It’s strange, my brother (who I have no doubt in my mind is a sociopath), craves being loved. He bounces from relationship to relationship, using his girlfriends. Yet when he screws up, and has his girlfriend threaten to leave him, he acts so desperate! Desperate for human connection. He tells me that he can’t live without love in his life, and that he NEEDS a girlfriend by his side.
I don’t understand this. He’s a drug addict, and he uses his girlfriends for support – and before he had any girlfriends, he used me, and before me, he used my mother. Why does he seem to genuinely crave LOVE, if he just uses it to exploit people? He tells me he can’t stand the thought of being alone, and I believe him.
I have not only seen this in my brother, but in another person resembling sociopath as well. A craving to be loved.
I believe that even if he had every material thing in the world, he would still crave being loved. Why? I thought sociopaths were unable to feel love, yet I see and read about this time and time again. This is the reason I find it difficult to dismiss him as merely a cold-hearted imitation of a person. Contrary to the evidence, he appears to have a glimmer of humanity in him – or maybe it’s all just a trick?
Background about my brother: He was abused when young, has a long history of crack addiction, scammed my mother for over 40 grand, lied about having cancer, lies constantly. He IS a sociopath.
I would really appreciate a response!
Donna Andersen responds
Yes, your brother may very well be desperate for human connection. The key here is understanding what kind of connection sociopaths really want.
Sociopaths aren’t looking for people to love. They’re looking for people to exploit.
You described this yourself in your letter. Your brother uses his girlfriends. Before that he used you and your mother.
Sociopaths view other people as nothing more than patsies to give them what they want. Different patsies have different purposes.
Sociopaths may want romantic partners for money, sex, a place to live. If a sociopath actually marries the target, it may be because the partner provides an image of respectability, while sociopath continues with cheating, drugs, or other self-centered entertainment.
Sociopaths view family and friends as backups — places to crash when the romantic partners throw them out.
Sociopaths view work colleagues as people to actually do work that the sociopath will take credit for. They view employers as targets to be ripped off.
Sociopaths view strangers as walking opportunities. All the sociopath has to do is draw the person into conversation to find out what he or she has that a sociopath wants.
So yes, sociopaths are desperate for human connection. They depend on other people to give them what they want.
When “love” doesn’t mean love
So why is this so confusing? Because sociopaths talk about “love.”
Your brother talked about “needing love in his life.” Sociopaths commonly proclaim their love to the people they’ve targeted as romantic partners. They say that the new partner is the “love” they’ve been waiting for all their lives.
Unfortunately, when sociopaths use the word “love,” it doesn’t have the same meaning as when the rest of us use it. After all, sociopaths don’t experience love and are not capable of love. So they can’t possibly know what it means.
Some sociopaths equate love with sex. So when they say, “I love you,” what they really mean is, “I want to have sex with you.”
Other sociopaths may be aware that they don’t experience love. But they know that in order to reel in a target, they have to say the magic words, “I love you.” So they say them. And it works.
When sociopaths say they want love, what they really mean is they want supply. They want someone to provide them with money, food, sex, housing, transportation, connections — whatever.
In truly despicable cases, the sociopaths simply want someone to provide them with entertainment. They hotly pursue a romantic target, proclaiming love, showering the person with attention and affection — just for the fun of later breaking the person’s heart.