After dealing with a narcissistic sociopath/psychopath, I am on high alert for more sociopaths. I know they are out there, and I know how easily they pose as normal people. But, I have also learned that sociopaths usually aren’t criminals and usually aren’t obvious, so I have become very alert to watching for other signs. When someone sets off my red flag sensors, I trust my instincts now. According to the book The Sociopath Next Door, sociopaths are 4% of society. That’s one out of every 25 people, so if I think I’m dealing with a sociopath, there is a good chance I’m right.
Trust your gut!
I have mentioned before that I’m not a licensed psychologist, (yet!) but I still trust my feelings when I think someone is not right. Before I married a sociopath, I had even studied personality disorders in graduate school and I STILL didn’t recognize one when I met him. First hand experience taught me so much more than books did. Now when I read books about disorders, I can nod my head and know exactly what they mean.
I wish I hadn’t had that experience, but I’m not letting it go to waste. I’m using it to protect myself in the future! If someone gives me a bad feeling, I make note of it and watch more carefully. If I continue to see signs, I back away and avoid that person–even if it is someone well-loved and other people think I’m weird for avoiding that person. I know well that psychopaths and sociopaths can be extremely charming, so just the fact that someone is charming doesn’t keep me from looking closer. Words and actions have to match and make sense.
Here are some of the things that tip me off that maybe someone is a predator:
1. They get into trouble, but instead of taking responsibility for what they did, they blame the person who caught them or reported them…and they are very convincing about it.
This is the very first thing that made me realize something was wrong with my narcopath ex. He was bullying his co-workers and kept getting into trouble at work. Every time, he blamed his “jerk” boss or his “idiot” co-worker for telling on him. He never stopped to accept or learn that he was facing the consequences of HIS own bad behavior. Same thing with traffic tickets. It was always the police officer’s fault for catching him instead of his own fault for speeding. After hearing dozens of stories like this, I started to realize something wasn’t right!
2. They make a big deal of telling you how good they are.
Why would someone need to keep telling me they are good when their life can show me? Could it be that they want to distract me with what they want me to see instead of what really is? The ONLY thing that matters is how they act. If a person keeps telling me how righteous they are, but I don’t actually see any evidence, I question their honesty.
3. They have no empathy for people who have been hurt or bullied, or they speak harshly of victimized people.
Victim blaming is a big red flag! Sociopaths rationalize bad behavior, and they don’t have the same morals and empathy as we normal people have. They often feel disgust or disdain at people who are so “weak” that they “let” themselves get hurt.
4. They look down on people with less money or what they consider to be unimportant jobs while treating other people well.
Again, sociopathic people hate the weak. They love to hurt those who are hurting. If they devalue some people while charming others, they are showing their true colors.
5. They make a big show of feelings or hardships, but their actions never match their words.
Do they keep saying they love you while treating you badly? Do they say they were hurt by their mean ex, yet they are out having fun with the new lover? Do they claim to be poor while living in luxury? When actions don’t match words, or even words don’t match other words, something is wrong.
Sometimes these signs can be very subtle, which is why we need to evaluate people’s actions and words. A sociopath might be showing these very characteristics but coated with so much charm, that they aren’t immediately obvious. For clues 1, 2 and 5 in particular, they sociopath might come across as a wonderful person who was unfairly victimized. Their words might be very convincing…but listen and watch harder to make sure you get the real story.