The word antisocial gets thrown around a lot today. When you use it to describe a co-worker or someone at school, you usually mean they lack good social skills or don’t know how to relate to other people. But antisocial behavior is something totally different. This type of behavior involves bullying and aggressiveness.  So, how do you know someone is antisocial? Here are 10 red flags that indicate someone is truly antisocial.

What’s the difference between unsocial and antisocial?

It’s important to understand the meaning of the word when you’re using it. For example, there is a lot of confusion about the word “antisocial”.  If a person avoids being around other people or is awkward in social settings, they may be labeled as “ antisocial” but a  better word to describe their behavior is “unsocial.” This is because unsocial and antisocial aren’t synonymous. When someone displays antisocial behavior, it has a totally different meaning. Here is the meaning of the words: unsocial and antisocial.

Unsocial behavior:

This means that a person struggles with social anxieties and a fear of not being liked by others. They may have been called names or worry they’ll say or do the wrong thing when they’re around people.

Antisocial behavior:

People who display antisocial behavior may display either public antisocial behavior being openly aggressive behavior or private antisocial behavior where they show their aggression in acting out against the rules or the law.  Characteristics of antisocial behavior include:

  • Bullying
  • Hitting
  • Yelling
  • Stealing
  • Lying
  • Arson
  • Not cooperating with rules
  • Drug abuse
  • Alcohol abuse
  • High-risk behavior

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines antisocial as, “ aversion to society of others, hostile or harmful to organized society and being marked by behavior debating sharply from the social norm.”

Red flags that reveal someone is antisocial

Keep your eyes open for these red flags.

1 – A disregard for right and wrong

Most people try to obey the law to avoid getting into trouble. Driving over the speed limit may be as risky as you get when it comes to disobeying the law in your life.  But people with antisocial behavior have a strange view of the law, assuming that rules don’t apply to them. Their disregard for authorities and the law make them dangerous to themselves and those around them. They don’t mind breaking laws to get what they want. Besides this, they don’t care how their lawlessness will affect others. If you know someone who shows this behavior, you may want to distance yourself from them to protect yourself from their actions.

2 – Lying or deceitfulness for their own advantage

Another red flag to be aware of someone with antisocial behavior is lying. They can be very convincing in their lies, to the point that people believe them. Even if they’re caught, they will lie about their lies to confuse people. They may point the finger at those who are accusing them, even accusing them of lying.

3 – Manipulate others

The antisocial person can be very manipulative to get something they want. They manipulate people using enticing words and mannerisms.  If you don’t respond to their manipulation, they will get angry and threaten you. It’s a dark, twisted kind of charm that is self-focused and has no regard for the people around them.

4 – Arrogance

Another red flag of someone who is antisocial is the propensity towards arrogant behavior toward other people. They feel they are superior to other people using put-downs, bullying, and other intimidating behavior to show they’re better than you. They expect people to fall into line and do what they want. If you don’t do what they want, they get angry and sometimes violent. They justify their behavior and have no regard for how their actions affect others.

5 – Risky behavior

Antisocial behavior is displayed in risk-taking that may put others at risk. These people are prone to drug and alcohol abuse, unsafe sex, and dangerous hobbies. They also have little consideration for their own health and other’s safety.

They may belittle anyone who challenges their risk-taking, resorting to bullying, or threats if someone tries to intervene. Once in a while, they will decide the risk is more than they want to take if it threatens something that is important to them. They may step back from risky behavior, but this is usually on their own terms rather than because someone has tried to stop their behavior.

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6 – Charming

People with antisocial personality disorder tend to be very charming. They use their charm to exploit people, often taking advantage of softhearted people. They use sweet talk to get what they want, but if you don’t go along with what they want, they will quickly turn on you, becoming angry and aggressive. They’re good at using people and using their charm with false humility to manipulate people to get them to do what they want at work, school, or at home.

7 – Violence

Violent behavior is a red flag that someone is antisocial behavior. They may not get physical, but use aggressive language to bully people. They can be cruel, mocking people without regard to how their words affect people. Besides being hostile themselves, they can misinterpret other’s behavior as being hostile. Antisocial people are hard to reason with because they feel justified in their behavior. If you try to reason with them, they will get defensive and aggressive. They don’t know how to talk about things or compromise unless it’s for their good.

8 – Lack of the ability to empathize with others

They lack remorse about hurting people or animals. Lack of empathy is easy to overlook. Sometimes people seem snarky or sarcastic, so you assume it’s their sense of humor, but antisocial behavior goes deeper. They don’t feel sad about situations or for things they do. Sometimes they’ll even laugh it off, justifying their behavior. They come across as callous and hardhearted. Antisocial people often commit crimes like murder, with no remorse or dread of the consequences. Studies show that approximately 35% of those people in prison have antisocial behavior.

9 – Blameshifting

A big red flag of antisocial behavior is blameshifting all the time. An antisocial person may be surprised if you point out something they did wrong. They’ll defend themselves, refusing to take responsibility for their own actions. Antisocial behavior often overlaps with narcissistic behavior. They two have a lot in common, especially the inability to take responsibility for actions.

10 – Can’t finish a job

Those who have antisocial behavior can’t learn from their mistakes because they never admit they’ve made a mistake. They have a hard time meeting deadline. They’ll brag about all they’ve done when in fact they haven’t done their work or met financial deadlines as they promised. If they are called out on their lack of finishing something, they’ll turn it around blaming somebody else. This can result in them not being able to hold down a job very long. This also affects their relationships since they aren’t trustworthy and can’t be depended upon to do what they say.

What causes antisocial behavior?

Researchers aren’t totally sure what causes antisocial behavior. It’s hard to know why some people develop antisocial behavior while others don’t, but there are several factors that contribute to this type of behavior. Those at risk for developing antisocial behavior usually include those who:

  • Had parents with antisocial behavior
  • Parents who suffered from drug or alcohol abuse
  • An unstable home environment
  • Corporal punishment
  • Disruption in their parent’s life such as divorce, separation or death
  • Parent’s who suffered from psychiatric disorders, especially mothers who have depression
  • Kids who grow up in poverty

Studies found that kids who are exposed to media violence in movies, video games, have an increased risk of antisocial behavior.

What should you do if someone shows antisocial behavior?

You may know someone who displays signs of having antisocial behavior. If you think you know someone with this condition, here are some things you can do.

Recognize the signs:

If they display some or all of the ten things listed, good chance they have this disorder. It’s easy to get used to their behavior, but it’s important to step back and recognize they have a problem.

Urge treatment: If you have a close enough relationship with the person, you may want to encourage them to get help. They may not like that you suggest this, but sometimes if a loved one brings it, the person with antisocial behavior will get treatment. If the person refuses to get help and blames you for their behavior, it may be time to take the next step.

Seek professional help:

If someone you love displays antisocial behavior and refuses help, you may need to get court-mandated treatment for them. This is a long process and usually causes the person to get more aggressive, taking even more risks than before.

Distance yourself:

If you work with someone with antisocial behavior, it may be best to distance yourself from them. They may have tried to charm you, and maybe you’ve fallen for their manipulative behavior of playing the victim. Distance yourself from them and don’t do what they want. Protect yourself and your reputation by not getting involved with them.

Final thoughts on recognizing an antisocial person

It’s easy to describe yourself as being antisocial when you really mean you struggle to be unsocial. They are totally different words and antisocial behavior is actually dangerous and against all authorities of the law. These red flags are indicative of someone with antisocial behavior. Take note of them if you know someone who presents themselves in this way. You may need to make a decision about how to relate to them for your own protection.