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By September 17, 2012 217 Comments Read More →

Approaching someone who has been burned by a sociopath

Lovefraud recently received the following email from a man whom we’ll call “Andrew.”

I recently met a lady out of the blue after I had sat at home alone for 2 years. She is the victim of a sociopath—reads & posts on the Lovefraud site trying to heal. She says she can’t tell me all the damage done & I don’t need to know—it’s her business unless she feels she needs to share.

She had cabin fever—had to get out for a night—hence our meeting. Well I had basically given up on finding someone until I met her. We instantly clicked. It was so good for 3 weeks—making plans of fun things to do. I thought it would help her heal—to go have fun again.

I think she started liking me too much in that short period of time—got scared & slammed on the brakes. She says she needs time, but truly values my friendship & adores me. I’m trying to give her “time.” It’s so hard when she lit up my life for a while.

She wants to see me again, but doesn’t know when.

I have no motives other than to get to know her & help her get over the past. She might just be the one if we spend the time to know one another.

I have read the Lovefraud blog trying to understand—some really sad stories.

What should I do?

In the thousands of emails that I’ve received, this is the first time someone has asked this question (which I’ve paraphrased) how do you approach a potential romantic partner when that person has been burned by a sociopath? I appreciate that fact that Andrew cared enough to ask the question.

I will answer the question assuming that everything is exactly as presented—a woman, whom we’ll call Caroline, had a terrible experience with a sociopath and is skittish about opening herself to another man. Andrew honestly likes Caroline, and wants to get to know her better. I will assume that neither Andrew nor Caroline is actually a predator who is looking for a new source of supply.

This, of course, is something that Caroline, and everyone else who has been betrayed and damaged by a sociopath, needs to understand and believe: There are good people in the world. Yes, as many as 12 percent of the population are social predators—sociopaths, psychopaths, narcissists, borderlines. But that still means that 88 percent of the world’s people are not disordered, and are capable of having a loving relationship.

Understand where she’s been

So, Andrew, the first thing for you to understand is that Caroline has been through the meat grinder. She’s experienced betrayal that has rocked her to her core. She’s certainly suffered emotional and psychological abuse, and may have also suffered verbal, physical, sexual and financial abuse. In fact, it may be a miracle that she is still standing.

If you’ve never experienced this level of betrayal—most people haven’t—it may be hard for you to believe what she’s gone through. Should she tell you anything about what happened, it may sound like a bad movie, and you may be inclined to think she is exaggerating. I assure you, when someone is involved with a sociopath, anything is possible. I’ve collected more than 3,200 cases, and many of the stories should be made into movies. You can’t make this stuff up.

Caroline, however, is accustomed to not being believed. She may have gone to court and to the police, and they didn’t believe her story. It’s possible her friends or her own family do not believe her. So one of the best things you can do is believe her. It will help her feel validated.

Go slow

Andrew, you will need take things very slowly. It’s likely that the sociopath swept into Carolin’es life in a whirlwind romance—if you call all the time, if you are overly exuberant about wanting to see her, it may set off alarm bells, because that’s how the sociopath acted. Let her set the pace.  Keep things light.

Understand that trust needs to be earned. This may be why Caroline got into trouble in the first place—she trusted too readily. Now, she may have gone too far in the other direction, and resolved to never trust anyone again. This is an unhealthy position, because we do need to be able to trust in order to live a good life. But you may not know how much progress Caroline has made in regaining her ability to trust.

So if you want to move forward, you need to be trustworthy. Tell her the truth about everything. Keep your promises. Call when you say you’re going to call, and show up when you promise that you’ll show up. In fact, I hope that’s how you live your life anyway.

It may not work

Finally, it is possible that Caroline simply is not recovered enough to think about another involvement. If she tells you that she really can’t be in a relationship, don’t argue with her, and don’t take it personally. You may just need to accept it and move on.

But if Caroline indicates that does want to get to know you, albeit slowly, getting closer will probably be worth the wait. Before hooking up with the sociopath, Caroline was probably loving, giving, caring, responsible, dynamic and empathetic—because that’s the type of person that sociopaths target. So if she’s able to find herself, and open herself—well, it could be rewarding for both of you.

Lovefraud readers: If you have any more suggestions for Andrew, please post them.


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217 Comments on "Approaching someone who has been burned by a sociopath"

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Kim, if we REFUSE to take the role of either victim or rescuer, then we are BLAMED by the other members of the drama rama of being a persecutor. We are NOT a persecutor but they blame us to lure us back into the game.

Case in point:

Your daughter chooses to go off to the funeral, leaving her kids unattended.

SIL refuses to take the rescuer role and take care of the kids she has “abandoned” and goes off.

Leaving you to a) either accept the rescuer role or B) feel guilty that the kids are unattended because you were “abusive” for not taking care of the kids.

You chose to take care of the kids, to fill the RESCUER role…and it pithed off the SIL who assumed the abuser role and blocked the car getting out to punish you.

You were then in the victim role to the SIL’s abuser, and you were in the rescuer role to the daughter’s victim role….and round and round she goes.

While we who have spent our lives playing this game are EASILY sucked into it, we must realize that we HAVE CHOICES TO PLAY OR NOT, and that if we STOP playing some of our family will be VERY ANGRY with us.

It may rupture relationships completely, and we have to be prepared for this. When you set boundaries, and defend them, sometimes you find out that someone you love is NOT going to respect them.

AT first though, every one of them will UP THE ANTE to get you to get back into te triangle game, and so you will experience INTENSE PRESSURE to resume your role(s) in the game.

IF you STAND FIRM eventually they may see that they can’t pressure you into jumping in…even though they have always been able to (Just like Pavlov’s dog) so EXPECT that intense pressure and It will DOUBLE or TRIPLE around the holidays, LOL

BUT stand FIRM…and Kimmie, I know this is difficult, I find it difficult because it is the “knee jerk” response to fall back into that comfortable routine of even though it is dysfunctional, it is what we were used to. Thinking outside that triangle is difficult and requires THINKING where responding inappropriately inside the triangle comes easily and “naturally.”

Just like with my son C….he is dysfunctional as all get out and I am NC with him because of that (except we cooperate and communicate about his brother Patrick)…I don’t want to deal with his shiat and him lying to me etc. so NC…but I do LOVE him, I just don’t LIKE him. He isn’t a psychopath, he is just DYSFUNCTIONAL. I’m not afraid of him, he’s just dysfunctional. He isn’t a criminal, he is just dysfunctional.

I don’t need or want or tolerate dysfunctional in close relationships.

So the thing is that we just have to decide just how much we are willing to play on the musical chairs of dysfunction.

Some people decide to put up with X amount of shait in order to spend time with their grandchildren. Others go NC with the whole bunch.

If you think about this all in advance, make a PLAN and then stick to the plan I think you will get side swiped less often and be more able to handle what comes about.

These last minute/last second attacks thhat are unexpected don’t give us time to make plans or accomplish them.

Pleae… I know this is a sincere question from a good man… but I am reeling… so very devasting these words…

“Before hooking up with the sociopath, Caroline was probably loving, giving, caring, responsible, dynamic and empathetic—because that’s the type of person that sociopaths target. ”

to understand is that Caroline has been through the meat grinder. She’s experienced betrayal that has rocked her to her core. She’s certainly suffered emotional and psychological abuse, and may have also suffered verbal, physical, sexual and financial abuse. In fact, it may be a miracle that she is still standing.

I WAS THAT DYNAMIC LOVING AFFECTIONATE WOMAN… STRONG… KING KONG ON CRACK STRONG WOMAN…. I believed for moment and now I am not just ground meat but shit on a shingle… the odds of a good man writing lovefraud for me… miniscule…. and me HOW FUDGED UP WILL I BE FOR HOW LONG… HOW DO I GET OUT of this sorry wrong page but I am new… and these truths are VERY VERY SAD to see my future so bleak…. releasing, healing inner programs…. prayer… journaling…. all the isms and ologies and still…. I FEEL LIKE A RAPE VICTIM… SEXUALLY AND EMOTIONALLY RAPED…. please can anyone tell me how to move this out… reike masters meditation, healing… oh god none of it works… I don’t want this person I’m good that he is gone but the future of this woman “caroline” is me…..

Dear Loved a sociopath,

I am so sorry that you feel that you are in an abyss that you can not get out of, that you cannot reclaim yourself, but you are WRONG thhere, you CAN.

It takes TIME andEFFORT and you can work hard and still not rush the process. So be PATIENT AND KIND TO YOURSELF.

Also, do not tell yourself that you will never get out of this mess because that is SELF DEFEATING talk… Don’t let anyone else beat you up, but DO NOT BEAT YOURSELF UP.

Knowledge is power, so read and learn here and TAKE BACK YOUR POWER! Again, welcome to love fraud and God bless.

lovedasociopath,

I’m sorry what you have been through. Believe me that YOU WILL HEAL. We cannot say how long it will take, and healing isn’t a nice and cozy process, but a painful confrontational one, that will take time and effort, and cannot be ‘fixed’ instantly.

As for Caroline… it’s not sure at all that Caroline is paranoid. She just might have had very good boundaries to a man who for some reason did not respect them. That’s not a bleak future, but a self-emowered future.

In any case, I want to say welcome. Read the articles on sociopathy, on healing process, on boundaries; read comments of people who are going through it like you are and of people who’ve been going through it. This is a good place to start your healing.

kim, thanks for that article. That was an interesting read.

oxy, I agree, when we disengage we’re not the persecutor, but they try to guilt trip us into projecting that role onto us.

Dear lovedasociopath,

I’m so sorry for your pain. I don’t know the details of your story, but you have been traumatized, and it will take a little time to recover. It’s like being run over by a mack truck and being in the hospital with a body full of broken bones. It can’t heal overnight. The best thing you can do is to stay NC with the spath. Then try your best to accept yourself exactly where you’re at – pain and all – and let yourself go through the process. Send yourself a lot of love and acceptance. Love the pain, and love the grief, numbness, anger, or whatever is going on. Recovery is very painful and it doesn’t happen overnight. It definitely helps to have some form of spiritual path or teacher if there is someone you can trust to help. In my time of deepest darkness, I went to see a Hindu guru who was passing through town. She gave me some sort of blessing, after which I cried for several hours. She then gave me a small packet of ashes to put on my tongue every night. They lasted about a month. Every time I did it, I could feel her presence and could feel her removing the negativity and the pain. It helped probably more than anything else I did. I was unaware of this guru prior to that day, and I never saw her again. She just seemed to be in the right place at the right time for me, passing through town that day. You, too, can ask for a sign from the universe for something or someone who would be helpful to you. And then be open to receiving the help in whatever form it comes. I am a Buddhist so it never occurred to me to seek help from a Hindu guru. But help is help in whatever form it arrives.

I happen to be a Reiki level II practitioner, and I will tell you that Reiki DOES work. It is a very powerful form of energy work, and it can clear negativity and help expedite healing. For a reasonable cost, you can become initiated into Reiki yourself and you can actually do Reiki for yourself. I use the symbol for emotional clearing all the time. Or even praying to a higher power to remove the negativity and then allowing the process to happen while you just observe (it’s really all the same energy). But if you do it with the expectation that you will suddenly feel better, you will be greatly disappointed to find that the shifts may be subtle at first. It may take some time before you actually feel completely better. I say “may” because you really can’t put a time frame on the healing process – it really depends on how quickly and easily a person can let go. For most of us, it has taken some time to recover from the trauma of a sociopath. There are predictable stages of grief, and it is worse for this type of relationship than for the break-up of a normal relationship. So give yourself a break.

Before you can clear the negativity and pain you must accept it, allow it to be there, and don’t medicate yourself with excessive sugar, alcohol, or any other kinds of addictions. It may also help to write about your feelings as they come up or about any revelations you are having. This site is so good for that.

It WILL get better for you. I believe this with all my heart, because 4 years ago I was on the verge of suicide after my break-up with the spath, and today I am truly happy and excited about my life. If it can happen for me, it can happen for anyone. I’m sending you some long distance Reiki as I type this post.

Be well.

My advice based on my experience approaching an spath victim is to let them come to you. Do keep communication open and honest, and do your best to mean what you say and say what you mean, but let the victim do most of the questioning so they can see for themselves that you’re not trying to mirror their image out of deceit. Just basically be yourself.

http://www.learus.wordpress.com (my writings on this subject).

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