Empaths sometimes email me regarding relationships they have with sociopaths. This is one of the most enlightened, self-aware accounts from an empath that I've ever received in one of these exchanges:
Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions. They were helpful.
As much as it hurt me to go through this situation with my ex, it was fascinating, too.
My ex takes pleasure in becoming what his "victim" wants him to be, then systematically breaking them down, showing them their own hypocricy, and punishing them by mastering their value system, twisting it, and using it as a weapon.
I have to admit, that is pretty damn cool (even though it felt horrible).
In my mind, I just sort of hope he crosses more deserving individuals, because, hindsight, I like to see him as part of a balanced system of karma. haha.
You mentioned in your response how it angers you when someone starts crying during an argument. And, after my relationship, I'm really able to see how socios view emotions as tools for manipulation; changing the playing field, like you said. I never saw it that way – but, I get it, and I don't think I'll ever view emotions the same way again, haha.
I guess, as much as my ex destroyed me, he kind of enlightened me, as well.
I am no longer with him. And, you implied that it probably wasn't worth the hassle. But, the strange part was really, it was worth the hassle. That's why I returned to him so many times. He made me feel so alive, so stirred emotionally, and so mentally alert, trying to anticipate his next move, that I think I regained a lot of passion. I was constantly re-evaluating his actions and my own, trying to make sense of things, that I left having a stronger grasp on my concepts of love, empathy, morals, and fears. I saw them all in a new light, and left making new decisions regarding them.
Ultimately, staying with him wasn't worth the long-term, high risk investment. He took up too much of my time. He was much too possessive, too dangerous, and too capable of brilliant manipulation. I was too reactive, unable to buffer the effect he had on me of emotional highs and lows, with objective practicality and understanding of his nature.
I couldn't focus on being ME, anymore. I had become his host; the provider of durability, consistency and foundation. And, the entire world that I was once a fully participating member of was collapsing under his weight and manipulation. The life that we had together was diametrically opposed to the life and loved ones I was leaving behind. There were no rules there and no guidelines. He wouldn't allow it.
Staying with him would've been the most selfish decision I'd ever made. And, although he subliminally encouraged me towards giving over to being with him, I knew I would lose everything... as well as my identity.
I was more in love with him than I've ever been with anyone. And, I know I will not likely feel that intense love again, adding much to both my despair and relief. He is really a beautiful destroyer..
But, to wrap things up: I knew that once it suited him, once he found a better, stronger, more beautiful host, he could and would toss me aside, unprepared and unable to recover.
I would've been left alone, a stranger to my family and friends, and the betrayer of everything I ever worked towards, loved, and believed in.