Every relationship has its issues, of course, and we can choose to either work through them or move on. Most people don’t expect to be confronted with the fact that their partner has antisocial personality disorder (ASPD), though – which means they basically don’t understand or experience human emotions the way the rest of us do.
These 15 people lived to tell their tales, though, and anyone who has even a passing interest in human psychology is going to want to tune in.
15. That would do a number on anyone.
He never once yelled. Never raised his voice. It made me feel like I was the insane one.
I was young and going through a very hard time (also had been badly abused by my father and stepmother for several years, so this kind of behavior was oddly comforting and familiar), and I had convinced myself that I loved him. I found out that he kept detailed notes on what I liked and didn’t like, who I spent time with, what I ate, everything. Every time I would get up the courage to leave, he’d find some way to weasel back into my life. Going so far as to get himself hired at my job site and pretending it was “fate”.
Edit: I’m just gonna copy the first sentence of another answer, because it hits home so perfectly:
I thought I was so special because he was so confident in himself. He could do no wrong, he always said everything with such confidence you felt stupid to question it. I was young and he was the first person to show interest in me that I thought was also really smart.
My first clue that something was wrong was when he told me that “men don’t ever feel love when they’re having s*x”. When I informed him that I had had plenty of s*xual encounters that involved feelings of love on both sides, he assured me that “those men were lying to you. No man has emotions when s*xually aroused.”
He also had several “rules” that had to be followed in order to continue the relationship. However much money he spent on me, I must spend on him. A certain number of texts per day. A certain amount of time within which texts from him must be answered. Hair has to be a certain length. Makeup and perfume at all times, even sleeping. Eventually it got to the point where he was insisting that he should be allowed to have s*x with other women, because his s*x drive was higher than mine and it “wasn’t fair”. This last one is what caused the most fights. He cheated So. Many. Times. I once yelled at him “You’re only sorry you got caught!” and he said, clearly surprised, “Of course I’m sorry I got caught. If you never found out about it, who would it hurt?”
He had zero empathy. My grandmother died and he could not understand why I couldn’t “make myself” stop crying when I heard. He was annoyed that he had to drive home from the funeral because I was in no shape to do so. “The funeral’s over, nobody’s here but me, who are you crying for?”
After 9 years of psychological torture he finally left when I got the news that I had breast cancer. My parents took me on a 3-day beach vacation to clear my head before the first round of treatments began – he refused to come along, and on the day before we were supposed to return, he left a message on Facebook that said, “We’re done. I’m out.”
I called to ask why. “Because you have cancer.” Short and to the point.
I told him, “This is what’s going to happen. You’re going to keep f**king whoever it is that you found to f**k, and in a few weeks or a few months she’s going to realize you can’t love people, and she’s going to dump your a$$. And that’s when you’ll start calling me again. I’m warning you now, don’t do it. This was the line. I don’t want to see your face again. I will finally let my brother beat the s**t out of you.”
A few days later he “accidentally” sent me a text with a picture of him having s*x, that said “Abby (not my name) that was the best night of my life and you seemed to have had fun too. ” I texted back “Nice try but we’re still done” then blocked him.
14. It could happen to you, too.
Clinical psych grad student here.. There are going to be a lot of sensationalized responses on here that paint a picture of “sociopaths” (Antisocial Personality Disorder or Narcissistic Personality Disorder, depending–this is how the DSM-IV and DSM-V characterize them) that is violent and demented. The reality is that “sociopaths”–just like mentally healthy people–come in all shapes and sizes. Violent tendencies can exist but aren’t necessarily advantageous for people. Many sociopaths end up becoming successful doctors, lawyers, and politicians, and most of them do not commit acts of violence or overt aggression. (One caveat is that Antisocial Personality Disorder is characterized by acts of criminal or otherwise delinquent behaviour. Narcissists not quite as much.)
And yes, I was romantically involved with a “sociopath”.
Ultimately, being with him felt like I had been thrown into rapids–I felt disoriented, confused, and betrayed after every serious conversation about his treatment of me. Somehow, it was my fault for “criticizing him too much”, he refused to apologize and claimed that wanted an apology for mistreatment was manipulation on my part. I told him once that being with him felt like he was holding me by the throat over a great precipice–I didn’t want to hold onto him, but if I let go, I feared that I would fall. He had constructed a world around me in which my reality was no longer real, in which I was never the victim but the ungrateful charity case, and in which he was constantly inventing new ways to torment me psychologically and intimidate me physically. The tumult–the rapids–were ultimately a script of rapidly oscillating states of being. He would apologize and promise he would change. He would cry and beg for me not to leave him. If I tried to make him leave, he would pivot to threats or demean me. Everything happened on his terms, even if it didn’t seem that way. Outwardly, he appeared to be a patient, kind, and charismatic partner. He was conventionally attractive, intellectually gifted, and socially adored. His views on life were reasonable and measured, and his style of rhetoric is, to this day, one of the most engaging and convincing of anyone I’d ever known. The acts of cruelty and humiliation were rare at first, growing to a crescendo during times in my life when I was the most vulnerable. I lost my best friend–the abuse escalated. I got a new job and it declined. I left my job and it escalated. I found a new job and there we were, back to celebrating again.
When he was good, he was so good. I would start to believe that I must have just been too hard on him–after all, things only got bad when I was already doing poorly, managing grief, loss, and depression. When I was succeeding, he was succeeding with me. So it seemed reasonable to me, for a while, that he was right when he said I was just “projecting my inner turmoil onto him”. I believed him, for a while. But that mask just can’t stay on. Eventually things are too good for too long, and he couldn’t have that. He always needed to be one step ahead of me. He always needed to have the upper hand. And he always needed to use it to drag me to the edge of the abyss and hold me over, while I desperately clutched and grabbed at the arm that held me, begging him not to let go.
I know now that this is typical of narcissistic abusers. I know now that his moves were calculated and methodical. I know that he hit me when I was already down because it was the easiest to manipulate my worldview during those times, and to create a dynamic in which I was so afraid to lose him amongst the other losses that I would forgive him for whatever he had done, even if what he had done was slowly bore a hole into me, removing pieces of myself that I had left defenseless to exploit.
I know now that the true trap is the poison in the sugar. I know that it’s the sweetness, the overtures when you are stronger that truly ensnare and contort. And I know that it was not my fault. It had never been my fault. The red flags I had seen from the start were warnings I should have heeded, not forgiven. And that in robbing me of myself, in repeatedly gaining and abusing my trust and affection, he was whittling me away from the inside out until I felt more like scattered debris of myself than an entire person capable of walking away when I first realized I had to.
I tried to leave him 10 times. It took me 9 months after the abuse first started to get out–6 after the first serious events started to unravel. I didn’t think that sort of thing could happen to me because, well, I had studied this sort of thing. I knew these signs academically. I was so certain I’d recognize them. I am a strong, outspoken, and almost aggressively independent person, someone you would think incapable of victimizing. But there I was. It happened to me. And in it having happened, I understand now how truly insidious abuse is. I understand why women can’t or don’t leave. I understand why I was so, so wrong to think they were weak for not fighting or running away. If an abuser is smart, like my partner, they don’t just break you down. It doesn’t happen all at once. Instead, you become eroded. You are contorted and compromised so slowly you don’t realize what is happening until you’ve already been ensnared. He never had to lay a single hand on me to be the single worst experience of my entire life. He didn’t have to hit me even once to make me afraid of him, alienated from my own body, and distanced from my true sense of self.
Beyond the obvious words of wisdom I am sure most people will impart in this thread, I’d just like to leave you with this, if you’re still with me:
“I give you bitter pills in sugar coating. The pills are harmless–the poison is in the sugar.”
13. The other side of the table.
I’m NPD and Bipolar I. I have a lot of symptoms in common with ASPD and have been described that way by various professionals in the past. I’m not really capable of empathy. I’ve never really understood the concept no matter how many times it’s been explained to me. I don’t really understand love as a feeling. To me love is simply a set of actions, attitudes and behaviors I can choose to show towards a person. It’s kind of like a job.
I’ve been married for 18 years and told my wife as soon as I knew exactly like you suggested. She’d probably say at times it’s been traumatic. For me life has been extremely traumatic as well but mostly from experiencing intolerable internal mental states rather than bad things having happened to me.
I’m not a bad person though. Sociopath does not equal evil. I have principles and I stick to them but I definitely don’t really understand people emotionally. Conversely I don’t believe that anyone who doesn’t have the exact same conditions as me could ever remotely understand what it’s like to be in my shoes either.
12. The gaslighting is real.
I was with a man who was never diagnosed, so I can’t say for certain, but even being with someone who had the potential to be was traumatizing. I also had a therapist who said he most likely had antisocial personality disorder, and I told her very little about him.
He had me under has control for almost ten years. I had no friends in college because he made me believe he was my entire world. He made me feel s*xually inept so that there were things I was unable to do with later partners. He told me he loved me even though it was something he could not feel because he knew it was something that would make me even more easy to manipulate. He slept with countless women when we were together and then led me to honestly believe it was my fault. If I even spoke to other men we got in a fight.He got me to let him read my journals and then was mad that he made me so depressed. I got pregnant and he asked if he was really the father. My relationship with my fiancé ended because he made me believe I was still in love with him.
I felt bad about myself for a long time because I let him treat me so poorly and get away with so much. But the more I read and researched I knew it was not me. I grew as a person and worked on everything holding me down and now he means nothing to me. I don’t hate him, want him, or wish to go back in time. I feel nothing and it is the most liberating thing I have ever experienced.
11. It can take a while to heal.
I don’t know when he was officially diagnosed or how long he’s known he was a sociopath, but I learned of it during his court trial.
It’s been about 10 years and I’m still dealing with the PTSD he caused. I’ve learned how to live with it due to being in and out of therapy and having a supportive boyfriend.
I met him when I was fourteen and he was turning eighteen. He coerced and forced me to do s*xual things with me and would get mad at me if I showed any sign of wanting to stop. He choked me when he raped me once. He would slap me, make s*xist remarks, compare me to others, and veil it behind being jokes. He ripped my pants off, putting me in an embarrassing position. He made his friend rape me because his friend’s girlfriend broke up with him and he was lonely. He grabbed his friend’s sword and “jokingly” tried to pierce my stomach, got frustrated because I kept squirming, then grabbed his friend’s BB pistol, shot me with the barrel pressed against my skin, and shot me around the room with it. He would bite me, leaving marks and sometimes drawing blood, and bite down on my tongue. Sadly this only scratches the surface of what he did to me.
I’m unlucky it was my first experience with a romantic relationship. He’s the only person I’ve personally known who I hate with a passion. I probably would have accomplished the things I wanted if I hadn’t met him. He killed me. I wanted to kill myself. My life has gotten better but I’ve lost so much of my time dealing with my PTSD. It’s hard to accept.
One day, I’ll accomplish the things I’ve set out to do and be the best damn therapist I can be.
10. Isolation is a red flag.
I had the same kind of experience, though it only lasted a year.
He made me give up on all my friends and family because he convinced me they did not love or care about me.
And the list just goes on. But after a few years I also realized it wasn’t my fault. And I’m so happy for you coming to that realization after being with that kind of a person for so long, since it took me so long after just being with one for a year.
I wish you all the luck and well-being you deserve!
9. Like anything else, one day at a time.
I didn’t realize he was a sociopath until after it had all ended, but it made everything click into place & make sense.
He treated everyone around him like NPCs whose lives are inconsequential. He led a double life, manipulating & gaslighting me the entire time. He drew from my well until I had nothing left to give, ultimately making me believe anything that went wrong was my fault. And when he was finally backed into a corner, played up a big fear/panic response to keep his job and his fiancee. She wouldn’t listen to me, and here we are. It’s been almost 4 years now, and I still can’t trust people. I thought I could, but it’s become clear to me recently that I’m not as “over it” as I thought I was. I find myself unshakably terrified of emotional closeness.
And much to my dismay, no amount of “wanting to be over it” will actually force me into being “over it”. There are uncountably many ways that that experience changed who I am and how I approach the world.
The worst part?
His hooks were still very much deep in me when I first forced the [figurative] door between him & myself shut. I had to do a LOT to distance myself from him: he kept trying to reach out to me (and my family!) long after I’d cut him off, and it was more difficult to resist than I’d like to admit. At one point I even sent an email to all relevant mutual connections to ask them to hold me accountable to never speaking to him again, and to not allow him to communicate to me through them.
I faltered a couple of times. But I haven’t spoken to him in 3.5 years, and I’m pretty proud of that.
8. It takes a long time to get over.
Still haven’t recovered and I regularly have breakdowns over it. Thankfully I’m in a healthy relationship now, but feel it a shame the emotional pains and trust issues from my previous relationship can sometimes cause issues. Waiting to have therapy after lockdown. This happened about a year ago now, and I think it’ll always stay with me.
Honestly, his eyes were so soulless it was like glimpsing the gates of hell.
7. The gift that keeps on giving.
He was brilliant, handsome, and charming, and made good money at a globally recognized law firm despite being barely 30.
He was attracted to me but it was a take-it-or-leave-it kind of attraction. He was more curious about me than anything else. He’d play mind games and was surprised when I started catching on (I’m from a very intelligent and slightly crazy family myself).
He had no feelings for his family, who worried about him but he never responded to their calls or messages. I found that very off-putting until he told me his diagnosis. Honestly he could be a bit of a dick in general, but he didn’t treat me badly while I was with him (or so I thought). I tired of his lack of affection eventually and broke things off after a particularly pointless mind game of his.
He then told me he’d been hooking up with girls in clubs the whole time. I was surprised but not disappointed, as my view of him was pretty low by then.
He ended up giving me HPV.
6. When you feel hollow and empty inside.
I was with a boyfriend for a year. Someone I know who is a therapist and was acting as my therapist but knew me and my ex well told me that he was a sociopath. I don’t believe he was ever diagnosed but that was good enough for me.
I was 19, he was a year older than me. He has a way of talking in circles until I found myself agreeing to things I didn’t agree with but not really sure what had just happened. Gave me whiplash. He gaslighted me constantly and made me feel like I was crazy. I’d end up apologizing for things I never did.
The worst was when he tricked me into getting engaged to him. I’m not really sure how it happened, because the memory is kind of a blur. But at the end of the conversation he was like, “So, we’re engaged now.” And I was like, hang on, what? I had no desire to marry him. I was too young and I’d already begun to hate him at that point. But before I had the opportunity to figure out what was going on and how the hell we had just gotten engaged, he announced our engagement to 200 people. People were congratulating me and I just felt so hollow and broken inside.
He ended up moving and that’s the only way I got free of him. I’d tried breaking up with him a few times before then but somehow he always made it seem like I had to stay. The day he moved I blocked him on everything, and swore I’d never talk to him again. I still have trauma and am triggered surprisingly frequently, considering it’s been over 2 years.
But yeah. That’s what it’s like dating a sociopath.
5. So they’re making it work.
I’m married to a sociopath. It’s like if Jessica Jones had taken up with The Purple Man (in the tv show) only easier because my husband would’ve just sent the kids to the neighbors for being noisy instead of leaving them in a closet.
He has a moral code that was beaten into him as a kid, but I do have to frequently remind him that murdering people over slight annoyances is really way more trouble than it’s worth and he needs to chill before he gives himself a heart attack. He has a problem with seeing that my hurt feelings don’t go away if all he does is talk but no action. He is terrible at handling me when I’m sad. He has a hard time prioritizing his wants over responsibilities. His friendships are very much of a transactional nature to him(he likes to exchange knowledge and skills) and has said more than once that he married me exactly because I have the Paladin instincts that he lacks and is self-aware enough to know that he wouldn’t live long on the course he had been running until then.
However he treats me as a person first and while he lacks a certain level of empathy I could use, he does try most of the time to keep me happy.
4. None of that is remotely okay.
I found this out recently about someone I dated, from their ex. The relationship was abusive. He gaslighted me all the time, put me down, called me names, loved bringing in racially charged s**t into bed, reveled in it. Whenever we had any kind of a tuffle, he’d shut me out and ignore me for days until I dropped it.
In fact, that’s how he ended the relationship, by disappearing after two years. Just gone one day, never heard from him again. Presumably, it was because I hung out with a male friend. I was younger then, but it certainly did a number on me.
His ex contacted me later and revealed that he had mentioned to her before that he had ASPD. Though, from what I understand, they’re rarely that self-aware.
Anyway, turns out, he was also a white supremacist who believed in the “tiered value” of the races. Probably the scariest part was discovering this piece of fiction he had written a couple years ago about “owning” a thirteen year old girl, starving her, keeping her on a leash, just general terrifying disgusting bulls**t. The premise was a story about a man and his dog, how he abuses and neglects the dog, but the dog still sits around to get fed. It gets quite graphic, and at the end of it, it’s revealed to readers via a cop character that the emaciated dog is actually a small child.
yep, need to work on my radar
3. It only matters that you finally left.
Not diagnosed sociopath but he was diagnosed bi polar and his therapist said “he didn’t know how to relate to people on an emotional level”.
In all honesty it was a terrible abusive relationship. He verbally and emotionally abused me. Was incredibly controlling and manipulative. He didn’t see me as a person but more of an object to have and control. My emotions were annoying to him except it may have brought him pleasure to see me in pain/crying. Everyday he had a different opinion about me. One day he loved me wanted to spoil me. I was the best thing that had ever happened to him. Next day I was worthless, a whore, the worst person ever. We dated just shy of two years.
I cant say why I stayed so long. He was just so irrational and slowly his reality slowly became my reality and I had no sense of self anymore. He would just get mad over the most mundane and ridiculous things and I’d try to bring him back down to reality. Never worked of course.
I did finally have the gaul to leave him and never look back. No idea what happened to him. Hope he burns in hell.
2. They can be very charming.
I had another ex who I truly think was ASPD.
At one point he stated that he cannot bond with anyone.
- He was into brutal s*x.
- He had impulsivity.
- He was a kleptomaniac (he routinely shoplifted from thrift stores and the grocery store).
- He was very interested in scamming people (a notable example would be when he purchased an item at a pawn shop, took it back claiming that it was broken so that they discounted the price, and then had another friend buy it at discount).
- He expressed disgust towards various friends when they acted emotional.
- He clearly thought that he was smarter than all of his friends
- At one point he said “it’s fun to interact with kids and figure out ways you can get them to do what you want” (he was referring to getting kids to do chores, but in retrospect he was very interested in controlling and manipulating people in general).
- He stated that he still hated his little brother for taking attention away from him during childhood (he was 26 and still upset over his brother being born when he was 6)
- He would get extremely upset when anyone disagreed with him on things like planning out camping trips or the meaning of song lyrics
- He broke the rules of his probation all day, every day – when I told him that I disliked certain extreme s*x acts because they were painful, he stated ‘but I like them!”, as if he really thought that should make it ok to do them.
- He had no respect for any of his friends and made fun of them all behind their backs – he was chronically lazy both at work and at home and couldn’t be depended on by anyone
It’s crazy because despite all this, he really made me feel happy and alive and sometimes I still miss him.
So I guess he had sociopathic charm too.
1. Don’t believe a word they say.
I’m currently involved with a sociopath and feel very trapped in my situation.
He is literally twice my age and is a master of manipulation. He just finished serving 8 years in prison over a drug trafficking/murder thing and has had like 16 other charges in his life including shootings and other crazy s**t. Worst temper on a person I’ve ever seen, even my own life has been threatened multiple times and I convince myself I’m going to do a midnight move and change my name but he always somehow emotionally manipulates me with his words the next day and I end up staying. I don’t even know how he does it, he can talk me into and out of pretty much anything and I always end up hating myself for it later.
He’s on trial right now and can even charm police officers and judges to get out of stuff, it’s crazy. 90% of the time he’s a dream boyfriend but in the back of my mind I always have a feeling it’s just some kind of plot. He’s almost convinced me that I’m the real sociopath for “playing victim” and that I’m delusional. I feel like I am losing my mind. Every day is a mental hell downward spiral.
0/10 WOULD NOT RECOMMEND
I’m fascinated and horrified in equal measure – the human brain is all of that and more, all at the same time.
If you have a similar story to share in the comments, we’re all ears!