This is what Sydney has driven me to. Researching psychopathy. It wasn’t where I started. I rolled my eyes at the thought because it seems so cliched to jump to that when you have been scorned. As I was searching the interwebs for similar personality issues to explain what I just went through with Sydney, the same theme kept popping up. Probably due to the sheer lack of empathy she seems to exhibit.
Yet I continued to skip over the links until finally one drew me in. It was titled something like “Six ways to tell you’re arguing with a psychopath.” I opened it and read through. By the third item I couldn’t believe it. It was describing my interactions with Sydney very accurately. Here is what I read:
1. They lie and make excuses.
Everyone messes up every now and then, but psychopaths recite excuses more often than they follow through with promises. Their actions never match up with their words and their lies disappoint you so frequently that you actually feel relieved when they do something halfway decent. They’ve conditioned you to become grateful for mediocre treatment.
RP: Sydney had an excuse for everything. She would constantly claim to want or to do things that would never happened in reality. Like trying anything for me, she would say she would do something, but then never follow through with action. When she would half-way show interest with actions I would be overjoyed. Only to be crushed later. Over and over. So many excuses. So many small lies, and lies of omission.
2. Their tone is condescending and patronizing.
Psychopaths often try to make you unhinged in an attempt to gain the upper hand. Throughout the entire argument, you’ll notice that they keep a calm and cool demeanor. It’s almost as if they’re mocking you — gauging your reactions to see how much further they can push. When you finally react emotionally, that’s when they’ll raise their eyebrows, smirk, tell you to calm down, or feign disappointment.
RP: This one happened several times. She would say the most hurtful things, and when I reacted she would then accuse me of being petty because she “would never react that way to someone.” Totally raising her eyebrows and feigning disappointment. Well excuse me for being human. She was very condescending, and sure to maintain the upper hand thought-out our discussion. Which was not difficult because the entire thing caught me off guard. She was calm, and cool the whole time. Making sure I was the only one showing any emotion – I was the crazy one.
3. They employ mind-blowing hypocrisy.
In heated arguments, psychopaths have no shame and will often begin labeling you with their own horrible qualities. It goes beyond projection, because most people project unknowingly. Psychopaths know they are smearing you with their own flaws, because they are seeking a reaction. The point is to lure you in so that you react and seem “crazy” to onlookers.
RP: Objective achieved here. We did have onlookers, and I could tell they were astonished at how crazy I looked. She threw lots of labels and grenades my way in such rapid succession it was impossible to counter. But the fact was they were all her flaws. She was pushing them on me. How do you defend against crazy? I certainly was not prepared, not to mention my soul was being crushed.
4. They seem to have multiple personalities.
When arguing with a psychopath, you’re likely to notice a variety of their personas. It’s sort of like good cop, bad cop, demented cop, stalker cop, scary cop, baby cop. Once you begin pulling away from their manipulation and lies, they’ll start apologizing and flatter you. If that doesn’t work, they’ll suddenly start insulting the qualities they just flattered two minutes ago. As they struggle to regain control, you’ll be left wondering who you’re even talking to.
RP: We certainly went through a variety of personalities. Mostly she was demented cop, but would then jump to good cop and even cry a fake tear. Then jump back to scary cop and angry cop. I completely agree with the flattering and insulting of the same qualities all happening very close together. It’s a real head turner. No way to make sense of it. I was completely beside myself – no longer sure who this person was sitting across from me. Not sure if the next thing I said was going to be met with scorn or empathy. Hint, there wasn’t a lot of empathy – none of it real anyway. She would only use it to manipulate my emotions.
5. They play the eternal victim.
Somehow, their bad behavior will always lead back to a conversation about their abusive past or a crazy ex or an evil boss. You’ll end up feeling bad for them, even when they’ve done something horribly wrong. And once they’ve successfully diverted your attention, everything will get messy again. Psychopaths cry “abuse,” but, in the end, you’re the only one being abused.
RP: OMG! This one! This is Sydney’s bread and butter. EVERYTHING she does is because of her past abuse. Yes she had a very damaging childhood and even through her 20’s. One of the worst I’ve heard, if she’s telling the truth. However she would pull that card out at every occasion to justify her bad behavior. She was abusing me over and over, and claiming I was the one abusing her. She’s absolutely nuts. And it works. I have a heart. I would feel pity for her. I did appreciate what she went through. It’s sad, but that is no excuse for being cruel to me now. What benefit is it of me to say “Oh, well you had it rough so take it out on me. That’s fine.”? None! She needs to treat people with respect, and stop blaming all her negative actions on her past. But that would mean she wants to.
6. You feel the need to explain basic human emotions to them.
You’ll find yourself attempting to explain emotions like empathy and kindness, guided by the thought that if they understand why you’re hurt, they’ll stop hurting you. You are not the first person who has attempted to see the good in them, and you will not be the last. They behave this way because they know that it hurts you.
RP: The number of times I found myself explaining empathy and kindness are mind-blowing. To a full grown fully functioning woman no less. I should have known better. And always with that thought “if she just understood how she is making me feel then she will see it’s better to stop and we can be happy.” Nope. It didn’t fit her agenda, and she didn’t care that I was hurting. She has no good intentions. She intended to cause pain. She used to say her hair was black like her soul, and I would always say she had good in her. Apparently I was wrong. I feel sorry for the man she is with. I can’t imagine his pain. He’s living with a woman with no empathy, and she just asked him for permission to fuck other men! Good luck dude! Maybe we should form a support group – Significant Others of Sydney (SOS). Ha!
There’s only one way out of these arguments. You need to disengage!
RP: Amen! This is the new direction I plan on taking.
The truth is I still have to work with her, and she is very good at her work. No emotions to cloud anything! Which means I need to maintain a basic connection with her. But it only needs to be basic. Just enough to get the job done. She claims to really want to be friends, but she barely makes an effort these days. If I don’t make an effort then it shouldn’t be hard to avoid her.
I really want to talk to her and tell her how cruel and horrible she is, but who would that serve? Me? Probably not. She wouldn’t hear me, and would find some way to blame it all on me anyway. It would also set me up for a future catastrophic event. Psychopaths can be very vindictive. I don’t need her lashing out at me with anger. I think it would be better to keep her right under the surface, always guessing and thinking I’m pining for her, rather than purposefully engage her, and create a hostile situation.
It won’t be hard to ignore her. I sent her an article about previous relationships needing months of healing before ex’s can be friends. If they can be friends. The article mentions six months as a good time frame. She did read the article, and said she understood I just need time. I’ll just let it roll to forever. She seemed to be OK with the concept. Which is also horrible that she cares so little, but I need to let that go.
Truth is she probably isn’t a psychopath. She probably is a narcissist or has antisocial personality disorder or some other such thing. She hates nearly everyone, and has no friends other than me, and her boyfriend. The only family member she talks to is her sister. It’s hard to say for sure, I’m not a doctor, and I don’t know her all that well. But I’m going to err on the side of caution. Rather than confront her, I’m going to let it ride out into the sunset. Slowly fade into nothing. Not as cathartic, but probably healthier in the long run. Definitely safer.
No matter how much I want to confront her so she can look in the mirror, and change she isn’t going to. I suppose that also means I’m probably not done writing about her, but hopefully the fireworks have died down. With any luck she will find a job at another company, and this situation will resolve on it’s own.