Monday, September 19, 2005

I Heart Sociopaths

What is it about sociopaths that I so enjoy listening to their problems, getting wrapped up in their issues, and dispensing advice that will inevitably be ignored?

Since historically, I have had many male friends, although far fewer since I have been married, I could say that I am a magnet for sociopathic men, men who follow their own sets of rules and who find a way to rationalize it whenever society rears its ugly head and challenges them on their actions. But it's not just the men...there are women of this kind too that have ingratiated themselves into my heart at times. And ultimately, it's really not that I am a magnet for such people. Indeed, they will try to win over anyone who comes into their path. It is more that when they find me in their path, I choose not to repel them.

There are those out there who will instantly recognize the drama queens, the chronically-victimized, the big-talkers whose big-talk seems to go endlessly in circles without making the slightest bit of sense, the too-good-to-be-trues, for what they truly are...and they will walk away without getting pulled into the vortex. I remember a friend of mine sat listening to me talking on my cell phone to Sociopathic Friend Number 2 (discussed below). She only could hear my end of the conversation, and what it sounded like was something like this:

"I only invited her to come along because she was standing right there when we were talking about our plans.....No, I didn't tell her where we were going yet....Um, I feel kind of weird about that....I just don't know if I feel okay about doing that....Hey, what's the harm in one more person coming with, the more the merrier, right?...No, I am not trying to upset you...Of course I am not trying to screw you over, why would you say that....."

When I finally hung up, my friend said, "Why do you let her spin you around like that? Just set limits. Better yet, cut her loose." I am hoping to be so wise someday, to see the drama, to sniff it out before it knocks on my door and to keep that door bolted shut with a big ole chair against the doorknob.

In the meantime, here is a sampling of the sort of people I have allowed through the door, at least in the past:

Sociopathic Friend Number 1: Male, current age: 41. Handsome, affable urban nomad who, together with his wife, created an aura of romance around his marriage and what seemed to be their somewhat sketchy and mysterious shared history. He dazzled me, my husband and many others with stories of international adventure and wheelings and dealings in real estate and the stock market and with his fluency in four languages (actually, we have no proof that he spoke more than two...we have only his word, which is not worth much, as it turns out), exquisite taste in homes, home furnishings and Clive Christian-designed kitchens, and his puppy-like devotion to his wife. Like Daisy and Tom Buchanan, their voices sounded like money. But it was an illusion. Turned out that Sociopathic Friend Number 1 had a talent for swindling his own friends out of their hard-earned savings. How else to fuel his and his wife's taste for the all of the best that life had to offer? Friend Number 1, who is no longer a friend, and who has been on the lam for the past two or three years, recently surrendered to the FBI on charges of wire fraud, conspiracy and violations of securities laws.

Sociopathic Friend Number 2: Female, current age 41, although she has been known to lie about her age, among other things. Former Wife of Friend Number 1. It seems that Sociopathic Friend Number 2 knew all about her husband's illegal activities and chose to turn a blind eye. Up until the point in time when Sociopathic Friend Number 1's illegal activities drew the attention of the authorities, Sociopathic Friend Number 2 enjoyed a life of seemingly inexplicable and at times somewhat unseemly luxury (a mink scrunchy once adorned her ponytail). There were many who were envious of her husband's devotion and tendency to shower her with expensive jewelry and designer clothing.

Unfortunately, Sociopathic Friend Number 2's life was not nearly as happy as it looked. While wearing the jewels and the Madison Avenue clothing lavished upon her, she secretly entertained flirtations and full-blown affairs with supposed "friends" of hers as well as an employee of her husband's. However, when the authorities began to investigate her husband, Friend Number 2 had an easy out with regard to her affairs: what else could she do to cope with her husband's many betrayals, including the ultimate betrayal, the turning to a life of crime? Turns out Sociopathic Friend Number 2 may have been a co-conspirator in her former husband's crimes. Sociopathic Friend Number 2 is no longer a friend.

Sociopathic Friend Number 3: Male, age 30. Cheating on wife since their first year of marriage, three years ago. When I expressed my disapproval of his trolling the internet for new women, rather than confronting his wife about their marital issues, he assured me that he knew I was right and was going to change his ways. A week ago, he told me that his wife found out about his latest paramour - a girlfriend he has had for the past six months. It is so painful for him! They are in LOVE!! It is the only BEAUTIFUL relationship he has ever had! His wife is devastated, and she has kicked him out. Despite his "LOVE!!" and "BEAUTIFUL!!" relationship with his paramour, he is now in the process of begging his wife's forgiveness. Why? Because THIS is not the "way" he wants his marriage to go down.

Sociopathic Friend Number 4: Male, age 37. Former friend, we lost touch long ago. Married with kids. Recently became reacquainted when he found me through the internet and attempted to draw me into a sordid internet-sexy-chat-thingy. I hesitate to say "affair" because, you see, he does not consider that to be an affair. Like Bill Clinton, Sociopathic Friend Number 4 has certain rules and regulations by which he can organize and rationalize his indiscretions. If it is only on the internet, it is not cheating. In person is not cheating either, as long as kisses are not shared and there is no genital-to-genital contact. Otherwise, it's all good.

Sociopathic Friends Numbers 1 and 2 are long gone from my life, although it interests me to hear the shocking details (why am I shocked though??) of their continuing plunge into the depths of self-orchestrated misfortune. Sociopathic Friend Number 3 is still peripherally in my life, as I have not found a way to cut him off since each time I try, he tells me I have a nerve abandoning him and judging him when he is at his lowest point ever. Sociopathic Friend Number 4 overstepped his boundaries one too many times, and is now history.

I am getting better at cutting loose the drama-laden detritus of my life. But it has been a long, strange trip.

Oh, and by the way, certain details have been changed to protect the privacy of these not so innocents.



Anonymous said...

Hi Lauren,

I've had people like that in my life as well. I've also started to cut some of these people out of my life, it's not easy. I've also tried to get rid of most of the drama, but then I go out and find it again anyway.


Susan said...

And they say California is the land of fruits and nuts....

Anonymous said...

I think friend number 1 was my investment banker. I opened the paper one day to find out he had been arrested. But he was on TV--he couldn't be a crook....:)

Crazy people. Hard to believe sometimes we are all related.


yoga chickie said...

I am not sure if it is the same person - but the point is, it COULD be...very sad.


He's Dead, Jim! said...

Lauren, you give people many chances to set things right. Don't blame yourself for allowing these skanks to be in your life. But, as you once cautioned me, any sort of abuse is not to be tolerated.

A, my closest friend, recently cut another friend out of her life. I never liked this friend -- I'll call her "Jess." But A would not abandon her. Until she did something too terrible to forgive.

What is it about our "friends" that allows us to overlook so much?

yoga chickie said...

People like , like you, like your friend, we want to see the best in our friends. I am sure it's textbook Social Psychology 101...

I guess the important thing is to be trusting but realistic.


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Northern Westchester, New York, United States
I live by a duck pond. I used to live by the East River. I don't work. I used to work a lot. Now, not so much. I used to teach a lot of yoga. Now not so much. I still practice a lot of yoga though. A LOT. I love my kids, being outdoors, taking photos, reading magazines, writing and stirring the pot. Enjoy responsibly.


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