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Are these sociopthic traits? (warning VERY long)(151 Posts)
Apologies this is SO long but I'm still struggling to move on from this a year on.
I got with my ex back in 2010. At the time I was 41, he was 3 years younger. I have no children and it is biologically impossible for me to have my own. My only option is complicated IVF with egg donors. Ex knew this right from the start.
He is a highly educated, successful man. Very successful in his field. He was also the most charming, decent man I had ever met (or so I thought, as did everyone else, including family and friends). There were a couple of things that maybe I should have paid more attention to but you know what it is like in the first throes of a relationship! eg whilst he was very sociable with colleagues during the working day, he didn't have any friends that he socialised with out of work, he was actually quite 'against' it, he used to say that he only needed that one person (me at the time) in his life. I could also tell he was never that keen on socialising with my friends.
Later on I also found out a couple of things about the way he had been with exes that I didn't think was nice/not normal behaviour. Eg he has only ever properly lived with one girl, years go when he left Uni, they bought a house together. To cut a long story short he finished the relationship by accepting a job miles away without even telling her. That night he told her he had got this job, she said 'but I can't leave my job and move?' he just replied 'yes I know.' That was his way of ending the relationship! Now I know you'll be thinking what an idiot I was to stay but it's easy to think that now in hindsight, at the time I said 'that's awful' but he said yes but you don't know what she was like blah blah blah.
He was so 'anal' about everyone else having 'manners' and 'behaving properly' etc eg if a driver dared not to thank him for letting them out at a junction there would be big lights flashing at them performance. Or if someone dared forget to thank him if he held a door open he would be like 'wow' in a big loud voice after them. Sometimes I would be on tenterhooks when out with him willing people to say 'thank you' etc!
He was out with another girlfriend once who I think was a bit of a maybe 'high maintenance' girl, liked going to the 'in bars' which was so the opposite of him. Anyway they were out one night and she had ordered a G&T, she was having banter with the barman about why would you have a gordons when you could have a bombay sapphire. He obviously thought this was a bit 'poncy' so when the barman asked him what he wanted he said 'G&T and gordons is fine.' And I can hear the patronising voice he will have said it in, just ridiculed his girlfriend in front of someone.
He was also very strong on the view that all contact with exes/exes family should be broken. I can remember being left an Xmas present by an exe's mum (which obviously I didn't ask for and hadn't heard from her in months) - well he didn't like that at all and said that if it had been him he would have handed it back (which I thought was the height of rudeness, the exes mother was lovely and had never done anything bad to me!). He got in quite a sulk bout it.
I know these all sound like really silly little things but I'm just trying to paint a picture of him. He was so anal about morals/values etc but I have since come to realise that they don't apply to himself.
Anyway back to me and him. After 1 1/2 years I sold my house and we moved into his. It was a big Victorian house, a huge renovation project, which I willingly took on with him and put months and months of hard labour into. We also decided to embark on IVF. Very complicated and expensive because of egg donors etc. We had the first cycle in August 2012, it failed, we were both devastated. We had the second cycle in Nov/Dec 2012. We got the results 6 days before Xmas, failed again.
Over the next 3 days he turned into the most cold, unsupportive character I have ever met, we hardly spoke. It was unbelievable. To cut a very long story short the outcome was that 3 days before Xmas he announced that actually things weren't right anymore and that was that! 3 days before Xmas and I was left homeless, devastated, with a body full of raging IVF drugs. He spouted on stuff about how all we'd been doing is the house and IVF, we'd stopped living and he'd fallen out of love with us! Looking back I think cheeky f***er - I put all that work (not to mention money) into your house and I get that thrown back at me like that.
He also owes me several thousand pounds, which I doubt I will ever see. He will have convinced himself that he doesn't owe it.
I have never seen him since that day (22/12/12) and haven't had any correspondence with him since last January. My dad got involved (my parents were distraught to see the state I was in) and sent him a letter (very polite I might add but just telling him what he though about his behaviour). He text my dad spouting on about how he had one side of story, fair point but he then went on to lie about how we had been 'constantly arguing' (complete and utter rubbish, and I have prove to show this wasn't how the relationship was), how he had lost everything, how I just wanted a child (that makes me livid as I told him a million times that being with the right person was more important than having a child and that is absolutely how I feel) but that he had just loved me etc etc
My family and friends that knew him were in total and utter shock (as I still am!). He sent a couple of emails last January that came across as so sanctimonious, how he had done brave thing, and how he'd been trying to help me achieve my dream (the ivf/children - cheeky f***er!) blah blah blah
Anyway, I am far from over it a year on. Whilst the logical part of me says I'm so better off out of that, I can't forget the wonderful years we did spend together, where he was the ultimate gentleman to me.
Some people have suggested to me that he displays sociopathic behaviour in the way he just switched off and moved on. He doesn't meet many of the signs of a sociopath eg no money worries, would never be in trouble with law etc but I think he is lacking in the empathy department.
The first time I met his mum (who now hates me) she said a weird thing to me - something like 'don't you think he's a weird one, when he goes off into his own world and I'll be saying what's wrong?'' She then quickly followed it up with 'but I think he's wonderful.' I remember thinking you're a bit odd, what a thing to say!
Do you think this sounds anything like sociopathic behaviour or am I just looking for reasons other than he just fell out of love with me (which is just so hard to accept given his behaviour up until that point). It is so hard to reconcile, to anyone that meets him they think he is this wonderful, absolutely charming person, they would never see the darker side underneath.
I don't want to ignore you although I have no expertise at all in this area. He just sounds like a total shit. What I would do, is not give him any space in your head. Move on. Forget him. It sounds like he is looking for "perfect" and that he suddenly takes against someone for being "perfectly human" and that you, at least, have got out from the relationship.
From your story he sounds a shit. But you sound obsessed. And your father sending a letter? Very, very inappropriate. Best you let it go and move on.
Hamlet, you are absolutely right, he is looking for 'perfect!' You are spot on.
Thanks so much for reading, I didn't realise how long it had got until I posted it. I think most people will think I can't be bothered reading that so thanks so much!
It is hard to reconcile, I drive myself mad thinking am I imagining he is 'not right' and that with the right person he will be the perfect partner? But there is no excuse for his behaviour is there?
I know I need to move on. I really don't want to waste anymore of my precious life on him
I don't think my father sending a letter was inappropriate. If someone had treated one of my loved ones so appallingly I don't think it would be inappropriate to let them know what I thought of their behaviour.
that wasn't really the point of my message but thanks for taking the time to reply anyway
He sounds very much like a man a friend of mine married - and divorced- within a year of meeting.
He sounds extremely controlling ( telling you who you should receive gifts from/ be in touch with) and highly aggressive ( driving/ rudeness) as well as totally self-obsessed and selfish. I know it will be very hard for you to move on, but every time you start thinking about him, write down a list of horrible things he did/said and how that made you feel.
If you magically got back together, would he make you happy? No, sadly not. You need to find somebody who is worthy of you. He isn't.x
I don't mean this to sound flippant but does it matter? Regardless of whether he is a sociopath or a garden variety fuck-wit, the point is that he has treated you appallingly. That's all that matters. Whether his behaviour is borne of a psychiatric condition or simply because he's a selfish bastard, it is his behaviour which is at issue here. It's not you.
Knowing that is enough. How would it help you to know for sure that his lack of empathy is due to a psychiatric condition?
Hope you gain some peace on this.
Message deleted by MNHQ. Here's a link to our Talk Guidelines.
What are you doing about the money he still owes you?
I wonder whether you could get some counselling? I think it can take a long time to make sense of this sort of thing - it will be hard for you to move on and get on with your life until you can talk it through with someone who has the skill to listen and help you to untangle your thoughts. I don't think it does matter whether he was a sociopath - and I think you trying to work out whether he is or not is a red herring - I can understand why you are asking. Would the answer: "yes, those are very clear sociopathic tendencies" help you to move on? Is it a case of you being able to feel less gullible if someone said this?
I split up with someone and it took me a very long time to get over it. I did feel a bit of a fool (a lot of a fool?) for continuing to think/hope it would be ok in the end over so many years. Counselling helped - just because my thoughts were so tangled. As you untangle your thoughts quite a lot of things fall through the holes and are no longer important and what is left gives you a clearer view of what you really need to face up to. Once you've faced up to whatever it is - then it is much easier to move on. I had the aim of feeling indifferent about the person I split up with - it took a while, and I had to be angry first, but eventually I did feel indifferent and was even able to move on from that to something very slightly warmer: remembering some good times without wishing to go back to them.
It's clearly been very tough for you. Be kind to yourself.
He treated you appallingly. Sociopath or total shit? It's actually irrelevant to you now. I'm sorry you're hurting so much. Have you considered counselling to try to help you move on?
thank you all so much for your kind words.
You are all SO wise! You have all grasped an immediate understanding of the situation, and how I am feeling, just by my one message (albeit rather lengthy!).
Dahlen/Verlaine - you have made me think - why am I so curious to now if it is sociopathic behaviour? It is a red herring isn't it? I think I'm just desperate for reasons other than thinking it was something lacking in me that put him off (which I know is a self confidence issue in me rather then him). You're right, I need to drop this thinking cos what the hell difference does it make?! I do occasionally think about counselling and may consider a few sessions. Verlaine - sorry you went through what you did but pleased to hear you have come out the other side.
Fabulouse - thank you, it really did knock me off my feet and it is only the love and feeling valued by other people that has got me this far. I am defo keeping other balls in the air - luckily I have a brilliant job, a couple of brilliantly supportive friends and am trying to move on practically - I have even bought a house six months ago and completed a big building project (extension) on it, am just doing cake decorating night school class etc. Just little things, but trying to carry on with life until this deep personal unhappiness clears.
Regards to the money - there's nothing much I can do as, foolishly I have nothing legal/concrete to show/prove it. I could contact him again but to be honest, whilst it is a lot of money, moving forward is more important to me. I think the contact would take me back several stages. I am extremely fortunate that, whilst obviously I want the money back, I don't 'need' it as such. His last words were that he couldn't afford to pay it to me at the time, needed to come into some money or when he sells the house.
Thanks girls, you're all stars
I don't know about the label, but he sounds a bit like my x.
1) he re-writes history (he has convinced himself that he doesn't owe you thousands even though he clearly does)
2) he has no empathy, or if he does, he works hard to rationalise away any need to be burdened with the inconvenience of empathy
3) you say fell out of love (I say de-valued). To begin with narcissists will have such a black and white good and bad column, you are valued, and when you're valued you feel so appreciated and valued! obviously it is flattering, you feel that it is his discernment that makes him value you, but no, at that point he's still negotiating (negotiation your opinion of him so to speak) when you're suck in and the deal is sealed, and the first time you tolerate being treated badly and come back for more, then you're re-filed under 'devalue' or valueless.
4) my x was very respectable outwardly too. Also very well-educated and successful in his field but he lacked social skills and he had a low emotional quotient, and he didn't see that he was undergunned emotionally or socially if you see what i mean, he simply had contempt for anybody that wasn't like him, or that made him feel flawed or uncomfortable or anybody that challenged him.
Don't have a child with him. I have spent the best part of five years trying to get free (mentally, practically, emotionally, financially...) from a nutter or a sociopath or a narcissist. Whatever you call it. A rose by any other name is still a rose, and by Rose, I mean nettle!
Poorincashrichinlove - thank you, your post crossed with mine
LizLemongrass - thank you. You know what you're talking about!
so sorry you went through what sounds like a horrible experience, I wish you a far rosier future
thank you for replying - it really does help to hear other people's views
Thank you Morley19. It stays with you though. When I finally left (and it felt like a failure at the time, that I hadn't managed to make it work, sure how could I?) I felt so guilty for him. The thing is, in a really dysfunctional way it 'worked' as in, I had so much empathy I felt his pain! and he felt his. And he took, and I gave. And we stumbled on like that for 8 years.
I was a shell when I left. I was about to turn to ashes. And yet when I left, he still berated me for being cold and heartless! Ah well, I had a five year recovery plan. Emotional and financial. I'm ok now!
I realise now that I stayed with him because I prioritised appearing happy over being happy. I'm not sure I could tell the difference. Because I was such a people -pleaser I had no idea how to go about pleasing myself. I didn't feel I had the right to draw a line in the sand and say "i'm off". I feared being judged as a single person/mother. Now, after psychotherapy, I have totally re-ordered my priorities.
Have you tried therapy ? It sounds like it may help the guy was a cold shit the minute you didn't meet his ideal of the perfect family he was ofski
I dare say that will always be the case
Take control of your life who said you need a man to go through IVF with
You're right, that's exactly what I'm trying to do, take control of my own happiness. My message probably makes me sound really weak etc but it's just because I was telling the story, I do think I am actually quite strong. It's just hard sometimes isn't it.
I think the IVF journey is over for me but I do occasionally think about looking into adoption. I'd just much rather do it in the 'traditional' set up of doing it with my partner/husband but life isn't always like that is it?!
Thanks for taking the time to read my essay and replying
OP you sound lovely btw. Wish you the happiness you deserve x
poorincashrichinlove - bless you, what a kind thing to say. I hope your name is an indication of your happiness x
poorincashrichinlove - you have actually just reminded me of something he said in one of his 'oh so sanctimonious' emails last year. He said 'you are lovely and you looked after me so well, some have suggested too well in fact.' His emails said how 'sorry he was he hadn't seen this coming' etc etc
Like I said, to someone reading even those emails and not knowing him they would probably think he was being decent about it. But I think it's all just false, his actions spoke louder than his words?
It's perfectly normal to let men like this under your skin because everything is perfect and then suddenly it's all over. You don't get a chance to fight and fall out and learn to hate them.
The problem is it wasn't perfect but you didn't see that. If I was going to have a punt as a cod- pyschological diagnosis then -he sounds as if he has narcissistic traits. The problem with narcissists is that they have no empathy and no real feelings for anyone else. They want to be seen to have an ideal relationship and so are able to basically play the part of the perfect partner but when something comes along that puts a spanner in the works- eg your failed IVF, then that's not in their fantasy. They can switch off their affections because they didn't have any anyway - they are incapable. Then they do what they always do when something goes wrong- they blame someone else without pausing for breath. They don't feel shame because they are always right and nothing you could ever say would persuade them otherwise.
The veneer of civility is always very thin with a narcissist- that is why they totally overreact when they perceive someone to have slighted them- like the other drivers or people not saying thank-you.
Life with a narcissist must be virtually impossible. You need to concentrate on his bad points- every time you think of him make yourself think of how badly he treated you or what an arse he was. He proved he wasn't what you thought. You should feel lucky that you got away from him when you did.
If other people are saying things like him having sociopathic traits, then he probably does. Its relatively common - theres supposed to be a certain number of people in society who do.
That said, you also sound very different. He sounds like he is a serial monogamist with the ability to close his mind and move on. Quite a lot of men do have that ability. I would agree with him being narcisstic and possibly also a bit histrionic and anti-social.
While I thought "good on your father" for writing that letter, I don't agree with you that staying in touch with ex's families is a good thing. I think as an adult you should be reasonably independent and able to stand on your own feet, and I think you have a relationship with the person, not the family. At least that sort of spending lots of time with your boyfriend's family thing isn't for me really, in and out of their house, socialising with them, presents after you've split up, it almost sounds like an arranged marriage.
I think you were very different people and I hope you meet someone you're more suited to, who shares your values and beliefs.
Thanks LessMissAbs You have summed him up quite well! He definitely has the capacity to just shut off and move on (which I find quite cold in itself, to go from how he was to that).
You may have misread but I didn't actually say that about staying in touch with exes family. I agree, it is better to drop this contact over time (unless children are involved of course, then it is harder). I hadn't actually made any contact with his mother, she was in contact with me for 2 or 3 months after the split as she was a very caring person who wanted to ensure I was OK. I then dropped contact but several months later, out of the blue, she sent me an Xmas present. I didn't invite it. Whilst I wasn't in contact with her I think it would have been very rude to return it, a more appropriate action (if any action was needed) in my view was to drop a very brief line thanking her for the present and wishing her well (a note that didn't invite contact back). Because of how my current ex (contradiction?!) reacted I ended up not even thanking her, which didn't sit well with me.
I hope I am very different to him as I couldn't in my wildest dreams ever treat anyone in the way he treated me.
Thanks for replying, I do appreciate it x
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