How to dump a sociopath

Suppose you realize that you’re in an unhealthy romantic relationship. Or, your instincts are telling you that the person in hot pursuit of you is bad news. How do you end the involvement?

When you’re romantically involved with reasonably normal individuals, you usually try to spare their feelings. You don’t come out and say that they’re boring, or needy, or oafish, even if that’s what you feel. You make up excuses. You tell them that you’re getting back with an old boyfriend or girlfriend, even if that’s a lie. You say you’re just not ready for a relationship right now, even if that’s also a lie.

In essence, when breaking up with an okay person who just isn’t your type, you try to let them down easy.

This is precisely the wrong approach when breaking up with a sociopath.

Red Flags of Lovefraud

Perhaps this hot new lover has swept into your life, showered you with attention and affection, and is promising a wonderful future. Initially, you are swept off your feet, head over heels excited.

But, because you’re a Lovefraud reader, you eventually recognize this person’s inordinate attention as love bombing. You look for the other Red Flags of Love Fraud, and you see them.

Read Red Flags of Love Fraud – 10 signs you’re dating a sociopath

In the meantime, your instincts have been trying to get your attention. You’ve been ignoring them, but you no longer can. You’ve seen the mask slip. There was a flicker of rage, or manipulation, or cold indifference. And this person is slowly trying to control you, under the guise of concern for your welfare, or wanting to be with you every moment of every day.

You finally admit to yourself that this is a bad situation, and you need to end it.

What do you do?

Rejection statement

The following advice applies if you’re in a relationship that does not include complications such as kids, property or massive amounts of money.

Tell the person ONE TIME that you do not want any involvement with him or her. Make your decision very clear.

In my Love Fraud and How to Avoid It presentation, I teach students the following rejection statement. It’s based on the recommended statement in The Gift of Fear, by Gavin DeBecker.

I have no romantic interest in you whatsoever.
I am certain I never will.
Put your attention elsewhere, because that’s what I’m going to do.
Do not contact me ever again.

Yes, it’s brutal. Don’t worry about hurting their feelings. Remember, if you’re dealing with a sociopath, he or she doesn’t really have any. You want to make it very clear that you want nothing to do with this person.

By the way, yes, you can send the rejection statement via text or email. It’s safer for you, because if you’re not physically there, the person does not have the opportunity to manipulate you.

No Contact

After you tell the person ONE TIME that you do not want an involvement, you have no further contact with this individual.

  • You do not talk on the phone.
  • You do not send texts or emails.
  • You certainly do not see the individual in person.
  • You do not visit their Facebook page.

Some sociopaths will immediately start a campaign to win you back. They’ll call, text and email incessantly. DO NOT RESPOND.

If the person sends you 50 text messages, and after the 51st text message, you reply saying, “Leave me alone,” you have taught the person that it takes 50 text messages to get a response from you. So they start sending messages again.

There are several approaches to avoiding messages from the sociopath. You can block calls and text messages on your phone, or change your phone number. You can block emails or change your email address. The downside of these approaches is that the sociopath knows he or she is being blocked, and will try to circumvent your efforts.

Gavin DeBecker suggests another approach. He advises you to keep the phone number that the sociopath knows, but get another line. Give the new number to the people who you want to have it. The sociopath keeps calling, but the calls go to voice mail, which you never check. The benefit of this approach is that the sociopath believes the calls are going through, and you are ignoring them.

Physical danger

If the sociopath has been violent towards you, you need to be extra cautious. The most dangerous time for anyone in a violent relationship if right when you leave. The abuser will be angry about losing control over you and may strike out.

If the sociopath has not been violent towards you, but you know he or she has been violent towards other people, animals or property, you should still be cautious. Any history of violence is an indication that the violence could be turned towards you.

Therefore, use extra caution when ending the involvement with someone who is violent. If you are living together, leave when the person is not home. Ask your family and friends for support. You may need to contact police.

The return

When you tell them that the involvement is over, some sociopaths will leave you alone — for awhile. Then, after weeks, months or even years, they return.

They admit that they were wrong in the relationship. They tell you that they’ve been to therapy, or to church. They say you were the best thing that ever happened to them, and they want to try again.

Do not fall for it. Sooner or later, you’ll see the same controlling or abusive behavior as before — except it will be worse. And you, having taken them back, will have less emotional strength to throw them out again.

Dumping the sociopath

This is the basic outline for dumping the sociopath. It may need to be modified based on your situation — it’s more difficult, for example, if you and your ex-partner work together. (In that case, you may need to look for a new job.)

Here are the key points:

  1. Tell the person ONE TIME that you want no involvement.
  2. Then, have NO CONTACT with the person.

Remember, No Contact is vital. It ends your involvement, and enables you to recover.


Posted in: Donna Andersen

53 Comments on "How to dump a sociopath"

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  1. kaya48 says:

    You are so right about the path of destruction they leave. It’s unbelievable to me how they can just go on like nothing happened after the destruction. I don’t want to warn the “new victim”. The fact that he was married and she knew about it should have given her enough warning. To be honest I do find some pleasure on knowing that very soon he will manipulate her, cheat on her, lie and betray. I have my sanity back and I am on my way to recovery. Sometimes I wonder though how they can pretend to be loving husbands and fathers and the truth is that they are pure evil. I pray everyday that my son came out of this mess unharmed.

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  2. catmaverick says:

    Hi Lovefraud community,

    Playing possum (pretending to be dead) is a time honored survival strategy such that possums have been around for millions of years. Being non-responsive to the predator is great advice. Love this website! Through the klieg lights on and get the word out about how to spot these relational snakes from the get-go.

    Just as you learn to recognize a poisonous plant in the field by field guides, so we all can learn to ID ‘poisonalites’ by the behavioral clues they exhibit.

    Interesting tidbit from an African immigrant friend: Because life in a village is out in the open, i.e. no privacy such as we have here in the states, anybody doing sociopathic behavior is immediately reprimanded, or in severe situations, banished or even killed. This has made me wonder if our demanded luxury of privacy is in fact a smoke screen for sociopathic behavior, and fosters sociopathic behavior. Look at what the anonymity of internet has spawned. Selfish, exploitive, parasitical behavior thrives in hidden darkness, in secret, in anonymity….

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  3. blossom4th says:

    Love the word “poisonalities”…as they poison everything they touch rather than having the Midas touch!

    That truly is an interesting tidbit about privacy and sociopaths(African villages).I would never have connected the two.But when you mentioned the internet and the perbs it has spawned…then it dawned on me!

    Being a private person,I enjoy privacy.But I really do wish that sociopaths were more exposed so that it was seen and understood by everyone!

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    • catmaverick says:

      Hello to blossom4th (good handle)and Lovefraud community,
      I’ll pass onward the compliment regarding poisonalities to my 85 year old dad who coined it.

      I like my solitude, when I can get it, but realistically, unless you go to the tundra, true privacy is probably a chimera in this age of electronic record-keeping and surveillance, drones in the air, and cameras on every street corner and in every pocket. The only reason I can think of that we don’t hunt down the worst sociopaths and ‘out’ them is because we worship this idea of privacy and are afraid of lawsuits. And we don’t want to hurt their feelings!!

      Which brings me to another facet of the Hunt for Red-flagged sociopaths. Those of us who are compassionate can’t understand how anyone could not have compassion; those without compassion don’t miss what they never had and see the compassionate only as stupid prey. The sooner we compassionate sheep understand this and spread the word to other compassionate sheep, the less likely we are to be led to the slaughter and feed more sociopathy. Starve the wolves out and don’t feel sorry for them. Make them earn honest livings like the rest of us.

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  4. catmaveric – Welcome to Lovefraud! “Poisonalities” – priceless!

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  5. OpalRose says:

    I really appreciate this article and all the comments. A decision I am coming to grips with is to no longer explain myself to sociopaths and I’m now thinking of including less toxic but still self-centered people as well.

    I am working on my boundaries lately and I find that normal people appreciate a calm conversation in which I may need to explain that I’m not available for a particular activity – no big deal. But the narcissists and sociopaths see boundaries as an insult to their plans and proceed to backstab or start a smear campaign. Explaining anything to them just backfires. I’m learning to be disappointed at their lack of interest in anyone but themselves, but I’m no longer frantic to get them to see my point of view. This is a major paradigm shift for me as I always think I can “educate” people or think that relationships “should” be a give and take. I wasted my time and energy on crazy people.

    I’m learning to shut up and live my boundaries rather than repeatedly explain my boundaries. The gray rock / be boring / play dead helps a lot too. I’m not available and I’m no fun.

    The simple statements as exemplified in this article gets them to shorten the discard / move on stage and leave me alone quicker. They will always be out there “fishing.” Sociopaths and narcissists really are different and require completely different approaches.

    My inner “educator” wants this to be a mandatory topic in schools. It would add so much to our life skills and quality of life.

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  6. jeannie812 says:

    I would not “warn” the new victim either. I am sure he told her a truck load of bad things about me. That if she called me she would be at that Ah Ha moment but not quite at the OMG moment. I would tell her that she already knows.

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