Editor’s Note: This Letter to Lovefraud is from a Lovefraud Reader whom we’ll call “Aubree.” Names have been changed.
I recently got out of a two year relationship with a person who I believe is a sociopath, or at the very least an extremely vengeful borderline. When we first got together, he told me that he used to have a habit of going to bars, finding the prettiest and most confident-looking woman there, and proceeding to go up to her and start picking on her and making fun of her for something that he suspected she might be insecure about. For example, if he saw a girl who was beautiful but wasn’t stick-thin, he’d go up to her and start making snide remarks about her weight. He said he enjoyed doing this because he got pleasure out of “knocking these women down off their high horse.”
Of course, it shocked me that he would do something like that, but he brushed it off and swore it was in the past, saying that he wouldn’t dream of doing it again. He was also a huge jokester – typical life-of-the-party type of personality – and some part of me wanted to believe he was just telling me stories, exaggerating. Looking back, however, I should have heeded that red flag. Over time, he started to take little shots and digs at me, designed to put me down or make me feel unsure of myself. He went from worshiping the ground I walked on to cutting me down. Every time he did this, I called him out on it, and he said he respected that because I “didn’t take his crap.” But every now and then, there was another backhanded remark coming my way. I often got the sense that he secretly HATED me. Sometimes I’d wake up in the morning and he’d be in bed next to me, just STARING at me. But it wasn’t a loving, warm, doting stare. It was an icy, CREEPY stare. It’s like there were daggers flying out of his eyes and straight at me.
In addition, every time something good happened to me – like my choosing to go back to school or getting a new car – I would always sense this underlying contempt and rage coming from him, like a seething resentment. I knew in my gut that he didn’t want me to be happy or to thrive – even though he would swear up and down that my happiness and success were TOP priority to him – but I couldn’t wrap my head around why he would be so malicious and hateful towards me. I didn’t want it to make sense.
There is much, much more that went on in this relationship – typical idealize/devalue/discard, complete with love-bombing, I could write much more – but I wanted to write you because I’m wondering if my sociopath’s motivation for getting into a relationship with me was purely to destroy me as a person, to “knock me off my high horse” like he tried to do to those other women? He never took any money from me or anything like that, and never used me for anything physical (I was more into sex than he was). All he ever said to me in the beginning of our relationship was that I “had a light about me” and that I had a happiness that he didn’t have. I’m wondering if it was for this reason that he targeted me, so that he could whittle away my confidence, shame me and eventually break me down? In other words, so that he could “win” by stripping me of what made me, me? It seems so foolish to me that someone would want to steal another person’s happiness or positive traits or destroy their confidence, but I can’t think of any other motivation in his case. He always had to be the center of attention and was constantly complaining that I was the “better looking of the two of us” and the “smarter one” (he had never gone to school and was working an aimless job not fit for a man his age). It’s like he didn’t want the spotlight to be on me, ever. He really seemed like a bona fide misogynist to me.
I know you have a wealth of information on sociopaths and you’ve read so many first-hand accounts, so I’d love to hear any thoughts or insight you have on my situation.
Donna Andersen responds
Yes, it is certainly possible that this man’s only motivation was exactly as you stated – to destroy you.
Sociopaths engage in romantic relationships for exploitation. Usually, they exert power and control in order to obtain money, sex, a place to live, domestic services, or some other obvious advantage.
But with some sociopaths, the exploitation takes a more sinister form. They exert power and control simply to entertain themselves. They enjoy the idea of being a puppet master. They manipulate you for the fun of it.
You may remember the movie Dangerous Liaisons, starring Glenn Close, John Malkovich and Michelle Pfeiffer. In this story, seduction was a game, with the objective of ruining people’s reputations and breaking their hearts.
Well, some sociopaths engage in this game. People have told me how they were pursued and pursued, and when they finally fell in love, the sociopath simply dumped them.
In other cases, breaking off a relationship isn’t enough for a sociopath. He or she also wants to grind the former partner into the dirt.
It’s truly difficult to comprehend just how heartless these people can be. All we can really do is accept that there are people for whom relationships are nothing but a sick game, and learn to recognize and avoid them.