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Are You In A Relationship With An Everyday Sadist?

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Could you be in a relationship with an “everyday sadist?”

Someone who has everyday sadism is an average person who not only lacks empathy but enjoys inflicting harm on others. Do you know someone like this? Or, perhaps you interact with sadistic people and don’t know it. Here is some information for the psychiatrically curious:

Everyday sadists are people who have what scientists call a Dark Personality. (A lot of people out there actually enjoy making others feel bad. These people have sadistic personalities. So it makes sense that they are out there dating (or marrrying). After all, the best way to inflict pain is to do it to someone who truly cares about you.

What might an everyday sadist look like in your life?

Meet Carol. She loves to hurt people. People don’t know this about Carol because it’s not like she is a secret serial killer or anything. However, she goes out of her way to hurt other people and enjoys it when others are wounded or harmed. For example, at work, she’s jealous of Patti. Patti’s too damn happy and does too good of a job. This annoys Carol.

Carol targets Patti by getting other people at the office to start hating on Patti and giving Patti a hard time about everything. She toggles up to Brian after a staff meeting and whispers, “Don’t you think Patti had a little attitude with you in that meeting? It is so obvious she thinks your department is a joke.”

By the time she is done getting everybody to gang up on Patti, Carol is truly enjoying herself. Outside of work, Carol is nasty to waiters and waitresses, particularly the nice ones. It isn’t unusual for at least one person in Carol’s life (the dry cleaner, her son) to cry after an interaction with Carol. But, Carol lacks any empathy and pretends to understand what other people mean when they say stuff like, “I feel so bad for her.” Carol doesn’t feel bad FOR anybody. Why? Because Carol is an everyday sadist.

Then there’s John. He really likes playing violent video games and loves it when his dog whines for food. He waits just a little too long to pick up his wife from work because he knows it bugs her. Then he attacks her verbally by saying, “I can’t believe how selfish you are to be steamed at me when I am doing you a favor. I wish I would have known this about you before we got married.” Then, she cries and John feels really good inside. Why? Because John is an everyday sadist.

Do you know someone who might have some sadistic tendencies? Make sure you see a pattern of behavior before you jump to any conclusions.

And if you do think someone in your life has this, what can you do about it?

  1. Be aware that there are people out there who might say they aren’t trying to hurt your feelings, but they actually are.
  2. Know that if you appear like someone who won’t fight back or are an easy target, you are more likely to be solicited by these kinds of people in relationships.
  3. Trust your instincts when you think you might be being manipulated.
  4. Fight back in whatever way is smartest for you. In work, that could mean do a really good job of CYA (Cover Your A**). In a friendship, that might be backing away. In an intimate relationship, that probably means setting some boundaries on behavior.
  5. Do not try to change your everyday sadist or get him or her to see the error in their ways. This will only enrage them or make them irritated. And when they are irritated they will lash out. If you are a sadist reading this, help is available to if you think you have a problem. A licensed professional can help.
  6. If you are married or in an intimate relationship with someone like this, do yourself a big kindness and get some professional support to separate out what your next steps could be.

Curious for more information?

The Psychometric Properties and Utility of the Short Sadistic Impulse Scale (SSIS)

Behavioral Confirmation of Everyday Sadism

Learn more about Stop Giving It Away.

>> Purchase Stop Giving It Away at Amazon
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Photo Credit: Lisa monster Compfight Compfight.

Are You In A Relationship With An Everyday Sadist?

Cherilynn Veland, LCSW, MSW

Cherilynn Veland, MSW, LCSW, is a counselor and coach based in Chicago. She has been helping individuals, couples and families for more than 20 years. She is author of Stop Giving It Away, a book about developing healthier relationships with yourself and others. The Stop Giving It Away movement aims to stop the detrimental level of self-sacrifice in which many women live and work. Winner of the 2015 National Indie Excellence Book Award in the Women's Issues category - Stop Giving It Away.

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APA Reference
, . (2016). Are You In A Relationship With An Everyday Sadist?. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 22, 2020, from


Last updated: 24 Apr 2016
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