My Husband May Be a Sociopath; I’m Wasting My Life

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Reader’s Question

I am getting very worried that I may be married to a sociopath. He constantly states that he doesn’t care about anyone, and that he only sizes up people in order to use them. He also says this about his family and that he only uses them for money.

I keep asking him why he is married to me if he doesn’t like anyone or feels he cannot truly respect anyone. He claims that I’m “different,” but I don’t believe this. When we spend time together he seems more interested in playing on his Netbook or iPod and hardly hears anything I’m saying. It seems like anything I say is just a burden for him. As if just hearing me speak one word is too much for him. I feel more and more like I am the one trying to keep the relationship alive.

He is also very irresponsible and always has been. He doesn’t plan for the future. I’m always the one concerned about making payments and how we’re going to manage our finances. Currently he’s using his parents (his own words) for our living situation and doesn’t feel he has to pay them any rent, so I am very unhappy living here, especially since I know that they know we’re not contributing anything.

I have threatened to leave due to my unhappiness in this relationship, but I’ve seen him cry when I say this. I am pretty sure that a sociopath could fake crying. That’s why I get so confused. He doesn’t show very much feeling otherwise, and I feel everything he says is fake. I don’t know how I know this, I just know.

There have been times when I’m still asleep, when I swear he is saying something about me under his breath. I’ve heard him call me names under his breath at other times too, and then he denies he’s said anything.

He’s also kept things secret from me and lied on more than one occasion. I really think this guy is playing a game with me. I feel I am wasting my life away on someone who doesn’t deserve it.

Psychologist’s Reply

People who are sociopaths do exhibit some of the behavior you mentioned. They lack a conscience or a sense of guilt, are unconcerned with the emotions of others, are pathological liars, are impulsive and fail to plan ahead, are consistently irresponsible, and have a very low tolerance for frustration. Also, they often struggle with substance abuse, and clash with the law. However, many people with these symptoms are very charming and can establish relationships easily, although they rarely maintain them for long. So yes, it’s possible that your husband is a sociopath. What’s more important than a label, though, is that you are unhappy.

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Many people in relationships with manipulative partners often end up confused and start doubting themselves. My rule of thumb is that whenever you cannot get a clear answer from yourself about whether a relationship is good for you, then it’s time to rethink it. Healthy relationships lend themselves to quick and easy answers about how you feel about them. In contrast, doubts about unhealthy relationships frequently lead to rationalizations and justifications. If you have to talk yourself into staying in a relationship, it’s probably time to get out.

It sounds like you know that this relationship is not in your best interests, but have yet to make a decision. If I can sum up what you’ve described, perhaps it will help. You do not believe that he likes or respects you, he’s lied and kept secrets, and you are uncomfortable with a living situation that he appears unlikely to change. Moreover, it doesn’t sound like you trust him, there is little to no emotional intimacy between the two of you and it doesn’t seem like you even enjoy being around him all that much. Marriage should be a mutually beneficial partnership between two people who care and nurture each other. If that isn’t the case, then perhaps you should go back to the drawing board.

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