Not long ago my husband and I saw Rob Becker’s Defending the Caveman, a one-man comedy about men, women, and how we’re different. It gives funny-but-true explanations of why men watch television so intently, why women shop so intently, why women talk more than men and many other characteristics of the sexes that often lead to conflict.
The show starts from the premise that women tend to believe all men are jerks (the actual terminology is a bit more colorful). The actor, our modern-day caveman, uses humor and compassion to defend his sex. The message he wants to convey is that men aren’t jerks, and neither are women. We’re just different, and we should learn to understand and appreciate the differences.
In 99 percent of situations, this is absolutely true. The glaring exception is the sociopath. A sociopath is more than a jerk—he or she is a manipulator, a parasite, a predator.
So what happens if you apply the message of Defending the Caveman to a person who is, in fact, a sociopath? What happens if you try to be understanding, tolerant and accepting?
You lose. The sociopath takes advantage of your good nature, steals your money, violates your trust. You keep trying to appreciate the differences, and he or she keeps bleeding you.
That’s why it is so important to know the warning signs—charisma, deceit, manipulation, egocentricity, lack of remorse, lack of empathy, need for excitement, impulsivity, irresponsibility. If you see these personality traits, and the person is pulling the pity play, you may have come across the one percent of the population that is sociopathic.
With this individual, you cannot afford to be tolerant. Get him or her out of your life.