If The Two Of You Are The Same...
One of you is unnecessary...
Being friends with a psychopath is extremely easy, and extremely difficult. it is not for the faint of heart, and definitely not for most people.
I have very few people in my life that I will count among my friends. The first thing to understand about psychopaths is that they have no need of others. Anyone in my life is here because I enjoy their presence within it. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t have them around.
This to me should cement their position in my life as someone that I am invested in. Unless they do something specific to cause me to stop investing in them, there is no reason that I will stop. I don’t get bored of people so long as the person as an individual isn’t a caricature of a person. By that, I mean someone that decided at seventeen that they already knew everything and ceased to grow. This sort of person is relatively common, as people often stop maturing at some point. They settle on an idea of who they are and stay that way.
I know many of you have seen this sort of person when you meet someone that you knew many years ago. Somehow they are still the same way you recall, despite their life circumstances being drastically different. This is the type of thing I mean by saying a caricature of a person. To be in my life a person needs to demonstrate a few things, but one of the personal qualifications that I look for is someone that doesn’t let the grass grow beneath the feet of their perception of self. It changes, and it should change, because as new and different experiences present themselves, it causes growth, even through pain.
This is a trait that I find valuable in another person. If they are the same person that they were when I met them, and they have no interest in growing as an individual, what on earth will we have to talk about?
That isn’t all that I require, however. Loyalty is a trait that has no substitute. If they are going to be in my life, and know my secrets, I will require them to keep them. Recently I got a message informing me that my requirement of loyalty is about control. This is apparently not an uncommon belief. I have no interest in controlling anyone other than myself. However, it seems odd to me that is the perception of what loyalty is to the person that sent the message. I wonder why they would want a friendship that didn’t involve it?
Perhaps it wasn’t so much that they viewed loyalty as a negative trait in general, but rather they thought that the only reason that a psychopath would require it is because they are a controlling assh*le. Seems like a reasonable assumption, but I never got the chance to ask because they informed me of this and promptly blocked me without ever having a conversation with me. Quite strange.
Loyalty is important to me. I do not feel loyalty. Loyalty to me is purely based on the actions that I see from that person. I don’t care what they say to me, I care what they do with the information that I give them. All too often I meet people that find my life or my stories so interesting they tell them to other people in order to gain some sort of clout from them.
This isn’t something that I have just seen in relation to me, but rather it seems to be quite common for people to do this. It is a form of gossip, which I am not a fan of. I value privacy. I am an immensely private person. If I find that the person has taken that investment on my extension of privacy and utilized it for their own gain, I will be displeased. Not only will I be displeased, they will be removed.
I need to be compatible with them as a person, but they cannot be a mirror of me. That is what the title of this piece is about. A very good friend of mine has an enormous list of sage-like sayings that he selects from and will share from time to time.
“If the two of you are the same, then one of you is unnecessary”, is one of the sayings that always stuck with me. In fact, I extended it and applied it to humans in general. People often fret about the various different ways that people tend to live their lives, and the saying “it takes all kinds to make a world”, was a saying that my mother used to say to enshrine in me the knowledge that there are a lot of different people around, get used to it. However, the quote that my friend says seemed to address the situation even better than that. People often think that if everyone would think, act, and believe all the same things, the world would be a better place.
It wouldn’t be for a vast variety of reasons, but a very large one would be that most humans at that point would be unnecessary in existence. You really only need a few to live in their bubble world until they cease to exist because no one has an original idea in their groupthink little “reality”.
This saying is especially true of friends for me, however. The person with that saying? He is the same one that I termed the “antipsychopath” in a previous post. He couldn’t be more different than I am, and because of that, I can see a new perspective that perhaps I hadn’t considered. I have no interest in people that do not have a mind of their own, and an active mind at that.
I like being challenged. I like learning new things. I like to see a point of view that is foreign to me so I can compare mine to it and see where I need to reconsider some points. My friends need to be able to do this with me. If they can’t, I will be bored, and that doesn’t work well for me.
The next thing that I look for is going to be trustworthiness. This is something that I notice is a difficult one for people to suss out in other individuals. It seems like they get sandbagged rather often by someone that they should never have granted trust to in the first place, and that always confused me. It confused me both for me not understanding why they would give over their trust to someone that they do not know, but also that they had difficulty determining that person was not a good one to trust in the first place.
I didn’t know until I started researching the role of oxytocin in the emotional experience of humans that I found that trust was not an action to most people, but rather it was an emotion. That was a very strange thing to realize for me. Trust has always been a cognitive choice that I am making. I will watch a person for a very long period of time, observe their behavior with both myself and everyone around them, and I will let them tell me who they are through those actions. If their actions are deemed trustworthy, they will be granted a bit of my trust. If they do something to damage that investment, it will be withdrawn, never to be offered again.
I know that this seems harsh to a lot of people, and I also know that because trust is an emotion that isn’t exactly controllable, that there will be people that win it because they know how to trigger that response in you. Finding out about the oxytocin thing really answered a lot of my confusion about NTs and their habits of trust.
We are very different in that regard. I will never emotionally trust anyone. There is no stockpile of goodwill that a person can rely on for forgiveness from me either. Emotional trust and bonding do a lot of heavy lifting for neurotypicals in this regard, but with a friend that is a psychopath, all of that support infrastructure is not present at all. The only thing that keeps a person in my good graces is the constant and continued demonstration that they are worthy of that investment from me.
The emotional circuitry in a psychopath is very difficult for a neurotypical to navigate. All of the things that they are used to are lacking, and things that they do not understand, like no emotional trust, make for what feels like unstable ground to stand on with me. It also doesn’t help that I don’t need them. That makes people very uneasy. Neurotypicals have a different investment in friends and they do need friends. That means that I have the upper hand in their minds. If I decide to leave, they will be emotionally hurt, if they decide to leave, I’ll be fine.
Having the playing field tilted to my advantage, and I will admit that it is indeed an advantage, may induce feelings of inadequacy, resentment, fear, and anger in that other person. This is not what I prefer, and I do my best to assuage those worries, but it is not a logical thing I am attempting to reason with, it is emotions that I do not experience.
They need to be a strong person. Life is hard, I get that, but I can’t be doing emotional maintenance of the people in my life on a constant basis. I have no problem with high emotions sometimes or the need for them to vent, but I don’t want to constantly be encountering breakdowns that I have to help them through.
They need to either be low in emotional volume, or they need to be mature in how they deal with their strong emotions when they arise. There is of course leeway in this. I certainly wouldn’t expect calmness from most people when dealing with highly upsetting news, or when they are fighting with someone, but that doesn’t mean that I am interested in being their punching bag either. Even if I am the cause of their upset, I have a standing rule.
If you have a problem with me, tell me and I will see what I can do to address it. If you do not, and you let it fester until you blow up on me in an emotional tirade, I am not going to be happy with you. I have no issue with someone wanting me to change something or consider how I might have caused them harm, but coming at me with a tantrum of personal insults is not going to go well. If this is the direction that you want to take things, that’s fine, but it is going to be devastating for them.
I have my rules in place for a reason. They are there to facilitate open communication, and to head off issues before they become problems. If the person decides not to avail themselves of this system, but instead sits on whatever I did to piss them off, allows it to inflate in size in their minds until it takes up too much room and explodes, being fueled by all the other stressors that they have in their lives, and then make me the target of that kind of thing, I will turn that into a teaching moment for them.
This is a part where I have a significant advantage. Personal attacks don’t cause me harm, but I do see the motivations behind them when they are used, and they are used to be emotional manipulations and attempts to cause damage. They are a projection of the hurt and anger that person is feeling at the moment.
This doesn’t work on me, and in fact, it is a dead-end tactic on a psychopath. However, because this is the game that has been entered into, and these are the rules the other person has established, then I will happily match them. I will give to them exactly what they are trying to give to me, and I will make it hurt. It seems sadistic, I know, but that isn’t the point. I have no idea how much things like that hurt, but because people use them to inflict maximum damage, I can conclude that they hurt a lot. The other person, the one having the tantrum knows that they hurt a lot as well, thus why they are using them, or are attempting to use them on me. It is a very common strategy in an argument.
I will turn that maneuver back on them, and with far more cutting barbs. It is harder to think of your feet when you are angry, thus why so many people think of the perfect thing to say after the other person is gone. I don’t have that problem because I am not emotionally invested in this exchange. They are, and they apparently need a rule reminder. If they didn’t, we wouldn’t be in this situation. I am not claiming to be the most reasonable person on the planet. In fact, I am extremely stubborn. Anyone that knows me will definitely confirm this about me. I also know this about myself, thus why the built-in grievance redress system. If that is ignored in favor of emotions, they also know how that is going to turn out.
They need to be intelligent. God help the person that bores me, and people that do not think for themselves do so. it isn’t as though I stand over them waiting for them to master quantum mechanics, however. If they weren’t intelligent when I met them, they wouldn’t be considered for the friendship role in the first place.
They need to not be afraid to call me out if I screw up. This goes back to the grievance redress. I am not perfect by a long shot, and I am going to piss off, hurt, be dismissive of, and be unaware of some need that the other person has. If this happens they should just tell me. I find a lot of people try to read me, and they usually miss the mark. My Significant Other can read me, but almost no one else can. They try to read me through the lens that they understand the world through, but unfortunately, that lens is emotionally loaded, and I am not. This leaves them with a lot of assumptions that are only there because if they acted in a certain way it would indicate something specific.
This does not extend to me at all, and this is where we get into the most difficult part of being friends with a psychopath.
It’s interesting how often I see people attempt to dismiss the relevance of the mask when it comes to psychopathy. They are just sick and tired of it because it’s a cliche don’t you know? If you think that the psychopathic mask is real and significant you are just as foolish as the so-called psychopaths that talk about it.
Those people really should meet the people that know me with and without it and then draw their conclusions. I have talked about the mask being a necessary part of life. This is of course true in the sense of meeting strangers and cultivating a good response from them, but I would argue that the mask is more important in the home than it is outside of it. Outside of the home, it is a face that can pave the way to things that I want. However, in the home, I already have things that I want, and in this case, I am referring to people that I am invested in.
I have determined that these individuals are worth my time, and my accommodation of their needs in order to have them have an interest in sticking around. As many of the requirements of mine that I listed in this answer, those that I must meet are no easy walk in the park. Most of them are completely contrary to how I think, what I need, how I would act, but they are still requirements all the same. This means that I have to understand what they need from me and meet it.
The mask covers a great number of things, and I have a post about that if you haven’t read it:
When it comes to friends this mask has to cover everything from physical interactions, to vocal tones, to facial expressions, and more. In order to be certain that those in my life feel appreciated, wanted, and comfortable, all of these things have to be created in action and tenor. You may think, “how much work can it be really?”
Let me ask you this, have you ever been in a situation where it is obvious that the other person that you are dealing with would like you to hug them or comfort them, but you have no inclination to do so? Perhaps you aren’t a touchy-feely person, but enjoy hugs with your close family, but not acquaintances. You like them with your family because likely you are an open emotional circuit that is seeking to connect with another open emotional circuit. You get that from those you are bonded with.
The person that wants the hug is someone you are not bonded with, and the inclination to physically comfort is absent. Welcome to my world literally all the time. Lack of oxytocin means lack of bonding to everyone, not just strangers. That chemical is what makes you want hugs and physical interaction. I do not have a need for physical contact with other people, but I know that they need it from me, so I create that for them.
I also create the tones in which I speak to them. They need to feel that I am interested in what they have to say. Mask off, even when I am interested, I will not sound like it at all. My demeanor is that they are bothering me and intruding on my space. The mask counters this and meets that need for them. Without it, they would feel out of place.
Part of being a strong enough person to be friends with the likes of me it means that they have to be able to see me mask off, and not have it make them turn tail and run. it isn’t that it’s some horrifying occasion that they will never be able to chase from their minds when they close their eyes. Instead, it is just without. Without the things that they are relying on to tell them that they are okay, that they are welcome, that they aren’t intruding on my peace.
I have been thinking about what it must be like on the other end, and perhaps in the companion piece that a friend of mine will write after collecting questions from all of you she can explain it better than I, but my assumption is that they are crossing an invisible barrier. I think that the closed emotional circuit that is me is also reflected in my space. Perhaps it feels like ascending the stairs to the tower room and knocking on the door to bother the witch inside, I don’t know. I will ask my friend to try and give a voice to what it is like.
What I do know, however, is that when I am mask off, they will always feel unwelcome. No matter what I say to them to the contrary, they feel that they are in my way, or that they are bothering me. When I interact with people that are close to me and I use the mask I am going to create what feels like that open emotional circuit, when I am mask off I stop making that effort.
This comes across to the other person as annoyance or that distinct impression that you are interrupting something that the other person would prefer to do than speak to you. That isn’t the case, but I know what might encourage them to think so, and that is my overall demeanor. The other psychopath that I know is the same way, which is why I have the opportunity to observe this in another person, and how people respond to it.
It is cold, perhaps quite business-like, or aloof, and disinterested. That may not be the case, but it is certainly difficult to tell. Mask off I am going to be focused on what I want to do. Talk to me all you wish, but I will continue writing, gaming, cooking, reading, or whatever else I am doing. It isn’t that I am ignoring them, but I can listen to them perfectly well while I do something else. I know that makes people feel that they aren’t important, so I do pay attention to the significance of the need. If they just want to hang out and talk, I will minimally mask, if they have a life-altering problem, I will don the needed friend mask regardless of my preference.
Usually though, it is going to be somewhere in between. If we hadn’t plans in which I expected to be fully the person that they prefer to be around, then it is unlikely that I will make a great deal of effort to change what I am doing, or how I am acting. If they know that, and they decide to share my space anyway, they need to be able to handle it. Not many people can, thus one of the reasons that those close to me are few and far between.
I talked about why it’s hard, but there is also an incredibly easy side of being friends with a psychopath as well. I spoke a bit about this here:
but there is more to it than that. For the most part, I am very easygoing.
Need to cancel plans? All right.
Need someone to be the bad guy? Not a problem.
Need someone that won’t judge you? That’s me.
Want to do something at the spur of the moment? Call me.
Worried that I might be mad at you? Ask, I don’t bite.
So long as you have already learned how to navigate a friendship with me, there is a lot there that can be relied on that isn’t in many friendships.
My Significant Other told me something once.
“If you get arrested and call someone for help in the middle of the night you can tell how good of a friend they are based on how they respond. If they say, ‘what do you need?’, that’s a good friend. If they respond with, ‘what did you do?’ they aren’t.
I am the person that asks what you need, and then laughs at you later on after I have your sorry butt in my car on the way home. Turn about is fair play though, feel free to make all the jokes in the world if I get myself arrested again.
I can be a very difficult person to know. It requires a total overhaul of what you expect to be there naturally in a person that you are friends with, and most people do not have it in them to make those adjustments. It’s not easy, and it will be a trial to figure out how to be okay emotionally with someone that has no empathy, has very low emotional volume, and is inherently self-interested. It’s a challenge.
Is it worth it? I don’t know. I guess it must be for some, and you can ask my friend if she thinks so when I open the thread to collect questions for her post.