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Ending My Relationship With a Sociopath: Separation and Manipulation

By Quinn Pierce

Shattering the Illusion

Once I learned that my husband was a sociopath, it was a lot like looking at one of those Magic Eye puzzles that don’t look like anything except random, tiny shapes and then, suddenly, a three dimensional image appears out of nowhere.

Unfortunately, this lead to the realization that my entire marriage was an optical illusion covering up a very scary reality.  And once the illusion was shattered, I felt like I was living with a stranger who was capable of harming my children and me in ways I hadn’t even realized.

However, I also learned that separating from a sociopath and, subsequently, divorcing one is not any easier than living with one.  Without the emotional attachment that the rest of us feel, and with a constant need to control and keep a façade in place, a sociopath can be even more scary and manipulative when given an ultimatum that will alter his life in a way he does not want.

Techniques of Manipulation:

Before our separation, my ex was going down the list of last ditch efforts to prevent the inevitable.  He did not want a divorce; he needed to keep the family unit intact in order for him to maintain the image he had cultivated for so many years.  I didn’t know at the time, but it was a checklist of sorts, and he tried each manipulative technique in rapid succession.

1. Blame”¦

I remember going to marriage counciling and sitting across from him listening in awe as he painted a very different picture from what the reality of our home life encompassed.  He dismissed his abusive behaviors as responses to being upset by my actions, he blamed all of our children’s emotional distress on me, and he belittled my role in, well, everything.

Needless to say, we did not make any progress in counseling.

2. Anger and Threats”¦

Then, he moved on to anger and intimidation, threatening to take the children, keep the house, and destroy everything he could that I loved.  The tirades also included trying to verbally strip me of all my worth as a woman, mother, wife, and human being in general.  He accused me of deceit, lying, cheating, and manipulation.  It was actually a very true description of his own behavior.

The incidents of tantrums increased, the reckless behavior- leaving the house enraged and not returning until the next day, also increased.  This was a very tumultuous time in our home.  I would try to distract him and keep him away from the children when he was enraged, and I would often find the children huddled together and hugging each other in the corner of their bedroom or under the bed.  To this day, my ex does not believe anything he did was abusive and claims that the children ”˜should have known he wouldn’t hurt them’.  This strengthened my resolve to get him out no matter what.

3. Remorse”¦

When the intimidation didn’t work, he suddenly switched gears and went in the complete opposite direction.  Every day was filled with remorse, tears, and empty promises of how he was going to change. If I hadn’t heard every single promise dozens of times before, it might have been somewhat believable.

4. Emotional Breakdown”¦

Possibly sensing the fake tears and false words were not working either, his efforts took a more dramatic flair.  He called me from work to tell me that he was having an emotional breakdown and couldn’t function.  He had never sounded so despondent and confused, and I immediately dropped everything and went to where he was.  He was shaking and crying and begging me to help him.  I drove him to the doctor who gave him a sedative and checked him over, but concluded it was most likely an emotional overload type of reaction.

I didn’t know this was all a well planned act and I fell for it hook, line, and sinker.  It probably bought him about a month of reprieve from the separation process, as I felt compelled to help him through whatever it was he was experiencing.  I was not about to kick him out if he was in a medical crisis.

A couple of years later, I read an article about sociopaths and the games they will play to manipulate those around them.  I froze in place as I read word-for-word the entire scenario that I experienced with my ex and his emotional ‘crisis’.  He knew I would not turn my back on someone whom I believed needed help and, more importantly, was asking for help.  I didn’t have any intention of staying with him at the time, but I didn’t feel comfortable  throwing him out without trying to help him find resources he could use to support him while on his own.  Little did I know, I was the one who would need the resources for support.

5. Playing the Victim”¦

Next, he reached out to family members, usually mine, telling them that I was depressed, unstable, on too much medication, etc.  Essentially, he was painting a picture of a mentally unstable woman who didn’t know what she was saying or doing.  At the same time, he was painting himself to be the hero who was trying to keep his family together while embracing the victim role.

He succeeded in convincing just about everyone that I was the villain and he was the victim.  Ironically, my biggest support came from my children.  They knew the reality of what we lived with, and even though they were not old enough to understand everything that was going on, I made sure they knew their father’s behavior was unacceptable.  I explained to them that the three of us were working very hard through counseling and practicing the right way to behave, but their father did not think he was doing anything wrong and refused to try to change his behavior.  They understood this, because we had all tried to convince my ex that he was hurting us in different ways and we begged him to get help.  His refusal was crushing to them; it was despicable to me.

6. Social Isolation”¦

The last thing my ex did before moving out was go door to door in our neighborhood explaining that we had mutually agreed to separate, again painting a picture of himself as the selfless, caring, genuine person that he was not.

When he finally left the house, he made good on several  promised threats from the year before.  Like a virus, he began infecting everyone around me by staying socially connected to friends we shared and family that believed his lies.  I spent the first few months a virtual prisoner in my home, afraid to encounter the negative response to my decision, becoming more and more isolated each day.

Affirmation of Making the Right Decision

But, my resolve did not waiver.  The day my ex moved out was the first time in nine years that my son did not have an accident in his bed overnight.  And he never had another again. My other child seemed like a huge burden had been lifted, and he, too, could relax for the first time in his young life.

The disappearance of symptoms was startling and instantaneous.  I knew we had a rough road ahead of us, and we did, but these were clear signs that I had made the right decision for my children.

The illusion had exploded into a million pieces, and I had no intention of trying to piece it back together.  We were well on our way down this path to freedom and recovery, and we only needed to look back to know we were headed in the right direction.


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49 Comments on "Ending My Relationship With a Sociopath: Separation and Manipulation"

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I need suggestions/advice on how to separate from my sociopathic husband without losing everything. My situation is financially grave. I moved 1800 miles away from home last year to fulfill his dream. My family and friends do not like my husband, indeed, his own family and friends have nothing to do with him.

I quit trying to fix him several months ago. I have recently refused to share dialogue with him about anything but the basics, groceries, etc. I am retired and plan to begin volunteer work next week. He, of course, said that it’s okay. However, he has been moody and tried to create logistical problems with my effort.

Any and all help is appreciated. I refuse to stay with him any longer than I absolutely must. Thanks in advance.

Too Old,

As a woman who divorced the man who thought I would never leave him and his “money”, I can tell you that for me there is no dollar amount that makes staying worth the unhappiness.

He told me I was no one when we met. Now I have returned to the “no one” I was previously and would much rather be “no one” than the “someone” he thought being with him made me.

In your situation you have the opportunity to leave and put 1800 miles between the two of you. You have the support of family who will help you get back on your feet.

What I would do is secretly book your flight home, forget the financials and just leave. You have no obligation to give him the heads up on your plan. If you tell him ahead of time it could be dangerous for you.

You can leave and start over. I worked for our business and left having to figure out how to make a living since when I left him I also had to start working outside the home. I started cleaning homes planning on it being temporary. I have been doing this for 7 years now, make a respectable living and work full time.

No dollar amount is worth being miserable. I hope you can find the strength to leave if it’s truly what you feel you need to do.

Best wishes 🙂

Thanks IAfraud. I agree with everything you said. I am very lucky in that I have a place I can work when I return home. I am retired so I do have a modest income. I am sorry that you had to endure, or for anyone that had to endure the cold, calculating anger that appears to lie within these people. It is obvious to me they are damaged beyond the point of no return.

Thanks again. I am very glad you found your comfort zone. 🙂

It sounds like you are getting your ducks in a row, so to speak. I wish you continued luck and vicarious support in your efforts to get away from your sociopath. It’s never easy, but it is SO worth it!

Oh, and please, please, be very careful.


Too Old-

Are you still living in the same country as your family and friends? Would you have a roof you could rely on over your head if the worst happened and he froze all your assets? Instead of volunteer work, can you locate a paying job so that you’ll have some financial stability?

No matter how concerning it is to leave a long term relationship, remaining can mean unending sorrow. Only you can determine what is best for you. All of us who made that choice, however, found the strength and the means to survive. And I don’t think many would argue that we ended up being stronger and happier for it. It’s scary. It’s emotional upheaval. You need to plan carefully and quietly before you make a change.

Wishing you the best!


Thank you JmS. Yes, I think I can make a good plan and leave within the next few months. My family and friends do live in the US…:-). In fact, they have already suggested helping me, even coming here to get me. My husband recently pushed me…the first time he has been physically abusive. I realize it is because I won’t play his head games anymore. My awareness isn’t going to save me from further abuse though.

I prefer to return home rather than seek employment here. I will be happy to get as far away from this person as possible.

Again, thanks.

Too Old,

I am so sorry for your situation. jmS gave some very good suggestions. I would just add this: with the onset of physical abuse, you may want to leave sooner, rather than later. Or maybe–if you need time to plan your exit–you can just pretend to play the head games a little longer. I only say this if it is a case of self-preservation. I have found it is incredibly easy to fool a sociopath–amazingly, for all of their own lies and manipulations, they rarely see anything coming. It probably has to do with their sense of invincibility.

I hope you can contact a family member soon, so you can get away safely. Because of their lack of caring, empathy, etc., these guys can be a real danger, if they feel you are in the way of something they want, or if you thwart them.

Please take care.

Dear LL Mequon, thanks for your help. For reasons I do not want to put online, I will be stuck here at least 2 more months. I agree with you; he is very easy to fool in most instances. I am an honest person so I do not have to remember my last lie to keep from contradiction.

As you know, living with someone with no morals, personal values, or boundaries is exhausting. I can handle it for a brief amount of time. Hopefully I will be home for Thanksgiving and Christmas!

Thanks again for your help. 🙂

I left my sp by letting him think he shocked me by discarding me. I let this man play with for six years but i researched his behavior in the last two years to make sure he had the personality of a sp, yes he fit the mask. I was so tired of my emotions being manipulated before i can balance them i just said one day im going yo except who is and let him play out this last episode. This time im going to be his sociopath. I let him in he gave me money had sex went shopping called each other three times a day while my female neighbor becoming restless like always when he visits me. You can figure that out. Anyway when i start to notice his calls was changing, thats when i knew the episode have arrived, this time i will discard myself.he started the blame lies and complaints, i told him you are so right i totally agree, that didnt work he switched back to the nice mask,to set me up again. I was too agreeable, but before he can use the mask effectively i put on his sp mask acting just like him and amazing it was to see him loving it becuz his nice mask flew off so fast into his abusive tone and words, obvious he has a new target victim to impress becuz she called me pretending she have the wrong number,she didnt know her sp told me a death was in his family ppl was coming down from georgia, here this woman calling me from a georgia number,where his family is. I text her back with a threat to leave me alone and i also sent 11 text messages informing her about sociopath and who he is.ever since then sp havent call me at all. Before he would call to torment and ask about my neighbors knowing its about the lady next she look lost and cant face me. I beat the sp by not letting him surprise me with his games.i know in his mind he was always the winner because he was never with me inside, but im a winner because i saw it coming so i helped him finish it. I

Hi my first time posting here..actually I just found this site through a domestic violence page on Facebook. .my ex of 10yrs is a sociopath I now know without a doubt. .when I was finally serious about leaving him he burnt our house down killing my 4 dogs…blamed it on a accidental cigarette fire even though he never smoked and despised me smoking. .after much back and forth with the City fire Marshall he finally reopened the case but my ex was never charged because there wasn’t enough concrete evidence only circumstantial. .he lied to me for days after telling me the dogs got out but I found out later from the neighbor he found the dogs bodies stuffed them in trash bags and put them in the trunk of his car while I was there walking around the back of the house looking for them. I wasn’t home at the time because he called me drunk the night and I refused to come home to get insulted and kept awake all night..

Kit – what a terrible story. They are cruel and heartless. I am so sorry for your dogs.

Welcome to Lovefraud. I hope you find some clarity here.

Thank you they were my babies..its been two years since the fire and its still so raw for me. And the fact that he’s still living his life like nothing ever happened kills me! He still emails me from time to time lying and manipulating.. I don’t reply to them but trying to enforce the NC because I still go look at his Facebook page to see what he’s up too. He has me blocked most of the time..this last time I found a bunch of pictures he deleted from my Facebook when he hacked into it right after the fire…I didn’t even know he had a Facebook page because he said he deleted it years ago and the last 4 years of our relationship I didn’t care anyway so didn’t notice. But it was shocking when I first seen was like I never existed in his life..all these different women o n there falling for his good looks and charm..he claimed to rescue my dogs almost like he took on my persona..our houses that I painstakingly decorated was all his doing..he had taken the pictures from my Facebook claiming them as his. I had won portraits of them all and of course he was the one who won them and on and on..of course he was single..not one mention of me like I didn’t exist in that fantasy world he had created…

Wow. It is hard–as a normal person–to realize how evil these spaths are. I am so sorry about your dogs.

When you said “it’s almost like he took on [your] persona” I could really relate. I often would hear my ex spouting my values, opinions, etc. to others. I used to think we shared the same values, etc–but now I understand it was manipulation. He learned–through me–how to appear to be a good, kind husband and father, as well as friend. Ugh. So manipulative. And creepy!

Yes very ceepy…its almost like he wanted to be like me bt doesn’t know how in his own ways so he piggy backed on me. In one f his emails he said he’s glad I’m finally happy because I deserve it because I have done so much good in the world. .too bad he didn’t mean was just manipulation. Of course this was right after telling me I’m insane for thinking he burnt the house down because all of “HIS” stuff was in there. .and that I must have had numerous f*@! Buddies in the same email. Lol

After seeing his page I thought..well I was the dog and he’s was the flea having a circus on my backside…they make medicine for that 😉

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