Sociopathic behavior, or not?
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August 24, 2016 at 9:45 am #23337
Rather than trying to summarize a 3-year story, I will focus on one aspect of it, to seek some answers.
Early in our relationship, my girlfriend D asked whether I’d been abused as a child. It was an odd and troubling question. I told her that I’d had a happy childhood in a stable two-parent home, with no abuse. End of story, right?
No. During arguments, D would raise the issue again — weren’t you abused as a child?
Sometimes she would express it differently. When her verbal bullying had reduced me to wounded inarticulateness, she would ask dramatically, “WHO DID THIS TO YOU?” — implying, of course, severe psychological damage on my part.
On other occasions, she asked whether I had a criminal record. I don’t. But she asked multiple times.
A couple of times when I was ill, she insinuated that I was in withdrawal from an addiction … though I don’t and never have used addictive drugs.
During disagreements, another of her tactics was to claim that I suffer from severe personal shame — even though I never said that, and felt that her observation was way off base.
Cumulatively, the effect of these remarks was to make the case that I am a fraudulent persona — a facade of normality and competence, concealing a dark past and a damaged psyche.
I think I know the answer to this already, but I’m seeking some validation from others, since I receive nothing but invalidation at home. Is D simply a person who “fights dirty”? Or does her behavior cross the line into psychopathy?
I would be grateful for others’ comments. Thank you.
August 24, 2016 at 10:35 am #23339
Yes I think what she was doing was abusive. She was intentionally managing you down and enhancing your cognitive dissonance, knowing that if you began to doubt yourself you would become more reliant on her. Its a type of brainwashing. She must fall into an ASPD spectrum somewhere. I don’t think that a person with empathy would knowingly do something like that to another person. Maybe in her mind it makes perfect sense. You aren’t fitting into her fantasy world so you (not her) must be damaged. And maybe she hides behind her mask so well other people can’t see and that’s why you don’t aren’t feeling validated by your family. I think that’s a rotten part of being with someone with ASPD. Everyone else thinks they are so great and you feel like you have to go on the war path to prove their cruelty. I wish for you strength and happiness.
August 24, 2016 at 12:34 pm #23345
Thank you for your insight, passiel. I had to look up ASPD, since I have no background in this area. But yes, it sounds like it could fit.
What I’m wondering now is whether D could be projecting her own traumas onto me. She admits to being “anxious” and “hypervigilant.” She often ascribes this to the pain of losing an admired grandfather at age 2, and being told that he had merely gone away.
But on further reflection, this story does not ring true to me. Two-year-olds lack the mental and emotional development to understand death and loss. Most people are unable to remember anything from when they were two years old.
It was only a few weeks ago — three years into our troubled relationship — when a different childhood issue came up. D said that my tendency to withdraw from verbal escalation reminded her of her mother’s moody silences. I replied, “But you got along with your dad, right?”
D answered, “He kept photos of my younger sisters on his desk at work. But not mine.” This remark stunned me. In my experience, women who had a troubled relationship with their father sometimes project it onto a romantic partner.
Then I wondered … just wondered … if something more traumatic had happened between D and her father. Something that led to her frequent projections of shame or a dark past onto me, when they don’t fit.
At one point, D had scheduled a session with an EMDR therapist to treat what she called PTSD. Her ostensible reasons were the traumatic losses of her grandfather at age 2, and her mother to suicide in her 30s. But now I question whether these stories are just the publicly presentable tip of a deeper family iceberg.
I guess I’ll never know, because our relationship is too broken now to discuss such personal topics. But in an effort to explain it to myself, I do ponder whether our situation was an example of the counterintuitive, but all too common, case of an abused child growing up to be an abuser herself.
August 24, 2016 at 2:46 pm #23347
It sounds to me like she is projecting as well. I had thought that before but forgot to type it in. I think many times children of abuse turn into abusers themselves. People with ASPD often lie or use their tragic stories for attention. Its terribly hard to tell which is which because they lie like they breathe. Maybe it is best not to know because you really can’t afford to spare any sympathy for her at this point. I am sure she is projecting some fears or memories on to you, but consider she is also making these things up just to unsettle you. Again, we may never know. But ultimately, its not your problem, its hers.
August 24, 2016 at 8:09 pm #23350
Thanks; appreciate the kind words.
Today as I opened the front door to leave for a business meeting, D said, “I made some hash browns for you. They’re in the fridge.”
This came as a complete surprise, since I’ve been on my own for meals for several months. Having no time to think about or discuss this unexpected gesture, I replied neutrally, “Okay.”
As I’m closing the door, she loudly says, “You’re welcome!”
In the past, this would have left me feeling bad. Now I’m starting to suspect it may be artful manipulation … offering a random kindness when I’m rushed and distracted, then laying on the guilt when I fail to respond with the expected effusive praise — and knowing that I’ll have all day to savor the sting of her parting remark.
Am I being unfair? Or am I being toyed with?
August 25, 2016 at 9:53 am #23355
chipped away – I suggest looking at her behavior, and not trying to figure out the reasons for it. The woman is highly manipulative. And yes – those questions asking you about an abusive childhood – she is probing for vulnerabilities so that she can use them to control her.
You are being worse that toyed with. She is trying to break you down.
August 25, 2016 at 10:45 am #23357
Thank you. It really baffled me to be continually asked about childhood abuse, criminal record, drug addiction, etc. when they didn’t apply.
Tried to rationalize it as “trust issues” on her part. But now I see there is another dynamic at work.
Starting to read Margalis Fjelstad’s Stop Caretaking the Borderline or Narcissist. Any other recos will be much appreciated.
August 25, 2016 at 11:48 am #23358
One more thing. On two different occasions, after brutal arguments that left me feeling verbally battered, I retreated to another room and sat slumped against the wall, head in hands.
To my astonishment, I heard the click of D’s phone camera. She was photographing me in my dejected state, like a huntress who had bagged a lion.
This behavior was so creepy that I never brought it up. Now I feel stupid for not recognizing it as a red flag warning of serious pathology.
August 26, 2016 at 11:06 pm #23370
She sounds dangerous and disturbed. You don’t sound happy. She may be bringing up all the bad childhood psychology stuff to engage you into analyzing details so much that you overlook the big picture that there is no happiness nor trust nor mutual caring in your relationship. This article contains information about extricating oneself out of a relationship with a disordered person. http://www.lovefraud.com/2012/02/10/the-gray-rock-method-of-dealing-with-psychopaths/
August 27, 2016 at 11:13 am #23375
Thank you, Annette. I saw the term “Gray Rock” somewhere, but didn’t know what it meant. This was helpful.
I have made plans to move out next month. Until then, I am staying as invisible as possible, avoiding discussions unless really necessary.
I had wanted to rationalize D’s unflattering candid photos of me as just bad behavior or poor taste. But an incident about a month ago, in which she threatened to “report me” to out-of-town family members, made me realize what she might have in mind.
When I responded by saying I was leaving the house and going for a walk, she threatened to report me to the sheriff’s office as a missing person, warning that I would be charged for the search. This was not a realistic threat, but it certainly made her disturbed state of mind clear to me.
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