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Breaking The Silence

I am loving the honesty, support and wisdom shared by members of this community – and I feel deeply honoured to be here. Lovefraud is such a safe place, such a help to all of us whose lives have been touched by a sociopath. And your comments have inspired me to write about something I call the ”˜code of silence’ this week. Something that, in my experience, exists among so many of us who have experienced abuse.

Let’s make no bones about it – escaping from a controlling or abusive relationship is difficult enough. Accepting the truth that you’ve been treated so badly is even harder. But having to explain what happened to other people is excruciatingly humiliating. Particularly when they will often need to question your version of what happened because they have only known the public mask: “What are you talking about? He/she has always been such a lovely person! Surely there’s some mistake!” That one’s a double whammy, because if they decide to believe your story then they also have to realize that they have been duped as well”¦ it’s tough going!

Then comes the underlying implication that you must have been extremely gullible – stupid even – not to notice the signs. “If what you’re telling me is true, then they must surely have been so obvious – how could you possibly not have known? Surely you must have realized something was wrong?” And so it goes on… It’s exhausting, and each time becomes a public tar and feathering, as you are forced over and over again to explain exactly how you were so stupid to let somebody else put you in this position.

This is why, I believe, there is an unspoken code of silence among the vast majority of people who have suffered through any kind of abusive relationship. Whether through a partner, parents, siblings, friends, bosses, colleagues – the list is endless, as are the stories and perceived seriousness of the abusers’ misdemeanors. Different accounts, different histories, different responses. But the pervasively malignant feelings of disgust and self-hatred that become lodged deep within the victims seem to be the same. A universal sense of shame that permeates to the core, no matter the circumstances.

Not long after I made my discovery, I re-connected with an old friend I hadn’t seen for many years — to protect her privacy I’ll call her Beatrix. Our children had grown up together. We shared similar professional interests. We shared a healthy caring friendship. It also turns out that we shared another bond that only came to light as we continued talking. She had also been married to a charming sociopath — in her case it had been for 20 years, double my own sentence.

Our husbands had got to know each other while we still lived in the UK and they had done their level best to break our strong bond of friendship. For a few years it seemed they had succeeded, but now we are closer than ever. Ironically it is that same destructive behaviors of our respective husbands that have made it possible. Because since we found each other again we have been able to share our stories. Compare our experiences. Help each other through the dark days. Encourage each other to notice some of the deeply ingrained responses we sometimes fall back in to as a habit following years of deliberate conditioning. We know what it’s like. We understand the pain and indignity. We can identify on levels that people who haven’t been through such an experience could never possibly understand. Because we share the common bond of survivors of abuse – and at first, we thought that very few people would ever be able to empathize. We were wrong – and I’d like to explain what I mean.

Towards the end of 2009 I read a powerful book called The Bigamist, written by best-selling author Mary Turner Thomson. Taken aback by the punch of her story about her marriage to a sociopath, together with the striking similarities in our backgrounds, I decided to introduce myself by email. She called me on my home phone less than three days later, and straight away we chatted with the ease of old friends, as though we’d known each other for years. Right from that very moment I felt the unspoken connection of recognition with her – she knew what it was like. She’d been there. I didn’t have to explain. She instinctively knew, and though we didn’t say it at the time, there was an instant bond created between us.

A highly intelligent, sassy, accomplished, strong woman and certainly nobody’s fool, Mary and I have since become firm friends . We call ourselves ”˜soul sisters’ because we know what it’s like to be deliberately targeted, deceived, manipulated and controlled. Soul sisters who know how it feels to realize that what you thought was true and lasting love was nothing more than a sham. Soul sisters who understand the shame and indignity of having to face the truth – as well as the on-going difficulty in convincing well-meaning friends and family that you haven’t lost the plot.

Beatrix and I talk about this regularly – as do Mary and I, together with the many other survivors I’ve met over the past couple of years, men as well as women. As a result I’m convinced that there IS a code of silence. And along with the silence is the instinctive yet unspoken point of recognition whenever one survivor meets another. After just a few words, the nod of acknowledgement passes between us – sometimes without the need for any further discussion or admittance. We just know. And judging by the number of survivors I’ve met in my daily life since I became free, there must be millions of people who walk around in silent pain, people who are still bound by chains of humiliation and self-loathing.

Control and manipulation tactics are common strategies employed by abusers. Basic yet exceptionally powerful, this form of power play isolates people from the people who support them and undermines their confidence to the point where they can no longer think or act effectively. Believing they are the under-dog, the target is then no longer in control of their own life. The tactics used by abusers will vary depending on their experiences, their level of skill, their targets, and their focus.

A corporate sociopath, for example, will typically be exceptionally well-versed in smooth language, subtle body gestures, and impeccable manners. A street thug is much more likely to use physical violence. Encounters with the latter will almost certainly leave you with bruises and perhaps broken bones. Encounters with either of them will leave you with a broken spirit and emotional scars that may never heal again.

When I was working as a Louise L Hay trainer in 1997/1998 I was always deeply touched by the intensity of guilt and shame regularly expressed by workshop members as they bravely shared their stories of mistreatment. Stories that, in some cases, had been kept secret and buried for decades. Having the opportunity to finally tell the truth of what had happened to them was a huge relief. As it turns out, it was also the easy bit – the hard bit was gently helping them to accept and forgive themselves for what had happened. Yes, you read right – the most difficult part would be helping them to find a way to forgive themselves. Not the other person or people, or even the situation – but themselves. To rid themselves of the shame and self-loathing for allowing such a thing to happen to them in the first place.

From my own experience, my first feelings of shame were when my sister and I were thrown out from our guardians’ home when I was 18 and she was just 13. Our uncle’s treatment of us was absolutely appalling – but I felt that I’d somehow failed. That it was MY fault. To make matters worse, because my guardian was a well-respected, charming, highly intelligent and very successful professional man (and yes, I now consider him to be a sociopath) nobody wanted to believe my account of events during the 22 months we lived there. It didn’t matter that my sister and I had done nothing wrong – far from it in fact. But, as with so many ‘victims’ I turned the anger and hatred in on myself. It took me many years to come to terms with what had happened and to finally forgive myself.

This experience, ironically, has proved to be one of the most useful lessons I could ever have learned. Not only has it helped me to move others through their own destructive patterns in my professional career, it also helped me explore my deepest held personal beliefs and thereby to heal fast and fully following the discovery of my ex’s betrayals.

Back to my friend Beatrix for a moment. She is now reclaiming her life – but it’s a long road. Last year was her first Christmas of freedom from a man who, to the outside world appeared charming, charismatic and witty – the life and soul of the party. A familiar story? Since escaping, Beatrix has forfeited a number of her friends who simply refused to believe that this charming man could possibly be guilty of the monstrous things she has accused him of doing. Abusers, as we know, can be very skilled. Although there may not always visible external injuries (in some cases, of course, the physical wounds speak volumes) the non-visible damage to self-esteem and self-belief can be severe”¦ even life threatening – or worse in some cases. Beatrix told me what an important time Christmas has always been for her. How for more than 20 years she’d religiously do everything within her power to make the most of the festive season – and how, every year, her husband would equally religiously take great delight in destroying her. He’d criticize her for spending too much or too little. Complain about the tree being too big or too small. Whine about the fact that there were too many or too few parties and house visits organized that year. Consistent, deliberate verbal abuse”¦ the psychological blows always accompanied by a Judas kiss or squeeze on the shoulder together with the assurance “But you know I love you!”

Abuse of any kind is a killer. The resulting silence is perhaps even more of a killer. It strangles people. This is why I’m so passionate about speaking out. Self-loathing eats away at confidence. It is malignant, oppressive and relentless – and in some cases it claims lives. That’s why I believe this site is such an incredibly helpful resource for all of us who’ve “been there, seen it and got the tee-shirt” — and that’s what I am referring to in the title of this article.

My own decision to break the silence was a massive step up in my own healing. The frustration I experienced when trying to explain what had happened to well meaning friends was always surprisingly difficult and at times frustrating to the extreme. I found myself once again thrown in to the old humiliating pattern of seeking approval and acceptance — a ridiculous state of affairs since I had done nothing wrong. And neither, by the way, had they. It was just that they couldn’t understand — exactly like Beatrix’s friends who decided she must be insane.

Breaking the silence is a powerful step to take. For me, I decided to write about my journey in a very public way when I started my blog. Fed up with trying to make myself heard by friends, I gradually found the confidence to express my inner thoughts and feelings to a growing audience of like-minded people. A process I found to be extremely cathartic. And my stories seemed to help others as well.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m not asking people to speak out or share their stories in such a public arena as the manner I chose. I’m simply inviting any of the silent people who have been there too – or who are still there in some cases – to know that you are not alone. I’m inviting you to reach out to the constantly rising number of people who understand. I realize, of course, that some may still choose to stay silent. And that’s ok. As I said earlier, the code of recognition is often a silent one – but at the very least it IS recognition, and that’s all it takes. It’s the relief of knowing that at least one other person understands and is on your side. And if you’ve kept things hidden away, known only to yourself until that point, well surely by finding just one like-minded person you’ll have doubled your team in one fell swoop.

As I write this, I am reminded of a comment made on this site by one of our members, who kindly shared the Latin roots of the word “person”. The word literally translates as “through sound” which denotes “can be heard” (thank you to libelle — much appreciated!). So I got to thinking — all of us here are human beings, people who can and should be heard. A person, by definition can be heard. We are all people who have something to say. We are the people who can break this unspoken code of silence.

One small step, that’s all it takes. One by one we’ll find each other. One by one we can join hands until we reach around the world – maybe further. Together we can stand strong, and put an end to this destructive cycle of abuse and shame.

I, for one, am determined to keep banging my drum and inviting others to join the crusade – because I know that together we can speak out. We can link our different stories and our unique voices together to create a harmonious choir. And together we can produce the sweetest sounds as our voices sing out around the world — warning new targets of the dangers, and inspiring deeper healing for those who already know.

 


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129 Comments on "Breaking The Silence"

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Did you guys hear? Apparently Arnold Schwarzenegger has been wearing a shirt around that says “I Survived Maria” *spits drink out* … does that not have PSYCHOPATH written all over it? Well, so much for that “apology”, huh?

Link to pic here

Dear Mel,

That conspiracy of silence, that climate of shame….very well put and so right on! I think that is one of the common threads among victims….we have experienced that…but FORMER victims have over come that shame and that need for silence, to keep the “secret” of how we have been abused. We are NO LONGER VICTIMS when we can discard that shame and VALIDATE ourselves.

Good article.

Dancingnancy—yep wonderful sense of humor old arnie has! NOT!!!

dancingnancies,

Yeh, I saw a news blip on the t.v. last night about Arnold Schwarzenegger, wearing his t-shirt. I immediately thought about his wife, wondering what she thinks when she sees the shirt. What a jerk. Kudos to her for SURVIVING him.

bluejay- yes indeed, most emphatically.

Ugh, that was my first thought, too. Psychopath. I saw a comment about the shirt: He may have survived, but his face didn’t. That’s some really bad surgery.

Mel,

Another great article! Without my few astute friends, a therapist, and the wealth of information here on Lovefraud I am not sure I would have made it through the initial shame and humiliation of discovering I had been deceived and used.

Even with support and understanding the depression and PTSD were so intense I lost my job and 10% of my body weight. It also brought up past ‘shaming’ experiences, as I realized I had been deceived by other disordered individuals.

During this time of fragility I found trying to explain anything to anyone who was not 100% ‘for me’ was just an absolute waste of what little energy I had. I decided early on, and for my own healing basically withdrew from anyone I couldn’t be totally open and disclosing with.

I know for some this wouldn’t be a great option, or maybe even helpful. But for me I found it necessary to be with only the MOST trustworthy and safe friends. Any superficial or acquaintance-type relationships I let go of. I did not have the ego strength to process any dissent. It made me feel so weak and incapable at the time, but I did it anyway. I put my survival and healing first and tried my best to ‘go easy’ on myself for needing to protect what was left of me.

I even put my parents on alert that I NEEDED their absolute belief and understanding, or I would distance myself from them too. And, to my ultimate wonder and happiness, they even looked up narcissism and sociopathy on the internet, and never ever doubted my experience.

Eventually I have been able to let in new acquaintances. I no longer feel the need to share my story with new folks. It is part of the past, and generally stays there, unless it is of use to share it. And if I share my experience and someone doesn’t get it I hope that I have planted a seed that may be useful to them in the future.

Now I don’t doubt my own experience. I know what happened. I know about these dark and disordered beings. And I don’t doubt my knowledge.

Even a recent exposure to the s-ex didn’t phase me. Though it all sounded and looked beautiful- he creates such a gorgeous and deeply thoughtful and spiritual facade. I wasn’t thrown in to a place of doubt. I just thought ‘Wow! that’s really beautiful, too bad it’s a lie!’

slimone: What an inspirational post! I look forward to being where you are. The last paragraph is lovely.

Sarah,

Hang in there. Healing does happen. And doubt is no longer a constant companion. Clarity conquers emotional confusion and shame. Knowledge kicks fantasy’s ass, good and well, and you get yourself back, better. It does happen.

Trick is accepting what is true. Taking off any filters and looking the reality of these people square in the ‘figurative’ face. Don’t back away from what is true. When in doubt, come to LF, or connect with a person who ‘gets it’ and let out your doubt and let in what is real.

Another sense I had with my recent exposure to s-ex was more release from self-blame. I saw how his lie is really great. Really seductive and inviting. Very humble and poetic and creative and inclusive, smart, funny, energetic, and motivating. And if you spend just a few hours in one of his classes, that is how he seems. Lots of folks who take his movement classes LOVE him, and are really inspired by his motivating them to move and sweat and be physically creative. He fit my fantasy too a tee.

There is no shame in being deceived by something so well crafted, by someone so capable of deceiving.

Now I know this is as deep as it goes. Word-smithing, superficiality, and a big dollop of talent. The talent is real, the rest is a lie. He is not humble or self-reflective, or willing to change.

Any deeper and he is a confused, tantrum-throwing, chaotic, emotionally crippled, lying, cheating user. And I know anyone who gets too close will be subject to his abuse and degradation. And anyone who doesn’t believe this about him, just hasn’t gotten close enough to get the full treatment. Even if they ‘think’ they are his ‘best friend’ or ‘lover’. They just haven’t gotten there, with him. Yet.

slimone said: Any deeper and he is a confused, tantrum-throwing, chaotic, emotionally crippled, lying, cheating user. And I know anyone who gets too close will be subject to his abuse and degradation. And anyone who doesn’t believe this about him, just hasn’t gotten close enough to get the full treatment. Even if they ’think’ they are his ’best friend’ or ’lover’. They just haven’t gotten there, with him. Yet.

Ah… thank you. That rings many bells. As does “not humble or self-reflective, or willing to change.”

I will get there.

Mel,
I’m glad you’ve found some kindred spirits in your life.

I don’t get out much, but when I do, I almost invariably find someone who has encountered a sociopath. People naturally open up to me and I’ve learned to watch their faces as they speak or mention their parents, siblings, children or ex-spouses. When I get the cue, I tell them a little bit about my spath. Then the dam opens wide and they spill their lives to me: Childhood, therapy, marriage, divorce, therapy, NC. It takes less than 5 minutes in many cases.

My BF is in awe of the things total strangers will tell me. But they are dying to tell someone. They keep it under wraps, just like we do. Just like everyone does. Now that I can see the red flags and the patterns, I know when to open up. You see, the PD’s don’t occur in a vaccuum. Where you see one sign, there are more. All you need is a clue to know there’s more to the story.

Not all of them know what they have experienced, but they all “get it” when I tell them. And they are grateful.

I hope more LF people get out there and tell their story. Before you do, listen first. You’ll know who needs to hear it.

Skylar
You know what all this “kindred spirit” stuff reminds me of? Soldiers/military who have seen war and come home sometimes not talking to family b/c family doesn’t “get it”, but all they have to do is MEET another WAR veteran and instant comraderie. No big pow wow although it might turn into that. But the connection is instantaneous. As it is with me and others I’ve met who were spathed.

Yep Katy. There are many of them. I’m shocked to learn each time about the sexual abuse that these average people have endured from their parents. It’s way more prevelant than some would think.

I don’t get an “instant” connection. I just listen and it comes out. Doesn’t take very long at all. Not all had sexual abuse. Many just had narcissistic parents, like I did. It leaves a mark. I think that spaths can see it too. That must be how they target us.

I don’t think spaths actually see it at all. I think they are as blind as we are. I think they try their spiel on EVERYONE and the ones it works on tends to be the wounded ones. Healthy people usually have solid boundries so the manipulations don’t hook so deep and they USUALLY slide off the hook – unless like myspath who sees the fish getting away as a challenge and he works on them, sometimes for years.

Katy, I disagree with your assertion that it tends to only work on the “wounded ones”… If I’m not wrong, psychopaths target extroverted, strong, kind, individuals with an unusually high degree of empathy ( based on Dr. Liane Leedom’s research on the victims of psychopaths)- now I’m not saying that some of these targets may have endured an abusive childhood- but many LF members have also experienced the opposite- a wonderful childhood. We must stop pathologizing ourselves in relation to the sociopath. Some of us may have had issues in the past but in no way did those issues cause us to be targeted- in no way are we to be held in even the scantiest way responsible for the evil which was brought upon us. It works not only on the wounded ones, it works on the healthy ones too. Robert D. Hare, Ph.D ( Creator of the Psychopathy Checklist ) himself was vulnerable to the manipulations of a psychopath ( remember he said : if a psychopath targets you, NO ONE IS IMMUNE! )- HELL therapists are even vulnerable- people in caring professions… caring about people and going out of your way to help another is not a sign of weakness, or a negative character trait- it is good. Sure, we have to learn to be more careful of who we let into our inner circle after the encounter- but that’s just learning, nothing is inherently wrong with someone for being loving, being kind- being willing to give someone the benefit of the doubt. Psychopaths are cowards- let’s face it, they prey on the kind and innocent, that’s the real honest truth as far as I’m concerned.

Bless.

dancingnancies
You’re right. I made a generalization about a certain kind of spath, the clueless ones who just troll and whatever they catch is what they mess with. My opinion was not intended to BLAME anyone. The opposite, I was trying to assure Skylar that we aren’t marked, we don’t carry a sign, but that spaths such as my husband trolls until he lands one. Sorry you interpreted my opinion as a criticism.

katy and nancy,
yeah my exspath targets rich and poor alike. preferably rich.
It may be that everyone, without exception, has experienced a sicko in their childhood. Until I discovered what my spath was, I thought my parents were SAINTS! I had conveniently forgotten how I felt as a child and as a teen.

Human beings are flawed. Maybe that’s what is meant by original sin. Spaths look for flaws. But I know that some people would not be taken by my spath. My elder sister for one, she’s too boring, my exspath said so. As are her kids, my nephews, spath said so.

One day spath came home and said, “xxxxdude said I was a phony.” then he pouted.
I said, “YOU! A phony? You’re the most genuine person anyone could meet! Why would he call you that?! That’s ridiculous. ”

I truly believed that my spath was so genuine. OMG, how utterly wrong I was. Yet some dude at the airport pegged the spath for what he was. There are some people who have spathdar. My spath had almost everyone fooled, but at least one guy “got it”. So there is some way that people are enabled to seeing spaths. This guy may have encountered one previously, but then he wouldn’t have used the word phony, I don’t think. there’s something more. don’t know what it is. also don’t think Robert Hare has it.

Hi Katy,
I didn’t interpret it as criticism, I just want people to be aware that anyone is vulnerable to the manipulations of a psychopath … moreso if they exhibit warmth, strength, and generosity ( these as I’ve said somewhere else, psychopaths see as “easy” targets- because they will be willing to try and trust other people, not to mention give them a benefit of the doubt- of course we learn the lesson to be much more careful of who we let into our inner circle, as well as invest our time and energy- but nonetheless it is the empathy that makes for a “ripe” target so to speak. eugh, that’s probably how they think too- ripe for the picking. I’d also like to add a point we’ve discussed here on LF before- if psychopaths see this “light”, they will be motivated to destroy it. That is the sick pathology.) . And you’re right, they probably do try their maneuvers on just about everyone. It’s the kind, value-oriented, genteel souls that are most vulnerable. All the more reason for such people to educate themselves on psychopathy- so they can rightly avoid getting caught in the chaos. That’s all I wanted to get across. Bless 🙂

Dancing,
I wonder, is there a NORMAL person who has been saved from an spath, not caught in the chaos? B/c I think NORMAL people don’t have a point of reference and therefore are handicapped to perceive of such evil. I think only those who’ve experienced the disordered GET how disordered an spath is. and even then, even though we LIVED it, we hung out in purgatory for a while b/c we couldn’t believe someone could be that cruel, that cold, that calloused, that unfeeling and yet also able to live an every day life where, at the same time they were gaslighting and mind messing us, others were totally fooled.

Katy- your point about how normal people don’t have a point of reference- bang on. I totally agree- what’s that phrase used in psychology- oh yeah, the “just world hypothesis” ( it comes pretty damn close I think to what you’re describing )… people have a tendency ( an erroneous one ) to conceptualize the world based on the idea that the workings of the world are just… like if you’re careful and a good person, nothing bad will happen to you. That’s kind of what people act on, isn’t it? Like if they keep being loving and generous, if they uphold values and live by principle- the world will respond in kind… ( To get a better grasp of this, I’ll just post the wiki explanation ) :

The just-world hypothesis (also called the just-world theory, just-world fallacy, just-world effect, or just-world phenomenon) refers to the tendency for people to want to believe that the world is fundamentally just. As a result, when they witness an otherwise inexplicable injustice, they will rationalize it by searching for things that the victim might have done to deserve it. This deflects their anxiety, and lets them continue to believe the world is a just place, but often at the expense of blaming victims for things that were not, objectively, their fault.
Another theory entails the need to protect one’s own sense of invulnerability. This inspires people to believe that rape, for example, only happens to those who deserve or provoke the assault. This is a way of feeling safer. If the potential victim avoids the behaviors of the past victims then they themselves will remain safe and feel less vulnerable.

Source : wiki

Anyway- yeah. The entire framework of what we believed the world to be is shattered- and we have to reframe it, rebuild it, so we can better protect ourselves. I don’t necessarily think that everyone by default subscribes to the just world hypothesis before being targeted by a sociopath- but it is at least this : we do believe that everyone is inherently good. So when we see the Spath- we think that somehow, someway, we might be able to reach through and things will be all “nice and tidy” if we just keep on trying to offer love and kindness, and empathy… we however find out we were DEAD, DEAD wrong.

I can’t stress enough how hard it is to really understand- really come to grips with the red flags and all that jazz before encountering a sociopath. One of the reasons why widespread education/awareness is so important. I think it is hard to grasp because the alternative feels so much more “safe” to invest our beliefs in- even though it is any but- the exact opposite, actually. I think in encountering a sociopath the effects are so much more VISCERAL- and so with this an intellectual grasp is secondary to the gut-feeling “oh-shit-I-had-no-idea-I’d-better-be-on-alert” kinda grasp you have following an encounter with P. The threat is much more imminent with prior firsthand knowledge of what effects such an encounter may lead to- whereas if one hasn’t encountered a P, it’s easier to brush off those red flags more readily as “thinking too much” or some other excuse. Or as you said, because the notion that someone can be so thoroughly callous beneath a “nice” facade is foreign to someone who has never encountered a psychopath- it manifests almost like a blindspot. It must be worked into one’s understanding.

Dear Mel,
Once again your post resonated so deeply with me. The part especially where you state,

“We call ourselves ’soul sisters’ because we know what it’s like to be deliberately targeted, deceived, manipulated and controlled. Soul sisters who know how it feels to realize that what you thought was true and lasting love was nothing more than a sham. Soul sisters who understand the shame and indignity of having to face the truth ”“ as well as the on-going difficulty in convincing well-meaning friends and family that you haven’t lost the plot.”

This is exactly why my name is the sisterhood. I have a few soul sisters I have found through this experience and every time I hear of another person awakening from this insidious nightmare, I say to myself, “Welcome to the Sisterhood.”

I have finally stopped trying to explain away and educate my friends on narcissism and sociopathy. I realize that they just don’t get it. They want to be there for me, but are still stuck in their full understanding of what happened to me.

A couple of very dear friends, still to this day, think that my husband is a saint to put up with what I’m going through. They tell me that I am so lucky to have my husband and that they don’t think their husbands would ever understand. I have a male friend who flat out told me that he wouldn’t be able to handle it if he were married to me. I have to remind them that it’s not that I just “didn’t get over my ex” or that I’m “still in-love with my ex”, IT IS ABOUT THE TRAUMA…My husband completely understands this and for that I am so grateful. I often wonder why they regress to such simple comments like that and and I get frustrated and angry. I feel like they are basically saying that I’m asking too much of my husband; that I shouldn’t talk about it. (This plays into maintaining the SILENCE you so eloquently refered to) Then I realize that they are just not ready and/or not capable of understanding at this time.

I do understand, however, and I am learning that I am not alone in that understanding. I am still healing from the shame and humiliation from the realization of what I endured. But I am healing.

Thank You,
The Sisterhood

Oh my! This article awesome inspiring. It’s terribly hard explaining an experience when no one seems to relate. I have even bigger problems now, seems spaths new victim or one of feels threatened. She’s started to harass me through text. She’s hacked into my cell phone and has apparently read texts between south and I. They are months old, we were still in the relationshit when they were sent however she uses this info to threaten me to back off. It’s rather funny, all I do is pity her. I did something maybe I shouldn’t have today. I contacted south to let him know she had hacked into my personal business. I keep forgetting that he’s a spath! Well, I don’t firget but I know they can’t be talked to or handled in a normal manner. I just wanted him to tell her to stop. I’m sure he’s probably made up an even bigger story about me still being in love with him. He probably lines the fact that I am being harassed and OVERY HIM. what a huge ego boost, huh? I just want to get away, it seems like it will never end.

If you stare into the darkness too long,
it will start staring back at you!

If you look into the abyss for too long,
it becomes a part of you.

i feel like i am in the abyss

((Super Chic)),
things will get better. Is he still coming around and annoying you? Remember, he isn’t human, so don’t treat him as though he is. Don’t use words that you would use on a human being, because he justs twists them into weapons. Tell him lies, just like he does to you.

one/joy_step_at_a_time

(((((Chic???? what’s happening?)))))

Super Chic ~ we’re shining light to help you to see your way out of that darkness… come on, we’re right here waiting for you!! We want to help. Please talk to us!! ((((Super Chic))))

Great article.

I love this line” As I write this, I am reminded of a comment made on this site by one of our members, who kindly shared the Latin roots of the word “person”. The word literally translates as “through sound” which denotes “can be heard” (thank you to libelle ”“ much appreciated!). So I got to thinking ”“ all of us here are human beings, people who can and should be heard. A person, by definition can be heard. We are all people who have something to say. We are the people who can break this unspoken code of silence.”

It is even more food for thought in refusing contact with the spath. They are not human, they are not people.
We should treat them as such and ENSURE that THEY ARE NOT HEARD.

SK

SUPERLICIOUS – Why are you down in that abyss? Tell us what’s goin on so we can throw you a rope and pull you out of that dark place….hugs from your friend henry…..

Super chic….I hope you stay with us here at LF. Keep coming round, and keep typing Super chic. ALL of us have been in and out of the abyss. There are lots of lovefraud hearts and hands reaching for you.

Dancingnancies, and All….the Just-world perspective is EXACTLY what allows some people to be attracted to, and stay in relationships with the personality disordered. It was certainly part of my belief system, and something I held tight too while I was involved. And the people I met who were more long time ‘friends’ with the s-ex were SO of that mindset.

When I left their attitude toward me was as if I had lost ‘the faith’.

I believe they were chosen for their just-world belief, and groomed even, to stay at a safe distance, for sociopathic ‘social cover’. Meaning I think spaths may choose folks who have this world view and not brazenly abuse them, so they have longer term ‘friends’, providing the spaths with the illusion of a socially acceptable standing in whatever community they are using. Having folks who will take more than their share of accountability is great for a spath.

The idea, when I was newly enlightened to sociopathy and what I had been dealing with, that some people could not and would not see what he was disturbed and frustrated me, no end. I obsessed over getting other people to see him for what he really was.

In truth I instinctively knew not to push it. After all it had taken me decades of intermittent involvement with these types before I was ready to investigate and accept the truth of their existence. Prior to that I was a total believer in the ‘just’ world, with all of its ‘just’ people. And ALWAYS assumed when I received some injustice, it was because I wasn’t being good.

Somewhere along the line many of us learn that the world is all a rewards and punishment system, predicated on our own goodness or badness.

This also held me back in accepting, for some time, the reality of sociopathy. I could not allow for him to take ALL the accountability for being a liar and deceiver because my just-world perspective told me that if he were treating me that way it must be because I was mistreating him in some way, and I was getting my just desserts. So we weren’t SO different.

Bad begets bad, and good begets good. SO, therefore, I must have been bad. But if I had been good it would all have worked out beautifully. And, surely, now he will go find someone ‘good’ and they will live happily ever after.

This line of thinking is deadly.

Bad things do happen to really good people, and visa versa.

The Japanese have a saying that goes something like ‘The tall blade of grass is the first to be mowed down’. Buddhism attributes this ‘tallness’ to our wayward egos. But if we use this to illuminate why the just-world hypothesis is wrong headed we can use that tall blade of grass as a metaphor for being ‘good’. And see how the idea of being good can be a fixation that stops us from acting on our own behalf.

If we OVER relate to our need to be ‘good/tall’ (which is in fact a fixation created by a neurotic ego) then indeed those with painful clippers will be able to ‘cut’ us. Because we will not be psychologically ‘flexible’ enough to find another set of actions to take. We won’t be able to retract (get short/’bad’) and avoid the sociopaths abuse, being too concerned with the idea that IN ORDER TO GET WHAT WE NEED AND WANT FROM THE WORLD WE HAVE TO BE ‘GOOD’.

Good, in this sense, is simply (and not so simply), I believe, a poor boundary system. I think our personal boundaries are what protect us (along with our ability to give credit to our own instincts, thoughts, and feelings), NOT some cosmic ‘justice’, based on our commitment to behaving politely, forever turning the other cheek, and always seeing others’ as having pure motives.

Many of us don’t let go of our false beliefs until we are pushed to our limits.

Lucky for us we aren’t blade of grass. We CAN expand and contract, at will. We aren’t fixed, and therefore don’t have to just stand there and take it.

Did you guys hear? Apparently Arnold Schwarzenegger has been wearing a shirt around that says “I Survived Maria”

Actually it was MARIA’S OWN STAFF who designed and commissioned the T-shirt, and presented it to Arnold at at a farewell party as long ago as last November. It seems to have been their idea of a joke. Here’s the REAL story, here:

TMZ.com

The story points out that Arnold and Maria are NOT at war. While they had, sadly, been drifting apart for some years, they are dealing with their divorce amicably enough. I don’t believe this shirt is any indication of Arnold’s attitude toward his wife.

But I must agree it was unwise of him to wear it in public. People get the wrong idea.

Redwald wrote :

“The story points out that Arnold and Maria are NOT at war.”

I would say that TMZ does not possess the insight as to the innerworkings of Arnold and Maria’s minds, and whilst from a legal standpoint that may be true (that they’re “not at war”- i’m sure the divorce negotiations are conducted in as civil a manner as possible as they are right out there in the public eye)- wearing this shirt in midst of what has happened ( As if he doesn’t have the money to purchase 100 new wardrobes ) is incredibly distasteful- whether it was once a “joke” or not. He chose to wear this t-shirt, well aware of the implications that it may draw as to his stance on the situation- he isn’t some broke ass college student who is limited to wearing whatever is on hand- he’s a multi-millionaire (billionaire?). Therefore- no sympathy.

I appreciate your objective approach to the situation. I just think that whatever the history behind the t-shirt- it should not have been worn. Period.

Red, I’m gonna have to vote with Dancingnancies on this one. Arnold is not so DIM that he didn’t know what the implicaton of the TEE shirt would be, given what the CIRCUMSTANCES were.

I went to a funeral yesterday and I have some really KILLER FUNNY TEE shirt about old and suffering people but it would NOT have been appropriate for me to wear the tee shirt to the funeral because of the CONTEXT.

Maybe the Tee shirt WAS funny in the context it was printed up for, but for Arnold to wear it NOW??????? He is not so dumb that he doesn’t get it is TOTALLY INAPPROPRIATE to wear it NOW.

Frankly, I don’t care how “civil” they are in court, or in public, THAT IS NOT A “FRIENDLY” DIVORCE…..no matter how far they “drifted apart” before the story came out that he was farking the maid and even had a kid that he brought around to family events and b’day parties, etc. Maybe it is just me, but I can’t even imagine that Maria has no rancor over that behavior….over that public shame from his “private” immoral behavior.

Interestingly enough, a story just came out recently that Jackie Kennedy knew about JFK’s many affairs and him frequently womanizing, and had a couple of “affairs” of her own to “get even.” One affair with the actor William Holden and another one, can’t remember the guy’s name as it wasn’t a familiar name, but the point is that many (political or public) marriages are NOT what they are presented publicly to be, ON EITHER SIDE OF THE BLANKET.

A good father never, ever, no matter what the circumstances, says anything negative in public about the mother of his children.

BBE then I guess by your definition the guy with the blog the PSYCHO-EX-WIFE (PEW) wouldn’t qualify as a “good father” LOL

From my own family experience, anyone denigrating a child’s parent does the child no good, even if the parent is a criminal, an alcoholic or a sociopath. My aunt does this regarding x-husbands of two of my cousins. Yes, they are bums, but her constantly berating them did her grandchildren no good.

All such does is further lower the child’s self-esteem.

BBE, I absolutely agree with you on that, which is one reason I don’t think the guy with the psychopathicexwife blog is doing his kids any good by showing disgust and disrespect for his ex wife, no matter what kind of a POS she is, unless she is enough of a POS and danger to the kids that he can get custody 100% and even then, he is better off I think to shut his mouth about HER.

Slimone and Sarah- Your words are what I needed to hear today. I am sufferring pretty bad with self-doubt and I can’t shake the humiliation.

I hear what you say about the ex-spaths life today looking very pretty, but it’s a lie. I wish I could get to that place where I truly believed that. I wish getting glimpses of his life now didn’t hurt me to the core. I still feel an overwhelming sense of rejection and shame. I know these are just emotions that will pass, but I hate feeling them non the less.

What I really hate about it all is that I still have this overwhelming feeling that I missed out, that I lost something and it was all my fault.

I ask myself if his wife is close enough to see who he really is…Is he still wearing the mask for her? Why am I jealous after so many years and after I have moved on!?! I thought I was past the “waking up to the truth” stage. Why do I keep falling back into doubt about who he really is.

Why do I have such a hard time accepting that I never had his love in the first place and my trying to hold onto something that was never there to begin with is completely futile. That my pain is all wrapped up in a mirage. Why do I feel so stupid?

sister,
As long as we focus on the shallow facade which they use to portray themselves, we will feel WHATEVER THEY WANT US TO FEEL.

That’s why they do it.

The spaths are such believable liars because they believe their own lies. They believe their own facades.

They can believe that the symbols of wealth and happiness ARE THE SAME THING as real wealth and happiness. They don’t know the difference because they are shallow and two dimensional. To them, it IS the same thing, because depth does not exist. The facade is all they can experience, so they believe in it.

We know better. Don’t go live in the shallow world of facades if you are capable of more. Much more. They will lure you to that shallow world because they envy your ability to live a real life. They don’t want you to have it, because they can’t, so they try to tempt you with the shiny bling bling that babies are so attracted to. Turn away, there is more to life.

Dear sister,

I can’t offer the wisdom and the experience of distance that others here can, as this is all very fresh to me. I can only say that I, too, am full of self-doubt right now. Once I realized what I was dealing with — even the distinct possibility that it was the truth — I acted relatively swiftly. I feel very cruel pulling the plug so severely. But I just have to keep reminding myself of all of the cruel things he said and did throughout the course of the relationship.

I think this is all just going to suck for a very long time. I miss him terribly, I feel sorry for him, and am going through a lot of “what if’s” right now. What if he goes to counseling? What if he stops drinking? What if he rebuilds his life and stands on his own, and then comes back to me, all new and shiny and honest and full of sincere remorse?

I know this is part of the process. I know it’s normal. I know it’s a stage of the grief. These are big losses: the loss of the dream, the loss of the physical touch, the loss of who I thought he was.

I feel stupid, too. I know I will run into him at some point, and I know it will hurt. I don’t know. I’m trying to think about “normal” breakups I’ve had, how much they hurt, and how I got over them eventually. But in those cases, it was simply that things didn’t work out. I hadn’t LOST MYSELF. I hadn’t been stripped down to nothing. I wasn’t addicted to the highs and lows and pain and need to fix them and get a “fix” from them. Does that make sense?

I just keep looking at it like this: if I were addicted to heroin, surely I would know that heroin was bad for me. I would intellectually know that heroin was ruining my life, but I would still want the heroin. Hopefully I would eventually want my life back. I would try to kick the heroin, but it would take several attempts. Finally, I would kick it for good, knowing that my worst day sober was far better than my best day on heroin; but I would still want and miss the heroin. I would look at other people who were still able to do heroin and seem be okay with it. Happy, even. I would be jealous of them. This metaphor is getting silly. I guess what I’m trying to say is that drugs are bad, kids.

I look at my own addictive tendencies. Ox posted a great article this morning. It touches on the “feel good” chemicals released by the brain when we’re helping people. Those get intertwined with the chemicals released during the painful times, until they’re impossible to differentiate. Different source, same rush. At least that’s how I read it. Simplistic explanation, but I think it means we still get that flood of endorphins when we think about them, good or bad, and still get that “fix.”

“What I really hate about it all is that I still have this overwhelming feeling that I missed out, that I lost something and it was all my fault.”

I don’t know when this goes away. But I’m right there with you.

The spaths in our lives need to be treated as inconsequentially as they have treated us and then we need to move on.

They deserve no part of our very thoughts, muchless anymore of our lives.

They hurt because they can and find it amusing.
I believe this is so.

I am so past this.
I have never had my sincere and genuine care so abused.
I changed my status message on text so everyone in the world can see it, including “IT” and it reads:

“Scammers and liars will burn in hell.”

Let’s see how many messages I get from THAT one!

I HAVE HAD IT!

Dupey You can put that on a T shirt and wear it ~!
ps. I think that whole Kennedy Clan was a bit oversexed … John John was my favorite…

aintgonnatakeitnomore

skylar, i totally agree about lying to the spath. i do it on a regular basis. once my girls are older & not in danger, i will lose his number and tell him to go to hell from whence he came. until then, i lie.
sarahsmile, hon he will never, ever get better. even with counseling and remorse. spaths believe their own BS. you did nothing wrong. dont analyze the relationship and try to better urself from it, using it as a learning experience, character-building, watever. you are N.O.T. the problem. u cant go by his reactions to u. they are not human reactions. there is no way to make sense of it.
the place to live once u’ve been sucked soulless by a spath is where u dont care if he gets better. he wont anyway. but if he did, hes done enough damage to u, it will last the next 3 centuries; he cud never make it up, if he bled his veins out for u. i gave my spath a HUGE chance to make it rite. he cudn’t even begin to try . if he wud have even tried, i probably wud have never left again–if i saw progress at least. spaths dont try. they just continue to murder a little more daily. my ex made superficial attempts — so they can say they tried. they fail even at that. *its impossible to change a spath*. this truth needs to become part of ur being. i wish my ex will find another victim errr woman and get wrapped up in her and leave us the hell alone. you can get here too, i know u can 🙂

Sarah – Because of the mind f–k my xspath put me through I went to a shrink thinking I was the crazy one, after talking to this shrink for a hour he said your bf is a sociopath, I said can he be helped? shrink said yes, but it would be like pissin on a forest fire…..

aintgonnatakeitnomore

hens, that shrink is dead wrong. i would run from him. i used to believe spaths cud be helped so of course, the loving thing to do would be to stay strong and help them, or wait, whichever. DEAD WRONG.
Run For Your Life.
that shrink is giving false hope to a person grasping at ANY thing, which is the worst person to give false hope to . it makes me shudder.

Hens, I want a t-shirt that says “I think that whole Kennedy Clan was a bit oversexed!”

Aint, thank you for your kind words! They really do help.

Ain’tgonna take it no more….Quote from Hens: I said can he be helped? shrink said yes, but it would be like pissin on a forest fire”..

You missed his point, “pissin on a forest fire ain’t gonna do any good”….so “yes, but …..” in this case means NO. LOL But I’m glad that you realize that there is NO WAY we can “help” them….but you know there ARE a few professionals who do think we can “help” them….and you are right, those professionals are wrong as far as doing any SIGNIFICANT good at fixing them enough for a relationship.

There seems to be a code of silence as you said and sometimes breaking the silence is the hardest part.

As far as the friends who find it hard to belive your side of the story- are they really the kind of friends any of us wants to keep around?

Thank you Ox for clarifying my point. Shrinks charge by the hour, so of course they will attempt to put out that forest fire ~!

Hens, thanks for not being upset with me for putting “words” in your mouth or “reading your mind”….LOL it is just that not everyone knows our quaint country sayings! LOL Yea, “quaint” LOL

I think it isn’t so much that they charge by the hour, (though that may be in some cases) but that they, like others, think that there is “good in everyone deep down” or that they are so narcissistic that they think they can “fix” anyone (see my article about “our downfall”) Medical doctors sometimes keep on “treating” some medical cases even when they know there is NO HOPE as well….they just will NOT give up and say “there is no hope.”

Yes, I saw that news about Jackie K’s affairs. It came as a surprise, and yet not a surprise, if you see what I mean. From a realistic point of view I was not at all surprised to learn that she had had affairs. (So for that matter did women like Jennie Jerome, the mother of Winston Churchill—and that was in the VICTORIAN age!) At the same time, it was a revelation to learn about Jackie’s affairs, when as far as I was aware she always had a squeaky clean IMAGE before, regardless of whether it was accurate or not. (Unless I just haven’t been reading the right scandal rags.)

But oh boy, the media sure are different today from the way they must have been half a century ago. Today EVERYBODY’S dirty laundry is hung out to dry. I have the impression they’re more apt to go after men than women, but that may just be because more men, like the Governator, occupy the highest offices. But I don’t know if any of that stuff about JFK’s affairs was ever made visible to the public during his presidency, or even for years after. It seems to me that piece of news filtered into public consciousness as something of a “revelation” too, maybe in the 80s? And if I go back a quarter century further still, I understand the public was never permitted to know that FDR was in a wheelchair! Incredible! Lucy of course was kept completely off the radar.

Grover Cleveland (I always want to call him “Clever Groveland”) got himself elected although the public knew he’d fathered a “love child.” But then he wasn’t married at the time. And he earned brownie points for telling the truth—quite unlike Bill “I-did-not-have-sex-with-that-woman” Clinton.

It’s worth reflecting though on what you were saying a while ago, Oxy, about differences between cultures. This business about Schwarzenegger and whatnot reminds me of a delightful little anecdote that I’ll reproduce here. It came from a book called A Pattern of Islands, by Sir Arthur Grimble.

Grimble joined the British Colonial Service round about the time of World War I, and was posted to what were then called the Gilbert Islands in the Pacific, where he later rose to become Commissioner. Today the Gilbert Islands are the independent nation of Kiribati. If anyone wonders where the name “Kiribati” came from, it’s not a native name, as anyone might think. It’s pronounced “Kiribass,” and it’s a native mangling of what the British called these islands: the “Gilberts.” Anyway, Grimble and his wife Olivia loved the islands and their people, learned their language, studied their culture, and later in a remarkable ceremony Grimble himself, whom they called the “Man of Matang,” was “adopted” into one of their clans and had his arms tattooed in the native fashion.

Despite what the couple had learned about native customs, they didn’t always manage to do everything right, as we see from this story about gift-giving…

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It was pleasant to take small gifts to friends at the happy hour before sunset. The polite approach was to walk up to the side of a mwenga and stand there silent, with one hand resting on the edge of the raised floor as if begging leave to enter, until someone said the right welcoming words.

Usually, a grandfather or grandmother sitting inside spoke first: “Sir and Woman, you shall be blest. Whence come you at the sunset hour?”

“You shall be blest. We come from our house over there in the east.”

“And you will do what in this place?” “We will visit this mwenga and those who dwell in it.” “Aia! It is well. You wish to gossip with us?” “We wish to gossip a little. That is the way of it.” “Ai-i-i-a!”—on a long, indrawn breath of deepest pleasure—“So it is well. Blessings and peace. Mount! Mount!”

On the last words, the young women of the household would dart forward to spread fine mats on the edge of the floor next to us. We would take our seats there with legs dangling over the side, saying as we mounted, “We pray this mwenga may be blest with all of you within.”

“You shall be blest,” answered everyone together, and after that the gossip was free for all.

The gifts we brought would be given only just before leaving. We had a working agreement about how they must be given: Olivia did all the presentations to females, I to males, except where very old people were concerned. This arrangement seemed to guarantee us freedom from the least breath of scandal. Scandalous talk was, as a matter of fact, a thing much more to be guarded against on my side than on Olivia’s. The attitude of Gilbertese men to white women was the perfection of reverent chivalry, wherever one went. The attitude of the laughing, golden girls towards white men was perhaps on the average, a little profane, for the simple reason that, on the average, the white men seldom qualified to be reverenced by them as saints. The idea of my never making a personal gift to a lady was absolutely sound. But there was just one case that our careful technique failed to provide against.

The thing happened when Olivia was expecting another baby early in the New Year, and the whole of Tarawa was agog with delight at the prospect. The new arrival would be the first child of the Breed of Matang ever to be born on their own soil of Tarawa. It was an epoch-making event for all the eighteen villages, but most of all for the people of Betio, who talked with Olivia every day and claimed the right to reckon themselves her private bodyguard.

They treated her like a beloved goddess wherever we went, and hung upon her every word, seeking to find in even the littlest things she said some guide to how they might help and protect her. They noticed me only as her husband, at most to ask how I thought they might ease the feet of Missis—as they were calling her by then—along the road to her great hour. That protective spirit, that eagerness to interpret her every need, was really the key to what followed—not forgetting, of course, the subtleties of custom in connection with gifts of perfumery.

Olivia and I had just finished tea one afternoon when a very sweet village girl, crowned with a wreath of white flowers, came up the front steps and stood with bowed head on the verandah waiting to be invited farther in.

“Why, hullo, Voice-of-the-Tide!” said Olivia. “Do you want to talk to us? Come in and sit down.”

Voice-of-the-Tide crept forward, her head still deeply bowed, and sat on the mat before our feet. “Yes, I come to speak… I come to say…” she murmured and fell silent, nervously clasping and unclasping her beautiful hands.

“Well, don’t be afraid of us. We won’t bite your head off””“–Olivia and she had always been great friends—“What’s on your mind?”

“I come to thank you for yesterday evening. I am very proud… I come to say… ” Speech failed her again. She had not yet lifted her eyes to ours.

Te raoi (Don’t mention it),” Olivia answered her word of thanks. We thought we knew what that referred to. We had visited her people’s mwenga the evening before, and Olivia had given her a small bottle of scent. But why should a casual gift have left her so constrained?

It was only after a long, long silence that she raised her head and whispered, looking me in the eyes, “The gift of love that Misses gave me…. I am very proud to be chosen… I am ready… when shall I come to the Man of Matang?” and burst into bitter tears. “But my sweetheart will never forgive me!” she wailed. “Alas! Alas! The miserable girl I am!” The ghastly truth took half an hour to piece together between her tempest of sobbing.

It was the custom for a Gilbertese lady of high birth to choose, during her last months of pregnancy, some young unmarried friend of hers for the nightly comfort of her husband. “For look you,” said Voice-of-the-Tide’s father to me later, “it secures the safety of the child. And not that alone. It secures also for the mother the continual loving-kindness of her husband and that other woman.”

But the matter was one of such delicacy for all concerned that no preliminary words about it might ever pass between them. The husband and the not-impossible-shes simply waited for the expectant mother to give the customary sign of her choice. The sign was the handing of a gift of anything sweet-scented—a wreath of flowers, a bottle of perfume—to the chosen girl in the presence of the husband. So high was the compliment, so deeply felt the obligation of kindness to the pregnant, that no girl of good breeding could possibly refuse the charge thus laid upon her.

Nobody in the village doubted for an instant what Olivia had meant by her gift. The place was buzzing for joy at the delicate correctitude of it. Everyone was pleased, in fact, except Voice-of-the-Tide and her sweetheart. I felt that Olivia was a little malicious about that when Voice-of-the-Tide, most earnestly reassured by myself as to the purity of my own intentions towards her, dried her tears and smiled again: “Tell me,” said Olivia, “if you had not had a sweetheart, would you have felt differently about it?”

I aki (Not I),” replied Voice-of-the-Tide without a moment’s courteous hesitation.

“And why not?” Olivia’s tone simply egged her on.

She eyed me up and down gravely before she answered: “This chief of Matang is very kind… but”—she rippled into giggles.

Nothing, I am glad to say, would induce her to say more. I left them to their laughter.

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There’s been discussion here and elsewhere about politicians and men in similar positions having mistresses or a large number of sexual dalliances. As they say in the audiophile community, men in high positions seem to prefer “high frequency” to “high fidelity.” But the above story is just one of countless instances in which other cultures actually expected men in high places to have sex with more than one partner, in certain circumstances at least and often routinely.

It sometimes makes me wonder if we in the Western world of today are really the “odd ones out” for having different expectations. There are African tribal chieftains with strings of wives. Chinese emperors had flocks of concubines, while Eastern potentates have always been famous for their harems. Muslims of course are permitted up to four wives—but in practice only if they can afford to keep them, which naturally means men of higher “status” are more likely to have multiple spouses. They don’t seem to be alone in believing the plural of spouse is “spice.” Modern Western culture seems even more of an exception if I take history into account as well as geography. In our own (European) history it was also normal for nobles and especially kings to have mistresses and children out of wedlock, who were frequently ennobled themselves. Even a number of medieval bishops, while nominally “celibate,” traveled around with a whole retinue of concubines. William the Conqueror was a bastard—in more ways than one, I’m sure!—though he hated being reminded of it. As late as the 19th century, his namesake William who became King William IV had TEN illegitimate children with his mistress, and openly acknowledged them. He wasn’t married at the time, but the openness of this behavior only seems to have stopped with the onset of Victorian propriety—though I don’t know if the French ever did stop it! (But why should they? Victoria was never THEIR queen!) Still, her son Edward VII had to be much more discreet about his own numerous affairs.

We may well deplore the frequency of this behavior among high-ranking men today, but I’m pessimistic about it changing any time soon.

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