Sociopaths, people with anti-social personality disorder, are often portrayed in the media as ruthless killers, but you may not know that the person you’re seeing -- although he may not be a killer -- may actually fit the description of a sociopath. It is important to be aware of the traits of a sociopath and how it can negatively affect you in a relationship.
The Allure of Sociopaths
Falling for a sociopath is not hard to do. Most sociopaths are known to be very confident, charming, personable, smart and exciting -- qualities that people tend to look for in a romantic partner. Although these qualities seem appealing, they have a flip side. The confidence a sociopath possesses is actually narcissism. The charm they exhibit makes them likable, but it is a result of their ability to manipulate people without remorse. What seems like fun spontaneity is really impulsivity.
In a “Psychology Today” article about psychopaths, Robert Hare describes them as social predators lacking a conscience. If you're dating a sociopath, he will put his needs first in the relationship. Your partner may exhibit selfish behaviors because he feels no moral obligations or responsibilities toward anyone but himself. The selfishness will reveal itself in the relationship after the initial days of being charmed have passed.
Lack of Emotional Depth
You may be frustrated with a lack of sympathy or understanding from your sociopathic partner. Sociopaths tend to be incapable of feeling as deeply as others feel, which explains their lack of ability to empathize with romantic partners. They lack feelings like guilt and often appear unmoved if they hurt your feelings. According to an article on “Scientific American,” neuroscientists determined that psychopaths have damage to certain parts of their brain, which explains their lack of emotions (like remorse and sympathy), lack of judgment and lack of behavioral control.
Possible Abusive Relationship
Some of the behaviors of a sociopath fall under the category of abuse. Their lack of behavioral control means they have a short fuse and can be verbally or physically abusive. Sociopaths often have a desire for control in the relationship. Most are manipulative and use their partner’s weaknesses and vulnerabilities to gain advantage in the relationship.
Stand Up For Yourself
If you’re dating a sociopath, don’t blame yourself or hate yourself for being foolish. According to Hare, nobody, even an expert, can be 100 percent immune to their charm or manipulation. Don’t let yourself believe that you can change him. Hare suggests setting ground rules so that you are not a victim, but instead someone who is able to protect herself from the abusive behaviors of a sociopath. Even though you may know someone with these traits, there is still a chance that they are not a sociopath. Diagnosis by an expert is required to determine whether or not someone really is a sociopath.