Tell-Tale Signs Someone You Know May Be a Sociopath

A compulsive liar or toxic coworker can make life hell. But is something more going on? Without an official diagnosis, it’s hard to tell. However, you can spot a potential sociopath by these telltale signs. One common red flag is visible in nearly all sociopaths (page 10).

1. He explodes with anger

Christian Bale as Patrick Bateman in American Psycho is swinging an axe.

Christian Bale portrayed a true sociopath in American Psycho. | Lions Gate Films

When things don’t go the way the sociopath had planned, it results in sudden anger. Ever see someone fly off the handle, or have an ugly meltdown over a minor slight? That anger stems from the fact that the inner narcissist is seemingly out of control of their surroundings, which doesn’t jive with a sociopath’s worldview.

Next: Can you ever get the story straight?

2. She blatantly lies

A couple fights

Do you feel the need for a lie detector? |

Compulsive and pathological liars clearly signal underlying issues. Consider this a red flag. We’ve outlined the signs of a compulsive liar before, so watch out for them when dealing with a potential sociopath. The seemingly pointless lying will truly tell you there’s something more going on.

Next: Does everyone love the sociopath?

3. He can win over just about anyone

Men cheers with beer

Is it possible to be too charming? | Source: iStock

A sure sign of sociopathy is extreme charisma and charm. He or she may demonstrate excellent communication skills and intense eye contact. A sociopath can easily win over a room of strangers with their outgoing personality. Captivating others won’t last; he or she will eventually show their true colors.

Next: Relationships change, but they shouldn’t change this much.

4. You’re always meeting her new friends

Friends drinking wine

Do you constantly hear about shortlived friendships? | monkeybusinessimages/iStock/Getty Images

The horrific behaviors of a sociopath can easily drive people away. This is why they are always surrounded by new friends and groups of people — until the sociopath’s toxicity drives them away. If you notice someone can’t keep a friend for more than a short period of time, there’s probably a reason for it.

Next: Is there a drama queen or king in your life?

5. He loves to create drama

A woman and man sit on a couch wit their phones.

They like to stir the pot. | Bojan89/Getty Images

A sociopath may not form emotional attachments, but they have no problem tapping into the emotions of others if it somehow serves them. They may create drama for no reason, or simply relish the opportunity to capitalize on others’ drama. Whether it’s a friend, co-worker, or significant other, he or she will put a strain on relationships and feel noticeably complacent about it.

Next: Do you feel safe with this person?

6. She’s reckless with herself and others

Young woman applying makeup

Consistently reckless behavior, like distracted driving or speeding, can indicate much more. |

Reckless behavior can come in all shapes and forms, but the issue at hand is that a sociopath can’t or won’t see the connection between their behavior and the consequences of their actions. They’ll try to get away with the behavior for as long as they can, despite getting caught repeatedly.

Next: Does sex seem like a business transaction?

7. Sex is strictly physical to a sociopath

Woman and man in bed

Sex is different with a sociopath. | Monkeybusinessimages/iStock/Getty Images

When it comes to relationships, sociopaths are involved until they no longer get a reward, Seth Meyers told Psychology Today. Sociopaths have physical needs just like everyone else. However, they’ll do anything to fulfill those needs, regardless of whether it’s socially acceptable. Emotionally detached people often view sex as nothing more than a physical transaction. Once things get emotionally intimate, he or she will check out.

Next: No rave reviews at the office

8. He’s not a great employee

Man in office relaxing

All work and no play is not a sociopath’s motto. | Liderina/iStock/Getty Images

A sociopath won’t complete a work task unless it aligns with their interests. They may not put in much effort, or they may take it further and sabotage your ability to get work done. The definition of a toxic co-worker or boss, a sociopath will play the manipulation game from 9 to 5 every day; it may even be difficult to fire them.

Next: The way they communicate says a lot.

9. She’s a fast talker with big plans

Woman talking on phone with colleagues

Overpromising and exaggerating are big issues. | Source: iStock

Sociopaths use their words, a lot of them, to hide their behaviors. They are fast talkers who use extreme statements to sway others. As Psychology Today explains, “Watch out for extremes. Big promises. Big stories, about the past or the future. Big plans, with no basis for them or no experience at whatever they’re planning.” You may find yourself unable to recognize the person you thought you knew.

Next: This common red flag is visible in nearly all sociopaths.

10. She always puts herself first

Smiling elderly woman comb hair and looked in the mirror

It’s okay to love yourself — but not like this. | MilicaStankovic/Getty Images

An inflated ego or sense of self-worth is a classic sign of a sociopath. These people take an overbearing interest in themselves and seem to be more interested in admiring or talking about themselves than interacting with anybody else. This can come across as selfishness and self-centeredness — two things that are easily identifiable in a colleague, friend, or family member given enough time.

Next: Do you find yourself doing things you wouldn’t normally do?

11. He manipulates what you say and do

Woman seriously listening to her boyfriend

Don’t let their smooth talking fool you. | Ammentorp Lund

Naturally, a sociopath is going to attempt to play puppet master with the people in their lives. This is likely when many people realize they’re dealing with a sociopath; when it becomes clear that the individual in question is trying to pull strings and manipulate those around them to get what they want. Again, they think they’ll get away with it and don’t care about the consequences.

Next: Are job changes, relocations, and new relationships common?

12. He gets bored easily

A bored man

There’s a difference between healthy change and constantly feeling bored with life. |

Change is healthy, but not all the time. If he or she is always changing jobs, homes, relationships, and more, this is a sure sign of boring easily. Seeking thrills, a sociopath will move on the second things quiet down.

Next: Does your personal or professional relationship lack a vital component?

13. He’s emotionally detached

Sad woman on the bed with husband in background

Does he or she refuse to engage with you? |

This is the Hallmark feature of a sociopath — complete and total emotional detachment. Sociopaths will do things others cannot because they’ve removed the emotional aspect from their behavior. Essentially, they aren’t feeling anything when they are wrong or hurt someone, which makes it easier for them to do it. In other words, there’s a lack of empathy.

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Additional reporting by Gina Ragusa.