Friends Of Psychopaths/Sociopaths Divulge When They Realized Their Friend Had Issues
Majestic Lukas on Unsplash

We may have a specific image of what a psychopath or sociopath is ingrained in our minds—you can thank films like American Psycho and scores of other horror flicks for that—but the truth is they're significantly more complicated than that.

It's bad enough running into a psychopath or sociopath—I've had a negative experience with a psychopath and I lived to tell the tale—but imagine being involved with one intimately. Maybe they were a partner or even a best friend and you didn't notice their issues right away.

People shared their stories with us after Redditor DexterADB asked the online community:

"Friends of psychopaths/sociopaths, how did you realise your friend wasn't normal?"

Psychopath or Sociopath?

Psychopaths and sociopaths share a number of characteristics:

  • lack of remorse or empathy for others
  • lack of guilt or ability to take responsibility for their actions
  • disregard for laws or social conventions
  • inclination to violence
  • deceitful and manipulative nature

But how to tell them apart?

Sociopaths are normally less emotionally stable and highly impulsive. They will lack patience, giving in much more easily to impulsiveness and lacking detailed planning.

Psychopaths will plan down to the smallest detail, taking only calculated risks. Psychopaths don’t get carried away in the moment.

"He could not comprehend the difference..."

"He could not comprehend the difference between harmless pranks and cruelty, which manifested in high school. Got so far that he broke into a friend's home, stole her TV, then got angry that her family called the police over a 'prank.'"

"Trying to talk to him about the difference between pranks and crime was met by a blank stare, almost confusion, followed by vicious mocking. I didn't see him much after that, then completely cut ties with him after he started casually talking about raping women."


To which this person replied:

"We had a dude like that in high school. He is now a photographer in LA, and I'm 100% sure it's only so he can have access to women's bodies."


"She let me read a written complaint from someone..."

"She let me read a written complaint from someone who claimed to have been bullied by her. It was very detailed, too detailed to be made up, but she denied all of it and played innocent. She showed it to me to gain my support against the accusations. A few months later she started bullying me with the exact same methods described in the complaint."


To which this person replied:

"People lie to others because they can't stand the truth of their own actions, in effect lying to themselves."


"He was very open..."

"He was very open with it. That guy was genuinely helpful. What he seemed to fear the most was to regress into a helpless person who couldn't fit into society, like the psychopaths that go in and out of jail."

"So, he made it a habit or a challenge to help at least one person with something every day with no strings attached, friends or strangers, as practice, to hold himself accountable. It was.. well, it was a bit weird, and he was kinda weird too, but he was open about it in advance so that he'd have a harder time screwing us over if ever he had a relapse in willpower."


To which this person replied:

"It’s always viewed as virtuous to be a nice/helpful person but people seem to forget that it’s a hell of a lot easier for some people than others. Sometimes just not doing something bad is the most good you can manage that day and no one sees that."


"He was a liar."

"There were lots of red flags. He was definitely closeted bi (which is fine, but his behavior wasn’t)."

"The main red flag is that he had a slew of ruined relationships in his wake. He was a college theater professor and had a pattern of behavior in which he would identify young men in the department who were emotionally vulnerable, often who’d had recent girl trouble and/or had no current male role model/father figure."

"Many of them had issues with their dads or their dads were deceased. He would then start spending time with them and love bombing them until they thought they were his best friend. He fed on adoration. I don’t even think he exploited all these guys for sex, though he probably did some. He just got off on people adoring him."

"When they started showing interest in other people, he’d go hard on the discard. There was a pattern of subtly putting these guys down and then building them up so they were conditioned to please him. If he got bored, he threw them aside."

"He once told me he viewed all his interactions with people through a caricature he created of them. For example, a black friend of ours was 'the loud black woman.' Another friend who’d lost his dad recently and suffering severe depression was 'Eeyore.'"

"He was incapable of self reflection. If he knew he’d upset you he’d apologize, but it was always empty. He could not reflect on his actions and actually accept accountability for wrongdoing. He was a budding alcoholic and would attend lectures and rehearsals drunk, then laugh about it later like it was some kind of inside joke."

"He was a liar. The man was pushing 40 trying to convince these college aged men he was in his late 20s so they’d hang out with him. He didn’t care about your boundaries. At his house he’d regularly expose himself 'as a joke' and acted confused when I didn’t find it funny."

"As one of these guys he love bombed and emotionally manipulated, I eventually wised up and realized that my relationship with him was not healthy, and that it was not acceptable for him to have the emotional relationships he was having with his 19-20 year old students. I cut ties and he went from love bombing to resentment so fast."

"Later on, my wife and I were visiting some friends who were also friends with him. They’d known him longer than we ever did, and let him stay in their guest room for months when he lost his living arrangements during Covid. They eventually kicked him out and cut ties too. Then they told us they had recently run into a former high school classmate of his who said “I’m so glad you got away from him. There is something wrong with him. He’s dangerous.”


To which this person replied:

"That guy reeks of narcissistic personality disorder. Their actions can be similar but the difference is that the root of narcissism is insecurities while sociopaths have none. Their egos are really that big while narcissts inflate theirs so no one finds out the truth that it's empty."


"His mom basically committed the rest of her life..."

"We were friends with him and his sister. We later realized when we could only see anger in him and pretty much nothing else. That was the first flag."

"One of the friends started dating the sister and he came to us one day and told us that our friend had taken him aside and told him that if his sister was hurt he would have no problem hurting him in turn. Our friend was terrified because he truly believed him. That was our second red flag."

The final one was when his family got T-boned at an intersection and his dad and sister were killed and his mom was in the hospital for observation and he was in there as well with some broken bones. He didn't seem to care at all when some buddies went to see him."

"The hospital was a teaching one with psychiatrists and all and one came to see if he wanted help while he was there and he basically asked why would I need help. Mom agreed to a formal evaluation and he was confirmed psychopathic."

"His mom basically committed the rest of her life to make sure he could function in society. Taught him what societal right and wrong was and laws governing behavior and stuff."


To which this person replied:

"Damn. Good for that mom though! Hope she accomplished her goal."


"I was a pretty vulnerable teen..."

"I had a friend who always seemed a little off/low empathy, but I ignored a lot of the signs. She was a destructive party girl with a weirdly hostile relationship with her mom (as in she was regularly hostile to her) and i noticed she could be a bit of a bully and thought of people as below her."

"I was a pretty vulnerable teen who always struggled making friends so I tried to brush that stuff off because she was cool with me."

"There was a point where she got super drunk, slept with my boyfriend, and they called me together to mock me about it. It was humiliating. Like peak embarrassment. What's even more wild is the week after, she approached me as if nothing was wrong and it was all just a bit of fun."

"I knew she was a bad person when she called me, but I knew she had something deeply wrong with her when she had no self awareness about the fact that an action like that would make me not want to be her friend. She seemed genuinely surprised that I was pushing her away."

"I have had some updates about her from mutual friends and it sounds like this is a pattern she continues to repeat in her adult life as well."

"She really treats everyone in her life like a disposable amusement and she's not smart enough to 'mask' and manipulate them – everything she does is extremely blunt and she doesn't seem to ever really care or register that it is hurtful."

"Losing friends also doesn't seem to bother her. She is never like "how dare you be mad at me"? She just doesn't get why people are so sensitive."


To which this person replied:

"Had a destructive party girl friend too. She also slept with two men I started dating. Twice because I was dumb enough to forgive her the first time. The second time it happened, she jokingly said she was seeing me as 'competition' and wanted to show me who was the boss."

"I cut ties with her. To her merit, she did acknowledge she had problems, sobered up, went to therapy and apologized. Honestly happy for her, but I'll never let her into my life ever again because she broke my trust forever."


"My nephew is two..."

"He yelled at me because my nephew didn't want to watch a movie with his kids."

"My nephew is two and he's scared of the dark. The kids were using a projector instead of a regular TV so the room had to be dark. Every time the door would close, my nephew would freak out, so I decided to keep him with me."

"My friend started flipping out, screaming at me, and threatening to spank one of his kids (who did nothing wrong). He started yelling at his wife also. He has five kids, mostly girls. The oldest girl tried giving him snacks to make him feel comfortable and offered to sit next to him, but my nephew was too afraid."

"It felt like she was trying to help him because the safety of her siblings depended on it."

"I didn't know what to do other than leave with my nephew so the girls wouldn't get in trouble. I tried calling social services but there's no proof that the girls are being harmed or neglected so they're still with him."

"I am afraid for the girls and his wife. Think he's suffering a mental collapse because his mom died from cancer. His mother abused him. He's become very harsh with the women in his life, including me."

"My husband doesn't want me back over there without him. I've been trying to convince their mother to take the kids and leave, but she won't listen. I'm only able to reach her through Facebook. She uses her daughters school tablet to reach me."

"She can only contact me when he leaves the house. He takes all the phones when he leaves. She's not allowed to leave the house, have friends, or have company while she's away."

"He doesn't let his wife buy clothes or do her hair. She's always calling me to cry and complain about how he's treating her but she won't do anything. I defend them all when I'm there, but I try not to because he treats them worst after I leave."

"I feel helpless. I don't know what to do. If I was wealthy, I'd buy her a house and move them far away where he can no longer scare them. I feel so helpless."


To which this person replied:

"Start a notebook so you can provide evidence if she ever pursues legal action. Character witness and detailed notes about interactions and events can make a case for a long term restraining order. Without them you likely just end up with an angry abuser in your house looking for revenge."


Some of these stories were more unsettling than others. And they might leave you wondering if you've ever run into a psychopath before. Who knows? Even if there doesn't happen to be one in your daily life, you never know who you might be sitting next to at work... or on public transit.

Have some stories of your own? Feel free to tell us more in the comments below!

Want to "know" more?

Sign up for the Knowable newsletter here.

Never miss another big, odd, funny, or heartbreaking moment again.

People Explain Which Lessons They Had To Learn The Hard Way
PM Images/GettyImages

Some people typically don't like being told what to do because they think they already know what they're doing.

That is until they stumble and land on their face.

Keep reading...Show less
People Confess The Most Out Of Line Thing A Doctor's Ever Said To Them

As patients, we rely on the expertise of medical professionals to be able to identify whatever ailments we're suffering through.

Keep reading...Show less
Foreigners Break Down Their Favorite American Meals
Jonathan Borba/Unsplash

Growing up, I had zero idea that the food I ate daily was "cultural."

It didn't occur to me until I was a kid when my mother had to gently explain to me that not everyone ate rice & beans.

She had to explain it because we were about to eat at a white friend's house for the first time.

Keep reading...Show less
People Share The Best Ways To Politely End A Conversation

Have you ever been caught in a conversation you didn't want to be in? Or start talking to someone only to realize you want to stop? Perhaps you were talking to a friend when the conversation took a turn for the uncomfortable.

Whatever the case, we've all been in those situations where we want the conversation to stop, but don't want to be rude.

When I was in third grade, I asked if I voted on American Idol that week. I said yes, since everyone seemed to, but of course I didn't know what American Idol was. Being pop culture challenged, I thought it was a ship. Needless to say everyone was confused when I was asked who I voted for and I replied, "What do you mean? I voted for American Idol!"

It didn't take me long to realize something was amiss, and I probably would've very rudely excused myself from the conversation (fueled by my embarrassment) if my teacher hadn't called us to attention at that very moment.

Luckily, the people of Reddit were willing to share their methods to politely end a conversation when Redditor Spritti33asked:

"How does someone politely end a conversation with a person who won't stop talking?"
Keep reading...Show less