State: New York
Question: I’ve noticed lately that a lot of people are using the term sociopath to describe people they or others have dated. Now, either we have a increase in people with a disturbing mental illness or something else is going on. What gives?
What gives is that we like to glamorize these men and women rather than admit that we got duped by some immature, lacking in personality doofus. Classifying these boobs as something as nefarious as a sociopath raises our status. Plus, if you say the person you dated was a sociopath, then you have less to answer for. There’s less accountability if the person who hurt you was a highly intelligent emotional mastermind.
He never showed any concern for your feelings? He’s a sociopath.
He cheated on you with other women? He’s a sociopath.
Don’t get me wrong. There are some true sociopaths out there who take advantage of unsuspecting men and women. They certainly exist. But most of the men or women we encounter on a day to day basis are not sociopaths. They’re actually far more pedestrian than we like to believe.
Every woman has her story of being involved with a Don Draper, Mr. Big or Christian Grey. Do you know why? Because it makes us sound impressive. We were able to capture the attention of a man who was mysterious, domineering and charming. We didn’t get discarded, tossed aside of generally shat upon because we were idiots and they were cads . No. We got abused because these men were just so cunning and clever that didn’t have a chance.
We had a chance. We just didn’t take it. We didn’t want to. We wanted to exist in that little fantasy world that we read about in romance novels when we were kids.We wanted to believe that there was something so desirable and undeniable about us that we were able to lure this caliber of man into our beds. Yes, I said caliber. The truth is that many women hold such men in high esteem. We think they chose us because we were unique. Nope. They chose us because we were weak. Of course, there is also the humblebrag factor. You , too, can tell your story of dating a Christian Grey or Tony Soprano or Chuck Bass. You become the antagonist in your own personal fan fic.
I can remember, awhile back, going over a particular situation with my friend J. I was telling her something stupid a guy had said to me, and how I was sure that it was said with the intention of getting a reaction.
“I think you’re giving him way too much credit” she said. “I honestly think he’s just a guy who hasn’t self-actualized yet. He’s self-involved and immature. ”
My friend M. gave me a similar explanation when I showed him the guy’s email messages.
“I’m now in the camp of he’s just very, very stupid.”
So we have – stupid, immature and self-involved. That’s a far cry from mysterious, domineering and charming, right?
We all want to be Carrie Bradshaw or Anastasia or Meredith Grey. We want to consumed by passion, dominated by a dark force or just plain dark and twisty. It’s the tale that we want. The idea of an experience. One that sets us apart and yet bonds us with other women at the same time. We long for that moment when we can stand in an operating room and say, “Pick me. Choose me. Love me” or something equally melodramatic. Sadly, all we aspire to be are cliche’s.
There’s the woman who is jaded and kicks every guy out of bed because she’s just in it for the sex. That is, until she meets a guy she likes and by date two, she thinks she’s in love with him.
Then there’s the woman who goes after unavailable guy after unavailable guy, yet she’s terrified to trust and let someone in. Except, you know, that unavailable guy that had “unavailable” stamped on his forehead.
Add in the “I have sex like a man” woman. Yet, unlike a man, she wants the guy to call her on the phone to schedule sex and not just text her. Or she gets flustered when a guy actually expects her to follow through on the underlying sexual promises of her dating profile or conversation.
Don’t forget the girl who comes up with flimsy excuses for why every date she has ends up with her on the receiving end of a big fat boot. He asked me if I was DTF! He canceled our date! He called me crazy! He made me pay the tab! He was too short!
Finally, there’s that female who has some vignette about how she escaped the sociopath. Only, he wasn’t a sociopath. He was just a dude who lied to her, poorly I might add, and she believed him. He didn’t control her or dominate her. He used her and she let him. There was no intense attraction on his end. It was in her head. In fact, the whole relationship was in her head.
What it really boils down to is our dependence upon attention and playing the victim. It’s not terribly glamorous, but that’s what it’s all about. We desperately need that drama so that we can feel special. This desire is borne from loneliness and immaturity.