A sociopath is a person who seems to be missing the ability to connect with other people. Not only that, they may have many toxic characteristics that hurt others. It is highly possible that you know a sociopathic person because, according to the APA, there are around eight million sociopaths in the United States.
An important thing to remember about a sociopath is that you rarely know what you are dealing with until further into the relationship. When you first meet a sociopathic person, they tend to hide all of their sociopathic qualities and instead seem completely normal.
There are certain signs to watch for when determining if you are dealing with a sociopath. A true sociopathic person may not show all of the textbook symptoms, so it isn’t always obvious to figure out. It can also be difficult to figure out because doctors generally don’t diagnose when someone is a sociopath anymore.
Signs You Are Dealing With A Sociopath
1. They don’t feel bad when they’ve hurt your feelings.
Sociopaths truly do not understand your feelings, so when they do something that they should feel bad about, they just don’t feel anything at all, instead. This is one of the most common traits amongst sociopaths.
While most people have feelings such as guilt, shame, embarrassment, etc., sociopathic people do not have those feeling. If they do have those feelings, they only feel it a little bit, and not enough to actually make a change.
2. They have intense mood swings and may become violent.
A sociopathic person can go from being happy and having a good time, to being angry or silent in a quick instant. They may also have random episodes of anger that lead to aggression and emotional outbursts.
Due to their lack of empathy and their intense mood swings, a sociopathic person can quickly and unexpectedly become violent. Their need to be in control also contributes to their violent nature.
3. They have to be in control.
When a sociopathic person isn’t in control, they may lash out. They want to control situations, people, and emotions. If they feel like they are losing control, they could have an emotional outburst.
4. They are impulsive.
Their impulsive behavior often leads to aggression, illegal activity, and many other negative things.
Due to their impulsivity, they can’t be trusted with money. They spend recklessly, and their desires change often. This leads to frequent overspending, and normally quite a bit of debt.
5. They don’t like to talk about their personal life.
A sociopathic person may not talk about their friends or family very often. They might even get defensive or angry when you mention them or ask questions.
You should also pay attention to a lack of friends and family. This could be a huge sign that the person is sociopathic. If they have a friend who they only see what they want something, this is also a severe red flag, as well.
6. They are charming in the beginning.
When you first meet a sociopathic person, they will be charming, friendly, and may draw people to them. They will likely give you many compliments and make you feel good about yourself. This is the way that they gain control over the relationship.
7. They are manipulative.
With their need to be in control, sociopaths tend to find ways to manipulate people and situations. They will lie and say whatever they can to make you believe them and get their way.
One common way that a sociopathic person may manipulate you is by gaslighting you. Gaslighting is when they cause you to question your own sanity.
8. They disobey laws and social norms.
Sociopaths feel that they are above the law, and their actions are often illegal. They feel the same way about social norms and typically act differently than most people would.
When doing these things, they often make careless mistakes that lead to them getting caught.
9. Sociopaths talk fast and make extreme promises and statements without backing them up.
Sociopaths talk quite a bit, and this is so that they can cover up who they really are. They make extreme plans and promises, even though they don’t have the means to follow through. A sociopathic person may also use overly positive statements.
On the other hand, sociopaths may also use extremely negative statements and words. They do this to bring you down and make you feel like you need them around, or that you’re not worthy of them. Depending on the situation, a switch between positive and negative statements is common.
They may make promises, but they really struggle with committing to anything. Sociopathic people also don’t fully think things through before staying something, leading to continuous broken promises.
10. They smile, smirk, or laugh at the misfortunes or pain of others.
If a person smiles, laughs, or smirks when they see or hear about something bad happening to someone else, you may have to deal with a sociopath. Most people would never react that way, so it is a red flag when someone does.
This goes for in real life, on TV, or in a movie. No matter what the situation is if something bad has happened and someone laughed, smiled, or made a joke about it, they may just be sociopathic.
How To Deal With a Sociopath
When you deal with a sociopath, you have to remember that they will belittle, humiliate, slander, and provoke you. They do this so that they can essentially control you and your feelings. You must deal with them appropriately.
Since sociopaths are manipulative and tend to make you feel really bad about yourself, the only way to deal with them may be to avoid them completely. However, this may not always be possible if they are a close family member or co-worker. If this is the case, you need to know ways to deal with a sociopath in order to stop them from manipulating or belittling you.
1. Avoid private conversation with them.
Sociopathic people need to be able to talk to someone privately to begin their manipulation. By avoiding private conversations with them, you are protecting yourself from their negativity.
You can pretend to get a phone call, tell them you have to use the restroom, ask questions about their life, or talk about the weather. Say whatever you have to say in order to prevent the conversation from becoming personal.
2. Call them out.
If something that they say sounds far-fetched, tell them so. They will make things up to get a response from you, so you have to stay on your toes. If you call them out, they may not attempt to get an emotional response from you next time.
You could do this to a co-worker or friend if they come to you with gossip that doesn’t sound right to you.
3. Say no.
When a sociopathic person manipulates you, they try to get something out of you. Whether it helps with something, money, gifts, or even just information, tell them no. Eventually, they may take the hint and leave you alone, but if you do give in, you are just setting yourself up for more of this behavior from them.
When you say no, you do not need to give them an explanation. They may try to guilt trip you, but continue to say no.
4. Do not accept gifts or favors from them.
Sociopathic people will give you gifts or do things for you, only to use it against you later on. When they need something or get upset with you, they will bring up what they did for you in order to get their way.
5. Don’t tell them about a change in your life until after it has happened.
If a sociopathic person is close to you, they will not want you to get a new job, buy a new home, get into a new relationship, or make any other change in your life. When you tell them that a change is coming, they will try to change your mind by saying things that make you question your decision.
They do this in order to keep a sense of control over your life. Refraining from telling them until after the change has already been made means they cannot try to dissuade you.
The Difference Between a Sociopath and a Psychopath
Sociopaths and psychopaths share a few traits such as empathy, guilt, and disregard of social standards. They are very different, however. A person becomes sociopathic because of their past experiences and environments, while a psychopath is just born.
Another difference between sociopaths and psychopaths is that sociopaths may seem normal but they will have unstable qualities. They may be unorganized and erratic at times. Psychopaths are the exact opposite, as they are organized and calculated.
Even if you watch for these signs, you might still mix up the two different personalities. They show many of the same traits and tend to hide things about their personal life.
Final Thoughts on Signs You Are Dealing With A Sociopath
While there are signs to watch for to know if you may be dealing with a sociopath, not everyone who exhibits some of these signs are sociopathic. It can be difficult to know, but you must trust your gut.
If you notice that someone in your life exhibits some or all of these signs, and your gut is telling you that it is not a good situation, then you may have to deal with a sociopath and figure out how to get rid of them. You have to protect yourself from sociopaths or you could be physically and emotionally harmed.