February is the month most associated with love. We begin assessing our romantic relationships based on how the Valentine’s Day holiday is acknowledged and celebrated by our significant other. The common controversy surrounding this upcoming holiday is that many determine the integrity of their relationship based on the events of one day.
Relationships are complicated, because people are complicated. The desire to be connected on a level more significant than familiar or friendship ties is natural, however often this desire for connectivity can skew the perception of the quality of our experience with a significant other.
Relationships that feel fiercely passionate with whirlwind highs and lows, can actually be the result of coupling with a mate who is fiercely into you based on how fiercely they are into themselves.
According to Harvard psychologist Dr. Martha Stout, author of The Sociopath Next Door, roughly one in 25 Americans is a sociopath. Not all sociopaths are dangerous criminals, but they certainly can make being in a relationship with them difficult and in some cases, unhealthy and dangerous. The professional term assigned to this type of behavior by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V) is Antisocial Personality Disorder.
Within the context of dating, a partner with antisocial personality disorder is characterized by a long-standing pattern of disregard for other people’s rights. They are narcissists to the extreme, have a huge sense of entitlement, and tend to blame others for their own failures.
Signs that your partner may struggle with socio-pathology include:
- Disregard for right and wrong
- Persistent lying or deceit to exploit others
- Using charm or wit to manipulate others for personal gain or for sheer personal pleasure
- Intense egocentrism, sense of superiority and exhibitionism
- Repeatedly violating the rights of others by the use of intimidation, dishonesty and misrepresentation
- Hostility, significant irritability, agitation, impulsiveness, aggression or violence
- Lack of empathy for others and lack of remorse about harming others
- Poor or abusive relationships
- Failure to learn from the negative consequences of behavior
Antisocial personality disorder symptoms usually begin in childhood and are fully evident for most people during their 20s and 30s. While simply exhibiting the aforementioned signs and symptoms does not necessarily equate to a clinical diagnosis, these behaviors can lead to extreme relationship difficulty, emotional damage, and in some cases, risks to physical and sexual health.
Symptoms of antisocial personality disorder can be treated, however people with this disorder may not want or think they need treatment. In other cases, people seeking treatment for conditions such as depression, anxiety, sexual addiction or substance use disorders, may also be struggling with antisocial personality disorder. If you or someone you know is struggling in their relationship, visit www.BrooklynMFT.com and allow Brooklyn Marriage & Family Therapy, PLLC’s counseling and psychotherapy services be your first step toward more healthy, mutually respectful relationships!
Stout, M. (2005) The Sociopath Next Door. Crown.