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Holidays with a Sociopath

There’s no exact formula for spending life’s special events with a sociopath, but one thing’s for sure. It won’t be good for you.

With the 4th of July coming tomorrow, I decided to spend some time talking about life’s biggest events and sweetest moments. Weddings. Birthdays. Funerals. Births. Christmas. Hanukah. Anniversaries. And any other special time or ritual that gives our humanity a chance to feel the deeper meaning of life. To watch the fireworks. To celebrate our bonds to each other. To remember our heritage. To take a breath and step away from the daily grind so we can look around and appreciate what’s most important to us. And feel the joy that comes with it.

And because our hearts are likely to be more open, holidays and special events are vulnerable moments. They’re times when we rely on the people we’re sharing our lives with in many ways. To care for us. To let us care for them. To celebrate together. To respect the intimacy of sharing times that stand out from the everyday.

Because we need each other to make life’s most special moments special. Sometimes, it’s to let us bury our swollen, tear-stricken faces for a moment in a loving shoulder. To wrap arms around. To hold a hand. To show up with sparklers for the kids. To build good memories instead of bad, because these moments are oh so memorable. 

They’re our birthdays. Our sister’s wedding. Our brother’s bar mitzvah. Our father’s funeral.

And if you’re with a sociopath, they’re opportunities to hurt.

Whether through oblivious negligence or direct action, a sociopath is going to let you down on the days you’re most inclined to remember.

A Sociopath Will Shatter Your Most Meaningful Traditions

I’ll talk from my own experience. Christmas. But translate it to any holiday in your world that is rich with tradition and perhaps involves the exchange of gifts.

If you’re with a sociopath, you’ll do all the work and preparation on your own. At least after the first impressions are over. (Sometimes in the courting phase, they’ll do too much.) But once you’re tied into more permanent bonds with a sociopath, you can count on doing everything yourself.

Here’s an example. If your sociopath gives you a clear budget for gift-giving, you’ll follow it closely. You’ll be reasonable in your spending. You’ll decide against a few things you really wanted to get for the kids. You’ll do all the cards and be sure to include your partner’s family and friends on your list. You’ll take care of it. Of everything.

And then on the day before Christmas, your partner will leave you to do all the cooking and will go out and blow $4,000 on whatever he (in my case) felt an impulse to buy for you or the kids or anyone else in the world.

Because that’s fun.

And he won’t have a clue about your anger and exhaustion when he gets home. He’ll think you’re a bitch. He’ll either sigh in self pity or explode when you moan.

He’ll tell you that you’ve ruined the holiday.

A Sociopath Will Set You Up for Disappointment

Maybe another year, there will be no gifts for you at all.

Maybe that will be the most consistent way.

Maybe you’ll wonder each year (because a sociopath likes to keep you on the edge of your seat, not knowing) whether this will be the year he’ll show up with a ring. Maybe you’ll imagine him (finally) cooking a romantic dinner with candles. Maybe you’ll pray that this time he’ll actually buy something special for the kids. Since you asked him to.

But he won’t.

He won’t even know that he should. A person without empathy is oblivious to your experience. Even a narcissist is lost in this way. It’s not just sociopaths. There are all kinds of ways to be so lost in yourself that you don’t even realize how you’re hurting everyone around you.

But a sociopath is, in my opinion, often the worst.

Because it’s hard to see clearly. One holiday may be an extreme romance. The next may pass without notice. The next may be a chance to torture you emotionally. The next may find you tossed across the hood of the car. The next may bring on a break up. The next may reunite.

The key pattern is the chaos.

The shattering of your traditions.

The breaking of what’s dearest in your heart.

At times you’ll remember the most.

A Sociopath Will Shatter You Out of Habit

My ex used to devastate me just before weddings. Every wedding we ever attended, to be exact. He would create a fight on the way there. A terrible fight. And I was too naive and involved at the time to see the bigger picture—the map of patterned experiences. But it was there.

At every special moment.

Maybe he would disappear when we were supposed to be dancing together as part of the wedding party. I’d be the only one left standing up there without my partner.

Maybe he’d leave me in the car for a full hour on the way there while he ran into a local business on a five minute errand. We’d miss the entire ceremony. At my best friend’s wedding.

And he’d laugh—exasperated—at my anger.

And maybe he was even elated. Because he won. We’d arrive at the reception, and I’d feel rumpled and let down. I’d be wiping mascara tracks off my cheeks. And he’d tell me that I’m superficial and demanding—a total bitch—someone who can’t flex to other people’s needs. Someone who can’t give.

I’d sit in the corner.

And he’d dance.

And I’d wonder, often, if he was right. If it was me.

But after ten years of letting him devastate every special experience of my life, I finally realized that it wasn’t me at all.

A sociopath’s deflection is a tricky thing. Especially when they know enough about psychology to turn it right around and point it at you. But if someone’s devastating or abandoning your holidays and special moments, your alarm system isn’t something to be ignored.

Your anger isn’t wrong.

In fact, it’s worth listening to.

A Sociopath Knows No Meaning

A sociopath isn’t going to feel what you feel. As a result, they might blindly destroy the moment. Spend the day with another man or woman and not understand why you’re upset. Or maybe they’ll show up late and blunder the surprise and get mad at you for being angry.

If they’re trying to impress you, though, you might get a room full of roses. A new car. A hot air balloon ride. An extravagant orchestration of community volunteers on your anniversary, gathered together to usher you through some kind of sentimental experience.

But the sentiment is yours. You may not know it at the time, but the sociopath views holidays as an opportunity to manipulate. You may only find out later, when they cheat on your next anniversary and let you “catch” them for the excitement of the drama and the fight. For the joy of devastating you. Maybe you made them mad. Maybe they harbor a deep anger toward you. The desire to hurt you. But maybe not. The point is that they’ll use life’s biggest moments to elevate or destroy you, either way.

And you can never make them care about how much it hurts.

Because they’ll never really feel bad about it. Even if they manage to notice life’s special moments, those moments just become a chance to impress or hurt you. Maybe a chance to make you look bad in public. A chance to deflate you before the party.

A chance to leave.

And you may cry about it all for years. If you’re like me, you may mourn that you’ve never shared life’s special moments with a partner who felt as much love and attachment as you. You may shame yourself for choosing a partner who tricked you—who doesn’t feel much at all. Who manipulates, uses, excuses, deflates, and destroys—whether through obsessive abuse or abandonment.

But the bottom line is that you can. You can spend yourself and all that you’re worth on people who appreciate you. Who love you. Who need you. Who will wrap their arms around you during the fireworks on the 4th of July and still be there consistently through the years.

Find those people. Cultivate your bonds to them all through your life.

And when the holidays come,

go to them.

Share what’s special. Give and take.

And try not to look back.

 

H.G. Beverly is the author of The Other Side of Charm.

This post can also be found on hgbeverly.com.

 



48 Comments on "Holidays with a Sociopath"

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  1. Bally says:

    Jan7 and Tom, thank you both. The main thing for me is that you both wanted to help me. Hugs to you both.



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  2. overthehump says:

    When I read the title of this I was thinking with my British head on, as in your ‘vacations’ – and I thought, this I must read because I was only talking on the subject the other day to my boyfriend. I was telling him how much I am looking forward to a stress-free holiday and it was hard for him to understand, so I gave him a few examples of how my ex would pick a fight just before we would go away on our annual holiday (vacation) and how he would orchestrate a falling out during the holiday and not speak to me for a few days. I don’t remember a single holiday apart from our first two when this did not occur. (The second of those was our honeymoon so I suppose beyond that, once he had me under control, the ‘courting period’ was well and truly over!)

    But your article made me remember all sorts of other times and you are absolutely spot on about the special occasions. Birthday’s were erratic. My gift was usually a “why don’t you buy it yourself and I’ll give you the money” – which he then often didn’t have. I never had a card on my birthday morning, it would be bought into the house in a paper bag at the end of the day and scribbled in the kitchen. A total after thought – and yet your birthday is the same date every year. The kids never felt they could go to him and ask for money for Mother’s Day etc so they would become upset that they hadn’t got anything and I would end up giving them money! I, on the other hand, would always buy nice gifts and try and make the day nice no matter what. One year he shocked me and actually bought me a surprise – a thoughtful gift and I was stunned. Now looking back, it carried a woman’s touch, the same as the gifts he bought myself and the children back from Thailand in 2011 by which time I already knew he was having an affair and it was just a matter of time.

    Christmas was the other big one. I love Christmas and he always ruined it. In the early years we would spend it with his family and he would behave, be helpful, charming, etc but that was of course all for show. Once the kids were born he ‘got the hump’ with his sister and said he didn’t want to go there for Christmas anymore so we were always the four of us at home.

    It should have been bliss but as always he would find some way of upsetting things. Of course when I look back now, I see he wanted to have me alone at the house so he could create misery – which he couldn’t be seen to do in front of his family.

    This year for the first time since I was a teenager I am holding a big birthday party for me (I’ll be 50). My best friend was so surprised – she said she thought that I would never have a party for me as I had always said I’d be lumbered doing everything myself and its no fun.

    I said that is true, I did always say that but that was when I was with xxxxxx. Now its different 🙂



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  3. HGBeverly says:

    Here are a few warning signs that might lead to a lifetime of disappointing and sabotaged holidays—whether your partner is a sociopath or a narcissist or has some other character issues. These signs are for adults.

    1. Look for relationships. Long-term friendships and family relationships. Before you commit to this person, check out whether he or she is able to commit to anyone else—and come through for them consistently in their special moments. Does this person have anyone who relies on him? (I’m going to say “him” from here forward to keep this simple.) Long-distance friendships are too easy. So are close friendships that are based around partying and/or a shared commitment to an addiction.

    What you’re looking for is whether this person is consistently reliable and has relationships in which you can clearly see that he shows up. That he’s there whether it’s fun or not. That he is reliable and ok with being needed across time. For holidays, you want to know that he is able to empathize with another person’s feeling of specialness around a day—and then be responsive—either because he cares or because he is able to feel a sense of responsibility toward another human being’s experience. Consistently responsive for years.

    If you want someone to be there for you, you need to have evidence that he can be there for anybody. If he’s over thirty and has zero long-term family or friend relationships that require anything of him and have lasted more than three to five years, odds are that he’s not going to come through for you over time. It’s more likely that he’ll disappoint, devastate, or bail out—and it will be “your fault” when he does.

    2. This warning sign is a pretty consistent sociopathic indicator across the board. Pity. If your partner fails you in a special moment, watch out if he actually gets you to feel sorry for him over it. He’s also likely to rally up a whole crowd of supporters who also feel sorry for him over it.

    If you feel upset about being disappointed and express it, he will feel attacked no matter how you go about it. You’re either “not like him” or “don’t understand him” or are an “angry bitch.” He’ll then get you to feel sorry for “always attacking” him. You won’t be able to explain your upset feelings to him in any way that will bring on any kind of real empathy, and you’re also not likely to be “forgiven” for “attacking” this person who actually, when we get right down to it, failed you.

    So don’t even bother riding that merry-go-round. Just get away from people like that. End the pointless contact. No more explanations.

    3. FInally, look for what your date or partner does most consistently. This may be hard or impossible during the courting phase, when the sociopath is usually charming your socks off. Gifts and holidays may seem more special than ever. So I don’t know whether you’ll get this red flag or not. But look at this person in context. Is he failing or ignoring or screwing over other people on the holidays? Is he unreliable to others in his life in general? People who need him? Because if so, odds are that you’re next.

    H.G. Beverly



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    • chickenlittle says:

      Thank you Beverly, I take great comfort in blogs like yours and others that support the victim of the sociopath. You are the only type of people that truly understand the life of pain and denial that someone that lives with this type of person goes through. I do confirm on Holiday Sabatoge, as I dont look foward to much anymore. Ive often said that if I wrote a book about what ive been through with my sociopath husband, no one would believe it. However that said-I wish I had read the helpful hints above that tip off the potential victim by exposing the shallow friends of a sociopath. (I met mine at 18) Yes, and he had a small band of shallow drug partying friends.. That could have been my tip off to save me years of anguish and pain. Now at 57, I am still trying to get out and re establish my role in society so I can escape, while trying to keep in tact the relationship with my last 12 year old son.. My husband has sucessfully caused the other 2 older children to disregard and disrespect me, and gives them permission to do things that he knows I am ethically against.
      It is indeed an endless battle until one can get out.



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  4. dorothy2 says:

    Christmas Eve is actually what ended the relationshit, all because I asked him if he just thought of me like a buddy, you know…..not romantically. Why? Because I had repeatedly told him the things that would make me happy or feel special and he did not follow through, like the box of bubble bath he bought me and left sitting on the floor of the bathroom in plain sight without making one effort to actually draw me a bubble bath as I had described.
    I spent the entire day in one way after another preparing for christmas eve and christmas period and then ended up being accused of “ruining his Christmas”, being told that, after he left and went home to mommys in a huff and I offered to bring the breakfast casserole over and leave it on the porch so they could have it for breakfast as planned, he would call the sheriff if I stepped on to his property and that I could choke to death on it for all he cared. But it was me, all me. Riiiiight Spathtard……surrrrrre it was.



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  5. marygrace says:

    This was exactly my ex’s MO and I never realized it as an example of his sociopathy until reading this article. Every holiday or special event that was important to me he ruined – my birthday, mother’s day, purchasing my house. And he always did it by picking a fight so that I some how was defending myself and apologizing to him. Or he’d pull the pity play so that I felt sorry for him and ended up catering to him. I remember our last mother’s day together he was screaming at me one minute and giving me the silent treatment the next. I couldn’t figure out for the life of me what I’d done or what happened, but when I tried to get to the bottom of what happened so I could fix it (I was often fixing things) the thing he was mad about kept changing. Even then I didn’t realize what he was doing, it wasn’t until I was out of the relationship that I realized his penchant for ruining all of my life’s best moments. It’s kind of scary to hear this is a common pattern among sociopaths, although it really shouldn’t be surprising.



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  6. HGBeverly says:

    Ruining life’s most special moments, whether through blind disregard or absence or devastation. And it’s not what they do in a three month span or even over a couple years. Because sometimes they can act dedicated and romantic and wonderful. It’s what they do through most of their lives that counts. That’s what to watch for. Whether a person can reliably care for other people’s special experiences consistently over time—or not.

    I’m glad this post was helpful.

    Best regards,

    H.G. Beverly



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  7. Delores says:

    The psychopath father of my children has reeled in my daughter and estranged her from me. He has convinced my daughter that I have done what he has done and is playing the pitiful one. He told her that she and I never got along; not true. He told her I want all holidays when it is he who has claimed right to them. He even tried to get my husband to pay for most of her wedding and claim to be the honorable and honored father of the bride. Then he refused to go to the wedding because I told him he could pay for his own guests. He finally agreed to go to the wedding but not the reception which we paid for because he wouldn’t and he claimed I dis-invited him. I refused to have holidays with him knowing it might be my loss and it has been. But it is also my gain not to have to lay eyes on him. I only pray someday she will see the light.



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    • Jan7 says:

      Delores, it’s just awful how these evil people destroy a family. So sorry for what you have to put up with especially at such a special event.

      The only way that your daughter is going to “see the light” is for you to educate her on the true dangers in this world. It’s time for her to know the truth…bring her to lovefraud and sit with her while you go through the top margin of great info (ie how to spot a con artist/sociopath etc and videos. I would not say “hey your dad is a socioapth” she will put two and two together on her own but I would say that “I want you to be safe in this world” and “I want you to know how to spot a sociopath as 1 in 25 people are sociopaths” plus “now that you are married I want to make sure that you know when to leave a marriage if there is any kind of emotional/mentally abuse not just physical”, explain what emotional/mental abuse is to her ie gas lighting etc…

      I would also tell her that experts believe we meet a sociopath everyday in passing whether at work, gym, deli etc and we have at least one in our circle of friends (they say in the circle of family/friends but I would omit the family part to her). I would also google “gas lighting abuse and have her read that too.

      It’s important to protect our children from the evilness in this world and the only way to do that is to show them sites like lovefraud and truly educate them so they have a solid foundation when their gut alarm goes off they know they need to listen to that alarm…knowledge is power.

      We would warn our kids “hey dont drive through that neighborhood because it has high crime instead go around it” why not warn our kids of the evil people in this world too but most importantly how to spot the evil people!!

      It’s time to educate your daughter…teach her everything you wish your mother would have taught you before you started dating and got married. Imagine if your mother was educated like you are now and would have passed this info onto you.

      I personally think this subject should be taught in every middle school & high school as a normal subject just like math/english/science



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  8. Jan7 says:

    Hi Kaz welcome! You have found a wonderful site full of great info and support.



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    • Jan7 says:

      Kaz, I equate my marriage to hell and my divorce as the bottom of hell (because of his lying & manipulative games he played in the court house). Lovefraud to me is the best site to educate yourself on sociopathic abuse, truly a god sent for me too. Psychopathawareness.wordpress.com is another good site..I believe that site creator has posted Lovefraud info on her site too because lovefraud is excellent source for info.

      Donna’s books are excellent too and she has a tab at the top with other books she recommends. The book The sociopath next door by Dr Martha Stout is posted on you tube for free it’s not detailed but it is a good book to listen to for free.

      If you go to the top of lovefraud and read/watch the videos at the very very top you will most likely get the sense that yes he was one. 1 in 25 people mainly men are sociopaths/psychopaths and 1 in 5 people 75% men are narcissist. These abusive people are every where. experts believe that we meet one everyday in passing and that we have one in our circle of friends/family so statically it’s most likely indicates that yes he is one.

      Glad that you found this site too..I spent many of days/nights crying over my keyboard while educating my self here at lovefraud.

      ps I thought I recognized your name before this post.



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  9. Barb says:

    This helps explain what happened on the night (and days before) when our beautiful 21-year-old calico cat was suffering and needed to be hospitalized (they released her to me so that I could bring her to a veterinary hospital of renown, but I brought her home). She could not take her meds or receive subcu. fluids any longer, and I brought her home??? Where was my head…

    We both screwed up that time. And her body was desperate for warmth and we never offered a heating pad. She had to jump off of our bed onto a hard floor (and the new mattress was higher than most). I knew about the little ‘steps’ that PetMeds sells (and probably other pet stores) and did not purchase them. I did put two lousy layers of carpet pieces to lessen her pain when she jumped to the floor from the mattress…
    I did not put the heating pad on the bed for her…how sad.

    The good news was that we finally ‘came to’ and brought her to the hospital of renown, just two towns away. They took her from our arms and spoke to her (because we were totally numb). I heard the female vet tell her, ‘Mommy and Daddy love you a lot’, and two psychics told me she (Jenny, our cat) that she understood. Jenny ‘thanked’ the vets and other women gathered around her. Her face relaxed and looked happy as she slipped away. Her face looked young.
    What happened I will never understand…but it was repeated with Ozzie, our Himalayan. He was found lying on top of a heating grate to get a little warmth, right in our house. DUH??? Twice?
    There is something wrong with us.
    Jenny’s special spot is right next to our driveway, at the base of a telephone pole. I put an azalea bush, Forget-Me-Not Flowers, and
    Arungo Bacopa Colossal White flowers in the ground that are watered almost daily. In Memory of Jenny!

    And yes…I am picking out Ozzie’s flowers soon enough.

    The human mind is a strange…very strange entity.

    Thank you, Jenny and Ozzie for your patience…and may we always remember and cherish you in our hearts.



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