Lovefraud recently received the following email from a reader whom we’ll call “Judith.” She asked questions that many readers may wonder about, so I’ll answer them in this post.
Sociopaths do not feel emotions, empathy or cry – Yes, he did play the ‘cry game’ when I would tell him the relationship was ‘over’ (which I did a few times) or want to walk out of his door.
Q1. He used to cry incessantly for his parents/grandparents who love him a lot, and feeling homesick (staying alone). Or cry that I was not with him in the same place and how much he misses me (online chat). He would mostly be drinking when he cries like a river. He longed for having a wife in his life?? He proposed to almost every woman in his life (my research about him). He had 6-7 relationships in his past including me.
Q2. He cried at sad movies (about families especially on mothers)?
Q3.Sociopaths enjoy high sexual activity – He was sexually inactive, and it would ALWAYS depend on his mood. I used to think perhaps he was scared as he said he didn’t want me to get pregs (even though we always used protection). And mostly he would never keep condoms at home, which I thought was a good indication that he was not fooling around. He did watch porn at times which he used to tell me (made me feel bad at times) but I appreciated he was honest. He said sex is not in top 5 in a relationship for him … as porn sometimes is enough for him (single for a long time). I was left frustrated about this at times as he would tell me that I am young so I have a better appetite for this and not him??
Q4. Sometimes he displayed care for me\others – like cook in the middle of the night for them (he liked cooking). But I reckon it was during the first 6-7 months of our relationship. Perhaps it was his passion about cooking, as he used to cook for both of us till the last week of our relationship?
Range of behaviors
First of all, it is important to remember that sociopaths are not all the same. Sociopathy is a syndrome, which means that it is a collection of traits and behaviors. In order for people to be considered sociopaths, they have to show most of the traits to a strong degree.
This leaves plenty of room for variety. So sociopathy is also a continuum — some sociopaths definitely have more of the traits than others. I like to say that they range from sleazy to serial killer.
In answering Judith’s questions, I’ll be talking in generalities. Everything may not apply in every single case, but usually the overall outline applies.
Sociopaths and emotions
Judith began by asking about sociopaths, emotions and empathy. Remember, sociopaths are not robots. They have some emotions, but their range of emotions is very narrow, and the emotions that they do show are not deep. Clinically, they are described as having “shallow affect.”
Sociopaths are certainly capable of anger, hatred and jealousy — many of us have seen scary displays of those emotions. But you may have also seen the mind-bending phenomenon of a sociopath flying into a rage, and then a few minutes later appearing totally calm, as if he or she hadn’t just yelled, screamed and threatened. That is evidence of the shallowness of sociopathic emotions, which enables them to turn emotions on and off like a light switch.
Sociopaths are also capable of being excited or happy, especially when they get something that they want. But they are not capable of emotions that require truly caring about the good and welfare of another person, such as sympathy and love.
Sociopaths know, however, that they have to appear to have emotions to fit into society, and to manipulate others to do what they want. So they are exceptionally good at pretending to care and pretending to love. Sociopaths are fabulous actors — many readers have told me that the sociopath they were with could have won Academy Awards.
Sociopaths and empathy
When it comes to the idea of empathy, whether or not sociopaths experience it depends on precisely how the word is defined. Here is what Dictionary.com says about “empathy:”
“the intellectual identification with or vicarious experiencing of the feelings, thoughts, or attitudes of another.”
According to this definition, there are two ways by which one person can empathize with the feelings, thoughts or attitudes of another:
- “intellectual identification with”
- “vicarious experiencing of”
Most of us on Lovefraud probably assume that empathy means vicarious experiencing of another’s feelings. Sociopaths certainly do not experience empathy in that way. When another person, especially their target, is upset, it doesn’t bother sociopaths in the least.
But some experts have argued that sociopaths are capable of intellectually experiencing empathy, and this has the perverse effect of enabling them to enjoy inflicting pain on others. That is why they can be so sadistic. Dr. Liane Leedom wrote about this in a prior Lovefraud article:
This argument is interesting, but I think the common interpretation of empathy, meaning to feel another person’s emotions, is more widely understood. Therefore, it’s fair to say that sociopaths do not feel empathy as most people interpret the word.
Sociopaths and crying
So, after all this background information, when Judith asks about sociopaths and crying, the answer is simple: They are faking!
Many people have told me their sociopathic partners could turn the tears on whenever they wanted. Judith said the sociopath cried when she was leaving — a typical control tactic. My ex-husband started crying when he was “afraid he was losing me,” even though at that time he was cheating with multiple women.
When a sociopath cries, it is all about manipulation. As far as crying at sad movies as Judith mentioned — well, that particular sociopath has probably learned it is socially appropriate behavior. He wanted to appear to be caring, emotional and human in order to manipulate her.
Sociopaths and sex
Generally, sociopaths want three things in life: power, control and sex. Although they never lose the desire for power and control, sometimes they dispense with the sex. This may be especially true as sociopaths age. In many people, the physical capacity for sex decreases with age, and this does at time happen to sociopaths.
Sociopaths pursue sex for two reasons. The first, obviously, is to satisfy their physical desires. The second is to use sex as a tool to achieve other objectives. Sociopaths seem to know that if they can hook someone sexually, it helps them manipulate the target into providing whatever else they want.
Some sociopaths seduce a target sexually, and then intentionally withhold sex. Why would they do this? To increase power and control.
This is apparent in Judith’s email. She wrote:
He did watch porn at times which he used to tell me (made me feel bad at times) but I appreciated he was honest. He said sex is not in top 5 in a relationship for him … as porn sometimes is enough for him (single for a long time).
Why would the guy tell Judith he was watching porn? To make her feel bad, which would give him more ammunition in manipulating her. And about preferring porn to real, live sex? Well, then he only has to be concerned with pleasing himself, and not a partner. That, of course, is a totally sociopathic attitude.
For more on the topic, read:
A pornography addiction, by the way, is very damaging for the addict and real-life partner. A Lovefraud reader wrote eloquently about his in the following article:
Caring and cooking
Sociopaths are quite capable of having interests, and perhaps Judith’s sociopath likes to cook. Still, why would he cook in the middle of the night? My guess is that it wasn’t romantic. He just got the urge to cook something and then did what he wanted to do, regardless of whether Judith wanted to eat—or preferred to sleep.
This leads me to mention another aspect of sociopathic acting. Frequently, sociopaths act as if they care, when in reality their caring behavior is only manipulation.
For example, some sociopaths start driving their targets around. This may seem chivalrous, but the sociopaths may actually by implying that their targets are bad drivers, which may lead to a sense of learned helplessness. The targets may feel that they no longer have the ability to do things for themselves, even if they were perfectly capable of the activities before.
Once you realize, or suspect, that someone is a sociopath, always look for the hidden agenda. When a sociopath engages in caring behavior, there is another objective. Nothing is done from the goodness of a sociopath’s heart, because there is no goodness in his or her heart.