6 Misconceptions About Sociopaths

And Tips for Dating Them

 I am a diagnosed sociopath. The day I was diagnosed was exciting.The reason I was so excited was that I had proof of something I’d long suspected. Also, sociopaths love being right. Or maybe that’s just humans.

6 Misconceptions About Sociopaths And Tips For Dating Them.

My whole life, people and their decisions have felt very foreign to me. They still do. Ninety nine out of a hundred times, if someone's mood or actions perplex me, the answer is “feelings." Because normal, healthy-minded people seem to let theirs run the show.

If you remember any part of this, please remember our motivations are very different from yours, even if the end game is the same. We don’t want to hurt or kill, rape or plunder. I want to be successful, fulfilled, and take care of my loved ones. We do love people, just not quite as much as ourselves. Again, that might just be humans, or assholes.

It takes us time to figure that out, since thinking about other people doesn’t happen often either, for us. If it existed outside of me, then it was inherently unimportant. My point being, having that diagnosis gave me an answer to questions I’d had since an early age. Once I knew, my control over it increased. What was that question?

“Why would anyone want morals? Or empathy? Or even family?"

It’s important to understand a few things. Sociopaths are not psychopaths or serial killers. We are not disturbed or crazy or even prone to violence. We just happen to feel things differently. It’s often said that many sociopaths are highly motivated and organized, and it’s often implied that successful CEOs share traits with sociopaths. However, people with boards and stockholders don’t often shout out their behavioral disorders. I can say, however, that a cool, calm demeanor and OCD-like attention to detail does serve most people well in a business setting. We may be rigid, but it usually benefits everyone.

1. We do have feelings.

In fact, we feel some things stronger than most. Anger and fear we feel very well. Empathy and remorse, not so much. Fear is an odd thing for me as a sociopath; death isn’t something that influences me. In other words, not existing is such a foreign concept that I kind of don’t believe in it. I know that we all die, although it’s more something other people should worry about. If you’re not scared to death, you have an advantage over most people; something that’s important to many sociopaths. My own fear comes more from my private motivations being known or recognized as “off,” although the faces people make in that moment are hysterical.

We feel sad, but mostly just for ourselves. I feel sad all the time, but not really for other people. There’s a big difference between knowing what you should feel and not feeling it. I know how a normal person acts in just about every situation, or can guess, so I mimic what I know is expected. However, I’m not actually invested, and sometimes it shows.

For me personally, a lack of emotion has always seemed advantageous. It means that nothing is influencing my decisions other than logic. It’s a pretty crippling handicap when my girlfriend wants to talk about her feelings. Dealing with emotional people is extremely frustrating and the phrase “emotional intelligence” is an oxymoron, as far as I’m concerned. My fiancé knows what I am and jokes about it. Still, I can see it can be frustrating for her, like when season two of Stranger Things gave “Eleven” a name and sister and I instantly abandoned watching, feelings not being something I easily decipher or enjoy watching others struggle and fumble over. I have feelings, but showing and interpreting them is exhausting and pointless. It’s always god damn feelings with you people.

2.We know right from wrong.

If a sociopath models his life after what a “good” person does and follows through on it, then he’s a good person, right? A lifetime of Catholic school has given me a pretty good grip on what most humans feel is acceptable behavior. Sure, as a teenager I acted out; fights, stealing, cheating, lying, heroin, check fraud, etc.

As an adult, I reeled it in and have a flawless professional record. I steer clear of people, but knowing what is expected in interactions is easy to fake.

I’ve done plenty of horrible and deplorable things in this life, but I don’t feel guilt. My conscious has never once stopped me from doing anything. Only the potential consequences stop me. The juice has to be worth the squeeze. We know right from wrong, but whatever stops everyone else from crossing those lines never even occurred to me.

3.We are often intelligent.

We are easily bored and obsessive about interests. Interest is key. Many sociopaths don't perform well in school, but exceed in their outside interests; prop making, knife making, welding, writing, reading, building motorcycles, riding motorcycles, tattooing, and skydiving. A list of hobbies that just I, myself, have pursued in the last four years. Not a passing fancy or fleeting interest, but full-blown obsession after my day job.

When in the thralls of these hobbies, I am cut off from the world. I’m in my own head, focused, somewhere I belong. Interrupting this “zone” is something my fiancé quickly learned to avoid. Mood swings are a common accompaniment to a new hobby; excitement, intense focus, and extreme disappointment when something doesn’t work, leading to more intense focus, obsession, and the pursuit of perfection that no one else ever thinks is necessary. Be patient. It’s like an image in our mind and it’s gnawing on our brain until that transcendent moment when we pull it out of our imagination into this world. We want to relax and watch a movie with you but sometimes the gods of sociopathy demand a cleansing first.

It can stop on a dime. After years of knife making, I finally made one I was one hundred percent happy with. I was free. I set it down and haven’t thought about making another in over a year now. So if it’s an irritating hobby, wait it out. There’s an expiration date on everything.

4.We are prone to drug use.

High-risk behavior is a staple of sociopathic behavior, and many choices drown out the voice telling us we are alone; not human and rotten monsters for not feeling the same as others. Depression and a number of other mental illness are also part of the sociopath territory. For myself, it took the form of lifelong opiate abuse. Stealing and lying not being any kind of moral issue for me made this a match made in hell. For some, it’s manipulation or sex, success or money. Or maybe that's just humans, assholes, and addicts.

5. We have poor impulse control.

Control is something that everyone in my life would tell you I always have. Unfortunately, this is not the case, although, in my head, the carnival is in full swing every hour of the day. Routine is important to everyone, but for sociopaths, it really helps us keep our thoughts on a path that doesn’t lead to trouble. Some things I am very rigid about, like hygiene or keeping a stable persona for my stepchildren. For proof, wake me up after a night of tossing and turning and holes may appear in the bedroom walls. Remarkably, I’ve managed to avoid a police record. Despite human lives not meaning so much to me, my freedom carries a lot more value to me.

Infidelity and breaking the law are almost the same in my mind; things I shouldn’t do so that I don’t upset people I care about. Unfortunately, not following these urges took practice and didn’t go pro until my mid-twenties.

6. Morals aren’t an issue.

As previously stated, lying and stealing don’t bother me. No one ever asked for my opinion or approval of laws or communal standards, so I don't feel responsible for following them. I don’t ever feel bad for my actions, even when they directly hurt people I care about. If I apologize, it’s because I was caught and am trying to still get what I wanted out of the situation. I’ve gone years without committing a crime because there’s less risk to the life I’ve worked hard to create. So when I go to the movies with my significant other, I’m usually rooting for the bad guy in my head. Luckily, a golden age of anti-hero cinema is in full swing.

If you make your arguments based on fact and stress the consequences if we aren’t as unstoppable as we feel, then you might just get through to us.

For some, this list might be a scary thing; knowing how truly foreign someone who appears normal can be. That has been my life with everyone else. I’ve worked hard to create a life based on what a “good” person would do, even if it’s not my instinct. Does it make me any less a “good person?” I spend time playing with my children and have never once broken a promise to them. I love my girlfriend and try to please her some way everyday. I care for and worry about my sick mother. I try to help my dad with his own burdens. If I have a dollar in my pocket, my friends are welcome to it and my home.

I just don’t think loss of life is such a bad thing in an overpopulated and over-privileged world. Survival of the fittest sounds like a dream come true.

Slaughtering Shadows and Other Things I Thought Were Shadows By Ray Bohn

Ray Bohn
Ray Bohn

Aspiring writer and Octonaut.

Author of "Slaughtering Shadows and Other Things I Thought Were Shadows" available in paperback and kindle at Amazon.com

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6 Misconceptions About Sociopaths