Relationship with a Sociopath is Over, But Now I Need Help

Reader’s Question

I recently broke off a relationship with someone I now know is a sociopath. I have been traveling a lot since then (some 6 weeks ago) but fear that I will not be able to overcome this soon. I am also still looking for answers, despite all the research that I’ve done on the pathologies of a sociopath. I know that the best thing was to end the relationship immediately and never look back, but I need counsel from someone that is a specialist or has experience in dealing with sociopaths and treating victims of them as well.

Can you direct me to anyone in the NY area? Do you know of any community centers that may have these services for free or at low prices? I cannot afford therapy at NY prices by the hour, honestly.

Psychologist’s Reply

The term “sociopath” is often used to describe an “Antisocial Personality (AP)”. The antisocial scale probably ranges from illegal acts to gang membership to con artists/abusers/users and then psychopathic serial killers. A relationship with a sociopath can be very traumatic and almost always includes intimidation, lies, dishonesty, some level of abuse, manipulations, aggressive behavior, financial theft, etc. I’ve written an article entitled Identifying Losers in Relationships that discusses the techniques used by Antisocial and other personality disorders. For the victims of an Antisocial Personality, I’ve written Love and Stockholm Syndrome — both of which are available on this website. CounsellingResource.com also has two extensive discussion forums on these topics. You are completely right that you can’t look back or go back. At the same time, there’s a good chance that you have been emotionally damaged by the relationship and as you recognize, counseling and treatment will be needed.

There’s a problem with treatment and sociopaths/antisocials. The professionals who have experience “dealing” with sociopaths and antisocial personalities are generally working in prisons. A psychologist, counselor, or psychiatrist in community practice rarely works with these individuals unless through a court order. In community practice, however, we constantly deal with the victims of a sociopath or antisocial personality. I’d recommend contacting your local community mental health center — the program sponsered by state or federal funds. They often base their fees on your ability to pay (called a “sliding scale”). You can sometimes obtain counseling from university counseling programs where you are assigned a psychologist or counselor in-training yet supervised by an experienced professional. Your family physician or OB/GYN often can refer you to professionals that have lower per-hour rates. If you have medical insurance, your treatment is often covered with the exception of a co-pay as long as the professional is in the company network.

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Most importantly, there is a good chance that you are emotionally exhausted from your ordeal. Antisocials “burn out” anyone who has a relationship with them due to their 100% selfishness and 0% sensitivity and concern for those around them. You may have signs of a clinical depression such as sleep/appetite/concentration problems, chronic fatigue, increased thinking speed, worry, panic-like sensations, etc. Read about depression as well and if you find yourself depressed, consult with your family MD for other treatment options. If the relationship has a history of emotional abuse and excessive drama, I’d read my article on Emotional Memory, also on this website. It discusses how we can be tormented by traumatic memories and then manage those memories.

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