(Disclaimer: I’m not a doctor/psych expert–this informal list is based on personal experience in dealing with this sort of personality and stuff I’ve read around the internet. It shouldn’t be a stand-in for professional advice/guidance. Don’t hesitate to seek professional help. Don’t rely entirely on random internet lists like mine.)
Well, I’m all about free will, so for those of you want to maintain interpersonal connections with people with sociopath tendencies–by all means, indulge! You’re an adult (presumably), and perfectly capable of making life decisions. GO out and give your sociopath sweetie a great, big hug–they love those! *laugh*
However, for those of you who wish to avoid dealing with the charming head games, manipulation, and other lovely perks of befriending/dating a sociopath, it can be hard to recognize the signs that you have encountered one, and/or establish dating parameters, while keeping yourself open to life’s possibilities. At the end, I’ve included some links re: sociopaths, to help raise awareness.
On to the BOLO tips!
- Sociopaths can be very charming and manipulative. If it seems too good to be true–like the person seems to be your exact, perfect ideal–take a step back from the relationship, and your emotions, and try to view the relationship critically before committing to the person wholeheartedly with your heart, your emotions, and don’t let yourself be pressured into a more intimate relationship, too soon. If the person sincerely likes your company, they will be willing to go the extra mile to be with you.
- The relationship feels one-sided. If you’re the one doing all the (healthy, open) communicating, and the partner refuses to engage, except on their terms, they may be trying to keep their power over you by manipulating you. Or, if you are genuinely interested in what the person likes, or feels, or thinks, but the person doesn’t seem to care about any of your interests, you may be dealing with a sociopath. This is where it gets complicated. Because they will have devised a whole system to suck you in, based on the things you like (someone who cooks, romantic gestures based on movies you like, etc.) in order to hook you. I’ve read that sociopaths even research their marks, carefully, and adapt their personality to fit their target. Watch for sudden shifts in belief systems–if they express a certain set of beliefs to fit in with a certain group of people, but suddenly claim they are in support of the things you believe in, be wary. As I understand it, sociopaths are chameleon-like in nature. As long as they are getting something out of it to feed their need for power and control. They may even be the ones that want to do all the “giving”–it’s part of the game plan–if they cook your favourite meal, or they perform gestures that seem deeply personal and caring, but they don’t want the same from you, or even get pissed off at you for doing nice things in return, you might be dealing with a sociopath. They don’t want to be in debt to you, they want you to be in debt to them. So they can control you by a feeling that you, Mr/Ms. Nice Guy, owe them for all they’ve done. It’s a very clever form of manipulation.
- They are highly intelligent. But, they also truly believe they are superior to everyone else around them. They will use derogatory terms to class everyone else as inferior, of a lower class, or, sometimes, refer to them as not even human.
- Control is important to sociopaths. If they can’t control you, they will lash out, insult you, criticize you in non-constructive ways, and will even attempt to make you feel crazy or dysfunctional in order to hold onto the power they’ve tried to gain over you by a clever program of manipulation. It’s quite the head game they try to play on you. Luckily for me, I’ve had to take an hours-long battery of psych tests, twice, once in order to get diagnosed with ADHD intitally, and again to get an accommodation for grad school. Still, it’s hard not to buy into it, because they know how to target you where you are most vulnerable.
- Trust your instincts. What’s that saying? “Just because you’re paranoid, doesn’t mean they aren’t out to get you.” If you have the feeling they are hiding something, not even the most clever sociopath can keep their secrets hidden for long. Proceed carefully, and maintain/add emotional, mental, and even physical parameters to your fledgling relationship. It’s always hard to know, sometimes, where to draw the line, and/or you may be questioning yourself. But the bottom line is that the sociopath pretends to have feelings while not really feeling them (except for a certain cold anger), and, if you are feeling sadness, confusion, pain–any of these things at the hands of someone you’re dating, you’re not the crazy one, and you’d be best to get out while you can. If you’re miserable, feeling Alice-in-Wonderland-y–like you don’t know which way is up–or if you feel lost, vulnerable, abnormal, emotional, or even scared, without the presence of an actual physical threat, or you feel like you’re trying to navigate a field of land mines, you may have been manipulated by a sociopath.
- Again, if you are completely aware that your partner’s a sociopath, and you have the proper mental and emotional tools, and a support group, in place to deal with their personality, then that’s fine. It’s your choice, as an individual, as an adult. But, I’m dedicating this post to people who may encounter a sociopath without realizing it. The most important thing is to not blame yourself. It happens to the best of us, even those who are pretty guarded and good at establishing parameters within interpersonal relationships can be tempted to fall for the sociopath’s charm and lies. And, give yourself time to heal, and clear your head, if you’ve managed to untangle yourself from the influence of a sociopath. Don’t be embarrassed to seek professional help, if you need it. Your power is that you can feel, even if it’s pain and heartbreak. So you have an advantage over the sociopath–a more rich, myriad life–even though it hurts like hell right now.
The darkness, confusion, and pain, will go away. Don’t let them win! 🙂