Is My Ex-Boyfriend and Current Friend a Sociopath?

Reader’s Question

I have known my ex-boyfriend for 7 years. We still speak to each other now as friends. He’s mentioned before that he is a sociopath. But I was wondering whether a professional would see him that way.

My friend never met his dad. He left his mum when she was pregnant at 16. When he was about 3, his mum left him with his grandparents to start a family with a new man. He has lived there ever since and is now 26. His grandparents aren’t the affectionate type. When he needed attention they gave him material things, which maybe explains why he always expects people to give him what he wants. When he was 15, he was put in a children’s home for 6 months after he broke his nan’s arm when she said something he didn’t like. He also gave his mum a black eye when she made a joke at his expense. He has little relationship with her now.

He lies repeatedly. Even when confronted with proof to the contrary, he tries wiggling his way out of accepting responsibility. I often felt like I was going crazy because he told me things I was sure weren’t true, yet he was so convincing I doubted myself.

He borrowed £120 from me 2 years ago, but I had to follow up for him to pay me back any of it. If he misses his bus he expects me to lend him fare or let him stay at my place. He regularly stole from work (and boasted about it). He can be attentive, charming and flattering sometimes.

I recently told him I feel like he only wants to know me for money, a place to stay, and sex. But then he acts outraged and offended. Once he admitted that he didn’t say he loved me during sex because he “didn’t feel it” that particular week, so “it would have been a lie” if he had said it. When I said I didn’t want to see him the following week, he rang me up drunk and started calling me names. When we split up, he’d meet up with me for sex and act like nothing had happened before.

He claimed one of his girlfriends repeatedly cheated on him, yet he stayed with her knowing this. He also said he slapped her and that he used to do the most depraved sexual acts to her as “payback.” One of his girlfriends had a miscarriage, and he didn’t even care. He actually slept with me 2 weeks after it happened (although I didn’t know it at the time). Despite his own behavior, he’s threatened to physically harm me if I ever carry on this way.

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He’ll say the most insulting things and then claim he was kidding and that I can’t take a joke. Once when I broke up with him he told me he was abused as a child from the ages of 7 to 10 years old. Months later, he told me he made it all up because he hoped I’d feel sorry for him and stay with him. He’s had a few relationships that lasted awhile. But when they ended he almost immediately got with a new girl.

There are so many other things: behaving impulsively, quitting jobs, being fascinated with horror themes and violence and having fantasy of simulated rape. He’s easily bored and will get with me whenever he’s tired of others. One week he’ll tell me that he loves me, and the next he won’t care at all.

He’s told me lately that he’s changed even if I don’t think he has. He also told me he was going to start seeing a counsellor last week and that his purposes for going were that he needed someone to talk to and that he wanted to try and freak the counsellor out.

Do you think my friend is just who he is and has no official medical condition or do you think he is classic sociopath?

Psychologist’s Reply

Sociopathy or Psychopathy is a serious disturbance of personality and character defined mostly by the callous, senseless, and remorseless use and abuse of others. I have written several past posts about this disorder and talk about it extensively in my book In Sheep’s Clothing [Amazon-US | Amazon-UK] as well as my upcoming book Character Disturbance [Amazon-US | Amazon-UK].

Many of the things you describe about your friend are common to psychopaths. However, some of the things you describe are common to other serious personality disturbances. This makes your question a tough one to answer with certainty. However, it does appear quite clear (and that you are very aware) that this young man has some very serious issues. So, by far the much bigger and important question is why you are still involved with him.

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