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After the sociopath: How do we heal? Part 11 – Trust

I’m not upset that you lied to me, I’m upset that from now on I can’t believe you.
— Frederic Nietzsche

In recovering from a sociopathic relationship, one of our greatest challenges is to rediscover the meaning of trust. Trust is a kind of glue in our lives. If we are going to be vibrant human beings, living with healthy curiosity and developing ourselves through calculated risks and learning from our experiences, we have to be able to depend on some background truths. When our lives are rocked by unexpected disaster, the impact on our ability to trust our perceptions or our world around us can be massive.

This issue comes up over and over on LoveFraud. We hear it most clearly from the people in early recovery. But it’s an issue at every stage of healing, including the process of forgiving discussed in the last article.

This article will look at some issues around trust, and offer some thoughts about why a relationship with a sociopath illuminates this issue, and what we can do to recover.

Catching the sociopath’s disease

As readers of my writing know, I have my own perspective of the psychology of sociopaths. It sometimes overlaps current theories, but is based more on what I have observed and lived through. I believe that the core issue in the sociopathic dysfunction is a virtually total blockage of interpersonal trust.

I settled on this, because it can explain other symptoms they exhibit. It also matches the personal stories of everyone I’ve known who arguably could be diagnosed as a sociopath, a psychopath, a malignant narcissist or a decompensating borderline. Their personal stories tend to be about the social isolation caused by their differences in temperament or circumstances, or about massive breakdown in their safety or nurture, especially as infants or toddlers. I believe they skew toward the independent, rather than dependent side of the disorder spectrum because of the developmental timing of these crises, as well as lack of support and validation at a crucial time.

Be that as it may, they not only gave up trusting, but blocked off need for it as dangerous to their physical and psychological survival. And they became chronic, eternal loners, living by their wits on the “mean streets,” and viewing any part of the world based on trust-related structures with envy, bitterness and disdain. Their highest sense of the outcome of relationships is winning, because it supports their survival needs and because getting what they want is the only type of interpersonal exchange they can regard as both safe and pleasurable.

With only transient and shallow human connections, they live with emotional starvation, grasping after anything that makes them feel “real” or rewarded. Except for expediency, they have no stake in the world of mutual agreements, like laws or social contracts, and no motivation to behave altruistically. As eternal outsiders, they assume that anything they own or build is vulnerable. So, they are highly concerned with neutralizing threats and building invulnerability (wealth, social acceptance, etc.). But jumping ship, when necessary, is relatively easy, because their need to feel like they are winning or in control is more essential to their internal stability than their attachment to any person or thing.

All of this is important in the context of contagion. Feelings and feelings-connected ideas are contagious. We know this from mob psychology. Peer pressure. The way the character of an authority figure, like a CEO, can shape an entire organization. Many of us have gotten involved in “project” relationships where we feel like we have the resources to help someone out of depression, addiction or some kind of life failure, and discovered they’ve dragged us down as much as we’ve dragged them up. And of course, we are influenced by emotional vocabularies of our families of origin, as well as our intimate relationships, because we strongly desire to stay bonded.

Relationships with sociopaths put a special spin on the issue of contagion. The sociopath urgently wants to influence us. On our side, we are typically comfortable with sacrificing some personal independence for a positive and intense connection. (All relationships involve some compromise, but people who evade or escape early from sociopathic relationships may more resistant to early concessions.) So we have one partner, the sociopath, who needs us to give up our autonomy and another partner, us, who is willing to do so in exchange for the benefits of intensely positive relationship.

We feel like we are in agreement. We feel like winners. But as the relationship progresses, our objectives begin to conflict. We are looking for ongoing emotional support and validation, to feel loved and to know our wellbeing is important to our partner. They are looking for control of resources in their ongoing struggle to survive as unconnected loners. Once they have won with us, they turn their attention to new sources, unless we threaten to revolt. Then, they may re-groom us with loving attention or try to diminish our will through verbal, emotional or physical abuse. For them, the choice of technique isn’t meaningful, as long as it works. Over time, they are more openly annoyed at “wasting” energy on us, unless they are getting something new out of it.

For us, living with a sociopath’s reality is both a radical re-education and an ongoing demolition of beliefs we need to be true. LoveFraud is peppered with statements that begin with “How could he”¦?” and “I can’t believe that”¦” and “What kind of person would”¦?” One of the core pieces of our learning the sociopath’s reality is feeling alone, unsupported and unable to depend on a supposedly trusted connection. Another piece is the feeling of emotional starvation and being in a game designed to keep us in the loser role. Another is the discovery that trust is a fool’s game, and we have to stop if we’re going to survive.

That’s not all. There is the chronic bitterness, envy and resentfulness. There is the aggrieved entitlement to any behavior that serves them, as payback for whatever forced them to jam their ability to trust into the locked basement of their psyches. There is the whole mechanical modus operandi, rigidly designed to avoid the fear and grief of abandonment. There is frantic need to keep busy, developing new schemes to avoid slipping into a pit of depression that they equate with suicide. Ruthless survivors, at whatever cost to themselves or anyone else, is probably the most accurate way to describe them.

All this is what we have been exposed to.

Understanding the lesson

“When the student is ready, the teacher will arrive,” is a well-known Buddhist saying. Another bit of Buddhist wisdom is that we fall in love with our teachers.

When it comes to relationships with sociopaths, this perspective can be a hard pill to swallow. However, we can agree that falling in love with these people initiates one of the most costly and painful lessons of our lives. For those of us who are vulnerable to these relationships, the lesson is also difficult to untangle and ultimately profound. Eventually, it leads many of us to question some of our deepest beliefs and to find the courage to let go of beliefs that have outlived their usefulness, even though they once gave us comfort and feelings of safety in the world.

Fortunately, that courage pays off for us, though we may not know it while we’re grieving something we loved. The greatest achievements of our lives often involve surmounting fear to take huge risks. There is no more fearful risk than letting go of a foundation belief that we trusted for our survival. But we let it go when we have no choice, because it is clearly no longer adequate to support our survival.

In a relationship with a sociopath, we are immersed in an entirely different human reality than our own. The mutual attraction between people of a sociopathic type and people who have codependent tendencies is a cliché that is probably not accurate to all the people and situations described on LoveFraud, but it does describe an interpersonal dynamic that is reasonably consistent. Even people who have been blindsided by out-of-the-blue personality changes face the challenges of dealing with sociopathic relationships with our non-sociopathic beliefs and survival strategies.

This interpersonal dynamic is a kind of head-on collision of radically different survival styles. The sociopathic partner is committed to depending on himself, no matter what temporary dependencies he or she might arrange. The other partner is oriented toward depending on agreements of mutual support. This doesn’t mean that non-sociopaths cannot survive outside an intimate relationship, anyone who would attract them or even consider a relationship with one of them probably is the type of person who feels they do better in reciprocal, committed and trust-based partnership with another person.

The reason codependency comes into this is that codependents and others on the dependent side of the personality spectrum experience needs (rather than wants) in their preference for mutual support as a survival strategy. The more intimate the relationship, the more they need the other person to become actively involved in the preservation their wellbeing, especially in the emotional realm. Those perceived needs (rather than wants) make it more likely they will bargain away important aspects of their identity, resources and plans into order to obtain that caring attention.

Sociopathic survival depends on other people’s agreements to provide them with resources. We could argue that they are just as dependent as we are, but the key difference is the way we make decisions about our lives. Sociopathic decisions are “me” oriented, whether they are impulsive in-the-moment choices or important long-term choices of change in life direction. Their partners — who are both targeted by the sociopath and self-selected by their tolerance or inability to escape the sociopath’s treatment in relationship — have the tendency to put “us” first in their decision-making.

At this point, I can hear rumbling out there of “Tell me something I don’t know.” I know you know. But I hope this long description clarifies the real nature of our challenge. We have been closely involved with someone who doesn’t trust or connect emotionally, and who uses our need or desire for a trustworthy partner to enforce our involvement and extract resources that he or she has no intention of repaying. We have immigrated to planet Sociopath and our visas are all stamped “loser.”

Since this is their world, what would they tell us if we asked them about how to get this loser stamp off our visa? If we caught them at a moment when they were blissed out with anti-anxiety drugs stolen from their last girlfriend or feeling generous because they were feeling flush after some big win, they might say, “Don’t be such a dope. The world is full of people and situations in which other people win by using you. If you don’t care enough about you to protect yourself and your resources, this is what you get. Save your whining for your victim friends. You must like it or you wouldn’t volunteer for it.”

Ouch. Well, the Buddhists don’t say anything about the teacher being a nice guy.

Power and Resilience

The meaning of this lesson changes as we move through our phases of healing. People in early-stage recovery are terrified by the prospect of a world without trust. People in the angry stage are fighting back, sharpening their skills at identifying situations and people that cannot be trusted, building better boundaries against aggressive users, and getting active in neutralizing threats to them and people they care about.

After we develop and practice these skills, we earn some confidence about our ability to deal with incoming threats. This enables us to gradually shift our focus from vigilance against threats (what we don’t want) to interest recreating our lives (what we do want). We don’t forget what happened or minimize its importance. But we build on what we learned about our power and entitlement to make choices. Maybe for the first time since we were teenagers, we invest serious thought on how we want to feel, who we want to be, and the way we want our lives to play out in this new world.

With our power to choose comes increased emotional independence. We start viewing our lives as something we create and our results as something we earned. We still value relationships, but we are less willing to compromise our identities, give away our resources or change our plans. We become more interested in less dramatic relationships with other people who are learning through living. We share stories, validation and encouragement, but we are also conscious of each other’s limited resources. A relationship may naturally deepen. But we don’t need that to survive, and we are cautious, because we don’t want to discover too late that our great friendship did not prepare us for the different needs of a love affair.

When we face the idea of never trusting again in the way we once did, it can be very scary. The scariest thing is what might happen inside us. We don’t want to become suspicious, angry people. We don’t want to live in a constant state of anxious alert.

But we’re not giving up the ability to trust. We’re giving up something else, the trust of a child who has no choice but to trust, because it is dependent. And so that child turns to magical thinking to preserve belief in the trustworthiness of its parents or the safety of its environment, no matter how much evidence there may be to the contrary. This is the mirror-reverse of the sociopath’s survival strategy of blocking of trust. If we are still doing this magical thinking as adults, we also are dealing with blocked development that keeps us in a childlike reality. In learning to trust conditionally, and to limit our investments in other people’s lives to match what we get out of it, we are transitioning to the world of grown-up trust.

The childlike trust is a trust in being loved and supported, no matter what. In truth, we haven’t really believed in this for a long time. Otherwise, we wouldn’t have kept paying more and more to be accepted and loved. Even though we can live in ways that reduce our risk, we already know that no one can really buy an insurance policy against things changing. Everything changes. An awake, aware life creates itself with the knowledge of change. But it doesn’t mean that there is nothing we can trust.

It just means that we trust conditionally. We trust what is consistent, until it isn’t consistent anymore. This makes almost everything in our lives trustworthy. The sun rises and sets. Snarling dogs are likely to bite. Cars eat gas and steel bumpers are stronger but more expensive to replace that plastic ones. Roses like a lot of rain. Tomatoe plants don’t. The leftovers in the refrigerator that smell icky are bad to eat. People who don’t share our ethics or world views are interesting at dinner parties, but risky to do business with or marry. These are background truths we can conditionally trust until something changes.

These smaller, conditional trusts serve the same purpose as our desire for larger, unconditional trusts did before. The real difference is that we trust now in a way that leaves more room for life. Knowing that trust may be transient makes it that much more lovely. We have limited resources — intellectual and emotional — and one of the risks of life is to trust what appears to be stable, so that we can use our resources to make new things grow.

For readers who are not anywhere near ready to feel powerful about their choices, here is a simple rule you can use until you are. Guard your trust as though it were an extension cord from your heart. Don’t give it away to anyone you don’t firmly believe deserves it. And be prepared to unplug the cord at a moment’s notice. You can always plug it back in again, if you find you’ve made a mistake by unplugging it. No one who really cares (or who is capable of caring) about you will mind you taking care of yourself. But your trust in other people and in the world should be a conduit for good into your life. That’s what it’s for.

If it brings anything else, don’t thing twice. Unplug it. A good life should have lots of these extension cords, some heavier duty than others, leading to all kinds of things that bring us good. People, institutions, books, artists, blogs. If unplugging one or two makes us feel lost or destabilized, it probably means we need to find more things we enjoy without our lives depending on it.

In conclusion, you’ve probably all figured out that this is really about “becoming the sociopath,” but in a good way. We use the contagion to strengthen some of our weak spots, and to gain access to the “inner sociopath” when it’s appropriate. There is fundamentally nothing wrong with what sociopaths do, except that it’s all that they do. They can’t respond to love. They can’t trust anything but themselves. They can’t stop replaying their primal drama, because their lack of trust blocks them from ever learning that they are not alone.

Fortunately for us, more dependent types are open to input. We not only can learn, but many of us are truly excited by anything that breaks us out of our limitations. We know we’re not losers, but sometimes it takes a long time to overcome our training. In getting involved with a sociopath, we took the biggest risk of our lives. We stuck our heads into the mouth of the lion, and if you’ve gotten this far, you’ve taken a good look around and said, “Hey, I can do that.”

Next time, unless I get distracted, we will discuss love. This week I will not be available to follow the thread, so I hope you enjoy it, that it makes some sense to everyone, and it makes you feel good about wherever you are now. If you are on LoveFraud, I think you deserve to feel proud of yourself.

Namaste. The spirit of enlightened self-caring in me salutes the spirit of enlightened self-caring in you.

Kathy


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379 Comments on "After the sociopath: How do we heal? Part 11 – Trust"

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Kathy…Thanks so much. This is great reinforcement to continue the path of healing and hope. These souls are pathetic human beings. I always felt that he was so much better than me because that was the unspoken feeling he always left me with. The price he pays every moment is something I can’t imagine living with. Robert Hare has something on the inside front cover of his book (I think it’s called The Mask of Sanity, or maybe I’m confusing a Hervey Cleckley book), but nonetheless, that eludes to the fact that we should have some semblence of compassion for these people. What you wrote above helps me to understand them for myself, so that I may continue to move forward. I had to turn him over to God, let go and move on with my life. I have arrived at the place I left off when I met him 42 years ago on the beach at Waikiki. I am getting a second chance to discover who I am without him, and it is so wonderful. I’ll share a miracle that happened just a few days ago when I was waiting for my son in a small park that happened to be across the street from the apartment that I lived in when I met the S. My son lives across the street from that apartment and the small park is in between. As I was sitting there I glanced over at the apartment I lived in when I was 19 and met the S. What a coincidence that 36 years later my own son would be living across the street from the very apartment I lived in when I met his S dad. Feelings flooded me of depersonalization and floating for about 2 hours, even as I went home and journaled. I felt crazy and “back there at that time”. In a while I knew I was on the other side and had re connected with the me that was lost all of those years ago. I am moving forward, letting the teacher appear, because this pupil is more than ready.

Kathy’s articles are a lifeline for me right now — they, along with your postings, are a big part of what I’m holding onto as I find my way. As I read this, I realized I’ve become much more aware of how trusting other people works best for me: instead of them starting off with 100% of my trust until they do things to deplete or loose it, new people in my life start out at neutral — it’s up to them to earn and keep my trust, and it’s up to me to set healthy boundaries. It’s a process now instead of a single initial snap judgment.

The hardest part for me right now is regaining my own trust! I let the destructive n/p chaos machine into my life, and I let her stay while she caused incredible destruction and wreckage that I’ll be dealing with for years. Once I was able to allow myself to look back over my life, I found one destructive person after another that I’d let harm me — this latest was simply the worst. And she got my attention and woke me from the fog (Fear Obligation Guilt — thank you, Oxy!)

So I’ve decided that I’m going to give me some room to earn my own trust: hang in there and see how I handle things as I get my life up and running again. Keep telling myself the truth with compassion: I like the idea of gentle correction, “You blew it there, Kid — we’ll get ‘um next time,” figuring out what happened and then allowing myself space to fall back, regroup, and try again. It’s amazing how much energy ya burn trying to be perfect and meet everybody’s needs while ignoring your own, so I’m thinking I need to keep pressing for new plan of operation that puts me responsible for myself, and then others when I choose to be. There’s still generosity in that plan, but this way, I don’t get left out.

Don’t think I’ll ever trust blindly again — but looking at where that took me, this isn’t such a bad thing.

Thanks for your post Betty. I’m swinging back and forth. Most days I feel I am ready to do the self-forgiving but some I slip right back and raille at the mess I am because I allowed the S to manipulate me and didn’t listen properly to my own inner guts screaming at me that ‘this just isn’t right’.

I liked your comment about starting off neutral. I try to stand back and observe before I ‘jump in’ in any new situation in my life (believe me I have no intention of it being a relationship ever again! Sad isn’t it?). Like you, I don’t think I ever ‘set healthy boundaries’.

It’s hard to come to terms with the fact that that ‘nice’ person has gone – the one who always saw and looked for the best in others – My curve at the moment is getting over the resentment that I have had to change something I liked in myself because of the inadequacies of others and the need to protect against allowing one of the nightmare human beings into my orbit again.

Kathy – ‘the demolition of our belief system’ – spot on – I agree with your points and take heart from them but it does feel like the ‘destruction’ of something good. My mother taught me to always see the good and it sometimes feels like a violation of her memory (she passed 7 years ago) as she was such a good woman and I use her advice and wisdom in my life, usually as my first point of reference esp. pertaining to family, emotion and love etc. Is there no end to what these S/N/P s take from us?

I’m not upset that you lied to me, I’m upset that from now on I can’t believe you.
”“ Frederic Nietzsche

and…

I’m upset that you manipulate innocent people into doing your dirty work,

and…

I’m upset that you’re infinitely high maintenance and totally one way,

and…

I’m upset that you are unpredictably hostile and chronically violent,

but…

most of all I’m upset with myself, because I didn’t see all this from the first.

In retrospect, it was rather obvious.

Lying was only part of the picture, at least in the case of the S I dealt with.

“And like you can feel compassion or even love someone you can’t trust, I feel for him. I wish I could have done something meaningful for him that was as valuable as what he did for me. But what he got was the best he could imagine for himself. The money, the chance to write, the broadening experiences. I used to be angry because I thought it would just make him more plausible. I’m not angry anymore. He is what he is, charismatic, needy, limited, broken.

And dangerous. That, too, is real. Dangerous like a scorpion or a frightened and cornered dog or botulism on the raw chicken. The only way to deal with them is to protect ourselves. We can’t fix them. They survive the way they do.

And some few people, like me, are grateful and continue to care about them. From a distance. He’s tragic. He spreads it around, if he gets involved with women, they become tragic. ”

Thanks Kathleen. These are words I can definitely relate to. While not involved in a romantic sense, I definitely did care about the S. I wanted to see him live a joyful, productive life. He had skills, and many good work habits. When he tried, he could be charming.

People who get it ask, “Why are you so tolerant?”

“Because he can’t help it, and he’s harmless as long as he’s not indulged too far.”

The people who don’t get it ask, “So you recommend him for this position, right?”

“If you’re satisfied with the background check, then go ahead and hire him. You do follow your insurer’s guidelines with respect to those background checks, don’t you? “

In the end, what I find most distressing about sociopathy is the “practically incurable” part.

It goes against the optimistic faith I was raised in.

Kathleen

What?!! Does ‘wanking’ mean the same in the US as it does in England? !!!!

Some one please explain – I’m shocked!

Just popping in quickly to say that the article above is, in my opinion, your best work to date. You perfectly describe the path, the process, “this thing of ours.”

EC,

There are several “truths” we are taught as children that are FALSE.

“There is good in everyone”

“there are two (valid) sides to every story”

“it takes two to fight”

“If you’ll be nice to them, they’ll play nice with you.”

I could go on but you get the idea! It is unfortunate that this is NOT true, but even the Bible shows us that there are people who WILL NOT repent, who WILL NOT change their ways no matter how many times their wrongs are pointed out to them.

There are those who will lie, cheat, steal, put up a false front of piety and who will CRUCIFY anyone, including the Christ, for pointing out their lies and bad behavior.

If we blindly trust everyone until they prove us wrong, then we are in for a big lot of hurt in our lives. We must use caution and good sense I think, in order to pick who we are able to trust and to what level.

Hi Kathleen
Agree with Tood 100%.
I hear what you say about learning from the S, and becomming a little more like them. I think, though, that the only thing they have worth learning is clarity of self interest, and that there is absolutely nothing whatsoever in their method that merits copying. Because, really, they are thieves, and frauds, and rapists.

Dear Oxdrover,

Thanks for this:

“There are several “truths” we are taught as children that are FALSE…”

I’ve been a “good girl” all my life, and there’s a big part of me that feels guilty about distancing myself from anyone.
In the past, I’ve had to get really discouraged before I’d do it. Now I’m trying to figure out how to stay away from cluster Bs. Historically, they’ve had way too much fun at my expense!

I was raised to hope for change and forgive. Like Kathleen, I tend to hope. Unfortunately, I also feel guilty for abandoning hope. Is it OK if I hope from a safe distance?

Dear Kathleen,

I think behavior modification might work on Sociopaths. If a sociopath is incarcerated, I think the government should at least attempt treatment.

I also think that sociopaths might get better if they were surrounded by people who were harder to play. For this reason, I think broader education about the nature of sociopaths and conduct disordered youth might be helpful.

I particularly believe that our public schools need to stop being naive about the nature of conduct disorder. Conduct disordered kids need serious intervention, and being allowed to bully their normal peers isn’t part of any rational plan.

After all, if bad behavior no longer worked for sociopaths and sociopaths in training, maybe they’d take a stab at good behavior. You never know.

Hi Kathy

I am a victim of a sociopath, I have lost my home my money and worst of all my Trust.

I would love to know how to begin to heal as while I have supportive friends and family they do not understand why I let a man con me out of everything I have worked for. He has taken so much more from me than the material things and I do not know where to begin to heal.

If any one can make any sugestions I would love to hear them. I would love to start up my own support group and if anyone is interested or can help me set up one would love to hear from you.

I live in a small village in Staffordshire England.

Thank you to anyone who reads this.

Jayne

Dear EC,

“Is it okay to hope from a safe distance?”

Of course it is! The greater the distance the better, though! LOL

Even the Bible talks about people whose hearts are so “hardened” or “seared with a hot iron” so that truth cannot get through to them. Even those of us who do our best to practice Christianity and “love our fellow men” are cautioned by Jesus himself and St. paul to look at the FRUIT (behaviior) to see if it is good or bad, and if the fruit is bad, the tree is bad….and we are to distance ourselves from these bad people. “Do not even eat with them.” so that they do not poison us!

I can understand why people would WANT to think that there is “good in everyonoe” but unfortunately it is NOT true, and it leaves us open to false information that makes us vulnerable to the psychopaths’ behaviors and abuse.

Dear Jayne,

Welcome to LF, I’m glad you have found your way here. this is a healing place and there is so much good infromation here to learn and KNOWLEDGE=POWER, and the more we know about them, and about ourselves as well, the better we can take back our power from them.

Again, welcome.

Welcome Jayne,

There are links and “Monthly Archives” where more subject are listed from past posts. LF also offers some books to purchase here at LF. Some members here are new as well, still others have been here for awhile. I hope this site can and will be of some assistance to you. Many here too have experience great lost due to this disorder with those who suffer from a lack of empathy of others. Many come here with fresh wounds and I try to be as compassionate and understanding as possible, many us do.

Welcome again! 🙂

I am currently dealing with what I believe is a female sociopath. I am a gay female as is she. We were in an 8 year relationship and I am now back in court fighting for my life due to her accusing me of maliciously vandalizing property that I own and was part of our co-owned home. Her claim of $130.00. I could lose my job of 20 years and she obviously could care less. Has anyone else dealt with gay sociopaths. Her behavior as well as her family behavior fits all the descriptions to a tee. I think sometimes I am paranoid. I just want to get off this crazy merrygoround with her. The break up was over 2 years ago and she is still after me…Any ideas or input would be greatly appreciated…

“I don’t think you understand that my ambient emotional state is desperation.”

That is indeed a very interesting statement to make to someone. Being and feeling surrounded by an emotional state of desperation is it self a call for help or pity play? Was this in fact a way of being honest as any s/p can be or yet another attempt to manipulate?

Yes, Kathleen Hawk! A very interesting statement indeed..

And yes I agree your view about being them very parasitic because they lack fundamental resources. Albeit emotional psychological and/or financial. Perhaps this also explains this feeling of being surrounded by a state of desperation.

Lonnie,

We do have some gay members here that might be able to relate to this. One I believe is also a lawyer and has helped others with legal questions. Also our sexual orientation may not be an issue for some inquiries and questions. Many of us have found that the many patterns of s/p (sociopaths/personality disorders) seem to read from the same book. Like some characteristics traits and power plays. Best of luck to you!

“Both of us were beyond that. I was out of pity. And he was out of new ploys.”

LOL

Yea, been there done that…

I experienced the contagious nature of their world view. I started experiencing his envy, esp., as my own. His view of the good life as my own…which couldn’t be further from the truth. For awhile, it was really hard to shake! And his view of himself as above me.

I don’t view the P as blocked but rather emotionally retarded in a way that thus far we don’t know how to fix, just like we don’t know how to fix Down’s Syndrome. It may be caused by genes, emotional trauma, or some combination. But after a certain age, maybe pre-teen, I think there is no mitigating it.

I really didn’t learn a damn thing from him except a HUGE awareness about P’s. And since he was so extreme, then I could see those same traits in others and it helped me deal with them, as much as they needed dealing with, but I had pretty well learned to stay away from them. But overall, SORRY, my life would have been much better had I never met him.

Speaking of which, I think it was a weird set of factors that made me suspend my usual values. He was my first love, returned after 40 years (though he had kept contacting me), and we reconnected over the Internet and phone, where it is easy to imagine someone is someone they are not. And I was in a vulnerable spot in my life. And he was so rich and successful, I mistook that for mental and emotional maturity. And he recreated the relationship I had with my mom, blah, blah.

I say “blah, blah, blah,” because the insights I gained from him were NOT worth the pain of knowing him.

Nothing redeeming about the whole mess whatsoever! So, out of the almost 60 years of my life, he dominated 3-4 years total, including the time in my teens. So that means he was a bad tooth ache for 6.6% of my life. And that percentage goes down each year I live. And it is over with.

I’m feeling strong today.

JAYNE HALE – I feel your pain and you have come to a very healing place with wonderful people. The exact same thing happened to me in a village in Scotland three years ago.

It is painful. I have found Kathleen’s series of posts so beneficial because there is a big shining light at the end of the tunnel if we put in the work. She is also a realist.

Take Care and post often and keep reading. your family and friends do not know what you were up against. Please read as much as you can and if you need any help come here. I am happy share my email address too if you do so through Donna. Someone did that for me three years agao and we are still in contact. knowing I was not alone and someone else went through the same thing saved my life.

Kate

Ive posted my story about my ex and my two daughters here before,–Im stil finding it unbelievably hard to deal with the fact that the two most poisonous people Ive met in my entire life are my two girls,{now aged 43 and 45}, You are supposed to love and cherish your children for ever, but thanks to Oxy, kathy, and others here, I am beginning to see that NC is probably my only option now. Ive tried and tried, turned myself inside out for them for over 30 years,{since they hit puberty} and its vey hard but I now know that I know that I CANT change them, they dont love me, they only use me, they see me as totally expendable,{except in Debs case as cash cow}they have no sympathy, remorse, compassion, kindness or love in their hearts,if indeed they have hearts.
Like the joke,”My children and I have the perfect give and take relationship, I give, and they take.” That about sums it up. But now Im determined to shut off the cash supply to Deborah. Ive written to her to tell her that the Mum bank is now closed,-permanently. Sice then, I havent heard from her at all., either by phone or email. If these women were not family I wouldnt want anything to do with them! They are highly toxic to me! They care less about my life. I havent seen Claire in 16 years, or seen Deb since 10th Dec. last year.So, its getting easier, Do I miss them? Not really! I dont miss pain, Im not a masochist! I dont think they will ever change.AsOxy says, they are not my dear little girls any more,they are grown women, they are hard, selfish, cruel, manipulative, toxic NSs .I deeply dislike them. I cant believe I gave birth to them!

thank you, kathy! Thank you for your support and wise council. your right. Im getting better at this all the time. I know I musnt weaken, and call Deb. I now choose to shut the door on relationships that are selfish, toxic and self serving.Your right, im upset with myself for putting up with all this for so long, but,truly, until I found this website,{and a couple of others re NS personalities,} I was ignorant of this mental condition.But now, armed with this new knowledge, and the loving support of all you great guys who have been there too,I CAN DO IT!! I am printing out and keeping all the blogs re my situation, they are like lifeblood to me right now
Also, Im not doing this to try to turn them around, Im doing this for ME.I know I cant count on them ever changing, but I CAN change, and move on, and have a great life.I have a wonderful supportive husband, a few good friends, worth while voluntary work, my “new” kids,Roya and Abbas, and a holiday in S, Africa to look forward to in 3 weeks time. No more drain on my pocketbook, no more drain on my spirit. Thats it!Thanks again, and bless all of you! {{HUGS}}, geminigirl.

Kathleen,

WRT behavior modification and sociopaths:

Behavior modification is always more effective with rewards for good behaviors. Punishment doesn’t hold a candle to reward when if comes to altering behavior patterns.

Like you, I think altering the behavior patterns of conduct disordered youth is easier than working with adult sociopaths. Easier doesn’t equate to easy. There is evidence that conduct disordered youth experience pleasure (reward) when they witness the pain and/or misery of others. This makes it particularly critical that rewards for good behaviors are provided.

Yes, this is expensive and time consuming. It’s also important. There is evidence to suggest that sociopathy may actually be on the rise. What percentage of sociopaths in our society can we “carry” before our culture implodes? This may not remain merely a theoretical question for much longer.

Jayne Hale
I am also in England – West Yorkshire – and also just out of a 3 year ‘relationship’ with a sociopath. Its tough but I am trying not to let it define who I am although I am shocked to the core knowing what I now know.
If you want to contact me ask Donna for my email address.
keep strong – look forward not back – you will survive.

Here is my first post:

I have been reading at this site for about 1 year now….I first came to find answers for my 3 year relationship and then as I continued to read, started a new one with another man……

Thanks to this site and the stories of others and the wise words by OxDrover and others, I at the very least have started to see the light……

Although the flags started for me about 6 months ago in the new relationship, I was still slow in really getting it…..It was like the guy had flags dropping and I didn’t think he “fit” the role…..But the difference was I kept reading here which enabled me to start seeing what he really was……

I saw him start to make up “excuses”( for his behavior), which I believed, and was duped with his far out stories…..He told me he was once in law enforcement and had to kill a man trying to kill his partner….He cried crocodile tears over his past life….and all the mistakes he made…….He eventually led me to believe that I was his only woman…..All the things I have read here…..and I started to investigate………

I found out he is on many sex sites, and if you really listen to people, they will tell you exactly who they are…..He even told me about “past” experiences and then tried to bring me into his game….in a very subtle way…..

The article above on boredom hit home in so many ways with him…..his sex addiction and need for change and bizarre situations…..his need for drama with his life…..

I was stood up many times, I observed his constant phone calls to others and phone texts….on dates he was constantly on the phone or texting and said it was about his son or a friend in need….. his obsession with his own troubles….I got a phone call everyday and every morning from him for 6 months…..all about him…..he would put me on hold and then disappear….calling back the next day like nothing happened…..when I was talking about myself he had to go……or the phone would hang up mysteriously….

When I met him, I was getting over my ex, and he listened to me for 2 months, with lunches, and “concern”….when we finally started to see each other is when I started to see the flags….

I ignored them and didn’t think he really fit the mold….but after he “borrowed” $ and also after I found he had a girlfriend, I was still believing he had a good heart….HELLO! He was just going through rough times and had stopped seeing her……right…

It all became clear to me after he stood me up and I realized he was doing this since the beginning…..even with the phone calls….

I saw he didn’t give a damn about my feelings although he would give an “awww” when I tried to express how I felt…the man has no remorse, no conscience, full of lies, deceptions, and seemed to have no idea of why I would be upset….

I let him play his game for a while as I really studied him and let myself “see” what I was suspecting, that he really was a sociopath..

He borrowed my camera to take on a trip he planned with his son, and never returned it. When I asked again for it back, I told him I’d make a meal for him before work and he could bring it then. He stated “That sounds like a bribe.” Yes, maybe the way he thinks….He keeps it so he can have something I want, to further feel in control…..He is strange….even gave me his shirt he had worn and change into another one….I asked him did he want me to wash it and then I gave it right back and said well just take it with you…..He then with an odd look said no I will leave it with you….????

I see that all the good things I did where not appreciated. That in his life all that matters are his “needs”. He didn’t do one thing out of “love” or real concern for me at all…..Not even a card for my birthday, nor one little flower, and although he made out he had big money and cars, etc, and how he had bought every flower his ex loved when he took her out to win her back in the past and told me how he went all out for her, he could not give me anything….because he doesn’t have anything to give….

I see an empty person and I might as well have loved a tree stump…..Although because of this site and the knowledge I was learning, I didn’t allow myself to really fall in love…..Yes, I had strong feelings for what I thought he was, for the person he led me to believe he was, but I guarded my innermost heart….

It was a slow let down…..I saw and heard him playing me and my heart sunk…..and each time he “played” me or I allowed him to do his thing…..I saw more and more about what he really was……and as if I needed more proof…..and I got it…..so I was able to reason out that I made him into someone he was not….and although sometimes I had seen some good in him….(he wasn’t verbally abusive and never put me down in words just actions) I realized he can’t love….not even himself….

He liked to torture me with the “unsure” if the date was on or off…once even calling me while he was outside my home and asking me what I would do if he said he wasn’t going to make it….and then laughed and said he was outside….then when I got into his car…..hugged me……

He also wanted control…..big time…..and when I said once I was going to start to date, he came up to see me immediately and told me he had a surprise for me and it was him! and he was going to spend the night with me……

Not once did he ask me to his apartment and told me his son was there so it wasn’t a good idea….but he wasn’t married….and this I do know as a fact….but I am sure he has a girlfriend or several…..I was taking things very slowly for me since my last relationship so I didn’t really feel these were issues at the time…..I like that he was taking it slowly as well and little did I know, he was taking all that time to get to know me and study me as his prey…..

I look back and wonder if I was brain dead at the time…and a lot of this has to do with my past life, as a child, and other issues…

For a while now, I have been working on myself and my reasons of allowing all this…..I am not entirely out of this since as this writing I have not cut him off…..I plan on not answering his calls anymore and I am sure he will go away…..although from this site I realize that he might not be done and try all sorts of things to bring me back into his game…..

Any thought for me would be appreciated……I need support right now….

Thanks…..

Sounds like you’ve been very strong already! Good for you guarding your heart. Definitely not a guy worthy of your love. The torturing of you…the P I was involved in did the same sort of thing. Or, hate to admit this, have sex 3 times with me in 15 hours, and then completely ignore me for 3 weeks. Not a word. It just will get worse the longer you stay in, or at least that was my experience. Others will chime in soon I’m sure. LF is full of caring people who have been through the same type of experience. But it seems like you’ve been much more aware through the process than most, so don’t be too hard on yourself! They are great manipulators!

I thought the book WOMEN who LOVE PSYCHOPATHS was very well written and really made me look at myself and my relationships. In my mind, I know a difference between a SOCIOPATH and PSYCHOPATH. I also am looking very hard at the reasons why I find “normal” men to be un-exciting and un-interesting. I am making a choice not to date for various reasons, one of which is because I can’t trust any human being yet, another, – because I am so vulnerable and afraid to “fall for the same prototype”. Vision, even if you were “brain dead” I commend you for catching this early on and posting. I think it’s crucial that we see ourselves not as some handicapped HALF of the illusive other, but as a whole, who can function independently of a meaningful long term relationship. It’d be awful to imagine a world where halfs keep bumping into each other

Vision:

You sound like a very smart and stealthy individual. Good for you for keeping your heart guarded in this suspicious new relationship.

“if you really listen to people, they will tell you exactly who they are.”
Isn’t that the truth, Vision?!?! The problem with me was that I just overlooked the questionable logic, ignored my gut instincts, and kept right on falling head over heels in love!
It is VERY EASY TO DO when you are COMPLETELY unaware of a little disorder called sociopathy, and do NOT have access to Love Fraud.

Consider yourself lucky (and blessed) that you had this site as a reference while this questionable relationship unfolded.

“I am not entirely out of this since as writing this I have not cut him off.”

CUT HIM OFF!!!

If you have been reading this site for a year, then, you know that NO CONTACT is the only way to go with this guy, RIGHT?!?!

I could tell you what will happen if you let this relationship progress for, let’s say the next 6 years. But, it is not pretty, and you will not like it.

CUT HIM OFF ASAP! (And don’t think twice about it.)

He is a chimp in a business suit. You deserve better.

Vision: It almost sounds like we were dating the same guy! I did the same thing you did, I was here reading after my 14 year relationship broke up and I had been surfing the web looking for answers, then I was involved with another guy for about a year, they really do tell you who they are!! I think I was in a brain fog for about a year, this last guy really was, IMO (I’m not a doctor) a sociopath. I have not heard from him in 8 weeks and at this point do not expect to (unless, of course, he thinks up some kind of way to ask for more $$$, which I won’t give him). The NC is helping the pain fade away. I think my part in the whole thing has something to do with my childhood.

Dear Vision,

I am so glad that you have stayed here and continued to read even though you have not posted until now….if you’ve been here a year you know one of my mantras is “Knowledge=Power”—–only by knowing what they are, and that they cannot change, can we take back our power, reclaim ourselves and get them out of our lives, our heads and our hearts!

I have gone through so many “incarnations” of my own, as we all move through the different stages of healign, and sometimes we back track, get off track, or go back into the FOG, but if we keep on learning, keep on moving, I believe we wil lfind our way to the “city limits of Healing.”

Thank you for posting, and I am glad that LF has helped you with your journey! No one desrves to be abused, and it is only we ourselves that can stop it. (((hugs)))) Keep on posting, and keep on learning!

Jayne Hale

I’m in Cheshire. Don’t think it was the same bloke do you? !!

Your brief description is almost a carbon copy of mine but as you read this blog, you’ll see that is not uncommon – regardless of the circumsances, relationship – either partner/parent-child/child-parent – it all seems to be the same story – just to varying degrees and timescales.

I do feel for you because I know exactly what you mean about friends and family not fully understanding – why should they? Thank god they don’t – at least it means our loved ones haven’t been ‘damaged’ by these slugs the way we have.

I would be interested in the possibility of a ‘help group’.

Keep posting here for strength – it’s a wonderful site and has helped me and encouraged me over the short time I have been visiting.

Kathy

Esp. liked your post to Grant about – gentler lessons being presented for you to learn. I also like your comments about people-pleasing versas self-interest. I am trying to develop a ‘healthy’ self-interest at the moment. I am beginning to realise that it doesn’t come too naturally to me – it feels ‘guilty’ even when it’s not anything major that even affects anyone else.

I went out yesterday and wasn’t back in time for my adult daughter coming home from work. She had to get her own dinner – which she is quite capable of doing and happy to do – she didn’t make me feel in any way uncomfortable. In fact, when I came through the door she greeted me with a great big smile and said “mum, you’re covered in mud (been cycling), where did you go – did you have a great day?!

Why then did I still feel a pang of guilt? I’m working on that one – I can’t blame the S for this entirely. So, yes you are right that are valuable lessons to learn from being involved with them – perhaps I would have been like this without ever having met him, perhaps I wouldn’t.

All thanks for your insights and wisdom Kathy.

My God…I am so happy to find you people. I have been searching in silence for over 10 years for a place like this. I survived all the horros from this page with two children and no family or friends around to hold my hand. The S, grabed whatever he could and left to the other side of the Globe, abandoning the children as well (but he was so sure that I would accept him back when his money was over, because he knew he left me in a state of despair)… But he never counted that mine and the childrens answer was going to be: ” you are not my husband and you are not our father”. He hung up in despair, and tried several times, but our answer was always the same. We came out on the other side beautifully and this has been 10 years. My son who is now a successful business man with only 24 yrs old decided to give his old friend a call and see what life reserved for him… He is not in good shape , now he is older and poor and no longer Mr Charming..and thank you Godd he is so far away….but the trauma , scars and pain still very much alive inside me.. but I am healing. and I am so glad I met you all..

Brilhancy

God you’re a strong bird! How proud you must be of your children and that you lived through the turmoil of the S.

We need folk like you here – it encourages me that standing firm against these maniacs (the NC) is the answer to healing and moving on to a better place.

Thanks a million for your post – hope you’ll keep coming back to share.

Dear Brilhancy,

Welcome to LF, this is a HEALING PLACE….the more you learn about these monsters (I suggest you go back and read all the archived articles, there’s a list by month on the side) the better you will be able to heal.

Sounds like you are, as escapee says, a “strong bird” to NOT go back to him, and kudus to your kids too! No Contact (NC) is the only way to free yourself physically, but there is still the problem of getting them out of our head, and healing the damage they did there. All teh questions of “why me?” and “Why did I put up with it so long?” and 1000 other questions.

I am happy that you got away from this creep, and I am also happy that he is in miserable circumstances and you and your children are doing well. Hang around here and blog and read and welcome, you have come to the right place to validate yourself and your story, and to heal. (((hugs))))

OxDrover

Just about to sign off when I read your comment. Always supportive – I slip in and out of the ‘why did I go back’ stuff on a daily basis. Have been feeling a bit stronger these past few days but it still nags in my head.

I find it sad (picking up your comment about ‘being happy he is in miserable circumstances’) that we come to this. I was never a vengeful person, I never took pleasure or satisfaction in hearing of anyone’s misfortune AND NOW (as you expressed so succinctly) where Ss are concerned we, at best think ‘good!’ and, at worst (where I go from time to time) wish the worst torment and pain would befall them. This is what they take from us – our humanity. I totally understand it but I actually resent that it too. Soooo confusing! The conclusion that I reach is that, ‘maybe I was too soft, too caring before’ and it left me vulnerable to inviting the monster into my life. Maybe this harsher perspective ‘protects’ us from them – save your compassion for those who deserve it? What do you say? I don’t want to turn into some kind of ‘sicko’ myself.

Thanks for reading.

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