Is My Boyfriend Right that I’m Sociopathic?

Reader’s Question

I am eighteen years old and in a relationship with someone who is 23 years old and has an interest in psychology. He has looked up sociopathic behaviour and believes that I am a sociopath — and if not, that I have Dissocial Personality Disorder. I found this site while researching them. He feels that I lack empathy and feel entitled to certain things that I may not deserve and that I am incapable of loving him. Also, I have an interest in abnormal psychology and watch a lot of shows involving it and do hope to study psychology next year. He says this could be my way of identifying with them.

He has been diagnosed with Bipolar II with mixed state depression, and I am a very busy person with school and sports so with that comes a lot of big fights, occurring many times a week. I lied to him at the beginning of our relationship about a previous partner he knew because I knew it would give him the wrong impression of me because it was a mistake for me. He found out the truth and has had trust issues ever since.

When we fight, it is usually while I am at school and have trouble talking to him because I am in high school, and I am not allowed to have a cell phone in class — or because of his disrupted sleep patterns, it is 12 at night when I want sleep for the next day. When I tell him these are bad times to do this and that I don’t feel bad for falling asleep he gets very mad.

I do have feelings, and I am a very caring person to many people, but the more he points out the symptoms I sometimes exhibit the more scared I get that I somehow invented the feelings I get. On the other hand, he has gotten mad at me for being too emotional over issues. I do believe I am a selfish person and do put myself ahead of others and hurt people in the process but I do feel remorse when I hurt people. I just have always felt independent and the need to look out for myself, and this is the first time there has been anyone for me to have to care about more than myself. I do love him and believe that I am not sociopathic, but I know that there is something not exactly right because I do hurt him to benefit myself sometimes.

Psychologist’s Reply

I don’t believe you are sociopathic. Rather, I get the impression that he is very demanding, self-centered and controlling. If we think about all those fights, I would bet most occur when you participate in activities unrelated to him such as school sports or programs. He’s also not showing any concern for your life/situation by demanding calls during school or in the middle of the night. I have the impression that you are struggling to maintain an independent life while he constantly demands information, attention, calls, and loyalty. If you think about it, rather than making you feel loved and supported, he is spending a lot of time making you feel guilty or fighting. Accusing you of being sociopathic is an attempt to use “intellectual guilt” — making you think something is wrong with you when in truth, he’s angry that you resist his demands or don’t take his calls.

At your age, you should be striving to be independent. You’ll need to set firm boundaries with your boyfriend such as when it’s appropriate to call. You must also continue on your path as a person, continuing your school activities, your college career, your personal hobbies, etc. I would recommend reading my article “Identifying Losers in Relationships” as well, as he is showing signs that he’s more “controller” than sweetheart.

His interest in psychology doesn’t make him a psychologist. While some boyfriends call their partner bad names, he calls you a diagnosis. The bottom line is the same in both — verbally punishing their partner when their selfish demands are not met.

While this may be your first love, a common experience at your age, it isn’t necessarily the only love of your life. With fights each week, this doesn’t sound good. I’d place the relationship on probation for a month or so and if he isn’t nicer, fighting with you less, or more considerate of your need for a personal/independent life — then I’d strongly consider moving on. He is already controlling and you’re living with your parents. If the relationship continues when you attend college or live independently, he will try to control your entire life…and that’s not good. The danger signs here are in the relationship, not you. Keep in mind that what he considers selfish of you is actually your attempts to control your own activities, interests, and independent thinking.

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