By | January 27, 2014 25 Comments

BOOK REVIEW: Living and Loving After Betrayal

Living and Loving After BetrayalI’ve been looking for a book to help you heal from the devastating betrayal of a sociopath. I finally found it.

Living and Loving After Betrayal How to Heal from Emotional Abuse, Deceit, Infidelity, and Chronic Resentment, by Steven Stosny, Ph.D., is the best explanation I’ve ever read of how betrayal affects you emotionally and psychologically, and how to recover from it. In fact, I am so impressed with this book that we are now carrying it in the Lovefraud bookstore.

Why it hurts

Stosny starts the book by explaining why intimate betrayal hurts so much.

Love bonds developed because they were crucial to the survival of the human race. Back in caveman days, we needed to look out for and take care of each other. If we were alone, the chance that we’d be killed by marauders or saber-toothed tigers escalated dramatically.

So what happens now? “The reactions to intimate betrayal often include a vague feeling that you might die,” Stosny says.

Stosny then explains how you react to betrayal with anger. This produces a surge of energy and numbs the pain, like amphetamines. But soon you crash, and feel worse than before. So you get angry again to relieve the pain. And you crash again. This cycle turns into defensiveness and emotional reactivity.

Emotional reactivity

Stosny defines emotional reactivity as “an automatic, usually unconscious, gut-level response to negatively perceived events, situations or people.”

When anything reminds you of the betrayal, even something as innocuous as “your” song playing on the radio, you are flooded with intense negative emotions. Unfortunately, emotional reactivity can generalize, and soon, any love song playing on the radio causes a reaction. It can continue to generalize, so that eventually you can’t stand listening to the radio at all.

Eventually, these negative emotions become a habit which Stosny defines as an inflexible sequence of neural firings in the brain. Unfortunately, he says, this habit makes it more difficult for you to recover.

“The best way to overcome emotional reactivity is to make a determination to act on your values more than your feelings,” Stosny says.

That’s what the rest of the book is about. It is a step-by-step, how-to guide for recovery that focuses on changing your brain patterns so that you can move past the horrific experience.

What you’ll learn

The book includes many exercises that you can do on your own all you need is a paper and pencil. You’ll learn how to:

  • Follow the hidden messages of pain to promote emotional wellbeing.
  • Identify with your own resilience, strengths and desire to improve.
  • Facilitate real emotional healing by helping the brain replace painful memories with restorative images.
  • Defuse chronic resentment through self-compassion.
  • Discover your deeper values and how to access them under stress.
  • Use compassion as a path to self-protection and trusting wisely.
  • Discover the person you most want to be, according to your deeper values, and make your behavior consistent with these values.
  • Use emotional reconditioning to change learned habits.
  • Look for the traits of a loving, compassionate partner.
  • Love freely and safely.

Highly recommended

Stosny’s approach to healing is based on reconditioning your brain. He addresses post-traumatic stress, and how to recover from it. He explains how to regulate anxiety. All in all, I thought his advice was excellent.

At the end of the book, Stosny talks about forgiveness, and his views agree with mine.

He points out that forgiveness does not mean excusing bad behavior, and it does not relieve the offender of accountability. One of the primary functions of forgiveness, he says, is relationship detachment.

“The secret of forgiveness,” Stosny says, “is to focus not on the offensive behavior, but on freeing yourself of the emotional pain you experienced as a result of the behavior.”

The objective of Living and Loving After Betrayal, Stosny says, is to help you to grow larger than your hurt.

Besides reading the book, I interviewed Steven Stosny. I’ll be writing about our conversation in future articles.

Living and Loving After Betrayal How to Heal from Emotional Abuse, Deceit, Infidelity, and Chronic Resentment is available in the Lovefraud Bookstore.



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Donna, what is the most cost effective way to buy this book? Do people purchase through you? Or can we get it on Amazon? This book really appeals to me at this time in my life.


The most cost effective way is to get it from the library. I have already requested my copy. I should have it in a few days. It’s free.


i found it at the library. BUT when i get my next dime, i’m buying it. Its worth every penny. something u’ll want to refer to again and again. and it is in a workbook format also so u’ll take a long time to go thru it all.
it rly forces u to PROCESS stuff. u cant just run willy-nilly thru a bunch of questions. im thinking 3 mos easy to do it, probably more.
Buy It.


I like to try out books first from the library before I buy them. I am sure I will love this one and then I will buy it, especially since it has the workbook. I think it’s smart to always try the library first and then buy.


it doesnt have a workbook. its set up in workbook format with questions to answer, think about and work on in ur own journal. it also has exercises to implement to change ur brain function so u heal. its a program to heal urself and possibly ur marriage — if ur not dealing with a disordered person. we all know they are not fixable and not worthy of our trust EVER AGAIN. nor our time and energy spent “trying again” with him/her.
if u just use the parts for working on urself, its still worth the money to buy it!!!


Thank you very much, Donna. This book sounds like a long-awaited answer to clarity that has been elusive for many of us that felt blindsided in the past or desire to know how to understand how A led to Z in the long process. In any case, this sounds like a welcome addition to healing and going forward. Many thanks.


I have just recently discovered that my husband is a sociopath. We have been together 2.5 years, 1 year married. All the symptoms fit and I have had a confirmation from a psychologist.
I have a question for people like me that went through or are going through a divorce with a psychopath. No one talks about that in the numerous posts online I have read. What do you tell people? Everyone, my friends and his friends as well as my family think he is the greatest guy ever (he is extremely charming) and they will ask me why are you getting a divorce. Should I just tell the truth: “I found out he is a sociopath” or should I just come up with the generic explanation ‘It just did not work out’.
I matters to me to say the right thing as I don’t want to regret it later. I am worried if he hears I am saying he is a sociopath that he will get mad or do something or start lying that I am in fact the crazy person and ruin my reputation. On the other hand I feel I need support as well as the urge of warning people about him as he can cause a lot of harm to others who don’t know the truth. I just want to be able to look back at myself in 10 years and be sure I handle it the best way either by ‘denouncing him or by keeping it a secret. Thanks for your help


has he cheated? say thats why
has he been violent? say thats why
will he not work? say thats why
just pick one thing of the many many things thats SOOO WRONG and give that for the reason.
let them think u are shallow and wont “try again”. u have alot of work to heal ahead of u and need to get on with it. it wont come from other ppl; let them be mad at u if they want. wen ur healthier u can explain later if u want, if they keep pressing.
the spath i was with was unfaithful to me within 3 mos of marrying. while the few friends i told chose to say, ah u were obviously an idiot for marrying him–i knew it wasnt my fault.
stay strong, no matter wat ppl say, no matter wat they think they know.
no ones ever walked a mile in ur shoes.


So you do agree that saying to my friends and family he is a sociopath is not a good idea…?
Thanks a lot for your advices, yes he did all of the things you said still I feel what worries me more at this stage is how to face the world 🙁


ur shame is false. i KNOW how ur feeling. He told u horrible things about urself. they are false, they are lies, they are manipulations. shame ON HIM, shame!
This is on HIM. He will never own it, but it’s alllll on him. tho of course ur human and did not do everyday everything perfectly, in a normal relationship with a normal NOT-disordered person these things wud not matter, they are part of any relationship, normal life. do not dwell on that. wipe it out of ur mind in fact so u can heal.
U ARE NOT TO BLAME. dwell on that, hon.
u will find out who ur real friends are & if u can count on family. this is kind of a telling moment in ur life. nothing u can do to avoid it now. u can just go forward.
as much as *I* can–there is much peace and self-respect being sent ur way ~~hugs~~ 🙂

Mia M

There is no one size fits all answer to your question as every situation varies. Your number one priority is getting out of the relationship safely. You do not have to tell anyone anything. Those who love you should support you and trust in your judgment (but as we all know that is not always true either). Your priority through this divorce is taking care of yourself and building a safe healthy support network. If he is like other sociopaths he will try to make you out to be the villain in the divorce and he will engage in a lot of game playing to hurt you if he can. Getting sucked into this battle is a no win situation for you. I can’t stress enough how important it is for you to have a good therapist (and a good attorney) through this process, especially one who understands how sociopaths operate.


I have a good therapist and a good lawyer, I think that will be fine… I am more worried to say to much and make a fool of myself or say too little and people will not understand why I left and won’t give me the support I need.. Is saying blankly to people who ask me about the divorce that he is a sociopath a bad idea?


how about saying to sumone WHO NEEDS TO KNOW, that he has been professionally diagnosed with a mental illness that endangers ur sanity and ur life? then u arent name-calling, if ur afraid of appearing that way.
just make sure its not shame ur really feeling, about falling for his deceit and betrayal.
u bear no shame in this, its his alone.
no matter wat others think.
…just remember ignorance is bliss. u once knew nothing about spaths either. but let dont others shame u, evenso.

jenni marie


people might ask what happened. We don’t have to tell them anything. But here is what I thought:

suggestions only:
1- ask them “why do you want to know about my personal business? then respond with “oh”

2- It’s really none of anyone’s business, but thank you for your concern.

3- We have differences that we could not work through, if you must know.

Time, Peace,
Jenni Marie

Mia M

I don’t think calling someone a sociopath has any meaning for most people. I have been in Mental Health world for years and thrown around that term liberally but it was not until I lived through a relationship with one that I really got what it means to have a sociopath targeting you. So telling people your ex is a sociopath will likely not mean anything to them even when you explain what a sociopath actually is and does. Most people still don’t believe that others are capable of having no compassion or empathy. I am no dummy and I have worked with a variety of deviant individuals throughout my career but I just did not grasp that this could happen to me. Even though we see it on TV daily, it is a real paradigm shift to discover that some people are truly evil and will target you just for the pleasure of destroying you. Not to mention that it is incredibly invalidating when you try to tell someone what you just lived through and they look at you with disbelief and imply you must be embellishing the facts.

A possible phrase in response to your friends and family who keep probing and wanting to know why you are ending your marriage is, “He is not the man he appears to be.” It is ambiguous and yet it implies you have your reasons for moving on but it does not antagonize him during these divorce proceedings. If they want to know more (and you feel inclined to disclose more) tell them you will share more after the divorce is finalized and let them know how they can support you during this painful process. People are trying to make sense of your divorce just the way you are but how can you explain to them why your marriage is ending when you are just coming to terms with it yourself? Even in the best circumstances divorces are painful and confusing. Anyone who has been through a divorce or a break up from a significant relationship can understand that enough to give you the support you deserve right now.

Hang in there, it does get better.


A very effective way for me to deal with two psychopaths from my past job was to act bored with them. Not only could they not get a rise out of me, but I would simply say, “You’re probably right. I guess God is not finished with me yet.”
Of course it did not deter them but made me feel better.
A real killer comment to female psychopaths is to ask if they have a boyfriend (inference means they are not having sex as well as not having any kind of relationship). I used it with some success, but the two ‘paths’ involved became even angrier and started a smear campaign against me. I was isolated from everyone and if the ‘path’ caught me talking to someone (anybody) they made sure to talk to that person as well, probably derailing what that person felt about me and getting them to see me in a bad light.
I managed to get another job where people’s last intention was to hurt anyone. It was Heaven compared to the absolute Hell that these women put me through.


I think I might just say the truth to my family and close friends that he was treating me very bad because he was a sociopath and this is why I got fooled… Everyone else can get the ‘I fell out of love with him’ which is still totally true. I hate lying but am scared he finds out I said that and get me in trouble somehow… Why do we need to worry so much about people’s opinion and validation that we are doing the right thing and that we are not guilty.. 🙁


Great question maybrdiealm.

I don’t know if you have children. This completely changes how to handle this question of what do you say to people? Your safety and the safety of your children, friends and family come first.

If on ANY level you think he could harm you or anyone else then keep your mouth zipped. Take the appropriate precautions to protect yourself from harm.

I think most people “know” on some level. Although they are very good at their line of bull shit.

Be grateful that you are getting out so early – it took me almost 20 years to wake the hell up! He was my second marriage and I was determined NOT to get another divorce. Strangely, both of my ex husbands were psychopaths. The first one was violent and I was afraid of him at times. The ONLY thing the second one didn’t do was scare me. I think he was afraid of me most of the time. He was a pathological liar and cheater. Scum bag supreme! I was deaf, blind and dumb apparently most of the time married to me. His ability to manipulate my emotions was perfection. The “brain” problem is rampant in him and then you become sick from being around him. It’s quite a mess!

However, my second psychopath was worse. Very deceptive and evil toward the end of our marriage when he was DONE with me. When they are done the horns in their head pop up. They are the devil in street clothes.

I would let some time pass before sharing your true story with too many folks. Be careful and watch out for you!

I have been divorced from mine for 18 months and I have started a speaking business about psychopaths. At some point I would hope most women would speak up and shine the light on this evil.

All the best!


Thank you for your answer hope52.
I have no children and he never really attacked me physically, push me here and there but no beating.
The only thing he can really do is turn the situation around and say that I am the crazy one, bad mouth about me and try to ruin my reputation making himself be the victim…
That can is the worse I think he can touch me with, still as I work as a freelancer that kind of rumor can cause problem for my work etc… I also hate to be pointed out as crazy when I am the victim.
I have only told my 2 closest friends about the disorder at this point but am seeing more people everyday who ask me what happened… some friends keep on asking if I am sure I don’t want to reconsider and try to work it out with him…. I really struggle to to explode and say he is a Sociopath.
I also feel ashamed I married a man with a disorder like that and feel I might not need to say it… My mind is really struggling to find the right way to deal with the people’s reactions and questions… I have not been able to face my family yet…
All experiences are welcomed, I really wonder what other people did about that..
Thanks a lot


Please dont feel shame. It’s not you. You probably did far and above what ANYone would do, in your struggle to make the marraige work.
I have never told anyone in my family and only a very few friends that my babydaddy is a spath. No one would believe me and they’d just say it was my fault for marrying him anyway. So it doesn’t matter.
If I had had a real life with the spath so that there were his family members also to account to (his fam is filled with mental illness, so they dont care) and my family rly gave a damn ever wat happened to me and maybe coworkers that knew him…then I’d have to come up with something like ur being told already. Probably I would say tho, he had been diagnosed with a mental disorder that threatens my life & especially the children’s life and their emotional & mental sanity if we were to stay with him.


Myriam, please purchase Sandra L Brown’s book “Women Who Love Psychopaths”. This is a great scientific/psychological explanation of what we all married and why they “chose” us.

Yes, there is science behind the behavior of these disordered individuals. Remember, that psychopaths surround themselves with “minions”. These are flawed people that gather around anyone that seems “successful” or “intelligent”. I call them “wanna bes” with the ultimate “wanna be”.

None of these psychopaths will ever achieve the success they truly want in this life. My ex wants to be a rock and roll star. He is now 62 years old and living with his new victim whom I believe is almost as disordered as he is! She appears to be very narcissistic and could very well be a borderline which is the BEST match for these guys! She has run off both of her teenage children since he moved in with her. She wants him now not her family!

I don’t care what anyone thinks about me. I know the truth and my close friends know the truth. I cant worry about convincing anyone because this is an indication that they are not worthy of hearing my truth. Intelligent and compassionate people will listen and make their own decision.

The biggest impediment to recognizing the “truth” is the total lack of awareness and education we have in our culture about brain disorders. Mental health issues and brain disorders are NEVER discussed. It’s the ultimate family shame. Until we bring this out of the closet many innocents will be blamed and evil will appear to “win.”

They don’t ever win. Let me be clear. They don’t win. In the end most end up alone and depressed. Many are penniless and disgusted with the fact that they are now “old.” These are soulless individuals who appear to walk in the glory, but in the end Myriam they are the losers.

Hold your head up high. You are the winner in this drama! You are a beautiful and intelligent person that was compassionate to the ultimate evil in this plane of existence! Please do not admonish yourself for being a wonderful person!

Please read the book. It’s the best read I have had to date about personality disorders. Ms. Brown’s institute offers counseling and retreats to recover from this horrific experience. Please reach out to them if need be!

Keep the faith baby!


Thank you so much for your answers, it does help me a lot to hear how other women dealt with the aftermath and that they did recover.
Love and light 🙂

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