Why Do Sociopaths Waste (Our) Time?

In reading Donna Andersen‘s book Love Fraud, I was struck by how much time  and energy her sociopathic ex-husband spent inventing phony business schemes which were doomed to failure. Given his intelligence, charisma and powers of persuasion, he could have created enough successful businesses to last him several lifetimes. But he chose not to create a single successful business venture during his predatory scams of so many trusting and loving partners. So the question arises: Why? Why do sociopaths waste (our) time?

The main answer I’ve given before is that sociopaths don’t have any constructive goals in life. On the contrary, they aim to destroy people and their lives however they can: emotionally, physically and sometimes also financially. Their behavior fits into a pattern that destroys human life and its meaning largely by wasting our time. Nearly everyone I’ve talked to who has been involved with a sociopath expresses one main regret: I wasted my life, for x number of months or years, on a fantasy, on a total fraud.

The feelings of “love” a sociopath expresses are never real. At best, they express need for you (or, more precisely, for using you for their purposes) or sexual desire. The  so-called “truths” a sociopath shares with you are largely lies or manipulative bits of truth, intended to sway you in some way that serves his purposes. Often a sociopath will invest an enormous amount of time and energy to construct a web of lies. He will repeat to you the same false information, to lead you to believe that he’s trustworthy; that he shares your life goals; that he loves you. He will even get others to corroborate those lies or half-truths. He will pretend to be interested in your interests. Not only that, but he will mirror you consistently enough and for a long enough period of time to gain your trust. He will sometimes go so far as to ingratiate himself with your family and friends, to gain their confidence as well. He will also take great pains, for as long as you’re useful to him, to hide his bad behavior, including the cheating, web of lies, crimes and/or financial scams. He will put in his best effort to brainwash you into accepting his false version of reality. Even the energy sociopaths invest in demeaning their targets is enormous, given that to be effective they do it gradually, insult by insult, demand by demand, over time. If they became abusive upfront and at once, their victims would be much more likely to be shocked by the mistreatment and reject them.

Because they find no inherent meaning in human life–no higher purpose, no real feelings of loyalty and love–sociopaths perceive life as an empty stretch of time that they must somehow fill up with diversions, schemes and games at other people’s expense. Even most sociopaths who are well-educated and intelligent waste their natural abilities and their lives, on playing constant mind games, pursuing a string of vacuous and ultimately unsatisfying sexual relationships, manipulation, and often pointless deceit. Sociopaths lie to attain their short-term goals, of course. But they also lie when it doesn’t serve any obvious useful purpose, just for the fun of it. Deception fills their empty lives with sadistic entertainment and ephemeral pleasure. As Janis Joplin sings in Me and Bobby McGee, for them “Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose.” In that sense, sociopaths are free.

Normal people, however, have everything to lose in becoming involved with sociopaths. For us, time is very precious and life is not something to be wasted. It’s filled with positive desires and goals, with the meaning we find in fulfilling emotional bonds with those we care about, with what we can accomplish for both ourselves and others. Because of the vast difference in our concepts of time, a sociopath has nothing to lose in engaging in empty diversions while we have nothing to gain from them. This is why victims involved with sociopathic predators describe their time together as wasted time: as months or even years that can never be recaptured and were essentially thrown away. Most sociopaths don’t commit actual murder. Wasting our time with their lies, intimidation tactics, manipulation and mind games is the most common way in which sociopaths waste our lives.

Claudia Moscovici, psychopathyawareness

Dangerous Liaisons: How to Identify and Escape from Psychopathic Seduction


  1. I find this review regarding the lack of direction in a sociopath’s intentions to be so accurate and insightful.. The compulsive need to lie and manipulate which causes spaths to waste their talents seems to be a self destructive rage and I suspect that much of their energy is directed at bringing prey down along with themselves. A projection of themselves onto their prey..so they can devalue prey while identifying with the tainted victim… self implosion with company or rather a sacrifice so they don’t have to confront self rage and destruction. The disappointment they feel after the idealization phase is what feeds the rage. When the prey can’t hold them up they get to experience the fall through the prey and they love the exitement of the fall when each is diminished and punished. I felt that pattern..like I a spiral of mutual self hatred. Now this view on my part may attribute too much feeling to the spath..but they are fending off an empty self loathing.

  2. Hi Claudia, As you know my ex too had a number of different jobs and schemes he never fulfilled. Going from one useless thing to another. Never sticking to anything and then getting fired or “giving up”. I used to think if only he put the all that energy into something he might be successful. I think the reason they pick on successful people is because of jealousy. It was one of the things I could never get my head around. My ex had a lovely house, had everything far more than me and I was happy with what I had. He could never understand that at all. I remember getting a car once that didn’t cost much and he spent the entire time saying how much he wished he had one like it. He would often rage when other people manifested things that he couldn’t. I agree with Andrea they want to project themselves onto their victims and if they seem someone happy and successfull they will do anything they can to make the other person feel like they do inside. One big lovely empty waste of space full of hatred.

  3. Sarah, Absolutely. Being vacuous, psychopaths are very envious and want to fill their lives with what others have: especially material goods and status. That is also why after the initial idealization phase, they put others down, do an underhanded smear campaign and try to make their partners feel inferior to them by focusing on their weaknesses. Psychopaths do everything possible to make themselves feel superior to others not by real accomplishments or talents–which they usually lack–but by making others feel inferior to them.

  4. Andrea, you’re so right. A psychopath would rather destroy himself in the process of destroying you than leave you standing taller and stronger than ever. On the other hand, because psychopaths try to undermine you in sneaky ways–through smear campaigns, cyberstalking, manipulation and lies–it’s clear that they prefer to take you down while uplifting themselves and maintaining their “decent” facade in the eyes of others. Claudia

  5. Well, I’m currently in the process of trying to end a 3 year relationship with a diagnosed sociopath. He was diagnosed with APD while serving in the Navy but failed to mention it to me. I was only made aware of it after I had confronted him with the information I discovered (APD) while researching, what I considered to be, abnormal behavior. His response to me was, “you knew that already because I told you.” I don’t have to say that I didn’t, BUT I was acutally relieved in a sense because I finally had solid confirmation that it was NOT ME, it was him! Anyway, he’s going to jail (SHOCKER) to serve a 4 month sentence for a DUI offense so he wants to spend the weekend with me and he wants me to tell him that I will not leave him while he’s in jail. This has been his agenda all week so he has been saying everything he thinks I want to hear. For example,in our conversation/argument that last from 4-7pm this evening and via text, I listened to him use and called him out on, every manipulation tactic there is in a sociopath’s arsenal. He tried playing the victim role and when that didn’t work, he tried to make me feel guilty and when that didn’t work he started cussing at me and when I called him out on that, he tried to play the servitude role (while playing this role he kept saying he’s been doing everything he can to make me happy) . This one I particularly enjoyed calling him out on because when I told him he has no clue what makes me happy, he didn’t have an answer and he actually tried to manipulate me into telling him the answer. When he knew I wasn’t going to tell him, he immediately moved on to the diversion tactic. In order to divert away from the previous conversation, he told me that something was not connecting in my head because I had a distorted perception of the situation/conversation which was causing me to be confused. Needless to say, this is exactly what I had said to him in the past; pretty much word for word,and I ALMOST fell for it. Almost!…I explained that it was my clear perspective of his behaviors that had led me to the truth about him and his disorder and it was pathetic that he tried to link me to it in an attempt to get me upset in order to divert away from the previous conversation which was the fact that he has no clue what makes me happy! I ended that text by saying/asking, “Anything else you want to talk about?” ….I haven’t hear a peep from him since and if I’m lucky, I won’t hear from him again! Sorry if this comes across as rambling, but there’s just so much I can say about him that I could probably write a book.

  6. Heather, it’s amazing how quickly sociopaths switch rhetorical tactics, to see what works. It’s like pushing
    our emotional buttons to see what beeps. If anger doesn’t work, they try flattery and phony declarations of love.
    If that doesn’t work, they switch to the pity ploy. If that doesn’t work they give us the silent treatment (unfortunately not for long).
    If that doesn’t work they mock us. If that doesn’t work they go back to phony romantic declarations or anger and indignation.
    These emotions are usually just strategic ploys, not real. Even when they are real–like their anger or frustration–they’re short-lived.
    Except for an underlying contempt for other human beings. That lies at the root of sociopathy and narcissism. Good thing you haven’t heard from him.
    Let’s hope he leaves you alone. Claudia

  7. Thank you for responding………It’s funny you mention rhetoric because when he attempted to use the “anger” tactic he said, “fuck you, man! you’re not the only one with feelings, man! And your not the only who has tried in this relationship! You’re the one who is playing the victim role” ….He couldn’t have come across any more insincere by referring to me as “man”. I was literally embarressed for him. My response to this round of garbage was, “I don’t think I’m a victim at all. I never have, because I take responsibility for things that occur in my life. And I didn’t need to TRY in this relationship when it came to the basics such as; respect, honesty, empathy and understanding. Those values/qualities come naturally to me because they are a part of who I am.” …….I still haven’t heard from him since the exchange of texts the other night and that’s fine with me, but I’m PISSED! I’m not a weak minded or fragile woman by any means and I do not blame myself at all for this. I had been mentally prepared at the onset of this particular situation……The onset occurred last weekend after we had yet another argument originated by his lack of understanding other people’s feelings. His famous words were, “I”m doing everything I can to change but nothing is ever good enough for you.” He said that to me last weekend AGAIN, so I told him it’s pathetic how he keeps telling me he has done everything when in REALITY he has done nothing. I had his cell phone charger so I made arrangements to drop it off to him this past Tuesday. I told him ahead of time, that I had done research about subjects such as: “healthy relationships, how to apologize, emotional invalidation, symptoms/behaviors of a sociopath, psychological manipulation, self denial,” and that I also made up a list of definitions for words such as; integrity, honesty, trustworthiness, guilt, remorse, etc; I wanted to show him a comparison of a “normal” relationship and behaviors and the realities of our relationship. I actually highlighted pretty much everything and wrote my own little side notes. Anway, he asked me on Tuesday if I could bring the information with me so he could read it. (Little did he know, he was getting the info regardless if he wanted it or not.). I knew the only reason why he asked me to bring the info was because he wanted me to believe that he was truly interested in “working on himself and our relationship.” I saw right through it! When I got to his house he asked me to give him the info so he can put it in the house and I told him “no.” I told him that I wanted to go to a park and have him read EVERYTHING so we can “talk” about it and that’s exactly what we did. I did this more for my sake then for his. I needed to see a clear picture of him in action. I watched him play along with everything I was saying and I made him believe that I was buying every word. Before I left I told him that I could not be in an intimate relationship with him because he needs to work on himself first.. I also puposely told him that I’d be a fool, after knowing everything that I did about psychological manipulation, not to think that his sudden “interest” in changing was for the sake of keeping me around while he was in jail. Of course he said that that wasn’t the only reason, blah-blah-blah. My only mistake was also telling him that I would be around if he needed support or help. He thought he manipulated me into believing him when he said he was going to work on changing and that becacuse he SAID he would, that that would be good enough for me. I was prepared for that train of thought and in fact, he proved me right when he started relentlessly calling my phone at 11:30p Wednesday night and didn’t stop, even though I had politely asked him to stop via text. His justification for all the phone calls was that he had told me earlier he was going to call. I responded by telling him that he just proved he has no respect or consideration for anyone but himself and that just because he said he would call doesn’t mean I was obligated to answer. That was the beginning of the exchange of texts (i posted in my first comment) that lasted until Thursday night and ended by me asking, “Anything else you want to talk about?” I know this is coming across as rambling but my thoughts are all over the place because there is so much to say and I am struggling to keep my emotions of anger, revenge and spitefullness in check. FUNNY, he just sent me a text as I’m writing this!!!!!!!! And my emotions have just been elevated!!!!! Thanks for letting me ramble here……..it’s either vent through writing or vent through inflicting serious bodily harm!!!!!!!!! Is there a website or something where I can share/write about all of the experiences I had gone through during the course of this three year relationship? Thanks again for letting me vent/ramble!!!!!!!

  8. Heather, You’re not rambling at all. What you say is quite accurate and lucid. This psychopath seemed to project his flaws unto you.
    They tend to do that: first, during the luring stage, they mirror your qualities and desires, then, in the manipulation/devalue phase, they project their flaws unto you. If you need to talk with people who have gone through similar experiences with psychopaths or narcissists, the best forum I know of for this is lovefraud.com. Claudia

  9. Heather,

    Amazing – your post brought up memories of the many numerous fights I used to have with my ex-husband, and many of the final ones were through text message. My ex was quite fond of saying things like, “you already knew, because I told you…”…”I’m doing everything to change, but nothing is ever good enough for you…”…etc, etc. It’s interesting now, when I dissect these things, that I realize how invalid most if his arguments really were. And, sociopaths really do have a knack for switching rhetorical tactics – my ex was a pro! If it makes you feel any better, I spent over eight years in a relationship with a socio/psychopath…there really is a light at the end of the tunnel through all of this. Remember – you ARE the sane one…never doubt that for a second. These men are masters of manipulation…it’s easy to get caught up in, so don’t fault yourself for that. I haven’t had any contact with my ex in over two years, and it has been absolutely wonderful! Best wishes to you!

  10. Wow!!! That is my ex to a tee…we were together for 6 and half years.

    At first, he was very charming, funny, outgoing, adventurous “the life of the party.” He wanted to get married, buy a house and have the luxury life. However. he always came up with excuses on why it was a bad time to get married or buy a house…and for some unexplainable reason we never had the money available after spending months saving. Something would always come up…some expense, yet he would convince me that he had noble intentions.

    Well, after the third time of him post-poning the wedding, putting off the house idea and losing his job for the 3rd time…I was very suspicious and I was considering on leaving him. It wasn’t long after that I went to speak to him at his mothers (because apparently he was suffering from depression for hitting a dog with his tractor trailer that he needed “to fix himself”) we went into his car to “discuss” what was going on with his emotional state and why he wanted time apart (because 2 days before everything was fine between us). He went from “I love you, I love you”…to “I hate you, I hate you.”

    The more I told him that we can work it out…the more upset he got, but he would still say “I love you, you’re a good person, you are a beautiful intelligent woman, but you make me feel guilty. I know I told you before that YOU are the only who can make YOU feel guilty, but you make me feel guilty.”

    When I agreed that the relationship was over I ask him to drive me to my friends place…he kept telling me that I never listen and that I don’t obey. At that moment I said “Well, at least I saved myself the ten dollars it would of cost me to take a cab.” That’s when he freaked and tried pushing me out of the car going 60mph on a busy road. Of course, at that point I got out of the car and he squealed off with the car almost running over a pedestrian.

    Later I discovered an entire drug lab in our garage…and other evidence hidden in the house (including small baggies, hidden bloody tissue pieces, pay stubs, unrecognizable phone numbers – not in his handwriting)…He cleaned out my bank account and took as much as he could from me…left without even saying goodbye to my daughter who is 7 years (he even had her calling him daddy) “How naive was I…lol”

    So I disconnected my phone and left no evidence on where I am living now.

    It has been 2 months since our relationship ended…and he already has a new victim in his clutches. He also moved 3 blocks away from me and I am concerned. I definitely will never go back and there is absolutely no contact. But he is a little too close to me for my comfort.

  11. @ Heather,

    I understand your obsession with this man as you are at that stage where you are coming to terms with who and what he really is and you are hurt and angry.

    You’re making a huge mistake by having any contact whatsoever with the psychopath. You don’t need to prove yourself right, you are, you won’t get closure or the vindication you need from him in order to move on, he is incapable, and you can’t fix him by offering him support. Now that he’s been unmasked, you are in grave danger and your encounters with him will produce even greater damage to you.

    If you haven’t already read it, I suggest you download Sandra Brown’s book “Women Who Love Psychopaths” as a first step to your recovery. It’s well worth it and a very educational read. http://Www.saferelationshipsmagazine.com Take care.

  12. Sleeping, I agree with Heather. Sandra Brown’s Women who love psychopaths will describe to a t both the psychopaths and their patterns of behavior and why they work so well on so many people (at least for awhile, before the gig’s up). I wrote a review of it on this blog, to inform people what the book is about and let them know how helpful it is to victims and the general public.
    Psychopaths are glib and charming (the life of the party, as you say) in superficial relationships, but they can’t keep the mask on in intimate, long-term relationships. The fact he told you you don’t “obey” him shows that his underlying desire was to control, not love you. Claudia

  13. @rocketgirl…..Thanks for the link! I will definitely give it a read! I have no desire to help him at this point because he needs intensive cognitive behavior therapy treatment or something and I can’t have him and don’t want him in my life because he is and “energy vampire” and is toxic to my own personal and spiritual growth. I told him that as well. The last communication I had with him was this past Monday when he wouldn’t stop calling and texting at all hours so I I think he finally got the hint when I threatened to go to the police and file a claim against him in civil court for the money he owes me and for the intentional inflction of emotional distress. Told him I would put a claim in for the max amount of $8,000 and since he doesn’t pay taxes and can’t show income, that I would have no problem putting a lien on the house that his mother pays for and lives in but he legally owns.After a few back and forth texts, the last one I received said that I was making him miserable so I replied and told him that he was making himself miserable because he continues to harrass me with call/texts and the solution to this is for him to STOP CALLING/TEXTING ME like I had repeatedly asked him to do. That was it!!!!! I think he knows at this point that he has lost the ability to manage my impression of him and there is nothing he can say to change that. He lost that power so there’s nothing more for him here……………

  14. Heather, good for you! You put your foot down and cut the psychopath out of your life. Claudia

  15. @ Heather. I’m glad you’ve put your foot down, that said, it still concerns me that you think he can be helped through any form of therapy. Once you read that book, you’ll see that pathology of a true psychopath or any Axis II Cluster B disordered person is hardwired in their brain and is unchangeable.

    I’m also concerned that you are still threatening him with court action and trying to reason with him as if he actually cared about any of it. You can’t reason with an irrational disordered person. Yes he won’t stop calling. What you are doing I am afraid is akin to poking a bear. Stop all communication with him. Go through the court system if you must to get your money, but he will most likely not have the money to pay you, and enforcement is the problem.

    You can’t get even with or win against a psychopath. The most dangerous time for you is Now, when you are leaving him. Change your phone number and instruct everyone not to give it to him. Then put your focus on YOU and your healing. Don’t let him Hoover you back into his drama. No contact means NO CONTACT. Be safe.

  16. @rocketgirl……He does have the money to pay me back, he just keeps pulling my chain which I have put a stop to. If I go through the courts, he cannot show income because he gets paid under the table and does not pay taxes. He owns a house so in order to enforce the judgment, I would request a property lien which is good for 20yrs after which time I could request another lien if he does not pay. He would not be able to sell or utilize the property in any manner until he pays off the lien. The threat itself is not so much against him, because you’re right, he wouldn’t care….the threat lays in the fact that his mother lives in the house and pays the mortgage, if she were to find out that a lien was placed against the house BY ME, she would have his neck. She’s just as sick as he is so that’s what he is worried about the most. I’ve done alot of research about personality disorders, etc; and have spoken with my psychology professors about the subject. I agree with you as far as treatment, that’s why I stated that there is NO WAY I could possibly help him unless I was willing to give up my sanity in the process of trying which would ultimately be for nothing, since I know he can’t be helped. Thank you for your advice and concern!!!!! It’s very much appreciated! 🙂

  17. Sleeping with one eye open, I didn’t see your comment until now. I usually check for comments on the more recent posts and don’t think to look at older ones: I’ve got to look more closely. You are absolutely right to sleep with one eye open if your psychopath lives so close to you. They’re impulsive and vengeful: a dangerous combination. But don’t live in paranoia either, because ultimately that will hurt you. Just be prudent and aware, without living in fear. Claudia

  18. Claudia,

    Thank you for your response. So far, he has not bothered me and things in my life are looking up since I decided to moved on.
    I do agree with Steve on the fact that it is difficult to trust after being with a sociopath or psychopath

    (Yes Steve, my ex tried pushing me out of the moving car because I told him that I was glad that I saved myself the 10$ that it cost me in cab fair to meet him at his mothers – a response to how “I don’t listen or obey”).

    But you are right about judging people by their actions – not by what they say…and most importantly consistency. I am doing my best to protect myself from others who display the same “red flags”…but I do find that I question my own instincts and judgement. I only hope that with time I will be able to find balance with my internal alarm rather than search for faults in others.

  19. Sleeping, I’m glad he’s left you alone, despite living in close proximity with you. I think that we should still assume people are kind and normal until we see red flags of a personality disorder. Innocent until proven guilty; normal until proven red flag. Disordered individuals wave red flags pretty fast because they enjoy playing games and pushing the envelope. They’re in it for the fun… at other people’s expense. Claudia

  20. Very true…and I will remember to keep that in mind because you are right in stating that, “we should still assume people are kind and normal until we see red flags of a personality disorder.” I would hate to push those away due to lack of trust.

    Thank you


  21. Sleeping, I see trust in terms of three main categories:

    1) those who wave red flags and don’t deserve it at all;

    2) those we don’t know well, so they deserve the benefit of the doubt but we should proceed with caution and not trust them as if we knew them well, and

    3) those we know well and consider trustworthy.

    Sometimes, however, we confuse category 2) and 3) and open up too much to strangers, before they’ve proven their trustworthiness over time. That’s usually when we get burned and end up with a category 1) big mistake


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