually found together – like shallow emotions, lying, uncontrollable rage, Jekyll and Hyde personality, grandiosity and other traits.

    A continuum means that a person may have all of these traits to greater or lesser degrees.

    Therefore, people with personality disorders may have a multitude of traits, and all of them to various degrees.

    It may or may not be possible to diagnose your husband as “a sociopath.” But I would certainly say that he is disordered.

    If his behavior has become worse over the years, or continue to get worse, this could be an additional problem. Some disordered people can “hold it together” for a period of time, and then, at some point, they decide that keeping up the appearance of being a partner is no longer worth the effort. Then their negative behavior escalates.

    He is unlikely to change, and may get worse. The question for you is, do you want to stay in this kind of a marriage?

    Of course, if you leave, that might be a major trigger for him to escalate his bad behavior. You will also have to decide if it’s worth the risk.

  • #40273


    I was dating a highly functional sociopath, talking about getting married. I think what you should do, and what I did, is do a list of what you consider “not okay”.
    The abuse has many shapes and forms. You might be surprised by the length of your list, and question yourself about how you could accept such abuse, once finished. Although, you might never finish the list, since every time you would put an item on it, you would remember something that even putting into word is difficult.
    My concern for you, because I know how difficult it is to keep away from a sociopath, is his revenge, with children involved. They don’t feel guilt, so I am scared for them.
    My only recommendation really, would be to seek professional help.
    I discovered the pity aspect of our relationship, and how he constantly uses my love for him and my concern for him to gain me back.
    We talked marriage, children.
    But the abuse never ceased. And every single time I confronted him and he accepted that he was doing something wrong, he apologized, soon after, he would be mean to me again. I mention that because you said he understood intellectually his faults. But you know what? Sociopaths KNOW the difference between wrong and right. ALWAYS. They simply Do. Not. Care. All apologies, all pretending of wanting to change for you are lies.
    They lie All. The. Time.
    They knwo they are smart, but since I am smart too, I challenged him intellectually to give me reasonable, logical, explanations to his wrong doing, and when we got to the point of non-sense, he would say that I was either too sensitive, or… that he did not understand himself either. That he was trying to get better, but that he was sick.
    I am naturally a very happy person and I find contempt and joy in simple things. The slightest sign of affection made me happy.
    But I came to realize that he made me sad, and that I stopped smiling.
    He would use his pet, who I loved, to make me feel guilty and sad about him.
    Every time he said I am sorry, he then perpetrated more abuse. Not physically, but verbally. And it was always a little more abusive.
    I stopped believing him, but I did not stop loving him, and hoping to help him.
    There is nothing you can do.
    Highly functional sociopath, I believe, are better at hiding to others their true self, and are highly successful. And yes, they work in environments where their behavior can be unnoticed or acceptable.
    Seek professional help. I don’t know how to give you any advice with children involved.
    And you know? I doubt his faithfulness. I think all sociopaths are cheaters. I think it is something they all do. One thing is not seing it (late meetings, very secretive phone calls and messages, all related to a confidential work. Of course).
    I have had proofs of him cheating on me, but not “really”. I don’t know if you know what I mean. Being faithful, I obviously cannot imagine someone doing it and acting like if nothing mattered or happened, but, deep down, I know.
    Trust your guts.
    My list helps me get focused and stay strong. He keeps trying to contact me.
    Also, reading “the sociopath next door”. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zn3HZcp9E2I
    Best of luck and yes. Trust your gusts.

  • #40279


    Thanks for the replies.
    I think the ideas highlight our need to put people in neat little boxes with labels. These characteristics are just a set, and some will have more while others less. In my husband’s case he has pquite a few. But he isn’t violent and definitely not on the autistic spectrum. I know the difference.

    I know there are others out there like him but I suspected it would be a needle in a haystack to find them. There are those who have serious diminished affect but still function well within society and in relatively normal relationships. Again, we want to label and neatly categorize people. I would have chosen better by calling him a person with ASPD characteristics. I’ve known him 30 years, I have a fairly thorough understanding of how he behaves. Sociopathic characteristics are ones we all can have, to some extent. He just happens to have more than the average.
    Not all people with these characteristics are out to hurt. Love fraud might be the wrong place to look for those of us who are partnered with such a person. As mentioned, I doubt many are even aware of it but I also am willing to bet their families know something is “off.”

  • #40319


    In my experience it appears that there are intelligent spaths who function well/don’t get caught. They are not the ones we read about who have been caught for fraud, violence, etc. Their manipulation, exploitation, and abuse is much much more subtle, and just as harmful, often more harmful, than straightforward physical violence.

    You might take what he tells you with a grain of salt – it may or may not be true. You might consider examining his behavior taken as a whole that makes up the difficulties, abuse, rages and insults you reference. That sounds pretty intense, and sounds like a different problem than Asperger’s. You might consider that if he can intellectually understand that these behaviors are harmful, he could choose not to do them. You might consider if he is manipulating you into thinking he ‘can’t help it’ in order to get away with continuing to abuse you. Can he control himself when he interacts with others in situations in which he can’t ‘get away with’ raging and insulting? If so, he is able to control his choice to rage at you and insult you. He just doesn’t want to.

    You wrote that he ‘has no contempt for me (unless triggered. Then hell breaks lose)’. This means that he does express contempt and he blames it on you.

    My ex psychopath abuser blamed his abuse on me and everything else in the world, besides his choice to abuse, because he liked what he was doing and he didn’t want to stop. He would tell me that he ‘had to do such and such, because otherwise I would do such and such.’ He was blaming me for what I would do, not anything I’d actually done or said. It took me a long time to figure out what was going on – I blamed myself and everything else in the world for his behavior, and I did not recognize it for what it is – run of the mill abuse. Your abuser is more clever, and from what you describe he has manipulated you into believing that you are responsible for his choice to treat you with contempt.

    It sounds like you are questioning whether he is a spath, and you are describing what sounds like severe emotional abuse that you may be minimizing and are taking responsibility for. Consider reading about abuse, particularly emotional abuse, to gather information to help you understand his behaviors clearly.

    Take care of yourself. If he is intelligent, he is likely to be more dangerous to you if he feels threatened.

    From what you describe, he is not likely to change. He understands he is hurting you, and just says he can’t help it and it’s your fault. Love is action, as well as the emotional/psychological motivation that underlies it. Regardless of how deeply he does or doesn’t feel empathy, he can choose not to hurt you and that is love. You might consider how his behavior affects you, and consider your options.

  • #40320


    Every sociopath is different.

    Mine was never physical – at least – until I broke from his “serial provoking” and SNAPPED one day after 8 years of mental, emotional and verbal abuse and only “came to” to realize that I had gotten up out of the chair, gone around the desk and was hitting him on the back (ineffectively, I might add) Once I realized what I was doing – I stopped, shocked. That opened the door for HIM to start crossing the line with me cuz now he could – and did – hold it over my head that HE could’ve called the cops on ME.

    He appears to be affectionate with the children and sometimes with me. A lot of what you originally wrote resonated with me. Mine never cheated, as far as I can tell, and I never believed he was a porn user – though I’m indifferent – maybe that will come to light later (I left 2 months ago) maybe it won’t Doesn’t matter.

    Mine could not hold down a job TOtally parasitic relationship. I did EVERYTHING and he lived off of me. WIth 5 kids and a full-time Job, I had NO LIFE.

    Anyway – mine is officially diagnosed as a Narcissistic Personality Disorder – so don’t discount that hey may INDEED be one of the Cluster B Exploitative Personalities – you’re just not in a position to be able to officially diagnose him cuz that takes a LOT of training

  • #40322


    Hi Sun,

    You found one needle in a haystack. Maybe lovefraud wasn’t a bad place to look.

    You are right that not all people with sociopathic characteristics are out to hurt because empathy impairment and lack of moral compass can manifest in a variety of ways depending on the individual sociopath. A sociopath does not feel the same about or experience relationships the way normal people do but they can be symbiotic, commensal, or parasitic.

    You could categorize them generally by which of these they tend to prefer. The high functioning or minimally destructive sociopaths probably prefer symbiotic or commensal arrangements with people. By symbiotic I mean the sociopath may benefit their relationship partner such that their partner or relationship keep adding value to their own lives. Commensals benefit from their partners without helping or hurting them for the most part. However, these sociopaths aren’t necessarily benign.

    The parasitic types (common on lovefraud) prefer to use up and discard their partners when they run out of resources. They never need to give back what they take because they snag new hosts when the old ones are drained.

    You are also right that no sociopath is easy to live with. No sociopath is going to value your feelings or sentiments whether they abuse or not. Even the ones that don’t set out to hurt you don’t care when they do and won’t stop hurtful behavior just because you’re hurt (they may be motivated to stop for reasons that have nothing to do with your feelings). The relationship will never be equal.

    “Anyone else out there able to still love and live with their sociopathic spouse?”

    Whether they can depends what they can reasonably tolerate (never tolerate any kind of abuse because it only gets worse). I recommend you read George K. Simon’s books Character Disturbance, In Sheep’s Clothing, The Judas Syndrome”¦ all of them actually. They should help you understand what you’re dealing with so you can decide what to do next. He wrote these books for people in your situation.

  • #40323


    There is a utube video of Dr. Simon: Understanding and Dealing with Manipulative People – Dr. George Simon Interview by Inner Integration.

  • #40329


    Dr. Simon’s books are good.

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