by John Santana
We all know how it goes. You go to a party, and you see someone across the room. You lock eyes. You talk, and they’re charming. You might even think that you’ve met the love of your life.
So you two start to date, and everything is wonderful! Amazing even! Then something starts to feel off. Little things set them off. They hide their cell phone from you. They blow hot and cold with you.
You start to ask yourself, “Am I dating a sociopath?” In this article, you’ll read all about what a sociopath is, what they’re like in a relationship and how you can cope.
What is a sociopath?
So what is a sociopath? It can be confusing, especially the words “sociopath” and “sociopathy” are used to describe someone who doesn’t exactly fit the status quo.
But in reality, a sociopath is someone who has been diagnosed as living with antisocial personality disorder (ASPD). This definition is the same for someone who is a psychopath.
Mental health professionals use the latest edition of “The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders” (DSM-5) to diagnose mental health conditions such as being a sociopath and being a psychopath. This manual states that ASPD is “a consistent disregard for rules and social norms and repeated violation of other people’s rights.”
According to Healthline, a sociopath will seem charismatic and charming when you first meet them. However, in general, they cannot understand another person’s feelings. A person with a sociopath personality disorder will often do the following:
- Feel very little for hurting other people
- They are aggressive and impulsive
- They are manipulative, deceitful, and controlling
- They are often breaking laws and don’t follow rules
What’s the difference between a sociopath and a psychopath?
Clinically speaking, there is no real difference between a sociopath and a psychopath. A mental health professional won’t make a distinction between the two.
In some cases, some researchers and psychologists make the distinction between sociopaths and psychopaths. However, these personality disorders provide a different way of understanding antisocial personality disorder.
In some cases, a psychopath is sometimes considered less impulsive than a sociopath. A psychopath might also be less violent than a sociopath, but a psychopath does definitely plan ahead.
Some mental professionals, such as Robert Hare, who created the Psychopathy Checklist (PCL-R), defined a sociopath as having a sense of right and wrong, conscience, or a moral code. However, this moral code and conscience aren’t in line with what’s considered normal in society.
What is a sociopath’s weakness?
The more you learn about a sociopath, the easier it will become to spot their weaknesses. You might even be able to use these weaknesses against the sociopath in your life. The DSM-5 lists a sociopath’s weaknesses as the following:
They have low self-esteem.
One of the biggest weaknesses of a sociopath is that they have low self-esteem. They try to hide this by creating an exaggerated sense of self-importance.
However, you can use this against them. You can make them back down if you make them feel insecure and inferior.
They are easily bored.
Sociopaths are often easily bored. Being easily bored can lead to finding new challenges and new activities to give them new stimulation.
They don’t handle stress well.
Sociopaths hate stress. When they are in stressful and high-pressure situations, often sociopaths feel overwhelmed. These feelings will often lead to them backing down. It would be best if you also remembered that sociopaths don’t like handling difficult emotions.
They need stimulation and excitement.
Because as mentioned before, a sociopath is easily bored. So they are always looking for new challenges. You can use this weakness against the sociopath in your life.
They have a fragile ego.
Because they have low self-esteem, a sociopath will have a fragile ego. So they will always look for something that makes them feel insignificant. If you use this against them, they will most likely get angry. So try not to get stuck in their power struggle.
Being impulsive is another weakness of the sociopath. They will often do things without thinking about repercussions. If you can make the sociopath in your life think about the consequences of their actions, they are less likely to act out.
Can’t hide their secrets
Because of their inflated sense of self-importance, they will mistakenly believe that they can get away with anything. If you try to point out that they’ve done something wrong, they will most likely get angry.
How does a sociopath act in a relationship?
It’s important to remember that not every sociopath will behave in the same way. But there is some common behavior.
They communicate a lot at the beginning.
At the beginning of the relationship, you might hear from a sociopath all the time. This is because they know how to manipulate other people and their weaknesses. They can also do this at any point in the relationship but mostly at the beginning of the relationship.
They remain friends with their exes.
In most cases, a sociopath will badmouth their ex-partner or someone they used to be close to. This behavior is about more than destroying this person. They want to destroy this person and their reputation.
On the other hand, if the ex or person is still useful to the sociopath, they will still keep them around. They will stay friends with their exes for selfish reasons such as sex, information, money, love, and even status.
It will be easy for a sociopath to get close to this person again. They can easily find out what this person wants and needs to hear from them. They need to say these things then do what they want to do.
They always know someone who is charming.
A sociopath will always know someone who is well known and well-liked. This is because they see people as a means to an end. They will often view people as predators, rivals, or targets.
A sociopath won’t see growth, intimacy, or an emotional connection with another person as the ultimate goal for a relationship. They will stay with you until they get what they want from you.
Because of all these reasons, a sociopath will often try to form friendships or even romantic relationships with well-liked people and have a good reputation. In most cases, a high-functioning sociopath will feel as though they have the same credibility from being friends with this person.
They like spontaneous dates.
A person with a sociopathic personality disorder is highly impulsive. As a result of this personality trait, a sociopath might take you on exciting and spontaneous dates.
They are constantly looking for new thrills and risks because they don’t have a good sense of self-discipline and hate being bored. In some cases, sociopaths might have a decreased response to fear. These traits might be the result of a traumatic past.
They keep a level head during difficult times.
When we go through a difficult situation, we might lose our cool during these times. This is something that you won’t see a sociopath do. They are experts at keeping a level head when dealing with life’s hurdles.
Their ability to keep a level head during tough times is almost superhuman. It’s almost as if they could care less about what happens. This ability is thanks to their lack of empathy.
Sociopaths are emotionally sealed from feeling what other people are feeling. So they won’t be able to show any compassion or understand what other people are feeling when they are going through a challenging time.
They keep to themselves while wanting to know all about you.
Even though sociopaths have an inflated ego, they have one thing that makes them different from narcissists. Sociopaths like to take the attention away from themselves.
A sociopath will give you a small amount of information about themselves to make you feel like you know them. You will rarely get any deep or meaningful piece of information from them.
A sociopath will give you vague information about their childhood or sometimes even give you a fake picture-perfect of their childhood and family. In some cases, they do this because they come from broken and abusive homes.
They do this because talking about their real childhood would be too painful and make them feel weak and small. A sociopath might even give you the fantasy version of their childhood to make you trust them.
They will suddenly lovebomb you, then suddenly go cold.
There might be periods when the sociopath will lovebomb you in a relationship, just to keep you on your toes. They will shower you with so much affection and then suddenly just take it away for no apparent reason.
They will often show you affection when they want something from you. They will be kind, loving, and sweet just to get what they want. They can do this just to keep their partners on the hook and control them.
Signs you’re dating a sociopath.
Today, the term sociopath has been thrown around a lot when talking about someone who always has trouble in a relationship and who might have similar personality traits to a serial killer.
But there are certain traits you need to look out for if you suspect that you might be dating a sociopath. Below are ten signs that you might be dating a sociopath.
They charm everyone in the room.
Being the most charming person to everyone in the room is a big sign that someone is a sociopath. Their charm is what attracted you to them in the first place.
A sociopath will know just what to say in any situation. They will also know just how to put you at ease. Like magicians, they can distract you from seeing their less attractive qualities.
However, their time might fade over time. You might only see their charm when you’re in public with them.
They disregard your feelings.
True sociopaths won’t care or understand your feelings unless it will help them get what they want. A sociopath might not even be able to hide their lack of understanding or their disinterest. They might even make it obvious in their facial expressions. So if you’re dating someone who has one eye on the TV while holding your hand, they might be a sociopath.
Sociopaths lack empathy
No relationship is perfect. Everyone fights, and that’s normal. What isn’t normal is your partner’s inability to understand WHY you are upset. This is a big warning sign!
If this happens, then your partner might be a sociopath. As mentioned before, a sociopath doesn’t have any empathy.
They don’t have close relationships
If your partner doesn’t have any close friends or family members, they might be a sociopath. Because we as human beings are social creatures, we are bound to make a few close connections.
Anyone with an antisocial personality disorder will notice that they have a string of broken relationships. You should pay attention to the stories they tell you about an ex. You will notice that they are never the ones to blame.
They can be verbally, emotionally, and physically abusive.
A sociopath lacks empathy. This means a true sociopath can be physically, emotionally, and verbally abusive. A sociopath is prone to angry outbursts when you challenge them. They will also do what they can do to control and manipulate you.
They’re really good at lying
It should come as no surprise that a sociopath is an excellent liar. They just know how to twist words and tell lies to make themselves look good to others. A sociopath will tell lies upon lies just to get what they want.
They can’t keep a job.
Sometimes a person will just have bad luck keeping a job from bad bosses and toxic work environments to a bad economy. Other times a person who can’t keep a job might be a sociopath.
Being unable to keep a job is common with sociopaths. This is because they will have a bad attitude and an overly inflated ego, getting them in trouble and eventually fired.
So be on hire alert if your partner is constantly losing their job for something they say is not their fault.
They thrive off the misfortune of others.
A sociopath will often take a sadistic-like pleasure in another person’s bad luck. They will enjoy themselves when a person goes through a job loss, horrible accident, or even a difficult breakup.
They laugh because a sociopath will think they are smarter than other people. So they’ll laugh at the person’s inefficiency at not being prepared for such a hard time. So if your partner scoffs at another person’s bad luck, you should see this as a big red flag.
They are impulsive
At the beginning of a relationship, your partner might decide to whisk you away on an exciting and thrilling date suddenly. In most situations, this is the sign of a romantic partner.
In other situations, this could signify your partner being a sociopath. This is especially true when your spontaneous dates involve getting revenge on someone who wronged them, and you are footing the bill.
Sociopaths tend to be serial cheaters.
A sociopath might be a serial cheater. As mentioned before, a sociopath will think they are smarter than other people. So they will think that they can hide their affairs from you. They might even justify this behavior or that you deserve to be cheated on. So they could even blame you for when they cheat on you.
How to cope with being in a relationship with a sociopath?
If you are already in a relationship with a sociopath or want to start dating someone with this personality disorder, there are some things that you need to know. You need to know:
- That they won’t be able to understand your emotions completely
- That you will need to explain specifically how their behavior affects others
- That you need to set clear and firm boundaries to protect yourself
- That they will need to get professional help
You might need to go for family or marriage counseling to create a positive relationship with a person who has been diagnosed with an antisocial personality disorder.
A therapist can give you and your partner some guidance on handling problematic behavior such as angry outbursts, manipulation, and controlling behavior. Going for counseling will help you and your partner with the following:
- Build coping skills
- Know the signs of abuse
- Find ways for effective communication
- Create a strategy to safely leave the relationship (possibly as a last resort)
A final word on sociopaths
At first, a sociopath will be the most charming person you have ever met. They will take you on spontaneous, romantic, and possibly even dangerous dates. You might even find yourself falling head over heels for them.
Then as time goes by, you still start to feel small and like you’re walking on eggshells. If you challenge them, they become furious, possibly even violent.
At times, they could be cold and distant. They might have one eye on their phone while you’re on a date. At other times, possibly just when you’re just about to pack your bags, they will shower you with hugs and kisses and bring you roses and chocolates.
A sociopath does all these things because they lack empathy. Having no empathy and having an inflated sense of self-importance means that they could make one hell of a toxic partner.
You and your partner could go for relationship counseling to have a healthy relationship. A mental health professional might help you set boundaries and work on healthy communication.
But it would be best if you remembered that there’s a good chance that the sociopath won’t respect your boundaries and stick to their toxic habits that will be emotionally, verbally, and physically abusive.
So when it comes to dating a sociopath, you have to ask yourself, is it worth it?