She had a jealous side, too; no device was safe from her hands. She constantly went through my phone, computer, and journal and read every text, email, and message I wrote. She hated when I went out anywhere -- to see my friends, go to work early, or even go running. Old girlfriends became sworn enemies and disagreeable friends became challenged.
Don't be afraid to ask questions
This whole debacle could have ended earlier if I'd just performed some basic fact-checking and internet searching. I knew things had gotten way out of hand when I heard her singing a familiar-sounding song and asked her what it was. She told me she had just written it -- she fancied herself a songwriter. With a pounding heart I put some of the lyrics into Google and found out that my girlfriend had miraculously made up the song "Tick of Time" by The Kooks. I didn't ask her about the incident until months later, when we broke up. She told me I misheard her.
I suppose it wouldn't have made a huge difference if I called her out on every single lie she told -- but it certainly would have helped keep me a little more sane. Every time I attempted to find the truth, I was derailed by her telling me I was imagining things or misremembering events.
I went crazy trying to patch the holes in her story: how could she have been a squatter in Florida if she was working as a photographer in Florida? How could she have attended Harvard University if she never finished high school? How could she have been in a band when she didn't even play an instrument? No timeline ever worked out and no two stories were ever told the same way.
To grasp what a person with this condition feels and why they act the way they do, I spoke to clinical psychologist Dr. Robert Figlerski.
"Personality disorder -- you need to understand -- is a long-standing self-defeating pattern of behavior. It's a very self-centered disorder based around their needs and their wishes. They use emotion to manage and manipulate the situation. Their ability to empathize -- to look at other people as human beings with feelings -- is really limited. They often treat people as an object toward their goal, rather than people with emotions. Deceit and lying is really one of the hallmark symptoms. They're managing the moment to address their needs. They're very impulsive, often don't plan ahead. People can be charmed by a psychopath and, very often, get involved with very complicated and intimate relationships, but ultimately feel used, abused, and mistreated."
Never ignore red flags
This piece of advice rings true with any relationship, sociopath or no sociopath. I wish I didn't turn a blind eye when she stopped coming home after work and started sleeping on a "co-worker's couch" to avoid the long commute home. I wish I called her out on messaging my ex-girlfriends on Facebook, and I sincerely wish I had dissuaded her from stealing from every single store we walked into.
That's the thing about these kinds of awful relationships: you just choose not to see the red flags, even when they're right in front of you. I remember asking her, via text, if she cheated on me. She said yes. I asked her if she had sex with the guy she cheated on me with, she said yes.
When I called her and told her it was over, she told me I had read her texts wrong… she was "saying 'yes' to two different questions.'" Which two questions did she think she was replying to? She forgot, of course.
I tell people that I moved from Boston to New York because there was no work for me in Boston. In the back of my mind, I quickly add, "Plus, I wanted to get away from my ex-girlfriend."