We are allowed to recover from the trauma of a relationship with a sociopath. We are allowed to move on. In fact, if we don’t move on, if we don’t take our lives back, we are still in the trauma. It is healthy to put an end to it.
A reporter was writing an article and sent out a query: “How do you know when to trust “your man”? I believe the answer is you can trust your man (or woman) when you can trust yourself.
Of course, that is exactly what many of us who had multiple run-ins with sociopaths and other bad actors struggle with. How do we know that we’re no longer sending out the “I’m a victim” vibes?
I believe the answer is when we feel basically at peace. Work, friends, hobbies and kids are all good. We’re not lonely, empty or sad. All of this means that we are not looking for fulfillment from outside of ourselves. We are balanced and centered. This is the best place from which to start dating.
We get in trouble when we feel that we are not enough on our own, and we need another person in order for us to feel successful, validated or complete. It’s the desperation vibe, the neediness vibe, the incompleteness vibe, which attracts the predators. If we’re in a place where companionship would be a pleasant addition to our already reasonably okay lives, then we’re in a place where we can invite someone to join us.
This is really the biggest sign that we’re ready to move on. As we get ready to dip out toe into the dating pool, here are a few other tips to keep in mind.
1. Know the warning signs of sociopathic behavior in dating situations. Keep in mind, however, that you may not see these behaviors right away. Sociopaths can successfully put on an act for quite a long time.
2. If you ever see a behavior that makes you respond, “Huh? What was that about?,” pay attention. It may be a sign that the mask has slipped, just enough for you to catch a glimpse of what is really there.
3. Check the person out. It is now commonplace for people to Google potential partners right away, so don’t feel like you’re out of line by doing it. In fact, Google creatively. Check out the person’s name, employment, and any background information that he or she offers you.
4. Do not allow most of your relationship to be email, text or even phone. Experts estimate that 65% to 90% of the meaning in communication comes from nonverbal cues. With email, text and phone, these cues are missing, so we don’t get the full range of human communications. So what do we do? We fill in the gaps with what we want to believe. We fall in love with our own fantasies.
5. Avoid long-distance relationships. You want to be able to get together with this person easily, and, if it works out, frequently. You want to be able to meet friends and family, see his or her workplace, and spend time together in a variety of environments. If you can’t conveniently drive to get together, the relationship is probably a bad idea.
6. Do not throw away a perception. If some behavior or statement strikes you as odd or troublesome, do not let the person talk you out of it or explain it away. Do not let the person gaslight you into believing it never happened.
7. Consider what your friends and family say. If people are telling you that the guy or gal is bad news, they have a bad feeling, or any other negative feedback, at least listen. You may even have to solicit their opinions. Often people have reservations, but they don’t want to spoil your happiness, so they don’t say anything. Give people an opportunity to speak. However, if you have bad vibes, and your friends and family say you should give the person a chance, trust yourself.
8. Go slow.
9. Trust your instincts. We all have an internal warning system. If your stomach goes in knots, the hair on the back of your neck rises, or you feel fear, listen to yourself. Many of us felt the warnings before we became involved with sociopaths—the feeling that something wasn’t right—but we didn’t pay attention. Your body will tell you when someone should be avoided.
10. The first person you go out with may not be the love of your life, and that’s okay. Sometimes people come into our lives to help us continue to heal. You may have a few interim involvements before you find a person who has the potential to be a permanent partner.
It is possible to recover, to heal, to fall in love again. And I can tell you, the love I have with my husband now is richer and more fulfilling than anything I experienced before the sociopath.
There are plenty of good, empathetic and loving people out there. Don’t feel like you need to know how it will all turn out before you start. Let everything evolve, and pay attention to what you experience, and what you feel, all along the way.