Am I in a relationship with a sociopath?

Firstly, it is not easy to spot a sociopath at the beginning of a relationship, because they can often come across as the perfect person.
However, if you are or have been in a relationship with one, it is likely you have experienced the most wonderful feelings of connection and the most desperate feelings of confusion and unhappiness.

In my many years working as a relationship counsellors I have seen first hand the destructive influence of sociopaths on their partners. 

  • " Highly cunning and manipulative"

Some clients have sort help and support whilst in a relationship. Others have sort help when it has ended, when they are confused and shell shocked. All have had an element of confusion as their partner changed from Mr/Mrs perfect to Mr/Mrs nasty.

  • "Perfect seducer to angry manipulator'.

So what are the traits of a sociopath in a relationship?

They tend to create an amazing image of them self and sell you the concept.  Often highly charismatic and well mannered. You are likely to think how lucky you are to have found them.  They might talk of their successes and amazing plans for the future.  They will have a huge ego but this might not be so apparent at the start due to the charisma that tends to ooze from every pore.

  • 'Superficial charm in abundance'.
Sociopaths can have a great deal of sex appeal, and you might feel the rush of chemistry at the beginning. There will be a need to show off their sexual prowess but at some points when they are not concentrating on being the perfect  sexual partner… you may experience them as disconnected   They are often capable of explosive sex … but not good at when it comes to true intimacy.

A sociopath will get to know you so well and quickly, that you can truly feel you have met your soul mate.  They will appear to have so much in common with you that you feel 'as one' very early on in the relationship. They are mostly mirroring back all that you are, to make you feel so connected.  All this makes it harder for you to break away when things start to change.

A sociopath is a convincing liar. They feel no guilt about telling a lie at all!  They will even lie to protect a lie, and regularly do. Remember that the lie is  a means to an end for a sociopath.  They will lie to get what they need.

The only time they will tell the truth is when they are caught out and can't wriggle out of it! At this point you are likely to get anger  or outrage from them to deflect away from the situation.  For example: if you snooped to find out the truth…your action of snooping will be made out to be the bigger issue, even if the lie they told was horrific!

  • 'They will never take responsibility'.
They can leave you without showing any emotion. If you do not get outrage and anger, you might get complete cut off.  A sociopath will cut you off when it is 'game over' or they lose interest.

Providing there is still something to be gained, or they think they can obtain the control or get the higher ground back…you may see them go into victim mode. The aim will be, to make you feel sorry for them, and it works in most cases, as they are utterly believable and they would have chosen you carefully because you are an empathic person. 

Despite having no real feelings for others, or guilt or shame, they can cry, and will do so, if this is what is needed.
A sociopath will aim to find out as much about YOU as they can. They will discover your full history, family, past relationships, fears, hopes and dreams.  Then they will use this information to: entice you, get the better of you, out wit you, disarm you and to make you feels vulnerable. You will often find that information about them is sketchy. they will change the subject or cause diversion to avoid disclosing to much personal info.

A relationship with a sociopath often goes from "amazing" to  rocky and then emotionally abusive. And of course, it will be 'all you fault' (according to the Sociopath) when it starts to go pear shaped.

  • "They do not like exposure and hence are very secretive'
You are likely to be showered with gifts or  flattery and attention.  You are made to feel special and adored (normally from the start).  They are normally never stuck for things to say (as they make things up easily) and they will concentrate their efforts on YOU.  It is likely that you will feel the centre of their world.  Hey, but wait a minute…what do you really know about their world?

Sociopaths are out to win and be in control.
  They are prepared to do almost anything to maintain that position.  So it could be that you see them at a later stage interacting with someone in a generous and kind manner, to then go and hear them talk about that person in a critical or unkind way.  Two faced behaviour is the tool of a sociopath. 'they do what they need to do, to get what they need to have'

"A sociopath has a sense of entitlement'.

They will try an isolate you.
This is a common trait and one that is crucial to their success, as it ensures you have only them to rely upon… and it also stops others from talking sense into you, if you start to speak about your partners emotionally abusive behaviour.

If you have been told your friends are all drunks or losers, your family are using you or taking liberties etc etc, to the point where you have lost contact and your social life has changed.  Then ask yourself why?

ANS: It will be so you depend on them ( the sociopath) and they have control of you. 

Ask yourself…  Have I  ever felt or experienced these feelings, or the other persons behaviours in any other relationship?  Hopefully not.

Ask yourself how much confidence you now have as a person?  A sociopath will rob you of your self worth!

The Ending
  • "A sociopath can be callous and has no remorse".
Hopefully the ending will come because you have gained insight and taken control by seeking help and support. sadly, this is not often the way it ends.

A sociopath can end things for many reasons: boredom, losing control. a new victim comes along, you have found out too many lies and they fear you're ending things, and for reasons you could never imagine…

They need to keep CONTROL, CONTROL,  CONTROL at all cost. And they need to WIN, WIN, WIN.

They might end it slowly, by playing with your feelings or a sudden cut off.  Whatever way they chose to end things, do not expect closure.

When a relationship ends we often want to understand why, and we do this to make sense of what we have experienced. Was it our fault? What went wrong and can we avoid it in future? Is there something wrong with us? Are we loveable?

You are unlikely to be allowed closure at the end of the relationship with a sociopath.
  • They might allude to exploring things but this will be to keep playing with your feelings for a little longer
  • They tend to cut off and refuse to give you closure so that they can remain in control to the bitter end.
  •  more you approach them for discussion or understanding, the more likely they are to stay unavailable/silent. They are of course enjoying watching you work hard…and they feel in control.
*Only someone who has experience of a sociopath before, might chose to do this -  to check out if they have empathy.  Most emotionally healthy individuals will engage in some conversation or closure if encouraged to do so.  If you get nothing back, and you suspected other aspects of sociopathic behaviour exists, then you have your closure…it is called knowing.

  • "Closure will come from realising you were dating a sociopath and understanding what they do and why".
A sociopath will behave like this again and again.  You however have a chance to move on and heal. YOU have chance of true happiness and love, with someone who deserves you.

So what does the DSM  say?

* If you have experience of a sociopath, you are likely to spot one again (eventually).