When the psychopath is your friend
How to Deal With a Sociopathic Friend
Does it often feel like your “best friend” is only kind and caring on the surface, and deep down is self-serving, manipulative, and lacking in empathy? If so, it’s possible your friend may be a sociopath. Understanding the traits of a sociopath will help you figure out how to deal with your friend and decide whether you want to continue the friendship. In some cases, breaking up with your friend might be the best solution for your emotional well-being.
Identifying a Sociopath
Write down terms that describe the person.Words like “cunning,” “manipulative,” and “remorseless” will probably be on the list if they’re a sociopath. Understanding the person’s characteristics is critical to reevaluating your relationship. Despite their individual variations, sociopaths are likely to be manipulating, pathological liars who get close to people in order to hurt them.
- Contrary to some popular beliefs, not all — and in fact, very, very few — sociopaths end up as serial killers. Many aren’t violent at all.
Look for signs that your relationship is a ruse.A sociopath may not be interested in friendship in the way you understand it. Instead of friendship with you, they may be seeking a loyal follower. They might treat you like a friend only to gain access to your companionship. In these cases, as long as you provide some value to them, they will keep you around. But once they tire of you, you will likely be abandoned.
- No two sociopaths are alike, and their motivations, perspectives, and actions can vary widely. You’ll have to trust your best judgment in regards to your friend’s sociopathy.
Don’t immediately label a selfish friend a sociopath.Identifying a legitimate sociopath is always difficult, because they are very skilled at hiding their true nature. Signs of sociopathy may blend in with signs of someone who is simply a bad friend, or someone who has little experience with social interaction. Or, your friend may just be incredibly self-absorbed without being a sociopath.
- Of course, at the end of the day, a bad friend is a bad friend, actual sociopath or not. Someone who doesn’t really care about your feelings and/or tries to manipulate you all the time is difficult to consider a friend. If the friendship doesn’t benefit you and make you happy, then it’s probably time to re-evaluate the relationship.
- Also, keep in mind that people with avoidant attachment styles often display traits of an antisocial personality. This may be due to their inability to form relationships. These people may want to form relationships, but they may be afraid or not know how to do so.
Raising the Issue with Your Friend
List the times when your friend has used or wronged you.Think back over your relationship and try to identify whether there has been a lack of conscience or guilt on your friend's part. To help clear your thoughts, write down the facts and your feelings for each moment when you felt wronged. There may be trends or correlations.
- For instance, note the time your friend got you both a failing grade by copying off your exam, then blamed you for not making your test easier for them to see.
See the true nature of your friendship for what it is.Don’t let sorrow or embarrassment cloud what your collected evidence tells you. It’s natural to be in denial, as your friend's apparent sociopathy will be hard to swallow. But the sooner you accept the reality of the situation, the sooner you can address it honestly.
- You can rightly feel upset if you have been abused and manipulated. But don’t feel ashamed — many sociopaths are expert abusers and manipulators and it has nothing to do with you. You are/were a means to an end for them.
- Your friend may not be a "friend" in the normal sense. It’s not entirely clear whether a true sociopath can ever really be a friend — some experts say they can’t truly experience emotions like caring, while others disagree. You’ll have to work out the unique circumstances of your friend and your friendship.
End the relationship.Someone who is a true sociopath will not allow their reputation to be discredited and they will do whatever is possible to protect their reputation. Therefore, it is best to avoid accusing them of things or trying to justify your reason for ending the relationship. Instead, just end it.
- Sociopaths may become verbally aggressive when their integrity is questioned, so it is best to avoid confrontation.
Refuse to feel guilty for ending the relationship.A sociopath may seek to makeyoufeel sorry for them as a means to regain power and maintain their image. If you feel sorry for questioning them, they consider this a victory rather than caring about the reasons for your doubt.
Prioritizing Your Own Well-being
Process your emotions with healthy self-care techniques.Whether you have been victimized by a sociopathic friend or simply feel embarrassed that you didn’t see the truth, it's normal to experience frustration or even anger. Realizing that your friend may not really care about you can damage your self-esteem and increase stress levels. However, keep in mind that your friend’s feelings and behavior towards you are not about you. You can help combat negative emotional and physical symptoms by dedicating yourself to a self-care regimen.
Seek professional help for yourself if you need it.If you can’t shake the feeling that you’ve been duped, used, or violated, strongly consider seeking out the help of a licensed therapist. They can help you explore the nature of your relationship with your sociopathic friend, develop coping techniques, and give you advice regarding whether to continue or end the friendship.
Cut off contact with your friend if you need to.Once you realize and accept your friend’s true nature, it may be necessary for your well-being to draw back on your friendship by avoiding phone calls, canceling nights out, and so on.
- Your friend might use manipulation to try to keep you under their control, or just lose interest in you. In either case, hold firm to your needs and your choices. Maintaining your boundaries is very important.
Break off the friendship completely if necessary.Tell the sociopath to leave you alone. Be assertive, firm, direct, and consistent. Your soon-to-be-former friend may try to manipulate you into changing course via guilt, lies, or other means.
- Your best counter to these efforts is to never waver in your decision: “I’m sorry, Ben, I’ve decided that we can’t be friends anymore. It’s not healthy for me to be around you. Nothing you say can change my mind.”
Accept reality.Friendship with a sociopath is possible in many cases. You don't have to stop hanging out with them just because they can’t be the ideal friend all the time, unless they are harming you. Even if the friendship doesn't go deeper than mildly pleasant chatting to pass the time, it doesn't mean they're necessarily out to get you.
- A sociopath still has feelings — even if they're missing some — and there are cases where a sociopath will connect with a person. When that happens, it is usually to further their own ambitions and it has little to do with you. Just make sure you are not being manipulated.
- If they are rude or otherwise inconsiderate, let them know. If you enjoy spending time with them and value their company, let them know. Sociopaths are individuals with emotional issues, and they need extremely clear directions regarding emotional concerns.
QuestionI'm a sociopath, and my friend is sweet. Nobody cares about me, so I use her for loyalty. How do I stop being like that?Top AnswererMake more friends. Listen to people, learn about their likes and dislikes. Consider talking to a psychologist to help you understand how our minds work.Thanks!
QuestionWhat do I do if my teenager is a psychopath and is dangerous, and I can't say anything to her or she will snap?Top AnswererTeenagers go through a difficult phase in life, with hormones, stress, peer pressure, insecurity, finding an identity. But they still have to behave responsibly and be held accountable for their actions. If you are in physical danger, get help. If you want to address a certain type of behavior, consider a calm and open one-on-one conversation, a family intervention, or counseling and therapy.Thanks!
QuestionI am terrified of this dangerous person; she is extremely vengeful. This person has been very vicious, even to my child. How do I get this psycho to leave me alone?Top AnswererFirst, make sure you are physically safe; contact the authorities, if necessary. Then calmly but firmly take a stand against this person. Let her know her behavior is unacceptable and you will not tolerate it. Get a few friends to stand with you when you confront her. Finally, consider taking out a restraining order and blocking this person out of every aspect of your life.Thanks!
QuestionIs it possible to have a friendship with a sociopath?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerIt is possible if you know how to treat the person. But it's hard.Thanks!
QuestionDo sociopaths recognize this disorder?Top AnswererSociopathy is diagnosed in a wide and wild variety of people, so there's no one group with the same characteristics. Some will certainly know they are sociopaths, some will realize it once diagnosed, others will deny it.Thanks!
QuestionI have this friend Ryan who takes about stuff that's super disturbing, what do I do?Top AnswererFirst, consider confronting him. As in, "Look, you're always going on about these things and they freak me out, I don't like it. Sometimes I don't know if you're joking or not, but it's not impressing me, so cut it out." If you suspect there's more to it than just talk, consider asking for external advice. A parent, a teacher, a colleague or boss at work, or even the police. Finally, if you don't like the conversations you're having with this friend, it's perfectly OK to reduce the amount of conversations you have with him and phase out the friendship, or just block him out immediately.Thanks!
QuestionWhat should I do if the sociopath tries to hurt me?Top AnswererThe same as when anyone else tries to hurt you: protect yourself. Stand up for yourself, be strong, tell them their behavior is unacceptable. Always report violence to an authority, press charges if necessary. Make sure you are physically safe at all times, surround yourself with friends and people you trust. Let them know of your situation, and ask them to be prepared to come to your aid quickly if necessary.Thanks!
QuestionHow do you deal with sociopath who has children as young as 2 and has little genuine parenting skills?Top AnswererNobody has parenting skills until they become parents. True, some are better at it than others, but we all have to learn. If the children are in any danger, such as abuse or neglect, there are authorities you can involve, such as child services or the police. However, unless you are the other parent, you have generally no say in how the children are raised.Thanks!
QuestionCan a sociopath fall in love?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerThanks!
QuestionSo are all sociopaths evil and want to hurt? I thought they don't feel anything, so wouldn't there be no point in hurting someone?Top AnswererA sociopath is someone who deviates from the social norm. Violence and sociopathy may or may not go together, but they are not exclusive to each other. Violence is punishable by law, so use the law to protect yourself against violence. As to why, well, some people apparently enjoy seeing someone in pain, some like the power they think it gives them, there are so many reasons, too many to list them all here. And all of them are wrong, there is never a good reason to hurt someone.Thanks!
- Sociopathy is a mental disorder, officially known as Antisocial Personality Disorder (APD). The sociopath does not feel any guilt or remorse for the things they’ve done to others, nor do they feel normal compassion or love. Their relationship with you, along with any outward aspects of charisma, charm, caring, or affection, form part of their public persona, and for their benefit, not yours.
- Be firm in your boundaries when you decide to no longer be their friend.
- It should be noted that not all sociopaths are the same. The traits listed above are not always present in every case.
- You cannot change this person. Do not even try. Sociopathy is considered a permanent mental illness.
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