How to recognize and recover from the sociopaths – narcissists in your life › Forums › Lovefraud Community Forum – General › Second Guessing Myself – Sociopath or Not?
October 2, 2020 at 8:36 pm #64158
What are your thoughts?
I have mom with NPD, we are NC, and a dad who has Asperger’s. I’m an only child and 27 y/o. The person I’m going to talk about is 31. I have dated narcs in the past, but this relationship felt so different. I am writing this because I’m having a really hard time trusting my intuition on if this guy was a sociopath or not. My self-esteem and self-worth have been so depleted. I have been talking to all my friends and they think he is a Sociopath, my gut tells me he is, but my insecurities and doubts can’t seem to be quiet. I wonder what you all think as you are educated on the subject?
In short, we dated for 1.5 years. He is a very high-level CPA and has worked for some of the largest firms in the USA. He is from Canada and had been living in the states for about 7 years. There were many red flags waving in my face when we first met, but he turned his wrongs into rights almost poetically. He had moved five times in the last five years, worked for the same large company, but was what the company called a “Road Warrior” so was contracted at these different jobs each year. He worked for Johnson and Johnson, Cesar’s Entertainment Corp as their Fraud accountant, etc. As he said. He lived out of a suitcase, didn’t even have a car, and professed this mentality of “minimalism” and detachment. They day he asked me to be his girlfriend, and later told me I was his soulmate, I asked him if he had ever cheated on anyone. He said yes. He had. I had to ask about 100 questions to get to the facts: He said he dated her for four years, knew the relationship was over 6 months before he ended it, when he cheated on her with another girl, never told his ex girlfriend during their 4 hour long breakup, and proceeded to move in with the new girl directly after. Somehow, he was able to talk that one away. That he made the biggest mistake of his life, it was when he was using and drinking, etc. He meditated every day (his app showed 495 days straight, as down the line he loaned me the pw to use it too). I was in therapy when I met him and I vividly remember talking with my therapist and pointing out that his past was very sketchy. I said to her, “I wonder if he’s a Sociopath?” and kind of laughed it off in a joking manner. She gave it some pause. My friends know I’m skeptical when it comes to dating, and they told me to go for it. I thought I was being irrational and a little to “judgy,” as I can be that way more often than not.
The kicker is I am studying to be an LMFT, and I thought I could see past any red flags or personality patterns easily. I know the DSM-5 backwards and forwards. He mimicked everything I did. He was charming, and because he knew I had an interest in Psychology, we would talk extensively about the intricacies of the human mind, leaders like Brene Brown, Glennon Doyle and even saw Esther Perel speak where we lived. Suddenly he was well versed on ACEs, his insecurities, and his intentions of settling down and having a family. He was very insecure about his looks he said, his intelligence, and him coming off “boring” or “robotic.” At the time, I thought he was the most interesting person. He told me he loved me after 2 months, nothing physical had even happened between us at that point.
As we continued to talk things were great. I thought it would be fun to go to Costa Rica, he said it sounded great and off we went. Big Sur, Yosemite? Sure. Slowly, my intuition started to kick in again and things weren’t adding up. I couldn’t get a read on him. I remember once asking him, about 7 months into our relationship, who he was. He was masterful at regurgitating information from podcasts and movies, but he never processed the information to give his spin or opinion. He was expressionless most of the time, of course that was because of the trauma he went through with his step-dad, he said. He cried often. Especially if I had a problem and brought it up, he would talk about his past suddenly and his eyes would well up. He told me his real dad died of cancer when he was not even 1 y/o, and when I asked what he thought of it, if his parents were married at the time, etc. he knew nothing. He couldn’t answer the most basic questions. Once I asked what his favorite snack was and he couldn’t answer it. He had only 2 friends, both from out of the country, one did come to visit us, but he never talked about any friends from the USA in the 7 years he said he was living in the states.
The rules and routine started kicking in. He was so so so regimented. He wouldn’t eat one thing unhealthy, would work out every single day, and ultimately had to control many, many things.
As time continued, we talked about moving in together. I suggested it and was the one who really pushed for things to progress, especially as COVID escalated. He said he’d love to, that he wanted to be with me, that he “can’t wait to sink into this journey together.” He would always say things like “We really like them” or “We feel x, y and z” about something. He was never late to any hangout we had and only one time did he ask to change plans.
Long story short, we move to Denver, CO from California. He said CA was too expensive to buy a house, and after much thought and deliberation (including supposed phone calls with his parents) he decided out of state would be best and more affordable, 2 months later to the day, the relationship is over. When we moved in, we bought everything needed for our 2-bedroom apartment. We purchased high quality furniture because I thought we’d have it for years, he even spent $3,000.00 on a crate and barrel couch we waited 6 weeks for. We bought everything from dishtowels to bed skirts. Art work to house plants. We meticulously packed our items in CA, and drove 2 days over the Rockies with a UHAUL and his car towed to our apartment.
Things were stressful living together. I couldn’t figure him out, still, the communication was obviously shit, and I was starting to really walk on egg shells. I did our laundry, but I offered to so. I made him an extravagant breakfast every morning, but I offered to do so. I was running out of time every day. I worked in in Homeless Services and eventually, upon my now ex saying he’d always wanted to start his own CPA firm to be independent of big businesses and make his own schedule, I decided that would be a good idea. I studied accounting before psychology, and justified it all in my head.
We start this business. He’s on a TN Visa so of course, I have to file with the IRS as the owner as I’m a US citizen. Thankfully, I didn’t really lose that much money. Maybe $1,500.00. Him and I worked on the business on the weekends, making the website and curating everything. Of course, I set everything up and eventually quit my job to do this full time. His parents knew. His 2 friends knew. His parents were sending us housewarming gifts from Canada and cards that said things like “Home Denver Est. 2020” mugs, plants, etc. House listings of homes to buy there. His birthday was 2 weeks before the relationship ended. Every time we took steps forward in our relationship, I would take one to the side and ask him how he felt. I even told him I hated blindsided breakups, because I had experienced some of that before and saw a huge show about it. He said he would never. That he loved me so much and of course wanted to move to Denver with me. He called me his “wife” the day we moved in, right after he called me his roommate and realized that didn’t make him look too good.
2 months later on 8/19, after he told me he loved me that day and after one of my girlfriends had just gone home from visiting for 3 days (where he drove us around, hung out with us, and we even made sushi together), he told me that he was moving to Canada. I was so confused and shocked, as we had furniture still arriving in the mail for our home. He had even changed his Nissan Rogue Plates to Colorado through the DMV. I asked what it meant for our relationship? He couldn’t really answer. Are we breaking up then? “I don’t think it’s fair for you to have to move to Canada.” I couldn’t respond because I couldn’t get my footing. My head was spinning. I asked when he was leaving? In 1.5 days, he said. Driving to Nova Scotia, from CO. Which is like a 4-day nonstop drive. Across the border. During a pandemic. We had trips planned, etc. I was on his healthcare. I was shocked, to say the least. I go in our room and call my dad and then my friends, my ex said he was going on a walk. I worked as quickly as I could to pack what I could in a duffle bag and leave the apartment immediately. I left within 55 minutes of his walk and never saw him again.
The next day, during a global pandemic, I had to fly home to my 70 y/o vulnerable Dad. I had no car out there, no family, no friends, no job and no idea what was happening. I thought he’d leave when he said he would and I would drive back to CO to get my things. He hadn’t said one word to me. I hadn’t said anything to him. 5 days later, as I was calling the prop. Mgmt. company daily to see when he returned his keys, she told me he returned his keys. She also told me the apartment was EMPTY. All of my items literally gone. I was freaking out like I never have in my life before. Every single thing I’ve owned my 27 years. I call him, it goes to vm, to ask where my things are. No reply. I check my email and find out that he has shipped my items to my Dads house (never told him to nor gave him my consent), and that they would be arriving soon. Well, he didn’t put my name on the contract. So I wasn’t allowed to know when the delivery was going to be scheduled for, I couldn’t do anything to get MY stuff. I had the police call my now ex, the property management company, and even this moving company he hired. Nobody could contact him. I finally had to pretend to be my ex to get my things, as they told me they were going to go to the “Dead freight house” and be sold at auction in an undisclosed location in Utah if I didn’t get ahold of him soon. When I got my things they were damaged. Almost 90% of things were there, even things like olive oil and hair ties. He had even labeled the boxes, “desk/office” “kitchen.” My dining table was missing, a dresser, board games, a dirty purple yoga mat, and he ripped out all of my house plants but gave me the pots, and so much more.
The final piece was the outstanding $4,000.00 bill we both had to pay for breaking the lease. If we didn’t’ it would go to collections and our credit would be ruined. Once I looked through my things I sent my keys in the mail and returned them, so to speak. They told me that when they called my now ex to ask about payment, his phone had been permanently disconnected. I was floored. I had to email his parents (thank god I had their email addresses because of a 30th birthday video montage I made for him last year where his entire family participated), and told them what had happened in a factual manner. They forward the email to my now ex, where he sent back about 3 sentences, telling me that he hasn’t received payment from me, that the bills will be paid by him, and that I could have contacted him directly instead of emailing his parents. Unbelievable. He could be in Canada or he could still be in Denver, as a female coworker of his moved from our same city we were living in CA straight to Denver, CO one week before he broke up with me. By herself, in the middle of this pandemic. He told me this.
I’ve been reading so many things about Sociopathy. He was a total control freak. I even recommended he go to therapy, for his past suicidal feelings, and he did. He found a therapist on BetterHelp (so he said) and she told him it sounded like he had control problems. Anyways, after typing this I can really see how the answers are in the writing. I guess I just wonder if this screams absolutely insane (pretty sure it 100% does), or a guy who really sucks at communicating and just didn’t want to be in the relationship any longer. I’ve never experienced anything remotely like this in my life.
Thank you for reading this.
October 3, 2020 at 4:15 am #64161RedwaldParticipant
What a stunning story! It sure does scream “absolutely insane”!
Is he a “sociopath”? What’s so confusing about his behavior is that it’s so bizarre and contradictory that it doesn’t make any sense. No wonder you’re baffled. You can rest assured this guy is seriously disordered in some way. But which disorder to label him with is another question.
Still, the main thing you need to know is that he is seriously disordered, and someone to avoid at all costs.
What’s confusing me is trying to figure out what he was getting out of this behavior, with the furniture above all. Why to begin with would he bail so abruptly when in theory things were just going well between you? You were setting up home, setting up the business and the web site, and so on. But as soon as you moved in together, he got antsy.
All right, he might have just “ghosted” you, possibly for this other woman who just moved to Denver, but left your stuff behind in the apartment. That would have made far more sense. Or he might have stolen all your belongings and shipped them off to Canada. Disastrous as that would be, it would “make sense” from the viewpoint of a thief. But he didn’t do either. He went to all this trouble to ship your belongings–why?–then vanished and was totally noncooperative when you needed to retrieve them. How much sense does that make? No wonder you couldn’t get your head around this whole thing.
It’s almost as if he had a massive panic attack in the middle of everything, just went bonkers, and cleared out! Where’s he hiding anyway, why is he hiding, and who is he hiding from? It also sounds as if his parents are protecting his anonymity: another suspicious feature in itself.
If I wanted to be charitable, I could imagine he thought he was trying to “help” you by packing and shipping your goods. But if so, he did it with a total absence of thought for what you’d want and how you were going to react to and handle all this. And on such a major issue, that’s disordered in itself.
Apart from all that, he has traits that sound psychopathic to me.
There were many red flags waving in my face when we first met,
It would be interesting to know what they were, but never mind…
but he turned his wrongs into rights almost poetically.
I’m not sure what you mean by “turned his wrongs into rights.” If you mean he found ways of justifying his faults, that’s a red flag in itself–blameshifting. If you mean he quickly appeared to change for the better, that sounds as if he’d been taking notice of what aspects of his behavior you might object to, and “adjusting” them accordingly: putting on his “Doctor Jekyll” mask to cover up the face of Mr. Hyde.
He had moved five times in the last five years… He lived out of a suitcase, didn’t even have a car, and professed this mentality of “minimalism” and detachment.
He obviously prefers to move around a lot. He just did it again, didn’t he?–twice in a row. Restlessness, possibly, to allay the boredom of the psychopath.
he… later told me I was his soulmate.
“Instant soulmates” are a classic seduction tactic, as you’ll see from this site. I was just discussing that on another thread.
I asked him if he had ever cheated on anyone. He said yes. He had. I had to ask about 100 questions to get to the facts:
It sounds as though he was being evasive.
He said he dated her for four years, knew the relationship was over 6 months before he ended it, when he cheated on her with another girl, never told his ex girlfriend during their 4 hour long breakup, and proceeded to move in with the new girl directly after.
He may have just done the same thing to you.
Somehow, he was able to talk that one away. That he made the biggest mistake of his life, it was when he was using and drinking, etc.
He obviously has the gift of the gab, another psychopathic trait. The same can be said of addictions. Can you be sure he isn’t still “using”? That’s something to steer clear of. Possibly in the future he’ll be telling some other woman he “made the biggest mistake of his life” when he left you.
I vividly remember talking with my therapist and pointing out that his past was very sketchy.
Another big red flag.
I said to her, “I wonder if he’s a Sociopath?” and kind of laughed it off in a joking manner. She gave it some pause. My friends know I’m skeptical when it comes to dating, and they told me to go for it. I thought I was being irrational and a little to “judgy,” as I can be that way more often than not.
Unfortunately that happens. People with your family background especially can find it harder to distinguish between “normal” and “disordered” behavior, end up second-guessing themselves and ignoring red flags.
Incidentally I was comparing this comment with what you said earlier about your friends:
I have been talking to all my friends and they think he is a Sociopath, my gut tells me he is, but my insecurities and doubts can’t seem to be quiet.
If these are same friends, their judgment doesn’t sound too good either! If I understand you correctly, what you’re saying is that they told you to “go for it” before, and it’s only now, when they’ve heard about his behavior, that they “think he is a Sociopath.” Well, anyone can be wise after the event! In any case I know exactly what Donna would say: ”Go with your gut!”
He mimicked everything I did. He was charming, and because he knew I had an interest in Psychology, we would talk extensively about the intricacies of the human mind, leaders like Brene Brown, Glennon Doyle and even saw Esther Perel speak where we lived. Suddenly he was well versed on ACEs, his insecurities, and his intentions of settling down and having a family.
Charm of course is part of the psychopath’s stock-in-trade. This whole business of mimicking you and your interests is a classic technique for making himself look like your “ideal partner.” It’s all a front. Incidentally thank you for educating me. I didn’t know what ACEs were before. Now I do.
I thought it would be fun to go to Costa Rica, he said it sounded great and off we went. Big Sur, Yosemite? Sure. Slowly, my intuition started to kick in again and things weren’t adding up. I couldn’t get a read on him. I remember once asking him, about 7 months into our relationship, who he was. He was masterful at regurgitating information from podcasts and movies, but he never processed the information to give his spin or opinion.
A lot of these disordered people are more or less empty inside, so I hear. They put on whatever persona they need to serve them in a particular situation or with a particular person.
if I had a problem and brought it up, he would talk about his past suddenly and his eyes would well up.
Notice he switched the attention from your problem to his own, so your problem got ignored. And if it’s overdone, all this sorrow–and his insecurities too–can lure you into a “sympathy trap.”
The rules and routine started kicking in. He was so so so regimented. He wouldn’t eat one thing unhealthy, would work out every single day, and ultimately had to control many, many things.
Yes, you said later he was a “control freak.” People can be “controlling” for different reasons, but it’s not something you want to live with.
Things were stressful living together. I couldn’t figure him out, still, the communication was obviously shit, and I was starting to really walk on egg shells.
As soon as you moved in together, things went wrong. That can be typical. “Oviputamenambulating,” as I like to call it–“walking on eggshells”–a huge red flag that there’s something wrong with your partner.
2 months later on 8/19, after he told me he loved me that day… he told me that he was moving to Canada.
What an awful shock in itself! Clearly this guy didn’t have one shred of thought or consideration for you. No conscience whatsoever. He just didn’t care what damage he inflicted on you. And that’s the bottom line.
I’m very sorry all this happened. There’s nothing for it but to pick up the pieces and move on. But I hope you’ll take notice of those red flags–and your intuition–next time.
October 3, 2020 at 11:55 am #64174
Thank you so much for your thoughtful and detailed reply. I agree with many points you made. I hadn’t considered psychopathy, but I will have to do some more digging into that. What traits do you notice that could be psychopathic? What other “disorder” do you think it could be?
A few other red flags to mention and that I was referring to:
1. I was just very, very off put by the fact that he didn’t ever tell his ex girlfriend of 4 years what really happened. He never was able to obviously grow from the experience by facing his reality, and most importantly giving her the truth of the matter. I remember saying to him, “Why don’t you call her, text her, or write her and tell her?” I thought it was a matter of him not having received proper advice and would then do the right thing. Of course, he didn’t.
2. I disclosed to him that, in my past, I had been exposed to cold sores. Something that is very, very common but has a lot of stigma attached to it. He was very understanding, and told me he had never even heard of cold sores before. I was pretty surprised he hadn’t heard of them, but relieved that he seemed sympathetic. 2 weeks later, he had a cold sore on his mouth (not the same type of cold sore I was referring to before, as I have never had a cold sore on my mouth and transmission between the two is unique and specific). We went on a hike when I first saw it and he never even brought it up; the fact that it made no sense he denied even knowing what they were but then had one, with cold sore cream on it, 2 weeks later. I brought it up at the end of the hike and he said he “totally forgot” that he had them in the past and that they make him really uncomfortable so he doesn’t like talking about it. Tears then started.
3. He didn’t have any friends that he would invite over or we would all hang out with. I had some girlfriends, and every time I invited him to hang with us he never wanted to. Even for my birthday around this time last year, he wouldn’t go to my birthday lunch with friends and family, because he said he had to work. It was on a Saturday, and he later told me he asked his team to work that day. On my birthday.
4. In time, I really felt in my heart the biggest red flag was him not knowing anything about his biological dad. He seemed so emotional all the time, and like he was having identity issues because his step-dad is an alcoholic, and each time I’d bring up his biological dad he really wasn’t having it. The biggest, most shocking red flag, was that for this 30th birthday video I made for him last year, where all of his family participated including friends, aunts uncles, his sister and both of his parents, his mom asked me to remove any pictures that may have been in the montage about Ron, his biological dad that tragically died from Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma. I was floored. Why couldn’t a 30 year old grown man see a few sweet pictures of him and his biological dad? It really felt eerie and bizarre.
5. About 8 months into our relationship I had stayed over at his house and the next morning he was having a huge anxiety attack. He said the same words he told me at the very end, that he hadn’t felt this feeling before but needed to move back to Canada. He was visibly unwell. I told him to call his parents, thinking maybe that would help. He went out on a walk and called them. I was so nervous, wondering what was even happening. He came back about an hour later with a grin as wide as ever. “Babe! Babe! I feel so much better. I guess I had never really told my parents my intentions of permanently living and buying a house in the USA (he kept saying he wanted to buy a home soon), and I feel like I now have told them and they are so excited. There is even a family heirloom ring my mom brought up.” So of course, I think Canada is solved. I know there will be more with it longterm down the line (his parents were in their 60s and had each other so aging wasn’t immediate), but I felt like that all felt really real and that wasn’t going to come back and haunt us.
6. When he was younger, he talked about the rage he had for his parents. And I feel like we all go through those periods and so it’s not this wow thing. But the wow factor came in when he said, “No I really didn’t like them. I wanted them to die. I wanted to kill them.” So if that isn’t a red flag, I don’t know what is. Homicidal. And again, I justified as that as extreme anger, but he never touched me or hurt me, so I didn’t see those actions myself.
7. When we moved in, he started saying he “didn’t deserve nice things.” After I had done some small favor for him. He was adamant he didn’t deserve nice things. I was very confused and of course said he did. In hindsight, why would he say that?
8. A few days before the breakup, while my girlfriend was still visiting, I was having some serious weird gut feelings about our relationship. I told my friend Cathy I thought it was weird that my now ex said “Why don’t you pay more attention to our room?” when I was adamant about designing the guest room quickly right before Cathy came. He seemed jealous I wasn’t paying enough attention to “our” room, or to him. I told Cathy I just had a really weird feeling that he was cheating on me or something was off. She said to talk to him, and I had talked to him about my disdain for cheating, hundreds of times in the past, as my mom cheated on my dad growing up. Also, him having cheated in the past so violently didn’t help. When I confronted him, he said he wasn’t cheating. And nothing was wrong. This was literally days before the break up.
9. Other random parts – he would talk all the time about how important the environment was, loved animals, and said women’s right are crucial to our society moving forward properly. For good reason, that is one of the parts of this that makes me so so angry. If he cared about women’s rights, women’s equality, etc., he wouldn’t have ever treated his ex that way and now treated me this way either. He talked about his mom’s cancer and how she is so strong and brave because of it, even talked about a blindsiding trauma his step-dad went through which started his drinking apparently. If he respected women, suicide, depression, trauma, and mental health as a whole, why would he do what he’s done? To use mental health as his alibi, to someone who cares a great deal about mental health, is so unbelievable. Again, the codependent parts fo me try to justify that. But I have to remember the facts here.
I agree, trusting my intuition is the silver lining. Also not being with him. My friend came to visit and left on a Monday. The next day Tuesday, that evening him and I talked about our future. I asked about what our plans were for buying a home, which was the purpose of us moving to Denver (my girlfriend who just had left was buying a home with her boyfriend of 9 years, so I was thinking of the topic). I own a home in California, but it was he who said Denver made more sense. Near an international airport, closer to Canada, etc. When I asked him about buying a home in Denver, his thoughts on marriage, kids, etc. (which we had loosely talked about before and I would bring up), he kept saying “I don’t know!” It was a classic example of cold feet. I kept trying to justify it with “I know you don’t know, we have literally never sat down and talked about it in detail.” Again, a codependent reply as I thought he did want to do these things. He then told me some lines about how he would want to have kids in a few years, buy a home by next Christmas, and that marriage was helpful for children. The next day he said he was off to Canada, and he referenced that conversation we had the night before. The part where the incessant lying comes in is that I asked him about his family and Canada all the time. My dad is older and I wanted him to eventually move out to Denver so I could be near him. I’d ask him about his family, living countries away, how would you do this? Would you visit them every so often? He would reassure me that he left Canada on purpose, to make a boundary with his parents, as he didn’t really like them. That was why he moved to the states, he said. Yet, you want to move back there and initially live with them? One thing that really stood out to me during the 15 minute long break up was when he said there would be “No Added Value” in us continuing our relationship. That is not what you say about a human being. It felt like, in hindsight, this was the part where he was taking his mask off. Never had he referenced added value to me in such a grotesque, matter of fact, way before.
There’s the most confusing pieces, which like you said, the noncooperation at the ending. -Why wouldn’t he have told me he wanted to move to Canada while we were still in CA, before we spent all of our money and time moving to Denver?
–What did he benefit from this? What did he get?
-Why wouldn’t you call the person, even for just two minutes, and converse about the apartment?
-Why did you say you were leaving to Canada in just 1.5 days? (When he told me Wednesday evening he was leaving Friday, I told him I was going to CA. He seemed surprised, and said well why don’t you stay here? I’ll pay my portion of rent next month. Something like that). As if I’m going to find another roommate, live in that same house, with no friends, family, car, etc. Also I’m not a CPA, and he knew I couldn’t do much with that business without his credentials. I told him this in the past multiple times.
-Why did you change your phone number? He had that phone number memorized. His family knew it. He could recite it. I only called him one time after the break up, when I asked where my things were, never even texted him once. So it’s not like I was harassing him or anything. However, the police did call him once on my behalf. Still, wouldn’t someone just pick up and answer?
-I even sent him a text message before we moved to Denver I later found that said, “Hey. I was reading this story about this couple that had been married for years. Suddenly, the husband hands her divorce papers out of the blue. She was blindsided. Idk. It really got in my head. Are you sure you want to move to Denver and be with me?” He says, “Of course I want to move to Denver and be with you. Your love means so much to me babe. We have so many things to look forward to together.”
It’s a total mindf*** because it’s all masked in these part-nice gestures. It’s not like complete and total disregard. But it’s almost like he was checking his bases as he went, making sure that it all seemed so believable. At the end, there’s no denying what he did was insane, but it is Sociopathic insane? Or maybe psychopathic? Since I know I am never going to get closure in the normal sense, my mind is frantic about stopping this confusion with an answer. Maybe, that’s not going to happen.
Thank you again for your support and your thoughtful reply Redwald.
October 3, 2020 at 1:06 pm #64175
Sorry to add in a bit more, but if you are a true narcissist/self-centered/sociopath why would you spend your money and your time if you were not benefiting somehow? Even if the theory of him getting cold feet and being a total liar and cheating on me with this other girl he worked with is true, if you’re that smart and clever, why would you put yourself in literally the same situation with her? This girl is 7 years older than me, he told me throughout our relationship she wants children and would say that out loud at work pre-pandemic, drinks a bunch (yet he said he’s an alcoholic, though we met over drinks for our first date), and came from the same small town in CA I did. Same outcome.
I just again, do not understand his gain or his benefit. I did pay for things for us and was generous. Though., I never gave him money consistently or supplemented his lifestyle financially in any way. He made $150,000.00/year, had the platinum AMEX card, and was doing just fine on his own.
Again, I don’t understand why in the world someone would do this or what they would gain, no matter which disorder you have. Six days after we broke up and I came home and started to quickly understand, due to his lack of remorse, that he was 10000% not who he sold himself to be, I blocked him on everything. I am really, really hoping he never says anything to me again somehow, as I know some sociopaths do, if that’s even what he is.
October 3, 2020 at 1:43 pm #64176
Hi Ene, I’m sorry I haven’t read your full story yet, only your last post.
Just wanted to comment in general on your question why someone would invest a lot of time and money into someone they don’t care about.
Well a lot of sociopaths/narcissists/disordered people etc do this. It’s a very typical strategy. One form of this strategy is called love bombing -basically overwhelming you with attention, gifts, trips etc very early in the relationship.
It’s their way of reeling you in and making you feel like they really love you and care about you. But with disordered people of course the ugly truth is that they don’t love you at all and it was all fake and they are just using you.
A typical way that disordered people target and use their partners is for money or credit (co-signing loans etc). But that’s not the only way. A lot of disordered people target partners simply to get attention and emotional support and love which they desperately need because their ego is so fragile. In psychology terms this is called “narcissistic supply” and it’s basically attention that narcissists continually need to stabilize their fragile ego.
Now of course normal healthy people also look for attention and support and love from their partners. The difference is that in a healthy relationship it’s a two way street. A genuine mutual exchange of attention, support, and love.
Whereas in a relationship with a disordered person it’s a one way street. One partner is genuinely giving genuine love, support and attention to the disordered partner. And the disordered partner pretends to give it back BUT actually doesn’t care about their partner at all.
They are just faking it to keep the narcissistic supply coming, which they desperately need for their fragile ego to survive. A precarious situation because once they find a better source of supply (new partner) they will drop their old partner without a care in the world. Very easy for them because they never loved their partner in the first place. They were simply using them as temporary narcissistic supply.
October 3, 2020 at 11:09 pm #64177
Now I read more about your ex in your original story. Yes he certainly sounds sociopathic or at least disordered. Good for you for getting away from him.
The most concerning part of your story to me is that you mentioned that your mom has NPD, that you dated several NPD before, and that now you dated another disordered person. So this is a clear pattern for you of attracting and dating the wrong partners.
To break this pattern you will really need to understand both yourself better and the red flags of disordered people better. You have a lot of work to do. You can do counseling for this, but make sure the therapist understands cluster B disorders. And there is also extensive information available online and on lovefraud to help you recognize the red flags and patterns with these disordered people.
As long as you keep attracting these people and do not recognize them early enough, you will keep having these same problems. So make sure to do the work to educate yourself on red flags and to address your own vulnerabilities that they target.
It’s a lot of work but it’s so worth it. Because after you do the work you will find that disordered persons are no longer attracted to you. You become invisible to them. You are boring to them. They will pass you by and look for other targets. And you will be free to date healthy normal people with good character and good morals. People who will genuinely care about you and who conduct themselves with good character and good values.
Aside from the personality disorder issues I would also advise you to stay away from addicts or former addicts. They have a lot of personality issues and problems as well. Not saying that some former addicts cannot recover and go on to live better lives. But there is really no reason for you to deal with their problems and addict personality issues, when you could be dating a healthy person instead. (Unless you have your own addiction issues, in which case you need to address those with a counselor.)
If you yourself are a healthy normal genuine and loving person, without personality disorders and without addictions, then the only people you should date are similar healthy genuine people without personality disorders and addictions. Set that higher standard for yourself. So you can find a healthy person with good character to build a healthy relationship with.
October 5, 2020 at 10:43 am #64191Donna AndersenKeymaster
ene3 – wow – I am sorry for everything you went through.
The guy is definitely disordered, although I’m not sure what the disorder is. But since you’re studying psychology, you know that it’s possible to have multiple disorders – co-morbidities. You probably could make a case study out of your own situation. This is a truly unsettling experience, but it will make you a better therapist. Would you have believed such a story if a client came to you with it? You certainly will now.
First, however, be good to yourself and give yourself time to recover. Later on, when you feel better, you can sort out what you learned.
October 6, 2020 at 3:22 pm #64213babz1Participant
He sounds very similar to my ex, and Im 100% sure my ex was a psychopath, but perhaps a more sadistic/egomaniacal one than yours since he really made a song and dance of revealing he was a psychopath at the end which was very traumatic.
Psychopathy is a spectrum though and they also tailor their abuse to their victims weaknesses so perhaps his way of hurting you most was by doing the whole cut and run and leaving hints of cheating. We can never know for sure but yes what others said here is true – regardless of his particular disorder, he was clearly highly disordered and incapable of a relationship.
My ex used to pay for things and buy me gifts but it was just a strategy to keep me on the hook since I kept saying I was unhappy and wanted to leave. They give you just enough to stay around as long as they need you.
Im so glad you are out of the web now and can heal. Be patient with yourself, Im still fragile even though I have come a long way – its been about 9 months since the break up.
It can be frustrating too to realise you are still picking men who are very disordered, that you thought you had yourself ironed out in terms of unhealthy relationship behaviours. Keep working on yourself, sometimes its fighting our urge to see authentic and loving men as somehow less than. It’s an ugly thing to realise but if we are unhealthy ourselves we can tend to feel repulsed by real authentic love and vulnerability from men and have to kind of work through this feeling and realise its to do with ourselves and not them.(speaking for myself at least)
October 6, 2020 at 3:35 pm #64214babz1Participant
and yes I agree with Donna, just be kind and gentle to yourself in the early stages, and the introspection about your own things to work on can wait until you are feeling stronger and safer. The process of self inquiry should be done when you feel safe and done in a gentle and curious and gradual way. There really is no hurry.
Yoga done at home from youtube is also a great and easy self care staple you can do every day to help release trauma and tension in the body and the breathing helps to regulate your nervous system.
Wishing you all the best
October 6, 2020 at 6:23 pm #64216
Babz yes good point that they tailor their abuse to their victims’ weaknesses. As well as they tailor their initial way of reeling you in to your personality.
Truly a horrific realization once you figure out that they were actually insidiously studying you to most effectively set their initial trap and their subsequent abuse.
And even more unconscionable that the “weaknesses” they target can actually be lovely qualities like being trusting and open minded and non judgmental.
- This reply was modified 1 week, 5 days ago by sept4.
October 8, 2020 at 2:34 am #64222RedwaldParticipant
Hi again ene3, and thanks for answering. I’m sorry for the delay in replying myself.
Although your ex is disordered without question, I’m not surprised that Donna said she wasn’t sure exactly what his disorder is! He truly is a weirdo, and sometimes it is hard to see anyone’s symptoms making a good match with some “officially” recognized disorder. As Donna pointed out, people can be diagnosed with multiple disorders, “comorbidity”–by “experts” who are not quite sure themselves!
However, we need to take into account that definitions of these disorders are themselves often arbitrary, and experts themselves disagree on what’s a “disorder” and what isn’t! I heard for instance that when they revised the DSM-IV to produce the DSM-V, at one point they considered abolishing “narcissistic personality disorder” as an entity, and simply describing it in terms of individual “traits” instead. And maybe they weren’t wrong to think about it that way.
I really ought to write more about this idea when I get the time. But what I’m saying is that diagnosing a “disorder” requires us to match someone’s behavior or symptoms to a whole cluster of criteria–or a pattern something like it, at any rate. And maybe that’s not always the best approach. Maybe it’s not “analytical” enough. Now to “analyze” something means literally to “break it down into its component parts,” as when a chemist examines a compound and concludes that it’s composed of X, Y, and Z. Maybe at times we need to look harder at the individual criteria that constitute a supposed “disorder,” even if somebody doesn’t match the usual cluster of symptoms very well. Maybe at times it’s useful to focus on one specific criterion–or possibly two criteria–that are central to the disorder, that characterize the disorder as a whole, and ignore whether the other, incidental symptoms are present or absent.
So to answer your question about psychopathic traits, what I understand to be central to psychopathy is a profound deficit in emotional functioning. Most important of all, this deficit accounts for the lack or total absence of empathy in psychopaths. While they seem to be capable of “comprehending” the behavior and feelings of others in some cold, impersonal way–like studying the behavior of rats in a laboratory, or the ‘behavior” of an inanimate object, like a mechanical toy–they’re not capable of “feeling for” others as we do. Consequently they’re capable at times of treating others in the most horrible and utterly unfeeling ways–depending on whatever gratifies their needs at any one moment–and totally “without conscience,” which is why Robert Hare used those two words as the title of his classic book on psychopathy.
Among other things, while psychopaths can certainly respond to threats with rage and hostility, they don’t react physiologically to fear the same way normal people do. But in addition, the emotional void in the “soul” of a psychopath can lead these people to seek constant stimulation to compensate for their inner emptiness. They often hurt others as a sick way of keeping themselves amused–like kids playing “smashup” with toy cars and trains–except that these are people they’re playing with. Their behavior is frequently impulsive, possibly because “doing the same thing” for long leaves them feeling chronically bored, and they seek constant change by way of relief. Meanwhile others can find their impulsive behavior “stimulating,” and they may exert attraction as “the life and soul of the party.” They’re often prone to risk-taking behavior, despite its frequent dangers even to themselves, because it keeps them feeling excited. They can likewise be prone to addictions of every kind: drugs, gambling, alcohol, sex, pornography–anything to keep them stimulated. Sex is usually a stimulant for them, and the more variety the better. This is why they seem sexually exciting to any partner they invite to “join in the thrills”–as addictive as that can be to the partners they ensnare.
Finally, perhaps because they have no real inner sense of self–at any rate, not what I might call a “personal sense of character and integrity,” something we can point to in spite of our ordinary human faults and say, like Popeye the Sailor, ”I yam what I yam!”–psychopaths can switch from one persona to another, depending on whatever serves them at the time in terms of how they’re presenting themselves to others. Or possibly as the mood takes them! “Superficial charm” and “glibness” are classic traits of psychopaths. They’re very practiced at fooling people about “who they really are and what they’re really like.”
I’m going to stop right there for a moment before going on, because most of that is what I understand as central to psychopathy. If I take that central concept of “emotional emptiness,” along with the absence of an “inner emotional anchor,” I think I can grasp how most of those other, secondary traits and behaviors can all “grow out of” that primary defect for more or less logical reasons of cause and effect. You might want to ask yourself how well your ex fits those characteristics.
Regardless of the incomprehensible motives for his behavior, he had no feeling for how his leaving you and his subsequent activities with your possessions would affect you. As far as his radar was concerned, your feelings almost didn’t exist. He acted totally without regard to you, in emotional terms at least.
When you tried to talk about your problems, he turned on the waterworks and started talking about his problems instead. He wasn’t really “sharing similar experiences” for the sake of empathy, even if it seemed that way. He was switching the focus away from you, toward himself.
He was superficially “charming,” or seemed so.
He had no inner sense of a permanent self, no “anchor.” He could be whatever was expedient or enjoyable to him at a given time–which included being your ‘soul mate,” sharing your interests and activities when it was pleasant to do so–but he was “mirroring” or regurgitating (I like that word!) other people’s ideas all the time, and didn’t even know what his own favorite snack was! You sensed correctly his own “emptiness” as a person.
He was restless and impulsive. He didn’t seek stability, despite pretending to do so. He didn’t like to stay in any one place or situation for long. He had to keep moving on, possibly to alleviate that inner boredom with variety.
He had, at least in the past, suffered from addictions: drugs and alcohol. He may still do so, unbeknown to you.
And so on. However, there are other traits that are also typical of most psychopaths. Quite a number of these people–not all–are constantly seeking after multiple sexual partners, for variety no doubt, and continually cheating on their own “primary’ partners. That doesn’t seem to be true of your ex, apart from that incident in his past.
Much of psychopathic behavior is consciously calculated predation, taking advantage wherever they can to exploit people for money, a place to live, sex, just plain “narcissistic supply,” or anything under the sun. Your ex doesn’t seem to have been this way, except for “taking root” with you to provide him for a time with a certain shared vision of life–which he eventually got bored with and left.
They can vent plenty of anger and rage on people too, with emotional, verbal and physical abuse of every kind. Your ex doesn’t seem to have acted that way toward you, except for the sinister hatred he expressed against his parents.
And everybody talks about psychopaths being obsessed with “power and control, power and control.” I’ve no doubt most of them are. But is it a primary feature of psychopathy to want to have power over other people simply for the sake of power? I don’t know. Presumably anyone without a conscience will do whatever they can to get whatever they want out of other people without regard to how their manipulations are harming others. So naturally they’ll “exert power” as a means to an end. But what if they have no particular needs for any of those things, or no special cause to vent spite on the world at large? Your ex may have been “controlling” about petty things to gratify his own obsessive-compulsive needs, but I’m not hearing that he was particularly power-hungry as a whole.
In any case the need for “power over others” for its own sake seems to be a separately measurable human trait. Some people, psychopathic or not, are “power driven”; others seek “affiliation” with those around them, while others again seek personal “achievement.”
And a final trait typical of psychopaths is compulsive lying. I’m sure your ex avoided the truth much of the time–he was reluctant to talk–but I haven’t heard that he was particularly guilty of lying; not that you caught him out in any major lies anyway.
In short, your ex doesn’t seem to fit the pattern of a typical lying, cheating, evil monster deliberately preying on and doing harm to others. He seems more like a blundering bull in a china shop, without even a conscious plan, doing what came to him at any given moment. And when he changed his mind about what he wanted, he did that too, though again without regard to you or others or how it was harming you.
Above all, he was thoroughly inconsistent in every way. His behavior didn’t make sense from anyone’s viewpoint. If he wasn’t exactly a liar, he had no consistent relationship with the truth or with any fixed reality from one time to another. How could he say he “loved you” in the morning, then turn around in the afternoon and say he was leaving you to go to Canada? Was it because his mind changed from one moment to the next? Or had he known for a while what he was planning next, and just didn’t care how it would affect you, or about your natural human “need to know”?
Sometimes it’s impossible to say. I can visualize him as “fundamentally psychopathic” at bottom for the reasons I’ve explained, even if he didn’t fit many of the other behaviors we normally hear of psychopaths. Some might see him as “fundamentally narcissistic” insofar as he acted as though he were the only person in the world, so wrapped up in himself that nobody else existed in his mind apart from himself. But that’s not quite true, because he did “see” you at times, so I don’t doubt he was “different” from other narcissists you’ve dated. If anyone has any better ideas I’ll be glad to hear them.
Whatever his problem, he was above all thoroughly inconsistent in his behavior–and that’s what made him so bewildering and confusing. Figuring out all the reasons for his behavior is in the end an impossible exercise, and bound to be an endlessly frustrating and futile one. But then I’ve always had a favorite saying since way back when:
”Inconsistency is the hallmark of the abuser.”
As humans we’re all “inconsistent” in certain ways, like Shakespeare’s portrayal of Brutus. Yet Brutus was normally human and had an “inner integrity” of his own:
His life was gentle, and the elements
So mix’d in him that Nature might stand up
And say to all the world, This was a man.
With abusers of every kind there are stranger and more profound “inconsistencies.” Whether or not they consciously intend to harm others, they typically do anyway. If we saw a bull charging around in our china shop, whether it intended to harm us or was just acting the way a bull might normally do is beside the point. Our best bet is to get out of its way and salvage as much china as we can! And beware of “bizarre, inappropriate” in humans likewise. I hope this helps.
October 8, 2020 at 9:50 am #64225
Redwald yes I agree with your descriptions of psychopathy and my ex husband was exactly like that.
For a while during my divorce I was overly focused on researching both antisocial personality disorder and narcissistic personality disorder in an attempt to understand deeply and exactly the various features and details and differences of these disorders.
I went very deep into the research and learned a lot in detail. And then after a couple of years of research I realized that the exact details and exact diagnoses of these disorders don’t really matter in the end. What truly matters is realizing that someone:
1) is just not a good person morally and character wise
2) did not really love me.
That is the bottom line. If you’re recovering from an unhealthy relationship with an unhealthy person, that is really the center of it all. Were they truly a good person and did they truly love me? If the answer to either is NO then that’s really what you need to focus on. Regardless of the psychological details and exact psychological diagnosis, if someone is just not a good person character wise and did not genuinely love you, then a healthy happy relationship was never possible.
So now I judge all my relationships through that perspective. Not just romantic but also family and friends. Because without both of those criteria it’s impossible to have a good and healthy close relationship with someone. You need both good character and genuine love.
October 9, 2020 at 9:50 am #64231emilie18Participant
I have been following this thread with great interest. Ene3’s story interested me because, like Redwald said, the behaviors of this man did not exactly fit any one “diagnosis”. He did not seem to be reaping any obvious reward from his behavior, he was not obviously controlling or gaslighting or triangulating — none of the common crazy making — other than evasiveness, pity-partying and up-and-leaving. Yet, he left behind confusion, pain and trauma. So is he or is he not disordered? Or is he merely a jerk? And does it really matter? As Sept4 says “What truly matters is realizing that someone: 1) is just not a good person morally and character wise and 2) did not really love me.” And what ultimately matters is recovering your equilibrium from being involved with such a person. Trying to make him fit a diagnosis may be futile and counterproductive. Healing yourself is all-important now.
From age 19 to 29 I was married to man who made my life miserable. He was emotionally abusive, unable to show affection, sexually impotent, non-communicative and an alcoholic. I blamed myself for many years for not being “good enough” to make him love me. When I finally started opening myself up to dating (30 years later!) I got involved with a man who turned my world upside down, put me on a pedestal, made me feel like a queen, but ultimately stole from me, used me as a stepping stone to get what he wanted and discarded me once he did. Both took their toll on my self-esteem and ability to trust. Neither loved me for me. They both took advantage of a loving, compassionate, caring, naive person for their own selfish reasons – the first due to alcohol, the second because he was born that way. I had never heard of narcissists, sociopaths or psychopaths (other than serial killers) before I found this site. Putting a label on both their behaviors helped me understand that it was NEVER my fault…but the work of self-healing was all up to me.
Someday Ene3 may understand what and who this person was. For now, understanding him isn’t as important as focusing on healing…and this site DOES help with that, for sure.
Blessings to you.
- This reply was modified 1 week, 2 days ago by emilie18.
October 9, 2020 at 9:26 pm #64233
Emilie yes healing is most important and also understanding how to better judge people so you don’t keep dating the same type.
An encounter with a disordered person is an education. If you don’t learn your lesson about how to identify disordered people and how you were an attractive target to disordered people, then life will keep sending you the same type of guy until you learn.
I wish they taught this to girls in school or by popular TV shows or movies etc. But instead we grow up with Disney movies in which the villain is ugly and creepy so easily identifiable. Real life is not like that. Bad people can be very goodlooking and charming and charismatic.
The only popular movie for girls that I can think of that does portray a sociopath correctly is Frozen. Prince Hans is goodlooking and charming and charismatic and love bombs Anna and he seems like the perfect catch. But it turns out that he is faking it and he is actually the villain. Now this is the type of education that girls and young women need to learn. So that the charm and love bomb strategies of these bad types become better known so they are more easily avoided.
October 9, 2020 at 11:54 pm #64234
I want to say thank you thank you thank you for your responses, interest and support. The positive words and reassurance have meant so much to me. Your stories are so personal and unique and I am grateful to hear and learn from each of them. I agree that the next step in this process for me is deep introspection and healing. I have been reading tremendously about codependency, as my friend just recommended the book “Codependent No More” by Melody Beattie. I can’t recommend this book enough and say just how transformative even reading it one time has been for me.
I will never know why this man did what he did or understand any of it. That’s for sure. What I can be grateful for and know is that I am alive, feeling my feelings, and am excited to put my focus on me instead of him, or any other disordered person. There’s so much I have yet to learn in life, but I can say that this experience is one of the biggest opportunities for change and growth and I intend to ride this wave into a headspace and reality that is much more balanced and whole. We’ll see how it goes!
If I do ever hear from him or have a massive epiphany on the matter, I will be sure to update everyone here.
October 10, 2020 at 1:22 am #64235
So glad you are feeling better Elaine!
Yes I also read Codependent No More during my divorce and it’s a great book and I learned a lot from it.
However once my divorce was final and I could finally go NC with my ex, my codependency issues just disappeared! I realized that I’m actually not codependent in general and I’m actually very independent in general and perfectly fine with taking care of things alone and by myself.
Then I realized that my codependent behavior was only actualized in the relationship dynamic with my toxic ex. The codependency was not part of my life or my own personality or my relationships before or after my ex, and it was only a temporary behavior in the unhealthy relationship with my ex.
And the reason for that was that codependency is really the only way to deal with a disordered person and sustain a relationship with a disordered person. Because you simply CANNOT remain a healthy normal person with good boundaries if you are interacting daily with a disordered manipulative lying toxic person.
That toxicity necessarily seeps into the dynamic between the two people. So you can never be a healthy person interacting in a healthy way with a disordered person. Because the only dynamic possible is itself disordered. So the only way to be healthy is to actually have no interaction with a toxic disordered person at all.
So while the book is excellent and very helpful, just keep in mind to self reflect and distinguish if you are really actually codependent in your life and relationships in general, OR are you only codependent in the limited circumstances of interacting with a toxic disordered person?
Because if only the latter applies, you just might find that your codependency magically dissolves once you get the disordered person out of your life! And that you are then free to enjoy your life in an independent and balanced way and to have healthy relationships with normal healthy loving people.
October 10, 2020 at 2:16 am #64236
Just to elaborate on this more. The two types of people who can sustain a relationship with a toxic disordered person are 1) people who are equally toxic and disordered and 2) normal people who become codependent in the relationship in order to sustain it.
As to category 1) well those types deserve each other! They’re both terrible people with no morals and will make each other miserable with their mutual bad behavior. They can stew in their own mutual misery.
As to category 2) if a healthy normal person gets involved with a disordered toxic immoral person, the ONLY way to keep the relationship going is to become codependent. Because the toxic person will continually behave badly and cross boundaries and will lie and manipulate and cause drama and chaos.
A healthy person who does NOT want to become codependent will just end the relationship and leave once their boundaries are crossed. The only way to sustain the relationship and stay is if you become codependent and tolerate their crossing of your boundaries and tolerate and excuse their bad behavior, and try to “help” or “fix” them as an excuse to cling onto them.
Obviously none of that will ever work because disordered persons can’t change and don’t even have any interest in changing. So once you wise up to that you have to leave. And after leaving you may find that your codependency was caused by the toxic dynamic, and that you actually don’t have any codependency issues at all as long as you are very picky about the people you allow into your life and you limit your relationships to healthy normal kind loving people with good boundaries.
October 10, 2020 at 12:24 pm #64238twordor123Participant
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