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. 😉

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