By | April 16, 2012 98 Comments

Dating after the sociopath

A reader posted the following comment on Lovefraud’s Facebook page:

“This website helps me too, but now, as I venture into the world of dating again, I find that my past is terrible hindrance. So difficult. Any advice gratefully received. Just want to be happy.”

Many times I’ve been asked, “After what your con artist ex-husband did to you, can you ever trust again?” Yes I can. I do. I am remarried, and I am happier now than I’ve ever been, in fact, I’m much happier than I ever was before the sociopath.

So how do you climb out of the abyss of profound betrayal? How do you recover? How do you move forward, to the point where you can actually love again?

Here are some lessons I’ve learned along the way. Maybe they’ll help you.

1. The only way out of the pain is through it

It hurts. Once you finally realize that your entire relationship was a mirage, that there was no love, that the sociopath’s intention all along was to exploit you, the pain is shattering. And, to make matters worse, you feel like a complete idiot for falling for the lies, for allowing the sociopath to take advantage of you as long as he or she did. Not only were you conned, but you participated in being conned.

You are filled with disappointment, despair, anger and outrage. You are totally justified in feeling these emotions, but they’re really unpleasant. It’s so painful, and you just wish it would all just go away. You may feel so overwhelmed that you ask a doctor to “give you something.” But although antidepressants may help you cope in the beginning, when the shock is so raw, they don’t solve the problem, they just mask it.

So sooner or later, if you want to recover, you need to face the pain head on. You have to get the toxic emotions out of your body, or they will eat you up. But you can’t analyze yourself out of the pain. Emotion is physical, and it needs to be drained off physically.

The only real way to end the pain is to allow yourself to feel it. I spent many hours curled up on the floor, sunk into my grief. I screamed in rage. I envisioned my ex-husband’s face on a pillow, and punched it until I collapsed.

Whatever technique you use to drain the emotion, you’ll have to employ it more than once, because there isn’t just one disappointment or one betrayal. Sociopathic relationships create layers of them, so getting rid of the negative emotion is a process. As you release a layer, another one will rise to the surface.

Here’s the good news: Getting rid of the pain creates space within you to feel healthier emotions, like peace, happiness, gratitude and joy. The longer you travel down this path, the more the balance shifts. Your negative emotional state gradually transforms into a positive state.

I can’t tell you how long it will take—everybody is different. But eventually, you can get to the point where you’ve released the pain. You don’t forget what the sociopath did, but it just doesn’t affect you any more.

It’s best not to start dating until you’ve made good progress in dealing with the pain of the sociopath. If you try to meet someone while you’re still wounded, there’s a good chance that it will be another predator. He or she will seem to swoop in to rescue you, but the real agenda will be to take advantage of you—again.

Wait until you’re feeling better before trying to date again.

2. Learn the core lesson

Sociopaths set out to exploit you, and they are fully responsible for the pain that they cause. Still, there was something within you that made you susceptible to the sociopath’s charms and promises. Even when you felt misgivings, there was something that made you doubt yourself, listen to their explanations, give them another chance.

After this terrible betrayal, it’s time for you to figure out what that original vulnerability was and heal it.

You may realize that you’ve experienced betrayal before. Perhaps your parents or other family members were disordered, and you grew up believing that manipulation and emotional blackmail were normal. Perhaps you experienced psychological, physical or sexual abuse, and never really recovered from those wounds.

Or maybe your parents did the best they could, but you still absorbed damaging beliefs. In my case, for example, I grew up believing that I wasn’t good enough as I was; I had to earn love by being the “good girl” or getting all A’s in school. Where did that idea come from? Well, perhaps from my parents. And maybe that’s what they learned from their parents, who learned it from their parents. Mistaken ideas can be passed down from generation to generation.

It’s time to break the chain.

Often, when you honestly examine the pain inflicted by the sociopath, you find that it is directly connected to some earlier, more hidden emotional or psychological injury. And that’s when you may realize that you can draw value from the run-in with the sociopath. As you release the pain of betrayal, you can go deeper to release the pain of the original injury as well.

But it’s important to be gentle with yourself. You didn’t know about the deep injury, or to protect yourself, you pushed it out of your awareness. Now you need a shift in consciousness. Now it’s time for you to believe that you are worthy, you are lovable, and you deserve the true gift of life, which is joy and happiness.

When you fully embrace these beliefs, you’ll find your life experience matching them.

3. Trust your intuition

You may feel that after allowing yourself to become romantically involved with such a loser, you can’t trust yourself to choose a healthy relationship. When you first end the relationship, this is probably true. That’s why you shouldn’t date right away. It’s also why No Contact is so important—it gives you the time and space to psychologically disengage from the sociopath, so you can escape the fog of manipulation.

But as you travel the road to recovery, you’ll become more comfortable believing in yourself, and trusting yourself. After all, you probably knew something was wrong with the sociopath, or the relationship, very early on. Most people do. But you didn’t listen to your instincts, and continued the involvement until it turned into disaster.

Here is what you need to know: Your intuition is designed to protect you from predators. Your intuition is the best defense you have against exploiters. So if you ever have a bad feeling about someone, if you ever sense that something is off, pay attention.

Of course, sociopaths are really, really good at the game, so you may not pick up a warning right away. It may be weeks, or even months, before you see some WTF? behavior. But if you see that first hiccup, or become aware of that first little twinge of suspicion, tune into your own feelings. If you keep getting negative hits, act on your instincts and end the involvement.

Then, don’t be upset that you attracted another one. Be proud that you caught on so quickly, before too much damage was done. It’s a sign of your recovery.

The more you clear away the trauma, the better your intuition will work. Eventually, it will tell you that someone is right and good, and that it is safe to open your heart again.

And then, with all the healing work that you’ve done, you’ll be able to experience true, fulfilling love.

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donna dixon

Wow, Wow, wow!!! I feel like you wrote this blog for me personally, Donna!

This is what I tell all my friends who keep telling me I need to start dating. I tell them, I’m not ready!! I have to figure out how in the world I fell for such crap all these years. How I could never see into my own life which I thought was wonderful; while at the same time watching all the true crime shows and books that I could get my hands on.

I am on my way out of the “pit” but there is still a long road to go. In fact, my last challenge is to make my presence with the ex at our child’s wedding.

Oh yes, he has moved on; several times over, but I will be there on my own with my siblings. My close friends tell me I need to look “hot” or find a “hot” guy to take as a date to make him jealous.

My response? I don’t need to look hot. I have always looked better than him and why in the world do I want to make him jealous? I DO NOT WANT HIM BACK!


donna dixon:

Yeah, don’t you just love all your friends telling you that you NEED to start dating and your close friends telling you that you NEED to find a “hot” guy to take as a date! UGGHH. We don’t NEED to do anything.

What is so great about finding love again?? HA, I may be cynical, but I think the people who have gone on to say they have found love just make us who feel like we can’t feel bad. I am extremely happy for someone who does find love again, but it makes us who don’t want to or don’t think it’s important to live a happy life feel like half a person.

donna dixon

I hear ya, Louise!! I know for a fact that my friends who have not been involved with a sociopath; and the majority have not, cannot relate to the depth of the emotional devastation. They just don’t get that we question every fiber of our being.

I am thrilled for everyone that has a second chance and finds love. I’m thrilled for Donna Andersen; she deserves it!!!!

As for me, I have decided not to make an effort to look for love.
My priorities have shifted. I am working on taking good care of myself internally and externally. I am surrounding myself with caring friends and family and if along the way if love finds me then so be it.


donna dixon:

I love your last paragraph…me, too, Donna, me, too!!! 🙂

donna dixon

Good for you, Louise!!! I’m sure we are NOT alone 😀

Ox Drover

Well, it goes for any kind of “loss”—as a widow at 57 I felt horrible, I missed the relationship with my husband, the friendship we had shared for 40+ years, the companionship and the just plain FUN! I felt old and ugly, fat and undesirable and along came a love-bombing guy I had known casually for 10+ years telling me how wonderful I was…and boy did I fall for the love bomb. I was on cloud 9 for about 4 months and then 4 months of anxiety and doubt, feeling even more devalued and undesirable.

Now there are not lines of guys lined up at my door wanting a date, but I did have a few dates with guys (living out in the boonies doesn’t help) but I quickly saw that none of these guys met my requirements for honesty and responsibility and even though I had no one else waiting in the wings to take their place I was finally coming to the realization that I was happy and I was okay by myself. I didn’t need someone else to make me complete. I was no longer needy for male companionship.

I was really picky.

One of our posters here, matt, an attorney after his episode with the exconvict psychopath he dated who had nothing and he tried to provide the guy with everything made some “rules” that he called the “tion” rules

In order to be someone who met Matt’s requirements the man had to have

Educa-tion–not be a dumbo
Hibata-tion–his own house or apartment
transporta-tion–his own vehicle
occupa-tion–have a job

Well, you know, those would be the minimum requirements for me as well. What do I need with someone who has nothing, who has not provided for themselves at least the basic minimum of the requirements of life?

Now I would not be happy with some guy who was a 6th grade drop out, though self educated would be fine.

I would not be happy with someone who had absolutely nothing accumulated in life. Not that I am into “wealth” because I’m not but I sure don’t need someone to support. I would want someone who could at least contribute to the upkeep.

My X-BF that was a P had all those things but in addition to teh 4-tions I would require I also want someone who is HONEST AND RESPONSIBLE.

All of the guys I went out with had the 4-tions (or were retired which is okay at my age) but they lacked the honesty and/or the responsibility part. Without the 4-tions of Matt’s minimum requirements I wouldn’t be interested and sure won’t be interested if they are not both honest and responsible.

Louise, I am happy when some people find a soul mate/companion but it doesn’t make me feel like I am “half a person” because I have learned that even when you have that, you still have to be happy with yourself in order to be happy with someone else. My husband and I had a great relationship and he was a great guy, but no matter how much someone loves you, they can still die, so in the end, it all depends on being happy with ourselves. Being a complete person even without the “soul mate” or with one either. I let too much of my happiness depend on my husband. He didn’t want to leave me alone, he didn’t have a choice, but I should have depended more on myself for my happiness and less on him. If that makes any sense.



It makes complete sense. I understand.

My problem seems to be that I can find a man with all these qualities, but I just don’t feel anything for them…dead actually. Sorry, but I have to “feel” something. I can’t just be with someone because they meet criteria. If I am honest with myself, that is why I don’t really date. Someone has to really have a certain something for them to catch my eye. I am very weird I think. Different. I am trying to get past beating myself up for being different. I am who I am. I really need to start accepting this and especially at almost 49 years old!


I love this article because I need to read it. Knowing that there is safe and healthy love and companionship out there helps me to recover some of my faith in humanity.

But, I have no interest in dating. Not any. Not for any reason. I’ve chosen TWO losers in a row – #1 was an extremely violently abusive terror – #2 was the most convicing decepticon I’ve ever seen. When one’s own divorce attorney tells her client that the client’s case is the worst that she’s ever seen in her career, it’s time to focus on myself, me, and I. I don’t need a man to validate that I have value. I don’t need a man to pay my bills. I don’t need a man to work on my car. I don’t need a man for sex. I just do not need (or, WANT) a man.

And, to clarify – I do not hate men. I just hate the men that I’ve chosen!


Louise, one of the things that I used to find “attractive” in a man was that undercurrent of “bad boy.” For whatever reason, I believed that I would be loved so much more by a “bad boy” whose life turned around as a result of my “saving” them. That’s not even a “romantic” crock of shiat! It’s just a plain, steaming crock!

Now, I don’t want anything to do with another man unless it’s to discuss general weather anomalies or colonoscopy results. 😉



Exactly. I have never needed a man to “complete” me. That is precisely why I have been alone for a long time.


I, too, have always liked the somewhat “bad boys,” but not because I felt like I wanted to change them, but because there was just more excitement there.

Ox Drover

Louise, of course there must be ATTRACTION of some kind. Some mutual interest as well as some “spark” that makes them attractive. I can’t always “define” that thing that makes a man attractive to me. My husband was not at all handsome, he had a large nose, but he had something about him that made him attractive to just about every woman that met him, I have tried to define it really but I can’t except to say that he made YOU feel attractive and interesting. Of course we also had some mutual interests and that helped, and he had been a former business partner with my sperm donor, so he knew what I had gone through there…but we just enjoyed each other’s company, we never failed to find interesting conversation, and though he was generally thought by people who knew him to be a quiet person, with me he was a chatter box because we enjoyed bouncing ideas and things off each other…but we didn’t even have to be talking to enjoy each other’s company. My son used to laugh at us because we would be sitting side by side, him in his chair and me on the couch, both reading, but holding hands.

We also laughed a lot, and joked a lot and when he was gone I missed that so much. He was always proud of me and my accomplishments and anything I wanted to do he was more than willing to help me accomplish it if it was something that needed his help or cooperation. He had his airport in the “front yard” and I had my beef cattle herd and my oxen and we supported each others interests, but we also had our separate interests that each pursued which was good. We never had any jealousy between us. Regardless of his lack of physical attractiveness, he was probably the sexiest man I’ve ever known. After all, the biggest sex organ in the world is between our ears (it’s what we think!)


My mind and heart is definitely frazzled tonight…

The love of my life who broke up with me in a panic 11 years ago, wrote me a love confession in a way I never thought he’d ever gather the courage to admit. And now I don’t know what the hell I’m supposed to do with it.
He had commitment fear for years, didn’t want a long distance relationship (he’s from San Diego) and feared how deeply I had come to love him in such a short time in 2001, he feared how much I may have needed him and feared he could not give it to me and would hurt me.
We became friends again, by early 2002. My feelings never died or went away, but have been as deep as back then. I just learned not to expect or even desire anything from him anymore, other than friendship and platonic love.
A couple of months ago he contacted me. His life had gone down the train. He was depressed. In his despair he reached out for me, as a last line to find some inspiritian to rebuild his life again. We had 2-3 mails going to and fro, where he explained the pain and shame he was in, barely having a voice, will or even belief left to rebuild.
I communicated my thoughts on what had happened for him, my recent new learned lessons in life, and also my gratefulness for his existence, because at the very least it had sheltered my heart from falling harder for the spath. I told him that he ought to know that him being alive is important to me. That without him, some more light and hope and beauty would be lost from this world.

I hadn’t heard from him anymore since my birthday, beginning of March. Until I found an email from him as I got home from work today. It was sent about 5 mins after I went to bed last night. He confesses to have been googling for english teaching positions in my hometown to finally close the gap of physical distance, that over the years he’s been wondering more and more what chance he let slip through his fngers, that he’s perplexed at the inspiriation and passion I can bring just by this distant electronic communication when sharing our minds, and yet how dissatisfied he is by not being able to touch me any closer than the keys of the keyboard, and admits it’s a situation he created himself a long while ago. He declares his love and gratitude to be everlasting, that time is ours whatever happens, and that he loves me both in remembrance as well as picturing me as old as I can ever get to be.

And now I haven’t got a clue what to respond, what to feel, what to think, what to want… Yup, I love him as dearly as ever, but well the last few years I had not even dared to dream up him actually wanting to step into my life again. I’m not even sure it’s the right time in my life or his life to do anythng about it. pffffffffffffffffff
I guess this song speaks for both our minds… I’ve been crying in shock over this the past half hour.

As for “minds” being the biggest sex organ… that’s exactly what it is between this man and for myself. For the past 12 years we’ve been an inspiration to each other through each other’s hard times, and just exchanging ideas over life, philosophical, feels like lovemaking.

Ox Drover

Louise, my husband had plenty of excitement about him and we did a lot of fun things–fly airplanes and train oxen and border collies…we traveled and lived various places…and we had both traveled the world in earlier times. It doesn’t take a “bad boy’ to have plenty of excitement about him.

I don’t travel any more, can’t afford to, but I do “travel” by keeping up with things outside my little hole in the woods…books and DVDs and having interesting friends and going places in my head and on the internet. I have friends scattered all over the US and the world actually, so keeping up with them gets me out of my little hole in the woods as well.

I’m never bored as long as there is anything around to read or learn. A walk in the woods with my “wildflowers of Arkansas” book is a total exploration into the wilds, just as much fun as a safari to Africa. And I also have my memories of wild life in Africa, central and south America to fall back on.


ACK!!! The second exspath was not what I would consider physically attractive – he was “deeper” than that, I thought. He was a huge book-worm and seemed to read all of the time and “know” so many facts and so much history.

Along with the “bad boy” attractiveness, I have always, ALWAYS found intellectuals to be thrilling. Yeah, I know that sounds crazy, but “Big Bang Theory” has everything quirky that I’ve always found appealing.

Today, it’s appealing in a wistful way, but I have no delusions of my ability to choose wisely. I need myself more than I need anything else, right now. And, I need myself to heal and grow up. 😉


OxD, I cannot imagine what it must feel like to lose such a partner and companion – I reallly can’t. Bless your heart.

Ox Drover

Truth, there is always one of a couple who dies first…and so one way or another we all lose our partners no matter how good the relationship is.

But time does heal and I can now remember the good times and will always have those with me. It’s not like “losing” a psychopath where you know that even the good times were FAKE. I think it really is more painful to lose the FAKE than the real because I don’t feel that my husband betrayed me by dying. The psychopathic now x BF betrayed me by having affairs with other women almost right under my nose….literally. My best friend and my son D and the BF went to a living history event in Colorado and danged if he didn’t have an affair out there while were were there with some woman he knew previously while we were there on vacation together. He even brought her into our camp one night “as a friend” of course, but looking back on it later I could see she acted like an “egg sucking dog” slinking around sneaky like. He might not have had a guilty conscience but I think SHE DID I think. LOL

This past March my son D went with some folks to the regional 5 state event which is 12 days and was in Texas. X BF goes to the regional events and so it was no surprise that D saw him there. One of my friends posted some crowd pix on face book and there was one of him sitting around and he LOOKED AWFUL. My son D said he looked horrible like his health was not good. He was a “secret” drinker I also found out, kept a bottle of vodka hidden under the seat of his truck, so I imagine he is not in the greatest health.

I am just glad that I found out what he was BEFORE I married him. He was looking for a new respectable wife to cheat on to replace the one who caught him and kicked his arse out. He kept a harem of various girlfriends that he had brief, but repeated affairs with….he liked married women too because they weren’t as likely to cause him trouble. After his wife kicked him out, one of his married GFs offered to leave her husband and marry him, but he said he “couldn’t break up a family”–I said to him “well you are screwing the man’s wife! How is that not “breaking up a family?” LOL


you know the drill. Take it slow and keep your eyes WIDE open.

Nobody can fool you anymore. That is a given.

I’m concerned that this man has so much power over your emotions. Those are your emotions, don’t let him overpower them.

I’m not trying to be a wet blanket on your love for him. I know that it is real. I just want you to be grounded as you walk into this. Your expectations need to be tempered by what you’ve known about him in the past.

Also realize that if he moves to your country and he loses his mode of support, you will have to help him “stay afloat” until he gets on his feet.

Do you have any time off from work coming, where you could visit him for a while in San Diego? That would give you an opportunity to see if there is any potential before he shows up at your door step.

Remember, slow and stay in control of YOU.



Great posts about your relationship with your husband. I can’t imagine having a relationship like that and then losing it. I’m so sorry you had to endure that.

I know that they can be exciting without being a bad boy, but I sure haven’t found that magical combination yet and I’m not sure I ever will. I know it sounds self defeating, but we will see what God has planned for me. That’s what it all comes down to anyway, at least with me!



For the moment I’m just being still and taking this all in, without any intention to reply for at least today. I don’t want to answer unless I feel more centered again.

He’s not gonna show up soon though, if at all.. he’s on his way to Mexico, or already there, to work as a tourleader and save up money, until at least the end of summer. He might be touring in Canada for the summer, and Mexico now.

I don’t think he expects an answer or plans from me even yet. He’s both saying that he’s discovering and realizing how profoundly he loves me and would wish for another chance, and for the first time is considering to actually move to my country, and yet at the same time saying to take my time and to keep on doing in my life what I’m doing now.

As for my time off from work… Today was my first day back to work from 2 weeks of Easter holiday… so not much of a chance soon, no money for a San Diego ticket, he won’t even be there, and last time I visited him in San Diego to see him was when we ended up breaking up. It’s not something I’ll easily do over again. June will be exam month. July I’ll be moving to the new apartment. August I’ll have to study for second trial exams. September I’ll start working again. There’s no time (or money) for me to hop on any airplane to wherever before fall holday around 1st of November.

I think I want those things done first (exams and moving) before making any other commitment. And I think it’s best he gets fully back on his two feet first. If time is really on our side, then taking this very slowly, without much of a change, other than that he has come out and confessed his undying love, and staying on our separate paths for the first few months seems the best solution for the both of us. What’s half a year on a dozen of years?



I agree with Skylar. Just take it slow. There might be an ulterior motive for him popping up out of the blue. I would say check it out, but go super slow and look for red flags. Good luck!!

Ox Drover


I’m like sky I don’t want to throw a wet blanket on your emotions, BUT….

What has he been doing during the last 11 years of his life? If things went sour and he was depressed, does he expect you to “rescue” him emotionally?

Has this always been a long distance relationship? How did you meet? You say you fell for him early on…was he love bombing you and then discarded you with his “I can’t make a commitment” ploy?

Long distance relationships tend to have a “magic” about them that turns out many times to be more fantasy than reality. It is easy to “imagine” more when you are at a distance but when you are with the person in many situations and see each other in real life, you may be able to see more quickly what is good or bad about the relationship.

That is one reason internet introductions leave a lot to be desired. You can put all kinds of things in the “gaps” and it is easy to appear to be anyone behind a computer screen than in real life.

While it may be nice that he contacted you now, WHY is he contacting you now? I would be a bit leery about this kind of thing because if he is depressed and wanting you to make his life better, I think he needs to make his life better and THEN reconnect with you.

If that makes any sense.


There is nothing to say which is not worthy of repetition:

2. Learn the core lesson

Sociopaths set out to exploit you, and they are fully responsible for the pain that they cause. Still, there was something within you that made you susceptible to the sociopath’s charms and promises. Even when you felt misgivings, there was something that made you doubt yourself, listen to their explanations, give them another chance.

Ox Drover


There is nothing to say which is not worthy of repetition AGAIN:

2. Learn the core lesson

Sociopaths set out to exploit you, and they are fully responsible for the pain that they cause. Still, there was something within you that made you susceptible to the sociopath’s charms and promises. Even when you felt misgivings, there was something that made you doubt yourself, listen to their explanations, give them another chance.

2. Learn the core lesson

Sociopaths set out to exploit you, and they are fully responsible for the pain that they cause. Still, there was something within you that made you susceptible to the sociopath’s charms and promises. Even when you felt misgivings, there was something that made you doubt yourself, listen to their explanations, give them another chance.


I’m Ok. I slept a few hours, and realized my life hasn’t turned upside down over this. He’s not a spath. He’s a responsible person, always has been, and able to take up responsibility for his actions. He’s not a lovebomber, or liar or false promise maker. And has been an inspiration for 12 years, and we have been in contact all that time. I do think that he’s reaching out for emotional buoys at this moment and inspiration himself, which is why I want him to get back on his feet again by himself first. I’m relieved that I was able to inspire him to find enough will and energy again to keep going, but he saved himself. But for now, I see more reasons for both our benefits to keep life circumstances as they are… each of us on our own separate personal path.

Oxy, we met each other physically, then had to go long distance, I visited him and our high expectations blew up in our faces. He couldn’t handle seeing me fall apart under the strain of it. We then had a fight over email, and he said goobye to me in anger. I went through a depression to make sense of it all (choose heart or mind), I chose to move on without trying to ‘unlove’ him, and instead love him unconditionally. He reconnected and apologized for hurting me (both in his rejection at the time, and for the email fight) and took steps to mend the friendship. We’ve seen each other twice again after that, but without having sex (though I would have wanted too… in retrospect it’s good it never did though at those times). Our contact has been constant, except the past two years. He felt ready to settle down and commit to someone two years ago, but found out I was in a relationship (with the spath). He cautioned me about the guy, but recognized I needed to find out for myself, and to take care of myself. I didn’t contact him, nor did he me during this time, except for some dream I had about him where he said goodbye to me and it was clear he thought he found someone to marry. And I wrote him some months after my relationship had ended and I realized the ex was a spath. He was silent then, and then I noticed that a lot of people and friends of his were wondering about his whereabouts too. In February I learned from him that he had frightened his loved ones away by being too judgemental (he was involved in environment, reforrestation in California), too much of a know-it-all and cynical over the destruction of the planet. He had a fight with his brother (the person he loves the most), his fiance left him, etc.. he quit his extra environmental studies (he’s a biologist) and ended up in a crisis: he thought he had found his purpose but it blew up in his face, and he admits it’s his own fault, feeling like a social indaquate person for becoming so overbearing to his loved ones. He was a talented tourleader for many years, something he quit doing a couple of years ago, because he felt conflicted over the extravagance of wasted food during those trips, in the midst of the financial crisis. Anyway, he reached out to me in February when he felt at his lowest, presuicidal and utterly ashamed, fearing he’s pathalogically depressed.

Ox Drover


You sound very reasonable about the relationship and I totally agree with you that he needs to get himself back on his feet again by himself. We all do.

You sound like a busy schedule for the next few months! Good luck with it all!


Donna is right about being okay with yourself first, loving yourself, and when your healed, open up to the possibility of love finding you.

I was in deep pain for two years plus and I still have times where things out of my control leave me saddened and worried.

Seven months ago, my old neighbor growing up, called and asked to get together for drinks. He was my friend back then. Our parents ran into each other and shared that we were both divorced.

Long story short, we are now dating. It took me totally by surprise that I would develop feelings for him. I had to go to see my therapist right away because I wanted to flee. She told me to give him a chance and I did.

We fell in love, and it’s wonderful. I’m still wary and I sort through concerns with my therapist and make sure that I listen to my intuition if anything seems amiss. The defining difference in this relationship is that he takes personal responsibility for his actions. Where spath could never take ownership for anything.

What is the most beautiful thing about our relationship is that we always hold hands where ever we go.

My boyfriend is also not perfect and doesn’t pretend to be. Ex spath acted like he was the smartest guy in the room, he did it quietly though. He never showed a flaw he didn’t want you to see.

It’s a journey and I sincerely hope that this relationship stays on this path. I have to continue to listen to my intuition and watch for red flags. I never expected to be in a relationship at this point (I thought men are all screwed up), but I am grateful and blessed for the happiness it has brought me.

Ox Drover

Dear Hope4Joy,

It is so good to hear from you and so glad that you are starting a relationship (spelled with a P not a T)

Keep us in the loop! I miss you! (((hugs))))


Dear Oxy,

I miss you too!!!! Bunches! I read all the time but don’t contribute as much. I love reading all the advice here and cherish it.

I need to buy Donna’s new book!

Hope the storms aren’t too bad out your way! If you want to travel, I’d love to meet you sometime. You are my mentor!


I suppose I will have to face dating here soon but I have lost all faith in men. Soon, I will have no excuse because I will be done with Grad School but then…. I guess I need to get out of my room to meet people.


I has sworn off that sh*t a long time ago. I did take a peek at the main dating site… we all know the one… and on the first page… there was the same dude that was there 5 years ago… with his unrealistic expectations and all.

I am very bitter people. Very bitter.

I think ultimately (and I have been saying this for YEARS) I am terrified to *HOPE*

I don’t think I could tolerate another let down the size of the one that landed me here.



But of course, I know that nothing like the “Bad Man” would ever happened to me again.

Too smart for that now.




Yes, I have a good deal on my plate for the next few months and even years. I think that’s why I was upset at first.

It’s not a surprise at all that he loves me… I’ve always known he did (even in the way he expressed now), and he has expressed love for me before (as a person, as a friend, as soulsister) as well as sexual attraction, but not ever in this way… I just had truly and totally stopped hoping years ago he’d ever get the courage to admit it to himself, let alone to me. I always expected him to backtrack or leave an escape door open. So, that was the first shock yesterday, after first reading it.

And then I started to feel upset: what was I to do with it? For a moment I felt I was perhaps supposed to make some decision about this, commit myself, alter plans… And that is what I don’t want to do right now. It’s not because I don’t trust him, but because I made a commitment to myself for the time being and that has priority right now.

When I had slept a bit on it, and reread his message I came to understand he just wanted to make clear how much he does love me unconditionally. There is no pressure behind it. He doesn’t even seem to expect something from me at all. He just wanted me to know about it, and wanted me to have no doubt what kind of ‘loving’ he implied.


I doubt you would be so easy to fool anymore, you can have hope. As long as you are aware of YOURSELF, your own emotions and motivations, you can’t be fooled easily.

It’s amazing how I can smell a con from miles away now.
BF wanted to buy some machinery he found on Ebay. He thought it was a good deal. For some reason it smelled fishy to me. I googled the heck out the seller and found out he is advertising the exact same machine out of cities all over the country and he says “call me if you want to look at the machine.” The reason it seemed a good deal to begin with was because we thought it was nearby, but when we called him, he hasn’t answered. His “company” doesn’t exist, it’s located in a vacant house.

How could I smell the con? ONE RED FLAG: Frame control. I could tell he was very concerned with creating a certain image in the buyer’s mind. Normal people don’t usually need to do that to sell an item on ebay.

Aloha, as far as the bitterness goes, I can relate. I’m not really so bitter about my exspath, I’m bitter to find out that there are so MANY spaths!! My ability to smell a con is a double edged sword, it protects me from getting conned but it saddens me to know the truth, that humanity reeks with spath.

My spath once mocked me, “Living is easy with eyes closed.” I didn’t know why he said that. Now I do. He was mocking my innocence.


The con goes on.
I recently ran into my ex spath (liar, cheater, porn profile, etc.) with his new conquest. I checked around and found out he is now living in her house which is estimated at around 1.1 million. The best thing is her husband or ex (can’t figure that out) has his legal office at the house – the house has 5 bedrooms and 5 baths. The husband or ex – is some big deal lawyer – so is my ex now shacking up there with everyone? His lies are so good.

Lawyers are supposed to be good at figuring out the truth -so my ex would be a shoe in for political office.

It’s unreal how they can go from one to another – I knew my ex was always after $$$ and looks like he hit the golden goose…

When I first met him he said to me “I know how women think”…. scarey thought now… He does, he knows how to con women and have no remorse. He said to me he sleeps well at night – without a conscience one would..

Good luck to everyone who lives in that household…. It is just a matter of time.


Having had a p as a father, of couse I married a p and stayed through all sorts of hell for 33 years. I seem to pick bad guys to date as well, the ones who only want to use me for sex. I don’t understand, I think I’m attractive but the two I had gotten involved with only wanted to hang at my house and not take me out into public which hurt my self esteem. I think I need to put dating on the back burner. I did dump the duds I was seeing and need to look in other directions. I’m 56 and maybe I’ll be alone for the rest of my life. It would still be better than the hell I grew up in and the hell my marriage was.


cathy ann,
you nailed it. You think you are attractive. You very likely are. The spaths needed to take you down a peg. You aren’t allowed to think anything good about yourself, and they will see that you don’t.

they zoomed in on your attractiveness because they could see it was a source of self-esteem. They hate to see others have what they don’t.


Skylar, you said:

“I’m not really so bitter about my exspath, I’m bitter to find out that there are so MANY spaths!! My ability to smell a con is a double edged sword, it protects me from getting conned but it saddens me to know the truth, that humanity reeks with spath.”

How about the other side of that coin? Now you can spot spath-ness, but ALSO aren’t you a lot better at spotting people who are decent and good to the core?

At first, I was paranoid and afraid I couldn’t trust my own judgement. Now, I am getting to a place where I am not so easily fooled. I’m not saying it can’t happen — just that I am more often right than wrong about people, nowadays, and it does work both ways. I am more drawn to the good/kind/decent ones, and my spathdar helps alert me to the dangerous ones, and also I’m better at being able to discern the fence-sitters… it is still very much a work in progress, but getting better all the time. I’m developing more confidence in my discernment.

But you are absolutely, 100% right — going from innocent to disillusioned/bitter is very, very painful.

Going from disillusioned to realistic, though, is peaceful.


Czarinamom, lawyers are NOT the best judges of character. Lawyers are the best at sniffing out income.

An attorney is paid to research and perform. An attorney is paid to “represent” the “best interests” of their client, regardless of WHOM that client may be. An attorney doesn’t have to “believe” their client in order to represent them. An attorney doesn’t have to LIKE their client to represent them. The only thing that an attorney has that the average layman doesn’t is an education in Law.

My personal response to the subject of dating where I’m concerned is: hell no. Hayell no. Hayell TO the NO. Nope. Won’t. Can’t. NOPE. LOLOL


Donna, this is a great article which is of immense value in healing, even if we are not yet ready to date again. The principles still need to be applied to our recovery from them, no matter what stage we find ourselves in. Thank you for writing this.

Wow, Skylar, OMG, you really hit the nail on the head as far as my PDH/spath, when you wrote,

“cathy ann, you nailed it. You think you are attractive. You very likely are. The spaths needed to take you down a peg. You aren’t allowed to think anything good about yourself, and they will see that you don’t. they zoomed in on your attractiveness because they could see it was a source of self-esteem. They hate to see others have what they don’t.”

This envy is also what’s behind his issues with “Schadenfreude”, which means he takes pleasure in others’ misfortunes. He would rather spend his time and energy on bringing others (esp. me) down to his level and knocking the wind out of their sails in the process (this is what makes him feel good about himself and superior), instead of working on himself so that he too has those positive traits. He doesn’t know how to feel good about himself from within, so he uses others to make him feel good about himself, though the effect is only temporary. He is all about the negative, whereas I have always been all about the positive. He only pretended to be like me b/c he was mirroring, but I could not see that for a long time, which is why I was fooled for so long.

I think that the more we heal and recover from our relationship with the spath, the less we feel like “half a person” if we are not yet in a new relationship. But for a while, there can be an empty void, where the spath used to exist. Even when the relationship was bad, there is still a grieving process involved. Seeing others in happy, successful relationships can feel very painful, b/c it reminds us of what we once “thought” we had, which has sadly disintegrated. Yes, there are so many painful, heart wrenching, very difficult emotions we must process. We do have to allow ourselves to feel them fully, before we can let go of them and finally move on. Sometimes, we think we are through, only to discover we are not, if we have been triggered yet again in a deep way.

I think it is wise not to enter into a new relationship, until we first feel like a whole person again.

For me, it is learning how to be “me” again, independent of anyone else in my life. When I am “me”, I am not only connected to myself, I can also more easily connect with others around me, whether I already know them, or whether they are strangers I will probably never cross paths with again. I just naturally connect with others, when I am “me”. For what feels like the first time in my life, I do not always have the ability to be “me”, so therefore, I do not always have the ability to connect with others, let alone myself. Part of the damage I sustained while being in relationship with a spath was that I lost this ability to “be me”. But I am actively working on rebuilding myself and on regaining this ability, among others. It is all helping me improve my self-esteem, which was good when I met “him”, but which wasn’t so good, after taking many systematic hits from him that were designed to make me feel broken, and designed to break me, yet at the same time, were disguised as “innocent” remarks, gestures, behaviors, or actions. Of course, “I” always misinterpreted or misunderstood his real intentions, which were never what I initially thought those were, if you listen to him.

Like Truthspeak and others here, I have no interest in dating, let alone in having another romantic relationship. I too hate men. Not all men ”“ just some of the ones I have chosen, this last one in particular (the spath). I can appreciate the concept of romantic love, when others I know experience this and are in successful relationships, but for me, I want no parts of it.

I used to feel sad about this, but I no longer do. I now accept it. I realize that in the future, I may feel sad about this again at some point, if I find myself feeling lonely. But most of the time, I am okay with the thought of spending the rest of my days alone, or at least without a man in my life in the romantic sense. I’ve learned to enjoy my own company again. I’ve strengthened my ties with family and friends. I’ve learned to give myself time and space to grieve, or to feel my negative emotions, when those hit. Yes, I’ve had to do this at least several times each week. But after I do, that is when feelings of inner peace return. No, they don’t last, b/c right now, it is inevitable that the negative emotions will hit again. I am still living under the same roof with spath, so therefore, it becomes impossible to fully heal from the damage. I can only do so much with him still here. But at least that inner peace is there in some moments, which is more than I can say in terms of what I was going through before. Only some days, and only some moments, feel like hell on earth now. That is not a constant like it was, so I must be making progress.

But I still have difficulty “being me” all the time. I am still processing a lot of the emotional pain. A large part of it for me is the shock of what he’s done, which of course involves the betrayal components. Even though my rational mind knows what he’s done, a large part of me still can’t believe what he’s done. Not being able to get my head around what he’s done keeps me in part of the denial, I assume.

I swing back and forth between all the 5 stages of grieving. On the heels of feeling the shock comes the anger and depression, followed by the numbness again, and some level of denial accompanies this. I guess it is my mind’s way of not sending me into overload, b/c I can only handle so much at one time.


LookingForTruth, your frankness above is precisely why “dating” for me is out of the question. And, to clarify: I do not hate men. I mean that I DO NOT hate men. I hate sociopathy and the carnage that spaths create. I have known many, many women who fit the profile and they can be far more subtle and manipulative in their setups.

I think that the grieving process takes a good, long while. OxD’s response to my inability to imagine the loss of her husband was eloquent and bittersweet to me – I had always imagined myself with a partner that I would love until the ends of my days. I dreaded the anticipation in the event that HE would pass away, first. Well, in a sense, both exspaths DID pass away – at least, the fantasy of what they SHOULD have been died just a surely as if they’d both been struck by a train.

I don’t want to become stuck in the grieving loop. I think that “regret” would be the tether to swing me back around where I am concerned, and I so badly want to cut that cord so I don’t cycle back into those stages over and over, again.

Brightest blessings on your healing path, LookingForTruth.


It’s been a long time since I’ve posted on the site, although I do get on and read from time to time. I feel like it helps me stay centered.

Sometimes It’s still hard to believe the stuff I’ve been through is my real life and not a Lifetime movie. Maybe some of you feel the same. I recently shared some of my story with a pastor’s wife who said she wanted to get to know me better and was asking questions about my past, marriage, divorce, etc.I shared the summarized version so as not to overwhelm her, but it made her uncomfortable. She obviously didn’t know how to respond-ended up sharing a difficult, but non-spath, situation she had dealt with and said, “financial issues are just the worst kind of problems.” This was within minutes of me telling her about the lies, cheating, abuse, and addictions of my ex. I just laughed on the inside, because I understand that people who haven’t dealt with a spath haven’t a clue.

This article on dating really hits home to me right now. I’ve been divorced from the spath for six years. I can’t do full nc because we have a child. He still goes through the spath cycle with me. He just ended a bout of lovebombing, which I refused to respond to. So now we’re on to “look, I’m giving you the cold shoulder you heartless witch”. Soon it will be the “you’re disgusting anyway and a terrible mother and no one will ever want you” phase.

Maybe this is what keeps me from being able to date or have a relationship. I just always feel awkward about it. My mind races trying to analyze everything. I can’t just relax and enjoy. And I ALWAYS think about the nonsense I would have to endure from my ex if I even tried to have a relationship. It has already happened when I’ve tried to date before. Plus I have no tolerance now for anything that could even maybe indicate an issue, but most of these things are probably just human imperfections. It just seems too stressful, so I now avoid it.

Now I’m rambling…It’s just that this article really hit home and inspired me to post something 🙂


I feel compelled to add something here.

Let’s not look at other couples who seem so happy and successful in their relationships and think that all is rosy. I realize that some people are happy, but I have seen over and over again people who fake it and you have no idea how miserable they really are. Take Heidi Klum and Seal for example…GEEZ…they were CONSTANTLY talking about how happy they were, blah, blah, blah and are now getting a divorce and it now comes out that he was verbally abusive (I think?). I obviously have no clue what was really wrong with their relationship, but look how they fooled everyone!!!!

Another perfect example in the “real world” and not a celebrity is my best friend who I have known for almost 40 years. She is absolutely miserable!!!! She has been married for almost 22 years and has it all…multimillion dollar house, beautiful children, she herself is gorgeous, etc., but her marriage is a lie and a sham and she wants out so badly. BUT…to the outside world and even some of her closest friends, they look so happy!

Anyway, you get my drift. PLEASE everyone…do not look at other couples and always think they are happy. We really have no clue whatsoever what is REALLY going on, trust me. Again, I realize there are people who are happy, but just don’t be fooled because what this does is make US feel bad that we don’t have what they “seem” to have and that can be very destructive to us emotionally.

Thanks for listening.


Thank you for this Site…. Until about 3 months ago, I didn’t have a clue that the LDistance Relationship I was in was a Sociopath/Psychopath…… how I became “savvy” about it was… when I realized he didn’t seem to have a “conscience”….I could tell nothing really ate at him and he would do things that were on the border of right/wrong… He is still in my Life at this point… but not sure how much longer I can handle it… so hard to let go, but the above comments and information certainly help my psyce and mind…. I know what I need to do, it’s just doing it.. and when he tells me those 3 little words… I just say to myself… they are just “words”…. I never feel loved by him…. I will get out of this….. 🙂 Thank you all. Keep the info coming.



What happens if you just stop?

Does an anvil fall out of the sky and hit you in the head?



Yeah, and also, since it’s a long distance relationship, it’s not like you are around him all the time…it might be easier to cut off since it is long distance??


Thank you for your kind words and wishes, TruthSpeak. I wish the same for you!

IMust, your story about telling your pastor’s wife about what was going on in your life got me to thinking about how not too long ago, I called a crisis hotline to vent about what was going on with spath, only to be told the problems are beyond the scope of what they can handle hearing, and that I will need to address them with a therapist. I wasn’t looking for answers ”“ I was only looking for a listening ear. I used to volunteer there, and I know you don’t have to be in crisis to call (though emotionally, I was a basket case when I called). Some people call b/c they are lonely and simply need to chat for 5 minutes. Anyway, they are used to handling far worse things, such as suicide calls, yet she couldn’t handle hearing me talk about my H’s criminal activities and cheating and pathological lying. It was all eating me alive, and I was only looking for validation of my own feelings, but she could not even give me that. I was finding that talking to my therapist once a week about it all was not enough for me. I needed another outlet, but I wasn’t able to find that with the hotline, unfortunately. I have a friend who works there, and he was appalled at how my call was treated, when I told him. He asked me to call back when I knew he would be working, but I haven’t been able to leap over that hurdle, even though I know he will listen. I’ve just learned that it is so hard to talk about it with people who have not lived through anything similar themselves. It is hard for them to understand the full effects of the abuse upon us. They tend to focus on the one thing they do understand, if they understand anything, in your case, the finances. Otherwise, they don’t know what to do with any of it.

Louise, both my sister and my best friend are in what I will call happy, successful marriages. But no, they are not perfect. Both share less-than-perfect incidents and differences between themselves and their spouses with me. What makes them successful is that they are able to mutually work through these incidents and these differences to arrive at a happy medium, or at least arrive at a place where they can laugh about what happened. None of it is as serious as what I am dealing with. It’s all the typical, normal stuff of everyday marriages. That’s what’s so great about both their marriages ”“ they are not the storybook fairytale kind, but neither are they the horror movie kind (like mine), either. They’re somewhere in between, and that’s what makes them so successful, and therefore, relatively happy enough of the time, anyway. They have their share of problems, which they don’t try to entirely hide (not that they shout them to the world, either), but they also have the ability to work through those problems. You can’t work through problems, when only one of you is doing the work, which was the case between spath and I. Working through problems does not always involve immediate resolution. Sometimes all you can do is talk about it and hear each other, but at least that’s a start.

Spath doesn’t even want to do that. He wants me to pretend that nothing bothers me, so that he gets let off the hook. He has rarely taken responsibility for anything he’s done, even after I’ve called him out on the carpet about it. Makes no difference to him. I lose either way. If I don’t say something, he gets off scot-free. If I do say something, that lets him know he’s pushed my buttons, and it doesn’t change anything anyway, other than perhaps a temporary cessation of said behavior for a few weeks, or a few months, if I am lucky. He has no conscience, and therefore, he never learns from his mistakes, other than to use the confrontation by me to better slip under the radar the next time he’s being deceptive, or to do whatever previously upset me again in the future, if he deems I am doing too well and feels I need to be knocked down a few pegs, in his efforts to control me.


imustacheyouaquestion and LookingForTruth:

the story about the pastor’s wife made me think of a few things, too.

1. when I was going through my horror of abusive marriage and in the process of leaving, I turned to our pastor for support and he turned me away and said that the church could not handle abuse/divorce. That hurt real bad. I felt very unanchored, with nowhere to turn. (I did find support on my own but even a listening ear and some compassion would have been nice).

2. I don’t tell my story often to “outsiders” but when I do, I usually say something like, “this is one of those stories which sounds too fantastical to be believed, but I assure you every word of it is true. And over the years I have learned a thing or two about personality disorders… how about you?” and maybe they know about personality disorders and maybe they do not. If not, I try to plant a few seeds. Of course, now I can tell the story calmly and with some laughter. But I always make it clear that that’s from the perspective of distance of years. And I also always make it clear that there is a purpose to my sharing — not to badmouth my ex-husband, not to get something off my chest, but to shine a little light, if possible, into what domestic violence maybe really IS. Yeah, not what you think. More often than I would like, the person responds with a story of their own… perhaps one of their parents was abusive and they grew up like that, even if they currently have a healthy marriage.

What amazes me is that so many of us have lived this experience and yet keep quiet about it to new people we meet… because it isn’t until I open up to them, that they open up to me, and I find to MY horror that they, too, are walking wounded. Or, well along the path of healing, and living normal lives now. How many of us are there?

I guess I just feel a sort of imperative to not keep the code of silence about what happened to me, out of some misguided sense of politeness. I hate making people uncomfortable, and I will say so, but… I think the revealing the truth is more helpful than covering it up.


Yes I can spot the good people too, it’s just that there aren’t that many of them. Sometimes, I think I see a good person and then see envious behavior. I wonder: If they are so good, why are they reacting to their envy?

Nobody is perfect, yet these people know that envy is wrong, we have conversed about envy and spaths before, so they understand it. They just seem to think it’s justified in their case? Or are they unaware of it? Or is that the same thing?

I didn’t used to notice so much, now I do and find it repulsive.

Looking for Truth:
you understand it well. He envies your ability to BE YOU. It’s because he compared himself to you and found he was lacking in a “self”. You have a self. Even if you sometimes have a hard time finding it.

Maybe your “self” is growing or changing a bit and that’s when it gets undefined, but it is there. Spath doesn’t have one at all. He can only borrow one. It’s beyond sad.

This is an opportunity to find out what is missing in you that makes you need this evil in your life. Make no mistake, that is what he is. Evil. That is the essence of a spath. Eric Fromm called it the “quintessence of evil”. The lack of being that they have is infantile, but unlike infants, they have intellect and power so they are not innocent. He wants to take something from you. It might just be your time, I don’t know, but whatever it is, it is something precious.



I don’t think there are very many good people (bordering on sainthood), either. I am only guessing and using my own definitions here: maybe as many close to pure good people as there are close to pure evil people, and everyone somewhere in between on the continuum.

(I am obviously not one of the close to pure good people — wish I were, but I’m not there yet)

But I know a few, it is rare, and I’m kind of in awe of it.


I’m not looking for saints, just people who aren’t filled with envy. I’m tired of envy. We all feel it once in a while, but it’s the easiest emotion to dissipate, just be happy for others when good things happen.

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