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What NOT to do when you realize you’re involved with a sociopath

You’ve been living in insanity. Your partner seems to randomly lash out or give you the silent treatment, and then says you’re to blame. Your finances are in shambles, and you’re to blame for that too — even if you’re the only one working. You are positive that this person is cheating on you, but he or she insists you are paranoid and delusional.

Or, in a variation on a theme, you are living with the distinct feeling that something is amiss, although you can’t quite figure out what it is.

You Google terms like “emotional abuse” or “signs of cheating” or “love and deceit.” Eventually you end up on Lovefraud.

Suddenly, everything makes sense. The articles describe what you’re experiencing. Other people are telling stories that sound just like yours.

You realize that you’re involved with a sociopath.

You are horrified — this personality disorder sounds really, really bad, and there is no treatment for it.

But you are also relieved — now you know you are not crazy — it’s him (or her).

So what do you do with this information?

First, here’s what NOT to do: Do NOT confront the sociopath.

Even though you want to say, “I KNOW WHAT YOU ARE!!!”

Even though you want to defend yourself, “IT’S NOT ME, IT’S YOU!!!”

Don’t do it.

Now that you know what you’re dealing with, keep the information to yourself and carefully plan what you’re going to do next.

The sociopath’s reaction

Sociopaths are all about power and control. If you tell the person that you have figured out that everything he or she has told you is a lie, that everything he or she has done was manipulation, the sociopath will perceive a loss of power and control over you.

The sociopath will probably react in one of these ways:

  • Love bombing: He or she will turn on the charm or plead for another chance, causing you to doubt yourself and drawing you back into the web.
  • Rage: He or she will become infuriated and ratchet up the abuse.
  • Abandonment: he or she will abruptly leave, causing as much damage to you as possible on the way out.

Any of these reactions by the sociopath will probably make your situation more difficult.

So even though you now know the truth, put on an act. Pretend that everything is the same, while you evaluate the extent of the sociopath’s deceit and exploitation. Figure out how you are going to extricate yourself from the involvement to best protect your safety, health, finances and reputation.

Sociopath’s family

Here’s something else you should NOT do: Do not confide in the sociopath’s family.

Keep in mind that this disorder is highly genetic, so it is quite possible that the sociopath’s parents, siblings or other relatives are also disordered. If so, they will side with the sociopath to help him or her keep control over you.

Or, the family may be clueless. Some family members — especially if they don’t see the sociopath very often — may have absolutely no idea what he or she is really like. If the sociopath starts playing the victim, they may buy the act and do everything they can to help the sociopath, not you.

Or, the family may have known all along that the sociopath was no good, and wanted you to take the problem off of their hands. They don’t want to deal with the disorder again, so they may sabotage your efforts to escape.

Talking to friends

Do not relay your suspicions to any friends who are also the sociopath’s friends.

Sociopaths engage in impression management. Just as the sociopath was able to charm you for so long, he or she charms other people. So people who know the sociopath may have a hard time believing what you are saying.

This is especially true if the sociopath has already launched a smear campaign.

Long before you have any clue what is going on, the sociopath may have started laying the groundwork to discredit you. He or she may have made up stories about your behavior, or “confided” that you’re “mentally unstable.”

The sociopath may have subtly turned people against you. So if you start talking about what has really been going on in your life, they are primed to disbelieve you.

In fact, you should also be careful about talking to your own friends.

The sociopath may contact them behind your back and convincingly express concern about you. What the sociopath really wants is information. Your friends may fall for the scam — after all, you did — and tell the sociopath something that can jeopardize your plans.

People don’t understand

Keep in mind that most people simply don’t understand what the words “sociopath” and “psychopath” mean. Most people think they are serial killers.

If you say you’re involved with a sociopath, and that person doesn’t look like a killer, others may think you’re exaggerating.

So even if you’re bursting to confront the sociopath, and you want to tell the world that he or she is a lying, manipulative exploiter, it’s best to be very cautious about sharing the information.

Keep quiet, at least in the beginning — until you know whom you can really trust.

 

 



162 Comments on "What NOT to do when you realize you’re involved with a sociopath"

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  1. HopingToHeal says:

    Kalina,
    Oh my, your husbands other woman of 12 years was your friend. How alarming. She must have a personality disorder also. Gosh, that is so hurtful!

    Something that I find so disturbing throughout all of these stories is the fact that these Spath have such a tendency to stay and torture their target instead of just leaving and living their lives. Plenty of spouses have affairs and move on, but not the Spath, sometimes he hangs on and continues the abuse over and over, just for sadistic satisfaction and control. Why wouldn’t your husband just leave and make a life with this woman instead of keeping the lie going for so long? My brain just can’t absorb it. I’m so glad you have recovered and are whole now. I want so bad to be in that place.



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  2. kaya48 says:

    Hoping to heal
    I agree, why torture the wife or girlfriend with lying and betraying? Why not just leave. I think eventually they will leave and discard. But until then they get plenty enjoyment out of this.
    Yes, the attorneys drain you to the last penny. But I cannot fight this war without “weapons”. I absolutely recommend the no contact. It literally saved my life as I now can focus on myself and my life. I don’t waste any thoughts on him or my past with him. Since I don’t have any minor children there is really nothing left what connects me to this evil creature. I think of lucifer of him and I don’t deal with the devil. Good luck to everyone.



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  3. jm_short says:

    I hope you’re not saying “don’t tell her because it will spoil her enjoyment of her present state of ignorance.” yes, ignorance is bliss, but would you want the same thing happening to someone else that happened to you? Those of us that have been through a romantic relationship with a psychopath are the only hope of raising awareness. That’s why many of us, such as Donna, myself and others, deliver our message through our books. It helps to reach society in a broad way.

    But what of the individual’s you know to be the next victim? Should we turn our backs knowing that they are in harm’s way? Indeed, many would fault you for “defaming” or being a “sore loser,” if you speak up. And we have our own injured self-esteem issues to address.

    We know what they don’t know, but will likely find out, the hard way. Do we really want our silence to contribute to another person’s pain?

    I have a suggestion that enables people to be pro-active, without overstepping boundaries. I recommend simply getting a message out, through a mutual contact or a short letter. And the message is simply , “I understand that you are romantically involved with …., as I was in the past. I sincerely wish you the best in your new relationship. I have reason to believe that it may not go as well as you’d like and should you wish have a discussion about it, I’d be available to do so.”

    Joyce



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  4. jm_short says:

    LL-

    You’d mentioned that you’ve lost some friends because you can’t do as much for them as you used to…. Those are the kinds of friends that you’re better-off without!

    As to your court case, keep in mind that courts don’t meet out justice, they simply make determinations regarding “proof.” the more you can prove, the better off you’ll be.

    All the best-
    Joyce



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    • HanaleiMoon says:

      Joyce, your wisdom is so helpful and right on target. I too lost almost all my “friends” when I wasn’t in a position to do as much for them as I used to. One loss was particularly painful. It ended up a blessing in disguise, since I now know that these people weren’t true friends, and I was better without them and the illusion.

      One friend did turn out to be true, and since then I have made new friends and am much more discerning now.



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      • OpalRose says:

        HanaleiMoon – I read your post the other day about your finally selling your house. And how hard you worked to get through that ordeal. I am so glad for you and wish you the best. You talked about becoming bonded with that house and that makes perfect sense as it was your anchor for awhile. I will most likely be leaving my marital home when I go No Contact. I lived here 20 years and did all sorts of landscaping and painting and improvements – all of which I enjoyed.

        But – time to be free – for you and for me. I really admire how you handled your situation – it is an inspiration for me. Best Wishes to you.



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        • kaya48 says:

          Opal Rose
          I went through the same.y house was my anchor and my “safe” place. Of course my soon to be ex took it away in the divorce. He was satisfied till everything ok that I ever liked was gone. I thought it would be difficult to let the house go but in the end it did not hurt me as much as I thought. I am renting a smaller home in the same neighborhood. I still have all my friends here. It’s material things that I lost. But I have gained so much in return. You can always replace a house or a car, you cannot replace your sanity and life. He labeled me “mentally ill” which I wasn’t. He labeled me “unstable” and “crazy and fat”. Who needs that? I amuch happier now. It took a year but things are improving. Still battling him in divorce court though.



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          • OpalRose says:

            Kaya48 – thanks for your reply – it helps so much to have these reality checks. I am doing better than I was now that I am facing what I may need to do to get away from him. I dread the divorce court process and send you strength for your process.

            Since he has no idea as of yet what I am planning, I have time to get some things out of the house. I am visiting a relative this week in another state and she has a big storage area. That may or may not work, but I’m giving it a try.

            In the past when I have confronted him on various things, he would use the same insults yours is hurling at you. They are just evil. It took me awhile to accept that.

            Take care

        • HanaleiMoon says:

          OpalRose, thank you so much for the kind words! I’m blushing!

          Selling the house was a huge milestone for me. I didn’t realize how much it WAS my anchor until I left it…another lesson in the path to healing. I am in temporary quarters for now and hope to buy a home by the end of this year. In the meantime I’m feeling a little tumbleweedy, since I’m a nester at heart. It’s hard to leave behind our projects and especially for me the yard, since I’m a devoted gardener. But I know my next home will be a sanctuary of peace with many new projects to enjoy.

          I wish you the best also, and nothing but happiness to come!



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          • kaya48 says:

            Hanalei moon
            Selling the house is indeed a big milestone. I held on to it as long as I was able to. He purchased that “dream home ” for me 6 years ago after I sacrificed 16 years if my life moving around the world. I went where ever the army sent us (excluding deployments). Sometimes I lived in places I did not like at all. But I supported him, stayed at home raising children, waiting for him to return after he was deployed for a year. And now he forced the sale of the marital home because his goal is for me to be homeless. Not one thought or care about his son who resides with me. It’s sad but nothing will change their thinking. I learned that there will be another “dream home” one day and to let go. I don’t hate him anymore because hate takes away from my well being. He does not exist to me anymore. He is like a nothing.
            Divorce proceedings are very ugly. I have to fight him on any issue that comes up. Last court mediation I got a little emotional. He did not see that, only my attorney and the mediator. My goal is to be much stronger for the next one. Be careful, attorneys drain you to the last penny and then they withdraw from the case. I was almost there but I tx going towards the end now. I can’t wait for the final judgement and will be rid of this “thorn” in my body. Almost there. :).

          • kaya48 says:

            Hanalei moon
            Selling the house is indeed a big milestone. I held on to it as long as I was able to. He purchased that “dream home ” for me 6 years ago after I sacrificed 16 years of my life moving around the world. I went where ever the army sent us (excluding deployments). Sometimes I lived in places I did not like at all. But I supported him, stayed at home raising children, waiting for him to return after he was deployed for a year. And now he forced the sale of the marital home because his goal is for me to be homeless. Not one thought or care about his son who resides with me. It’s sad but nothing will change their thinking. I learned that there will be another “dream home” one day and to let go. I don’t hate him anymore because hate takes away from my well being. He does not exist to me anymore. He is like a nothing.
            Divorce proceedings are very ugly. I have to fight him on any issue that comes up. Last court mediation I got a little emotional. He did not see that, only my attorney and the mediator. My goal is to be much stronger for the next one. Be careful, attorneys drain you to the last penny and then they withdraw from the case. I was almost there but it is going towards the end now. I can’t wait for the final judgement and will be rid of this “thorn” in my body. The “thorn” which caused me so much pain . Almost there. :).

          • kaya48 says:

            Hanalei moon
            Selling the house is indeed a big milestone. I held on to it as long as I was able to. He purchased that “dream home ” for me 6 years ago after I sacrificed 16 years of my life moving around the world. I went where ever the army sent us (excluding deployments). Sometimes I lived in places I did not like at all. But I supported him, stayed at home raising children, waiting for him to return after he was deployed for a year. And now he forced the sale of the marital home because his goal is for me to be homeless. Not one thought or care about his son who resides with me. It’s sad but nothing will change their thinking. I learned that there will be another “dream home” one day and to let go. I don’t hate him anymore because hate takes away from my well being. He does not exist to me anymore. He is like a nothing.
            Divorce proceedings are very ugly. I have to fight him on any issue that comes up. Last court mediation I got a little emotional. He did not see that, only my attorney and the mediator noticed my tears. My goal is to be much stronger for the next one. Be careful, attorneys drain you to the last penny and then they withdraw from the case. I was almost there but it is going towards the end now. I can’t wait for the final judgement and will be rid of this “thorn” in my body. The “thorn” which caused me so much pain . Almost there. :).

  5. kalina says:

    Dear H,
    How would you respond if you believed it was a daughter or son who was the one with the expectations? Giving can be a blessing for both parties when their is a bond of love and appreciation. But, what if the bond was an illusion? My friend advises me, “you are going to lose your daughter” if I do not capitulate. It has been 5 months since I saw my daughter. She is planning a wedding come next year. I have increased my contribution toward her wedding, yet, now, she needs more. I have not agreed to participate with more funds. In fact, I have promised my son that I would contribute toward a new car, which, he desperately needs. I have moved over the past six months. Not once has my daughter called or come by or e mailed me about moving. The task was enormous as I am single and moving from a large house to a smaller one. My daughter’s only concern was, did I have any furniture she could sell. I had promised her that whatever she sold, she could keep the money. I have been behind her throughout her life. “You have always had my back”, she tells me. Am I losing my daughter, as my friend tells me? Or, was my relationship a mirage? She will be 32 years old, has a debt free college education, and has a very good relationship with her prospective inlaws. My belief, she does not NEED me. If this is true, please tell me what I am losing! Many thanks, Kalina



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  6. kaya48 says:

    Opal rose
    Good luck to you also. My divorce proceedings have gone on since over a year now. It’s a long process. At times it gets to me emotionally, especially seeing him in court. I am glad in mediation they can request 2 different rooms. This way he cannot intimidate me in any way. I also glad that most judges and mediatiors are men. This way he cannot “manipulate” them with his “good looks”. Whatever comes out of his mouth is garbage, that’s why the no contact is very important. I am trying to have them include a “no contact” rule in my final divorce agreement. I never want to see evil again. Sometimes my son receives a message “tell your mother we should be nice to each other”. All that after he cheated, lied, had me in court trying to get a restraining order against me. It’s a little too late for “being nice”. He can just go on with his life of darkness. Because I like my life as it is now much better. 2 years ago I thought I could not survive without him after being married 20 years. I was so wrong because I am perfectly fine. It’s an experience that made me much stronger and more resilient than ever.



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