8 Tiny Warning Signs You're Married To A Sociopath

He's not manipulative; he's so much worse.

Last updated on Mar 28, 2024

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When you both first met, he was the perfect balance of danger and charm. He was bewitching in his magnetic energy, and you were immediately struck by lightning. He practically exuded sensuality; he was handsome and engaging. It might have felt like your chemistry was off the charts. He was your "Mr. Wonderful!"  You had no idea that he was showing sociopath signs — and that you'd end up married to a sociopath. That’s how it starts, slow and enticing. He was stimulating. He captivated you, mesmerized you, and then captured you. At first, you felt like it was too good to be true. Guess What? It was, and now you’ve lost your way and feel isolated.


Unfortunately, you’ve learned firsthand that the courtship and premarital intimacy were one thing, but after marriage, his true colors and sociopath signs emerged. Your former Mr. Right is now re-orchestrating your life: controlling what you feel (like you’re a loser), persuading what you think (that it’s your fault), and dictating how you should act (to do it perfectly next time—to please him.) The hard, cold truth sets in You're married to a sociopath. What is a sociopath exactly?

Sociopathy is the result of environmental factors, such as early traumatic experiences or a negative home life (physical and emotional abuse). They are mostly males who have acts of rage and/or violence, and they are impulsive and exhibit high-risk behavior without regard for consequences (criminal acts, substance addictions, etc.). However, in your own life, these behaviors may manifest themselves in a variety of ways, which can make identifying your spouse as a sociopath tricky. 


RELATED: 8 Little Signs Your Marriage Isn't Just 'Off' — It's Straight Up Toxic

Here are 8 tiny warning signs you're married to a sociopath:

1. He uses intimacy for his gain

His demands became more in alignment with his wants and soon intimacy was another instrument for him to deliver pain, pleasure, or pressure. The charm is gone and all you’re left with is this feeling of being completely trapped in a nightmare.

2. He verbally criticizes you — often in front of others

Or he gives you mixed messages, being cruel one moment and saying: “I’ll change” the next. But he never does, and it leaves you sad and confused.

3. He's a narcissist to the extreme

It’s always about him, what he needs, what he wants, and how it affects him. He lacks empathy, has a sense of entitlement, and fantasizes about success, power, perfect love (and more). You always believed he was brilliantly successful, and you were so lucky to have him — until you didn’t.




RELATED: 5 Warning Signs You're Falling For Someone Who Lacks Empathy

4. Your needs go unnoticed and unmet

It feels like there’s zero space for you in this relationship, which leaves you unheard, unacknowledged, hurt, and angry. You are emotionally exhausted from the emotional and mental mind games he constantly plays with you. At the end of the day, you don’t know what kind of mood he’ll be in or what kind of night you have to face.

5. Lying is as natural to him as taking a breath

He lies about small things in the moment, and often these are lies that make no sense or seem to have no reason. Then he lies about big things; vague answers like he’s leaving something out. He lies and he cons for profit or pleasure, whether he needs to or not. He's a huge liar, about everything. When you ask him to tell the truth, it becomes an argument and you don’t get any answers from him anyway. Bottom line: you feel like a nag and you feel like you did something wrong. He's twisted the scenario so much that you probably feel like you owe him an apology. It might feel like a huge wall is between the two of you.


6. He gets scarily intense when things don't go his way

When he gets angry at you, he’s been known to stare you down: he doesn’t blink, he doesn’t change his facial features, nothing — he just glares. The fish eye is his blank stare meant to intimidate and have power over you. And during these instances, you're on guard. You know that if you speak or say the wrong thing, it will be tougher on you later when you’re alone together. When he stares, you freeze up. It’s your survival instinct.

RELATED: 7 Red Flag Signs The Person You Love Is A Master Manipulator

7. He discourages you from spending time with family and friends

Sociopaths often use isolation to get their victims alone, and one of the most common forms of isolation is to extract you from your loving family, friends, or social activities. He does this by displaying varying forms of criticism about them, or he acts jealous if you’re going to spend time with them. In some cases, this is even when he’s been invited and just decided he doesn’t want to attend. He complains that you spend too much time with them and not enough time with him. His complaints will increase over time until it's just easier for you to not spend time with them to avoid his anger.

8. He controls your choices with financial threats

Another form of power and control is financial isolation. If you're in a relationship with a man like this, he is likely bent on taking control of the finances. And by that, he doesn't just pay attention to how money is spent; he might even have you hand over your paycheck each week or constantly spend time monitoring the bank account and interrogating you about every dime you spend. 




If he’s the primary breadwinner, the amount of money he'll "give" you as an allowance is always on his terms (it’s minimal and never enough for food utilities, and gas). Men like this will just keep wearing you down psychologically and physically. There’s no one to tell, who would believe you anyway? You feel numb. You feel like you’re living someone else’s life. Before him, you had friends, family, sports, hobbies, and a great job. What happened?

You might question how you reached this point, and talking to him often does no good. He deflects, deflects, and deflects! Then he blames you for absolutely everything. He never says “I’m sorry.” Rather, he circles the conversation until you’re completely confused as to what you were originally arguing about, and by the end, he’s telling you what you did wrong. You feel guilty and you don’t know why. You hear yourself apologizing, but you don’t know what you’re supposed to be sorry about. You feel like you failed him again and that you can never please him. When he threatens to leave you, you feel scared that he’ll do it. At the same time, another part of you wishes he would leave you. You feel miserable, but you believe that you’d be lost without him (or so you think).

This is the psychological abuse that he repeats over and over in your marriage. Most likely deep in his subconscious, he is wounded, which has resulted in his low self-esteem. He has no healthy coping mechanisms. This behavioral cycle is his way of compensating for his deep insecurity. He chooses to externally control and manipulate others because it makes him feel safer and more powerful. And no, you will not be able to talk to him about it. Stating this fact is not to recruit you into feeling sorry or compassionate for him. Rather, this emphasizes the deep-seated “pervasiveness” of his beliefs and behaviors.


These feelings will not change. If you have any hope in your heart, please save it for yourself. As Neil Strauss says, "They say that when you meet someone and you feel like it's love at first sight, run in the other direction. All that's happened is that your dysfunction has meshed with their dysfunction." Starting now, you are on your path to wellness. You might wonder how a simple exercise can change your life. Once you internally change your thoughts and beliefs about your husband's sociopathic behaviors, then your external reality automatically changes, too! How cool is that? The more you reinforce your own guilt-free beliefs, the easier it will become to embrace them and stop giving in to his verbal attacks. And when you're feeling stronger and believing in yourself, you're not going to put up with the rest of it, either.

If you think you may be experiencing depression or anxiety as a result of ongoing emotional abuse, you are not alone.

Domestic abuse can happen to anyone and is not a reflection of who you are or anything you've done wrong.

If you feel as though you may be in danger, there is support available 24/7/365 through the National Domestic Violence Hotline by calling 1-800-799-7233. If you’re unable to speak safely, text LOVEIS to 1-866-331-9474.

RELATED: What Life As A Sociopath Is Really Like, According To Sociopaths

Margot Brown, LMFT, PsyD, is a career and divorce coach, and the author of Kickstart Your Relationship Now! Move On Or Move Out, a guide to helping couples learn better communication.