Fortunately, I moved. You may be wondering what I’m talking about.
This morning, a coworker referenced the book The Sociopath Next Door, assuming I had never heard of it. Not only had I heard of it, I have a copy of it. I bought it a couple of years ago because it has a funny title. I’m always curious about how sociopaths minds work and I had recently dated my next door neighbor, whom I suspected might be a sociopath.
I told her briefly about our relationship. On our first date, he asked me what I thought about marriage. I told him I was ambivalent about it. He proceeded to tell me how he liked the idea of marriage. Further into the relationship, he denied ever having said anything like that. I later realized he was constantly lying about things, saying whatever he thought would get him what he wanted at the time. We have long since broken up, but had maintained a friendship of sorts since we continued to be neighbors.
When I finally completely got over him, realized how manipulative he had been, forgave him (for my own mental health), and had zero interest in ever dating him or anyone like him again, he regained a romantic interest in me. I never told him I thought he was a sociopath. Not that being a sociopath is as simple as being a liar, but what’s the point of confronting a liar about their lies? They’ll just keep on lying. And they will refine their game. So, I never gave him that advantage. I maintained a casual friendship for the sake of civility.
I was telling my coworker how he called me after I moved. I ignored his phone calls and eventually he stopped calling. But, strangely he called today. His ears must have been ringing. I didn’t recognize the number, so I didn’t answer it. I was surprised to listen to the voice mail message and find it was him.
One of the takeaways from the book is that, as the title implies, there are sociopaths among us. They are people without conscience. They have learned to act like they care to maintain relationships, but they really don’t have the capacity to care. My neighbor had been in a severe automobile accident and suffered from a closed head injury. His behavior may have been a result of that. Or maybe he has always been like that. I’ll never know. What I learned from that situation is to pay attention to people’s behavior – not just their words, but their actions as well. Discrepancies between words and actions are a red flag.