Sociopath vs. Psychopath vs. Narcissist in a Massachusetts Relationship

by | May 24, 2024 | Divorce |

Not all psychopaths are killers, but their lack of conscience chills most of us to the core. Society thrives on empathy, but the common link when comparing a sociopath vs. psychopath vs. narcissist is that they have none.

Perhaps the most disturbing fact is that the antisocial personality disorder, under which you’ll find sociopaths and psychopaths, is one of the most misunderstood disorders.

Narcissists fall under a different scale and are perhaps the least terrifying of the three. Nevertheless, they too can cause harm. 

How to differentiate between sociopath vs. psychopath vs. narcissist

The same study offers a good overview for comparing a psychopath vs. narcissist. You’ll see that a psychopath is similar to a narcissist, but they are more cunning, cold, and with a greater drive for risk-taking.

In contrast, the difference between sociopath and psychopath chart, detailed by Psychologia’s infographic, demonstrates that a sociopath is more erratic and impulsive.

Psychopath Vs. Sociopath visual representation and statistics

And yet, as the books Inside the Mind of a Sociopath and James Fallon The Psychopath Inside show, these personalities are not necessarily evil. Their brains are wired differently, but as Fallon demonstrates, a psychopath can be part of a loving family. 

As Fallon further details, psychopaths can be strong leaders and highly effective in industries such as the military. Essentially, they don’t suffer from PTSD, and sadly, we are no closer to removing the need for a military.

On the flip side, narcissists tend to be highly insecure. They make up for this by acting grandiose, entitled, and getting attention.

Nevertheless, when reviewing a psychopath vs. sociopath vs narcissist vs. dark empathy, the data shows that psychopaths make up more than half of violent crimes in America, as summarized in this paper on whether psychopathy is evil or a disease.

What to look for when dating sociopaths, psychopaths, and narcissists

Whilst there is a psychopath vs sociopath vs narcissist test, the reality is less clear-cut. Even psychologists struggle to properly diagnose these personalities.

First, what is a sociopath versus a psychopath?

As this study on psychopathy and sociopathy explains, the terms are often used interchangeably, but which is worse: psychopath or sociopath? In short, psychopaths are more dangerous.

So, look for coldness and a callous view of the world in psychopaths.

And with sociopaths, you can expect violent outbursts. They tend to be more erratic because they were often fashioned by an abusive environment growing up.

As a result, you might expect a sociopath to be distant. You’re actually never sure if they’re bored, irritated or lying to you. They’re generally monotone but they can also be the life of the party.

But don’t ignore the key signs you have a sociopath husband. 

Secondly, when comparing a sociopath vs. psychopath vs. narcissist, you’ll note that the latter is slightly different.

Narcissists are self-absorbed. Whilst the other two personalities manipulate, narcissists self-promote. Of course, this can come across as manipulation, which is why it’s so hard to differentiate them.

Generally, though, narcissists try to impress you, but this is founded on insecurity, whilst the other two personalities are confident at their core.

But then you might wonder, what are the traits of a narcissistic psychopath? It’s a blend of grandiosity and sadism, charm and arrogance, entitlement and pathological lying. 

And don’t fall into the trap of dating a narcissistic sociopath. You’ll find yourself walking into a minefield.

What are the risks of dating sociopaths, psychopaths, and narcissists?

When dating a sociopath vs. psychopath vs. narcissist, you risk emotional abuse. You’ll gradually start doubting yourself and apologizing for things you haven’t done.

You’ll also be at risk of physical abuse in some cases.

 Whilst we can answer the question “Which is worse, psychopath or narcissist?” with the psychopath, every situation is different. Some narcissists will also act violently if their source of validation tries to break away.

 Overall, you won’t be getting your needs met, and you might even find yourself gradually being cut off from friends and family.

 Of course, many psychopaths, sociopaths, and narcissists have learned to follow society’s rules even if they don’t emotionally believe in them.

6 signs of sociopaths, psychopaths, and narcissists in relationships 

Short of asking people to do a psychopath vs sociopath vs narcissist test, you can also look out for these common traits.

Another useful framework is the seven sociopath relationship stages. You’ll also find similarities with the other personalities.

  1. Gaslighting and fabrications

A common trait when comparing a sociopath vs. psychopath vs. narcissist is that they often manipulate reality, so you doubt your feelings and events. 

  1. No remorse

Another overlap when reviewing a sociopath vs. psychopath vs. narcissist is that they generally feel no guilt. So, nothing is ever their fault, and you’re either overreacting or making it up.

  1. It’s all about them

 Whilst narcissists crave attention to the extreme, sociopaths and psychopaths only consider themselves and their needs. Nevertheless, all seek to benefit from others’ misfortunes, whether consciously or unconsciously.

 But perhaps the key question is which is worse: psychopath or sociopath?

 Both can be harmful, but the cold, calculating approach of a psychopath is more formidable because it is so subtle. You end up being controlled to meet their desires and only realizing when it’s too late.

  1. The silent treatment

Not only do you find yourself trying to explain how their actions impact you and others, but they also seem to ignore you.

Generally, psychopaths can’t deal with conflict, and they don’t care, so they won’t get involved.

Sociopaths and narcissists are more explosive, but some will also prefer to cut their losses and move on to another victim.

  1. Bored easily

Another similarity when reflecting on how a sociopath vs. psychopath vs. narcissist behaves is that they need constant stimulation.

Narcissists want to hide their insecurity behind flamboyance. And psychopaths and sociopaths need thrills to keep them going.

  1. Recklessness and impulsiveness

When it comes to which is worse, psychopath or narcissist, the psychopath generally comes out as the worst. They are more reckless and predatory. They also enjoy causing harm to others, which narcissists don’t tend to do.

The impulsiveness of both psychopaths and sociopaths makes them unpredictable, which is terrifying to most of us.

Again, though,remember that some have not grown up in abusive homes and can function in society, particularly if they are aware of their personality and choose to work on it.


The mental health and personality traits of your partner can have a significant impact on your mental health and the relationship you share with them. That is why here are the answers to some pressing questions that give you more clarity on this:  

  • Is sociopathy, psychopathy, and narcissism a disease of the mind?

If you read some experts, they’ll tell you that comparing a psychopath vs. sociopath vs. narcissist vs. dark empath falls under the antisocial personality disorder and is, therefore, a disease.

Neuroscientist James Fallon makes a good point in his book, though. As the brain is still a mystery to us and as we can’t categorically define the cause of mental disorders, for example, low insulin means diabetes, most psychiatric problems are disorders and not diseases.

Moreover, experts can’t agree on the causes or even what defines these personalities. So, we stick to the Hare Psychopathy checklist and a lack of empathy as the two points we agree on for now. 

  • Can we hold Sociopaths, Psychopaths, and Narcissists responsible for their actions?

Comparing the difference between sociopath and psychopath chart shows that they both manipulate, but a psychopath might run a company, whereas a sociopath might be more impulsive and less calculating.

As this paper on psychopaths and blame argues,sociopaths and psychopaths might not understand morality emotionally, but they know what the law states. They also know what society expects.

Narcissists are perhaps the ones with the most hope for change, but they can’t change if they don’t want help. 

  • What do you risk by being in a relationship with a sociopath vs. psychopath vs. narcissist?

In general, you risk your mental and emotional health.

However, as this study on toxic relationships shows, the impact on you depends on your coping strategies and how adaptive versus maladaptive they are.

 As you can imagine, adaptive coping strategies such as reframing, seeking support, practicing acceptance, humor, and spirituality support your well-being. This is in contrast to venting, denial, substance abuse, self-blame, and self-distraction.

  •  How do these personality types compare to other mental disorders?

 It’s natural to want to compare, but human beings do not fit into boxes and labels. As such, it’s impossible to truly compare because every situation and context is different.

 Moreover, every disorder exists on a spectrum, and the blend of environment versus genetics versus will is an ongoing debate with no clear-cut answers.

 However, perhaps the defining trait of these personality types compared to other disorders is their lack of empathy.

  •  What warning signs, if any, are there at the start of a relationship with a sociopath vs. psychopath vs. narcissist?

 The biggest warning signs are love-bombing redefining reality, and constant lying. There’s also a selfishness within that will start chipping away at your self-esteem.

And more specifically, you can also review the warning signs of a female sociopath. 

Final thoughts 

There’s a good chance you’ve met one of these personality types, including at work. Not all of them are killers, but they do see reality through their self-serving lens.

 There are subtle differences when dating a sociopath vs. psychopath vs. narcissist, but they will all try to manipulate or control you for their needs.

The only thing within your control is to develop adaptive coping strategies and even maybe an exit plan. 

Should you be in the midst of a divorce or contemplating divorce, contact the Law Offices of Renee Lazar at 978-844-4095 to schedule a FREE on hour no obligation consultation.


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