The dark side of the man

A big problem we face in sizing up a partner is getting stuck on, or being seduced by, his “light side—”that is, his apparently (or genuinely) wonderful, engaging, admirable,  gratifying qualities.

However, when we’re dealing with a sociopath, there is also the other side—the “dark side.”

By “dark side” I mean, essentially, the sociopath’s exploitive side. And by exploitive I mean, very specifically, his calculated use of leverage to betray you somehow; moreover, to betray you with gross insensitivity to your experience of the injury or insult he’s inflicted. 

The “light side” of the man must never compensate for his “dark side,” regardless of how well-concealed, and rarely, the latter may surface.

Most of us would take six sunny days in exchange for one cold, dreary, rainy one. That’s a  trade-off we’d probably gladly accept.  It’s not perfect, but it’s good, and it does nothing to compromise our integrity.

Yet six days, six months, six years of the man’s light side must not mitigate a single instance, a single flash (let alone pattern) of his dark side. One act of exploitation, the very first, necessitates, however sadly, that we cut our losses with minimal delay and filibustering.

Yet, in case after case I see clients who, understandably, prefer not to see their partners’ dark side. They prefer, naturally, to see his light side—his strengths, what he can be, what he usually is, what he “really” is!

They seize on his capacity for sensitivity, thoughtfulness, tenderness, warmth, good humor, patience, soliticousness, you name it. They desperately want to convince themselves, if not others, that his capacities define his essence!

Because he can be thoughtful, his essence must be thoughtful! Because he can be sensitive, his essence must be sensitive! Because he can be unselfish and candid, his essence must be unselfish and honest! Because he can go periods when he’s not (apparently) screwing around, his essence must be faithful!

I’m not speaking here about flawed partners who screw up, who make mistakes, who lose their course, their priorities, and in so doing sometimes wound others badly. In our fallibility we can make a mess of things, and hurt the people we care and love. Whether our transgressions are forgivable is for those whom we’ve disappointed to decide.  

But the man with the dark side is a different case. When he reveals the capacity to exploit, he’s not revealing his human face, but his inhuman face.

He’s revealing the face of his dark side.

And while it’s a sight you might like to avoid, you musn’t. While you’d rather turn away until the view of his “light side” resurfaces, you must not. You must, instead, see him, unmasked, and recognize him, unmasked.

You must recognize him for who he is, in his essence.

(My use of “he” in this article is for convenience’s sake and not meant to suggest that females aren’t capable of the behaviors discussed. This article is copyrighted (c) 2010 by Steve Becker, LCSW)

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Dear Lesson learned,

I remember when I took A&P the first semester and it seemed overwhelming, a huge amount of stuff to memorize and learn, and then when it was over I felt (looking at that same text book) that it was SIMPLE.

My prof was pretty “hard” and about 60% of the class that started dropped out or flunked out before the 2 semesters, I made an A one and a B the other but he was not just a “Read and regurgitate” prof, he wanted you to THINK. I usually finished the tests in about 30 minutes of the available 55 minutes and would go up and turn my paper in. The one on the nervous system was HORRIBLE and I used 54 minutes to complete it. He always sat in the front of the room reading during the test, and I walked up to him and handed in my paper and said “I hope you know that test was a bitch!” He looked up at me and SMILED and said “Why, thank you oxy!” He was quite sincere I think!

But when I got into other courses the fact that his class was so hard and I had had to really UNDERSTAND IT, the other classes were SNAPS for me, but people who had taken an “easier” A&P class were sweating bullets in the later classes, but I had already learned that material so it was a skate for me.

So really the more we learn about the psychopaths AND the more we learn about ourselves, the EASIER it is to learn more.

Remember the day you went to school —the big school—for the first time and you realized you’d have to learn ALL THESE LETTERS and ALL THESE WORDS and you just knew you’d never be able to do it? Well, now you read and write and don’t think about EACH LETTER you just read a word not go “ahhhh w-oooo-rrr-ddd” It is the same I think with other kinds of learning too. We BUILD on the foundation of learning so that each level is easier than the previous one.

We learn about denial, and we have less difficulty being in denial, we learn about boundaries and enforcing them and we are able to set boundaries and practice —just like riding a bike—we get better and better, feel more secure with each success.

No CONTACT keeps us safe from NEW INJURIES and allows the older ones to heal, and new information to filter in and start to make sense.

Hang on and keep learning, the more you learn, the more you CAN LEARN!!!! I hope you keep on enjoying your education, in AND out of the classroom.

LOL! Ox!!! You SO GET the A and P “cyles” of process!!! My professor was the EXACT same way!!! This was, BAR NONE, the most CHALLENGING course I’ve EVER taken!!! And I took it ONLINE through the college I attend!! TEN TIMES HARDER!!! About a quarter of the class bailed and about five of us were CONSTANTLY in the online classroom talking about how HARD it was….but that comraderie created friendships for me and them there! Like you, I used approximately a half an hour of the time hour time allotted to complete the exams. I bombed a couple of them, aced the rest. Had I NOT bombed those two, I would have skated out of there with a B. This class made the others I’ve taken look like FINGER PAINTING! I’m not kidding!! BUT I did walk away with a new perspective on education and MYSELF too! The nervous system was easy for me, the HARDEST system was the Cardiac system for me. All of the information was VERY interesting, but massively time consuming too while trying to keep my head above water in three other classes. I took a refresher in Medical Terminology, and that helped a TON!

This next term will be a breeze compared to what that was lol! I’m really looking forward to my psych classes. I have coding again this time and that’s a piece of cake. Not sure if this is what I want to pursue anymore though. I’m going to see how I feel about the psych class and do a little exploration in that area and see if it sparks more of an interest.

Ox, I think what is very frustrating with this whole process is the TIME it has taken/takes to walk through it!!! Admittedly, what I felt was my intellect is a bit challenged due to my experiences with Spath. Somehow I don’t feel as bright right now lol!!!

I’m very academically focused however, so reading all of this stuff is just interesting and very absorbing!! I have a HEADACHE from reading here lol!

I’m LOLing about what you said to your professor! You DID give him quite the compliment! I wrote my professor when the class was over, as we butted heads on occasion and thanked him for the challenge! LOL! I learned A LOT more than I thought. Even when it’s just academics, I seem to walk away with learning something new about myself too.


My prof became a friend of mine, and we kept contact long after I had left school. He was relatively young, did running 5 days a week and didn’t smoke or drink or do anything like that and died at age 55 of a sudden massive heart attack. I think everyone that ever passed his class appreciated what he did for us by making us REACH.

It was a terrible semester and we would have these “pop quizzes” and they counted for a big portion of our grades. I was STRESSED to the max that first semester taking 19 hours including 4 hours of A&P (with lab) and one quiz he passed them back and then asked, waving one quiz paper in the air, is there a “Ms ANATOMY in the class?” Everyone looked at him funny like he was making a joke (he was) and what I had done was write my first name on the quiz paper with “anatomy” as the surname. Thank goodness I was the ONLY “Oxy” in the class. LOL Talk about STRESSED out! LOL

This is sooo true. I chose to look and focus in his light side and turn a blind eye on his blind side…it was easier that way. It made his transgressions bearable…but and there’s always a but…sooner or later his dark side oevrwhelms his light side and there is no escaping from it. And I am certain everyon here on lovefraud did the same…focused on the light side and made excuses for the dark side that was starting to show more and more.


WOW! That just goes to show that ya NEVER know, huh???

ROFLOL!!!!!!!!!!!! “Ms ANATOMY” LOL!!!!!!!!! Love it!!! I hear ya, I was amazed that I passed my other classes with flying colors LOL!! B’s in all of them! I gave SO LITTLE to those and was TOTALLY devoted to A and P. Towards the end of the term, I was so stressed about that class, with FA hanging over my head if I FAILED it, I sat and just CRIED MY EYES OUT ONE NIGHT IN SHEER FRUSTRATION LOL!!!!

BUT, I did it!!!! And I was SO proud of myself that was a HUGE accomplishment!!!! I met the MOST amazing people in that class, that are now my new friends! SUPER BRIGHT, KIND, DETERMINED PEOPLE!!!

A lot came out of it other than the buckets I cried that night and the panic attacks I had prior to quizzes and exams. I aced the quizzes, Ox, but SO BOMBED two of the exams lol! Go figure!! Aaaahhh yes, the horrors of getting through school in a medical program lol!

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