Psychology and sociology are incredible subjects to study. The social sciences allow us to peek into the perspectives of other people around us. People who study psychology and sociology are trained to read and understand other people. It takes at least eight years for someone to earn a Ph.D. in psychology and thus be officially trained enough and well-versed enough in their craft to diagnose people with mental disorders and prescribe treatment.
In addition, according to the National Institute of Mental Health, only one percent of the U.S. adult population is diagnosed with antisocial personality disorder - what we call a "sociopath." Why, then, do young women these days take to diagnosing their ex-boyfriend as a “sociopath?”
Although sociopathy is characterized by a general disregard for the feelings of others, there is so much more that goes into this mental illness. If all that sociopathy boiled down to is “mean and uncaring,” then way more young adults would be diagnosed as sociopaths. I know you don’t like to hear it, but we are a pretty selfish generation, so a lot of people might come across as “mean and uncaring,” even if we are generally okay.
Did your ex-blame you for everything that went wrong in the relationship?
Is he the type of guy that will run to all his friends (and even your mutual friends), eager to badmouth you to make sure everyone knows that you were the crazy one all along?
Did he constantly ignore you and slowly stop holding an interest in you as the relationship went along?
Has he ever done something rude to “test to see how you would react?”
While all those things are mean and uncaring, and can even be considered abusive under certain conditions, they aren’t the deciding factors in whether your former man is a sociopath. In fact, there’s a good chance you’ve done any number of these things and just didn’t recognize that they were bad things to do.
It doesn’t make you a sociopath, does it?
Your ex-was probably just a jerk, but then again, we’re all immature jerks who think that the other person is wrong and we are right. That’s just human nature. Most people have done one or more of the things I mentioned, and if you remember that statistic I mentioned earlier, “most people” certainly are not sociopaths.
There’s also the possibility that the problem is actually you. Maybe your ex-blamed you for everything that went wrong because of your absolute refusal to compromise or consider his needs. Maybe he began to lose interest in you because you snapped at him all the time and were always defensive. Maybe he wanted to see how you would react to something because you claimed you don’t make a big deal out of things when, actually, you’re incredibly emotional, and it doesn’t take a lot to upset you. That’s human nature. We all want to seem better than we are and we all think we’re right. For the majority of people, it takes a lot of humbling to realize that we aren’t always right, and then own up when these situations arise.
Understand that I’m not speaking down on those who have fallen prey to the mistake of calling their ex-boyfriend a sociopath; not long ago I was in the same boat. Confident that one college psychology course and multiple internet articles had armed me with all I needed to know, I was sure that he was a sociopath. I was so focused on what he had done wrong that I had completely missed all the things that I had done wrong that would also be considered sociopathic.
The truth of the matter is, neither of us is a sociopath; we’ve both done selfish things and we’ve both brushed off our wrongdoings as part of our personalities instead of working to change for the better, and the relationship failed because of that. Unless your ex is a sociopath (and 99% of the time, he isn’t), it takes two people to make or break a relationship. It’s never solely one person’s fault.
So, ladies, the next time you stumble across an article titled “Is Your Ex A Sociopath?”, pay careful attention to the traits listed in the article.
If your ex was constantly isolating you, flat-out telling you that he just wants to use you for his own gain, and being shamelessly manipulative in every way possible, then you have something to be concerned about, but even then, it’s probably not a good idea to label him a sociopath unless you have your doctorate in cognitive and behavioral psychology.
If you can recount whether he’s displayed a few of the traits on a couple of occasions, don’t fret; he’s probably just a little immature. Maybe he’s just a jerk who can’t handle a real relationship just yet. Sometimes, the problem is you. And that’s okay. Sometimes you have to screw up in order to learn your lesson. What’s not okay is running to your friends and calling your ex a sociopath.