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Can Sociopaths Love?

Sophie Simons
December 26, 2023

Can sociopaths love is an interesting question. To answer this question, we must break it down to simplicity. First, we need to understand who exactly is a sociopath.


Antisocial personality disorder is a psychological condition where the person exhibits a social behavior opposite to human and social norms. It is characterized by little to no empathy for others, deception, and a strong disregard for others’ feelings and pain. Sociopathy is a common term used to describe someone who has an antisocial personality disorder. 

Psychopathy Vs. Sociopathy

Psychopathy and sociopathy are generally not differentiated by psychologists in a clinical setting. They are both considered part of APD. However, psychopathy has preplanning and premeditation of reckless and aggressive actions, while sociopathy has impulsivity, where a sociopath does not have much control over their actions and anger.  

Factors that cause APD

Any medical disorder is an interplay between physical and environmental factors. Some of the factors identified by scientists and psychologists are

  1. Genes: Genes provide a predisposition to ADP, and it follows a familial pattern.
  2. Neuroanatomy: Neuroscientists have successfully established a connection between brain and psychopathic disorders. Parts of the brain that control emotions like empathy, fear, and remorse are either small or dysfunctional.
  3. Environment: A neglectful upbringing, traumas, and abuses trigger increased susceptibility to APD.   
  4. Male gender: Males have more tendency towards sociopathy than females.

Scientific and Emotional Love

Love is a complex emotion that is lived through the heart and conquers souls, but in reality, like every other process that takes place in a human body, love has a science behind it. The feeling of love is generated by the release of chemicals and neurotransmitters in our bodies.

Dopamine and adrenaline are common chemicals that are known by the general population and produce pleasure and a sense of bonding. Scientifically speaking, sociopaths can love since their bodies are capable of producing these chemicals. 

But if love is to be taken as an emotion, the love of sociopaths differs from the love of a psychologically normal human. According to the definition of love by the American Psychological Association (APA), love is a complex emotion that should let us experience affection, devotion, and sensitivity toward the people we love. In light of this definition and various love theories, sociopaths lack the proper etiquette of true love.

Can a sociopath love?

Can sociopaths love or feel the need to be loved? Or is their love a scaffold for manipulation? Do they show love because they experience it or because love gives them a sense of power and control? So many questions come to mind when the possibility of a sociopath’s love is brought under scrutiny. 

A healthy love requires empathy and emotional intimacy, but sociopaths lack both these emotions. Sociopaths can love when it comes to the essence of love. They tend to love in their own way and their love is different from the love desired by individuals.

Due to their aggressive and selfish nature of love, most people tag sociopaths as “incapable of love.” In our opinion, it is unfair to tag them with an incapacity to love. Can they be blamed for not loving selflessly and tenderly? Do they deserve no love? Since sociopathy is more of an illness than a choice, sociopaths do not have control over their way of loving.

Signs of a sociopath

Sociopathy has behavioral patterns common to all those with this condition. However, it is a spectral disorder since the type and severity of the symptoms have extensive variations. The signs can include

  • Impulsivity
  • Manipulative and charismatic behavior for personal gains
  • Deception
  • Lack of empathy for others
  • Aggressiveness and recklessness
  • Occasional substance abuse
  • Social withdrawal
  • Trouble in forming emotional relationships
  • No remorse for wrong acts

Nature of love of a sociopath

Sociopaths are neurologically competent to love. They can form bonds and connections with others; however, many sociopaths refrain from social interaction due to their lack of perception and low emotional quotient.

Many sociopaths appear as amiable and charismatic. It would be hard to tell them apart from normal individuals. It is not until one gets to know them closely that they can look past their deceptive masks. Their elucidation of love is very different than the healthy and common love.

According to an article on Bustle, Dr. Darrel Turner believes that for sociopaths, the love experience is shallow, selfish, and less relevant. 

Many sociopaths tend to make bonds with people for personal gain. Their love is born out of their need to feel power and to have a fascinating experience. They may love someone for satisfying their monetary needs, or they may love someone who makes them feel stable, accepted, and cherished.

The love they feel does not allow them to feel warmth and empathy. Their emotional capacitance restricts their feeling of genuineness and understanding. For themselves, they are always right. They never take responsibility for their actions and resort to gaslighting their partners.

What is it like to be loved by a sociopath?

A sociopath’s love comes out as intense and consuming. They can approach you with selfless and profound love, making you feel like you are the center of their world. The intensity and their maddening devotion to you put you on cloud nine. They materialize as perfect lovers who fulfill your every need and whose world revolves around you.

But slowly, their lack of empathy, selfishness, and inability to perceive your emotions start to torture you. They show no regard for your suffering or pain and love you with a selfish intensity. Their obsessive love puts bars around you that are hard to break through.

For some sociopaths, when they have attained what they desire from you, boredom catches on to them. A sociopath is incapable of giving flourishing and understanding love. Their love for you does not outrun their manipulative and selfish nature. 

Some people believe true love can alleviate signs of sociopathy. Sociopathy itself has no permanent cure. 

Even if sociopaths are capable of love, their love comes with more cons than pros.

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Sophie Simons

Sophie Simons

Sophie Simons is a leading psychologist with a passion for enriching relationships. Through empathetic counseling and insightful guidance, she empowers couples and individuals to foster deeper connections, resolve conflicts, and create lasting harmony. Sophie's expertise in relationship advice has touched countless lives, making her a trusted source for building fulfilling partnerships.

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