By | August 11, 2016 38 Comments

Entice, Erode, Control–Just Some Ways Sociopaths Use “Love”

Husband Liar Sociopath

By O.N. Ward

Every week, a chapter of my book, “Husband, Liar, Sociopath: How He Lied, Why I Fell For It & The Painful Lessons Learned” (available via, just click on the title or book cover) will be published here on Lovefraud. To read prior chapters, please see the links at the bottom of the post.

Chapter 18: Of Economics 101 And Frogs In Hot Water

You need not have studied economics to know that scarcity drives up value. A sip of water for someone parched in the desert is immensely more valuable than the same sip of water at the end of a meal at a white tablecloth restaurant where an attentive waiter refills your glass constantly. Is love any different? A single gesture of kindness or expression of love in a flowing stream of affection goes all but unnoticed. The value of that same gesture in a love-deprived environment, however, is immeasurable.

Because human beings value love, many of those who seek to control others use love or the promise of love to control and weaken others emotionally. Taking a chapter out of the “Sociopath’s Playbook,” Paul began by getting me to love and to trust him. Next, he exploited my trust as he changed my world from love-rich and positive to love-starved and negative. This gave him power over me, because it left him as the primary source of something I valued but rarely got—affection.

Why would any self-respecting, confident woman tolerate such behavior? At a basic level, I am no different from a frog, and sadly, neither are you. I have been told on many occasions, typically in business settings, that if a frog is put in hot water, the frog will jump immediately to safety (if it can). The frog’s mental arithmetic is pretty simple:

 Hot Water > Ouch! > Jump! > Live!

However, if that same frog is placed in comfortable water and the heat is turned up ever so slowly, the frog will stay in the pot until it is boiled to death, because the life-threatening change is too gradual for the frog to detect. In the absence of the perception of danger, the frog’s self-preservation instincts do not kick in and tell it to jump to safety. In the frog’s brain, the situation probably looks something like this: 

Nice Water > Warm > Warmer > A Bit Warmer >Hot > Really Hot > Boiling >

Dead Frog!

The moral of the frog story is that it is difficult to sense changes in the environment when the change is subtle but continual. However, it does not take long for small changes to accumulate, adding up to meaningful shifts and, ultimately, profound and possibly disastrous alterations in the environment. If a company fails to sense these changes, it cannot take the required actions. Even if the owner is aware of symptoms of poor health, such as declining profits, he or she may not understand the root cause behind them and, therefore, may not be able to make the required course corrections. Eventually, the business dies.

I am no expert on frogs, but if the frog is anything like me, it is possible that due to the gradual nature of the change, by the time the frog senses danger, it has been too weakened by the hot water to jump out. Alternatively, the frog may want to jump, but it is being cooked on a gas stove, and the frog is not sure that it can clear the flames as it tries to reach safety. Similarly, the most dangerous time for a woman trying to escape an abusive relationship is when she actually tries to leave. Hence, the question, “Why didn’t you just leave?” is insultingly ignorant. In either case, maybe the frog wants to get to safety but cannot. It needs help if it is going to survive. Someone must either turn off the stove or reach in and pull the frog out of the pot. If not, the frog knows it is weak and in danger but must resign itself to a terrible fate. This echoes the sense of helplessness many emotionally and/or physically battered women feel, and it is among the many reasons why it is so hard for them to leave abusive relationships. I understand it now, because, due to my relationship with Paul, I am one of those women.

To make matters worse, you can probably get the frog to jump willingly and happily into a pot of comfortable water if it is disguised to look exactly like the perfect frog habitat, complete with everything the frog needs for its long-term survival and well-being (food, a mate, shelter, nice temperature, and so on). Should the frog have known better than to pick a habitat that looked so perfect? Is the frog weak and pathetic to have stayed as the environment changed, even if there was no conscious perception of the changes until the frog was too weak to leave? Did the frog really choose to stay in such a toxic environment if it was unaware of the toxicity?

I pose these questions, because if, as you read my story, you dismiss me as pathetic or weak, then you make the assumption that what happened to me could never happen to you or someone you love (assuming you do not think you or your loved ones are weak and pathetic). But this would be a mistake. Just watch ten episodes of a crime show like Murder by the Book or 48 Hours. What percentage of the close family and friends of individuals who turned out not just to be sociopaths but sociopathic murderers thought the killer was anything other than a wonderful parent, child, sibling, or community leader?

Yes, it makes great drama to focus on “who done it” and “how they solved the crime,” but wouldn’t it do greater public service to unearth the warning signs? How could others have known, for example, that the head of the recreation committee, father of two, and little league coach turned out to be a sociopath who had grown tired of his wife and killed her simply to avoid the financial consequences and personal inconvenience of a divorce? Normal people do not do such things, but sociopaths do! What were the red flags? How could the people involved have known? What signs suggest we might be in a similar situation?

“My husband is considerate and caring. He simply couldn’t have murdered his third wife,” the fourth wife says on national television, standing by her man even when the evidence against her husband is overwhelming. “The man I know is simply not capable of such a thing.”

Yes, it makes for good television drama, but the problem with vouching for someone’s character is that it assumes what you know about a person in certain situations generalizes to all situations. This is not even a good assumption when it comes to nonsociopaths, but it is a terrible assumption when it comes to sociopaths. It is the same as assuming that just because Meryl Streep persuasively portrayed an emotionally tormented World War II concentration camp survivor in Sophie’s Choice that she could never convincingly play British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in The Iron Lady. She won an Oscar for both roles. Like Meryl Streep, Sociopaths are accomplished actors, but the real world is their stage. Sociopaths are that good at masking who they are and playing whatever role is required to get what they want, including a long-term marriage to provide a warm, cozy home base and the illusion of normalcy.

TV stories about sociopaths make such compelling drama, because virtually no one suspects ahead of time what these individuals really are. The doting fourth wife, for example, truly loves her husband and sincerely believes he could never have murdered anyone. But if experts are right, that between one and four percent of humans are sociopaths, then our only defense against falling into a sociopath’s trap is to understand the prevalence of sociopaths in our everyday lives, to be wary of the subtle signs, and to understand what aspects of our humanity they are using against us.


Start from the beginning:

Chapter 1

Go to previous chapter:

Chapter 17


Identifying names, places, events, characteristics, etc. that I discuss here and in my book have been altered to protect the identity of everyone involved.

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Thank you ON Ward,
Yes are boiling frogs. As I begin year three of my divorce my boiling pot has attachments -a lid with a latch.


So dangerous because you are clearly conditioned to accept the abusive behaviour. The change is subtle and incremental it can be difficult to see, especially for the victim caught in it and difficult for family if they are unaware of how this abuse happens.

My 75 year old father is in a destructive relationship with his sociopathic second wife who is 20 years younger (her 4th marriage). Family can see what is happening but our father is sadly caught in it – is desperate to have a wife (doesn’t want to be on his own), is embarassed by the situation he finds himself in. He sometimes seems to see it but then shifts forcefully into deep denial. As family we feel quite unable to say much about it in fear it will just drive him further into her arms and away from his family. She already outted us years ago and continues to try and isolate our father from us his children.

How best do we help our dad? How can we educate him before its too late? we fear losing our dad as he is also showing some signs he might be ending towards dementia. At the moment his doctor seems to think it is stress caused by his toxic marriage – we feel it could be both.



I agree with the doctors that the stress from you fathers toxic marriage is causing issues. Victims of abuse often have many health issues due to the severity of daily stress including memory loss, racing mind, anxiety, depression, fatigue, sleep issues etc etc.

Your father most likely is suffering from adrenal fatigue (layman term). The bodies adrenal glands sit on top of the kidneys regulating the bodies blood pressure, blood sugar, cortisol & adrenaline levels and over 50 hormones including testosterone.

With continual stress the adrenal glands work over time under continual daily stress as a result they can not regulate the bodies blood pressure, blood sugar, cortisol & adrenaline levels & hormones efficiently. As a result of the fatigue adrenal gland the person suffers from memory loss racing mind, anxiety, depression, sleep issues and lot of other symptoms. Because of this the victims of abuse at the hands of a sociopath can not think clearly to find the door out of the toxic relationship.

The good news is the adrenal glands can be healed with in 6 months to 2 years depending how long the person has been under stress. How do you heal your adrenal glands? removing the stress from their lives i.e. the toxic abuser, taking vitamins & minerals, eating a good clean diet no sugar, alcohol, drugs (obviously they must talk to a doctor to see what Rx drugs they still need to take), plenty of rest & relaxation & sleep and possible hormonal replacement (no big deal pill or cream).

How do you know if your father is suffering from adrenal fatigue? have his cortisol levels tested and also have him tested for vitamin & mineral deficiency & hormone imbalance.

(see adrenalfatigue. org site for cortisol test information)

Most doctors are not educated on adrenal gland issues and the medical community does not recognize the term “adrenal fatigue”(they use another term) but I can tell you from my own experience it once I removed myself from my ex h and found a good endocrinologist doctor who tested me for these things I was given proper vitamins & minerals and hormones balance I moved back towards my old self. Within hours of taking these things my anxiety was half. IT was quite shocking within a few weeks I felt 80% my old self.

Stress is a killer like they say it really does wreak havoc on our bodies because the adrenal glands can not regulate our bodies properly.

I would suggest some how you get your dad to a good Endocrinologist doctor asap to get tested for these things and ask the doctor to ask your father about his stressful marriage. Make sure you find out ahead of time if the doctor is fully educated on the adrenal glands.

See sites like Adrenalfatigue. org, DrLam. com, and others. ***SEE the symptoms list on these sites and ask your dad if he has more symptoms then what I posted as it is a long list.

As for getting your father away from this evil woman….you must look at her as a Cult leader and your father as a cult follower. He has been brain washing & is under her mind control so you will need to open his mind up from her mind control.

How do you do this?

Read the book Freedom of mind by Steven Hassan.

He is a cult expert who has been on 60 minutes, Larry King Live, CNN, Fox news etc

His book will give you tools to help open your fathers mind. It’s quite shocking the great lengths a sociopath will go to control someone and extremely scary that these evil people exist. You are a wonderful daughter for reaching out for help for him. Dont leave him in her hell…help him out even if you have to have help from a cult expert like Steven Hassan to get his mind open.

Steven Hassan helps loved ones leave toxic relationships (domestic abuse like you father is living) and cults. See his site Freedom of mind resource center. com for more info on Steven Hassan & his counseling center. He helps people all over the world so you dont have to go to his home base.

His book gave me the full understanding of exactly how my ex h sucked me into his destructive world and why I could not simple leave. I can tell you from my own experience that because of my health issues from the stress I was leaving and the daily mental & emotional abuse I literally needed & wanted someone to come in a carry me out. SO dont give up. But you must open the mind properly otherwise like you state you will push him closer to her.

You are not the first to post her trying to get their father out of a toxic marriage. So do a search also on this subject up at the top.

If you go up to the top of Lovefraud & do a search on Freedom Of mind & also Steven Hassan you will see articles that Donna here at love fraud has posted on him/his book.

Wishing your family all the best. Keep posting here for support for you and ask question.

Take care.

Hope Springs

Insidious is a good word for how P/SPs work.


The first and only rule I’ve found out about if you are dealing with a sociopath is: “I have absolutely no idea what s/he is NOT capable of”

Ie. the sky is the limit – but the final destination is hell


I know what a sociopath is capable of…. it goes all the way to murder.

Not that I blame them, but some people think they just have to set boundries with a sociopath. Yes, people want to think they have control over a sociopath, but that’s simply not true. There is some very very intelligent sociopaths who know to bide their time and then strike (what naïve people call “they snapped”).


mine was a big, very strong man; he often threatened to kill me. I took him seriously..he could have broken my neck like a twig and I wouldn’t have been able to stop him..i know (now) that with all those threats..he could have cold-bloodily killed me and then plea bargained to an insanity defense that ‘my wife drove me to kill her’..there is NOTHING they wouldn’t do, if it crossed their mind to do it. And it would have been my fault, not his.


No, there is nothing they wouldn’t do. My co-workers dtr recently returned to the father of one of her children. An ex-con, who conned his way back into her life. He talked a big game about how much he had changed, how their life would be so grand, etc…we all know the routine.

Within two weeks of her arrival he shot her point blank in the chest and killed her in front of all of her children. He claimed he felt threatened by her. She was around 100#, and he is over 6′ tall, and over twice her weight. She did not have a gun, or any weapon. She was trying to get back into the house because he had locked her out, and locked the kids in.

Hope Springs

That is what they can be capable of.

Geez. Wonderful human beings…NOT. They have no redeeming qualities. If they seem to, then it’s not genuine or real.

I am so sorry to hear this.


That was the set up my ex was going to use when my murder was intended… that he killed me to protect himself from his “crazy” wife. He’d smeared me, convinced people that he was the calm poor putupon husband married to the bizarre reactionary wife. He told people he was afraid of me. I wondered if I should share the emails he sent me… esp the one where he was upset that our divorce was final…. that he was very sad because he’d “always thought we’d reconcile”, and other emails of how he “looked forward to any visit and please come stay with” him.

Am sooo sooo sorry for your co-worker’s children. What a horrid legacy for them to overcome.


ON Ward
Your article brings to mind another phrase: from the frying pan into the fire.

Even when I figured out that the water was getting hot, and tried to jump, there is that fire that was heating the water and I had to get through that fire before I found relief.

Add other facts to that problem with escape.
The fact that everyone believed me to be a liar.
The fact that there was NO help. I was ALONE, isolated.
The fact that there was all this manipulation behind the scene, that our bank funds were transferred into an account in his name only, that all of my past friends were now his and now hostile to me, even LONG TIME friends.
The fact that people reported, like a huge gossip network, so nothing I did was private, I was completely exposed.
The fact that all these people did these blocking and controlling behaviors to me while thinking their actions were done in my best interest (crazy wife, poor long suffering caring husband).

The only was I was able to escape was to be the b* that I was accused of being, to let go of trying to keep my dignity and my reputation. I learned to isolate myself, to deal in cash only transactions, to plan and hide my writings, and I should have listened to myself and NEVER gone back that final day when I thought, having given him everything/he’d won EVERYTHING, that we were going to just do divorce paperwork… that was the day I was trapped on a deadend road (our home was isolated, on a dead end road and I had agreed to meet so we could expedite paperwork. I had no attorney b/c he’d taken ALL our assets. That was the day I was nearly murdered.

NEVER forget that losing complete control over a chosen victim is a Loss that a sociopath can not abide. That’s why I say when people are dumped and discarded, that D&D is a BLESSING, D&D means you lost your past but not your future.

Thus you can imagine why I am SO GRATEFUL to Donna and this website. I say “Thank You” all the time to Donna. Simple words, but the empowerment this website offers that allowed me to get my life back can not be measured. To not being alone after years of isolation? To find strategies and support? To read how others have won victories and to be able to vicariously enjoy that feeling of hope? To find health again? To find a place where I have real supportive friends again? The list of benefits from this website goes on and on.

Thank you for your story O.N. Ward. Just wanted to honor that jumping out of hot water is a great metaphor.


Your post reminds me of Lacey Peterson. Remember at the beginning the family stood by Scott and proclaimed that he could never do anything to hurt her? I think it is a huge psychological hurdle to finally, truly, completely get that there really are people like this out there. They live among us. They look like us. They have figured out how to exist with us without being noticed by the group at large. But they are parasitic and need a victim that unknowingly allows their life force to be stolen, in order for the Narcissists to survive.

Do you think narcissists are where the vampire stories originated from? I think so……

Hope Springs

OMG, that is SO good.

They ARE like parasites that will not go away! Even when you have told them that you are done…that you want nothing more to do with them…that you do not want them in your life any more…they STILL try to come back when they NEED something.

As the mother of a P/SP I am painfully aware of these facts.

Your post is so perfect…it actually made me smile. Thank you for that. I rarely smile when I think about SON.


…and i thought that he never left for good because he truly loved me :/ It took me almost 3yrs to find out about SPath/NPD. Sigh. Maybe my family were safe from disordered people like this, but if i will have kids in the future, i will definitely educate them about this type of evil


Yes, I think that is exactly where the vampire myth comes from. I read a book, I cannot remember the title, that did a comparison of psychopaths/narcissists and vampires. Like:

Vampires cannot pass the threshold into your home unless they are ‘invited’. So they pretend to be something they aren’t until you invite them in.

I think the ‘letting them in’ is equivalent of falling in love, or cementing a relationship with, a disordered person. We have let them into our lives, based on the illusion they present us.

Once the vampire is allowed in, well then they become what they are: a vampire.

They seduce you, suck you dry, and either make you a slave to them or destroy you.



Are you safer now? I feel a bit out of the loop on everyone’s progress, as I don’t keep up on a daily basis. So I miss out on some pieces. I hope you are safe and less vulnerable to his attacks.

Yes, my co-workers grandkids are now with different family members. The smallest one is with the murderer’s family, and he is out on bail! One child is with my co-worker, who is again a mother at 55. The other is with a different father. It would be easy to blame this mother for making bad choices, as she certainly has done that in her life. But she is still like any of us who don’t really get what we are getting ourselves into when we deal with these types. She never ‘got it’, so had no real means to protect herself.

I myself have been entangled with at least 5 of these types of men, for varying lengths of time. It wasn’t until the last real involvement, in my 40’s, that I finally got it. And REALLY it was finding Lovefraud that pushed me to face the reality of my situation. Thank goodness for Donna!!!!!!!!

And, NWHSOM, you are so right. Being discarded, though so heartbreakingly painful, is so much better than being stalked or worse. Most of the men I tangled with discarded me, and moved onto their next target. One cycled around about a decade later. One tried to remain friends, so he could hoover me in when he got bored (I declined). But one did stalk me. He is a mental health therapist for gosh sakes…and he scared me.

Again, I hope you are much safer now.



I experienced this.


I certainly did experience this.


A very good description.


A terrific chapter.


So well written.


Thank you O.N.


This is so true.


I agree!


Very dangerous.


this is right on.


An accurate description.


very good description.


Excellent description of what can happen.


Thank you O.N. Ward


Outstanding description.


O.N. Ward says “The moral of the frog story is that it is difficult to sense changes in the environment when the change is subtle but continual. However, it does not take long for small changes to accumulate, adding up to meaningful shifts and, ultimately, profound and possibly disastrous alterations in the environment.” I believe this is what is happening right now in our country, with regard to the erosion of democracy. I applaud everything Donna does to educate the world about sociopaths. Every little bit helps because sociopaths are the most dangerous force in the world, if you don’t count hurricanes, earthquakes, and tsunamis.


There are, of course, different opinions on what is happening in the country. Some see the change as positive. What she describes is what happens in a personal relationship with a psychopath and that is definitely spot on.


excellent description.


really good information.


Terrific description.


Thanks for great article.


terrific chapter.

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