Although anyone who has ever caught a late-night episode of Dexter may disagree with me on this point, the majority of sociopaths aren’t vigilante serial killers. However they are far from harmless and they are more common than you may have thought.
Studies indicate that about 1% of the population can be categorized as sociopathic. In certain segments of the population it has been suggested that the prevalence of sociopaths is particularly high. For instance, one in ten Wall Street stock-brokers is allegedly a sociopath. Interestingly, the segments of the population in which sociopaths are most prevalent, are the same segments that most single ladies would target for boyfriends. While the savvy single woman may be impressed by the ambition and paycheck that go hand-in-hand with these coveted Fortune 500 jobs, it is the high-stakes, cut-throat competition, and cold, calculated strategy that appeal to these psychotic eligible bachelors.
So how do you avoid dating a sociopath? Follow your heart this check-list.
1. Does he seem almost…too good to be true?
Charming? Check. Raw sexual magnetism? Check. Handsome and charismatic? Check. Believe it or not, a sociopath is more likely to be the life of the party than the creeper lurking outside in the bushes with a knife. However, I’m certainly not saying that you should automatically rule out every man who seems perfect. So how do you determine whether this gem is your Prince Charming or your demise? A sociopath has a grandiose sense of self. He feels entitled and gets angry if anyone suggests anything to the contrary. Your Prince Charming will be confident, but he won’t perceive himself to be a god among men. He will also be genuine as opposed to superficial and glib.
2. Does he have trouble sustaining long-term relationships?
Believe it or not, the fact that you are essentially an emotionless shell of a person possessed only by evil is hard to keep under wraps long-term. If he doesn’t have friends that have known him for a significant period of time, a relationship with his family, or an appropriate number of previous long-term relationships, it’s a red-flag (sociopath or not).
Having long-term friends also acts as a safeguard against the possibility that he is pretending to be someone he’s not. Sociopaths are also prone to readily creating and assuming completely different identities in order to escape trouble/prosecution. A friend that he’s had for a few months may not know that last year he was living half-way around the globe under a different name with a wife and kids that are still waiting for him to come back with the milk for their Cheerios.
3. Do they have problems telling the truth?
They lie about little things, they lie about things that are clearly lies, and when you call them out on it, the more elaborate their lie becomes. “I did go to Harvard- I just don’t have the diploma because of the tropical storm that flooded my home office in 97’ and the school doesn’t have record of it because the I rebutted sexual advances made by the secretary that worked in the admissions office and she clearly retaliated by deleting my academic records from their database out of spite.” Here’s another lie: that’s nothing to worry about. Playing fast and loose with the truth gives them a rush, and since a sociopath’s life is essentially a web of carefully spun lies, they are more likely to become violent when caught. Therefore my advice is not to push the issue: smile, nod, and get the hell out of there.
4. Do they act like they’re a big deal (even if they couldn’t be further from it)?
He has an air of self-importance despite being unemployed with no career prospects and no connections. The fact that he’s buying his Cubans with food stamps won’t deter him from dressing to the nine’s and assuming the role of VIP at miscellaneous corporate gatherings. Life is a game, the world is a stage, and he’s gunning for an Oscar.
5. Does he seem to lack a realistic life-plan, or lead a parasitic lifestyle?
A car can go from 0 to 60 with a firm foot on the gas pedal, but a man can’t go from delusional deadbeat to business mogul without some serious planning and dedication in between. This man is unemployed and stays afloat by exploiting others. He would never even entertain an absurd notion like getting a part-time job because he is so far above that. He believes that he is destined for success, despite the fact that all signs seem to point to the contrary. He feels entitled to all of the finer things in life, and has a tendency to live well beyond his means.
6. Has your cat gone missing?
7. Does he have no apparent sense of remorse, guilt or shame?
I’m not talking ‘he used the last of the milk and left the empty carton in the fridge,’ I’m talking straight-up sick-puppy syndrome. The ends justify the means for this type of person, and he is not at all concerned about how many casualties are left in his wake.
8. Do his emotions seem shallow or feigned?
Having never actually experienced an emotional response, what a sociopath displays as compassion or sorrow is merely a means of serving some ulterior motive. If he seems rehearsed, ingenuine, or detached when talking about emotional issues, it may be a red flag.
Litmus Test: If he can watch Field of Dreams without crying, there’s a good chance that he’s a sociopath.
9. Does he seem to have A LOT in common with you?
One of a sociopath’s keys to success is their ability to win-people over. A common way of accomplishing this end is through personality mirroring. Whatever you say, they agree with- in fact, they couldn’t agree more! This makes people with online dating profiles easy prey for sociopathic bachelors, since they have a profile full of ammo before they even set foot on the first date. If you go in with your guard down, they will have you believing they’re “the one” in record time.
One way to side-step this delightful manipulation is to really take your time getting to know someone. On the first few dates, do more listening than talking. If he doesn’t have your comments to agree with, it’s more likely that his own opinions will emerge. Asking questions is also crucial to gaining insight into who someone really is. However, the real benefit of opting out of your sorority’s wedding bracket and taking things slowly, is that you get a better idea of how someone acts. Things like how he treats others, whether he is reliable, if he’s perpetually late, whether he blames other people for his mistakes, how he handles stress, if he has anger problems, etc. are things that you can’t learn in the course of one date.
10. Do you have reason to believe that he’s a freak in the sheets?
Every guy has fantasies; not every guy fantasizes about strangling trannies. Maybe you stumbled upon his internet search history or his little box of horrors, maybe his Facebook statuses read like excerpts from Fifty Shades of Grey, or maybe role-play night suddenly took a turn for the sick and twisted…go with your gut. If he is violent and/or aggressive and makes you feel degraded or dominated (and that’s not your thing) he has issues that you don’t want to be playing with. Nothing kills the mood faster than…well…getting killed.
So ladies, I’ll leave you with this: keep your eyes open and take your time when getting to know someone. It’s a fine line between “the one” and “the one on America’s Most Wanted” and that line becomes blurrier with each cosmo…just sayin’.