I have a confession.
Ugh. It’s a bad one. Well, not bad bad. I didn’t run anyone over with my car or anything. Well, truth be told I actually have hit someone with my car – and not by accident. But that’s the point – this confession isn’t even about that. In fact it has nothing to do with behavior at all. And yet I guarantee that for some of you, this confession is going to be the deal-breaker. It will be the one thing that, once its revealed, will cause you to look at me completely differently. You probably won’t even finish reading this post once you find out.
In fact, let’s make a deal. You’re reading this blog. That means you must be at least moderately curious about the sociopathic personality. So, please, do me a favor. Keep reading.
Once I address the topic at hand and confess what is certain to be a cardinal sin for many of you. All I ask is that you not rush to judgment. There’s a reason for it. Let me explain the reason. Because it’s a “thing” and I know I’m not the only person who feels this way. And because it’s a “thing,” few people are honest about it. But if they were, I feel like there would be a greater opportunity for mutual understanding.
Again, this is only going to apply to some of you. I think everyone will be interested in what I have to say, but only some of you are going to be triggered – and I mean seriously triggered – by my confession. And I’m not building it up either. It’s definitely a thing.
People are lunatics about this issue. And I have never, ever heard anyone admit to feeling the way I do about it publicly. But I know they do, because they’ve told me. I know I’m not the only one. And even if I am the only one, I don’t care! Because it’s the truth. It’s my truth.
Ok, here we go. You ready? Ugh, now I’ve built it up too much. But, no. I haven’t. For some of you I haven’t built it up enough! My husband doesn’t even know this (although I feel like he suspects). Whatever. I don’t even care. Here it is:
I don’t like dogs.
I really don’t. I find them … annoying. Big dogs, small dogs, medium-sized dogs. I don’t like any of them. This is not to say that I hate dogs, because I don’t. I would never hurt a dog or anything. I just don’t care about dogs. And I don’t particularly like being around them for any length of time. Let me tell you why.
Dogs like two things: to give affection and to receive it. For me, that is an extremely high-maintenance dynamic. Dogs need constant – and I mean constant – validation. They are desperate for attention at all times. And they love unconditionally.
I get it. For most people, these are all wonderful attributes.
“An adorable and adoring creature who loves me unconditionally and wants nothing more in this world than my attention and affection??? Where do I sign???”
But I’m a sociopath. I don’t like these things.
I don’t like petting dogs. Their desperation gnaws at my psyche. And I don’t need unconditional love… from anything. It makes me wary. I’m inclined not to trust things that adore me for no other reason than because I exist. For sociopaths, this is an unsafe experience.
There’s a big misconception about sociopathy, and the idea that – because sociopaths are emotionally shallow – we are automatically exempt from any concept of self-awareness. But that’s simply not true. Sociopaths get that we don’t feel the way we are supposed to. We don’t understand it, but we get it – cognitively speaking. We get that we are different. So it’s uncomfortable to be around creatures like dogs – at least it is for me. They magnify the very thing that is wrongest with me. And the fact that they are unbearably loyal only adds to the discomfort.
My husband had a loyal dog when he was a kid. So loyal that – on the day my husband left for college – this dog ran the 200 miles to his new dorm room. I’m told it’s a beautiful story. He left for college at seven in the morning and by ten the following night the German Shepherd he’d had since elementary school was sitting outside his dormitory door.
People love this story. They swoon over it. But I hate it. And it’s not because I am uncomfortable with the idea of a dog loving someone so much that it would run hundreds of miles to be with that person. I hate it because it devastates me to think that I could never be deserving of a love like that. I could never reciprocate it. And isn’t that what one must be to be deserving?
I know what you’re thinking: “You’re so wrong! All you need to do is get a dog! Then you’ll see how amazing they are and your opinion will totally change!”
That would be a valid point except… I did have a dog. Her name was Prudence. She was a perfectly-behaved and positively delightful Jack Russell terrier that I had for nearly 20 years. Prudence died a few years ago and when she did, I swore I’d never get another dog. I tell people the reason for this is because the devastation of Prudence’s death was far too painful for me to endure ever again. But this is only half true.
When Prudence died I was devastated. I cried and I raged and I found it difficult to eat or breathe for weeks. But it was not for the reasons that people think. The pain attached to the death of Prudence had far more to do with the loss of hope than it had to do with the loss of her.
When Prudence died, my hope died with her: The hope that I would be a better mother to her. That I would grow to love her – truly love her. That I would stop getting frustrated. That I would match her enthusiasm. That I would one day be deserving of her love.
God, I wanted to love Prudence the way she loved me. I wanted it so badly. And sure, I doted on this creature. She ate the best food. Not dog food, mind you – chicken and steak and eggs and rice and veggies and oatmeal that I made myself. She slept with me every night. She received the best medical care. I took her on trips. I brought her to work. Once my children were born, I gave her extra attention – determined to make sure she didn’t get lost in the shuffle. I made her a priority. But that’s the point, you see. I made her.
None of it came naturally – the love, the attention, the doting, the fuss. It was forced. Forced behavior I was desperate would bring about the emotion … only it never did. It was all just an act. I loved Prudence. But I never loved her. Not like they do in the movies. Not like my friends who post things on social media. I never loved her like that. And I’ll never forgive myself because I should have known better. I did know better:
Dogs aren’t for me.
I don’t want someone who waits around all day for me to come home. I don’t want to be anyone’s pot at the end of the rainbow. I’m not that kind of girl. I don’t like affection. I don’t want attention. And that should be okay I guess – right? Aren’t I allowed to be honest? Aren’t I allowed to dislike dogs?
Again, I don’t hate them. It’s not like when I go over to my friend’s house, I hate being around her dog. Because that’s not the case. I’m okay with other people’s dogs because I’m not responsible for them. They aren’t looking to me for their happiness. They aren’t desperate for my affection. I don’t hate dogs, I just don’t like them that much.
So what’s the big deal? All sorts of people hate cats, and that seems to be acceptable. Why is that, by the way?
Why are people allowed to openly dislike cats but not dogs? Everywhere I look I see posts and videos and photos inspired by a deep hatred of cats. But not dogs. Never dogs!
Hatred of cats is not only accepted, it’s encouraged. People talk all the time about how much they hate cats. In fact, I’m willing to bet that there are just as many memes aimed at those who like cats as there are ones for those who dislike cats. Why is that?
I think it’s a rejection issue. Cats are finicky. They like who they like, hate who they hate, and they don’t care one bit what anyone thinks about it. Cats stick with their human caregivers for two and two reasons only: warmth and food. They don’t cry when you leave. They don’t beg for you to come home. They might love you, but they don’t need you.
People, though… people don’t like that. People need to be needed. They thrive on it. They like to be loved unconditionally. They are terrified of rejection. They like to feel as though they matter the most. They hate to be alone.
But not me. My favorite thing in the word is to come home to an empty house. It’s why I’m prone to break into ones that aren’t mine from time to time. I love the stillness. The peace. I love it when the silence is so thick it almost hurts your ears.
Don’t get me wrong. I love my family. No one makes me laugh harder than my husband, and time spent with my children makes me very, very happy. I don’t need them; I simply love them. I think that must be the difference.
Dogs? They prefer for you to need them — as much and as desperately as they need you. And generally speaking, people do, too. That is why dogs and humans make perfect mates… for the most part. As for me, I will just stick with my truth: Dogs aren’t for me.
Well, except for the one my seven-year-old has been begging for. That dog is probably going to be for me. But technically, the dog will belong to my son so it’s fine.
Sure, I will end up taking care of it. And I will spoil it and get it the best food and take it on the longest walks. But it won’t be my dog, so I won’t have to love it. I won’t be obligated to have that feeling.
Better yet — since it will be my son’s dog — there won’t be so much pressure. No one will be looking to me for constant validation that it’s the best creature on the planet. Or asking me for pictures. Or waiting for my doting reactions. No one will be expecting for me to love this dog.
So maybe. Just maybe…