Sometimes we face a problem that has no easy answer.
There are moral implications or privacy concerns or some other factor that clouds the issue to the point where we feel like there’s no ‘right’ answer at all.
That was the issue facing Redditor and Original Poster (OP) Pause96 when he came to the “Am I the A**hole” (AITA) subReddit for judgment.
“AITA for wanting my daughter’s boyfriend/soon-to-be fiance to know her dark secret before marriage?”
OP got right to the root of the issue.
“I’m the dad of a 25 year old young woman who I love very much.”
“I’ve been able to have a good relationship with my daughter and I enjoy my time with her, but there’s one thing about her that would give many people pause – she is a diagnosed sociopath.”
He did give a background on her difficulties.
“She exhibited odd, disturbing behavior at a young age, and after a serious incident of abuse towards her younger sister, I realized she needed professional help.”
“Throughout her elementary years she struggled heavily, getting in lots of trouble in school for lying, cruelty and all other types of misbehavior.”
“With an enormous amount of therapy & support, her bad behavior was minimized as she grew older. She received an ASPD diagnosis at 18, and I had suspected it for long prior.”
“After her aggressive behavior was tamed, her following years were much more fruitful.”
OP took the time to explain how she has blossomed in the intervening time.
“She’s law-abiding; has a decent job and a good education; and has many good friendships and admirers.”
“Especially male admirers; she is very, very charming and adept at attracting guys and maintaining their interest.”
“She uses that old dating guide ‘The Rules’ like a Bible.”
“She currently has a boyfriend of about a year and a half who’s crazy about her, and who I have a very strong relationship with (we live in the same area and spend time together regularly).”
“He is a great guy, very kind, funny and intelligent.”
“But I doubt she loves him.”
“We’ve had some very honest, in-depth discussions about her mental health since her diagnosis, and she’s been open with me that she doesn’t feel love or empathy towards anyone, even family.”
“When she acted very sad and broken up over the death of one of her closest friends at the funeral, she confessed to me privately that it was all a put-on, and that she felt ‘pretty neutral’ about the whole thing.”
“She has also stated she has never once felt guilty about anything she’s ever done, and doesn’t know what guilt feels like.”
“While she enjoys being around her boyfriend and is sexually attracted to him, I highly doubt she feels much of anything towards him love-wise.”
“Her boyfriend (who might propose soon) has no idea about her diagnosis, and she’s been very upfront with me that she has no plans to ever tell him, thinking it’ll scare him away.”
“I’ve made it clear to her that she needs to tell him the truth before they marry; that he has the right to know and consider it, or I will; to which she always responds, ‘I know you wouldn’t dare’.”
“I actually would – I really like and respect this young man, and would feel awful keeping this ‘secret’ from him, and letting him walk into a marriage without this piece of knowledge.”
“I’m not trying to sabotage my daughter’s future.”
“Maybe her boyfriend’s love of her personality and other aspects is enough that it won’t end the relationship.”
OP did explain his rationale.
“It’s his decision to make; but he deserves all the facts. Someday he’s bound to find out she’s a bit ‘off’; it can’t be kept a secret forever.”
In the end, he was left to wonder.
Having explained the situation, OP turned to Reddit for judgment.
Redditors weighed in by declaring:
- NTA – Not The A**hole
- YTA – You’re The A**hole
- NAH – No A**holes Here
- ESH – Everyone Sucks Here
Redditors decided: NTA
Some saw this as a complex, morally gray situation.
“Goodness this is tough.”
“Put me down for NTA because I’d really want to know that info before marrying. That of course doesn’t mean you’re not at fault for ‘outting’ your daughter but IMO it’s for the greater good.” ~ PopCornJolly
“I have never read an AITA and not immediately known what was right until this post.”
“I feel for you. I’m going to go with NTA no matter what you do because your heart is obviously in the right place.” ~ VeronicaTeaches
“This is the type of dilemma this sub should be for, instead of the easy all agreeing not rocket science ones.”
“I guess if you were the young man, you’d probably want to know, peoples initial surface behaviour wears off & you’re left with the fundamental person, so no doubt he’ll eventually find out & seeing he’s close with the father, will probably feel betrayed he wasn’t enlightened.”
“If you were the young woman, you definitely wouldn’t want him to be told.”
“But, any marriage based on subterfuge can’t last, does she have a right not to tell him, it’s an awful one but she probably thinks yes, she obviously knows what the consequences could be, yet appears to only care about what will impact her.”
“The fact that she could destroy the relationship later & have him be hurt & waste years of his life don’t seem to have made an impression on her long-term thought process.”
“NTA, I feel for the guy, but he deserves to have all the information at his disposal to make an informed decision himself.” ~ SydneyPigdog
Others took a more inevitable view.
“Keeping secrets like this never works in the long run anyways.”
“Right now he’s enamored but how long can that last?”
“Surely the facade will slip over the years, and then they’re looking at a nasty divorce with potential children in the mix.” ~ lavernesmagpies
There were also safety and mental health concerns to be considered.
“And if she’s incapable of feeling empathy or concern, then she is, theoretically, capable of a lot of things in a divorce. Even in a marriage.”
“He deserves to know.” ~ OwlrageousJones
“I don’t know what type of mother she would be… imagine having a mom who is incapable of loving you.” ~ azteca_swirl
“Not only that, but you have to teach children emotional regulation and empathy.”
“I can imagine that it would be difficult to help a child learn how to deal with rage or sadness or loss if you’ve never really felt it yourself.”
“There’s only so much faking you can do of that sort of thing before the kids figure out that Mom is faking it, and if she does they should too.”
“It’s a great way to teach kids to manipulate those around them while bottling up their own genuine emotions and reactions.” ~ Lolanie
Some pointed out that emotion and morality are not the same thing.
“Just because a person is capable of something doesn’t mean a person will do something. I have ASPD. I’m just a normal guy. Have normal relationships.”
“If anything people with more emotions are likely to act less rational.”
“If I find out my SO is having an affair…It’s just ‘that sucks…pack your shit and get out’, no tears, no rage, just emptiness.”
“You are capable of murder just as much as I am.”
“The only difference is that I wouldn’t feel any remorse.”
“I’ll wager a guess that the reason you’ve never murdered anybody isn’t because you’d feel bad afterwards. We both have the same logical reasoning to not murder people.”
“Just because we don’t feel the full range of emotions doesn’t make us amoral people.”
“You probably have some sociopaths in your life and have no idea.” ~ DRYMakesMeWET
Some people shared personal stories.
“NTA but food for thought.”
“My husband is diagnosed sociopath (diagnosed in his late teens) and didn’t tell me until a few years after marriage.”
“I always knew something was off.”
“He’s very neutral in situations but like you described, he can ‘put on’ emotions when expected of him.”
“I just thought he was closed emotionally but could get better if he wanted with therapy.”
“His diagnosis eventually came out and I ended up questioning a lot of things.”
“I didn’t know if he actually loved me or was just faking it because he felt he had to.”
“I felt like I was trapped almost and it gave me some trust issues.”
“We have a son and I wonder if he loves him or is just charading that too.”
“My husband has recently switched therapy methods and I’m in a support group for spouses of aspd.”
“I understand he’s not a bad person and that this is out of his control.”
“I still love him for who he is, even if his emotions might be off.”
“I’m learning more about the diagnosis and what I can do to cope.”
“At the end of the day, I wish I knew this all ahead of time, before we got married.”
“I don’t know if it would have changed our future but I know that I would have felt more prepared to deal with it if someone would have told me.” ~ bootyscootcha
I do not envy the father in this case.
Mental health and discussions about it are still deeply stigmatized in our society even under the best of conditions.
But mental health, like physical health, is something we all eventually should deal with.
How needs to be a discussion and decision made with honesty, transparency and compassion.