By | May 23, 2012 381 Comments

12 steps of recovery from love fraud

Editor’s note: Lovefraud received the following email from a reader called “Adelade.” Her previous posts are “When life ain’t fair” and “This is the time for me to learn who I am.”

Having grown up in a dysfunctional alcoholic environment, I spent just about 35 years involved in one “program” or another, and I was able to strongly identify with my “inner child” after one particularly grueling session with my counseling therapist. I could clearly see how my emotional development had been abruptly arrested during my childhood, and that I had developed into an adult whose every decision and action had been based upon the need for acceptance, validation, appreciation, and approval. Fear of “dysapproval,” “dyslike,” and abandonment were, among other things, the driving force throughout my lifetime.

Last week, when the discussions were flowing from new LoveFraud readers to the long-timers, I saw in myself a step-by-step process of healing that directly reflected that philosophy of nearly all 12-Step Programs, from addictions to co-dependency. I mean, isn’t that pretty much how we all were duped? We were addicted to trusting someone else with our very lives?

So, long before I made the discovery about the exspath, I had begun teaching myself how to speak and think “truthfully.” Speaking “truthfully” translates into plain, honest, no-sugar-coating speech. If I learned how to speak the truth without malice, perhaps I wouldn’t be such an easy target for sociopaths.

I digress. Back to the spur-of-the-moment 12 Steps of Recovery from LoveFraud:

Step #1: We admit that we had involved ourselves with a sociopath and that our lives had become a living hell.

What I believe that this meant was recognizing the glaring Truth: whomever the sociopath that we are involved with might be, we can no longer ignore the absolute fact that we have been used, abused, damaged, and discarded. It is a fact. It is a Truth. And, it cannot be denied if we have found our way to

Step #2: Make the decision to sever our toxic relationship.

We have realized what we were associated with and we have made the choice to save ourselves, our finances, our sexuality, our system of beliefs, and our very souls. We have made the conscious, cognizant, and lifesaving decision to end the toxic association, for our own sakes.

Step #3: Admit to someone who “gets it” that we had been in a dire situation and need help.

Whether that “someone” is a counseling therapist, attorney, abuse hotline intake worker, or the “family” that we have on, we make the choice – the conscious decision – to reach out through our tears, our terror, our horror, our fears, and our despair and grasp the hands of Life. We need help – we need help – we need help because we do not have the tools and techniques to survive our experiences on our own.

Step #4: Recognize that we are a part of a Greater Universe.

When we are just beginning to survive our sociopath experiences, we tend to follow human nature and become quite self-absorbed. We believe that our experiences were the worst that could ever happen to anyone. Until, that is, we read stories like OxDrover’s, Witsend, Darwinsmom, Donna Andersen’s, and others. Yes, our pain is real, and the earth is still going to spin on her axis regardless of our agony. Whether we choose to place a “spiritual perspective” on this, or not, is strictly a personal choice.

Step #5: Agree to maintain NO CONTACT for the remainder of our lives.

Now, I realize that there are many of us who share custody with a sociopath and, for that reason, “No Contact” is a very difficult rule to self-impose. Well, for those of us who do NOT have children with a sociopath, stop trying to make sense. Stop trying to “talk” to them. Stop pretending that they’re speaking the truth. No river of tears, no impassioned pleas, no personal sacrifices, and no amount of money will ever “fix” what ails a sociopath. They will not care about your pain. They DO not care about your pain. And, they never HAVE cared about you. This Truth is a fact, and it is irrefutable.

Step #6: Make amends to all people that we had harmed, directly or indirectly, as a result of our sociopath entanglements, except when to do so would injure them, or others.

Yes, we were victimized. And, yes”¦.we never asked to be victimized. But, we must look beyond our own damages and recognize that our friends, family, and inner circle experienced collateral damage, as well. We’re not apologizing FOR the sociopath. We are apologizing that the sociopath exists. Do we use the word, “sociopath?” We’re not qualified, but we sure as hell can say that they “fit the profile OF a sociopath.”

Step #7: Recognize our own frailties, vulnerabilities, and boundary failures and made efforts to repair and forgive ourselves for our mistakes.

The topic of “forgiveness” is a volatile one. There seems to be no grey area – either you forgive and heal, or you don’t and you stagnate. I disagree with both views. Forgiveness of “Self” is a moral, ethical, and emotional imperative. We were targeted, lured, and hooked by an organism that feels no empathy or remorse for damages that they create. We are not at fault with the exception that we trusted such a thing. So, we must forgive ourselves, FIRST. All the rest will come as it does, or not.

Step #8: Engage in open, frank, and truthful discussions about our experiences, how we were affected, and how our issues affected others.

Speaking about what happened to us, how it happened, and how it affected our friends, family, coworkers, and the rest of our inner circles is a part of the healing process. We speak truthfully and openly, but we keep in mind that “other people” often “don’t get it” because they have not experienced it themselves, or they are in denial. And, we are not responsible for anyone else’s issues but our own. We speak using facts – my counselor provided me with a sanity-saving mantra: feelings are not facts.

Step #9: Make every human effort to educate ourselves and others about the healing processes of sociopath entanglements.

By “educating ourselves,” I mean that we memorize and ingrain the Red Flags, and the Yellow Flags of sociopath behavior. The mechanics, studies, and statistics are utterly meaningless with regard to the healing process. And, the steps of our healing processes are not bound by a specific timeline. We must experience our healing and speak of our positive steps even as we re-examine how we were duped.

Step # 10: Allow ourselves to experience the grieving process in a healthy, productive way.

There are stages of grieving, whether it’s grieving the loss of a loved one, kicking a substance addiction, or losing the illusion that a sociopath has fabricated. We must be willing to identify and experience those stages with courage and acceptance. It’s OKAY to be angry! It’s OKAY to be sad! It’s OKAY to feel despair! But, we have to grab ourselves by our shorthairs and drag ourselves forward – nothing within the human condition prepares us for the carnages of sociopath entanglements. It is OUR time, now – our time to heal, to realize our own potential, to realize our own value, and to take our place as advocates for ourselves.

Step #11: Remain accountable for our own actions and decisions.

We can look to our sociopath experiences and say, “This is what happened to me and why I lost everything that I ever had.” What we cannot truthfully say is, “Because I was victimized by a sociopath, I am going to make stupid choices, bad decisions, and harm other people in my anger.” We may not excuse bad behavior on bad behavior. If we are wrong, or we’ve harmed another person (deliberately, or unintentionally), we stand accountable. It is not a mortal sin to be human. It IS “sinful” to refuse to acknowledge our own humanity.

Step #12: Continue to maintain our boundaries, NO CONTACT, and support and encouragement for ourselves, and for others.

We do not alter our boundaries on a person-by-person-basis. Our boundary failures are what allowed the sociopath into our domain, in the first place, and we may be wiser, but we will likely be hyper-vulnerable – more so than the “average” person. NO CONTACT is non-negotiable, even in situations of shared custody. We do not speak to the sociopath unless it involves the immediate safety/security/well-being of the shared child. All others are non-entities – they do not exist – they are not among the living – they are, in essence, deceased. We encourage ourselves AND others regardless of what our own issues might be. Through support and encouragement of others who are unfortunate members of the Sociopath Survivor Club, we are healed as we assist others in their healing processes.

So, that’s what it is, I guess. For whatever reason, I ran down the list of 12 Steps to the best of my recollection and attempted to put a spin on them. In writing these out with their explanations, I’ve taken another centimeter forward on my healing path.

I thank Donna Andersen, OxDrover, Mel Carnegie, and each and every one of you on this site for helping me along. We’re all going to push through our experiences at our own speed. And, may you each find the most sincere blessings of comfort on your own healing paths.

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I really respect your approach to 12-steps! These are also similar to the 12-steps of SLAA: Sex/Love Addiction Anon.
I too have been in and out of 12 step programs for much of my adult life. I read somewhere that:
Beneath every addiction there is a codependent–somebody who (like myself), through no fault of our own, enabled the addict’s behavior. That’s what the program says.
What I think is a little different. Rather than focusing on the addict, this recovery is based on what I want in life. It is based on making choices now, rather than allowing a sociopath to make choices for me, which I used to allow.
One of the programs (for families of alcoholics) has the BEST brochure. It’s called “Detachment.”
It has helped me through many, many dark times. Both my parents died of alcoholism and other addictions. Everybody in my family is either an active addict or a codependent, like me.
If I can toss that term, codependent, which has become a rag-tag term at best, and just think: what do I want in this world? And, how can I detach myself–however I need to do that (but they say “with love”)—from people who cause me too much pain (sociopaths)–then, I might just have a good chance of living my own life, rather than having it lived for me. It’s taken me all my life to get just to this point, finally. Peace.


P.S. When I said beneath every addict is a codependent, what I meant was: every addict, when you peel-away all the levels of addiction–IS a codependent first. I believe that.
Addicts use substances, people and things (like work) to numb themselves and stave-off feelings. Sociopaths use people to do the same.
Codependents focus on addicts to avoid loving themselves.
This has been my own healing. To know this on every level, including spiritual. That’s a different onion!


I think the spiritual level that I’m talking about is like Step 12. “Having had a spiritual awakening…”


Dear Adelade. Thank you for the 12 steps. The analogy with addiction is spot on.

And THANK YOU for the “Feelings are not facts”!! That was what drove me crazy all these years. The feelings I got wrong and mixed it with the facts. A real big A-HA-Moment! Thank you!



This whole co-dependency thing is interesting. So the controlling alcoholic can actually be co-dependent? Sometimes this confuses me. Answers please?


Louise: A definition of co dependency:


Does anyone know how to stop hating yourself? I realize that I repeatedly allow myself to get into relationship/friendship with narcissists and it’s because I have loathed myself since before I was a teenager and I’m going to turn 40 this year. I feel like I am a failure at everything and it seems that no one can convince me otherwise. This is me acknowledging what my problem is and I don’t know how to fix it.


Elizabeth Bennett – sometimes we stop doing an action when we understand, and sometimes we understand when we stop doing the action. I would suggest nc with all the narcs and spaths in your life – including family, if need be. if you stop engaging with people who will hurt you/ hate you, that is self care. it’s an important tennent of self love.


I’m not too thrilled about Step Nine.

I want to live my life. I have other things I want to do. It’s not my job to rescue the human population from Ps.

Back From the Edge – I clicked on the link you provided. The description bothered me enough that I clicked on the “Talk.” A lot of people are not happy with the way co-dependency is described there. There are better places to learn about it.

Co-dependency is not a term officially used by AA or Al-Anon because it is a therapy term. Al-Anon talked about being a co-alcoholic at one point. Members might use “co-dependency,” because the term has become mainstream, but it did not originate with AA. Officially, therapy terms are greatly discouraged in Al-Anon and you will not find them in any of its Conference Approved Literature (CAL.) I assume that is the same for AA.

The reasons are

1. there is disagreement among professionals as to what the terms mean
2. most people do not have professional training with appropriately applying the terms
3. people unfamiliar with the terms may feel intimidated with a vocabulary outside of their reach
4. they may also not return because they feel excluded because others seems to know and they feel foolish asking, and
5. people impose their own definitions because they think they know what the tems mean, confusing matters even more.

To keep things simple and to be as meaningful to as many people as possible, therapy terms are not used.

Yes Liz, apparently the key is to stop comparing yourself to other people. That’s what Girardian Theory says. Its easier said than done because we do this naturally as human beings. It’s how we create our identity.

Like, I can say I’m average height –compared to other women in my country.

I can also say I’m fat –compared to all the skinny models in the magazines. But if I go to walmart…suddenly, I’m thin! lol!

Just about everything used to describe me is with respect to something else. We use references like that in order to put things in slots, create organization etc…

That’s a good thing when we’re young and our brains are chaotic, still forming. Once we get older, we need to have a solid identity that has nothing to do with comparison to others. We have our values (hopefully instilled by good parents and a good culture -HA!) and our identity is all about what’s important in our lives.

Some of us, raised by narcissists are a bit slower to figure out what’s important to us. We’re still looking around to see what makes OTHER people happy. If they’re happy they must have the SECRET to happiness, right?

So when we compare ourselves to others, we don’t go around looking for people with dour expressions on their faces. We look for people who seem to have that happiness. They attract our attention with their happy smiling faces. Then we proceed to compare ourselves to them. We can never measure up. We can never BE them. That makes us feel inadequate and unhappy with ourselves. If we hadn’t compared ourselves to them in the first place, we wouldn’t feel that way. The dissatisfaction begins when we first decide to look to others for a model to compare with.

What I’ve just described is what most people do for a period of time in their lives. Eventually we grow up, but in the mean time, we do have some sense of identity and some values.
Spaths don’t have any identity or values at all. Everytime they compare themselves to happy people, they feel envy and malice. They become envious because they are so completely empty and without any values or sense of being, that the comparison is devastating. I can see how it would seem unfair to them.

Spaths are a different animal altogether, but we can learn from them because they are so extreme in their disorder.

For the rest of us, I think that the book, The Happiness Trap, explains it pretty well. Decide on your values and choose to live each moment in accordance with them.


G1S – Codependence Anonymous (CODA) has existed as a 12 step group for years.


One/joy – there are MANY 12-Step groups that patterned themselves after AA, aren’t there?

Skylar, you hit the nail on the head about self-comparison and self-deprecation.


Yes, I know about CODA. It sprang up, I believe, directly as a result of Melody Beattie’s book, Co-Dependent No More, and is based, as far as I know, on her work. Therefore, it is considered coming from the field of therapy according to Al-Anon.

AA and Al-Anon are not associated with any other 12-Steps organizations, including CODA, although they have been used as patterns for them.


I am 7 months NC and my ex has only tried cyber-stalking me once. I am assuming he has moved on. My Mother, who has a friend who knows my ex, revealed to me over Mother’s Day that I was one of many women he had in his pocket and that the reason she told me was to get my ire up – just in case he comes back.

It has bothered me since then, that she is not telling me everything. But, I’m afraid to ask. I’ve been trying to recover from him since 2009 and have made some progress, but there is not a day that goes by that I don’t think of him. I’m very active and because of my job am out a lot. But, I have had one date in 3 years and he was an ego-maniacal jerk off. My job also puts me in a position where I am consistently being verbally abused by clients as well as candidates.

I realize that I sound like I’m whining, but I am ’empty’ and have so little reserves left. I have no support here and my friends are not really friends – just acquaintances.

I so want ‘out’, but am hanging in with the hope that some day God will shine his light on me and show me the way.


Shelby333, some people delight in spreading misery, especially when it involves the drama/trauma of sociopath entanglements.

What I’ve chosen to do is to clearly SET THAT BOUNDARY that I do not want to “know” about anything (or, anyONE) that the exspath is doing. I really don’t. What good does it do me to know anything about him?

That you’re working in a verbally abusive environment adds to the stress – it can actually trigger some post traumatic stress symptoms. Is it possible for you to transfer or seek for another position while you’re still working? Do you have access to counseling therapy? Sometimes, it just helps to talk to someone who does not have an agenda – that’s NOT to say that some counselors don’t have an agenda, but calling your health provider and asking for a list of counselors that are familiar with PSTD and domestic abuse will help a great deal. You can also contact your local domestic abuse hotline and ask them for referrals – many of the counselors that are recommended provide their services at no charge.

You’re not “empty.” You’re just overwhelmed. HUGS to you


Thank you Truthspeak. Yes, I am overwhelmed and am sitting here crying while I write this as I have no place to go. I have a therapist, who is familiar with my ex also. But, he has tried to help and calls me often, after all of this time, to see how I am doing.

I am a lone ranger at my job – so there is no possibility of changing my position. I’ve even tried to sell my home but the market won’t permit it. I even checked myself into a behavioral health hospital for a couple of weeks as an out-patient but that was a nightmare. The doctor was a nut-bag and would just sit there and stare at me without saying a word. I left there gladly.

To be honest, my ex is at the bottom of a long list of liars, cheaters and just really bad men. I feel like a failure to myself that I have completely wasted my life on men who have done nothing but steal from me, abuse me and then walk away to be with someone else.

But, it is what it is and I cannot change the past and very much want to change the future.


Shelby333, yes – you’re “feeling it” and it’s “normal.” Your feelings will change in due time. Takes a while, I know. HUGS

G1S, I don’t recall in Step #9 anything about being required to “rescue” anyone else – if I did say that, it’s a grave mistake and I apologize that you’re offended.


Oh gosh, I am not at all offended and actually did not interpret it that way. I am just grateful that you responded to me.

Thank you – it is nice to know that ‘someone’ is out there listening.


I wasn’t offended. I was simply saying that I wouldn’t be inclined to do that.

“Step #9: Make every human effort to educate ourselves and others about the healing processes of sociopath entanglements.”

“Make every human effort” – I’m not going to do that. I have other things I want to do with my life. I’m very glad to have the understanding so now I can do what I want with my life. The Ps have consumed way too much of my emotional energies. It’s time I got to live my life for me.

“educate ourselves and others” – why is it my responsibility to educate others? Especially expending “every human effort” to do so?

“about the healing processes of sociopath entanglements” – I don’t know what others need. It is not my place to presume that I do.

Collectively, the whole step sounds like rescuing to me.



That emptiness you feel is the slime he left behind. it coats the heart and keeps you from yourself. It creates a barrier between you and the goodness in the world. He has left you with a flavor of the feeling he will not own and feel. He has shamed you to the core. Left you with your own issues, AND his, to deal with. And every time you hear about him, or get somehow entangled again in his story it can deposit more slime and increase the feeling of emptiness and lack.

This woman may have been well-meaning, but she obviously doesn’t understand. You are in the place where this hearing creates more self-doubt and suffering.

You will have to find the strength to resist asking, or looking, or in any way wanting to know what he is up to. This is key if you want to reclaim your natural self. The one who can feel a wide range of things, think clearly, and meet life head-on. This means NO contact.

If you don’t have kids, RUN!

No contact: refusing any information, contact, or sideways involvement is the only way of combating the emptiness you are left to find your way out of.

I also had a very stressful job, with a highly subversive and rigid boss, when I was discarded. It made the whole experience even more exhausting, as I had no time to take a breath, lick my wounds, or find a sympathetic ear.

That is where the internet became my friend. I suggest, with love and experience, that you continue to come here. Tell your story. Read, read, read. Establish your sanity. Allow yourself to be supported, and educated. It WILL make a difference.

There is the possibility for immense healing and having a life that was better than you had previous to the Bad Man. I am like you…I had numerous horrible and life-sucking attractions to and from these types.

It can end. Stay with us, and learn.

Slim One



Thank-you for a really thoughtful article. I relate to all the steps, and have (finally) explored each of them. I never related them like this, in a 12-step model….but I like it A LOT!

Very validating. I am going to keep this in my archives.



G1S – it’s been many years…
CODA used the big book and all literature was 12 step. Melody Beattie’s work was not directly involved, nor were her writings part of the program.

You and I are not in the same country – so there may be regional differences.


I have to thank a dear friend of mine for introducing me to this website. He doesn’t know my husband and knows very little about why I left my him but I had shared a post on FB about traits of an abusive relationship. He commented and told me to check you out. WOW! That’s all I can say. I really thought I was alone. I mean, I knew I wasn’t really. I have a great support system with friends and family but I didn’t know such a site existed with real people dealing with the same problems.

I just recently learned about what a sociopath is. I married “the love of my life” in 07. Without giving details, I’m on here for a reason. It’s been a year now since I moved out(5/31/12 is 1 year exactly) and he still haunts me, taunts me, harasses and tries to continue to suck the life out of me, at work, at home, in any relationship I try to have with anyone – friend or date. Having 2 kids with him I always thought I had to have some sort of contact with him and had to be nice because of the kids. I no longer feel guilty about cutting him out of my life as much as I can. I just found this site tonight but 2 weeks ago I had told him I wouldn’t discuss anything with him if it didn’t involve the health, safety and well-being of our kids. To read those words on here, well, they made me cry joyous tears!! I had no idea there was such a thing as a 12-step program to recovery of this horrible situation. I really am going to be ok …. Anyway, just wanted to say thank you!

kim frederick

G1S and onejoy, I think CODA is a newer concept than alanon, inso far as it avails itself to anyone affected by any addiction…not just alcoholism, and yes, in that respect, it may be more closely aligned to a therapeutic approach, because it has only been in the last 40 years or so, that the idea that any compullsive behavior could be an addiction, and should be treated as an addiction has been accepted, and probably mostly in the feild of addictions counseling. The wife of a sex addict would never have known there was a solution to her problem, since her husband didn’t drink. Similarly, the mother of a gambler….and so on. Coda addresses all codependancy. And I’m so glad it does. 🙂



Welcome! You’ll find a lot of understanding and support here. Just knowing the scope of what these people are capable of doing will help reassure you that you’re not the crazy one.

AA was started in the mid 1930s. Al-Anon was founded in 1951.

The co-dependent movement came about in the mid to late 1980s.

Co-dependency does fit many circumstances.

We all have different paths to follow. I would never presume to know what somebody “needs.” I leave that up to them and their Higher Power, however they choose to name that.

kim frederick

G1S, the bottom line is the 12 steps. In my opinion, they are so accessable to anyone, with any problem. They are the same in AA, Alanon, Coda, SAA, LAA, LSAA, EA, OEA, GA, and how many other self help groups.
IMO, those 12 steps were divinely inspired. They are simple. straight forward, and provide a guide to living a more succesful life. One, that includes self awareness and a spiritual foundation. That, in itself, is huge for people plauged by any kind of addiction, even if the addiction is to someone elses addiction.

kim frederick

Oh and by the way, I’m all in for a discussion on the steps, and how to apply them, but I’m not big on re-writing them. It’s okay with me if you write your own 12 steps, but don’t reinterpret the cast in stone 12 steps of AA. Just my opinion. They work, just the way they are and there’s a reason for that. Not being critical. I just believe in the steps, and what they are designed to do. They do that.

kim frederick

Okay, let me explain. When I was so completely trauma bonded to my x crack head, that for seven years, I could not completely get over him, so that He always had a way back in, I began to apply the steps.
I think the only step I re-worked at all was step one. I admtted I was powerless over J and my addiction to him, and that my life was unmanagable. There are really two admissions here, One, powerlessness over J, and unmanagability…that unmanagability addresses my powerlessnes over me….an addiction. The rest of the steps I left alone.


Hi Louise, and all the healthy voices here!

For me, getting into the definition of “codependency” is tricky–very tricky. As well, the Twelve steps (of whatever it is) too, esp. when some of the various groups I’ve attended over the years have been–well, sometimes worse than the “addiction” or “addict,” for me personally.

Here’s my take for whatever it’s worth to others. I say this bc it’s true that we all find our own truths on our own time.

Codependency, first. The term was further cheapened by many the Codependency Self-help books, which always make the “cure” sound easier than it actually is. But, for me, codependency is about the Self–both the Self of the addict or sociopath (or other “personality disorders”).

And, it is also about the Self when it comes to the person–as I surely was (and still struggle with now)–who falls for the addict or socipath, AND for the addict/and or/sociopath.

Beneath every addict/sociopath and co-addict is codependency. I read that somewhere, I think, but it seems true enough to me. If you peel-away all the layers of ego (charm, lies, manipulation, narcissism, etc.), you’ll find codependency at the core of the Self.

It is the inability to: face painful feelings, then self-reflect and move forward. Instead, we get caught in the shame. The addict/sociopath numbs pain by acting-out; whereas, the codependent acts-in, against the self.

And, instead, we view the painful situation as a reflection of ourselves, of our own shame or failures, bc we should’ve seen it coming, instead of seeing it for what it is: their problem.
Our only problem is focusing on ourselves and some sort of transcendence or spiritual leap-of-faith. I believe it has to be experienced–not known intellectually.

It is the only way through the safe passage we all travel in this life: one the one side of the codependent passage , with addicts/sociopaths acting-out with emotional betrayal and blackmail, “because of what happened to them.”
On the other side of the codependent passage, are those who act-in against themselves. They are those who’ve been betrayed and blackmailed (myself included) and react in shame.
Then, there are those of us who–like many of us here–make it through that passage of grief and despair, without destroying themselves or others.

I take a leap-of-faith in myself first, now, more times than not; and then, after observing others’ behaviors (not words!), I try to make choices about people, instead of allowing myself to be “chosen.” (by a user)

I thank all of you from my heart for such an engaging conversation. Jeez, it’s nearly 1:00 am in my part of the world, and I’m still reading your posts!


P.S. (as per usual), I honor the twelve steps, as written, because there is a sublime reason for how the steps work. That’s just me.
The individual groups may or may not be “dysfunctional” or “healthy;” but, the 12 steps are the raison d’ etre for it all.
There is a reason why Step 12 is about a spiritual way to live, in the leap-of-faith. It goes more deeply than, say, Step 3–another leap-of-faith–but not quite as certain:

“we CAME to believe…” (Step 3) vs. “we CONTINUED TO BELIEVE… AND TO PRACTICE…” (Step 12).


Like I said, I came up with these “steps” on the spur-of-the-moment and as an utter lark – a previous discussion was moving into 12-Step recovery, addictions, etc… seemed apropos and I wasn’t attempting to fix something that I felt was broken! 😀

Good to see strong discussion on recovery from our entanglements.

Brightest blessings


Frontporchtalker: excellent definition of co dependency.
Thanks for that.

Yes, we need to focus inward, upon ourselves.
We need to devote more attention to ourselves than to “IT”.
Absolutely. Definitely. No matter what the scenarios may be.

Great discussion you all. Thank you…



Slim One – I’ve read and re-read your note yesterday to me and you have hit it right on. It has been a very difficult road and I do feel terrible. Plus, not being able to find anyone to take his place has also been hard to deal with. I feel like a pariah – that everyone I come in contact with can see through my weakness.

I want the pain to end. I will keep coming back here as it gives me strength and hope to keep going.

Thanks for your insight and encouragement.



You are WELCOME. It’s why we are all here. To be healed, and to assist each other in healing.

The really good news is the pain CAN end. It takes commitment, and willingness. Read Kathleen Hawk’s articles about the healing process. Keep ranting and raving and asking and sharing and reading here (as much as you are comfortable).

You may get triggered here, sometime. Or angered. It’s OK. This site can propel you into such rapid adjustments, it can be a bit dizzying.

Remember, too, it is a BIG site, with lots of posters. Feeling a bit overwhelmed is also normal. I didn’t, and sometimes still don’t, post a lot, because I simply feel I cannot ‘keep up’.

But I read, and I still learn.

Slim One

Kurtzie3 – Welcome – you are certainly not alone – many people here know exactly what you’re going through. And yes, cutting him out of your life as best you can is absolutely the right thing to do.


Hi Kim,
much newer – and thank god it exists.

We followed a strict 12 step path, so I would never equate CODA with a ‘therapeutic approach,’ regardless of the fact that it encompassed more strains of relational dysfunction, not just alcoholism. The term and contemporary writings about ‘codependency’ may show up in the 80’s, but in my experience the same concept is in alanon. I never really ‘fit’ at alanon because there was no destructive drinking in my house, but my mom was the daughter of a violent alcoholic, and she had her own pink elephant – so I was thankful for alanon, and even more so for CODA. Most of all for ACOA and OA. I have a long line of acronyms in my life. 🙂


It is my understanding that Bill W., the founder of AA, had a mystical experience regarding its founding.

I got the information from somebody in AA. I never read about it directly so what I have might not entirely accurate, but the gist of it was a spiritual being (an angel?) walked through the wall of wherever he was and told him to start the program.

Ox Drover

Dear Adelade,

I’m behind in my reading on LF and just now catching up, but I wanted to thank you for posting this important information as an article. The “12 steps” is a great way to look at it in our recovery!

We must take those steps and keep on stepping them!

Thanks for sharing this!

Ox Drover

I just read some of the responses to the article and I see some great discussion going on here and some new people.

Welcome to those just out of the fray…and into the healing process.

G1S while I agree with you that it is NOT my responsibility to educate everyone in the world about psychopaths…I also think that it is my responsibility to reach out a healing spirit and hand, as Donna Andersen has done here by forming Love Fraud to others who are also suffering. As Bill did in forming AA….and as Jesus said “when you do it unto these, you do it unto me” I think those of us who have suffered and learned can reach out to others who are currently suffering I think we are “paying it forward” as the current phrase is.

YOU DO IT! When you are here giving some of your good advice to others, when you welcome people to LoveFraud.

And yes, we do need to have other aspects in our lives, a healthy balance of giving and receiving.


GIS, Slim,

I think the 12 steps are great – they DO shift the focus from the SPATH to our healing instead.

I was wondering at dinner tonight….I have broken up with boyfriends in the past. Why is it so flipping hard with a spath? Why is there so MUCH pain, beyond normal relationship ending pain?




AA and Al-Anon believe in “attraction not promotion.” If somebody asks, they are more than willing to explain, but they don’t expend “every human effort” to help others.

My objection/concern is with “every human effort.”

That creates an obligation and an imbalance in a person’s life. It takes away free will. It does not address the ever-changing demands in a person’s life. Bottom line – it isn’t emotionally healthy. We need balance, as you noted.

Please understand that while AA and Al-Anon have been admired and borrowed from by many, they are committed to their purpose-meaning, they let go and let others do as they please. They do not tell others what they must do.

Please do not take what I say about Al-Anon as applying anywhere else than Al-Anon.

Al-Anon fully understands the need for the help that it offers to be available to others and does a lot to let people know what is available, but it draws a firm line between attraction and promotion.

The Al-Anon Declaration, which is quoted often in regular and service meetings, is:

Let It Begin With Me
When anyone, anywhere, reaches out for help,
let the hand of Al”‘Anon and Alateen
always be there, and”“Let It Begin With Me.

I know I do it. I do it every chance that I get because that’s me. I live and abide by two principles,

1.) To whom much is given, much is expected, and
2.) what you do to the least of my children, you do to me.

I do not post or write for my ego. I give back-always.

Ox Drover


Didn’t mean to offend if I did…I realize that AA and Alanon have done an amazing amount of good for an untold number of folks, but I think this article is a bit tongue in cheek, not intended to be entirely taken as a “gospel” per se.

While I think there may be some hyperbole in it, at the same time, it is by reaching out to others, both through attraction and promotion, by whatever means actually, that we can help others.

By making ourselves an EXAMPLE is a great way to teach, though we all fall down on being that example (my hand waving wildly here!) from time to time. Sharing our stories in the appropriate setting ONLY is another great way to help others.

Liane and Donna sharing their stories here made me realize I am, and was not, ALONE…and just that thing made me weep and weep in relief that summer of chaos.

Your story, and Donnas, and Lianes, and the MANY MANY OTHERS here that share their innermost guts have shown me that by reaching out we also heal ourselves.

I’ve come a long way since that summer five long years ago, in fact, about this time 5 years ago I was buying an RV that I thought I might have to live in for years or maybe the rest of my life, in hiding, and I was sneaking out of my home one car load at a time….leaving my preciious dogs here vulnerable to the Trojan Horse because I knew when they were gone, he would KNOW I was gone too. Fortunately I got them out before he realized what I was up to. (even though that summer I lost 2 of the dogs and my horse to accidents, murder, and old age)

As l ong as I live I will never forget the relief I felt, sitting there typing into my computer and finding Love Fraud (after a misstep into a false “support group” owned and run by Sam Vaknin as a pretext to sell his book.) Between the psychopaths and Vaknin’s abuse on the “support group” I was a “basket case” (read: Crazy as a sheet house rat!–that’s a technical term! LOL)

I’m so glad that you are here with the AA aspect just because it IS so helpful to many people for any kind of dysfunction/addiction. Thank you for sharing!



I have asked that exact same question a hundred times…why is this one so hard?


“callmeathena says:

GIS, Slim,

I think the 12 steps are great ”“ they DO shift the focus from the SPATH to our healing instead.

I was wondering at dinner tonight”.I have broken up with boyfriends in the past. Why is it so flipping hard with a spath? Why is there so MUCH pain, beyond normal relationship ending pain?

I think it’s because they played their con so well on us that it ingrained itself inside of our conscious and they made us feel and question ourselves: “Should we really just walk away?” They play on our sense of sympathy and compassion as well as affection for them. It always leaves us wondering and that’s the enigma of spaths: the lasting ‘time bomb’ they leave in their wake. The psychological and emotional abuse runs deep within us because we are so compassionate and that same compassion made us PERFECT TARGETS.

We always are questioning ourselves: “Did I push away the love of my life? Did I miss something? Should I go back? What if I am wrong.” Because that is OUR BELIEF, that when we commit to someone, we do so with honor and dignity, respect and kindness but they don’t know these things….But the whole time we all know that staying in that is only more abuse and torment. They will never be the nice people we had hoped, in the beginning, that they were. In the beginning, we were fooled.

You remember that nice person, in the beginning…LIES; all of it. All manufactured to get from us whatever they WANTED with no remorse nor conscious. Sometimes it’s just the control; sometimes financially; sometimes sexually…whatever their reason, they had a definite agenda for us, although we might not ever come to figure out exactly what it was.

They preyed upon our emotions and our sense of value and purpose and dignity. To make us small makes them feel large. They feed upon that like meat eaters in the wild. They get some sick sense of fulfillment within themselves when they damage others. It makes them feel powerful and omnipotent.

The solution? REMEMBER WHO WE ARE and WHAT WE VALUE. Remember and hang onto the important things. Set boundaries and maintain them without question. We are not meant, I do not believe, to sacrifice ourselves for our conscious. At least not in this instance, when someone is truly wishing you ill well and/or giving you ill well by their cruelty. When cruelty presents itself and we know it is cruelty, the best thing to do is to get away from it and don’t walk: RUN….and be thankful you were able to escape. We need to strongly shift the focus from them onto ourselves. Investing in ourselves is never an unworthy cause. So easy to say and so easy to see but so very hard to do….I know. We have all been damaged by our experiences. The only hope we have of having any kind of a normal life, is to find our way back to US.



Yes oh yes I so identify Dupey. How many times I’ve got myself tid up in knots trying to “understand” why it did what it did or am I doing the right thing here?

“….it always leaves us wondering and that’s the enigma of spaths.”

Amen to that sister. I’m getting closer to simply accepting he was bad

However its so so hard to “draw a line under it”

Ive nearly driven myself crazy in a bid to understand it.

I love the analogy to the AA 12 step programme. Anything that keeps me from slipping back to the spath is of value in my quest to remain focused and alert.

I especially agree with the poster who said they only ever got as far as number 1.

My biggest problem? Admitting to myself that this “person” was toxic. End of



((strongawoman)) Nice to read you my Sister…

I have accepted “IT” was bad, because IT IS bad. Worse than bad; more like evil and I am not over exaggerating.

It is only difficult to draw a line under it until you stop over looking the REAL TRUTHS of the matter and start remembering the really ugly parts that you have put out of your mind.

Yes, the analogy to the 12 step program is very good. Kind of hard to grab onto in such a messed up psychological state as I have been in since my heart attack.

No, strongawoman, don’t ever slip back into the grasp of that horrid person. You are worth so much more.

Yes, admitting they are toxic is the hardest part. I know we loved them at one time but that person we thought we loved doesn’t exist anymore and we must be careful not to fall into it any longer.

End of … ?? Did you forget something???

Love to you and Yorkshire from Southern California…



Haha, “end of” is just a way of saying full stop, and so it ends etc.

Sorry, it’s my Yorkshire colloquialisms!!

Happy day to you Dupey doo …. Big hug xx


strongawoman: full skid.

love the Yorkshire colloquialisms!!
i think in my last life i was from Yorkshire…

Happy day to you Lovey…let’s see what this one brings.
Appreciate your friendship, love and support, A LOT.


sea storm

Thankyou for the 12 steps to rec overy from a psychopath.

I floundered in shame and humiliation for years after my partner defrauded me of over a hundred thousand dollars and left me saddle with a huge mortgage at the age of 60. Oh yes, he went off with a rich woman he was lying to on the Internet. Nevertheless, I was bonded mentally, sexually, spiritually, emotionally to this man. This was unfortunate and I suffered horribly.

Living in a small town there were few resources for healing from this particular abuse. I think it is quite specific and requires that the therapist understands the dynamics of psychopaths and severe trauma. I started to go to Al anon and found that the answer to healing was in me rather than in finding any justice or mercy in the external world. Later I attended AA and the steps there helped me more than anything else had. I could go every day if I needed to. I felt like someone who had been in a religious commune who needed to be deprogrammed from devotion and misplaced loyalty.
The shift in my feelings and behaviour was significant. I am very thankful for that group.
Giving things over to a higher power and admitting that I was powerless to change the situation was health-giving.

Now I work on making amends to my child who also lived through the chaos of my years with the psychopath. I have to face that she is trauma bonded with him and is contemptuous of my “victim” stance. Gradually, she sees me emerge as a happy person with feelings and interests and she can finally trust me to be there for her. I was consumed by my relationship with the psychopath.
I deeply regret my ignorance of the dynamics of such a relationship and my denial of the damage it did to those who loved and needed me.

It is five years since he left. He has not contacted me but I have called him occasionally. I think he finds this flattering to his ego because he knew how hard I took it. I am no contact now. And I don’t ask how he is doing. Occasionally, I look on his facebook and see his latest new ladyfriends. He has lots of them. Thank goodness I am not on his trapline anymore.

Now I compulsively read the postings here and cling to the people and stories here as a lifeline into my new life.

Thankyou for being here and as they say in AA and here’s to another twenty four hours of sobriety ( keeping away from the psychopath).


Ox Drover

Dear Sea Storm,

WELCOME! Glad that you have found the healing path and that it is NOT in understanding them…it starts out about them, but ends up being about US. So wise and so hard to come to that understanding.

I’ve been here at LF since the summer of 2007–so that is coming up very shortly on 5 years. There are a couple of others who post here who have been here as long, and a few longer.

I am still progressing in my healing…learn something new every day and realizing that HEALING IS A JOURNEY, NOT A DESTINATION has been my salvation. In the past when I tangled with a psychopath (and lost!) I thought at some point I was “healed” when all I was was heal-ING but then I got back into another bad situation. It was only when I learned that the healing is about ME, about learning to set boundaries, that I then made progress to make myself SAFE from them and to put my life togewther in a way that was good and healthy for me.

We can’t ever get justice from them….not truly. Not even if they go to prison, the damage is done. The only way is for us to heal, find peace and live a good life PSYCHOPATH FREE!

Again, welcome. Glad ot know you are making progress.

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