True Story: I Dated A Sociopath (And I Liked It)
I spent most of my late teens and twenties the way a lot of girls/women do, flip-flopping between the guy who couldn’t find his self-esteem with a military-issued navigational system and the guy who was so self-centered he never went down on me without expecting six blowjobs in return. When I hit 30, I needed a change. Then I met James.
I had written prolifically online about my love life, especially the failures. And from the beginning, I knew James had read it all. I didn’t think much about it until I noticed how often our goals, beliefs, and sexual proclivities matched up. I thought I had hit the jackpot. How did I find the one guy who not only believed in handwritten love letters, but also had no problem fucking me so hard I couldn’t walk for two days? He was handsome, brilliant, and had that Old Hollywood charm. He seemed perfect. Too perfect. Seeing as I was not a delusional Disney Princess, that made me examine things more closely.
There were little things, like how his apologies were never really apologies. After he upset me, he would say, “I’m sorry you were hurt,” instead of “I’m sorry I hurt you.” He knew me a little too well, almost as if he had studied me and taken notes (which he later told me, he had). And when he knew someone else had offended or hurt me, someone other than him, he would immediately begin plotting revenge against that person. Though I have to admit, having my own would-be enforcer was kind of nice. While none of that was scary to me, it did make me start asking questions.
Eventually, those questions led to an answer: James was a sociopath. Or, in clinical terms, he had Antisocial Personality Disorder (ASPD or APD).
I began researching immediately and what I found was frightening. The so-called experts recommended everything from reporting him to the police, to relocating to an alpaca ranch in Argentina. They claimed that it wasn’t possible for anything good to come of a relationship with a person diagnosed with ASPD and that he would likely try to murder me in my sleep.
I decided to ignore the experts, as is the way of my people (we’re fun, but not always bright). At that point, dating a sociopath seemed like a better option than going back to dating some random adult boy who needed skywriters to praise him for putting the key into the car ignition and effectively backing out of a parking spot. At least James never lacked self-confidence. ASPD is rooted in narcissism.
To be honest, he fascinated me even more after I knew what he was. I’m a writer. So, I have always been attracted to characters. If you’re different, I’ll probably like you. If you’re different, charismatic, and dangerous, I’ll probably love you.
James explained to me that the reason he was able to study me and become the man I wanted was because sociopaths have a flexible sense of self. Therefore, when I said I wanted a guy who would watch hardcore gay porn with me while writing love letters in henna on my back with a Japanese paintbrush, he simply asked if he should get the porn or the paintbrush.
He told me that he would never be capable of loving me more than he loved himself. And to be fair, that had pretty much always been the case in my relationships, they had just lied about it until they were tested. The honesty was a relief. We both knew where we stood. It wasn’t an emotional decision for him. Few things ever were. He lived in the land of logic and reason. It was a mythical place I’d heard about in existential philosophy classes but I’d never met anyone who resided there.
If I wanted a threesome with two guys, he would put the idea through his self-built filter, and give me the conditions under which it would be acceptable. If I wanted him to react a certain way to something I was saying, I would tell what I wanted, give him the reasons why it was the appropriate reaction, and he would oblige. But most importantly, if I just wanted to vent to someone about my emotions or things that were bothering me, he made it easy. There was no chance of him taking my problem and making it about him. I never had to console him about my issues. I could just focus on myself. That was a relief.
The relationship taught me a lot, mostly about myself. When you have a man who is willing to become anything you want him to be, it makes you question what you do actually want in a partner. Everyone told me I should be scared of James, but he did far less damage to me, emotionally, than the indecisive mama’s boys who needed every person in their lives to approve before they could buy a new pair of socks.
James and I remain friends. He calls me when he needs a moral compass to remind him it is not okay to sleep with someone’s wife just because the husband made an unfunny joke. I call him when I need to shut down the empathy and plot revenge on my enemies. It remains one of my least dysfunctional relationships. (And that probably tells you a lot about my relationships.)