A holiday story for the 20-40 crowd

This week we received a letter from a concerned mother of a young adult. In anticipation of the winter holidays I put it up (with some editing) and ask all of you who are struggling with leaving a sociopath to leave now out of respect for your parents and other family members who love you. If you are thinking of going back consider this story and your own family.

A mother’s story

It was whirlwind intense romance, she dropped out of (school) to be with him. There is a huge physical attraction. He has had a very dysfunctional childhood, from a very successful family, has been on the streets since (his teens) (in and out of foster care), has been in prison for assault with a knife, has no friends, no connection at all with family, extended family or family friends…He is (considerably) older than our daughter, has been ‘everywhere’, done ‘everything’, knows ‘everything’, and lives what he calls a free life out of society. He has huge debts from fines and unpaid bills – $80,000 or so.

He lives under the radar, he is a violent drunk, he enrolls in courses just to get the fees then drops out, he gets a job for a few weeks then argues with someone and looses it – he knows best. He has very high and mighty ideals and dreams, expensive taste, is very charming, can talk and talk and talk, he doesn’t listen, he lectures, he is very bright and articulate.

He is engaging and charming. He lies, and avails himself of others generosity – my husband calls him a parasite (he can’t even buy a coffee), he has stolen from us and lived off us with no guilt (he put things on our credit card and didn’t even tell us and when my daughter informed us – she was so ashamed – he just shrugged), he throws her out, he abuses her, he calls her names, and he pulls her down.

When she applies for something he tells her she will not be accepted, when with him she dedicates her life to him, she joins nothing – no choirs, no music, no classes – nothing. He takes drugs. He really affects her self esteem.

He is manipulative, controlling, abusive, lies and has very, very grandiose schemes and plans – and she believes them. He is untouchable. She knows all this, she knows he is destructive but she loves him. She adores him. We have been on a roller coaster for two years, fixing, healing, rescuing, helping.

At first we thought we would try, so we welcomed him into the family, but it is very hard, he is so controlling, know it all and abusive. He can never leave unless we pay gas, our daughter has bought two cars and he has wrecked, swapped or abandoned both. We have gone to the ends of the earth for her. He throws he out, and we bring her home and she wails and cries with so much pain, at the loss of him.

It is horrific. It goes on for months. He wants to marry her! Our daughter is one of the brightest children in the country, she is astonishing, but she throws it all away for him. And she has lost her friends, they can’t abide him. She doesn’t follow any of her usual interests, singing, drama, piano, dance or study.

He is everything. When he throws her out, she wails to me how it is all her fault, if only she had tried harder, given more etc. She is constantly finding excuses for his bizarre behavior, and errors. There is always a reason and she swallows it.

She tells me that we don’t see what she sees. She understands why we and her friends don’t like him, but she says if we could understand him like she does that we would see a hurt small child, that he is so vulnerable. She loves him more than anything. We are a very warm, non punitive caring family, very tight. But this has destroyed us. My husband and I have ended up fighting, as we can’t cope with this person in our lives. So much drama. He has thrown our daughter out 3 times now, and each time she goes back. She lasts about 3 months. This very last time, she lasted longer about 5 months. He threw her out last spring and since being home she has earned enough to buy transportation…. the first thing she did was drive many hours to meet up with him. We were so horrified that we decided that is it, no more. So now she is estranged from her family, we feel used and abused. She is now living with him (but they do not have stable housing)”¦

We always helped. But no more. She is addicted to him, addicted to the danger and the drama. There has been a very nice young man here most of the time she has been home this year – he adores her – she really likes him and loves him like a brother – but she told me he is too nice, not dangerous enough, too tame.

This has destroyed our loving family, Christmas is coming and we just can’t even think about it – any dreams of family holidays or events, dinners and celebrations have all been on hold for two years. Ours is now a sad household… I cry a lot and rage at empty spaces, I am now trying to reestablish my life, a new life without my daughter. So hard, it is almost like a death. So much pain everywhere, we are in pain, and she is consumed with pain when he throws her out, this pattern of on again and off again. Exhausting for those on the edge, must be hell to be in there.

Here are her questions with my answers

1. What do we do in this situation as parents? There is going to be another train crash. She is so young, yet is an adult. She is now isolated from us, we will not have him here as he drags us all down”¦ This time we have said that she is on her own.

I applaud you for knowing your limits, setting your boundaries and sticking with them. No one of sound mind would say you are obligated to live with a sociopath and put up with abuse. Instead of using your support to better herself, she squanders it and does not grow. You have decided to stop enabling and consider that this situation seems similar to being the parent of an addict. That seems to me to be an excellent analogy. Perhaps you might visit an Alanon meeting. You might benefit from what other parents have to share.

2. Is this tough love aspect dangerous, what do you advise parents to do? Her friends have had enough of the drama, rescuing, and emotion. We are all exhausted. She is now lying to us. He is unfaithful, and at first his drove her mad, but now she says that he can’t hurt her anymore, she has come to terms with that aspect of their relationship. She will have him at any cost. I am most concerned about her self esteem, her emotional health and what she will stoop to have him. Also her future, she will have no future with him, lose her family, and all her hopes and dreams.

Yes the tough love approach carries with it considerable risk. However, each family has to balance for themselves this risk weighed against the harm being done to other family members and to your daughter by staying in the relationship. I usually advise parents to make it known the son or daughter will be accepted back warmly without judgment once there is a commitment to be free of the sociopath.

3. Will she grow out of it, will he hurt her, how can we support her without supporting him, what kind of support does she need, what are the signs that it is really over, how many times will she go back?

Like any addict she will consider sobriety once she has reached “rock bottom.” That is where the risk comes in, you don’t know what her lowest point will be.

4. Should we rescue her again when she calls, or does she need to solve this herself? How much contact should we have?

Don’t be her support so she can stay by chatting too much, that would be enabling. Generally that means not listening to her complaints about the relationship. Instead make it clear you are continuing with your successful prosocial lives and are keeping in touch with former girlfriends who are becoming educated and dating decent men. Without being direct draw her attention to how far she has fallen and what a “loser” she is becoming.

5. Have we pushed her closer to her by isolating her, yet we also need to protect ourselves. How long is this likely to last and what will be left with. How can we keep him away, if she comes home again?

The ideal situation would be for you to insist she get help and he stay away before you have her home again. Since he has stolen money from you, you may have grounds to contact the police if he refuses to stay away.

I invite others to give support, and comments to this loving mother.

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Oh my God! I think about this daily as I have a son whom I adore who is dating a sociopath. He is on full scholarship to the 4th ranked technical university in the nation. He is at risk of flunking out as is so busily giving her the massive attention she requires rather than committing to his education. Finals week? Not a problem, she fakes terminal illness and the list goes on and on.

WHAT CAN A PARENT DO?? SAY?? to snap their kid back into reality. I am up for any tactics or techniques anybody has to offer.

They are currently dating “secretly”. His reasons pertain to his addiction to her and hers pertaining to seeing others behind his back. He has lost friends and we too are at odds with each other at home as the stress is too much and we differ in how to handle this.

To the poster – if he throws her out again have you thought of getting her some housing away from you as a symbolic show of wanting no further complaining about him and how she has become distant to her family by her own actions? Of course required for this housing would be regular counseling which she would have to verify attending. Contacting him? I would require her to keep a journal of simply the statement “I am an addict” every time she calls him or takes a call from him. I would verify the journal against the phone bill.

Fortunately we are not as far down the road as they are not living together and they are both still young but it’s like I can see a train wreck coming!! WHAT CAN I DO? WHAT MONKEY WRENCH CAN I THROW IN THIS SOCIOPATH”S PATH?

And to the commenter who told of her son’s attempted murder…that just chills me to the bone!


Thanks for this post mom and excellent replies. I was feeling weak this morning but read this post and got strong. My mum has said she will not speak to me if I go back to him. Reading your post has brought it home to me how much he has also hurt my family.

I hope your daughter wakes up. I did the last time I was there I almost packed up all my stuff because I was on so much pain and couldn’t take anymore. I was at rock bottom and have been free of him three weeks today.

I feel much better and feel loved by my family.

Good luck xxxxxx


PS: direct her to this site. It helped me loads xx


missmellyuk – You are sounding strong and focused. I’m pleased your family are supporting you – get all the help you can.
My son was targeted by a spath – it has taken him years to ‘get over’ his ordeal but finally he’s moving on and one day you will too:)

Ox Drover

Dear Melly,

The advice in this article is good…because we (parents) cannot help an adult child who is addicted to drugs or to a psychopath, they must help themselves.

Congratulations on being free of him for 3 weeks. It is a wonderful start, and maintaining NO CONTACT 100% is the only way to STAY away from him…it is like drugs…you can’t just “taper off” you must go “cold turkey” and STAY cold turkey—NO CONTACT!!! And I know you can do it! (((hugs))) and God bless.


Thank you ladies. The phycaratrist report came today, I mentioned my ex may be a phycopayh and he states in the report that the relationship was turbulent and had many separations and both parties questioned each others personality. What the f***!!! I and he questioned my anxiety disorder over and over again. Ive taken all the blame for everyyhing it was only the last few weeks of it that u started to question him. he also said I was suffering from adjustment disorder due to the end of relationship!!

I’ve read a bit online and I’m not sure.



missy – with the greatest respect – bullshite – your therapist does not ‘get it’. The last few weeks was when the mask fell. And your ‘disorder’ was CAUSED by spath.


Thank you Candy :-). The dr was 29 mins late for appointment and only spoke to me for 30 mins.

I wasn’t like that in my previous relationship that lasted nine yrs and we are great mate still.

So I’m thinking now F*** it, f*** em all!!!



missy – these are not ‘normal’ relationships. May I suggest you ‘self-medicate’ here unless you can find a therapist that specialises in spaths.

Ox Drover

Melly, “adjustment disorder” is normal right now…you would NOT BE NORMAL IF YOU WERE “ADJUSTED” PERFECTLY at this point in the end of the relationship. LOL Sheesh, but I don’t think that your counselor shows much empathy or compassion for your adjustment disorder, but seems to be be “labeling” you.

I would look for another therapist or physician rather than try to continue with the relationship with this one.

A therapist’s job is not to agree with everything you say, but to make an assessment of what might help you, but it sounds like this guy doesn’t “get it” about why you are suffering “adjustment disorder” (which is NORMAL IN THIS KIND OF SITUATION) so…keep looking, there are those therapists and physicians who DO get it. (((hugs))) Stay NC that will be your best and biggest weapon for a while! God bless.

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