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Do sociopaths attach strongly to their victims--even if they don't feel empathy?

Tagged as: Breaking up, Health<< Previous question   Next question >>
Question - (15 May 2011) 11 Answers - (Newest, 26 May 2011)
A male United States age 41-50, anonymous writes:

I was with a girl for a long time who I believe was a sociopath. I dont wanna go into the details, but she had all the characteristics: she lied constantly, said very sweet things to me--as well as a bunch of other guys, was promiscuous and viewed sex as a way of getting what she wanted, was sweet on the outside but when she let her guard down was cold and irritable, was all about taking and not giving etc. etc.

Anyway, from the time I realized that she was likely a sociopath to the time I broke with her for good, it was about 6 months. The reason was that she kept calling me back, asking to talk, sounding like she really needed me. Of course, when I went back to her, it was the same thing again--lying, taking, using. But my need to be wanted and her insistence in wanting me (and she is a stunning looking girl) kept reeling me back.

I've broken communication with her now for a while, ignoring her emails, texts, and calls. But I wonder this:

If she was a sociopath (which I feel strongly about), why was she so attached? Aren't sociopaths supposed to feel no emotion?

I've done some reading and people say different things. Some people say sociopaths drop you when they don't need you anymore; others say sociopaths will stalk you if you drop them first.

What is the nature of the attachment if ultimately sociopaths really don't care about you?

Thanks for your thoughts!

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A female reader, anonymous, writes (26 May 2011):

yes a sociopath can strongly attatch to their victim i have been on and off with a sociopath for 7 years now and i am only 21 he was my first boyfriend and i was his first girlfriend and now hes in jail because when i tried to leave him he wanted to break into my house and kidnap me it only gets worse with time nd people who say they feel no emotion or remorse are correct but it doesnt mean they dont get something out of making you feel a certiant way or being able to control you thats why they need you something about the response u in particular gives them power nd they thrive off it. it tends to be kind caring people like me who want to help and fix someone they genuinely care about they will never change they will get progresivly worse and continue to push their boundries to see how much you will undergo and i strongly suggest u stop it now females in general tend to be more emotional then males so i can only imagine a female sociopath you should break away before your left to fucked up for the next im shure shes a flawless girl like you said but there a dime a dozen theres millions of beautiful girls out there and some of us are actually good people find one. leave her. and move on

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A female reader, Alittlebroken United Kingdom +, writes (18 May 2011):

Alittlebroken agony auntPlease get away from this girl while you can. I understand it will be a long road ahead and hard for you to deal with as you clearly have feelings for her. I was with a sociopath for over a year- and I understand how easy it is to fall back into their arms even when you think you have ended it.

People like that are very persuasive- and they will also use what they perceive are your weaknesses against you, in order to get what they want- even if it is to get back with you, and once they have it they will go back to their old ways of ignoring you, being selfish, not caring and generally emotionally abusing you.

Trust me, it will leave mental scars so please get away from her while you can. Being with a guy like that changed me- it made me have very low self esteem and very depressed so please do not allow yourself to get to that stage and be strong.

I understand what attracts us to people like that though, whether she is a sociopath or not- it's their confidence, it's irresistible.

Good luck to you.

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A male reader, Odds United States +, writes (16 May 2011):

Odds agony aunt@ Spinnaker - Thanks for clearing that up.

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A male reader, spinnaker United States +, writes (16 May 2011):

spinnaker agony auntOdds - the term sociopath has a negetive stigma attached to it so it is not used officially. Anti-social personality disorder is the official term.

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A male reader, Odds United States +, writes (15 May 2011):

Odds agony auntDude, chicks like that are toxic. They are the kind of girls who will punish you for being nice to them, then desperately act nice and sexy when you try to leave. When you actually stand up to them, and make it clear you are not tolerating any further nonsense, they will spread rumors ranging from the relatively benign ("He has a small penis") to the legitimately dangerous ("He hits me"). Get clear, walk away clean.

She is not attached to you, she is attached the the idea of being in a relationship. She views you as an accessory to living the kind of life she wants.

"Sociopath" is a more useful term for its colloquial meaning than for its medical one (I'm not fully up to date, but my understanding is its use as a term of diagnosis is in dispute). So, coming from a colloquial sense - she feels emotions, and she knows right from wrong, she just doesn't care. She is attached to you in the way you are attached to your car: you want it, and like the things it does for you, but you don't think of a car as something with meaningful wants and needs of its own. You don't change a car's oil because it enjoys it, you do it so it will continue to fulfill the role of a functioning car.

Get away from her fast. Find a better girl.

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A male reader, anonymous, writes (15 May 2011):

If you like walking on eggshells around this person 24/7 for the duration of the relationship by all means have at. I prefer stability and sanity.

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A female reader, CindyCares Italy + , writes (15 May 2011):

CindyCares agony aunt I happen to have heard the story of this particular OP with some background info, so I feel confident in saying no no, this is not simply a spoiled little princess or a pretty girl who likes attention, there is more to the story .

None of us is a psychiatrist and if we were we could not diagnose a person from a distance, on the base of hearsay. But, as Spinnaker remarks, not all sociopaths display always all the traits of antisocial personality disorder, as in a perfect textbook case. And anyway , even in lack of an official diagnosis, just the exhibition of a certain number of personality and behaviour traits is a big red flag that says - disturbed / socially maladjusted person here, proceed with caution.

Anyway, to answer your question : she was probably very attached to your function, or to the result she wanted to get from you, not to you as a person.

A common and typical trait in these kind of personalities

is a low level of tolerance to frustration- they take refusals very personally. If you go with a sociopath to, say, a restaurant that stops serving food at 10 , and it's 10.30, he/she will use all their charm and persistence to make sure the rule gets broken on their behalf, even when ...there's another restaurant open all night just next door, and it would be much simpler just to go there .

I don't think therefore we can talk of "attachment " in an emotional sense. She simply wasn't done with you- and did not like to terminate the relationship before SHE had decided to do so.

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A male reader, spinnaker United States +, writes (15 May 2011):

spinnaker agony auntSomeone does not have to exhibit all of the behaviors of a sociopath in order to be officially diagnosed with antisocial personality disorder.

Keep in mind that this woman may have had some circumstances in her life that had influenced her behaviors. Perhaps, to her, a relationship is there simply for utility and nothing else. Utility could be the attributes you have or the services you provide. Utility could also be something as simple as your company. Either way someone exhibiting these behaviors is not likely to develop a relationship for its own sake.

She may care for you but only insofar as it is a benefit to her. If you benefit she would need to benefit as well or there is going to be problems. It may seem that she is interested in your goals and helpful in you achieving them but she is very likely to be looking for some kind of reward and that could be something as simple as your gratitude. If your reaction is such that it does not line up with her expectations, once again there will be problems.

Keep in mind that all of this may not be conscious on her part - the misconception of antisocial behavior is that the person exhibiting it is actively involved. Her responses to past relationships could have motivated her to develop this detachment as means of protection.

I hope this helps and keep us all informed on any new developments

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A female reader, anonymous, writes (15 May 2011):

nah, she just sounds selfish.

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A female reader, chickpea2011 United States +, writes (15 May 2011):

chickpea2011 agony auntDear friend,

When you mentioned sociopath I thought it was funny!

Reading your story, her behavior is not sociopath, but I think, since you mentioned she's good looking! She's just spoiled.. Maybe started as a child? this is the only way she knows how to get what she wants..

I don't see anything wrong with her... She's beautiful, she knows, likes the attention and this is just how she is... Doesn't mean she's a bad person, but just self-fish..

I think she just very self-fish, likes things her way, maybe little dramatic, princess syndrome?

I don't think she's using you, she really have feelings for you, maybe she's being all this dramtic because, even though she's so beautiful, she probably have her insecurities, its hard to let your feelings out, let your guard down, she's probably acting this way, because she's not sure how you feel about her & she doesn't want to get hurt..

Her behavior could be so many things, past relationships, etc... Beautiful, successful people have insecurities too..

The lying is really a problem, but just because you're a honest, mature guy, doesn't mean people are the same as you..

I don't see as a serious problem, flirting w/other guys, maybe she's doing on purpose to make you jealous.. Just remember, people are different, think different, have different opinions...

If you really like her and want to be with her, why not? Take day by day, who knows, once she feels comfortable, secure with you, she might change her behaviors...

Ps: sorry if I offended you when I said it was funny when you call her sociopath, but I understand you... You're just frustrated! :-)

Good luck to you!

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A female reader, Abella United States +, writes (15 May 2011):

Abella agony auntYou know this girl better than I but since I am not a psychiatrist. So I cannot describe your ex as you do. So I will just call her your ex.

Your ex has hurt you and based on your readings you feel convinced that your ex is likely to be, as you say.

As I understand it a Sociopath does not think like other people

The sociopath does not care about you but does derive some pleasure in 'breaking' your spirit. So if you are not fully ruined yet, and broken then you are still available for another day for your ex to abuse. This is not OK, of course, from your perspective.

A sociopath may be outraged at the thought that the ending of the relationship could be initiated by the victim. Because they think the initiative to end the relationship is their decision alone to decide.

And they may be able to speak with eloquence, be charming when it suits them, and be convincing, but their empathy level is zero.

They lack insight into their behavior and fail to recognise how wrong they are.

Emotional Intelligence is lacking in them.

Try to work out what it is you are providing as a 'pay-off/reward' when you put up with her behavior. Stop believing her lies, no matter how plausible her explanations. Most times it is too late before you discover the lies.

They do not feel the same emotions for what is right and what is wrong.

If anything they like the thrill of inflicting pain, it amuses them. And if they find a willing victim, willing to endure their bad behavior then they will keep going back. Not unlike the boy who wants to see how much pain he can inflict of a fly pinned to a board. Sick and Cruel.

But the sociopath would not think it cruel, to them it would be just interesting as an exercise to see what it felt like to hurt someone else.

They do not mind how much use they make of other people's resources. Be it money, help, support. They will even take that support without permission, such as create a fictitious set of awards and qualifications.

Because they have an unrealistic expectation of who they think they are.

So if they meet a willing victim, willing to give them money, listen to their lies, their inflated stories about what they are capable of, then of course they will keep that victim close because they see that victim as easy for them to use.

And because they have an inflated opinion of themselves then of course they will want to act out their sexual desires with whoevee is handy. And if someone gets hurt by their unfaithfullness they will shrug as if it is no concern of theirs. And may even enjoy the hurt of a partner distressed that they have been unfaithful.

The thing they Truly Hate is being exposed as the Liar,

You have a need to be wanted, perhaps be generous and giving. But your self respect must over-ride all your nice qualities, you need to put yourself first.

Your self esteem, intact and healthy, is more important than her, no matter how beautiful.

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