All couples fight. In fact, it's normal and healthy to get mad at your partner every now and then; airing out your little annoyances ensures you aren't bottling your feelings, and then you can move past the great who-forgot-to-empty-the-dishwasher-debacle of 2018 together. But if your spats seem more dramatic than those of other couples you know or the fights leave you feeling drained and alone, your partner might be a sociopath.
You've probably come across the term sociopath at some point in your life, and I wouldn't be surprised if you associate it with characters like Norman Bates from Psycho, but the real life version isn't so scary. What we think of as sociopathy is actually called antisocial personality disorder (ASPD), and it describes people who disregard rules and other people's feelings to get what they want, leading them to hurt those closest to them consistently throughout their lives, according to Medline Plus.
One of the more difficult aspects to deal with is how charming and likable sociopaths can be (common traits among those with ASPD, as WebMD explained). They're usually funny and loving when you first meet them, showering you in attention and affection, but those qualities can give way to deceitfulness and manipulation before long. People with ASPD are often inherently selfish, so they'll only pull out the charm when they think it can get them what they want. If allure won't help them in a situation (like in a fight with their significant other), you may suddenly see an ugly side to them you won't like.
Sociopaths can be especially unnerving in an argument because an underlying anger might define their personality, according to the psychologist Seth Meyers. He told Psychology Today that most sociopaths are angry at all times, and they choose whatever way will be most beneficial to them to express it. Read on for seven things your partner might do in a fight that shows their true nature.
1. They Don't Cry
Don't be surprised if a fight with a sociopath becomes one-sided. People with ASPD tend to be emotionally detached from those around them, even people they consider themselves close to, forensic psychologist J. Reid Meloy told Buzzfeed News. If your fights with your partner typically end with you crying while they stare at you apathetically, you might want to take a closer look at things.
2. They Lie
Unfortunately, lying can come very naturally to sociopaths, as divorce coach Cindy Holbrook was quoted as saying in The Huffington Post, even when it's clear they'll be caught in their deceptions. They might lie to get what they want, to make themselves look like the good guy, or just to keep things interesting. Keeping your eye on the truth in a fight, no matter how many elaborate stories your partner tries to throw at you to put you off the scent, can help you see what your significant other might be hiding.
3. They Don't Understand How Their Actions Make You Feel
A hallmark of ASPD is a lack of empathy. That's why an explanation of your emotions will get you nowhere in disagreement, as Donald M. Black, M.D., explained to Health. Explaining to your partner that they hurt you when they're incapable of feeling remorse won't lead them to change their behavior, so you'll probably end up in the exact same fight in the not too distant future.
4. They Interrupt You
Because a sociopath has trouble feeling empathy, they might not care about what anyone else has to say. A partner who doesn't let you get a word in edgewise could be masking ASPD behind colorful arguments and charismatic comments.
5. They Use Words Like "Never" And "Always"
People with ASPD are known for being extreme when they emote, both because of their impulsivity and their inability to take responsibility for their own actions, as lawyer and therapist Billy Eddy LCSW wrote in a piece for Psychology Today. Comments like "I'll never hurt you again" or "no one will ever love you like I can" could be red flags.
6. They Go From Yelling To Sweet-Talking In Under 60 Seconds
Eddy also explained that sociopaths tend to use whatever emotion they think will get them what they want, even if it means screaming at you in one breath and then professing their undying love for you in the next. Their number one concern will be how they can come out of the conversation on top, not having an authentic interaction based on feelings.
7. Sex Is Their Answer To Everything
The combination of a sociopath's disregard for social norms and their desire to dominate every situation might make them respond abnormally to your emotions, like by initiating sex when you're trying to tell them how you feel. Meyers told Psychology Today that sex is all about power for people with ASPD, so getting you into bed when you're calling them out on their wrongdoing gives them back that power they so desperately need.
8. They Make You Feel Like Everything Is Your Fault
And finally, sociopaths can be master manipulators, skilled at gaslighting the people that love them into thinking any wrongdoing isn't their fault. Watch out for the partner that's capable of lawyering you out of your anger, no matter how valid your emotions are.