When a man tells you

“When a man tells you who he is… believe him.”  Maya Angelou

This quote was expressed in a few different ways by the author, so it seems it was an important life lesson. 

Last week one of my daughters was in the kitchen while her father was rinsing something at the sink and I was stirring something on the stove.  She asked us what the difference was between a sociopath and a psychopath, then proceeded to talk about an article she’d just read about sociopaths.  She said it was sometimes also called anti social personality disorder, and while sociopaths were usually charming and witty on the surface, they were characterized by a disregard for other people’s feelings and rights.

My passive aggressive husband turned and gave a boyish sheepish kind of smile and said, “Oh… I think I know someone like that.”

Our daughter asked, “Who?”

He replied, “I hate to admit it, but that describes what I can be like sometimes.”

Later my daughter mentioned to me that the article said that with a certain type of group therapy, some sociopaths have achieved some change and growth.  I asked her to send me the article if she could find it again (she hasn’t).




This entry was posted in abusive marriage, covert abuse, emotional abuse, passive aggressive, passive aggressive husband, personality disorder, sociopaths. Bookmark the permalink.

14 Responses to When a man tells you

  1. Exodus says:

    At least your husband has personal insight and is honest! He gets two cookies for that!
    I think he was probably just mocking your opinion of him and being facetious. Maybe not?

    Nonetheless, I doubt he’s a sociopath. I used to believe that Norman was one but I think it’s more about narcissism and borderline. So many of these character disorders share common behaviors and it’s so confusing. The sociopath has absolutely no sense of guilt or remorse. Norman does feel guilt even though it’s usually inappropriate and displaced and certainly never for anything he’s done to me. Norman would feel guilty for turning in a criminal that robbed us but he would not feel guilty for not locking the doors to our home- giving the thief easy access. This actually happened and yes, we got robbed and ransacked because Norman left the front door wide open one day. If only I knew then what I know now. Shucks durnit, that hindsight again!


    • WritesinPJ's says:

      Exodus, my husband’s insight seems to come and go like a light getting switched on and off. I don’t really care about the diagnosis, or what label it gets anymore. I do care that it’s wrong to disregard the rights and feelings of others, and that it’s a pattern with him.

      He’s admitted to me so many times that his ‘past’ behaviors were abusive, or that he’s passive aggressive. He always says he ‘regrets’ so much, and ‘feels terrible’ about past behaviors.

      And yet… it doesn’t stop. That’s why when he says he’s sorry, I used the quote from The Princess Bride, “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”

      As long as something is past (nebulous and removed by time), he can more freely ‘admit’ or ‘confess’. In the here and now, when he’s actively being passive aggressive, he (so far to date) doesn’t stop or catch himself or have any insight in the present moment. Instead, he’ll go into full blown gaslighting, attacking, accusing, and then withdrawing/punishment mode.


      • GainingStrength says:

        “As long as something is past (nebulous and removed by time), he can more freely ‘admit’ or ‘confess’.” Yep, when I would bring up the wrong he did in the past he would stop and look like he was thinking about it (doubt it) and say “I guess I shouldn’t have done that.” Notice the I GUESS (no responsibility) and there is no “I’m sorry” attached or remorse shown. Oh, and don’t forget the smirk.

        “…gave a boyish sheepish kind of smile…” I used to adore this smile on my abuser’s face, until I realized the meaning of it, and it is totally boyish.

        As to your daughter’s question, my abuser would have answered “I know what your mother would say.” 😀


      • Exodus says:

        I get it PJ’s…I deal with the same thing. It boils down to empty and insincere rhetoric and like I said, they are either mocking us or they are just being good little boys and saying what they were taught to say. THEY DON”T CARE!! Caring comes from having a conscience. Normans have no conscience.

        That clap on/ clap off insight is symptomatic of Borderline… and is why they can’t have healthy relationships. No one ever knows who they are in any given moment and they don’t even know who they are in any given moment.

        I don’t care about the labels anymore either except that it helps me find support groups online 🙂

        The thing is PJ’s, it really creeps me out to be in the company of insincere people in general and to have to be married to and in business with a guy like this is truly CREEPY. When Norman opens his mouth, I feel smothered in evil ectoplasm.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Seeing the Light says:

        PJs, you said: “I don’t really care about the diagnosis, or what label it gets anymore. I do care that it’s wrong to disregard the rights and feelings of others, and that it’s a pattern with him.” I completely agree. I also agree with Exodus when she says “I don’t care about the labels anymore either except that it helps me find support groups online”. In some ways, I think the labels are really for us – the people in their lives – more than for them. It helps us to realize something is wrong with them, not us. It helps us to predict a little bit about what pattern they will follow in general. It helps us, like Exodus says, to find each other, recognize our stories in each others’ stories, and support each other. But you are so right, PJs, it is wrong to disregard the rights and feelings of others. Sometimes I want to scream this from the mountaintops. There is right and there is wrong. No label gives anyone license to do harm. I know God is merciful, but He is also just. I just don’t see Him giving people a pass because modern psychology puts a label on the pattern for the harm they do.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Jane D. says:

    I’m not sure I agree with Maya. A man can say anything he wants about himself. . . but his actions don’t lie.

    A friend a few years ago quoted someone – perhaps a pastor – who said that reviewing a person’s checkbook and calendar will tell you who that person is. I plan to drop this hint on my daughter regularly until she leaves home. If I’d carefully looked at my husband’s checkbook and calendar before we got married. . . . we probably would not be married.

    Liked by 1 person

    • WritesinPJ's says:

      Jane, I agree. Maya Angelou also used the ‘When someone shows you…” version of that at times I think, but I chose this one because my husband had just verbally said something about himself.

      Behaviors are MUCH more important than words, but in this case, for the purpose of this post, let’s consider it a ‘show and tell’ 😉


    • Jane D. says:

      It’s true they do sometimes tell on themselves. . . it leaves me speechless when that happens.

      When we were in our mid-40’s, and had been married about 15 years, I asked my husband how he defined love. He thought for a minute and then said, “When I feel good, then I love you.” Now, he and I took specific marriage vows in church, and have gone to church regularly (and still do). A sermon is preached at least annually on love. I do not think I have ever heard anyone at church define or describe love like my husband did. My husband’s definition is more like what a not-very-thoughtful teenage boy would describe as love for his girlfriend. The counselor I was seeing at the time’s reaction: “That’s pretty selfish.” Yes, I agree, and his actions completely backed up this definition of love, and still do.


      • Exodus says:

        Jane and everyone, It wasn’t long ago that I was watching something on TV about a professional con man and he said that if you really want to confuse someone shock them with the brutal truth. He talked about how he would look at people and tell them how he was just at their house to rob them and they would laugh thinking that he was joking. Then he would rob them.

        Jane, your husband was being honest when he said that when he feels good he loves you. People with character disorders do not have spiritual or emotional integrity. They light up and turn off relative to their own condition and their own needs in any given moment. The world revolves around them.
        And narcissists are very immature. They have very undeveloped sense of self and therefore rely on and use others to provide that. That’s why anyone who is in their company will begin to ‘ lose themselves’.


    • Exodus says:

      Oh yes, the checkbook and the calendar will certainly reveal a lot. Times have changed though and we don’t use checkbooks like we once did. I rarely enter anything into my checkbook ( I rarely have anything to enter!)

      The best way to get to know someone is by meeting their friends. Birds of a feather flock together. Your mate’s friends don’t have any reason to be fake.

      Also look at handwriting characteristics. A medical Dr. told me once that when a doctor hands you a script that can’t be easily read, hand it back to him and demand that it be legible. He told me that generally speaking, people who have neat hand writing are usually thoughtful/conscientious, respect others and have good character AND last but not least, love and respect their mother! I asked him about the mother thing and he said that it’s usually the mother that will take the time to instill good handwriting and good character in her children and therefore, she’s the type of mother that will most likely be loved and respected by her children. Ironically, it was my grandmother who impressed the need to have good handwriting and yes, I loved her dearly. He also told me that doctors who have sloppy handwriting do that to be arrogant, intimidating and controlling- it’s a PA thing. He told me that they develop that bad behavior during medical school and it has nothing to do with being busy. If they are too busy to care how they document health records and medications then they shouldn’t be a doctor.

      Now that I think about it, I would bet that a lot of PA people have illegible hand writing since they try to be so vague and ambiguous.

      Norman’s handwriting is scribble doodle scratch and although I can’t read most anything he writes, he will blame me for not being able to.


  3. My husband once said to me, “I can barely take care of myself” (after I had once again expressed my deep regret and disappointment that he provides very little financial, emotional, or physical support for me and our daughters). I do, for the most part, believe him (although I think it is not “I can barely take care of myself” so much as “I choose to not take care of myself or you”). anyway, there we had it, straight from the horse’s mouth.


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