Most of us grow up believing that all people are created equal, that human beings are basically good, and everybody wants to be loved. These are the messages we learn in school, in church, and in the age of political correctness, from the media.
These beliefs are the lenses through which we view the world and the people in it. Our beliefs influence how we perceive and understand the behavior of those we meet. And, for about 90 percent of the population, the beliefs work just fine.
Then we realize that someone in our life isn’t treating us well. We may think this person is reacting to our behavior, that we’re doing something to provoke anger or elicit criticism — after all, that’s what we’re told.
We know we’re not actually doing what we’re accused of doing, so we try to figure out where the outbursts and hostility are coming from — did he or she have a difficult childhood? Is he or she still suffering from the pain of a former relationship?
We try to be understand and accept. We stop asking questions; we stop doing things that “push buttons.” But nothing changes. In fact, we’re treated worse than ever.
So we take to the Internet to find out the reason for the behavior. We Google “pathological lying” or “domestic abuse” or “cheating.” Or, we describe our experiences friend, and our friend says, “It sounds like a sociopath.”
We find a checklist of sociopathic behavior, and, to our shock and dismay, it exactly describes the person who is causing us so much pain.
Why do they do it?
I can’t tell you how many times Lovefraud readers have told me stories that follow this basic outline. When I talk to people on the phone, the question I hear most often is, “Why do they do that?”
- Why do they lie, even when they’d be better off telling the truth?
- Why do they blame me for everything?
- Why won’t they let me go, when they’re already seeing someone else?
- Why are they telling everyone that I’m mentally unbalanced?
- Why do they want to ruin me?
The answer to these questions is: They act this way because they’re sociopaths, and that’s what sociopaths do.
Learning that sociopaths exist is like an earthquake, a tsunami, for our belief system.
Our ideas that that all people are created equal, that human beings are basically good, and that everybody wants to be loved are not totally correct. Yes, these ideas apply to most people in the human race — but not everyone. A certain percentage of the people who live among us are fundamentally different, rotten to the core, and unable to love.
This is why experiences with sociopaths are so disorienting. Not only have we suffered physical, financial, emotional or psychological abuse, but we are also forced to accept that our entire understanding of life and other people is flawed.
This is why we feel like the rug has been pulled out from under us. This is why we feel like we cannot trust ourselves. Realizing that social predators live among us causes our world view to collapse.
What we have learned, through painful experience, is that there are exceptions to what we previously believed. We now know that there are people who look just like us and act just like us — at least when we first meet them. But their objective is not to live alongside us; instead, they want to exploit us.
We now know that sociopaths exist. With this information we can modify our world view, realizing that we must carefully evaluate the people we let into our lives.