Tonight, I’m sad. Not for me, but for a very close friend. I’m sad that she’s dating a sociopath because I know exactly what she’s going through. I’ve been there and it’s for that reason that I also know there’s nothing I can say or do that will take away the pain that she’s feeling.
Outsiders who have never dated a sociopath might look at someone who is dating one and say to themselves something along the lines of, “He/She needs therapy if they would date someone like that.”
People who would think that are dead wrong. While it’s true that everyone on this planet (whether emotionally healthy or not) could benefit from therapy/counseling, it’s not true that someone needs therapy simply because they are dating a sociopath. Dating a sociopath is often not a choice.
Sociopaths are skilled manipulators. They will say and do almost anything to get what they want from their victim. The game begins when the sociopath meets someone they are interested in. Sociopaths pretend to be the total opposite of who they really are because they know that their potential love interest would run in the opposite direction if he/she were to get to know the sociopath as their true self! And so the love interest falls in love with the sociopath, not knowing emotional torment will soon take root like an invasive weed.
Once the sociopath knows their love interest is emotionally invested, it’s as if a switch is flipped and the truth about the sociopath and his/her extreme emotional instability comes to light. The love interest is suddenly bombarded with confusion, insecurity and various forms of emotional abuse. Because the sociopath got to know their love interest while pretending to have a completely different personality, it tricks their love interest into thinking that perhaps the sociopath is just going through a rough time since this is definitely not the person he/she fell in love with!
Escaping these people is not an easy task. It often takes completely cutting off all contact with the sociopath.
I consider myself extremely lucky because my sociopath and I live in different countries, on opposite sides of the earth. When cutting off all contact with him I knew that there was no chance that he would pop up at my house or work, I wouldn’t run into him at the grocery store, events or anywhere else. We were talking on skype when he said something that made me realize he was never going to change. I remember his reaction when I told him that I wasn’t going to talk to him ever again. “You can contact me when you get over it.” I shook my head no. He replied, “Never?” Again, I shook my head no. My next step was to block him on all social media so he couldn’t easily make contact.
Doing this allowed me to start the healing process and it was at the 3 week mark of having no contact with him that I noticed I was starting to feel better about myself. I knew that cutting off all contact was the right decision but feeling my self-esteem and self-worth return bolstered me and helped me to stay on the path. Witnessing the gradual return of my self-esteem was strange because I never noticed it had been slipping away from me.
After 4 months of no contact I received an email from him, begging me to start talking to him again. It was the first time I had ever witnessed him beg for anything. This was coming from a man who specifically told me once, “I don’t beg.” The second I received that email from him I changed my email address and changed my phone number a few days later. I wanted to ensure that he wouldn’t be able to call or text as his next method of contact.
5 years later I don’t think about him unless I discover someone is a sociopath, or witness someone else’s emotional torment from being in a relationship with one.
I called my friend tonight and mostly listened to her. I’m a Virgo and if you know anything about Virgos then you know we have an opinion about everything and you know how difficult it is for us to listen to problems without giving advice. I didn’t give her any advice but I did talk to her about sociopaths and the way they operate. But mostly I listened.
Listening to her talk about her pain and hearing her cry was difficult. I had to hold back my own tears when talking to her because my heart breaks for her. It’s always difficult to witness someone we love going through something heartbreaking. Something potentially soul crushing and traumatizing. I wish that I could say something that would instantly help her, but I can’t. There are no words on this earth that will help ease the pain. Only time and reflection can heal wounds. If I had enough money I would drive over to her house, tell her to pack a bag and take her overseas for a few months so that she could start her own healing process.
The healing process is so complex. Sometimes it’s fairly “easy” to get over someone and in the healing process we discover that our feelings for that person weren’t as deep as we thought. Other times it takes many years to heal. I feel bad for those who don’t allow themselves time to heal from their relationship before jumping into another one. They will never heal. They simply stack baggage from one relationship upon the baggage from their previous relationships. Eventually that pile of baggage will topple. Then what?
Thankfully, my friend isn’t one of those people.
Like I mentioned above, the great escape isn’t exactly a walk in the park! I can only help my friend escape her sociopath the way I escaped mine, but first she has to want to. Until she’s committed to the great escape, all I can really do is listen to her or spend time with her. Be a shoulder for her to cry on whenever she needs it.
For now, all I can do is just be there for her.