Divorcing a sociopath is even more emotionally draining than an average divorce, particularly because sociopaths thrive on drama and conflict. Their inclination toward deception, manipulation, and utter charm gives them a dangerous advantage when it comes to your divorce proceedings.
Spouses who were drawn in by their superficial charms should begin to grasp what a sociopath truly is, in order to gain more perspective about the best ways to handle them.
What is a sociopath?
A sociopath is someone diagnosed with Antisocial Personality Disorder, a misnomer that often leads people to think that they are recluses. In reality, the name implies they have a difficulty with managing normal interactions with the people around them. Their symptoms affect all of their dealings with others, and manifest themselves in a number of important ways:
1. Disregard for or violation of the rights of others through deceit
2. Impulsive actions
3. Irritability or aggression
4. Disregard for the safety of others
6. Lack of remorse
7. Failure to follow laws (otherwise known as conduct disorder)
Sociopathic behavior can take on a number of forms, depending on whether or not the spouse is male or female. For example, a sociopathic husband may have been quite a charmer during your early dating days, springing for lavish dinners and romantic getaways. However, now that you are married, he may be the opposite: aggressive, stingy, promiscuous, and a habitual liar.
While a sociopathic wife may exhibit similar behavior, she may also be a poor mother, due to her irresponsibility. She may view her children as pawns in the games she plays with her spouse. Instead of physical aggression, she may turn to emotional abuse and manipulation, in order to control her significant other.
Even if your spouse lacks the clinical diagnosis to be formally presented as a sociopath in court, you can take a few steps to begin protecting your interests. During this unique, incredibly stressful situation, make sure you know the best way to handle your sociopathic spouse.
Make sure you have documentation.
Sociopaths are notoriously good at manipulating situations and charming others. They will often lie to get their own way—with little to no remorse for the long-term consequences of their falsehood. As a result, you need to make sure that you have clear documentation for every point you plan to bring up in court. Having documentation regarding your own allegations allows you to stand firm on the points you and your attorney are attempting to make. It proves that you are trustworthy, while allegations made by your spouse to the contrary can demonstrate the opposite about their character.
Be sure to document all conversations, emails, and contact that you have with your spouse—in order to avoid anything becoming skewed during court hearings. All conversation and contact should be kept brief and devoid of emotion.
Sociopaths feed on the drama and chaos they are known to create. Without the melodrama, they will quickly become bored when you are able to actually relay all the information.
Set and stick to boundaries.
Boundaries can apply to both your personal interactions with the sociopath, as well as court-ordered items, such as visitation, alimony, and child support. Sociopaths often attempt to manipulate situations to better suit themselves, which is something that is done to a much greater degree than others. Because of this natural tendency, they will wheedle, plead, or threaten you to attempt to make changes to your agreements. You may be tempted to give in, but refrain from making any alterations to your court documents, arranged visits, or monetary assistance.
Crossing the boundaries laid out, even just once, sets a precedent that you will continue to do so in the future—whenever it suits your sociopathic spouse. They already believe that rules do not apply to them. Be sure to keep detailed records of all the ways that court orders were violated, in order to suit their whims.
It can help to set clear boundaries early on, by maintaining space from your spouse. Regardless of what they attempt to do to bring you closer to them, resist the temptation to become wrapped up in their drama.
Take care of your own emotions.
Sociopaths feed on commotion, manipulation, deception, and revenge on others—mercilessly and without remorse. In the end, this relationship will become an emotionally draining and exhausting experience for you.
In order to continue to remain emotionally disengaged during even the shortest interactions with your spouse, you need to prioritize your own mental health and emotions. Consider seeking the guidance of a trained mental health professional, who has extensive experience with personality disorders. They can assist you with setting personal boundaries, and give you tips and tools to improve communication with a sociopathic spouse.
Prepare yourself for battle.
Going through the divorce process with a sociopath is a grueling battle, so you have to protect your interests for the future. Prepare now by considering the first steps you need to take, in order to keep yourself healthy. Then you can stay away from the chaotic interactions that may have been the hallmarks of your marriage.
By bracing yourself for the coming fallout of your split, you can help preserve your precious time, energy, and overall well-being. The more detailed and organized you can be while remaining emotionally distant, the better the overall outcome of the finalization of your divorce is likely to be.