If you’re like most people who read Lovefraud, you may know, or suspect, that the person who is creating havoc in your life is a sociopath. Whether the offending individual is a romantic partner, parent, another family member or a friend, he or she checks all, or most of, the boxes of the sociopath checklist.
You know the individual is bad for your emotional and psychological health, your wallet, and perhaps your safety. Still, you may struggle to break free.
Sometimes there are financial or legal issues that make it difficult to escape. But often the ties that bind are emotional.
Emotional bonds can be extremely powerful. This is understandable, because sociopaths are skilled at sinking their hooks deep into your head, heart and soul. Still, breaking the emotional ties will set you free. And if you can’t totally escape – if you share children, for instance – breaking the emotional bonds will make it easier to cope.
Here are 7 steps to emotional escape:
- Recognize that you are being used
Sociopaths live their lives by exploiting others. It’s critical for you to understand that no matter what the individual says, or how much he or she cries, the objective is to keep you dishing up his or her narcissistic supply. The supply could be money, food, sex, a place to live, a job —whatever. The sociopath may even just be enjoying the entertainment of pulling strings and watching you jump. In any event, this is not a relationship of give and take. It’s you give, and the sociopath takes.
- Understand that the sociopath never loved you
The core of the sociopath’s personality disorder is an inability to love. A key component of real love is caregiving — the motivation to take care of, support, and provide for the people you love. Sociopaths can’t do it. They are literally missing the ability to put the good and welfare of other people before their own. Yes, they can fake it sometimes, especially while they’re reeling you in. But any apparent actions to support you always have an ulterior motive. Despite the sociopath’s flowery language about true love, destiny and soul mates, he or she never truly loved you. It is impossible.
- Do not take it personally
You didn’t do anything to deserve terrible treatment at the hands of the sociopath. All people, to a sociopath, are objects to be used. Sociopaths are exploiters and manipulators, and nothing you could have done would have made any difference. You were simply a convenient target. If the sociopath didn’t do it to you, he or she would have done it to someone else. In fact, sooner or later, the next person who gets lured into the trap will also be abused.
- Give up hope
Hope is a virtue — except when you are dealing with a sociopath. Remember: Once a sociopath is an adult, there is no rehabilitation. There are no drugs or therapy that can turn a sociopath into a kind, loving and honorable person. No matter how much the person pleads, no matter how much the person promises to go to therapy or church, do not believe that he or she will fundamentally change. Oh, you may see some temporary improvement — sociopaths can keep their nasty behavior under control when they want to, long enough to draw you back in. But sooner or later, the exploitation and manipulation will return. In fact, it will probably become worse.
- Accept what happened
To break the emotional bonds, you need to admit — primarily to yourself — that the sociopath really did lie, cheat, steal, manipulate, abuse and assault. It was no accident. You did not imagine the bad behavior. No matter how much the sociopath tries to blame others, including you, everything that happened, did happen, and it was intentional.
Accepting what happened does not mean the sociopath’s behavior is acceptable — far from it. Acceptance means that you no longer make excuses. You open your eyes to the truth, no matter how painful.
- Decide that you are finished with the sociopath
You cannot wait for the sociopath to let you go. This person will never let you go as long as you are useful to him or her in some way. And you’d be amazed at what the sociopath considers to be useful — it could be that he or she just enjoys watching you squirm. Therefore, YOU must be the one to make the decision — your involvement is over.
- No Contact
The first five steps are about really seeing and accepting the truth of your situation: You are being abused and exploited, the sociopath knows exactly what he or she is doing, and it will never get better. In the sixth step, you are gearing up to make a change.
The seventh step — No Contact — is action. You cut the person out of your life. You do not see the sociopath in person, you do not talk on the phone, you do not respond to emails or text messages, you do not visit his or her Facebook page. If you are forced to have contact with the person — perhaps because you share children — any communication is strictly business, and you implement No Contact everywhere else.
No Contact is what enables the emotional ties to unwind and dissolve. The longer you stay away, the more the fog in your brain will clear, your heart will heal and your strength will return.
In fact, when you feel better, you may start to think that you can be “friends” with the sociopath. No, you can’t. If you allow yourself to have any communication with the person, he or she will latch onto you, you’ll feel the emotional ties again, and you’ll have to start the process all over.
No Contact is forever. And with that, you will be free.