I recently read the book, “The Sociopath Next Door” by Martha Stout, and am finally able to figure how I managed to be in a relationship with someone with sociopathic behaviors.

Codependency: Defined as excessive emotional or psychological reliance on a partner, typically a partner who requires support due to an illness or addiction.

That illness: Sociopath

I was in a relationship with a sociopath for more time then I’d like to admit, but, here’s what I learned.

Sociopaths prey on people that are sympathetic, vulnerable, and compassionate. I am all of these, so off the bat I’m prone to be a target. Sociopaths are considered not to have a conscience, whereas I find myself living with a super conscience.  How did that dichotomy exist?  Did my conscience feed a person without one which ultimately destroyed my being?  My true identity? Yeah, but once I realized I had codependency issues, the fact that I was struck in a relationship with a sociopathic person began to make sense.

For example, when I would catch him cheating, by reading texts about his latest sexual rendezvous and affairs, and would outright confront him with black and white concrete texts, or emails he would say, “I never did that” and he believed his own lie, to the point where I questioned my sanity. Maybe there was a misunderstanding? Maybe that sextexts were written by someone else? Maybe being confronted by one of his mistresses in the grocery store about their relationship was her lie, when in fact, it was not. That’s scary.

A blatant pattern of lying makes self-awareness impossible for a sociopath so, as a result, sociopaths can have no genuine relationships and sadly, a poor understanding of themselves. How is it possible someone like myself, who constantly seeks self-awareness, honesty, truth, and love and strive to continually learn about myself, end up with someone that is incapable of knowing their true selves? Mind boggling, mostly because I continued to remain attached to a person that outright purely was the opposite of what I try to achieve in life. Pure self-awareness and genuine integrity.

For someone with a strong character, I was a target cause it has been said that sometimes sociopaths say they experience “emptiness” and someone with a strong character becomes someone they target cause they envy this trait and want to conquer or “win” thus, it becomes a game.

So I began to engage in his game, which only kept me holding on and staying longer. Was I going to win? No.  When someone with a conscience meets someone without a conscience you will never win his game. You won’t get that person to admit they lied, deceived, took advantage of you, tried to dominate, or have control over you. He or she will never get it, so don’t bother wasting your time and energy trying to find a way for that person to realize, or admit things cause they are incapable due to their lack of consciousness, and non-existing self-awareness. Swallow your pride and let it go. True winning is moving on with your life and never looking back. Don’t respond to emails, texts, phone calls, cut the cord indefinitely and work toward forgiving yourself for falling into a sociopathic trap. And thanking yourself for the knowledge that you have. That’s big.

But this is easier said than done. It forces you to take a look at yourself, and find out what it was about you that allowed this to happen. That’s the true challenge.

When I look back, for me, lying and deceiving with no conscience was a big one. During my relationship I came across infidelities, deceits, being taken advantage of, and knew these traumatic things were occurring, but somehow couldn’t find it in me to break away.  It was terrible. I resulted in paranoia, depression, loss of my identity, and overall underlying stress.  When I read this book it frightened me, not cause I saw the tendencies of sociopaths, but that remaining in a relationship with one meant there was something wrong with me.

What happened to me? How was it possible to be met with attributes of a sociopath and feel stuck, lost, bewildered, sad, confused, and do nothing. Obviously I have a lot of issues to work out, which will take time and therapy but, when I think about it I can point to one major factor that made me stay: Codependency.

Photo by JonoMueller