By | January 27, 2011 329 Comments

Lack of remorse more significant of sociopathy than lack of empathy?

Sometimes I like to revisit, churn all over again, a prior concern around sociopathy. A number of colleagues were recently stressing the defective quality of empathy in the more sociopathic clients they work with, while I found myself stressing the quality of remorselessness in the more sociopathic clients with whom I work (and have worked).

In my view, remorselessness is a much more serious indicator of sociopathy than lack of empathy per se. I know I’ve stated this in previous pieces, but well”¦here I go all over again.

Many people lack empathy for a great many reasons, depending on how one even defines empathy. But clearly this is true—many of us have a relatively difficult time emotionally stepping into another’s shoes and genuinely, emotionally inhabiting (as it were) his or her experience; that is, feeling their experience with them, for them.

I’d venture to say that a rather high percentage of the general population fails pretty badly at meeting this pretty classical criterion to be considered “empathic.” Of course, nothing is black and white: sometimes we find ourselves experiencing empathy in surprising circumstances, almost unaccountably; otherwise, sensing that empathy is clearly indicated in certain situations, we might find ourselves in suprisingly, uncomfortably short supplies of it?

And so the experience of pure empathy eludes many of us, perhaps even the majority of us, often”¦more often than we might even want to admit.

However, remorselessness is a whole different kettle of fish. A typical case involving a nonsociopath goes like this. One partner, a good communicator, says to her husband, “What you said to me last night in front of our company was humiliating. You have no idea, I’m guessing, how much that hurt me and pissed me off. If you ever do that again, I swear I may never forgive you.”

Her husband, if he’s really honest, might say, “You know what? I really don’t have any idea. I didn’t see, and still don’t, why what I said was that big a deal. I was trying to be funny. I didn’t think you’d take it so personally.”

This husband, we might say, lacks empathy. We don’t even need to know what he said that aroused his wife’s ire to surmise that, here, in this example, taken from a couples session I facilitated recently, he is demonstrating less than optimal empathy.

But he also added, sincerely, “I’m sorry. I am. I’m sorry I hurt you so much. I won’t do that again.”

His wife was only somewhat appeased by his apology because, while it expressed  remorse, it didn’t reflect much, if any, empathy. And she wanted more than remorse. She wanted empathy.

I believe it is entirely possible, even common, to express remorse, sincerely, even in the absence of empathically appreciating the impact of the original behavior for which you are expressing the remorse. This is because, if you are not a sociopath, you can really feel bad for hurting someone even without quite understanding why what you did was so hurtful.

Now, in the example above, the partner chastised for his previous night’s insensitivity could have responded differently, reacting to his wife’s feedback with, “You know what? Too damned bad. So you felt hurt? Well”¦get over it.”

This would be a response not only lacking in empathy but also in remorse. As an isolated, occasionally defensive, hostile response, it wouldn’t necessarily suggest the presence of sociopathy; but as a patterned kind of remorseless reaction it may very well signal the presence of sociopathic tendencies.

In the vast majority of cases, the relatively non-empathic individual reacts with some form of true remorse upon learning he or she has been experienced as damaging, even if it comes as a real, confusing surprise to learn this. Again, the typical response might be along the lines of, “Really? I had no idea.” (reflecting defective empathy) “But I’m really sorry. I didn’t mean to hurt you like that.” (reflecting remorse).

Where remorse is missing from acts that have been experienced as hurtful, we find ourselves in much more seriously disturbed territory. Sociopaths, of course, may feign remorse, although many times not. But feigned, shallow remorse—remorse that serves his self-interest, not yours—is worth less than no remorse.

A chronic theme of weak, or absent, remorse is thus much more indicative of the sociopathically oriented individual than the measure of his empathy. Oddly enough weak, or even sometimes missing, empathy, doesn’t necessarily preclude some form of meaningful connection with another (although it won’t be empathically-based).

But weak, or missing, remorse fatally does preclude such a connection, ensuring only the possibility of a damaging, exploitive experience.     

(This article is copyrighted © 2011 by Steve Becker, LCSW. My use of male gender pronouns is for convenience’s sake only, not to suggest that females aren’t capable of the attitudes and behaiors discussed.)

Comment on this article

Please Login to comment
Notify of
super chic

Is this about spaths or empaths?
I’m in a fog.



I think what the author is trying to say is that at any given time all of us may be a little short on empathy. I was told by a therapist many years ago that I had too much empathy. I was one of those people that when someone got sick I thought I had it too. I was also the person in the neighborhood to take the cookies and casseroles to the neighbors at holidays and in other times of need.

After a lot of stress myself I started to shut down and didn’t really care. That does not mean I would wish them any harm, but I just didn’t feel like baking the cookies anymore.

My mother (Narcissistic Tendencies) doesn’t seem to have a lot of empathy as far as being able to see things from my point of view, but if she finally gets that I am really hurting she will come through for me in a practical way even though she doesn’t feel what I feel.

On the other hand, spaths can also have empathy. That doesn’t mean that they care. It just means that they can tell how we feel. That is why they are so good at “meeting our needs” in the beginning.

What they cannot do is be truly sorry for hurting us. My ex BF at a weak moment told me that after an AA meeting when he apologized to me and his best friend, you know the “making amends” speech, he told me that he knew he was supposed to say he was sorry to me and friend but just didn’t feel anything.

Usually he wasn’t that honest, or maybe that wasn’t even honest but it was an interesting comment.


lesson learned


Your post is a thought provoking one, as is this article. I’d like to give it some thought and comment on it further. I see where the arguments are…….

But with where I am in my process (early) my take on things I see here may well be inaccurate and lacking in appropriate perspective.

Great post TTS


super chic

I think he is saying that if a person shows less remorse
than less empathy, he/she is more likely to be a spath.
I just think it is very confusing.
I thought spaths had no remorse and no empathy.
In fact I have read that over and over again on this website.
Maybe professionals like to debate which lack of emotion
is more prounced in a spath, or makes a person more spath like,
I’m not qualified to to join in this debate
and I don’t know if I could recognize these subtle differences
in people, nor do I care to, I just want to keep them
as far away from me as possible! Maybe they’re just bad dudes.
I feel a shut down coming on.
Am I a spath?

Ox Drover

Good article, Steve, and I think I agree with you on most of it. I ;think because psychopath is on a continuum rather than an “is or ain’t” basis, that it is possible for a “lower level” psychopath to have a tad of empathy or even a tad of remorse, or for them to be totally devoid of either of those emotions. They may have the rudiments of either I think, or possibly both to some SMALL degree, but as far as being effective relationship partners, I think there wouldn’t be much benefit in being involved with one intimately.

super chic

I totally agree with you Oxy.

Also, I don’t think a real sociopath can tell how we feel,
they are just play acting out something they saw on TV or
in a movie that they think will help them get the hook in.

I don’t want to obsess over labels, it’s too easy.

A true human predator has about as much empathy
as a T-Rex or a shark.

They study us, we tell them exactly what we want,
then they become that (i.e. the mirror).

But again I must stress that I am not qualified to make a diagnosis.

They are just bad dudes (what is the word for a female dude?)

Ox Drover

dude-ett I think. Or maybe dude-ette, or you might just say biatch! LOL


I just wish it was easier to tell the difference. My daughter is so self serving that I would get excited thinking I had seen a sign of empathy, when upon reflection it was just mimicked for manipulation. Remorse? Well that would require thinking about it again after the fact. I can honestly look back and not have a single true example of either.

super chic

@ Oxy

“snort” as one/joy would say!

hahahahahahaaa (I’ve been called worse!) lol

Ox Drover


I’ve not seen a single bit of remorse for anything my P-son has done, up to and including murder. Even if he gets caught, somehow he still feels like he “won’ against the authorities , I’m not sure how he gets his brain around that concept but he sure does.

Well, he just got turned down for parole again and can’t go back for another three years., but gives me 3 years more of breathing time, and lots of things can happen in that time.


those are great points.
People with autism or asperger’s lack empathy, but are not necessarily spaths. I am very empathetic sometimes and yet find myself being narcissitic at others. Consistently lacking empathy is a good red flag but not necessarily a marker.
Lack of remorse, on the other hand, is difficult to assess because the spaths lie so much.
Mine sent me endless flowers and “I’m sorry” cards. But there was a TELL: he signed them, “the creep”.

Eeuwww, Skylar, creepy.
Mine would often do what Steve used as an example, and use subtle and not so subtle put downs towards me in front of freinds, or embarass me in some other way. When I called him on it in private he would – with that flat vacant expressionless Spath style say “I will try to be more careful in the future”.
Not I am sorry, not, I don’t know why I said that, not I get why you are upset- just “more careful” . Meaning that his care would be forced, while the put down behavior would be supressed. How comforting. The next time he would do it again, only more so.

On the empath side, I remember being shocked at the way he gleefully, enthusiatically, almost lustfully watched my son being born by C section. He did not in any way flinch at the blood and gore but watched with relish, all the while totally ignoring me, and any discomfort or fear I had. He was watching a show, and I might as well have been a piece of furniture.

When I nursed him through, over the years, two heart attacks, two broken legs, and one cancer surgery, he had ZERO and I mean ZERO awareness of the stress and agony that I was going through- worrying about him, keeping the family going, taking care of everything while he was ill or recovering. Took me a long time to realize that he lacked any feeling whatsoever for what I was going through, not to mention gratitude for the efforts I made.

A red flag I should have heeded in the early love bombing days was when he took me horseback riding early on. I had ridden a bit before but was no expert. He was just a flat out careless cowboy on a horse. We went to a riding place in the early spring, and the owners said, – don’t use trail X- it is closed…use Y.

The first thing he did was take us down trail X, over my objections, then proceeded to ride into a semi frozen rocky creek, where the horses were crashing through the ice and slipping on the rocks. He went well ahead of me and never ONCE looked back to see if I was okay. My horse finally had had enough and tried to scramble up a muddy steep embankment to get out of the creek, slipping and almost crushing me underneath it.

He was totally nonplussed by any of this, had no sense of the danger he had put us in- no empathy for my distress, and certainly no remorse for his bad judgement.

I should have walked right then and there and never looked back. Instead I was just baffled at his recklessness.

Wirdly, I rationalized that kind of behavior by thinking, well he is tough- macho- and I am just a nervous nelly- or when he would be totally vacant and emotionless over some horrible mess or stress he had put us through, – well he is STRONG- or STOIC- and I am not as strong as he is.

Only much later did I finally learn that the crisis was always manufactured, and watching me stress- while he sat emotionless and mute- was a bloodsport for him- his method of abuse.

Soooo much better off without his twisted evil mean spirited BS.

Just the other day- I was writing a note, and realized for the first time that my handwriting was clear, consistent and quite elegant, effortless. This was significant, because during the years with him it was all confused, sometimes slanting one way and then the other, upper case and lower case switching around- very irregular. I knew this and could not fix it no matter how I tried.

That must have been my gut fighting with my head. Ha Ha.

Denise Guiney

Anyone else experience what I call the “booby trap” phenomena. This is where things are done to trick you up. I leave other peoples things alone around the house except if something is life threatening. X would always move my things without telling me. I sometimes spent hours looking for things which were not where I left them.

He would return my library books without telling me. I would be hunting for them then when he returned and was questioned he’d say “the date was up” since no fine was imposed there was not point to the activity except to scold me for being less than perfect. Didn’t he have anything of his own to attend to?

On a number of occasions I’d leave something in the car knowing I would need it next day and on several occasions drove a long way only to find the object missing when I arrived. He say ” I don’t know what you are on about I was only trying to tidy the car up” If I asked for paperwork or other things he would never give it to me directly he’d just leave it around and say ‘I put it there because you’d have to see it there’. Well duh! not necessarily. Once this backfired on him when he put an important letter under the band holding together a pile of mail I’d got ready for local mailbox distribution. He just “knew I’d see it there and mail if for him but there were several piles and that one did not end up a the top and it ended up in someone else’s mailbox. This particular event would have cured a normal person but not him. He would say he was “sorry” but never admit that I had reason to be annoyed. He’d just yawn and say “if you say so”.

These were all minor booby traps, some were much more dangerous and potentially physically harmful, but even these little things all add up to assaults on your autonomy and cause severe stress.



Your comment regarding Aspeger’s is spot on. I have a close family friend who fits the profile, although I have not discussed this matter with him directly as such.

He is currently in therapy and the other day I was having a discussion with him that left my head spinning a bit and I still don’t know if he is lacking in empathy or remose.

Regarding sociopathy, perhaps I am having a semantic problem but my view is the exact opposite of that stated in the article.

I view my x-spath as being able to express remorse to some degree but completely lacking in empathy. Thus, he is able to send an email stating he wants to end the relationship and this email has some indication of apology, yet the timing and delivery method show a complete lack of empathy.

In addition, in the period when I was still trying to maintain a friendship, one of his emails included a description of a drunken all-nighter with a “new friend.”

At the time, I was in denial of the implications. Nevertheless, no person with any empathy would send such an email, knowing I was not only very hurt over the end of our relationship, but still very much bed-ridden from illness.


Ox Drover;

I guess the news regarding your son’s parole is a relief, albeit for a very, very difficult situation.

Ox Drover

BBE, Yes, it is a big relief—I can breath out again. How have you been? Good to see you back.l


Not sure that people with asperger’s lack empathy. They may not SHOW it..but they are very sensitive.
My daughter is aspergers. She is the most sweet, sensitive, loving child that I have. When she sees me upset, she does anything to try to make me happy. Even as a 3 yr old…when my x was picking on me and yelling at me…she would run into the room…stand between us with her arms out to separate us and say…”Mommy, I give you money”..and hand me 50 pennies she saved under her mattress! She feels EVERYTHING, which is what caused her meltdowns while young. She is hypersensitive.
However, if you saw her in Burger King, at 3 yrs old..yelling..with her speech impediment…”Everyone be tiet”..(quiet)…with her hands over her ears…and everyone in the entire place listened!!! LOL!!! It was like she was holding a shotgun!! And, if someone came too close to her…because she looked like a little porcelean doll, she would call them “stupid” and cover her face with her blanket or hat! lol

She will always be “different”. But she is very sensitive to others. If I yell at her younger sister…she pulls her away and tries to help resolve the problem…

So, I think asperger’s do empathize. Maybe too much.



Fine thank you. I took a break from here a bit until I saw a couple of topics that I could add to.

One more month to arbitration with the former employer. Perhaps a new consulting position in the works. Either one will allow me what I need to do most and that is get ut and do things.

How was your vacation?

Ox Drover

BBE, turned out to be pretty miserable mostly, my best friend’s husband that I had not really reacted swith much is now retired instead of being on the road all the time….so she is mega depressed and he is an arse hole, so I ended up coming home after a verbal jab he made on me. Didn’/t complete cutting up his beef we had killed and hung to chill out, but was done with the snide remarks so the conseqence he got was he got to do it himself, not knowing how to do it. Gosh, I’m such a beech! LOL



As I said, perhaps a terminology problem. But, does being hypersensitive mean being empathetic? How can a three year-old be or not be empathetic?

I would say my friend is sensitive, but nonempathetic and awkward. For example, he will feel “slighted” over little things, but then lecture you at inappropriate times, well after the fact…


Ox Drover;

And people wonder why my mother refuses to retire…



Unfortunately mine is short on empathy and definitely NO REMORSE – or he could never live with what he’s done – the remorse should be eating his guts out.

A few years ago my boss lost her husband suddenly from a heart attack after cutting the grass. STBXH worked with these two people also, they were our age and I felt horrible for her. His only comment was shallow and left me at a loss for words.

This was always the case – even with family members.

But as you say , empathy can often be hard to come by .

Now the remorse – I haven’t seen a bit of that – not for anything he’s done to me or the kids.

And there definitely seems to be some glazed look that comes over him when he is confronted about something.

Not sure what it is – but when confronted the eyes glaze over, he kind of shakes his head and then the lies and twisted truth starts.

We had a 17 ” snowstorm yesterday and when I got up he was next door digging out his girlfriend. I later remarked to him that my son has been breaking his butt along with me with all the snow and his answer was “That’s because YOU SEND HIM OUT TO DO IT ! ” Yet – HE took all the snow tools, took the snow blower that worked and left a broken one for us. And there he is – digging out his skank – right with my son in the window – all the while knowing she wasn’t about to go to work but I HAD TO !!!!

Does he feel bad ? Not at all ! Our daughter has rods in her back and you would think he would go out of his way to clear the walk before she gets home from school. He’s around the corner , He’s not working, I go to work every day and can’t clean the snow up until I get home. – by then it’s ice .

I understand he needs to punish me – but my children ?
It really makes my stomach churn ……no remorse ….is he even human ??


Now my brain is really on tilt.

My emotions however tell me that my ex husband was a spath if lack of empathy is the marker.

I think I based my comment on something I recently read in a book as I have read so many that they all run together. I thought one of them said (The Hare or Stout book) that the marker for NPD was lack of empathy and the marker for Sociopathy would be lack of conscience. Maybe I am confusing conscience with remorse. On the other hand conscience seems more like empathy.

I have an autistic daughter who is very low in her speech ability. I think where they sometimes get confused with spath’s is that they can read people really well. She does have a conscience though as she can “sign” I’m sorry.

I used to believe I shared a brain with her……well not really but I had to learn to read her and try to imagine what she might be thinking or feeling. EMPATHY?

I am just now, after all of these years, waking up to the fact that my mother doesn’t have a clue what other people feel like. She just doesn’t want “people to think that I don’t care” to quote her.

My BF was a text book Con which made me sure a lot of what he did was pre-meditated. My ex H probably had less empathy than anyone I know. I thought he was being passive aggressive. I now now that he was very sadistic. Does he have remorse? Sometimes he seemed to. There were a couple of really unforgivable things he did that he had tears in his eyes when he said he was sorry, one was tearing up my dead daddy’s Bible, and the other was calling me ugly the night he left for good.


Ox Drover


What he was doing worked.

WHAT was he doing?

He was working hard to pith you off and it worked.

He wanted you to know that HE was in control of whose walk got cleaned and whose didn’t. He took the working and good tools because even if they are legally yours, he feels that he has a right to them.

He knows you will see that this GF’s walk is cleared and see that yours isn’t and have to do it yourself. MISSION ACCOMPLISHED. You don’t think for one moment that those kids of YOURS are any less in need of punishment than you are do you? And, what better way to punish you than by punishing them. Right out of Psychopath’s play book, chapter 2.

Ox Drover

Dear True to self,

There is still professional disagreement about the terms psychopath/sociopath/antisocial personality disorder, but in general for the purposes of this blog we call them any of those three names and mean the same thing.

As far as a personality disordered person (whatever name) has little or no empathy and little to no remorse for what they do.

However, EMOTIONS CAN BE FAKED so when a person who is high in traits of a personality disorder they try to mimic the outward displays of “emotions” like remorse etc that they have learned to have some idea of how a person feeling that would act, including fake tears. Believe me though, it is simply GREAT ACTING, without any real emotion or feeling behind it. It is simply one more of their tools for manipulation to make us trust them.


Let me ask a question please…..

Can a spath ever have a breakdown as in get depressed, anxiety or a complete break with reality?

My ex H did this twice. The first time the doctor put him on some kind of anti-anxiety drug as he couldn’t take the anti-depressant because of his job. It had been coming on, I know, but what he ended up with was a phobia of snow. I don’t mean like the rest of us have a healthy fear of driving in the snow, but I mean a phobia.

At the end of our marriage he seemed to have a phobia of me.
I had given him the benefit of the doubt because I thought his personality had changed. He was a hoarder and I hadn’t bought anything in two years because I was trying to get out of debt. When I seemed to be attacking his “stuff” the only thing he could attack was my Bible collection and my Nutri-system food.

He was a verbal abuser so had already used every slutty name in the book. I didn’t believe those because I knew they were not true. On the other hand he had always accepted me at what ever weight I was at.

On the night he left I felt raped. I was standing in the bedroom half clothed and he started calling me ugly. He just kept saying over and over as if looking at me for the first time. “You are so ugly.” “You make me physically sick. I got tears in my eyes. He then looked at me and said “Don’t use the sympathy card then it will be my fault”

He had agreed to leave the next day, so I locked myself in my daughter’s room who wasn’t home at the time, and he left the next morning. When he came by for some reason later in the week, he apologized. I told him at another time months later that he had broken my spirit. He seemed to “get it”, but then later on that also escalated. The day he came to get his stuff which was actually two years after the separation, he was calling me all kinds of fat names, along with worthless. My mother thinks it was demonic regarding the Bible. I don’t. I think the words of the Bible are holy but not the paper. I did sit down with him and try to explain to him though that if he had something that belonged to his grandmother that she had made and had her name embroidered on it by her, would that not be more valuable to him than a same item he had purchased at a thrift store. My dad’s Bible had his name on it, plus all of his underlining and notes. H had thrown it and a few others in the trash. I fished them out and showed it to him saying “How dare you?” He then proceeded to rip it up. He apologized to my mother later.

I am having some sort of meltdown right now. I cannot believe I actually lived through all of this. I can’t believe I kept trying to explain things to the POS.



I agree with many of the previous posts. They can *say* anything. And they can fake it.

Observe their *actions.* I’m not talking about sending flowers and cards. I’m talking about how they INTERACT with you.

A genuine person will try not to continue to hurt the ones they love. A sociopath will use the knowledge of your weaknesses to his or her advantage.



OMG ! Are you really saying he needs to punish his own children ?

WHY ??? I know my daughter doesn’t kiss the ring or much speak to him so she is persona non grata. But my son ? The little walking heart is faithful to his dad . I’m sure if he stopped kissing his ring my son would get the same treatment as his sister – but would the N/S need to punish him now ?

Oxy – you have triggered a nerve here – I do think – when we were together – the more I, myself , loved him and supported him – the more contemptuous he became – although it was passive -aggressive.
As in – smile at me and say inside ” Screw you, wife of mine. I am on my way to my SKANK ‘S house – you just don’t know it. “




He moved things all the time. And he also broke my things – accidentally on purpose. I collect old porcelain – sugars pots, creamers, plates , Chocolate pots and old jugs. The jugs were outside at the edge of the back stairs. My kids were toddlers and the only one to ever break one was him.

Plates- OH – sorry – somehow they just seemed to jump off the wall when he was around.

Moving things ? – he loved to torment and scare – still does it.

I would serve the dinner- and when I went to sit down one of the plates was missing. Pictures turned upside down – did it to his mother too .

I was always looking for things -especially keys and glasses that we all sometimes can’t find. And none of my distress
ever moved him to help me look for anything – like he was entertained.

Now this should really sicken you all :

He and my son put a video out on YOU-TUBE . ” The Cinnamon Test”

Disney dad actually filmed my 12 yr old son trying to swallow a heaping teaspoon of cinnamon powder – My son choked, puked, coughed, spit, eyes watering – and the whole time loving dad was laughing hysterically while filming.

I was crying when my son showed it to me- now he would accuse me of having no sense of humor – but I was horrified. My son took the cinnamon into his lungs while trying to catch a breath and then it all packed in the back of his throat. This can’t be normal – but he would call it “guy humor” and tell me I just don’t “get it .”

So I ask – What don’t i get ??



Your husband seems to be just like the guy in the 1930’s movie “Gaslight” You do seem to get what he is doing though. The problem with actual passive aggressive behavior is that it is hard to prove that they did something on purpose or made a mistake.

My first husband pretty much ignored his daughter. I had spent years protecting her from the “institution”. She is an adult now with autism and does live in a really good group home, but in his words she should “be behind bars”.

When I met my second husband, the Bible ripper, I thought I could relax because he seemed to be good to my daughter. I wonder now though. I think he bored her as he just took her places with him that she would not have found interesting. She could not really protest, and other people including her group home staff thought he was a wonderful caring person. They did forget though that he had a habit of being late when it came to picking her up, making them wait.

I think I actually spent my entire marriage now trying to teach him empathy.

When I said I was having a meltdown earlier, I think it is because I tend to figure things out intellectually long before the true horror of things hit me and I finally feel them on an emotional level.

What your husband did was cruel. There is no doubt about it.

We should put my ex husband and yours on an island together and see what happens. Your’s would hide my husband’s stuff. He was the type of hoarder who couldn’t stand to have things moved.

Are you new? I am not sure because I have only been here for a month myself. They are capable of hurting children or ignoring them or teasing them. It really seems that no one is safe from their abuse.


Ox Drover

Dear Trueto self,

Oh, darling, he KNEW WHICH BUTTONS TO PUSH, he said the word that he KNEW WOULD HURT YOU THE MOST…..he tore up that particular book (Your dad’s bible) because he knew you treasured it. He wasn’t psychotic, he was very STUDIED, and KNEW EXACTLY WHAT HE WAS DOING. “Apologizing???” LOL ROTFLMAO CHOKE SNORT SNARF Not even close to a heart felt apology.

If YOU were concerned with your weight that is what he would push the button on….and if YOU loved that book because it was your dads’ that is the One he would TARGET.

Remorse? NOT ONE BIT OF REMORSE for what he said or did. Hurt you as much as possible.



“Observe their *actions.* I’m not talking about sending flowers and cards. I’m talking about how they INTERACT with you.”

This is my best advice, especially when meeting a new person. All sociopaths are hiding something and usually many things. Thus, as we inadvertently come close to “unmasking” them, they respond viserally. Its not always violent or abusive, but you will do or say something you think is relatively harmless and their response leaves you thinking “WTF.”

lesson learned


EXACTLY. Could not have simplified it better or more accurately.



I am posting this here, because it seems like as good a spot as any. MANY coming out of a relationship with a sociopath, decide to try the online dating scene. Donna is a great example of this. I thought you might find the following amusing.


I’m intelligent, witty, loyal, capable, kind, generous, attractive, a great cook and in great shape. I’m looking for the man of my dreams. If the following description sounds like you, please email me so we can talk.

You are too good to be true. A real charmer. Someone who will keep your word to me in the beginning, but will always seem to have holes in your story, which I will disregard.

You need to text me often and constantly flatter me and act like you can’t WAIT to see me again. You will call several times a day and you will be very quick to seduce me.

You will always be very protective of your cell phone and always take it with you when you go to the bathroom when we are out at restaurants. You will make sure to have times that you are unaccounted for, which you will not care to explain to me. When asked about your disappearances, it’s very important that you be somewhat aggressive and make me feel needy and guilty for asking.

I will do everything for for you. Your happiness will be my number one priority. We will have amazing sex, but it’s important you are also having sex with other woman and that I have no idea about it. You need to get me to trust you.

You must tell me a sob story in the very beginning, making sure to shed tears, so I think you have depth and you are sensitive. You need to make me feel sorry for you. If you do this, I promise to be very nurturing.

Once you believe I’m in love with you, you need to begin to be unkind to me. Hurtful even. You will begin to occupy ALL of my time and isolate me, so I no longer really see anyone but you.

At some point, you will need get sloppy about the secret world you run behind my back and leave things around that I will stumble upon. When I ask you about the text that came in when I borrowed your phone for a second because my battery was dead, you’ll lie and tell me it’s a “buddy” and I’m just being jealous. Then you need to tell me how much you hate that about me. You need to get me to think that I’m jealous and needy, so I learn not to bring up things that don’t seem to make sense.

You also need to convince me I’m crazy, so I doubt my own senses and after some time, I won’t be able to trust my instincts. In fact, I will have not real intuition anymore, because you have managed to throw me so off balance, I won’t trust my thinking one bit.

You need to be financially irresponsible and never be willing to talk to me about putting together a financial plan. And you will NEVER think to do little thing for me, to show me you love me.

Then you’ll need to accidently leave your email open on the computer and allow me to discover the countless emails you are sending to MORE than one woman. Be SURE you tell them all the exact same lines you use on me and it’s important you take the pet name that I gave you and call THEM by that name. Be sure the emails are full of saying “I love you” and deny that I am in your life when they are questioning you. Just say I’m some stalker and they need to watch out for me, because I’m crazy and I could land on their doorstep telling lies.

When you finally get caught red-handed, you will cry and tell me how sorry you are and how I’m the only person you love and that you’ll do anything to work it out. I will promise to believe you and put everything in the past and put my best foot forward. You will then return to being the charming guy you were when I met you, but don’t do it for too long because it’s important I don’t feel happy for longer than a few weeks. My system simply won’t be able to handle the shock.

Again, go back to telling me I’m jealous and crazy and make sure you continue to screw anything that moves when you get the chance. Then come home to me, crawl in bed and come on to me. It would be good if you washed your dick between sticking it in someone else and me, but since I may not notice that all you did was wipe off with a towel, you don’t need to fuss about this much.

When I finally can’t stand how miserable I am, be sure to jump ship ahead of me and move right in with one of the woman you’ve been carrying on with, so I’m consumed with thoughts of how you are with “her” and I convince myself of how happy you are and how happy she must be. This will enhance my deep loneliness and hurt me more than you already have.

Every now and then, send me a text, or an email acting like nothing happened and see if I fall for it.

Finally, leave my life in ruin, with no career, no money and no home, so I have to rebuild my life from NOTHING. It’s important you do this when I’m in my 40s, so that I worry about my age and how hard it will be to find someone to love. But the most important thing is that you leave me addicted to you, so that I actually miss you and think that your love (which never existed) was the greatest love of my life.

If this sounds good to you, let’s meet up at Starbucks and see if we are a match.

Ox Drover

Hey, Soul! Great place to post that! Soooooo true! I think several of us have done that, though my X-BF-P was a real life meet, in fact, I had casually known him for about 10 years before we started going out. It describes our relationshit though. LOL

super chic

SHMS, what a scream! so perfect, I was crazy, sane now!

that reminds me… where is


Stillhavemysoul-so much of that add reminds me of the ex

lesson learned



Effing HILARIOUS! AND SO ACCURATE. I TOTALLY love it! If I could get away with putting up a fake profile on a site and posting that I totally would LOL!!!

You’re hysterical. I absolutely love this!! It’s gotta go out for print LOL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!



Dear Ox Drover

I have been suscribed to Lovefraud for close to 6 years now after an experience with a text book Sociopath. Fraud, no conscience, no empathy etc… However I am a little annoyed about your comment a few blogs back comparing “Borderline Personality Disorder with Narcissism, sociopathy and psychopathy. I am also 1.5 years into a counseling degree. Bordeline Personality Disorder and NSP disorders are not even close. I speak from experience as I have recently been diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder.

I have been adopted twice (because my first adoptive mother died of cancer). I left home at 14 as my second lot of adoptive parents my father was an abusive alcoholic. I have suffered depression my whole life my first suicide attempt at 14. No it was not to gain sympathy I have low self esteem and real NOT imaginery fear of abandonment.

Secondly I have a very high values, motal and ethics. So highin fact that it interferes with living my life. For this I am seeing a psychologist due to the fact I can not cope with people who can not follow rules and instructions. Due to Borderline Personality Disorder I see people as only good or evil unfortunately there is little in between. Something I am also working on however I beleive the world shoud be a ‘just’ place and every one should be kind and help each other (perhaps a dillusional thought unfortunately according to my psychologist)

Empathy… I am a single mum of 2 kids, I struggle at times myself however I am always first up to help the underdog that has been let done or mistreated by others or the system.

Conscience and remorse… my conscience and remorse has led me to suicide attempts simply because I feel like I am a bd person when i emotionally hurt other people.

So in actual fact for all of you Borderline Personality Disorder is nothing like a NPS disorder.

I am really disappointed and hurt in the comparison made.


Pure Genious!!!


Of course, nothing is black and white: sometimes we find ourselves experiencing empathy in surprising circumstances, almost unaccountably; otherwise, sensing that empathy is clearly indicated in certain situations, we might find ourselves in suprisingly, uncomfortably short supplies of it?

I understand this. I come off as a whiner and I am stuck in this rut. I totally understand that people don’t know what to do with me. I broke it off with Jim in early July of last year, why am I still in the anger.

I do know why. I don’t have family or friends in the area. I am fending for myself. If I had that support system I would have bounced back easily.

I am the perfect target for a sociopath.

That is why Jim picked me.

I remember when I met him, and I remember mentioning that I tried hard NOT to draw attention to myself when I moved out here. I assumed everyone was married and I didn’t want to make waves being the newcomer. I walked without looking at anyone….he quickly said that is what drew attention to me.

Looking back at his comment. He said it quickly with flat-tone excitement. Just enough to get me to think hmmm… something doesn’t feel right about this.

He was already lying to me. He said he never saw me before. Then he says that me trying to be invisible is what drew attention to me. He also noted my son was working me for ice cream and I was nervously thumbing through my coin purse looking for money. He noticed everything about me before he ever met me.

And, I gotta point out, that he probably saw that I am to the point of such isolation where I would lose any kind of support system. Being abused doesn’t make for likeable people.

Trying to make sense out of the nonsense doesn’t make me likeable.

I am so broken. I believe it has damaged me to the point where I am never gonna recover. I am not a likeable person. I am a pain in the ass, I got the same complaint over and over. I can’t shake it. I have better days, but then I sink into this anger at Jim on other days.

I think I went to hell.

I am so miserable. I really think I went to hell.


I’m sure Oxy did not mean to hurt your feelings. PD’s are hard to put into words and we all struggle. Because you say you have Borderline, you may be able to help us here on LF. It’s so difficult for us to come to terms with the people who hurt us and why they do it.

Kathleen was just saying that a personality disorder is someone who is inflexible in their ability to deal with their environment. You said:
I have a very high values, motal and ethics. So high in fact that it interferes with living my life. For this I am seeing a psychologist due to the fact I can not cope with people who can not follow rules and instructions.

So you are right, kudos to you for acknowledging that. I know, from experience, that a personality disorder just makes us think that our way of thinking is right and it is the only way. Intellectually you may know that this is a hindrance, but you only FEEL, what you FEEL! Your disorder doesn’t sound like borderline to me. Either way, It takes time and a willingness to change before your intellect and feelings can become one. Spaths lack that willingness. You on the other hand, are going to be JUST FINE. You will be better than ever. That is what I’m working on because I have my own PD too. Have faith, be open and persevere.


Soul. You are sooooo right. This is exactly how it was. Are you a mind reader? Or were we dating the same guy?!

I also know it was exactly the same for his ex cos we are now good friends! I’m going to post this to her.

It must really pith him off to know that we have nailed him and we’re comparing notes.


Bingo, Steve. They know what they’re doing… they simply don’t CARE. That’s the thing. Remember what the Green River Killer said when he was asked what he thought was missing from him? “Well, maybe that caring thing

As Robert Hare PhD said in the MRI video ( ) :

“The critics or observers who say, those brain images are very interesting- does that represent some sort of brain damage or does it mean they’re wired up differently, or that these people are different, inherently genetically or biologically? Well we don’t really know. The images themselves don’t really tell us what the CAUSE of the differences is. Its quite possible that the differences we see, and this would apply to many tasks that we use in the study of psychology- it may be that the differences are the primarily the response of differences in STRATEGY. It may be very well be that they can perform the task reasonably well, but using different parts of the brain. This isn’t to say they can’t use the appropriate parts of the brain, simply that they DON’T.


That said, one might not be able to categorize the sociopath’s gauging of how we’re feeling as true empathy because the notion of what were feeling is primarily gleaned from how we respond to THEM. It’s not really empathy. But it’s ENOUGH to “know” that the effect they’re having is “bad” or “good” detrimental or beneficial to a person. The Psychopath i was involved with would CONSTANTLY and i mean always ask “Are things cool between us” ( usually when he suspects that I know something or when he did something terrible to me and didn’t apologize and acts like nothings wrong ) … No it’s not the kind of empathy we have, the heightened kind because that partly comes FROM our caring.. the inclination to empathize. Their inclination to gauge our feelings is dependent on their desire to MANIPULATE however… so it works quite differently. Kind of like a shark smells blood in the water. As another human being you see the wound and feel inclined to help- whereas the shark smells blood, KNOWS you’re wounded, and heads straight for the kill.

Of course there really IS a lack of empathy when you note that their humor is shallow, as their sham of personalities are ( made up to suit your likes and dislikes.. one could even say they lack a true personality, and are just a core of evil that dons a mask to suit his surroundings ) … REAL humor, good humor comes from empathy. Their attempts at humor are juvenile and often quite off to say the least.

But I could quite easily step into the pretzel of semantics over here so I digress.

I think once you cross over the land of NOT CARING you also lose true empathy.. watching shells of people and gauging reactions so you can better manipulate. That really ain’t empathy, just predatorial… like a lion or shark in wait..


Soul… that was really great. Thanks for posting it


>> Plates- OH ”“ sorry ”“ somehow they just seemed to jump off the wall when he was around.

Very much a Prawn Salad kind of life, in short? I don’t suppose this guy happened to look anything like Eric Idle by any chance? 😉


Thought I would share this (it’s a bit random but hey it made me feel good). It’s a text from my son who was almost arrested because he challenged spath.

I nearly lost my son because I ‘sided’ with spath – WTF was I thinking?! That’s how spaths mess with our heads – even turning our own kids (he’s 6 feet 4 and 25 years of age – but he’s still a kid to me) against us.

The message reads:

‘It’s a shite life but glad to call u my mum 🙂 u r the best’

This message made my heart swell with pride.


damaging , exploitative, remorseless:




Many of us here make observations and comments based upon our experiences. Sometimes, inadvertently, comments are taken too personal or out of context.

I did not see the post to which you refer. However, I am adopted to and do have what I consider to be marginal BPD, although my my psychologist disagrees.

I believe it might be possiblity for a sociopath to also have BPD. Certainly, some aspects of BPD overlap sociopathy, such as relationship instability and impulsiveness.

However, IMHO, those with BPD or some BPD make great targets for sociopaths. The perfect sheep for these wolves.

Lovefraud is being upgraded. Comments and forum posts are temporarily disabled. Dismiss

Send this to a friend