Welcome back to the last part of this series!
To Read Part 1, CLICK HERE!
To Read Part 2, CLICK HERE!
How to Avoid Getting Into a Relationship with a Sociopath in the First Place
Obviously, given the misery during the idealize, devalue, and discard phases, avoiding getting anywhere near one of these people is the goal.
Since sociopaths are such cunning manipulators, there may be literally no sign that anything bad is happening during the initial love-bombing/idealization phase. The danger of telling you about warning signs is that often there are absolutely no warning signs.
However, there are some things you can do to make yourself less of a target to a sociopath.
Here are some important points to remember to both have a healthy relationship and to avoid inviting a sociopath or con artist into your life.
1. Maintain a quiet, introspective attitude about your past.
Don’t share too many personal details about yourself too soon. You want them to share who THEY are, not share you back to you.
Also, keep quiet for a while if you have ever been a victim of abuse. Once they hear of abuse in your past, the sociopath will suck on like a tractor beam. A previous history of abuse makes you predisposed to be more easily manipulated and more likely to fall for sob stories about their tortured pasts.
Some abusers like low hanging fruit. This is why it’s a good idea to keep private things private and wait a long time to share intimate details of your past. Remember that it is always a good idea to honor your own timing.
2. Move sloooooowwwww.
Aside from repelling sociopaths, this has the dual effect of separating people who really like you for you from those who are only interested in jumping into your bed.
Moving slowly is not just important for the bedroom. Move slowly when it comes to making big life decisions like marriage, moving in together, introducing them to your kids, and combining your finances.
Keep an eye out for a partner who is trying to rush you into making big decisions. Watch out for quick, lavish marriage proposals. They know as well as you do that a big, grand proposal can be hard to resist.
They will try to sell you on the idea of forever love, soul mates, and things being “meant to be.” Predators know that if they can make you move fast, they can distract you with what is happening while they spin their web around you. Just slow everything way down.
We have all heard about the couple that got married in the second week of knowing each other and have been happily married for forty-seven years without a hitch. This is the exception, not the rule. There is absolutely no rush during a good relationship.
You should be interested in getting to know someone as well as you can. In our age of high technology, it is easy to be constantly connected and feel like someone is already much more familiar than they actually are. Developing a real knowledge of who someone is in concrete terms takes time.
3. Meet people from their past.
Take active and open interest in meeting the person’s family and friends. You should proceed with extreme caution if there is no one around to meet. Regard potential flames with suspicion when they are new to the area and report not knowing anyone yet or not having anyone for you to meet.
4. Insist that you meet in person after a reasonable time while online dating.
It is most online dater’s biggest fear to begin a relationship with someone who is not who they say they are. Lessen the chances that this will happen to you by meeting potential mates in person after a reasonable amount of time. Cut off contact with anyone who refuses to meet you in person, makes excuses, or cancels on you.
5. Avoid bragging.
You know, the occasional things you mention to someone new to make yourself look good? Bad idea. This comes off to the sociopath like a flashing advertisement of what they could take from you.
6. Watch for excessive bragging from them.
The sociopath loves attention based on their accomplishments, real or imagined. Humility and a sociopath are not frequent bedfellows.
Make an effort to verify all outrageous claims. If you catch someone in a lie, call him or her out on it. If they try to explain it away or act flippant, this is a big deal. People who have good intentions will want you to know the truth about them.
7. Be wary of excessive flattery.
Look for the kind of flattery where they make you feel amazing nearly all the time. Take note of your own insecurities and notice if your new flame manages to specifically flatter those. They will make an effort to root out what you’re insecure about and specifically cater to that.
If you want to toss them a test, mention something about yourself real or imagined that you don’t like. See if that becomes what they esteem all the time. A normal person will make you feel good about it right when you mention it, but likely avoid bringing it up again so that they don’t make you feel hurt or insecure.
8. Keep an eye out for the blank stare.
Have you ever looked into someone’s eyes and felt a cold chill run down your spine? The psychopath’s stare is alternately either a total blankness or darkness personified. People also report that it looks like “dead eyes.” It usually happens in a flash and then goes away. If you notice it, you’ll know. Similar to my “tsk, tsk” experience, the stare is memorable.
9. Know thyself.
Do you feel like you need to be in a relationship? It’s easier for a sociopath to make someone a victim who desperately wants a relationship, just like it’s easier to lie to someone who wants to believe it.
Whether you’re dating a sociopath or not, if you are not comfortable with yourself while you are single, you are setting yourself up for a future bad relationship. Make the effort to get to an emotional place where you feel comfortable alone, so that you can hold out for a relationship with the right person instead of whoever just happens to come along.
10. The devil is in the details.
If you hear a detail that isn’t consistent with something else they said in the past, do some fact checking. If something about what someone says strikes you as odd, investigate.
Keep in mind that a liar will provide more detail than is necessary to tell a lie. They are most likely extremely detailed, including more information than someone would reasonably remember or think worth mentioning.
11. Watch for a pattern of difficulty staying at the same job and/or a parasitic lifestyle.
Does she seem to flit from job to job? Does he still live at home with Mom?
12. Pay attention to how they regard their struggles.
Do they take responsibility for past failings and mistakes? Does it sound like they have had a hard-knock life and/or can never get a break? Showing no responsibility for their own problems while inducing sympathy for them is common.
13. Are their exes all crazy?
A pattern of horrible relationships is a big red flag. It’s common to feel like they talk about their exes so much that you’re nearly having a relationship with one of them.
14. Ask about their life goals.
The sociopath does not often have specific long-term life goals other than power and control. This is not conclusive on its own, since losers don’t either, but it is important to notice the pattern of their behavior. Does it seem like they are working toward accomplishing something? How are they with delayed gratification?
15. Do you feel the need to do further research on them?
This is a simple idea from Peace, author of Psychopath Free. Peace maintains that you should stop any relationship where you feel compelled to compulsively research the other person.
Given my own experience of feeling driven to research the pasts of people who turned out to be bad apples, if the desire to research someone is more than an idle curiosity, back way off.
What to Do if You Attract a Sociopath
If you are seriously wondering whether you are with a sociopath it is most likely too late.
A sociopath’s need for control requires that they have to decide on their own that they are done with you before they will willingly let you go. By breaking away before driving them away or going no contact, you face stalking, threats, harassment, and much more.
You probably already have that sinking feeling that if you leave, they will make your life hell. This instinct is correct.
Here is the best technique available to get rid of a sociopath.
The Gray Rock Method
Skylar introduced the Gray Rock Method on Love Fraud. The basic idea is that you become so boring that you cease to interest the sociopath, and they eventually break up with you and go away. You should make an effort to become just like the title suggests: a boring, gray rock.
By doing this, you are basically forcing the other person to make the decision to leave completely on his or her own. This is safer than going up against the sociopath directly, since it’s a safe bet that you face nasty consequences for leaving them on your own.
M.E. Thomas takes it a step further by suggesting that you make the sociopath believe that the breakup was their idea by actively becoming repellent to them. She suggests that you stop grooming yourself and showering. You should become subtly contrary. If the sociopath enjoys going out, you should want to stay in. You should become intolerable to live with but never, ever confrontational (this part is key). She reports that if the sociopath gets angry, you should apologize but not fight back. Thomas mentions that it should take three to six months to get rid of the sociopath, give or take.
She admits that the method is passive aggressive and a lot of work, but that the other option is something akin to Sleeping With The Enemy. I tend to agree. If you can make the sociopath leave you on their own without trying to kill you or drive you to suicide, that is obviously ideal.
However, many relationships become so toxic that the only option for your personal safety is direct escape combined with no contact.
A Note About Gut Feelings
The topic of dating sociopaths begs more than a passing mention of your intuition. Gut feelings are sudden, strong, intuitive feelings whose origin isn’t immediately clear. If you have ignored your inner compass for any period of time, even dating normal people becomes a difficult endeavor.
Making decisions based on your gut feelings is not cavalier. If you have that nagging feeling that it is time to leave anyone, it is time to go. There is no stronger inner guide or ally that you carry with you every day than your basic intuitive feeling.
Have you ever ignored it when your gut is screaming at you? For me, the consequences have never been pretty. Additionally, I know that relationships that felt like an uphill battle to maintain were never right for me in the long term.
Falling in love with anyone can create a situation where you become blind to your intuition or it just does not warn you. If have fallen for a charming sociopath, this is doubly likely since their entire persona is carefully geared to bypass your natural suspicion.
This is why it is so critical to slow your new relationships way down and regularly check with yourself to see things are going well, if you are being abused, or if your boundaries are being violated. It is easy to get swept up in the action during the initial rush of love with someone new, especially if it has been a long time since you have met someone with real potential.
Unfortunately, when it comes to sociopaths, the relationship WILL be easy. It WILL seem effortless – at least in the beginning while they get you hooked.
This is why it is so important to mention that there is no wrong way to get out and no shame if you fall victim to a sociopath or con artist. Often there is no warning that you are with one of these characters, no gut feeling, no defense. Everything seems to be going fine until WHAM, your life is turned completely upside down. If this has happened to you, you know first hand what an awful experience it is and how long it takes to stop beating yourself up.
I hope that I have helped provide some insight into what sociopaths are, how to avoid them, and what you can do if you happen to be so unfortunate as to have one want you. Remember to be safe out there and that someone who loves you today will still love you tomorrow and beyond.