Narcissists, sociopaths, and others characterized with Cluster B personality disorders feed off of the values, knowledge, and sympathy of others. It’s part of their life source, their energy supply. It’s the stuff of vampires.
The boy has no values of his own, so he steals the values from his current girlfriend, fiancée or wife. The boy mentioned to me that he was initially attracted to me because of my “wholesome Appalachian values.” I chuckled at this absurdity, thinking how silly it was to assume that I possessed any sort of values, let alone wholesome ones. How would he know? He just met me. Regardless, I let this absurdity slide, because I didn’t know how to dispute it. I assumed he thought being around someone he thought was a good person would make him a good person or at least enhance any goodness he already possessed. Little did I know that my values and my family’s values would be his biggest weapon to use against me. Comments like, “Your family acts so righteous, yet they do nothing about your obvious mental issues.” (Really? How does my family act righteous? My mom goes to church every Sunday and prays every day but has never once preached to me about why I should go or pray with her. And what are my obvious mental issues exactly? Oh, you mean my unwillingness to accept everything you dictate to me. Hmmm? Look in the mirror and then tell me who the sick one really is.)
He steals knowledge from everyone. He has no formal education (college, trade school, or military) beyond high school. So, my college education was also something that sparked his initial interest in me: “Wow! I can get a college-educated woman without a college education. Look how smart
my girlfriend is I am!” Yet in private, he frequently argued that formal education was over-rated and that the quality of his “worldly” education surpassed anything I could have learned in a classroom. To him, my degrees could be used to impress his friends but also used against me. When we disagreed about seemingly insignificant things or things based solely on opinion or preference, he would say things like, “Oh, you just think I’m a worthless piece of garbage, don’t you? I’m just stupid and worthless in your eyes, huh?” (Oh, dear goodness, if this isn’t projection, I have no idea what is. Someone obviously spoke those words to him somewhere along the line, but I assure you, it wasn’t me.) How does a sane person respond to such absurdity? Unfortunately, I just took it and often thought maybe I WAS making him feel that way with my tone. I tried changing my tone and even prefaced things with, “Now, I don’t think you’re stupid, but…” Nothing seemed to make him stop feeling like I was attacking him, so he, in turn, continued attacking me.*
One of the biggest things he stole from people was their sympathy in order to win anything and everything. He was really good at making people (with values) feel sorry for him when he needed something from them. My favorite, yet least favorite, example was when he broke up with one of his exes with whom he purchased his dog. He cried crocodile tears telling her he couldn’t live without the dog if she chose to take the dog with her after they broke up. And because of her (southern, mid-western, Texan, fill-in-the-blank) values, she caved and didn’t fight to keep the dog herself. He liked, and I mean REALLY enjoyed, telling this story and laughed with impunity about how he was able to fool her (and her family) on numerous occasions. Everything was about winning and fooling and one-upping people, it seemed. Can I say “red flags ignored” loud enough!?
Don’t give away your values, knowledge, or sympathy to these fools. If you suspect you’re being manipulated or conned at any point in your relationship, you probably are. Follow your gut. I can’t stress that enough.
*For the record, I don’t think he’s stupid. But I often wondered if he actually attended high school or if he cheated his way through. I never knew him to read a book from beginning to end. He had a shelf of them, but the collection never grew the entire time I knew him, and he never discussed any of them with me. It’s as if they were his token books used as decorations or something. Weird! It turns out they were just part of the costume for his I’m-an-intellectual-and-so-much-smarter-than-you mask. He always claimed, “I know that already.” Like he KNEW that leaving a jar of Jif out on the counter over night would spoil it because of the dairy cream butter in peanut butter! (Okay, I was wrong, he IS stupid.)