By | August 26, 2008 536 Comments

A list for leaving the sociopath behind

by AlohaTraveler

How many of us have a list, or know someone who does, of the ideal qualities we are looking for in THE ONE? I think these lists can sometimes cause us to miss out on someone quite wonderful because we get so attached to a check list. But that’s another topic. I have a different kind of list. It could be called the list of EXACTLY what I DO NOT want in a life partner! This list has helped me to heal and come to terms with the reality of the Bad Man.

While going through my things this morning, I found a piece of binder paper with a list I had written about the Bad Man in the early stages of my healing. It was written sometime within the first year after I had left him. The list represents a free flowing string of words and phrases that describe the Bad Man.

Before I found LoveFraud, I was aware that my thoughts of the Bad Man seemed to swing back and forth between never wanting to hear from him again to hoping somehow he would learn, apologize and we would live happily ever after. I didn’t totally understand why this was so and it was perplexing, given my descriptive list.

Bad Man was not the clever sociopath that many of the readers here talk about. Don’t get me wrong. He was very smart and charismatic. But I didn’t get blind sided or robbed behind my back like many readers. He was fairly abusive and inappropriate in the first few weeks though he used all of the customary word games and mind tricks. Still, I find it a little embarrassing to admit that I put up with way too much right from the get-go. Looking back, in what context would name calling ever be okay?

Reality Checks

Bad Man wasn’t all flowers and charming words. I got flowers. I got love notes. But for the most part, the list below describes him best. I wrote this list for myself to use as a means of staying in touch with reality when I felt my heart softening again for him. When I had those moments, I went to my list to remind myself of the destructive, abusive, nightmare that he truly was. Now, I find it amusing how well I was describing a narcissist or a borderline without the understanding I have now of personality disorders.

A second paper I found contained the transcription of his last four text messages to me before I called my cell phone carrier and asked the operator to cut the line. I will never forget the tears of relief as I watched the lights go out on my cell phone. At the top of the page of verbal venom, I wrote, “Words to remember you by.” These messages were hateful, vicious, twisted, and untrue. Every six months or so, I run across these two papers. They don’t really hurt me now. Each time I read them, I see more clearly the pathology driving the Bad Man. For some reason, I save these pages. I haven’t included the text messages in this article because they are very personal attacks on me and no one would benefit from reading them. I certainly didn’t. Still, I save them because reading those hateful messages makes it totally clear that I made the right choice in leaving him and eventually going No Contact.

To Stay on Track, Be Honest with Yourself

I have a gentle suggestion for anyone that is still struggling with that feeling of wanting the pathological abuser/exploiter back. Create your own list using words that describe what happened to you like this:

Bad Man/Woman = constant liar, cheater, infantile, fraudulent, etc.

Use the words that ring most true for you. Then tuck away your list in a place where you can access it whenever you feel yourself getting off track. Or, if you are really struggling, post it on the bathroom mirror or keep it in your purse for instant reality checks! Read it over and over, as often as you need. Use the list to replace those moments of longing.

My list helped me many times in the early days. Whenever I run across the list, I read it through. It reminds me to be thankful for my life for what it is, and what it isn’t, today.

Here is my list.

Introducing… the Bad Man

Attacks me
Judges me
Does not see himself
Isolates me
Name calling
Spin Doctor
Secret Abuser
Advises and “counsels” me on “anger issues” but does not control his own anger
Self Righteous
Inflated Super Ego
Omits the truth
Manipulates people
No boundaries
Uses People
E-mail bombs
Scares Me
Emotional Abuse
Mind F***

Gee, I wonder why I don’t miss him. NOT!

The Truth, a Lesson, and Peace

Imagine if the Bad Man’s personal dating profile was the list above. He doesn’t sound very appealing does he? This, of course, is not how he describes himself. That is why it is important to write down the truth. I wrote my list in one of those raw, painful moments, standing on the edge of “the Fog” as we say. My list is me, speaking to… me. It is the rope I clung to whenever I started to dangle over that black hole again.

The list is the TRUTH.

In the days when I still missed him, it was all about the fantasy of the Bad Man, the great seducer. Today, I am learning to pay more attention to what I see and not so much to what people say. This is fundamental to restoring faith in myself because I let myself down. I need to trust myself to assess a situation and trust what I see (ie.: intimidation, blame shifting, hypocrisy, etc.). I need to stand up for me when life calls for it. No one should be able to talk me out of my instincts to protect myself and my spirit. That was far too easy in the past. This was one of the lessons I needed to learn.

If you chose to do an exercises like my list, it may bring up a lot of pain but ultimately, it is meant to bring you clarity and eventually peace. When I look at this list today, I feel peaceful knowing that I left this man in the dust. There was no other choice.

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Aloha, thank you for this. I also had “lists”, although they came in the form of a journal. Several months ago I dug out my journal(s) and read all of them. It made me literally sick and also sad. I ripped them all up and burned them. The “lists” are forever engraved on my soul, I didn’t feel like I needed them anymore. I also had the fantasy that somehow J would miraculously wake up one day and realize the damage he had done and profusely apologize and we too would live happily ever after. Not gonna happen. I am thankful for that today.


Excellent list!

I too believe it’s more productive to make a list of Absolute Nots, rather than a pie in the sky list of hopes, which may be unrealistic… and may in fact lead me to people who seemingly have those pie in the sky attributes – and wind up with the really bads that come along with them!

I particularly like “hypocritical”… that’s on my list of Absolutely Nots. People who have a habit of contradicting themselves… always a bad sign.

Also, someone who acts like some kind of Coach. In my experience, if a romantic interest is acting as Council Advisor to you, it’s a sign they think they have AUTHORITY over you. Which means you’re subordinate. Which really doesn’t make sense in a PARTNERSHIP which should be of equality.
I think of this guy I know, who has such a belligerant controlling personality, people call him “Angry [Name]”. He’s a control freak. And he’s always getting in people’s faces. He has the hots for one of my friends. He tried to deny it… like right after he’d made a series of really disgusting sexual innuendo… and he follows her like a rabid puppy. She’s not interested, but she’s basically too nice for her own good maybe. He gets in her face and starts lecturing her in this authoritative tone & manner. He talks a lot, but he doesn’t even say much. But he seems to love to take that authoritative tone, not just telling her what to do- but telling her how she feels and how she should.

Unfortunately, I think sometimes if a guy like this catches a woman at a particular time in her life, or whatnot… it might actually seem attractive. That he’s taking a seemingly passionate interest. That he wants to take charge.

I’ve been reading “Blink” by Malcolm Gladwell. And I just got to a part (fairly early in the book) last night about these studies done w/ couples, where they took video of them arguing – about some seemingly minor things apparently… and they could, by just a few minutes of interaction, predict with 90% accuracy, which couples would still be married in 15 years, and which ones would not.
The author said, on the surface, many may seem calm, reasonable, supportive people in a very rational sounding argument. But even so, there’s clues that show which marriages are actually happy, and which are, I guess, dysfunctional. And they’re quantifiable in just a few minutes of observation of the couple arguing.

The guy who was leading the study indicated that the top signal of a troubled marriage is CONTEMPT. Any signs of contempt, and that’s the big indicator the marriage won’t survive.

There were a couple other things, like things they called “stone-walling” & criticism, and “yes-buts” (which is when someone starts out sounding like they’re supportive & validating, but takes it back in the next breath)…
They said that women did more criticizing, and men did more stone-walling.
But the guy said that contempt was the real big indicator, and it was found equally between the genders. And it’s not hard to spot once you know what you’re looking for.

Which makes sense. It’s something I read about in “The Verbally Abusive Relationship” by Patricia Evans – contempt, and the relation to the Power Over attitude involved in abusive relationships.

Any time someone takes a superior stance, and belittles another person, there’s a problem that only leads to other problems.

Problem is, I think especially women, have been kind of trained by society & culture to think that take charge superiority attitude in a man/lover is attractive.

And that’s a problem I think.
The same guy that will sweep you off your feet, take charge, whisk you away, etc… is the same guy that’s going to look down on you as a subordinate, then disrespect you, belittle you, and eventually there’s contempt.
And contempt isn’t loving.
Contempt doesn’t turn to love.
Real life isn’t like the fairy tale “Beauty & the Beast”.


Interesting topic about your “list”. Also I agree we should all write some type of list or journal concerning what happen during and/or after the “bad” people start to show their true colors. As for me it was in a form of a journal. I started it to get some grasp of reality because of all the changes concerning my children’s and my life in such a short time. Not too mention all the changes that took place in my ex P. Some of them unbelievable and at the same time for me emotionally inappropriate. So in the beginning when I too thought or felt that we might be able to savage some of this mess I would read that journal which always brought me back into reality and allow me to come to my senses. So yes readers write it on paper so that one might be able to view it in black and white. If nothing else it will help you save your sanity.


What a great idea! When I was just beginning my recovery from years and years of mind-****ing, I made several handwritten copies of Martha Stout’s “13 Rules for Dealing with Sociopaths” from her book “The Sociopath Next Door.”

One I taped to my dresser mirror, one I kept in my wallet, and one I kept under my blotter at work. Can’t tell you how many times I referred to that list. It really helped in moments of weakness, when I was so tempted to start believing his lies again.

The things I have learned over the past four years have helped me tremendously as I very gingerly re-entered the dating world. I recognized red flags right away with one fellow, and got out cleanly (he talked only about himself, and even admitted to a bad temper that made him punch holes in walls). The second one took me a little longer to recognize and get disentangled from, but I did it. (He was very good at the pity play.)

A list is a great idea. “Arrogance” is at the top of mine. Any sign of it, and I’m gone.


Tood… ah yes.. Arrogance. Forgot that one. Good one.



Great article! I find it interesting that with the mound of confusion I experienced in my life from the S, which sounds a lot like what James did, I started to journal as well. When I’d look back at what I wrote it was astounding at how many contradictions there were with things he said and did and how aptly I was describing an S. I found it sad that I needed to start writing things down in order to keep up with what was happening. But it was to my benefit in the end in many ways.

It’s a wonderful idea to make a list of attributes that remind us of what we were dealing with to help us stay grounded in reality when denial or confusion sets in. Thanks for sharing that!


WP, Thanks for the information regarding contempt. I had never thought about it in the way you worded it.

“The same guy that will sweep you off your feet, take charge, whisk you away, etc” is the same guy that’s going to look down on you as a subordinate, then disrespect you, belittle you, and eventually there’s contempt. And contempt isn’t loving.”

In my experience I was thrown off by my ex’s disregard for me. I didn’t recognize this as contempt. I tried to understand the motivation behind his behavior and as many of us do, I blamed myself. It must have been something I did to elicit that silent treatment or uncooperative behavior. Afterall, things were going so well until I opened my mouth with a concern.

My ex didn’t show anger that often. At least in a form that was most familiar to me. He never called me a name. But if I were to describe that look in his eyes, his demeanor, his beavior, you hit the nail on the head with the word contempt. Thank you. You really put it into perspective.

Looking at the word contempt I just found these quotes from Wikipedia. Which, btw, mentions the book you’re reading “Blink”.

“Contempt is brought about by a combination of anger and disgust.” “Contempt is also a particular way of regarding or attending to the object of contempt, and this form of regard has an unpleasant effective element. However, contempt may be experienced as a highly visceral emotion similar to disgust, or as cool disregard.”

Ah, that cool disregard. The fact that the S continued to compare himself to me fits the picture too. What was once thought of as relating to me suddenly turned into a feeling of one-upmanship which was part of his emotional manipulation. I recall him even saying at one point that I was walking away the “better person” because of something he did that I refused to do. Apparently it left him looking badly in his eyes. It was enough for him to cry at his frustration over it. I didn’t get it. For me it was about loving and respecting another person. To him it was about looking the best. Something I later realized was the drive behind his lying and gaslighting. He could never accept being wrong or looking bad.

In setting himself above others in his drive to be seen as Mr. Wonderful, contempt certainly does fit that picture. It’s interesting how we learn so much from each other here at LF and how, looking back, things start to make more and more sense. I used to ask my ex where I was on his totem pole of people in his life. To have even instinctually felt that he saw people in a manner to liken it to a totem pole is interesting. It’s also interesting how I began my journal at that time with the title, “The Exorcism of _______.” Now isn’t that telling. Talk about disregarding intuition. But now I’m learning why I did that and I’m so much better in the long run for the journey.

Thanks again WP! I shall add contempt to the top of my list!


The above list sounds just like my first husband. I wonder though, how can there be so many kinds of bad people in the world? My ex-cheater bf has hardly any of the traits on that list, but he still hurt me so bad.. even worse than the arrogant one.


What a brilliant article Aloha!
Writing things down and making this kind of list is such an enlightening and practical way of helping people see reality. Very often our heads are in such a spin from the manipulation and mind games that we go round and round in mental cirlces which leads on to those awful obsessive thoughts. Looking at a list in the cold light of day can bring us back down to earth and even if it is painful, it’s a constructive kind of pain that makes NC so much easier.
The list I made early on was of the bizarre things he had said to me. He had never been physically abusive and his threats were always sugar coated stories with a sting in the message. Very cleverly those stories were always about someone else, so he camouflaged his own manipulation. At the time I didn’t have any knowledge of manipulation but reading it all now it is SO obvious what he was doing to me.
The other method I found helpful when it came to the ‘withdrawal’ symptoms was to draw little doodles of how to free myself. I did one of his face with horns and a tail so that I took a away that romantic image and one of me with my family as very large circles with him as a tiny little dot attached by a thin chain. As I gradually felt better I cut the chain in my drawing, I visually freed myself and it really did help!

Ox Drover

Dear Aloha, Great article!

WP—good additions, that superiority thing with the looking down on you. Good point.

All: Great comments!


Aloha…thank you.
Somehow perfect timing…as everything always is.

After 4 months of my’ Prince Charming gone alarming’…I wrote a list of ‘pro’s and ‘con’s’ to see why is it exactly I’m still in this ‘crazy’ relationship. Your list is almost identical to mine. I had 33 things under cons’s. 3 pro’s …. 1)never felt so ‘connected’ 2)makes me laugh uncontrollably 3) sexual bliss 3 things I’d never experienced simultaeously or so intensely.

Somehow, those 3 silly things kept me in for 2 more freaken years (intermittently mind you) and still to this day I miss those 3 although I know they were only felt by me.

So, after all the ‘craziness’ of the past 2 years…I’ve learned that nothing…NOTHING… is worth sacrificing yourself, safety, sanity…especially if it’s only for those 3 things. It has just been so damn hard because those three things were so strong, so unlike anything else…it has felt like it couldn’t ever happen again. Perhaps it never will again…but I’d rather be able to sleep, eat, have friends, family, a job, freedom, independence, respect, dignity…the list goes on.

I know you know.

So…I haven’t heard from the idiot for a while…but tonight…phone rang…saw satan’s digits…so left the tape rolling.

So…Satan apparently is so sorry for everything and all his hurtful words/actions…and most of all is sorry for all his past threats to exploit me plus end my career. He wimpers…”I just get angry and want you to hurt like me, u need to feel what you do to me”….. “I don’t mean anything hurtful…I just love you so much it scares me so much to not be near you…I want so much happiness for you…you’re the only one that knows me’…etc etc etc.

THIS WAS TONIGHT!!!! that’s why your post is soooo perfect timing Aloha.

Lists are important and crucial to see what the hell are we sacrificing if we choose the shorter one.

We can’t let lonliness take that brutal bait.

It took me a while to stop overlooking the long list but the long list is who I am. That’s essentially what I’d be sacrificing if I feel prey to the 2 minute apology.

A 2 minute apology on the phone or text should NEVER sway us back into pandamonium….which it has sickly all it took historically for me to reconsider. Perhaps a 2 full page add in the newspaper could “maybe”start getting attention of sincerity but really….whose cash would they be using then?

NC….only road to freedom and ourselves….


aloha great post!!!I won’t post my list, but I will say this. If they feel like the man/woman of your dream’s that equals illusion. Best to stay on the side of reality. Best too stay alert and remember what we have learned the hard way. Illusion and fantasy, is more intense, be it good or bad, than any reality. Wiserandhealing I don’t know your your (story) but from your above post I can tell you have been to hell and back…thanks for the humour in your pain and wisdom [satan’s digit’s] i love it!!!


I really wish LF had some kind of ‘sound’ attachemnt click to attach to our posts cause my God would we ever hear the ‘Socio’ as clear as day in our stories. He/she would sound like the same person despite the tone of voice….and MAN…I’m sure a comic releif to some!!!
I WISH…you could hear the message on my machine tonight…CLASSIC.


i will be composing my own list which includes almost all of the list posted…even though this rel. has finally ended, I still get overpowering feelings to want to call when s*** hits the fan- the upheaval in my life emotionally when this ended in April, caused alot of my so called friends to disappear-they were scared at the intensity of my feelings-the betrayal and deceit-even though I wanted to get out of it for years. Now, I want to go to the person who is most familiar, which is totally the wrong thing to do. I’m still under the illusion (sometimes) that he can help and support me emotionally like he did in the “old days” . It was a “hook”. I feel alone alot. Sometimes thinking he will run back and be the person that I fell in love with- an illusion.



I so know that feeling. As soon as any sh** even starts spewing, nevermind hitting fans, it so feels just ‘natural’ to want to be near that guy/gal that made us feel so safe/secure and close. Especially even more so if they are always so ‘available’.
You know what…I took my socio back so many times because of what you say too…I thought he was ‘the only one who really knew me and therefore could really support me’…but each time…so so short lived. (I’m talkin days..maybe)
Any problem I was actually having..well… his satanic carpet enveloped and now I was dealing with MUCH BIGGER PROBLEMS!

They’ll ALWAYS have a hook and will always be the person you need at the beginning….they always see what you need…they only need you to beleive for that first bite.

You are right…it truly is an illusion. And their qualities are, unfortunately like me, and a billion others, skillful prey for us to bite.

The aloneness feeling is tough. It’s so easy to go back sometimes but that honestly is when you need to look inside and say…what am I worth?

That’s when you have to come here and not be tempted by Satan’s illusion. It’s only that. You already know that. Been there and done it. Don’t let Satin fool you into thinking he will comfort.
LF will comfort. Beleive me. Come here. I usually don’t write much but my God the Garlic is here.
When weak, come here. I do…it works. NO MORE ILLUSIONS!
Hug to you Brit!!!!!


As a devotee and supporter for NC, I really can’t say enough about it and the many changes it bring to one’s life!

What has No Contact done for my children and I once we initiated NC?

No more emotional roller coaster rides!!!
No more all day and night (sometimes until dawn) fighting
No more lies and attempts to manipulate and control us.
No more hassling phone calls and the nervousness state of emotional unrest, never knowing when that “next phone call will come”!
No more unexpected visit and emotional bombshells.
No more demands concerning what property she wants.
No more uncertainty as to what is going to happen day by day.
No more of her and her dysfunctional life style.

For me NC is a life saver! For it has given us peace and a much brighter future..


Henry that is such an important insight. Fantasy is way more exciting and intense than any reality. That’s what makes the hook so seductive; that lovely fantasy.

My list for the last one:

Secretly hates and envies women
Intense mood swings
Yo-yo effect: into me one day, not into me the next
Never knowing what to expect from him
Half-truths only, never the whole story
Magical thinking: “If I put on a wedding ring my commitment problems will magically disappear”
Boundary issues, inability to say no to anyone
“Man-whore” will do anything for a good feeling or a favor
Inability to commit
Words mean nothing
Won’t give up his “network”
Never gives any relationship a real whole-hearted try
Always looking for the path of least resistance
Not a good communicator
And most of all: That stupid lying look in his eyes


Kat – your list!!! describes my X – P – BPD – to a T (That stupid lying look in his eyes. Not only would it be great if we could compare the sound of them, I bet we would all be stunned if we could share picture’s of them. That empty cold souless deceitful mean look he had. They might be master’s at lying and decieving us but that sociopath face they can’t hide that, it just take’s time to figure out they are evil….


Good post and great lists…..

There are still those moments for me that I will wonder if she really was a socio… maybe I’m still angry and feel jilted and I’ve made this up in my head about her being a socio….to explain it all… to make me feel better about what and why……then my heart softens…. but…… all I have to do is come here and every single time my feelings and the TRUTH are validated…it is still the unescapable TRUTH….sigh…..two years now of NC…..and yet, it still hurts in my heart….but so much good has grown in me…. such a looooooooog process…..

I saw this today on Myspace….the post wasn’t directed at sociopaths, but you’ll see their calling card written all over this….. thought I’d share with all….more validation….as if we didn’t need anymore…..smiles….

Have a great day everyone!


Emotional Abuse

What is Emotional Abuse?

Abuse is any behavior that is designed to control and subjugate another human being through the use of fear, humiliation, intimidation, guilt, coercion, manipulation etc. Emotional abuse is any kind of abuse that is emotional rather than physical in nature. It can include anything from verbal abuse and constant criticism to more subtle tactics, such as repeated disapproval or even the refusal to ever be pleased.

Emotional abuse is like brain washing in that it systematically wears away at the victim’s self-confidence, sense of self-worth, trust in their own perceptions, and self-concept. Whether it is done by constant berating and belittling, by intimidation, or under the guise of “guidance,” “teaching”, or “advice,” the results are similar. Eventually, the recipient of the abuse loses all sense of self and remnants of personal value. Emotional abuse cuts to the very core of a person, creating scars that may be far deeper and more lasting that physical ones. In fact there is research to this effect. With emotional abuse, the insults, insinuations, criticism and accusations slowly eat away at the victim’s self-esteem until she is incapable of judging the situation realistically. She has become so beaten down emotionally that she blames herself for the abuse. Her self-esteem is so low that she clings to the abuser.

Emotional abuse victims can become so convinced that they are worthless that they believe that no one else could want them. They stay in abusive situations because they believe they have nowhere else to go. Their ultimate fear is being all alone.

Types of Emotional Abuse

Abusive Expectations

The other person places unreasonable demands on you and wants you to put everything else aside to tend to their needs.

It could be a demand for constant attention, or a requirement that you spend all your free time with the person.

But no matter how much you give, it’s never enough.

You are subjected to constant criticism, and you are constantly berated because you don’t fulfill all this person’s needs.


Aggressive forms of abuse include name-calling, accusing, blaming, threatening, and ordering. Aggressing behaviors are generally direct and obvious. The one-up position the abuser assumes by attempting to judge or invalidate the recipient undermines the equality and autonomy that are essential to healthy adult relationships. This parent-child pattern of communication (which is common to all forms of verbal abuse) is most obvious when the abuser takes an aggressive stance.

Aggressive abuse can also take a more indirect form and may even be disguised and “helping.” Criticizing, advising, offering solutions, analyzing, proving, and questioning another person may be a sincere attempt to help. In some instances however, these behaviors may be an attempt to belittle, control, or demean rather than help. The underlying judgmental “I know best” tone the abuser takes in these situations is inappropriate and creates unequal footing in peer relationships. This and other types of emotional abuse can lead to what is known as learned helplessness.

Constant Chaos

The other person may deliberately start arguments and be in constant conflict with others.

The person may be “addicted to drama” since it creates excitement.


Denying a person’s emotional needs, especially when they feel that need the most, and done with the intent of hurting, punishing or humiliating
The other person may deny that certain events occurred or that certain things were said. confronts the abuser about an incident of name calling, the abuser may insist, “I never said that,” “I don’t know what you’re talking about,” etc. You know differently.

The other person may deny your perceptions, memory and very sanity.

Withholding is another form of denying. Withholding includes refusing to listen, refusing to communicate, refusing to be affectionate and emotionally withdrawing as punishment. This is sometimes called the “silent treatment.

When the abuser disallows and overrules any viewpoints, perceptions or feelings which differ from their own.

Denying can be particularly damaging. In addition to lowering self-esteem and creating conflict, the invalidation of reality, feelings, and experiences can eventually lead you to question and mistrust your own perceptions and emotional experience.

Denying and other forms of emotional abuse can cause you to lose confidence in your most valuable survival tool: your own mind.


Someone wants to control your every action. They have to have their own way, and will resort to threats to get it.

When you allow someone else to dominate you, you can lose respect for yourself.

Emotional Blackmail

The other person plays on your fear, guilt, compassion, values, or other “hot buttons” to get what they want.

This could include threats to end the relationship, totally reject or abandon you, giving you the the “cold shoulder,” or using other fear tactics to control you.


The abuser seeks to distort or undermine the recipient’s perceptions of their world. Invalidating occurs when the abuser refuses or fails to acknowledge reality. For example, if the recipient tells the person they felt hurt by something the abuser did or said, the abuser might say “You are too sensitive. That shouldn’t hurt you.


Minimizing is a less extreme form of denial. When minimizing, the abuser may not deny that a particular event occurred, but they question the recipient’s emotional experience or reaction to an event. Statements such as “You’re too sensitive,” “You’re exaggerating,” or “You’re blowing this out of proportion” all suggest that the recipient’s emotions and perceptions are faulty and not be trusted.

Trivializing, which occurs when the abuser suggests that what you have done or communicated is inconsequential or unimportant, is a more subtle form of minimizing.

Unpredictable Responses

Drastic mood changes or sudden emotional outbursts. Whenever someone in your life reacts very differently at different times to the same behavior from you, tells you one thing one day and the opposite the next, or likes something you do one day and hates it the next, you are being abused with unpredictable responses.

This behavior is damaging because it puts you always on edge. You’re always waiting for the other shoe to drop, and you can never know what’s expected of you. You must remain hypervigilant, waiting for the other person’s next outburst or change of mood.

An alcoholic or drug abuser is likely to act this way. Living with someone like this is tremendously demanding and anxiety provoking, causing the abused person to feel constantly frightened, unsettled and off balance.

Verbal Assaults

Berating, belittling, criticizing, name calling, screaming, threatening

Excessive blaming, and using sarcasm and humiliation.

Blowing your flaws out of proportion and making fun of you in front of others.Over time, this type of abuse erodes your sense of self confidence and self-worth


hey y’all…

are p/s’s known to be perfectionists? i haven’t really read that, but mine had to be the BEST at everything … even to the point of cheating to win. is this common?

Ox Drover

Dear Southernman,

WOW! That is a mouth-full of WISDOM that you posted. It totally describes every UN-healthy relationship I have ever had, and the Ps to a TEE!

Sometimes, too, I have engaged in some of these very behaviors when in the throes of the pain of the abuse…it seems “normal” to respond to the things that the person you “love” does to you with the same behavior. Thus making the cycle go on and on and get worse and worse.

As James says, NC SAVES US—it let’s us get out of the CYCLE of the pain.

I have always used an example of “striking out” that would be from excessive pain, and yet now, I see another depention to that example.

If you had a little dog that loved you very much and it was lying on the road, hit by a car, and had a broken leg, and you ran to pick it up to take it to the vet hospital, it is not unlikely that this little pet that loved you very much, would, in its pain, reach out and bite your hand.

I have thought about this in an example of something that if that happened, I would “excuse” this little dog, knowing that the striking out was from fear and pain, not from MALICE. I wouldn’t even be “mad” at my little pup no matter how it had hurt my hand.

Now, I also see that all the “beating myself up” for striking back at the Ps from time to time in MY OWN PAIN, things that I am “ashamed of” are nothing for me to be ashamed of, any more than the dog should be “ashamed” of biting the hand that loves it and is actually trying to help it.

This is kind of an “ah ha” moment for me. I sometimes struck out verbally at my abusers because of the pain that they had caused me. I have had difficulty “forgiving” myself for doing this, no I no longer do. I realize that it doesn’t mean “I am just like them” at all, it just means that I reacted in a normal way to pain that was so intense that I couldn’t endure it, and was trying to make it stop in a maladaptive way.


Thanks, Southernman.


Hi Southernman,

Great info that you posted. Would post again with the link to this info? I think the full post may be a copywrite violation. Donna has asked us in the past to post links so she doesn’t get in trouble with copywrite issues.

That being said, every tactic in that information.. yep.. been there. I didn’t know what was happening to me at the time. Those mind games and verbal abuse can be quite tricky the first time you encounter it.

Thanks for the great info!




I am glad that my post was timed just for you. I knew someone out there would need this message.

The apology you recieved wasn’t an apology at all and I am sure you know that.

—I just get angry and want you to hurt like me, u need to feel what you do to me”

Right out of the Manipulation Handbook. I also received this “apology” as well. It is designed to appeal to the tender hearted.. The kind of person who can’t stand to think they may have hurt someone else… especially someone you loved.

I would love to hear this man’s apology to you but I am afraid it will be the Bad Man’s voice on your machine.

Looking back now, it’s funny to me that I ever called this man, “The Man of my Dreams.” I mean based on what? What did he do but light up my eyes with the curve of his lips… other than that, what?

He used every tactic in the Emotional Abuse Post from Southern Man.

How could I spend one more moment pining away for that? How?

I hope anyone out there that is struggling with wanting the fantasy back… will write their own list, or do some other form of reality check that they can keep referring back to.

My list is more real than any ideal *moment* I had with him. Who knew a moment could be so powerful?

We make that moment represent who they are and not all of the other crap they put us through.

I wonder why we do this?

Thanks to all for sharing your thoughts.

Still learning. Still learning.



Southernman… no problem. I think I have seen it before but I still read it all the way through.

I will copy and paste it for my own use. I am compiling all the great documents that I have found of been referred to for future use.

It’s perfect that you posted it. I bet someone needed to see it and you made that happen for them.

Many readers are still trying to put a name on what happened to them depending on where they are in their healing, learning and when they joined the conversation.

Thanks Southernman. Your heart is always in the right place.


Awesome list, bravo. Sounds just like the bad woman to me, dont forget stealing your things and trying to turn your friends and family against you.



I like what you said about the dog and pain and striking back.

Bad Man always made me wrong for striking back. His attacks were so vicious. But if I dared to strike back, or even just stand up for myself at all, it was BAM BAM BAM! A more vicious attack on my character than before.

They all do this, don’t they?

These days, I don’t feel bad at all that I told him to F-off… just once. Really, it’s amazing that I was able to hold back as long as I did. I also called him a name, again, ONCE.

Look at my LIST! HELLO!?

Nothing to feel bad about. When pushedh as far as most of have been, it is normal to react in a way that might be out of character.

I can count on one hand the number of people I have told to F-off. I can only think of two. The other one was recent and I was kind of proud to be honest. This guy is always making remarks and squashing everyone’s spirit when we are out sailing. He seemed to have quite a lot to say about me. It must be his radar going off… looking for an easy target who won’t stand up for herself… SURPRISE!

I felt kind of funny doing it but it worked. I felt myself going into the mind space of.. why did he say this and that… what did I do wrong… should I have…. STOP! There is nothing wrong wtih me… so F-Off and who asked you to comment on me and everything about me anyway!


It takes practice. :o)


i just want to say that the Bad Man called today and left a message saying I will always love you, even though your a mean jerk. just proof they never will get it. they never take responability for there actions. they think when they say there sorry you should just take them back and when you dont your a jerk.

it feels good not to fall for there games anymore. i was thinking some times we have this idea or picture of all the things we want in a person. maybe when we meet someone and they not anything we r looking for or completely different then us, maybe its what we need in our lives. dont turn people away bc there not you idea person but they just might be what you need.

Ox Drover

Dear Aloha,

The dog story was kind of an “ah ha” moment for me, I have looked at that story so many times from the stand point of the owner whose dog was hurt and bit them, but to look at it from the stand point of the dog that bit–that was a new wrinkle on it for me…the “take” on it from the dog’s side had always been there, I just hadn’t seen it before. Sort of like some of the Bible passages I have been reading lately, there was a message there that though I might have read the story 100 times before, I didn’t get that “take” on it. New message, same story. Same story, New message.

I too have a “list” and mine is a “deal breaker” list for anyone that I might consider dating—and ANY one of the things on the list is a ‘DEAL BREAKER’ as far as me having any interest in them–not that there is a long line of people lining up at my door to date me, but IF I EVER GET AN INVITATION to a date, then the things on the list are there for my protection.

All of the things on the list are pretty much like your list except the TOP one on the list is ANY LIE—and that is one of those things that if I were dressed up and on the way to the altar and they lied to me, that breaks the deal right there on the spot.

I’ve told a few people in my life to F-off, not frequently but my late husband said I had a lot of TACT, which he defined as “the ability to tell someone to go to hell, and MAKE THEM HAPPY TO BE ON THEIR WAY.” LOL He did have a way with words, and so do I sometimes. But usually I am like you were, if someone is unhappy or nasty I wonder what I DID to make them that way. Now I am not so much ready to jump on the guilt trip any more and assume it is “me” that is the problem. I’m getting to where I can set boundaries and have more confidence in them. I’m about ready to take off the training wheels on my boundary-cycle.

Yea, that type of guy usually does try to pick on someone that they think will just be a shrinking violet, and believe it or not as mouthy as I am, many times I have been just that shrinking violet, so afraid to “offend” anyone, no matter HOW OFFENSIVE THEY ARE. NO MORE. “TOWANDA!!!”

Ox Drover

Dear Blondie! GOOD FOR YOU!!!! Yes, they do seem to think that we will fall for their crap, and project on to us that if we don’t then WE are the jerks, but you know, you’ve got it right! You dont’ have to put up with his crap any more, and HIS opinion is worth SPIT! So what if he thinks you are a jerk? Do you care what he thinks? Who died and made him god?


Blondie.. good message. I needed that.

I am dating someone that is many things I wanted but just someone I never thought I would be dating… a man I dated long long ago has reappeared in a most unexpected way. Stay tuned.


What did I miss? Why is everyone saying “Towanda”?


Great blog! Listing a socio’s characteristics and/or words makes it hard to gloss over the harsh reality of their behavior. In the last few months I was married, I kept a journal, which helped me keep track. When I went to write about my experience, I looked at that journal. All I could say was, “wow.”


its actually sad that he thinks im going to believe that im to blame for the end of our relationship. he truly believes that i walked out on him and left. my comment to that is, hell yes i left. anyone who is fake, lies, cheats on me doest deserve me and of course im going to walk out on someone who is a pathological cheater!…..he/they will always live there lives this way. blame, blame blame anyone but themselves. but guess what it doest bother me anymore bc i know the truth.


YAY Blondie!!!

I left too and it was all my fault of course. I actually thought at the end he would finally say, “I get it. I abused you. I am sorry.” I thought getting on a plane and leaving the island would show I meant business and maybe, just maybe, he would get the help he needed.

Instead, I got the message, “How can you do this to me? If you are trying to punish me, this is the worst thing you could ever do. I will never trust YOU again.”

Therein lies the pathology.



Aloha Traveler:

You wrote: “Bad Man always made me wrong for striking back. His attacks were so vicious. But if I dared to strike back, or even just stand up for myself at all, it was BAM BAM BAM! A more vicious attack on my character than before.
They all do this, don’t they?”

Wow, apparently yes, they do.

Just last night my friend with the sociopath ex told me he did just that once again to her. Apparently he does that all the time.
I don’t even think she realized that he was the one who was always attacking.
Because he attacks her, is nasty to her, is inconsiderate to her, does something totally inappropriate, totally wrong. And then when she tells him to not do it, or stop it… He says she’s being mean or she’s being rude or tells her “You can’t talk to me in that tone”.
And he has her so gaslighted, and worried that she’s not nice.
I said, oh, so it’s okay for HIM to talk to YOU like that. But if you tell him to stop, then you’re talking to him “in a tone” if you’re angry at what he’s saying & doing (for very legitimate reasons).
She said he always does this to her.

The thing is, I see NON-sociopaths do this sometimes, when I see heated interactions between familiar people – people who aren’t sociopaths.
One person gets snippy, then when the other person cops an attitude in return, the snippy person scolds them for it.
It’s easy to see the hypocrisy when you’re the uninvolved 3rd party.

I’ve learned to escape this for the most part by just taking care of my side of it, no matter what.
Like no matter how snippy or angry or rude someone is, I don’t react. At all, if possible.
When I get my dander up, before I react, I either walk away or make a conscious effort to remain absolutely calm – at least on the outside.
That way, if my side of the street’s clean – no matter what they say, they can’t turn it around, because I KNOW I’m not the one acting irrational.

Now of course with normal people this works very well. If you don’t react when someone’s in an angry shut-down state, it sometimes wakes them up to how they’re being.
With a sociopath, or some other disorder, they see any type of boundaries as an attack. If you don’t react, you’ll be told walking away is a mean action..

So in the case of people with issues (like sociopaths, narcissists, & borderlines), I’ve just had to learn to be 100% confident in my right to protect myself & my boundaries. I’m now confident that walking away and not responding are NOT fighting actions. They’re not something someone can realistically & rationally call “mean”.

No matter what someone tries to say, walking away from someone shouting at you or being rude is NOT an attack. Not reacting is NOT morally wrong.

My friend, if she simply says “no” to her ex’s demands, he seems to react as if it’s the same as if she yelled profanities at him for 15 minutes straight.

So what it takes is confidence that saying “no”, taking care of yourself, having boundaries, and not listening to nonsense or abuse, are perfectly normal, healthy, & moral.

And if walking away & staying outwardly calm are the only ways I react, then there’s absolutely no basis for me to beat myself up for being (acting like) someone I don’t want to be.

But if you stay hip deep in the trenches of a war, then you’re going to have no choice but to be someone you don’t want to be. So this strategy isn’t going to work with someone you live with, who’s constantly attacking you.
In that case, I have to say that even the Dalai Lama, Ghandi, and Mother Teresa would probably have a hard time remaining calm if they were personally attacked by someone sharing their home 10 times a day. It’s pretty much impossible to be at the frontline of a war and survive without taking a shot.
That’s why people committed to peace don’t position themselves in the frontline of a war unless they’re completely expecting and willing to die.



You put it beautifully. I think this is what I was trying to say.

“what it takes is confidence that saying “no”, taking care of yourself, having boundaries, and not listening to nonsense or abuse, are perfectly normal, healthy, & moral.”


It’s true that even normal people don’t fight fair at times. Voices get raised and bad things fly out of our mouths. But with Bad Man, to be honest, I didn’t really fight back. Instead it was more like being showered with bullets and just trying to hit the ground to save myself.

I was very measured with my words after getting my hair up only once or twice. The punishment was worse for trying to fight back. Plus, in those early days, I thought he would see his own hypocrisy if I pointed it out. He seemed to be an intelligent man.. but he did not see. And pointing out any flaws in his arguements was big time TABOO. Besides, his mind worked so fast in bending and twisting things right back at me.

I think this is because I have a conscience. If he points out that I was raising my voice and that is wrong, well, that would give me a tingle inside as ringing true… even if he was yelling it at me. Funny to think about that now.

I did watch my tone and my word choices very carefully but the land mines were everywhere and he was way too good at making up obstacles out of thin air.

Is your friend a reader of LF? I am sure you have invited her to read here. Tell her that other readers are inviting her to read here as well. Come join us and just read. She might not be ready to see what is happening but the black hole she has fallen into is very very very deep.

No matter how far down she goes, we have enough rope here. She just has to grasp it.

Thinking of “friend.”



Aloha, what a great idea. I keep a little list up in my head. Whenever I start longing for the S, I replay the things he said and did. I am also very lucky that he is not trying to contact me. He has totally moved on, which hurts in its own way, but it is the saving grace.

Do you ever find yourself having imaginary conversations with the S, trying to figure out what one really effective thing you can say to him? I always conclude that there is nothing that can be said. Nothing. In my imagination, when he does try to contact me again, I just hang up the phone, shut the door, delete the email, etc. I don’t even respond. Really, what can you say or do? There is just nothing. In the end, you wasted X amount of time with someone who–for all practical purposes–is not human, and why waste one more minute?

I am not a Christian, and have never really believed in the concept of evil before. I do now. I always though evil was just “fear”. But sociopaths don’t have any fear, so it’s something else. That something else is not something I want anything to do with.



Yes. I know exactly what you mean about the imaginary conversations. I never won these arguements either.

The imaginary arguements are what Dr. Steve would call ruminating. It’s part of PTSD. We keep replaying what happened over and over. Or we try to imagine things going a different way. This of course is not a clinical definition of PTSD but it is how it played out for me.

I am thrilled that you have already come to the conclusion that there really is nothing you can say that will change anything. That is a hard truth.

I haven’t had any of these distressing night time “conversations” in at least two year os somewhere around there. I was still sleepless and “arguing” in my head at night when I found LF. I was ready to turn the corner and LF helped me do it.

I love how you imagine yourself slamming the door if he ever shows up. It’s good to rehearse sometimes so you will be prepared for the moment if it should come. Best yet, don’t even oepn the door.

I found in the past that one little crack was enough for him to get in a verbally smack me around somemore.

My last word to him is… *silence.*

My last word for me is… *peace.*

XO Aloha


BTW… I meant that my definition for PTSD might not be spot on. This is how I interpret it for me.


Thanks, Aloha,
I never really thought about this ruminating as PTSD, but I guess it is. It seems to happen less and less as the steam just runs out. I was only with him for 2-1/2 months and feel so damaged. I can’t even imagine what it’s like to be with someone like this for years and years.

I started missing my reptile website and my friends there whom I have come to love over the nearly 2 years I have been there. But I’m not ready to go back cause every time I see his name on there, I have a panic attack. I logged in and started posting the other night. Then I saw one of his threads with 36 replies and got upset. That night I had a nightmare about him. I have to remind myself that my only REAL friends on that site are the ones who have taken up for me in my cause to remove him from the site. There are about 4 of them.

I am just hanging out and waiting for the army to take action against him, and I believe they will, thanks to my help. After that, my friends and I can ruin his reputation on the site, and hopefully run him off of it.

When I logged in recently, there was a new guy who lives in Denver who had sent me a private message. He is very friendly and wants to meet all the snake lovers in Denver. Whereas I used to consider everyone on that site as a family member and welcome them to my home with open arms, I feel very guarded about meeting him. But at least he says in his profile that he is married (which my S did not). So I know he’s not a player. Anyway, this is how I am changed. Much less trusting. It sucks.


alhoa~ i got the same message. whatever i did that was againest what he wanted, he couldt trust me now! THERE ALL THE SAME!!!!

Ox Drover

Dear Stargazer,

It is dangerous to get to “close” sometimes to people we meet in the internet, as they can pretend to be “anyone” behind that screen. That is why the internet dating scene is so rife with psychopaths, and so many people get burned. I think I have heard 1000 burned stories for any one story of “happiness.” My son met his psychopath on the internet 8+ yrs ago, married her and had hell on earth since, until after she tried to kill him, and she went to jail, he divorced her emotionally as well as physically.

Another great friend of mine who had been married to two previous psychopaths, found him a’nuther’un on the internet and the marriage lasted 3 days. AFter she was divorced she still took out dozens of credit cards in his name. He’s still trying to get that one straightened out.

Personally, I wouldn’t invite ANY one off the internet to my home until I had checked them out thoroughly, and never a person for a “love interest”—I have sold stuff off Craig’s list but I always make sure that they come to my house when my son is also home, and that they don’t get too good of a look around, in case they are “casing the joint” for a future robbery. I am not PARANOID, but I AM CAUTIOUS.

I have lived here on my farm in the country, in a community I felt completely safe in. Until recently, I didn’t even know where the key to my front door was, I hadn’t seen it in years. Now I have an alarm system, and several good dead bolts, a locking gate on the drive off the road, motion sensors, and a loaded shot gun behind the front and back doors. I don’t open the door unless I know who it is, and if a stranger drives up I don’t get too close until I know who they are.

In the last 3 years our community has become filled with “oil-rig workers” as the natural gas drilling on the Fayetteville Shale deposit has gone into full swing. Most of these men are “transient” workers and a “pretty tough group:” so with that in mind, and many “strangers” instead of only an occasional one in the area, I am CAUTIOUS, and take reasonable precautions to keep myself safe. I an not living in terror, but I am living in reasonable safety, but it isn’t like the community once was, and I doubt it ever will be that way again.

I no longer stop to help anyone stranded on the highway, but I will stop long enough behind a locked car door to ask if they need the use of a cell phone to call someone, if they do, I make the call for them, but I don’t unlock my doors or open the window very far and my car is not in park, but in drive.

The world in general is not always a safe place, there are people who will hurt you, and also many very nice people. But I no longer give open trust to “just anyone” I meet, and especially not to people I have met off the internet.


Thank you Aloha Traveler! I really liked the list…and, if I may use it as a springboard, I would appreciate it! I have not logged onto LF for a long time…but, I have received so much strength from it! I left the relationship with a sociopath approximately a year and a half ago. I was conned out of a great deal of money, and I have learned a great deal about myself and have healed tremendously, and you guys here on this site helped me a lot without really even knowing it!

I recently started a support group in my area for Women in Recovery from Abusive and Dangerous Relationships – RADAR we call it! We utilize the 12-Steps as well as any and all pertinent material, but, mostly Sandra L. Brown’s How to Spot A Dangerous Man books. And, I was recently asked to talk to a group of high school girls about dangerous relationships…

THUS…I really liked the LIST.

Thank you! This is such a wonderful site!


OxD, sadly you are right. I’m much more guarded than I used to be. But I still believe in the goodness of people. Just not all people. I figure if sociopaths comprise 1% of the population, I’ve done pretty well to avoid them for most of my adult life. I think I can still trust most of the people from my reptile site. But I will watch for the signs. With V, the signs were there, but I didn’t know how to interpret them.

Ox Drover


RADAR!!! How great! 100 GOLD STARS for you!!! Talking to high school girls about dangerous relationships (and guys too) is a great forum for change, for arming these young people in their most vulnerable ages! WOW!!!! I’m impressed. Tell us more about your group, maybe we can have a nation wide “chain of RADARS!”

Doyou have web site up? If not, how about putting one up so that maybe there are others on LF that can open “francises” in their local areas.


I feel kind of bad reading Southernman’s post, because I’ve been way more abusive in a way to my most recent bf than he has. His crimes are all about lying, cheating and letting me down, I have been the angry one I’m afraid. Oh well… gotta keep working on that fruits of the spirit thang…

Southernman.. 6ft., sweet, southern and love the lord, your ex was insane to devalue you. If you ever wanna meet a girl who’ll appreciate someone like you.. drop me a line..

PS.. sorry but I did get a lolz out of your hometown brother.


Reading your post about the list of qualities we are looking for in the ONE reminds me of my experience when I first got involved with a romantic financial predator. He SEEMED to have the qualities on my ONE list, and that helped catapult me into a quick commitment that turned out to be a financial disaster.
I wrote a book about my experience called I TAKE THEE…How to Spot a Romantic Financial Predator and What to Do if You Are Already Involved. (
I list 15 PREDATOR DETECTORS that help you identify a romantic con artist. One of them is the pressure to make a quick commitment.
So, perhaps no matter what is on our lists of what we DO or DO NOT WANT, we can always remember to take our time getting to know someone and ALL of their qualities before we give our heart (and in many cases our money) away.


How long does it take to get over a sociopath? I found out 3 months ago I was ‘the other woman’ to this married man. I know 3 months is not long compared to most of you. But this has f–ked with my head. I am now questioning to myself everyone around me. Is my best friend a liar? My Boss? My Father? I had trust issues before and then I happened to get fooled by the tricker of all trickery.

Ox Drover

Dear Spotlessmind,

“Time” is relative to so many things there isn’t a way that any of us can say “three months” or “a day for each day you were with them” or “a year” or any other “number.”

It depends on how hurt you were, how many tools (support) you have in your tool belt, how many times you have been hurt before, how well you set boundaries and enforce them. So it is different for each of us. The best I can say is that it is an “up hill climb” and it “takes work” —and you can do it if you work at it and experience the pain, the grief, and heal yourself from being vulnerable to these “creatures” of the night.

You doubt ing yourself, your other intimate relationships, etc is a very normal reaction to being “conned.” If you had trust issues before as you said, this will make them worse for a while, but they can be dealt with.

First off I suggest that you read and learn here on this site. There is SO much good information here, go back through the articles in the archive and read just the articles to start with, then go back and re-read them with the comments from the bloggers. You will gain much insight into the psychopath and also insight in what made you fall for his con-job. We can’t fix them, they can’t be fixed.

We can only heal and understand ourselves in light of what they are, and in light of the wounds that we suffered from them. Welcome here, Spotlessmind, there is great support in this forum. Feel free to ask questions, tell us your story, it is a safe place for us all.



Start with the list I suggested and put “LIAR” “CHEAT” and “CON” at the top of the page.

I understand your sudden questioning of all relationships. Like OXY said, NORMAL. Totally normal reaction.

When we are seduced by one of these great seducers, it is so painful when the curtain drops and we see the sham who is behind it. But look at your friends and family and think about the history you have with them. Is there any indication that have or would lie to you?

Also, look very very carefully at the con. Was there any clues that you explained away or gave the benefit of the doubt because you wanted it all to be true because the seduction was so intoxicating? Usually, there was something there that you swept away.

This is not to say you are at fault. Most of us want to see the best in people and give them the benefit of the doubt, especially when they are seducing us… because when you are being seduced, the seducer makes you feel like a million bucks. That’s a pretty intoxicating feeling.

The way we feel about someone is often directly related to how they make us feel about ourselves. Though many of these abusers have taken us to the lowest of lows, they have first taken us to the highest of highs… like a drug where you can never get that feeling of the first high back again.. NEVER.

BTW… I do not do drugs but I have been told this.

It will take a bit of time to process this event that has happened to you.

Be good to yourself and know that you are among friends here.

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