on dating a sociopath or two.

Awhile ago I tweeted something out about a sort-of ex (you know the type, the type that you never really were “officially together” but you went on a couple dates and liked each other) after he had spent a very long time trying to get me to try again with him. These attempts culminated in two days’ worth of repeated text messages saying things along the lines of “Why won’t you give us another chance?” and “I just can’t let you go, you’re the best thing that’s ever happened to me” and which went wholly unacknowledged by me. For one, I had already answered question number one and I knew he was blatantly lying about statement two. Eventually, when I decided to say “Look, I don’t want to be with you, I haven’t wanted to be with you for months, please stop messaging me” he responded with a very immature “Well it’s fine I’ve moved on to better things anyway” blah blah blah. Then he told me he was moving away and I would never see him again. He also backhandedly called me fat.

I tweeted something along the lines of “The thing is, if you call me fat, I don’t give a flying fuck that you’re moving away.” I then hashtagged it with “sociopath”.

I started thinking in the last little while that maybe that was a little overblown. You don’t just call someone a sociopath – it’s along the same lines as calling someone “schizo” or manic – it’s a pretty harsh statement. Being the type of person that I am, someone who likes to learn more about things and educate myself, I decided to look up what actually constitutes a sociopath. This was also amplified by listening to a CBC Radio interview with the author of Confessions of a Sociopath by M.E. Thomas which was highly uncomfortable to listen to.

Turns out, I could write a book on dating sociopaths. It wouldn’t be a very long one, though, since it would basically say “Just don’t”.

When I googled “sociopath qualities” here is the top article, not Wikipedia based, and what it listed:

  1. Glibness and superficial charm
  2. Manipulative and conning
  3. Grandiose sense of self
  4. Pathological lying
  5. Lack of remorse, shame or guilt
  6. Shallow emotions
  7. Incapacity for love
  8. Need for stimulation
  9. Callousness/lack of empathy
  10. Impulsive nature
  11. Early behaviour problems
  12. Irresponsibility/unreliability
  13. Promiscuous sexual behaviour/infidelity
  14. Lack of realistic life plan
  15. Criminal or entrepreneurial versatility

Check, check, check.

I’m sure we’ve all dated people who have one or a few of those qualities. Everyone has some of them, to some extent. It goes back to that whole “nobody’s perfect” thing. What I was floored by, however, was that there are two distinct people in my life that I can say possessed many of those qualities in very high degrees. Both of which I dated. Both of which, even after we were no longer dating, I kept in my life for far too long because it was actually too difficult (emotionally, mentally, physically, what have you) to get rid of them.

Both of them, upon first meeting, were extremely charming. We talked for hours and had so many things in common. It was like they knew me. Everything that they were saying was exactly what I wanted to hear, exactly what I wish other people had said to me, it was incredible to me. People loved them, they had good friends, and they made people laugh. Others were drawn to them.

They also both had extremely wonderful plans for their future: businesses they were going to start, jobs they were going to get, money they were going to have, places they were going to go, all before the time they turned thirty and they were going to lose a bunch of weight and stop drinking and quit the party lifestyle while they were at it. And they had all the skills necessary to do it because they did everything better than everyone else. (Cue: grandiose sense of self and lack of realistic life plan).

It was impressive to me that someone could be so dedicated, so driven, and so charming all at once. They didn’t seem to be sacrificing their personal life for a professional one and that’s something to be envied. The problem was that they weren’t sacrificing anything at all because they had no actual direction or ability to accomplish these dreams. Every time we talked about it, the plans would change, the direction would alter, and they’d be on to some new path. It was a little bit exhausting.

Now we get into the hard stuff. The mean stuff. The awful stuff. Here’s where the “just don’t” part of dating a sociopath comes in. When you start to see the cracks in the facade, when you start to realize that maybe they aren’t exactly as smooth, as charming, or as loving as they once portrayed themselves, you begin to back off a little. And then they do something mean like disappear for a week and a half or you find out they were out kissing half the female population when they said they were just going to stay home and relax. You confront them about it, hoping to have an adult discussion in which you say that this might not be working out, and it turns into a huge argument in which everything is turned around on you and you become the source of the problem. Suddenly, all the qualities that you said they have are being projected back to you and somehow you start believing it. Pathological lying and manipulation skills are key to a sociopath, something that you can almost see they take pride in. Both of these boys, when they would talk about situations involving other people, would be proud of their ability to tear someone to pieces. One of them once said to me, “I always have to remind people that it takes a lot to get me mad but once you cross me, I’ll fucking ruin you.”

I’m lucky that I have a relatively smart head on my shoulders because I picked up on things like that and realized that maybe, just maybe, this wouldn’t be a good thing. But, admittedly, both of these boys were in my life for far, far too long. We may not have been dating, we may not have been anything, but they were around. And it’s true what they say because I’ve seen it happen: they’ll ruin anyone who gets in their way.

They had seemingly no way to understand that when I was upset or hurt that it was because of them. Most often I was being picky, whiny, mean, irrational, or stupid. I honestly believe that they didn’t understand how their actions could hurt another person, or at least they couldn’t understand how those people actually felt. The lack of empathy is real, as are the shallow emotions, lack of guilt, poor behavioural control, irresponsibility and promiscuity.

Trust me, both of them had a weakness for alcohol, a love of the freedom it gave them, a lack of control when it came to needing to be responsible because they worked the next day or had to do something important later. The desire for adventure, for something new, for an altered state, was much more important than the responsible side of life. And neither of them could keep it in their pants.

It wasn’t until after I had known them for awhile and was no longer seeing them romantically that I learned that both of them had been arrested in their lives. And both of them were looking to start their own businesses in some way – see criminal or entrepreneurial versatility. One of them had been arrested for theft and the other for, when he was sitting in the back seat and got in a fight with the person beside him and that person started hitting him repeatedly and freaking out, punching that person in the face.

When I first heard the story, I heard it was just a simple fight, no arrests happened.

Then I heard that the police were involved.

Then I heard that he had ended up being arrested for it.

After I had stopped dating him, I head that the person was a girl and he had broken her jaw.

I’m not trying to scare anyone here (especially my parents because they never met either of these two people and I think we can all see why – you don’t bring someone home to meet the family if they’re sociopaths, now do you?) but I want everyone to know that it doesn’t matter how smart or intuitive you are. There are people out there who are smarter, more cunning, more intuitive, and more dangerous than you’ll ever know.

I have never been hit by anyone. But I guess I could have been. I have never been hurt so badly that I felt utterly destroyed. But if I hadn’t stood up for myself and (eventually) told both of them to fuck off, I could have been.

It is a little embarrassing to say that I am still impressed by their manipulative abilities. As I said, I don’t count myself stupid and I tend to have a fairly good read on many people. They both blindsided me. And looking back at it now, I am almost in awe of how long they were able to manipulate people for. They knew exactly what to say, how to say it, and when to say it to get the proper reaction. They also gauged others’ reactions perfectly and played on their weaknesses. If I wasn’t bearing the brunt of some of those moments, or even hearing the stories they told and feeling my empathetic little heart cry for them, I honestly would have been absolutely taken by it. It’s a little disgusting to say but as someone who has an interest in psychology and the workings of the human mind, to see them weave a masterpiece of deception the way they did, even when I was the victim of it, was fairly spectacular.

The reality of dating is that everyone has their quirks, everyone has their pluses and their minuses. But I’m telling you this: If you feel like someone has started to manipulate you, if you feel like they have taken your emotions and used them against you, if you feel as if they are not being 100% honest about anything, you need to say something. Quite possibly, you need to leave.

In the interview with M.E. Thomas it was also brought up that in the book it was stated she “enjoyed ruining others, it gave her immense pleasure” (paraphrased), just as one of the guys I knew had.

You don’t need to be ruined. No one deserves to be ruined.

This is my novel on dating a sociopath, I apparently have more experience than I know. It is only one chapter long and the moral, as always, is:

Just don’t.

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