Pathological Partners

Relationships require effort, energy, and commitment from both partners to be successful. When each partner is well balanced and emotionally healthy, this work can produce a mutually fulfilling, supportive, loving union that grows and deepens over time. However, for some couples, this success story is virtually impossible. There is a percentage of the general population that is afflicted with a personality disorder such as sociopathy or psychopathy (the terms are frequently used interchangeably).

When most people think of the term “sociopath,” they imagine a serial killer, or a person who tortures animals. While people who engage in these behaviors are often sociopathic, not all sociopaths physically torture or kill.
Many sociopaths, while all mentally hard wired in a similar way, will focus their attention on advancing a different set of desires and agendas. While they may not have the sensationalism or notoriety of being serial killers, these individuals commit damaging and destructive acts toward others in their circle, including toward intimate partners. If you have the misfortune to be closely involved with or married to a sociopath, it is likely that you find yourself often hurt, confused, or bewildered by the callous and shocking acts of your partner. While only a licensed mental health professional can diagnose a sociopath, it is helpful to understand the signs. Here are 9 signs your partner or spouse may be a sociopath:

1. Lack of remorse or guilt response. A sociopath may cry about being caught for doing something wrong, but ultimately does not have the same guilt response, or conscience, that the rest of us possess. In fact, your partner might even feel the victim “deserved” it or asked for it by being weak or vulnerable.

2. Difficulty controlling impulses. Your partner likely has difficulty delaying gratification, and may be prone to addictive behavior like drug abuse, alcoholism, or compulsive sexual behavior.

3. Non-conformity to social norms. In other words, your spouse might think and act as if the regular rules and restrictions placed on us by society simply don’t apply to him or her.

4. Consistently displays irresponsibility. Your spouse may not hold down a steady job, make bill payments on time, or honor commitments, like those made in marriage.

5. Frequent boredom and a need for constant stimulation. This can lead to risky behaviors, without concern for the safety of others or even self.

6. A tendency toward violent behavior. This may be evident in fistfights, assaults, and other violent displays.

7. Lying, deceitfulness, and conning behavior. Your partner might lie about everything and anything in order to benefit him or herself. Some sociopaths sponge off of the generosity of others and prefer manipulating others to sustain a parasitic lifestyle.

8. Shallow displays of emotion, and superficial charm. Your spouse may possess a great deal of charisma, but over time it becomes evident that there is no “deeper” emotional life.

9. An inflated and grandiose self worth. Your partner might think and behave as if he or she is a superior being and adopt a disdainful attitude toward others to match.

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