UPDATED FOR 2020: We discover that our romantic partner is a complete and utter fake, and we wonder how in the world we could ever fall for a con artist.
The proclamations of love, the stories of his or her past — nothing was true. All the money that our partner desperately needed — or promised would buy a life of luxury for the two of us — well, that evaporated into expensive and unnecessary toys, or a secret life with one or more other lovers (targets).
When it finally sinks in that we’ve been conned, the first question we ask of ourselves is, “How could I have been so stupid?”
Followed by, “Why didn’t I see this coming?”
Feeling like chumps, we come down really hard on ourselves. But we aren’t the only ones who are blind to the social predators living among us — our entire society is blind.
The fact that millions of sociopaths live among us is like a giant skeleton in the closet of the human race that nobody wants to talk about. This sets us up to be victimized. It’s one of the reasons why we fall for a con artist.
Sociopathic con artists take advantage of this collective and individual blindness. With the skill that comes from practicing their craft from a very young age, they manipulate our empathy and emotions. They use us to accomplish their objectives du jour, whatever they may be.
So here’s why we fall for a con artist:
Reason #1 – We don’t know sociopaths exist
Most people think sociopaths are all criminals and deranged serial killers — this isn’t necessarily true. Social predators live among us, and most of them never kill anyone. Still, these people have no heart, no conscience and no remorse.
The numbers are staggering. Lovefraud uses the term “sociopath” to cover all social predators people who would be clinically diagnosed as being antisocial, psychopathic, narcissistic or borderline. If you add up the official estimates of people with these conditions, perhaps 12% of the population — 37 million people in the US — have personality disorders that make them unsuitable to be romantic partners.
And we, as a society, don’t know it.
Reason #2 – We believe people are basically the same
In the United States, from the time we are small children, we are bombarded with messages about fairness, equal opportunity, giving people a chance and tolerance. In school, we learn that we’re all created equal. In church, we learn that we’re all God’s children.
As a result, we believe all people are basically the same, there is good in everyone, and everyone just wants to be loved. Unfortunately, there is a segment of the population for which this simply is not true.
Sociopaths view the world as predators and prey — they are the predators, and everyone else is prey. They are not motivated by love; they are motivated by power and control. These people pursue romantic relationships not for love, but for exploitation.
Reason #3 — Humans are lousy lie detectors
Research shows that people can identify a lie only 53% of the time — not much better than flipping a coin.
All those signs that are supposedly giveaways that someone is lying — like looking away, failing to make eye contact — well, they simply don’t apply when a sociopath is doing the lying.
Sociopaths are expert liars. They spend their whole lives lying. They feel entitled to lie. They lie for the fun of it. In fact, there’s a phenomenon called “duping delight” — sociopaths get a thrill out of staring right into their targets’ eyes and pulling the wool over them.
People who are not liars never see it coming.
Reason #4 – Sociopaths hijack the normal human bonding process
Trust is the glue that holds society together. Trust is so important to the human race that it is programmed into our biology.
A hormone called oxytocin is released in our brain and bloodstream whenever we feel intimacy — emotional or physical. Oxytocin then makes us feel calm, trusting and content, and alleviates fear and anxiety. Nature created this process to make people want to stay together to raise children.
When sociopaths target us for romantic relationships, they either spend a lot of time building what seems to be trust, or they rush us into emotional, physical or sexual intimacy. Either way, they get the oxytocin flowing in our brains and bloodstream, which makes us trust them. They keep piling on the intimacy, and we, to our detriment, keep trusting.
For more information, read Oxytocin, trust and why we fall for psychopaths, on Lovefraud.com.
Reason #5 — The betrayal bond makes it difficult to escape
Once the love bond is in place, the sociopath does things that create fear and anxiety in us — like cheating on us, or taking more and more money.
Contrary to what we might expect, instead of driving us away, this actually makes the bond we feel with the sociopath stronger. It becomes a betrayal bond — a powerful bond that we feel with someone who is destructive to us.
We want desperately to return to the heady experience of the beginning of our involvement, which was filled with what we believed was love and affection. We keep waiting for the sociopath to make the situation right.
But he or she never does. The exploitation continues.
Betrayal bonds are highly addictive and difficult to break. That’s why we stay in the relationship far longer than we should — until we can no longer escape the fact that we’ve been conned.
Now, when we ask ourselves why we fall for a con artist, we should cut ourselves some slack. It’s actually pretty easy.