Finally figuring out, after years of marriage and a couple of kids, that your partner is a sociopath, is a good news/bad news situation.
The good news: You are not crazy. You were not imagining things and you were not overreacting. There is a bona fide, medical reason for the insanity you have been enduring — your spouse has a serious personality disorder.
The bad news: Now that you know what the problem is, you need to figure out what to do about it — and all of the options are difficult.
I’m writing this blog in response to the post in the Lovefraud Forum submitted by “Gccc,” called 16 years, 2 children later, my life imploded. A death of sorts. Following is what she wrote.
The Vortex of Hell
This is my first time reaching out to anyone. I believe this is how I will begin my healing process.
I had never been able to explain what I described as the “Vortex of Hell” I have been living in for many years. When he was caught, with no way out, of participation on sex/date websites, he denied it — with the concrete proof in my hands. Then I knew this is really more than my worst nightmare.
But it wasn’t the betrayal of that. It was the absolute callous and arrogant response that killed me so much more. It was the years prior to that. I had never experienced a coldness that left me alone, desperate to confirm that he loved me somehow when he broke me into pieces at the moments I needed him to hold my heart the most. And it was, and still is, the desperation to find love or comfort from the one that hurt me the most in the first place.
The torture of that alone is astounding. I could not begin to explain what this is to most of my family. He LOVES me so much! He ADORES me! They have no clue that I believe that he actually despises everything about me. His words never match his actions.
Right now I am invested in a 14-year marriage with a 13- and 10-year-old who are the most beautiful, pure and honest things. How do I pull their world out from under them? And I don’t want them to be exposed to him without my protection and diversion. I can sacrifice my life to keep that from them because I love them that much.
I have got to get myself help! I am not sure if this is what it is, but my life couldn’t be explained any better than the patterns of crazy I’ve read about for months. It gives it a validity and it is real, concrete, and I’m not crazy, though I am after I deal with the sick cycle over and over. I need to connect to begin my journey.
4 facts about sociopaths and children
Usually, when you’re involved with a sociopath (Lovefraud’s definition of a sociopath is someone with antisocial, narcissistic, borderline, histrionic or psychopathic personality disorder) the standard advice is to leave and then go No Contact — never communicate with the person, in any way, ever again.
But when you have children with a sociopath, however, things get complicated. Here are facts about sociopaths, and what these facts mean for your situation.
- Sociopaths do not love their children
Sociopaths are incapable of loving anyone, and that includes their children. Sometimes they can put on a good Mother or Father of the Year act. But if you observe carefully, you’ll see that they view the kids as property, servants, or mini-me’s. They are more concerned with how the kids make them look than they are about their children’s actual wellbeing. Gccc said she is willing to sacrifice her life to protect her children. A sociopath will never do that.
- Sociopaths are terrible parents
Even if sociopaths manage to take care of their kids — like they would a pet or a favorite car — they still engage in emotional and psychological manipulation. This is actually the best you can hope for. Depending on how disordered the sociopathic parent is, children can also suffer from neglect, physical abuse, sexual abuse, and all the other shocking depravation you see in news reports.
- Sociopaths want power and control
If you decide to split up, the sociopath may very well fight you for custody of the children — even if he or she has ignored them since they were born. Why? Because he or she does not want to relinquish property, and remember, the children are property. Plus, the sociopath does not want to lose control over you, and the best way to control you is through the children.
- Courts usually believe children need both parents
If your custody battle goes to court, understand that judges, lawyers and other court professionals are just as clueless about sociopaths as you once were. Therefore, they don’t understand fact #2 — sociopaths make terrible parents. After all, research seems to say children do better when both parents are in their lives. Unfortunately, such research usually doesn’t consider cases in which a parent is disordered. So unless there is documented physical abuse, the court is unlikely to keep the kids away from your ex.
So should you stay or should you go? Let’s see how these facts affect your decision.
Considerations: Leaving the sociopath
- 1.The split is unlikely to be amicable — it could turn into a long, expensive divorce and custody battle, burning through all your assets. Despite any lip service about “the best interest of the children,” the sociopath’s main objective is to win, and crush you in the process. He or she will not willingly uphold obligations.
- The children will not receive good parenting when they’re with the sociopath. They may experience neglect and abuse. Or, they may be allowed to do whatever they want. In fact, the sociopath may encourage alcohol or drug use, violence or promiscuity.
- The sociopath will probably disparage you and try to drive a wedge between you and the children. Or, the sociopath may try to buy the children off by giving them whatever they want.
- You won’t be able to control what happens when the children are with the sociopath. However, when the kids are with you, you can provide them with a calm, stable environment, and show them authentic love and caring. Kids are smart. If they are not disordered themselves, they will know the difference.
Considerations: Staying with the sociopath
- The sociopath’s manipulative, deceitful and abusive behavior — towards you and/or the kids — will continue or even get worse. Your children will see that you are tolerating the behavior. They’ll grow up thinking abusive behavior is normal.
- At best, you’ll be doing all of the parenting yourself. If you’re lucky, the sociopath will ignore the family. If you’re not lucky, the sociopath will actively undermine you, the routines you want to establish, and your efforts towards discipline.
- The sociopath may still disparage you, right to your face, in front of the kids. Your partner will be modeling abusive behavior, and kids learn from what they see.
- Even as you try to show the kids love and warmth, there will always be an undercurrent of fear, anxiety, and “walking on eggshells” in the home. It will not be a healthy environment. The longer you stay in the environment, the more it will wear you down. At some point, even if the home becomes unbearable, you may not have the strength to leave.
So Gccc, there are many difficult decisions that you’ll need to think through carefully. Lovefraud offers multiple online courses related on leaving a sociopath. For more in-depth information, check out: