What the sociopath is about to say is not something he would ever say or admit (to you), because to do so would end the winner-takes-all-game that is his main source of pleasure in life — one that effectively keeps you carrying his load in the relationship. And that’s the whole point.
When the sociopath says “I love you”, he means that he loves how hard you work to make him feel like your everything, that he is the focus of your life, that you want him to be happy, and that he will never be expected to do the same.
He loves the power of taking advantage of your kindness and intentions to be nice, and the pleasure he derives when he makes himself feel huge in comparison to you, taking every opportunity to make you feel small and insignificant.
He loves the feeling it gives him thinking of you as weak, vulnerable, emotionally fluffy, and he loves looking down on you for your childlike innocence and gullibility, as weakness.
He loves the way he feels knowing that, through the use of gas lighting, what you want to discuss or address will never happen, and he loves this “power” to train you to feel “crazy” for even asking or bringing up issues that don’t interest him, effectively, ever lowering your expectations of him and what he is capable of giving you.
He loves how easy it is to keep your sole focus on alleviating his pleasure, and that, regardless what you do, you’ll never make him feel good enough, loved enough, respected enough, appreciated enough, and so on.
He loves the power he has to keep you working hard to prove your love and devotion, wondering what else you need to do to “prove” your loyalty.
He loves that you are there to blame whenever he feels “neediness”; feeling scorn for you seems to protect him from something he hates to admit, that he feels totally dependent on you to “feed” his sense of superiority and entitlement, and to keep his illusion of power alive in his mind.
It makes him light up with pleasure that he can easily get you flustered, make you act “crazy” over not getting what you want from him, make you repeat yourself, and say and do things that you’ll later hate yourself for (because your niceness!). Everything you say, all the hurts you share and disclose, you can be sure; he will taunt you with later, to keep you ever-spinning your wheels, ever explaining yourself to him, ever-confused.
He loves that he can make you feel insecure at the drop of a hat, especially by giving attention to other women, taunting and making you beg for what he easily gives to others.
He loves the power he has to get you back, by throwing a few crumbs your way when you say or threaten to leave, then to watch how quickly you return when he turns on the charm, deceiving you into thinking, this time, he will change.
“I love you” means that he loves fixing and shaping your thoughts and beliefs, being in control of your mind, so that you think of him as your miracle and saviour, your source of life and sustenance, so that you keep bouncing back to him, like gravity, no matter how high you try to jump or fly away.
He loves that you make him feel like a god, focused on making him feel worshiped and adored, sacrificing everything for him, seeking to please none other, and inherently, with sole rights to administer rewards and punishments as he pleases.
He loves how he can use his power to keep you down, doubting and second-guessing yourself, questioning your sanity, obsessed with explaining yourself to him (and others), professing your loyalty, wondering what’s wrong with you (instead of realizing that you cannot make someone who derives a sense of power and pleasure from feeling scorn for others and you!).
“I love you” means he loves the way he feels when he sees himself through your eyes, that you’re his feel-good drug, his dedicated audience, his biggest fan and admirer. You, and in particular, you looking up to him, unquestionably, as your never-erring, omniscient, omnipotent source of decision-making is his drug of choice.
And he loves that, no matter how hard you beg and plead for his love and admiration, to feel valued in return, it won’t happen, as long as he is in control. Why would he let it, when he is hooked on deriving pleasure from depriving you of anything that would be wind beneath your wings, risking you’d fly away from him? It gives him great pleasure to not give you what you yearn for, the tenderness you need and want.
He loves how he skilfully manipulate others’ opinions of you as well, getting them to side with him as the “good” guy, and side against you as the “bad” guy, portraying you as needy, never satisfied, always complaining, selfish and controlling, and the like.
He loves how easy it is for him to say “No!” to what may provide you a sense of value and significance in relation to him, with endless excuses, and that he instead keeps your focus on his needs and wants, his discomforts or pain.
He loves feeling that he owns your thoughts, your ambitions, and ensuring your wants and needs are solely focused on not upsetting him, keeping him happy.
He loves being a drug of choice you “have to” have, regardless of how he mistreats you, despite all the signs that your addiction to him is draining the energy from your life, that you are at risk of losing more and more of what you most value, and hold dear, to include the people you love, and those who love and support you.
He loves that he can isolate you from others who may nourish you, and break the spell, and he loves making you mistrust them, so that you conclude no one else really wants to put up with you, but just him.
He loves that he can make you feel that he is doing you a favor by being with you and throwing crumbs your way. Like a vacuum, the emptiness inside him is in constant need of sucking the life and breath and vitality you bring to his life.
While he hates you and his addiction to your caring attention, his neediness keeps him craving to see himself forgiven, when he is caught make excuses.
In short, when he says “I love you,” he loves the power he has to remain a mystery that you will never solve because of what you do not know (and refuse to believe), that: the only one who can win this zero-sum-winner-takes-all game is the one who knows “the rules.” His sense of power rests on ensuring you never succeed at persuading him to join you in creating a mutually-kind relationship.