Am i dating a sociopath
18 Signs You’re Dating a Sociopath & What to Do About ItSkip to content
Published: January 7, 2022 Updated: October 18, 2022
Published: 01/07/2022 Updated: 10/18/2022
MBA, MSW, LSW, CCTP, OSW-C
MBA, MSW, LSW, CCTP, OSW-C
A sociopath is someone who lacks empathy, manipulates close relationships, acts entitled, remains absent when others are in need, and shows no remorse for any harm they cause. Dating a sociopath is potentially harmful to your mental health and well-being, so knowing the signs is important if you suspect you’re dating a sociopath.
You don’t have to face an emotionally abusive relationship alone. BetterHelp has over 20,000 licensed therapists who provide convenient and affordable online therapy. BetterHelp starts at $60 per week. Complete a brief questionnaire and get matched with the right therapist for you.
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What Is a Sociopath?
A sociopath is someone who is diagnosed with antisocial personality disorder (ASPD). Sociopaths can appear to be charming at first, but this never lasts. They exhibit antisocial behavior, which makes them want to break all the rules and exhibit a disregard for authority, act aggressively, lack feelings of guilt, and enjoy manipulating and controlling others.
Sociopathy in Men vs. Women
Sociopathy can look differently from person to person, and gender could play a role in what types of behaviors are more prevalent. While both genders are capable of any sociopath behavior, women tend to present less aggressive antisocial behaviors and higher rates of general aggressive mood and irritability, while men present more violent behaviors. Furthermore, women use more subtle ways to emotionally manipulate others while men often use more overt and dominant ways.1
It’s become very common to throw out terms like sociopath when referring to a poor series of dates with someone or an individual that is not well liked and akin to a serial-killer character from a horror movie. While individuals labelled as “sociopaths” may have the self-absorbed and exploitative nature of a sociopath, there are other signs of a sociopath to look out for when you think you are dating one.
Here are 18 signs that you’re dating a sociopath:
1. They Don’t Like to Follow Rules
While a “bad boy” or “bad girl” can seem alluring initially, someone who doesn’t follow the rules long term can cause some serious issues. These behaviors can lead to violent and criminal behaviors and it’s possible you could be harmed in the process.
2. They’re a Pathological Liar
Everyone is capable of lying, which is never excusable, but sociopaths will lie about everything, especially to make sure they get what they want. Lies erode trust in any relationship and the chronic lies from a sociopath are a big red flag to be aware of. Knowing the signs of a pathological liar can help you spot this sociopathic trait.
3. They’re Arrogant
While it’s important to have high self-worth, sociopaths take that to a whole new level. Sociopaths are often very arrogant and have an inflated sense of self. Their ego is likely more important than the feelings of others and they often come off as superior to others.
4. They’re Superficially Charming
Everyone likes to be liked, but sociopaths use charming behaviors to lure people into their web to later manipulate and exploit them. They charm strangers and can be the life of the party, but their actions are all very calculated.
5. They Exhibit Impulsive Behavior
Sociopaths are constantly changing their mind or their plans based on how they feel. Given that their emotions are often fleeting, their ability to stick to a plan is low. They don’t like to plan ahead because they like to have control of their surroundings and impulsive behavior gives them control as others cannot predict their next move.
6. They Don’t Consider Consequences
Since sociopaths are so impulsive, they don’t think through potential consequences. They may try to pressure you to do something unsafe in the spirit of spontaneity or charm, but it comes with ulterior motives.
7. The Relationship Moves Quickly
If they are planning your future on the third date and proposing on the fifth date, you may think they are sure of you. However, this speed is often motivated by a sociopath’s underlying need to control. They use these tactics with hopes it comes off as charming so you will fall for the charm. They use these ideas of a picture-perfect future to hook you and exploit your feelings.
8. They Guilt-Trip You
Sociopaths use emotion to their advantage and unfairly manipulate you by guilt trips. They use excuses to get what they want and often appeal to your sense of wanting to love and nurture them. They are basically a con artist robbing you of your empathy.
9. They’re Abusive
Anger is the main emotion sociopaths feel, so it’s common for sociopaths to express anger and rage and emotionally abuse their partners. They also enjoy releasing the feeling and using that fear to benefit their power over you.
10. They Lack Empathy
A key trait of sociopaths is that they do not have a capability to have empathy for others. Even if they hurt someone, they cannot experience empathy for them or recognize the harm they caused.
11. They Refuse to Change
Even if they hurt someone or have faced consequences for their actions, this isn’t enough motivation for sociopaths to change. Most people change and grow from an experience, but sociopaths don’t change and will always continue to violate boundaries and rules.
12. They Don’t Have Close Friends
Sociopaths may seem charming and like the life of the party, however when you are with them for some time, sociopaths will reveal themselves to have no true close relationships. This is due to how self-absorbed they are and the consequences that came from past behavior that they lost relationships and burned bridges.
13. They’re Unreliable
Sociopaths tend to be quite full of themselves. They’re so self-absorbed they can’t show up for you and will likely forget about any commitments. They are often flaky and will likely disappoint you and will find a way to blame you for it.
14. They Disrespect Boundaries
They are not equipped to hear “no” and will not accept that, so they will try to mold you into who they want you to be. They will push your boundaries until they break and they can get their way.
15. They Don’t Consider Their Part of Conflict
They always blame others even for something they caused and use your emotions against you. They don’t support any emotion you may feel and leave you feeling invalidated. They question and challenge you and often will become angry if you do not accept responsibility for conflict.
16. They’re Revenge-Seeking
They are likely to be as vindictive as they are charming if you are on their wrong side. They will hold onto a grudge and will find ways to get revenge. They could even plot for months.
17. They Disregard Your Emotions
Because sociopaths lack empathy so in relationships with partners, they will likely never understand why you may be upset. They are incapable of putting themselves in the shoes of others and will never say sorry to you even though they did something wrong that hurt you. They will find a way to turn the situation on you and make it your fault.
18. They Have Anger Issues
Everyone gets angry sometimes, but sociopaths have a violent history of fights and expressions of rage. They are usually on edge and can easily get into fights. They can also be abusive physically, sexually and emotionally.
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Impacts of Dating a Sociopath
The individual experience of dating a sociopath can vary from relationship to relationship, however abuse of any kind is never excusable. Dating a sociopath can have serious consequences on your mental health and well-being.
Impacts of dating a sociopath include:1
- Lowered self-esteem
- Developing a mental illness
- Isolation from family and friends
- Work problems
- Depression/Anxiety/PTSD exacerbation
- Short temper
Having a healthy relationship with a sociopath is not possible due to the fluctuations of their mood and behaviors. Even if a sociopath today isn’t violent and abusive, this issue is on a spectrum of behavior so it’s not a behavior that can ever be ruled out. Oftentimes, the best option for dealing with a sociopath is to leave the relationship.
When your own health and wellness is being impacted, the relationship is doing more harm than good for you. When there is any kind of abuse, it’s important to recognize your worth and protect yourself and get help right away. Seek out the support of a therapist and come up with an exit plan so you can leave safely.
How to Get Over Dating a Sociopath
Making the decision and plan to leave a relationship with a sociopath can seem very scary and difficult. You may have your finances and housing intermingled which can be hard to separate. You may be experiencing trauma bonding as well which makes it challenging. You may also be so isolated from friends and family that you don’t know how to contact anyone for support. Know that you are not alone, and are brave for taking steps to leave any relationship that is abusive.
The right time to get help if you’re dating a sociopath and have concerns is when you first identify issues. It can be challenging to talk about with your partner, so it’s important to consider individual or couples therapy, depending on what your issues are. Given the emotionally volatile and abusive nature of relationships with sociopaths, it’s important to seek help immediately if you feel you are in danger of any kind.
You do not need to endure any kind of abuse in a relationship and are not obligated to stay or try to work things out. Abuse should never be tolerated and a therapist can help normalize this into an internalized belief.3
A great way to find a therapist for these types of relationship problems is by searching an online therapist directory. All licensed therapists can be equipped to help people struggling with these issues. Reading reviews and looking at clinician bios to understand their scope of practice can give you an idea of whether their experience suits your situation. Many therapists offer a free phone consultation and virtual/teletherapy visits.
What you’re struggling with may be specific to you, but you’re not alone. Dating a sociopath can be hard on your mental health but there are ways to heal. Talking to a therapist can make a big difference in how you feel.
Education is just the first step on our path to improved mental health and emotional wellness. To help our readers take the next step in their journey, Choosing Therapy has partnered with leaders in mental health and wellness. Choosing Therapy may be compensated for referrals by the companies mentioned below.
BetterHelp (Online Therapy) – Dating is complicated and emotionally challenging. BetterHelp has over 20,000 licensed therapists who provide convenient and affordable online therapy. BetterHelp starts at $60 per week. Complete a brief questionnaire and get matched with the right therapist for you. Get Started
Online-Therapy.com (Online Therapy) – Are you dating someone with mental illness or addiction? Don’t face these challenges alone! The Online-Therapy.com standard plan includes a weekly 45 minute video session, unlimited text messaging between sessions, and self-guided activities like journaling. Recently, they added instructional Yoga videos. Get Started
Mindfulness.com (App) – Mindfulness and meditation can change your life. In a few minutes a day with Mindfulness.com, you can start developing mindfulness and meditation skills. Free Trial
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Choosing Therapy strives to provide our readers with mental health content that is accurate and actionable. We have high standards for what can be cited within our articles. Acceptable sources include government agencies, universities and colleges, scholarly journals, industry and professional associations, and other high-integrity sources of mental health journalism. Learn more by reviewing our full editorial policy.
Alegria, A. A., Blanco, C., Petry, N. M., Skodol, A. E., Liu, S. M., Grant, B., & Hasin, D. (2013). Sex differences in antisocial personality disorder: results from the National Epidemiological Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions. Personality disorders, 4(3), 214–222. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3767421/
Flasch, P., Boote, D., & Robinson, E. H. (2019). Considering and navigating new relationships during recovery from intimate partner violence. Journal of Counseling & Development, 97(2), 148-159. https://digital.library.txstate.edu/handle/10877/9450
Murphy, C. M., Eckhardt, C. I., Clifford, J. M., LaMotte, A. D., & Meis, L. A. (2020). Individual versus group cognitive-behavioral therapy for partner-violent men: a preliminary randomized trial. Journal of interpersonal violence, 35(15-16), 2846-2868. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29294732/
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When you think of a "sociopath," chances are you think of a serial killer or a con man in a movie. But chances are you've met a sociopath — after all, according to Harvard psychologist Martha Stout, author of "The Sociopath Next Door," one in every 25 people is a sociopath.
With so many alleged sociopaths around, and with their charming nature, it can be hard to know one when you see them. INSIDER spoke to experts about some tell-tale signs that the one you love may actually be a sociopath.
They charm the pants off of everyone in the room.Everyone loves them. At first. Zachary Nelson/Unsplash
A standard trait of a sociopath is that they are charming and gregarious people. They know exactly what to say to everyone to get them to like them. That's probably why you were drawn to them in the first place.
"They typically know how to woo a person using incessant flattery and compliments," psychotherapist Patti Sabla told INSIDER.
Be careful: Because a charming people-person isn't necessarily indicative of a sociopath, you should look out for other signs, too.
They disregard your feelings.They don't think about what affects you. Shutterstock
Sociopaths lack empathy so if you get upset with them, they have a hard time understanding why. They won't act sorry or even see a reason for you to be upset.
"They may get drunk and do something awful like tell off your mother or your best friend," Sabla said. "When you confront them about it the next day they don't care. They are incapable of empathy and may even try to blame you for 'trying to make them feel bad' about the situation."
You don't think even they believe what they're saying.You just know they're talking out of their butts. Tim Stief/Unsplash
Do you ever get the feeling that the person you're talking to knows what they're saying isn't true? Sociopaths are skilled liars, but sometimes they're so disingenous that their actions and facial expressions give them away.
"You feel a weird sense that he’s not really believing his own words," Carlos Cavallo, a dating and relationship coach, told INSIDER. "Like they will tell you they love you, but their actions seem almost dissonant with it."
They lie constantly.You catch them in constant fibs. Pexels/Trinity Kubassek
Sociopaths are compulsive liars because it's in their nature. They lie to make themselves look good.
They're also really good at it.
"Sociopaths can make up a blatant, outrageous lie without a blink of an eye with the drop of a hat," Sabla said. "Their lies usually are self-serving, making them out to sound really impressive."
You can't seem to stay mad at them.They find a way out of it. Unsplash/Jared Sluyter
Even if you do catch them in one of their famous lies, you can't seem to be mad at them for long because a sociopath will charm you out if it.
"They have a smooth, fast way of dealing with people that you might even mistake for real charisma," Cavallo said.
They don't have many (or any) close relationships.They have lots of acquaintances but no friends. Unsplash/ian dooley
Sociopaths are the life of the party, so plenty of people will know them and want to be around them. But sociopaths tend not to have a lot of real friends because of how self-involved they are and how often they hurt people.
If a person has a lot of burnt bridges and no real, close friends, they just may be a sociopath.
You feel like you're the only person in the room.They put a weird amount of focus on you. Unsplash/Jared Sluyter
When you're in love, you might just feel like you're the only two people in the room. But if a person puts a creepy and unnatural amount of focus on you, then suddenly leaves you, they might be a sociopath.
"They’re with you seemingly non-stop," Cavallo said. "It’s almost consuming, until you run out of steam on their latest manic binge, and you’re left in the desert for a while."
You can't count on them.They're notoriously flakey. Unsplash/One Wedding
Sociopaths are so self-involved that they will frequently forget things that have to do with other people. They will flake on people, forget things, and disappoint you. They won't take responsibility for it either.
They can't hold down a job.They just can't be bothered. Flickr/John Walker
Sociopaths are sometimes terminally unemployed. They can't seem to hold down a job because of their attitudes and will blame it on everyone but themselves.
"They are so antisocial they burn their bridges at work and blame everyone else but themselves for their inability to succeed," relationship coach and matchmaker Bonnie Winston told INSIDER.
You get blamed even for their faults.Nothing is ever their wrongdoing. Shutterstock
Saying 'I'm sorry' is not always easy, but sociopaths find it nearly impossible to admit they're wrong. They will always find a way to turn it around on you.
"For example, you ask them to pick you up from work at 4:00 p.m. When 4:30 p.m. comes and they don't show, you call them to find out what happened. They blame you for 'not reminding them because you know they are forgetful.' Then they try to guilt you for even asking them in the first place 'knowing how busy they are,'" Sabla pointed out.
They're spending your money.They don't mind dipping into your funds. Unsplash/Scott Webb
Sociopaths feel entitled to what is yours, so they will know how to spend your money, psychotherapist and professor Nicki Nance told INSIDER.
If someone is way into you picking up the check or has no problem using your credit cards, they might be a sociopath.
They don't seem to know what makes you upset or why.They just can't be bothered to figure it out. Unsplash/Dimitar Belchev
A good partner will know your triggers and do their best to avoid hitting them. Sociopaths seem to have a goldfish memory and can't seem to remember what ticked you off last. They just can't grasp that people have complex feelings.
"This will come out of his or her psychological issues, but will resonate as an overall feeling of strangeness in the way they handle their affairs with other people," Cavallo said. "A strong feeling of disconnect will plague you."
They want to seek revenge.Sociopaths are petty. Unsplash/Kyle Broad
Sociopaths are generally known as charming, but if you cross them, you'll know why they don't keep people around for too long. If they feel they've been betrayed or lied to, they will go to sometimes extreme lengths seeking revenge.
"If they feel they have been embarrassed or humiliated, they will remember that," Sabla said. "Without anyone knowing it, they can be plotting revenge for days, weeks, or even months. They won't let it go until they feel they have 'gotten even.'"Read the original article on INSIDER. Copyright 2017.
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How to communicate with a sociopath - Lifehacker
March 21, 2020Relationships
Living and working with a person who does not consider the feelings of others is difficult, but possible.
Who is a sociopath
A sociopath is a person suffering from antisocial personality disorder. Such people lack empathy, the ability to understand the experiences of others and emotionally respond to events. Therefore, a sociopath does not perceive social norms and rules, constantly violates them and does not consider other people's feelings.
Because of their high intelligence and disregard for rules, sociopaths make the best criminals. And although most do not do anything illegal, sociopaths are potential manipulators, ready to use people for their own purposes.
Lifehacker has already told in detail how to crack a sociopath. You need to be on your guard if a person:
- at the beginning of communication was charming, but gradually begins to dictate his will to you;
- lies a lot and often, writing stories on the go without any problems;
- lives without friends, family, does not talk about the past, but is surrounded by admirers;
- prone to sudden outbursts of anger and aggression;
- tries to isolate you from society;
- narcissistic to the point of megalomania;
- likes to manipulate other people to achieve his goals;
- knows how to keep an icy calm in stressful situations.
How to properly communicate with him
It is better, of course, not to communicate at all. If you understand that you have a sociopath in front of you who is going to achieve what you want with your help, then it is better to refuse communication in time than to suffer later.
Easy to say but hard to do, especially at work, with friends or family.
Assess the risk
If you are a suggestible person, easily influenced by others or lack confidence, try to keep communication to a minimum. The more vulnerabilities you have, the easier it is to manage you. It is these people who are the victims of manipulation.
This does not mean that the sociopath should be demonstratively avoided. Just try to do less common things.
Think of yourself
Sociopaths choose as their victims dependent people who tend to obey instructions. The best way to protect yourself from a sociopath is confidence and independence, your own position and ability to think. The more independent a person is, the more difficult it is to control him, which is why sociopaths do not like them.
It can take years to understand who you are and what you are striving for. Learn new things, communicate with different people and listen to someone else's point of view, but do not accept it immediately. This will help develop independent thinking.
Learn self-confidence. It's difficult, but necessary.
Do not fall for provocations
That is, do not feed the troll. If you are not being manipulated, then it is not interesting to manage you - a sociopath will quickly get bored. Keep calm in communication, do not go into conflict.
Don't tell a person that he is a sociopath
This will either make him angry or provoke him. And it may well be that the sociopath is not aware of his behavior. In general, do not show that you have figured it out. Maintain polite communication.
Don't fall for his charms
A sociopath knows how to charm and how to present himself favorably. But this is not a reason to forget about who is in front of you. Remember that behind the stream of compliments lies some kind of catch.
Seriously, don't give in. A sociopath knows how to poison stories in order to arouse sympathy and sympathy, knows how to prove his importance. This is normal for him, but if you believe and follow, you risk becoming a victim of manipulation in the future. Yes, this is not very good, after all, a person is not to blame for sociopathy and mental disorder. But that doesn't make it any easier for you, does it?
End a difficult relationship
If you recognize a manipulator in your partner and his behavior poisons your life, try to end the relationship as soon as possible. The longer you wait, the harder it is to break free from a sociopath. While feelings can be strong, relationships with a sociopath are often life-threatening. Take a closer look: maybe this is just your case.
Don't confuse sociopathy with indifference.
Want to put a label on someone who hurt you or behaved selfishly? Perhaps there are reasons for such behavior, the person made a mistake and repents. The sociopath made no mistake, does not worry and will do it again - when he needs it.
It is not easy to end a relationship with a sociopath on your own if you have already fallen under his influence. Enlist the support of friends and family. Get ready for the fact that the sociopath does not accept rejection and will be ready for reckless actions for the sake of your attention.
You don't have to yell on every corner that you've identified a sociopath, but it's sometimes worth warning shared family and friends, especially if you see that someone has fallen under the influence of a manipulator. Help the victim to understand the situation. Of course, you don’t have to fight off a sociopath with a gun, but you shouldn’t completely let the situation take its course.
Don't be afraid
After all that has been written and said about sociopaths, it's hard not to get paranoid and suspicious of everyone around you. But it is not necessary to write down people with a vile character in this category. And do not think that every sociopath will use you and destroy you.
As already mentioned, a sociopath has a high intelligence, so many people understand that their reactions and behavior are unusual. And not everyone goes over to the dark side: many even ask what to do if they find signs of a dissocial disorder in themselves.
It is possible to communicate, work and live with a sociopath, especially if self-esteem is normal.
And don't try to change anyone. It is impossible to re-educate an adult.
Think with your head, do as you see fit, then you are unlikely to become a victim. Your confidence and knowledge will help the sociopath see you as an equal rather than a means to an end.
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personal experience with the person who plays with you
There are several types of people with whom you should not have an affair. One of them is sociopaths. They should not be confused with sociophobes who do not like communication: sociopaths are not at all like that. Our heroine tells why they should be avoided.
Recently, I almost married a sociopath. We met on the Internet, for me he was not love at first sight, but for him I was. Reality was not at all what I dreamed of, and it took almost two years before I stopped lying to myself and finished this novel.
According to statistics, about 3% of people meet the criteria for sociopathy. It is an antisocial personality disorder characterized by a lack of empathy and empathy. And here's how to distinguish such a person before starting a serious relationship with him.
1. They have charisma
Sociopaths are confident, charismatic people. It seems to them that they are better and smarter than others, and show this in all life situations.
My ex could charm anyone. More than once I watched him talking to a stranger, and a minute later he exchanged phone numbers with him or sat down next to him for a conversation.
2. They quickly become involved in a relationship
Already on the second date, you may well start discussing the wedding. A couple of weeks later, he'll offer to move in. In a month, he will share his dreams of a long life together. He draws a beautiful picture, and you literally fall into it.
The former treated our novel like a puzzle, changing the pieces at his discretion.
3. They often lie
They manage it as easily as breathing. The former turned out to be a first-class actor. After half a year of meetings, I received a letter from some girl with screenshots of their conversations and joint photos. Who did I believe? To him!
4. They don't want to share you with anyone
The longer we met, the less I saw my friends and even my family. Sociopaths are somewhat paranoid, they don't want to be interrupted in their game of life.
5. They are easily manipulated
When he needed something from me, he would invent anything to get it. He accused me of not having time to study, but in fact he didn't want anything. And if I said that he had no motivation, he began to insult. Then he pretended to be good for a while, and I relaxed again. And yes, he offended and scolded me quite often.