I have a very serious question for everyone: At one point do you cross the line from socially awkward and turn into a sociopath?
I mean, some people just lack communication skills. They don’t comprehend societal norms when it comes to socializing: respecting personal space, privacy, revealing appropriate personal information, or understanding normal etiquette, common courtesy.
There is nothing wrong with being a bit awkward and having some quirks. There is nothing wrong with being shy or conversely not having a filter. But the line between awkward and sociopath is extremely thin.
You’re always going to meet at least one person in your lifetime who at first you’re thinking, “Well, they can be a little…intense. But they seem like a good person.” But as time goes on, they say or do things that are subtle and become more and more obvious that make you rethink things. It starts to become, “Oh, wow. They probably have fingers hidden under the floor tiles in their bathroom.”
Some people are just psychotic and you’re not sure what it is that will make them break. They’re just one Wendy’s hamburger with too much mayo on it away from being a Lifetime Movie do-over of Pacific Heights, Single White Female, The Hand that Rocks the Cradle, or The Crush.
So what is your next move? How do you get them out of your circle? When someone is a little more loose in the head than you originally thought, you have to start putting up distance slowly.
Not everyone is that big of a loose cannon that they will dice you up, but they may do whatever they can to make you and all of your friends miserable as punishment.
Some signs that you are dealing with someone who is a little over the line of just “intense”:
- Obsession: Some people are simply passionate. They feel strongly about something or someone. But this is another area where there is a very fine line between passion and frightening obsession. For example, you can be a fan of an actor, an athlete, a journalist and simply admire their work. You’re an enthusiast. But things can get to an inappropriate state. When the enjoyment you get out of that admiration starts to interfere with your daily life and your emotions, there is a problem. When you start judging that person’s every move and choice and letting it keep you up at night, you’re riding the train straight into crazy town.How you know a person has crossed the line is evident in their behavior. They think their actions are cute. They will giggle. They think obsession is funny. I find nothing funny or silly about this. Being a fan is fine. Watching that person’s every life move and either mimicking it or trying to be a part of it is horrifying.
- Overprotectiveness/Possessive: Do you have an overprotective relative or friend? Someone who just worries constantly and their overactive imagination of all the horrible things that can happen to you suffocate you? You feel claustrophobic in their presence. I had a friend like that (I wrote about her in The Friends You Need to Ditch). She was just…everywhere.But there are friends who go beyond just eager to be near you. They are possessive. They don’t want anyone outside of your circle talking to you and they aren’t shy about telling people to “buzz off” to put it nicely. When they feel threatened that someone is moving in on their territory, they won’t pee on you or hump your leg, but you can bet that they will act erratically.They will warn you about this person, telling you how horrible they are (when they are probably a perfectly nice person). They will spend their free time trying to track this person’s every move. It’s sick, really.They don’t like to share and sharing friends is the biggest no-no of all. Don’t leave this person out when doing an activity. You’re going to hear about it-and they’re going to play the victim card.
- The Helpless Victim: The biggest problem in dealing with a friend who has crossed the line of socially awkward is that they are going to play the victim card at every turn. When someone has broken their grasp on reality, they truly cannot see the error in their ways. Their only crime is that they “love too much.” There is zero capacity for self reflection. They honestly and truthfully do not understand how they are pushing people away because they see their actions as normal.The Victim Card will be played so be prepared to be publically scorned, tarnished, and berated ad nauseum. They are going to bang that gong until the cows come home because no one is going to turn their back on this person and get away with it.And honestly, though it has someone become somewhat socially acceptible to use social media as your personal therapist, how healthy is it really to sit on the internet all day long, screaming “Whoa is me” as fast as your fingers can carry you across cyber space? It isn’t. Airing your dirty laundry online isn’t fixing any problems. Venting is one thing. We’ve all posted a status on Facebook or Twitter or Tumblr in frustration with something- most of the time being completely vague and ambiguous. Posting 10,934 characters worth of some frightening diatribe on the trauma you’ve experienced at the hands of some evil person isn’t in any way, shape, or form normal, productive behavior fitting of an adult. A hormonal, pubescent teenager who doesn’t understand the extremely permanent state of the Internet, perhaps. An adult? Absolutely not.
- Stalking: Whether it is via Internet, text, email, or in person, they won’t let a sleeping dog lie. We’ve all checked up on someone. That’s why we have the Internet, right? (Kidding, but seriously we have all done this.) They’re going to take it to the “get a PFA” level. Obsessive tailing of your every move in on the agenda. Why?How can they continue to play victim if they don’t know what you are up to? How can you, who tortured and broke this person’s heart, be posting happy photos on Facebook? How do you live with yourself when you are so evil? They need to validate just how big of a monster you are. Maybe this will end in confrontation. Maybe they will just sit and stew in quiet, unrelenting self loathing, wondering how they could have been so stupid as to be played by you. Maybe they will continue to beat their point to a bloody pulp on social media, gaining as much sympathy as humanly possible from every person they encounter.Beware. Because this depressive state is their gateway to a new victim. Someone is going to feel sorry and get sucked in and the cycle will continue.
Someone like this, even if they are just teetering the line of inappropriateness needs help. I am being honest, not snarky here. Someone like this needs medical attention. Not just a therapist to listen to them talk about their feelings. They need an actual psychiatrist because this isn’t how a normal person functions. This is someone who has problems deeper than being a little fringe and intense.
Sometimes people really need an intervention. And if you already know someone who exhibits this behavior, do yourself a favor and hit the eject button now.