Finding out that your spouse is a sociopath can be a lot to take in and accept. After all, you have committed by marrying them, and more than likely have plenty of fond memories with that person. However, living with a sociopath can be detrimental in so many different ways, such as emotionally and financially, and it can take a toll on your mental and physical health. This article will discuss the signs of sociopathy in relationships and when to be divorcing a sociopath.
What Is A Sociopath?
Once a term used in the psychiatric literature, sociopathy has been replaced with the condition known as an antisocial personality disorder, which can be described as the "presence of a chronic and pervasive disposition to disregard and violate the rights of others" and consists of traits such as:
Although the term "sociopath" is formally considered outdated, it is still widely used by the general public to describe a person who carries many of these characteristics, especially the first two bullet points in this list. It can be used to describe anyone who lacks a sense of moral responsibility and social conscience, which can sometimes lead to destructive and often criminal behavior.
These traits can easily ruin marriages, and while some signs are apparent right away, some situations are not. Additionally, being married to a sociopath can be difficult to deal with, which can cloud a person's judgment, making it hard to take action. The next section will discuss some common signs that you should leave your sociopathic spouse.
When Is It Time For A Divorce From A Sociopath?
The sooner you recognize the signals that your spouse is a sociopath, the better it will be in the long run. The longer you stay, the more likely it is that you will get hurt. Any reason to leave is valid, but if you are having trouble noticing the signs (they can be subtle at times), this section will provide some of the most frequent behaviors shown by sociopaths in marriages.
Cheating is often grounds for separation in many relationships, married or not; however, it is still possible to forgive and work past it for many couples. Approximately 20 to 40 percent of all marriages in the United States have extra-marital affairs, and around 42 percent of all divorces have reported sexual infidelity during their marriages.
Sociopaths, though, will not care that their behavior is hurting you and will likely continue to do so, despite what they tell you. Many people who have been affected by this will mention that they have heard over and over that "it was a mistake" or "it won't happen again," yet, it inevitably does.
If your spouse has been unfaithful and continues to cheat on you, it is time to file for a divorce because they have no regard for how you feel but will keep on telling you what you want to hear. Sadly, things may only get worse because cheating is correlated with increased marital distress and conflict.
Lying and deception can apply to infidelity in many different ways, but in general, a sociopath can lie about just about anything and are typically very good at it. They may also use their personality to manipulate you into thinking that they are telling the truth. However, if things seem fishy and you're finding that you have to question things too frequently, you might be in trouble.
Sociopaths might try to cover up what they do for a living, what errands they will take care of, or how money is being spent. For example, a sociopath might say they're going out to buy groceries, but instead, they will spend the money on drugs and alcohol. As an excuse, the individual will tell the husband or wife that they were robbed.
Keep an eye out for possible lies, no matter how small they seem. If something seems off in any way and it has been like that throughout your marriage, this should be a red flag and perhaps a sign that you should get a divorce as soon as possible.
Like lying and cheating, financial issues can also destroy any relationship. Still, the risk is higher when married because married couples live together and share assets, such as bank accounts and credit cards.
While financial assets are being shared technically, a sociopath generally will have no sense of responsibility and continue to spend, despite the consequences. For example, a person's spouse can take their credit card without their permission, spend it on personal belongings, and leave their partner in potentially serious debt. Sometimes hard-earned funds can be siphoned to fund a pathological gambling or substance habit. Victims might not be aware of it because the money will start gradually disappearing rather than in large bursts.
Unfortunately, divorces regarding finances can be tricky and daunting because, sometimes, settlements may require one of the parties to pay some spousal support, like alimony. On the other hand, until a divorce is finalized, they will continue to take directly from your wallet, and you may continue to struggle with your emotional well-being.
Sociopaths can affect people of all different backgrounds. Everyone, regardless of gender, has the potential to be a sociopath and can be equally destructive towards marriages.
Divorce, in general, can be extremely challenging to cope with, but the burden of dealing with a sociopath can make it that much harder, and it is normal to require assistance during your time of need. Suppose you have been thinking about getting a divorce or have already undergone one. In that case, ReGain offers online counseling and therapy sessions to help you overcome this difficult period of your life, so you can learn how to live life on your terms, not your spouses'.
Hopefully, this article has helped you recognize the signs and spot the sociopathic behavior patterns for those who have not separated from their abusive spouse yet. Accepting the facts and going through the procedure will more than likely cause a series of negative emotions and stress, but with adequate support, you will come out as a healthier and happier person on the other end.
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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
How do I know if I am married to a sociopath?
Someone with antisocial personality disorder, also called sociopathic or psychopathic tendencies, cannot understand others’ emotions. You may begin to worry if you married a sociopath if your spouse does not take your emotions seriously, disregards your point of view entirely, and even manipulates you into getting their way.
According to an article on Health.com, there are some specific traits you can look out for in your partner or relationship to determine if they may be a sociopath. If they have sociopathic tendencies, they may be prone to “love-bombing,” or showing you excessive affection in the form of flattery, gifts, moving forward very quickly, or showing possession over you. They then turn on you and may become physically or emotionally abusive. They may exhibit signs of sociopathic tendencies outside of the relationship, such as disregarding or enjoying others' pain or the lack of a fear response and daredevil behavior.
If you think you are married to a sociopath, it is possible to get out of the relationship. The divorce process is difficult for anyone, especially for those who may be in an abusive situation. Still, there are many tools to help you cope, find a divorce attorney, and attend divorce counseling if you’d like. On blogs and podcasts, divorce advice can be a wealth of information. A great guide to divorce can be found in The Divorce Survival Guide hosted by Kate Anthony and many other podcasts; divorce is the main subject.
What are the signs of a narcissistic sociopath?
A narcissist, or someone with narcissistic personality disorder, experiences a larger-than-life ego or has a higher perception of their importance than reality. Combined with sociopathic tendencies or the inability to sympathize or empathize, you have a narcissistic sociopath. According to Mayo Clinic, signs of narcissism can include feelings of superiority, the need to be praised, exaggeration of talents, and a sense of entitlement.
Along with sociopathic or psychopathic tendencies, these individuals may also not recognize others' feelings. The primary sign that these personality disorders are found in an individual is that the person has an inflated sense of self and thus does not care about others' needs.
If you think these traits might be apparent in your spouse and you would like to start the divorce process, it may be time to hire a divorce attorney. Divorce cases are high among couples where an individual exhibits sociopathic tendencies. People with these tendencies tend to make it very difficult to proceed with property division because of entitlement issues, often causing high conflict divorces. A divorce lawyer can help you through the process of property division or in high conflict divorces in general.
What is the difference between a narcissist and a sociopath?
While a narcissist exhibits a larger-than-life sense of purpose or ego, a sociopath cannot feel sympathy or empathy. Though these two personality disorders are very different, individuals may also exhibit them at the same time. If you notice that your partner may be a narcissist because they constantly need affection, think they are more important than anything else, or dream of power, or if you think they may be a sociopath because they lack empathy, enjoy seeing others feel pain, or take great risks, then it may be time to seek divorce counseling. Divorce-related counseling and aid at ReGain can help if you think you may be in an abusive relationship. You can also find divorce family law or a divorce family court near you.
What is the difference between a sociopath and a psychopath?
Often, the words sociopath and psychopath describe the same personality disorder, antisocial personality disorder. People exhibiting these behaviors may not understand other people’s emotions and have difficulty judging right and wrong. Some say that the key difference between sociopaths and psychopaths is that while sociopaths do not care to try to hide their disorder, psychopaths may attempt to fool people into thinking they are normal. This may include manipulation or mimicking of emotions.
If you believe your spouse may be affected by an antisocial personality disorder, ReGain is here to help. We offer divorce-related counseling, and our trusted therapists can give you a guide to divorce, so you are not alone in this. Divorce cases are high among couples affected by an antisocial personality disorder, but this does not mean you don’t deserve to find help and a divorce lawyer.
What is a narcissistic sociopath?
A narcissistic sociopath is someone who exhibits traits of both antisocial personality disorder and narcissistic personality disorder. This individual will show signs of lack of empathy, inflated sense of self-worth, need for affection, manipulation or exploitation, risky behavior, lack of morals, and superiority. A narcissistic sociopath can often be an incredibly difficult and even abusive figure in a relationship. If you are married to someone who exhibits these characteristics, divorce family counseling can help. Talk to a therapist at ReGain today to get advice about divorce family law and how to get out of an abusive or poor marriage.