(This post was inspired by Dr. Malkin’s latest article on Huffington Post: 5 Early Warning Signs You’re With a Narcissist)
The 5 Early Warning Signs You’re With a Narcissist/Sociopath
- Projected Feelings of Insecurity
- A Fragmented Family Story
- Idol Worship
- A High Need for Control
I appreciate Dr. Malkin’s thoroughness and insight in providing his list, but I wonder what he means by early? How many of the five behaviors did you miss as red flags of your narcissistic sociopath partner? How early did you start realizing that these behaviors were indicative of evil and pathology?
I can check, double check, triple check (you get the idea) each of them as behaviors I observed early in the relationship, but at the time, I glossed over them as being nothing more than signs that the sociopath lived a sad and pathetic life before me.
Why did I gloss over them in such a way like so many others who came before and after me?
Well, unfortunately, because the love-bombing phase/idolization phase coincided with my first peak at these behaviors, I did not recognize them as warnings. I simply viewed these “signs” as nothing more than simple flaws in the sociopath’s makeup. These flawed behaviors made me pity the sociopath and empathize with his position and misfortune. My interpretation of the behaviors as flaws allowed the sociopath to be humanized in my eyes, exactly what he intended.
(No wonder we didn’t jump ship when we first experienced them! We’re a bunch of suckers who wanted to help the losers escape their past and live a better life. Pfft! We know better now, huh?)
It wasn’t until about 8 months to a year into the toxic relationship (when the sociopath began his devaluing, blame and shame phase) that I looked back and shook my head at myself for being so blind. The five signs finally became the warnings that propelled me into sadness and depression but later lifted me out of the darkness and back to my sanity.
You see, even if we had this list in front of us when the relationship began, none of us would have been able to see them as warnings. None of us would have given up on the sociopath and abandoned the relationship so quickly. It’s not our nature to dismiss people due to a few flaws.
We still would have tried to understand why the sociopath was so negative and harsh and rage full and controlling. We still would have sacrificed our own souls to fix his.
Looking back at how we interpreted and reacted to these behaviors of the sociopath will help us finally understand that there is absolutely nothing wrong with us. It’s the nature of good people to nurture and help others.
On the other side of the toxic and pathological relationship, we now realize that some people don’t deserve our help, especially those who demand and insist we give up our lives to feed theirs.
Below are my reflections on how I interpreted these early behaviors, not as red flags to run fast in the opposite direction, but as green lights to help nurture the sociopath and infuse his life with love and light.
1) Projected Feelings of Insecurity
The sociopath in my story never attended college, not even a community college course. Nada. Nothing. He blames his mother for his lack of formal education. Somehow it was her fault that he never motivated his own lazy brain to find a passion and interest and learn about it.
To me, education means many things. I know and admire many autodidacts who are some of the brightest people I have ever met. But I have also worked alongside those with PhDs who are just as impressive. Having a diploma or certificate to hang and display does not equal intelligence, in my opinion.
However, I love school. Always have. Meeting people and sharing ideas in a classroom or on a message board has a certain appeal for me. Just before beginning the relationship with the sociopath, I earned a master’s degree in communication and adult education. I am very proud of myself, but I am not one to go around announcing my credentials (unlike I just did) so I never thought to mention my degrees to the sociopath when the relationship first began.
He didn’t learn that I had a master’s degree until a few months into the relationship. He overheard me talking to someone at a backyard BBQ about my experience writing my thesis.
The sociopath’s eyeballs nearly flew out of their sockets! He immediately interjected himself into our conversation. It seemed he was impressed, but then he made certain to tell us that he believed formal education was over-rated and that his real-world experiences were just as valuable.
Hmmm? I thought to myself, “Of course, our real-world experiences are very valuable. I have many of those, too. Is he that insecure that he needs to point this out to me?”
I didn’t know how to respond, other than, “Yes, I know many people who don’t have a college education who are probably some of the smartest people I know.”
(FYI – I do not and never have included the sociopath among those brilliant, non-degree holding folks I highly revere.)
Maybe he recognized that he had an empty skill set even with his real-world experiences and just wanted to dismiss my accomplishments in an under-handed way to make me feel insecure, too.
Oh, well. It didn’t work. I know I’ve got skills. Real-world skills and academicly-honed skills. I love my skills, and I love my student loan payments about as much as I love school! Hehe!
The sociopath got very nervous around me if I cried, like he was uncomfortable and had never seen a woman cry before. I cried because I missed my son. I always missed my son. The sociopath didn’t understand why I missed my son.
He would say things like, “It’s only two days without him. Can’t you just be happy being here with me? Don’t you love me?”
(See how it always goes back to them? Because I loved and missed my son, I somehow didn’t love or respect him. I didn’t provide him with enough narcissistic supply, I guess.)
So, I tried talking to him about love and mothers. Unfortunately, he had a shitty mother as a model, but she was his model. I respected the model. But I did not agree with the model.
The only emotion he did show, however, was his rage and a few tears over the thought of losing his Shih-Tzu. He didn’t fear losing his dog because he’s an animal lover or humanitarian. Oh, no! He feared losing that dog because that dog was the one and only living thing he could control and use to control others. He couldn’t bear being stripped of his most valuable tool.
(And if he ever has children, they will serve him just as the Shih-Tzu has served him.)
3) A Fragmented Family Story
I have a colorful and memorable childhood. It definitely wasn’t always rainbows and butterflies, but I loved my childhood.
The sociopath claimed to love his childhood, too.
Based on the fragments of a life the sociopath shared with me, I tried piecing together the sociopath’s childhood in the early pages of my book. The history he shared with me was not seamless, not even close. Nothing he explained ever added up using any logic I could understand.
(Maybe because he was never told the truth about why they moved around so much? Could be.)
But, in the words of the sociopath, his childhood was one of privilege and freedom.
Nope! I didn’t believe it! Why? Because I did’t see it. There were no pictures documenting this “fairytale” life he claimed to have lived – Oh, those pictures are in our other house, he’d claim. And there were no shared family stories about this once idyllic life. Not once did he and his brother or parents share a story from childhood. (You know.. the ones where everyone who remembers starts laughing and feeling nostalgic.) None!
And if his childhood had been happy with his family, his adulthood would have been indicative of that happiness, too. It wasn’t. He never hugged his parents or brother and never told them he loved them. They didn’t bother telling him he was loved, either. So sad. Not evolved as he liked to claim. Just sad.
I always pitied him. I felt his family was filled with dysfunction because a family is only as dysfunctional as the secrets they keep. And his family has many, many hidden secrets.
The brief and vague glimpses the sociopath shared with me were all a pack of lies told by a sad and injured boy who desperately wished to have lived a happy childhood. I refused to give him mine or my son’s.
4) Idol Worship
It’s one thing to admire another person. It’s a whole different thing to idolize someone, especially people you have never met before. Again, another source of pity for the sociopath that blinded me to his innate evil.
Not only did he worship me in the beginning and then tear me down once he realized I wasn’t the perfect image he had conjured, he idolized dead rockstars, too.
(And because they’re dead, they can’t tell you the truth behind their masks, either. Read my book for more on that part of his sickness. It’s a doozy of a story! Hehe!)
5) A High Need for Control
When I see someone who desperately wants to control every part of their life from the way laundry is to be done to the way a person should love them, I am saddened for that person. How sad to feel so insecure and out-of-control that you demand respect and order from others for no other reason than the fact you want to be a raving dictator.
I don’t think this one needs any explanation. Control is the middle name of all sociopaths!
In closing, I just want to repeat: these behaviors made us feel sorry for these fools. These behaviors tricked us into giving a shit about a person who doesn’t deserve our love, respect and care.
If I felt that these warning signs could liberate and open the eyes of his current girlfriend, I’d send them to her today. But they won’t. Because, like the rest of us, she must live the shit in order to believe in the shit. And the shit is evil. She’ll see it soon enough.
Namaste! ~ Paula
(image source: Pinterest via cuded.com.)