Sizing up the mark
Sociopaths never hesitate to exploit a vulnerability
Sociopaths divide the world into two groups of people: predators and prey. They are the predators; everyone else is prey.
There are no rules of engagement. There is no compassion for the vulnerable, no sympathy for the bereaved, no mercy for the innocent. Your weakness is their opportunity.
Do any of the following traits describe you? If your answer is yes, be aware that a sociopath will quickly figure it out and then use it to manipulate you.
If you’re feeling lonely for any reason—an empty love life, a deceased spouse, a solo vacation—you might as well paint a bull’s eye on your forehead. As Dr. Robert Hare says, “The callous use of the lonely is a trademark of sociopaths.” They stake out singles bars, read the obituaries and troll Internet personal ads looking for opportunities to cash in.
Are you a whiz at work, but lacking in social skills? Do you feel unattractive—perhaps a bit overweight? Is your self-esteem a little shaky? If you have any insecurity, any self-doubt, any feeling of inadequacy—and who doesn’t—a sociopath will find it.
Maybe you’re not street-smart, because you always stayed away from the street. Maybe you avoid politics, even office politics. If you generally accept what people tell you, if you’re at all naïve about the motivations of others, you’re an easy target for a sociopath. Do you believe people are basically good? You better learn that there are exceptions.
Perhaps you’re wealthy. Perhaps you simply have a good job, discretionary income and access to credit. From a sociopath’s point of view, the more you have, the more there is to take. And the sociopath you run into may not be a common criminal. He may be your investment banker.
What do you want—college tuition for your kids, a comfortable retirement, maybe just a little excitement? A sociopath can cook up a plausible plan to deliver it. Even a get-rich-quick scheme will seem legitimate. Just don’t expect to see your dreams come true.
You’re an honest, forthright person. You take your obligations seriously. You would never dream of taking advantage of someone—so when a sociopath takes advantage of you, you won’t see it coming. If you play by the rules, know this: Sociopaths don’t.
“Sociopaths have an uncanny ability to spot and use ‘nurturant’ women—that is, those who have a powerful need to help or mother others,” says Dr. Robert Hare. These women often work as nurses, counselors and social workers. They tend to look for the goodness in others and overlook faults. Is that you? Watch out.
When you give your word, it’s good as gold. You see yourself as a good wife or good husband, loyal to your spouse. You stay the course, even when it looks like you’ve made a mistake. A sociopath will understand, and keep bleeding you until there’s nothing left.
None of the above
Perhaps you’re tough enough or savvy enough to avoid the pitfalls listed above. Don’t think you’re immune. All kinds of people have been manipulated by sociopaths—including corrections officers and psychiatrists who know what they are dealing with. Even “honor among thieves” doesn’t apply to sociopaths. Everyone is a target.