The other day my ex said, “you have sociopathic tendencies.” Luckily, as such, that comment and the subsequent insults didn’t sting. Not at all.

For those of you who haven’t Googled whether your ex is a sociopath, psychopath, or narcissist, let me extrapolate. Sociopaths have extremely antisocial attitudes and lack a conscience. Psychopaths are unstable and aggressive and also demonstrate antisocial attitudes. Narcissists have an excessive interest in or admiration of themselves.

I can be unstable. I’ve definitely gone through periods of my life where I’ve had an excessive interest in self, but sociopathism—a word created by my inner narcissist—let’s dig deeper. According to Psychology Today, the following are surefire signs of sociopathism:

  • Superficial charm and good intelligence
  • Absence of delusions and other signs of irrational thinking
  • Absence of nervousness or neurotic manifestations
  • Unreliability
  • Untruthfulness and insincerity
  • Lack of remorse and shame
  • Inadequately motivated antisocial behavior
  • Poor judgment and failure to learn by experience
  • Pathologic egocentricity and incapacity for love
  • General poverty in major affective reactions
  • Specific loss of insight
  • Unresponsiveness in general interpersonal relations
  • Fantastic and uninviting behavior with alcohol and sometimes without
  • Suicide threats rarely carried out
  • Sex life impersonal, trivial and poorly integrated
  • Failure to follow any life plan

Of these characteristics, I’d say unreliability; poor judgement; and suicide threats have applied. Possibly failure to follow a life plan, but I’d contest that one. As insane and squiggly as my life path is, I am actually following a plan that I created for myself years ago. So yeah, I guess I do have sociopathic tendencies. But I also rank among the most sensitive people I know. I cry all the fucking time. Good things, bad things, sexual things, platonic things, unfair things, unexplained things. I am a deep well of emotion fed by millions of unseen aquifers.

I would guess that for every person who might call me a sociopath, there are at least ten people who would balk at the suggestion including my two therapists (that’s right people, surviving cancer requires a cadre of mental health professionals). Am I human being with human flaws? Yes. Would I be hard to be in a relationship with? Abso-fucking-lootly. I’ve got my own flavor of crazy happening over here. I am passionate and emotional and reactive. I have an unquenchable lust for life and sex and love and connection and spontaneity and experience and knowledge, qualities that—I’m discovering—refute domestic bliss. Loving me would be difficult.

That being said, I get why my ex wants me to be a sociopath. When I entertain his personality as sociopathic, I feel less rejected in the relationship. I feel justified in not being together. I hurt less. At least temporarily. Long term, trying this accusation on makes me feel foolish for compassionately loving someone who wasn’t right for me. That foolish feeling isn’t a good thing for anyone. Not him, not my kids, not me and not anyone who comes in contact with either of us.  

The thing is, none of us really knows how someone else is feeling. We hear what they say, we see how they act, but we don’t really know how they feel. We can surmise, we can empathize, we can even sociopathize, but we really don’t know. Maybe my ex is just hurting. Or maybe he’s angry. OR maybe, we should all stop Googling personality disorders and then slapping them on people who have hurt us.

I certainly don’t want to minimize personality disorders or the havoc they wreck on people. I am just not qualified to talk about them let alone diagnose them. And my guess is, ex-girlfriend, ex-boyfriend, ex-wife, ex-husband, neither are you.

Special thanks to a dear friend who helped me write this post by encouraging me soften into my higher self during a very difficult time.