There has been a decades-long joke with my father about the fact that both he and I seemingly attract assholes. From lunatics in the frozen food section to romantic partners, the sheer volume of people fitting this stereotype leads me to believe that maybe there is something more to this joke. While there are a variety of ways a sociopath can manipulate you before, during, and even after a relationship, here are the six main reasons why you actually attract them.
1. You’re independent
Sociopaths have a tremendously large arsenal of manipulation tactics, but one of the things that they use consistently is a drastic change from hot to cold. For most people, this elicits insecurity as they wonder why the person is cold all of a sudden, but for you, you barely notice. You were working all day, then taking the dog for a walk and catching up with that friend from college. You didn’t even realize they hadn’t texted you back for several hours. In this way, you are a sweet, unique challenge to them because you actually value your own space. It also makes it markedly easier for them to keep up with all of the other relationships they have in their back pocket: the girl he casually texts just to boost his ego, his ex-wife, and anyone else that he can exploit.
2. You have an extremely high emotional intelligence level
Sociopaths are not stupid. They gauge your level of crazy early on in the relationship. They are focused on finding a person who will take rational actions—that way they can more effectively anticipate your decisions and manipulate you to their liking. Additionally, do you try to psychoanalyze the reasons for someone’s behavior often in your life? Is it easy for you to understand that the colleague you have who constantly begs for attention never got it during childhood? This elevated emotional awareness may also peg you as a target, since you will take great time to try to understand sociopathic behavior, its roots, and how to fix it. The sociopath will also delight in your high EI as you probably will not go to extreme levels of destructiveness when the relationship inevitably implodes.
3. You have a history of emotional or physical abuse in relationships
This may be one of the biggest targets for a sociopath. They will probe you about your past relationships very early in the dating game in order to pick up on this. Have you been the victim of infidelity or lying in other important relationships? Did you have an absent or emotionally distant parent? Eventually, the sociopath will use this against you, saying your suspicions of them are just the result of your unresolved wounds from the other abuser. They will attempt a sleight of hand when you are angered by their behavior, insisting they are angry with you for being “punished” for the other abuser’s mistakes. They will take absolutely no accountability for their choices and insist they are victimized by you.
4. You know what a sociopath is
You are not only familiar with the behavior of a sociopath, but have even had conversations with your partner about their sociopathic behavior. Have they shown up after a month of not talking—just the sight of them forming a lump in your throat—and yet, they’re not emotional? Followed by that random conversation in the middle of a Starbucks when their tears started—trying to show you that they can get emotional—but something about the timing of it just felt strange. Your gut knows and feels it, but your heart overrules it. Your rational mind fills the voids in their behavior positively, creating a person in front of you that the mind can accept, because it is far more difficult to believe that evil like this exists. The kind of evil that can watch the tears stream down your face while you talk about an unfaithful ex and then do the exact same thing to you. The kind that will go out of their way to help a stranger, to let the store employee know that someone in a white Jeep left their lights on in the parking lot, all the while cheating on their wife and lying to their kids.
5. You are an empath
Opposites attract, right? Sociopaths cannot fight ice with ice; in other words, sociopaths cannot effectively manipulate each other the way they can manipulate an empath. They require their target to have the ability to connect on a deep level and revel in the moment when they recognize you are starting to trust them. Have you set boundaries that they have repeatedly crossed, leaving you with the impossible choice to accept the behavior or walk away and lose them entirely? Have you tried to rationalize their behavior, giving them the benefit of the doubt? Have you given them slack because their mother was sick, or this reason or that? You are an empath.
6. You derive most of your validation internally
This is one of the biggest differences in empath/sociopath splits. A sociopath cannot internally generate their own validation and require it from other people, mostly strangers. It is more important to them to be perceived as a great father (when someone is watching) than to actually be one. They have an inherent need to reinforce their belief that they are charming and worthy of attention. The fact that you do not require this probably fascinates them. You do not have a list of men in your contact list that you casually exchange pictures with just for validation, because you don’t require that. This further emphasizes the fact that you do not have sociopathic traits, making you the perfect empathetic target.
Getting out of a relationship with a sociopath is a project that takes great time, and don’t be discouraged if it takes a few attempts to get out. Sometimes it is easier to sabotage the relationship and have them leave you than to try to leave independently. Because they will follow. They will show up, write letters—hell, they’ll write it in the sky how much they love you if it means having you under their control again. And being in their control, under their influence, feels great. It means you are flattered with compliments and gifts: it means that things improve (temporarily) after the reconciliation. It means great sex. But it always comes right back around to the bottom line of it all, the part that deep down you already know but are having trouble accepting: they don’t respect you, nor value you, and they certainly don’t love you.