Mumsnet has not checked the qualifications of anyone posting here. If you need help urgently, please see our domestic violence webguide and/or relationships webguide, which can point you to expert advice and support.
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.
Thanks tobiasfunke you sound extremely knowledgeable!
What you say about the veneer of civility being so thin - gosh that makes sense! Yes the reaction to a small thing like someone not thanking when you hold a door open (don't get me wrong that annoys me too but sometimes people just don't think do they) was just so over dramatic. It ended up making him look the knob!
Thanks for the good advice - that's exactly what I try and do, concentrate on his bad points, I just don't manage it all the time
Insert here the usual disclaimers about not diagnosing anyone over the internet, I don't have qualifications etc etc.
You do sound like someone who has suffered at the hands of a narcissist. There's a whole idealize/devalue/discard cycle which is a bit of a head-fuck.
I found I had to learn to do a bit of self-forgiveness because I kept asking how I had been such a bad judge of character. You know what, you gave someone the benefit of the doubt. It's hardly the crime of the century.
I agree with Dahlen. Does it matter how you label it? His behaviour was utterly shitty, and you are well, well out. Imagine trying to bring up a child with someone like that?
I had a similarly dysfunctional relationship once. I tried to analyse and dissect it after it ended. A friend said to me, 'Latin, sometimes you have to accept that some people are just not very nice'. She rather cut to the chase when I was going round in circles, trying to untangle my thoughts!
Also, another friend used this phrase to describe her previous relationship. 'All the ways in which he was wonderful did not make up for the ways in which he was not'. This helped me too at that time. So yes, your ex may have been the gentleman at times, but he always had that other side as part of him. It really doesn't sound like it was something you did.
Sorry, not much original here, but wanted to add my voice to the chorus saying it sounds like you did nothing wrong at all.
He is out your life
the money he owed you was cheaper than 20 years of hell
Let it go...
and move on
(I would also burn down his house...but thats me)
No, life isn't always 2.4 children with a big strong husband and a lovely house with curb appeal, and a bichon frisse!! And i think, trying to get that, and in the absence of that fake it, I created a very unhappy situation for myself.
What you say about being strong strikes a chord. If you don't mind me saying, I was strong too, but because I had a damaged self-esteem, I used up that strength coping with the daily grind. I could have got rid of the emotional leech much sooner and channeled my strength in to what i wanted, if I could have identified that! I got so confused, trying to please people.
Anyway, take time out to be yourself, know yourself. All that jaz that sounds very LA but is so valuable! REally value the psychotherapy I had and I think it's vital for any woman that's ended up in a relationship with a fuckwit or a nark or a sociopath.
Don't scrimp on it, invest in to yourself and your future and if you decide when the dust has settled to adopt, then go for it! I love a happy ending! I really do, but I love a happy ending, not a conventional ending. They overlap sometimes but not always.
Thank you ladies, each one of you has said thinks that are really making me think more rationally. I'm not stupid, or naïve, but it is easy to get caught up in a mess like I did when affairs of the heart are involved.
bibliomania - thanks for that link. It's very hard to know if he does fit the profile, I think I went straight from the idealise phase to the discard phase which is why it knocked the stuffing out of me. The thing the article says about a narcissist always returning - that is the total opposite of him. But like people have said, sociopath/narcissist or not, he's still a shit!
Latinfortelly - thanks for that. You're right, he obviously did always have this side, I think he just managed to keep it hidden. Lots of little indicators I can think of now, but isn't hindsight wonderful! Sometimes he was either very up or very down. He admitted himself he could be very cold. I think he once said that someone had suggested he might be a bit bi-polar.
glasgowsteven - what good idea (the fire)...if I thought I could get away with it....
LizLemongrass - it's sounds like I am just where you were. I am a strong person - both mentally and practically, but am not ashamed to say this knocked me sideways and absolutely damaged my self esteem. I generally agree with what my dear mum says - 'what's meant to be never passes you by' - but it's just sometimes hard to main the positive outlook isn't it when you've been battered a couple of times. Very wise words what you say about happy v conventional.
Thanks everyone, you may feel that your message has only been brief but they really are helping me xx
I had a somewhat similar relationship a number of years back. It took me a long time to figure out that what really attracted me to him was his intelligence and education, not his personality or how he treated me. I just really enjoyed the conversation, variety of topics we could cover, and the urbane exterior he showed the world. Still carry a bit of a torch for him, to be honest, but know on a deeper level it would still never work because he's too selfish, exacting, hostile when others don't behave perfectly, etc. etc.
So in the end, I've had to realize I'm attracted to super intelligence, but also need some gratitude, generosity, etc. I bet you'll always see the good in him, but also be cautious about finding the other things you need as well. This was painful for you (me too!) but you seem to be learning from it, and in the end, this is life! Love your dad, btw!!!
biblomania my exp fits the narcissist description almost spot on. Urgh . Twat
He doesn't sound right. Sounds very narcissistic, borderline psychopathic
He sounds damaged, whatever his label. I think the thing to look at here is not what he is, but why it even matters to you what he is. After dumping you full of IVF drugs, why are you still able to think fondly of him?
Past behaviour is so often a predictor of future behaviour - so I'm sure next time when you see the red flags that he showed you, you will run away fast. Like others have said, counselling might help untangle it.
Also, it's a shame you couldn't even thank your ex's mum - maybe you could do that belatedly and explain why - that might also make you feel better to put that behind you.
Thanks Hogwash - I know what you mean but I think the reason I still thought of him fondly was that, unlike him, I couldn't just turn my feelings off like a tap. I am very glad of that, I would hate to be that cold.
I think you, and others, are right, maybe some counselling sessions. They were suggested a year ago but to be honest I wasn't in a fit state, I was a walking zombie, couldn't utter two words about it without breaking down. I wouldn't have welcomed the advice of a counsellor, I wasn't ready to move on, didn't want to. Now at least I'd be able to talk about it and speed up the process of moving on completely
Thanks whitsernam - sorry to hear you went through something similar, crap isn't it. I hope you are in a much better place now.
Yes, I am proud of my dad, I don't blame him for doing what he did!
There's been a lot for you to take in, and it sounds like the true measure of this man is here on this thread.
Wrt the money, could you look into getting a charge put on his property so that if he sells, you get your money paid back automatically?
You're welcome. Also, you describe him as: 'highly educated, successful man. Very successful in his field' - so successful but he can't afford to pay you back a few grand for hour renovations? Are you sure he isn't hiding money somewhere?
Hi morely, your thread really struck a chord with me as the characterteristics you describe so eloquently are very similar to the way my XP (who I have a child with) behaved, right down to the stealing thousands of pounds without so much as a twinge of conscience and the ability to switch off emotions like a tap (I think when people are like this the emotions were never real to begin with).
He too is very much into appearances and how things appear on the surface. He likes to project the image of caring family man without understanding what it really means. Co-parenting with him is not much fun, I have to say.
Ultimately though, whether your ex (or mine)is a socipath or not isn't important. What is important is looking after your own mental and physical health and making sure you're ok. Some therapy/working on yourself might be helpful.
I'm glad your Dad stuck up for you, he sounds like a goodun .
Sorry, of course I mean morley.
Thanks Hissy Hogwash and flippinada
Sorry for the delay, just got back from night school - made a sugar paste teddy bear - I'm sure it will come in handy at some stage?!
It's so hard isn't it? To have someone you would have bet your life on turn round and treat you this way, it's incomprehensible. Really knocks the stuffing out of you. My mind still plays tricks on me now and makes me think I'm imagining it all and that it was simply a guy that fell out of love but then the facts speak for themselves don't they? No-one 'normal' could ever treat someone they, up until a couple of days before, were apparently in love in that way could they? I couldn't treat my worst enemy like that..
Hissy - thanks, something to think about re the money
Hogwash - you're right, he could easily get his hands on the money if he wanted to. I know that he will have convinced his twisted mind that he doesn't owe it
flippinada - my heart goes out to you. Happy for you that you have a little one, but I can only imagine how hard it must be to bring the child up with him.
Thanks ladies for all the advice and understanding and not just telling me that I was an idiot to stay with him after the warning signs (I don't need anyone to tell me that!)
You weren't an idiot. You were a nice, trusting person. The problem was not you, but him. Do look at the wonderful Lundy Bancroft book, Why Does He Do That? I'm sure it will help you come to terms with what has happened and accept that there is nothing you could have done to change him, and that him ending the relationship was the best outcome for you.
That thing with getting really angry really quickly if somebody
disrespects him doesn't hold open a door for him, that is classic low self-esteem + HUGE ego. So beware of that combination! argh! That type of person (and they needn't be a sociopath, just a regular fuck up!) will function without a healthy self-esteem, but it's all superficial, to function with confidence they have to temporarily inflate their ego! this is done through drama baiting you, insulting you, watching you cry, financial or verbal abuse! anything he can do that has a big (and devastating) impact on you will make him feel important and alive and confident, and that's what he needs cos the fucker has such a damaged self-esteem.
and so do you to put up with it but the difference is that you would never treat somebody like that. Except yourself. So remove yourself from this equation. He takes you give. He meets his needs, you meet his needs. He feels his pain. He trains you to feel his pain. Your voice is silenced. You get in to that rut, and it can roll for years, your misery will only OIL it.
Somebody on here recommended a really good book to me. Anne Dickson's "a woman in your own right". It's officially about assertiveness, but it is a book about self-esteem really, and how we act if it's damaged. It will help you see yourself, see him (although his problems are bigger and not your problem).
I second the lundy book too, it did help me realise it was him, he was a bully because it netted him results............ not cos he was damaged or in pain, blah blah blah !!! but don't get too hung up on analysing him after you've left him/ finished things with him. Focus on yourself.
While the label doesn't matter that much in the end, there is comfort in being able to tick off items on a list of traits.
It helps you see the ways in which the behaviour is part of a recognised pattern of dysfunctionality, the origins of which probably lie in childhood, and is therefore no fault of yours.
I was in a relationship with somebody whose behaviour was certainly outside accepted norms. It confused me, made me doubt myself, and ultimately made me depressed. Having read about narcissistic/sociopathic personalities on here, I get it - it wasn't me, it was him.
I hope everything is wonderful for you from here on in, OP.
thank god for mumsnet and all the lovely people on it.
morley19 and bibliomania I love you both, and all the other people on this thread who have opened up given there stories and feeling and doubts and insecurities.
thanks to you guys I've just had a massive lightbulb moment myself - I've just realised that my dp (well, as of about 30minutes ago he's very definitely my exdp) is a classic Narcissist. Since just before xmas, when we had a big row and I could take it no more and left (his house) I've been pulling myself to bits trying to work out what went wrong and thinking that he was the love of my live, that he was a misunderstood tortured soul, and that all the crap he put me through is just water under the bridge. When in reality, the crap was crap and he's a self centred arse who blames everybody else for anything that's ever happened to him and is so full of anger and hate. He's an articulate manipulator, and emotionally bully. A pretty boy (well, man, he's in his 50's) who knows it and makes sure everyone around him knows it to!
Biblio, your link has totally opened my eyes, I could have written every single word of that myself.
morely19, it takes a long time to get over a manipulative charmer, don't be too hard on yourself, they mess with your head and heart.
You won't find me writing any more positive reflections about my exdp on mns any more - thanks Morley19 and Bib, you've made one person in this lonely nasty world a much happier secure person.
LizLemongrass - "That thing with getting really angry really quickly if somebody disrespects him doesn't hold open a door for him, that is classic low self-esteem + HUGE ego. So beware of that combination! argh! That type of person (and they needn't be a sociopath, just a regular fuck up!) will function without a healthy self-esteem, but it's all superficial, to function with confidence they have to temporarily inflate their ego! this is done through drama baiting you, insulting you, watching you cry, financial or verbal abuse! anything he can do that has a big (and devastating) impact on you will make him feel important and alive and confident, and that's what he needs cos the fucker has such a damaged self-esteem."
my exdp so had this and demonstrated it on many many occasions - he is such a fuck up. His ego was off the scale. He loved to be made to feel important and would go on about all the brilliant ideas he had an how he'd changed peoples life's. Controlling tosser.
Morely19 - we can both do this !! These bully's are no longer in our homes lets cast them out of our hearts aswell. What use is a miserable little troll muttering a load of bull running around our heads. We can't fix them. WE CAN'T FIX THEM. They'll never be the person they claimed to be when we first met them, that person does not exist.
Morely19, I'm 43 and sadly childless, not through choice - the ending of this relationship means that I will definitely now not have a child of my own. And it is heartbreaking. But I try to imagine what it would be like bringing up a child with him and know its better this way.
He's a bastard, end of.
It's all caused you great pain but in time you will be so relieved that the relationship did not continue. Counselling might be a good idea, not to explore the sociopath angle, but to talk through your feelings and get to a point where you are able to look forward rather than back at what was a really grim experience (however good the relationship might have seemed at certain points).
scottishpies - I totally echo that, the people are here on wonderful. I am so grateful for everyone that took the time to read my story and comment, I can't stress how much this has all helped.
Melanie58 Lixlemongrass somethingonce scottishpies vestacurry - thank you all for your messages, I'd gone to bed last night when you sent them. You've all made some really good points.
From reading other people's stories I have come to realise that there are such varying degrees of such type of person, whether or not they are 'officially' sociopathic or narcissistic. My ex didn't show many of the classic signs, he didn't verbally abuse me, make me cry etc. He hated people with over inflated egos (but then maybe just a front hey?). But there was definitely a few things that just seemed not quite right to me.
He quite often would seem to be on the edge about whether he was 'up' or 'down' - he even admitted this himself. I also think his mum obviously noticed these things in him as that was a very weird thing to say to your son's girlfriend the first time you met her?
I think a big contributor to how he is stems back to his childhood. He had a friend that he spent all his time with who suddenly died at the age of 13. I don't think he was given the support he needed. He only spoke about it a couple of times but I remember once he said that he shut himself off for years afterwards and didn't let anyone get close to him, I think fear of the same thing happening again. That's got to have had an effect on how he is now? I know it's easy for me to say but I partly blame his parents for letting that happen.
But anyway like you all say, whatever his 'diagnosis' his treatment of me was shocking and appalling and I really need to get in the frame of mind where I think 'lucky escape' - I'm getting there, promise!
scottishpies - I'm so sorry that you are in the same position as my with regards to children. That's all part of the struggle too as I am having to accept I will never have my own child (bear I child that is, I know there's other options). I never dreamed I would be in this position and it is absolutely heartbreaking. There's no escape from it is there? Every day you have to watch all you friends bringing up and enjoying their children. But am I with you and agree that I'm glad I don't have a child with him
OK, so far I am up to paragraph six where he ordered the Gordon's and I see no obvious evidence of sociopathy so far...and nothing that cannot be justified by 'but you don't know what she was like...'
Join the discussion
Please login first.