My friend and I always joke that we only date sociopaths (also known as: soce, soce-eee-ohhh; soce-with-the-most; Brocio a.k.a. the Bro-soce). We do this because in reality it’s not at all hilarious that the crazies flock to us and attempt to play games with our heads and hearts, so all we can do is laugh at the bizarre and unrelenting trend. Kind of like when a dude breaks up with his girlfriend and that girl is automatically and irreversibly “so crazy, man.” I’d like to make the case for us females out there that have the fantastic misfortune of having exes that are Grade A, Christian Bale level, unhinged from any emotional reality. The bright side of our misfortune is that over the years we have recognized some red flags that may help others avoid the tumultuous and ultimately impossible relationship that is dating a soce.
Disclaimers: I’m well aware the probability of so many dudes being full blown soces is low and pretty unrealistic. I’m also aware, as my friend and I always joke, that there is something to be said about us for constantly dating these weirdos (and attracting them in the first place) but let’s face it the answer is because they are always so ridiculously good-looking and downright charming. I also like to give people the benefit of the doubt and not automatically assume people are livin’ la vida loca, and that has clearly worked out very well for me. Anyway, I am not a mental health professional. If you genuinely think that you or someone you know is a soce you should probably go speak to someone about that ASAP. The following is a non-scientific, purely speculative guide as to whether you are dating a soce-like dude and should set that hawk free.
1. The swooning process.
An undercover soce-with-the-most thrives at the swooning process. He lives for it. To him your love affair progresses almost like the plotline of a Nicholas Sparks novel. This is a flagrantly fire-truck-red coloured flag. To him the molding and manipulation of your mind is like a game of chess, as one of my exes professed: “It is all about the chase and the challenge. Not in a sexual impulse sense though it’s like the act of making you fall in love with me.” Seriously? C’mon man. Are you also a Scientologist? By the way, be on the look out for my yet-to-be-penned novel entitled “Confessions of Admitted Sociopaths: My Exes Edition.”
2. “He just really gets me.”
He always knows the perfect thing to say to you in any situation. Always. This is not an accident. Yes, he does this on purpose, in fact he enjoys it. This is to draw you closer and keep you under his weird voodoo-like spell. He is charming, witty, “romantic” . . . calculated. Of course he said that super charming thing that knocked you right off your socks. He basically sees right through you, I bet. Any intelligent man could, I imagine, watch The Notebook or read Cosmo and come up with sweet things to woo you with, but a vast percentage of the male population simply does not do this. Why? Because it’s a classic soce move. Ask yourself: Why would a dude go to those great lengths when he could just not? Sus. Next thing you know you’re being nagged by the insane theories he comes up with about how you are definitely cheating on him. Please stop being so crazy.
3. The tangled webs he weaves.
If he’s telling you exactly what you want to hear and somehow always manages to escape an impossible web of lies with what seems like “the only possible explanation” – chances are you’ve got a pro-soce on your hands. He lies with style, with conviction. He makes you think the absurd is the normal. He is an emotional salesman, and as my friend M says, a true “emotional puppeteer.”
Example: “Yeah, but he really did have old tires so it makes sense that he got a flat and has to stay at his friend’s house who is a girl because she lives two feet from where it happened and he did tell me last week he found out he doesn’t have AAA. I mean when he told me I said, ‘that’s random’ but he told me not to think anything of it and that if I suspect something it’s definitely just my past trust issues rearing their ugly head. He’s gonna call me first thing in the morning.” Insert huge eye-roll/sigh combination on behalf of every friend that has ever listened to one of these wholly transparent rationalizations spewing from a friend’s mouth. No, girl. Just listen to yourself right now.
4. He gets frustrated and somewhat angry when he can’t “read you” or “figure you out.”
What self-respecting non-socio dude would waste so much time trying to figure out the psychological underpinnings of his girlfriend? Red flag. I am not a science project. One of my exes used to essentially ‘study’ me, and I know this because boy did I hear it if we ever got into an argument. “You think like this, you always do this because of that, you don’t normally do this, you always react this same way when I say the word ____, you are such a ____ personality type.” Okay, guy. You are reading way too deep into things, basically always. Also way to be super creepy and act carefree all the time while you’re really just observing and saving up ammo to use against me at a later time. I would have conversations with one of my exes, while we were dating, and he would just look me right in the eyes and be like “How does this make you feel? What are you feeling right now? Oh, that is very interesting.” This is next level crazy. Last time I checked I didn’t sign up to be part of a psychological experiment or research study at Penn or something. Maybe I just want a damn cheeseburger and it’s not because of some weird hypothesis you have about why I eat fast food and how it means I’m probably cheating on you because it’s Tuesday and I’m wearing red. So unbelievably soce.
5. He’s an actor.
This one is pretty obvious yet I still always get roped in. They are unsurprisingly persuasive about the genuineness of their emotions so it is devastatingly difficult to discern which are the crazy ones and which are the normal ones (that is if any actors can be considered “normal,” jury is still out on that one). They mimic emotions and pretend to be people they aren’t as a career, literally as their profession. He is a professional emotional manipulator with narcissistic tendencies – that is his job description. He rehearses how to convince people he is feeling sad, or angry, or he loves you. This isn’t a red flag it is a straight up land mine. “He’s just so likeable and good looking,” you think. “Maybe he’s just one of those weird theatre kids from high school that really liked the arts and bloomed later in life and is harmless,” you think. Wrong! Obviously not all actors are sociopaths and not all sociopaths are actors, but you have to be particularly careful with actors. They are in a highly suspect class from the outset.
6. Range of emotions (or lack thereof).
That’s the thing about soces, they don’t really feel anything. He just always knows how to react in a situation based on examining how people should react in those situations. E.g., Dexter. It’s actually pretty easy for soces to go by unnoticed because they have high IQs and know how to play people. Especially when he looks like he could be a GQ model. Sigh. My friend’s most recent ex would have to leave the room when they got into a fight because he didn’t know what to say and then would return with an airtight semantic argument/plan to turn everything around on her. Fact: he was a baby soce/soce in the making. While a normal non-soce person would just say what they are feeling in that moment and it wouldn’t necessarily come out right, soces can’t feel so they think, they calculate. A pro-soce would know what to say in the moment as it was happening because he’s practiced, but this soce was not the sharpest soce in the shed. He still had his soce-training-wheels on. One time I actually got to witness this phenomenon and I imagined him doing one of those weird deep-breathing and eyes-glazing-over transformations in the other room. Literally, a different person came back in. So American Psycho it is not okay. Bottom-line: If he doesn’t know how to react to a situation and has to physically leave and then comes back with an “attack plan” you have probably got an amateur soce and you gotta run like you’re in an Olympic race, girl.
7. He tells you he loves you within a week of meeting you.
Really dude? This alone definitely wouldn’t qualify a guy as a soce, but if you have this mixed with other indicators – yeah, probably head for the hills. Those are not real emotions, he probably doesn’t understand what love feels like, and he most likely just loves the idea of you.
8. He snaps on you when you catch him off-guard.
I’m not talking about SnapChat here. Socio dudes don’t like being exposed. Let’s say you innocently ask him how he felt about something that was on the news but he is stressed and thus not in the zone to give you a contemplated reaction/response. So when you ask, “Didn’t you say the other day that you cared about x,y,z?” he goes completely Carrie on you (the horror movie, not Bradshaw). 2 words: chill out. It was a question. The world isn’t over because the picture-perfect image of yourself that you clearly spend way too much time crafting has been damaged for .0001 seconds and to one person. Especially if the blow-up is followed by, “I am so so sorry. Babe I don’t know what came over me. I’m not usually like that.” Then insert some sorry excuse a la # 3 and an “it will never happen again” and you’ve got a great recipe for a socio-casserole.
9. You vs. him.
If your boyfriend acts like it’s you vs. him rather than both of you vs. the world, there’s an 80% chance he’s a soce and it’s partly cloudy outside. Especially if he always has to have the last word and always has to be in control of the situation. If he’s constantly trying to one-up you, frequently suspects you’re lying when you’re not, cannot trust you for the life of him, and lives in constant conspiracy-theory level denial of the fact that you do really mean it when you say you love him back then you should drop-him-like-the-hottie-he-is. He’s not capable of being a team player; there’s only one person he’s capable of loving and that’s himself.
10. You call him a socio.
He looks at you with a stone-cold blank stare and says, “You’re probably right,” then maniacally laughs. Yes, this has really happened. Not even just once.
11. There is just something off about him.
Let’s face it: people and love are complex things. There is no surefire way to spot a bad egg until you really get to know someone, and even then it’s still pretty hard. Outside of someone outright saying they have a diagnosis of antisocial personality disorder, you probably won’t be able to tell you’re dating a manipulative jerk until it’s too late. But if you know in your gut that there’s always been something a little off about him, he seems “too good to be true,” and you are rationalizing a bunch of red flags because you like drinking the punch, you might want to phone-a-friend and ask for an unbiased third party opinion because a good friend will have no qualms telling you hate they hate your boyfriend if he sucks.