The following list of “Top Ten Questions” has been collected from scores of clients and Instagram followers. Narcissist, sociopaths & psychopaths will referred to henceforth as “the abuser.”
1. Are they really a narcissist/sociopath/psychopath? What if I’m just saying that to make myself feel better about the breakup?
You may never know this person’s technical diagnosis, but you can discern normal behavior from abusive behavior. Sometimes all you may need to do is ask yourself “would I do that?” Abusive manipulators prey on our willingness to make excuses for their actions, and you may be falling into this trap now. If you have ever been through a breakup before, you know that there is a time for reflection & healing which leads to self-discovery & growth. If this breakup left you haunted by a lack of closure, clarity or understanding of what just happened, you may have been with a personality disordered individual.
2. How are they so happy now? Why is the next partner getting all of this special treatment I never got?
The abuser is no more or less happy now than when they were with you in the early days. The new partner is only getting the treatment that is required to hook them so that the abuser can gain control over the relationship. You likely received treatment that the person before you did not.
3. Can they change? What if they’re really a good person underneath & the problem was just specific to our relationship?
Most literature suggests that there is very little, real-world success in changing toxic, personality disordered abusers. The person that you saw initially was not them (nor their truth self), rather a mask that hid their truly malignant personality. They will take this malignancy with them everywhere they go and into each relationship they have.
4. What’s the difference between a narcissist, sociopath & psychopath?
The DSM-5 details the criteria necessary for a diagnosis of NPD (Narcissistic Personality Disorder) or ASPD (Antisocial Personality Disorder) which encompasses sociopathy and psychopathy. Any diagnosis would be via a licensed clinician who has worked directly with the abuser.
For our purposes, these personality disorders lay on a spectrum from NPD to psychopathy, but all points in between are toxic for us. Don’t bog yourself down in attempting to diagnosis this person.
5. Don’t I need to acknowledge my role in all of this?
Victims of abuse tend to be quite reflective and ready to take responsibility for their actions. It may have been this trait that allowed the abuser to offload guilt, blame and shame onto you. Early in recovery, it’s important to focus on your strengths; you can revisit your personal issues when you are stronger.
6. Should I contact or warn the next target?
Warning the target is a natural reaction. You certainly don’t want anyone else to experience what you have. That said, the abuser has anticipated your response and has taken steps to crush your credibility. You may have be called crazy, unstable, obsessive, jealous, etc., leading the new target to disbelieve you and possibly fear you. As awareness spreads, targets are more likely to take these warnings seriously, but it is still a gamble.
7. Did they ever love me? I’ve never felt love like that before; how could they have felt nothing?
Well, it depends on your definition of “love,” but generally speaking, no, they did not love you. What they did love was your money, sex, resourcefulness, business contacts, car, home, generosity, etc. You may have been all in, deeply committed to this amazing love you felt, but there was no depth or substance to their “love.”
8. Why does it always seem like they’re winning and getting their way? Will karma finally catch up with them?
It may seem like they’re winning, but are they? Pain stems from deep & meaningful attachments, but these people do not attach, liberating them from a significant amount of pain. Whether you belief in karma or not, people’s misdeeds will eventually catch up with them, but do yourself a favor; don’t wait around to see the outcome.
9. Why didn’t they just break it off sooner? What was the point of dragging it out until the bitter end?
They could have left you before you were “all in” but they needed to first deplete your resources & then find a new source of supply for themselves. Their relationships are less like a timeline & more like a Venn diagram, as targets usually overlap one another for a portion of time. They dragged it out to ensure that you were completely wiped out, isolated, confused & bewildered.
10. At some point I need to forgive the psychopath, right? For my own peace of mind, I have to let this go.
Forgiveness is yours to give or withhold. I would suggest that you first forgive yourself for falling for this person & then decide if you should forgive their misdeeds. You are under no obligation to do so, and I hope that no one pressures you to make this choice.
If you have questions or would like one on one support, please contact me by email to schedule a private consultation by phone.