By | August 28, 2010 172 Comments

Experienced clinician says psychopathy is a spectrum

This week we are continuing to discuss The Psychopathic Mind by J. Reid Meloy, Ph.D. The author is diplomate in forensic psychology, former Chief of the Forensic Mental Health Division for San Diego County and Past President of the American Academy of Forensic Psychology. As I said last week, my initial reaction to the book was rather negative because I believe this author has made some assertions that have become the basis for inaccurate folklore that has spread over the internet (to be discussed in the coming weeks). But Dr. Meloy made up for all that by setting the record straight on a very important issue—the spectrum of psychopathy.

The idea that psychopathy is a spectrum and that “sociopaths/psychopaths” vary in severity means that there is no real point at which “normal” stops and “sociopath/psychopath” starts. Any decision about where to draw this line (after gathering information on a large group of people) is in a sense arbitrary.

The idea that “psychopathic disturbance” (as Dr. Meloy calls it) is a spectrum can be very confusing. Many people feel a sense of relief when they finally figure out that the person who has harmed them is “a sociopath.” By “sociopath” they mean categorically different from everyone else, a different type of human. Now I am saying there is really no category, just an extreme on a continuum.

I want to point out that we talk about the extremes of the continuum of traits as if they are categories all the time. Think about the adjectives tall, genius, beautiful, athletic etc. and you will realize that although these concepts exist in theory, it can be difficult to correctly place individuals into any of these categories on a strictly yes/no basis. The only time it is easy is when you are dealing with the extreme cases.

It is however; very important to understand how the interaction between spectra and categories affects us. For example, if you are used to being with players in the NBA, most everyone outside of the NBA will seem “short” and the perception of “tall” will also be skewed. To the NBA, 6’2″ is short!

This problem of perception while in the midst of an extreme population has created a problem for forensic psychology. When Dr. Hare first developed the psychopathy checklist, it was thought to differentiate criminals who are “psychopaths” from other criminals who are “not psychopaths.” Well, I maintain that this is exactly the same as calling a 6’2″ NBA player “short.”

I am also concerned with how our perception of psychopathy changes when we see it in the community. When we are in the community a person who has “a little” psychopathy stands out as a 6’2″ person would in a crowd. Many pose the question, “Is my _______ a jerk or a psychopath?” When we understand psychopathy as a spectrum we see that such distinctions are not very useful. It is more useful to ask “How much psychopathic disturbance does my ________ have?”

I have looked extensively in the scientific literature for the exact Psychopathy Checklist (PCL-R) scores that might indicate mild, moderate and severe psychopathic disturbance. If you are following what I am saying you will immediately realize that these definitions are important in determining just how many “psychopaths” there are. When I searched the literature several years ago, I reported on this blog that about 10% of the population has significant psychopathy. That 10% figure corresponds to a cut-off score of about 12 on the PCL-R.

In The Psychopathic Mind, p. 318 Dr. Meloy says the following:

Mild psychopathic disturbance 10-19

Moderate psychopathic disturbance 20-29

Severe psychopathic disturbance 30-40

This is more or less what I also determined given my clinical experience and reading of the literature. You might ask why I harp on this so much and why am I harping on it again? The reason I bring this all up is to help those of you who are stuck in a relationship with someone who has “mild psychopathic disturbance.” Steve Becker also talked about the problem of “mild psychopathy” this week When he’s just a bad dude, though he did not call it that.

In what I am about to say I depart from Meloy and give you my own opinion.

The nature of “Mild Psychopathy”

Psychopathic disturbance as Meloy also describes it is a disorder of motives. Since we all have these motives psychopathy is a spectrum. Psychopathy is an imbalance between love and power motives along with degrees of poor impulse control.

A person who is severely affected with psychopathy has no love motives at all. If we could perfectly measure the love motive, we could indeed form a category of those who have NO capacity for love. That category probably also includes some individuals with “moderate disturbance” and all with “severe disturbance.”

Individuals with mild psychopathy have some ability to love. Because they can love a little, what they do is particularly harmful to “loved ones.” They switch back and forth, in and out of “loving” states. When they are in a loving state, they truly have no emotional or other memory of their experiences outside of that state. Similarly when they are in the “power mode” they have no access to the memories of the love mode. It’s as if they have a split personality. Their poor partner is left asking, “Will the real ________ please stand up?”

The dilemma for partners and family members, is that both states are real. Those involved with the “mildly psychopathic” have to make a tough decision. They have to decide whether or not to let go of a person who they have shared real intimacy with. That is much harder than letting go of someone with severe psychopathic disturbance where the entire relationship was a sham.

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Ox Drover

Liane, I think this one article is THE MOST IMPORTANT ARTICLE ON LOVE FRAUD OR ANY OTHER SITE ON THE INTERNET about this subject.

Let me repeat that:


This answers I think ANY question that a person involved with a psychopath could have about the disorder.

The “tall and short” of it is so much like the concept of “mentally retarded” that law enforcement uses to decide whether an inmate is retarded and therefore cannot be tried for his life in a death penalty case, or whether s/he can even be tried at all because they have no understanding of what the did as being wrong.

MENSA (the group for high IQ individuals) accepts the people in the top 2% of the IQ scores but that doesn’t mean the person inh the 97th percentile isn’t “as smart” as the people in MENSA, or even that IQ tests are good judges of “smart” in the first place.

Your example of the NBA player at 6’2″ being “short” vs. the same person in a general population being “tall,” is a great one, because in the end, “everything is relative.” Like the old joke about the two guys running from the bear chasing them and one guy says “can you outrun a bear?” and the other guy says “I don’t have to, I just have to out run YOU!”

I have found some of Meloy’s writings to be almost “word salad” or “psychobabble,” but other of his writings make perfect sense even if somewhat difficult to read. He is not an easy to read author though.

Thank you again, Liane for this article!

kim frederick

I say, “Amen” Dr. Leedom. Thanks so much for this. It explains so much about the percieved ugliness that sits alongside the niceness in these disordered relationships.

super chic

Thank you Dr. Leedom for this article, you put into words what I already felt about about the S/P’s. You are very clear and concise, this makes so much more sense than the Bad Dude analogy.


some comments and a question, Dr. Leedom:

first, we on lf often talk about ‘the mask slipping’ – which suggests many of us frame a spath’s true nature as the ‘power mode’, and the ‘love mode’ as a manufactured presentation used to move in the world. the paradigm you are suggesting is much different.

The ‘they can’t really love’ paradigm that many of us espouse on lf comes from cultivating a paradigm that is ‘most safe.’ big evil= don’t go there, and in this way is very useful.

I have to say that if i thought that the lying evil one i tangled with cared for me, it would be a much harder proposition at this point. I don’t need to live in the memory of all the things that i wanted and thought I had. it would serve to keep me bound.

I do have some problems with the idea/ or your use of the term ‘split personality’. In layman’s terms that brings it too close to MPD to me. Being with spaths and folk with MPD are completely different experiences.

Now the question – the spath of my acquaintance was someone who creates a few dozen characters (sockpuppets) for every scam she pulls. Her latest modus is to troll the internet, infiltrate forums and blogs and start weaving her story unitl some dupes get good and caught in her web, then she starts to love bomb them. Now – I was threatened by 3 of the sockpuppets when i knew that the whole ‘story’ was a scam, BUT the lovely boy character who i was involved with (on phone/ on line) was loving toward me. I felt that I shared real intimacy with him….but, he did not even really exist. Given that she ‘created a story’, and one that ripped my heart out (illness, operations, death, etc.), how would *I* work with your hypothesis?

What I do think is most important about this article is that it brings our choices back to a base line of: not good for me/ good for me and my responsibility/ choice for myself.


Dr. Leedom – Thank you for your reply.

‘A person’s “identity” or who they are is a tree rooted in ability to love. A person who is completely incapable of love, or who is in other words severely psychopathic can have no fixed identity.’ Your statement is very powerful. I will take it with me today and ponder it.

I won’t go into this in depth but, i see the ability to disassociate in people who have multiple personalities as being triggered by trauma. I may be wrong about that. I have known a few people in my life who did dissociate to the extreme of living out of different ‘personalities’, and all had very truamatic and difficult early lives. I will read the Meloy book and see what he has to say. The ppath’s main ‘boy’ sockpuppet was MPD, and I have come to wonder if she didn’t have a misdiagnosis of MPD at some point. She WAS terrible good at faking it.

one step

Ox Drover

Dear One_step,

I’m not Dr. Leedom but I do have an idea about your question, and I imagine others do as well, so if you would allow me to answer….
I think the PERP of your con-job is the ONLY person you were dealing with. The “sock puppets” she invented were only Made to SUCK you IN, because you would not have been sucked in by the REAL HER. So, therefore she USED these other imaginary people and invented these imaginary people for the purpose of GETTING you involved with them. So I would rate your PERP as WAY UP THERE on the scale of “really bad dudes/dudettes” since nothing about these inventions was true and their “lives” were complete shams.

Any “relationship” you really had was with the PERP herself, in the guise of her FALSE and contrived “personality.” That’s pretty evil if you ask me.

Your feelings, however, were real and your pain and anxiety were real. If that makes any sense.

As for what responsibility/choice you had, I think any time we have a deep caring “relationshiip” with someone we should at least know they exist in the FLESH before we fall too deeply into caring for them. I’m sure she had some “reason” you couldn’t meet these people in the flesh, though. I would think in the future though someone refusing to meet in the flesh might be a big red flag for you.

In my situation, there’s no doubt that my P-sperm donor or my P-offspring are HIGH, one scoring a full 40 and the other scoring a 38 if you scored them by the PCL-R (and the P-offspring would only miss the 2 points for “many short term marriages or relationships” because he has been locked up for so long he hasn’t had the opportunity to meet women. LOL Otherwise he WOULD score on that as well.

I’ve worked with some “snakes in suits” to borrow the title of the book by Robert Hare, PhD, that might score a 12 or a 15, but they were PLENTY TOXIC and destroyed lives, careers, and companies, though they probably never would have thought of killing anyone or robbing a bank.

Look at Bernie Madoff—he probably actually wouldn’t score all that high on the PCL-R, but look at how much DAMAGE he did to others in his GREED and CONTROL. It amazed me though when he agreed to go to prison and protect his wife and kids as much as possible, so maybe he had some ability to love some people some of the time, or some altruistic bones in his body.

My personal opinion is that there is SO MUCH overlap between the various “personality disorders” that it is extremely difficult to separate one from another, plus there are high and low levels of different traits in each person. Where one starts and another one stops, who the heck knows, even most professionals don’t. I think the continuum aspect of it is the best analogy we can have. Where the professionals draw a line between “having” and “not having” significant amounts of the/a disorder really doesn’t effect whether these people are ones we should keep on interacting with or not. WE must individually determine where WE draw the line between this person is “bad for me” and this person has some “bad traits but I can live with them.” MY husband wasn’t perfect (like me! LOL Joke!) and he had some traits that drove me ape cheet, but they were ones that I could LIVE WITH…..he didn’t cheat on me, he didn’t beat me, he was reliable, and he was kind to me, and he loved me and was proud of me. So because he didn’t have toxic traits that hurt or belittled me in ways I could not cope with, we had a happy life together. I trusted him and he trusted me. We were first and foremost FRIENDS.

I admit that him being an engineer was a trial and a tribulation because engineers think they know everything about everything mechanical or electric even if they don’t know squat about it, and they won’t listen to reason. But, you can learn to live with them in spite of that terrible character flaw! Most of the time they ARE right, but on those things that they are NOT right about, you just do yourself! Or hire it done! LOL


oxy – not sure if you were reiterating my own observations or if you were trying to show me something you think I might not get inside – but i know i was ONLY dealing with ppath whack job. I continue to unravel all the bits of it, and asking how i would use Dr. L’s hypothesis was genuine – as it seemed like i might have fit into both ends of the experience – almost consistent loving behavior from the main character, BUT the whole she-bang was doo doo. Was it possible that the ppath WAS being loving to me through that character? I sure felt something coming from him. But I don’t think so, and I really appreciate the, ‘nooo, she was shows sever ppath disturbance’ responses. I know it might look SO obvious that she is on the extreme end of whackjob but YOU know that it takes time to really ‘get’ it right down to our bones. Each person’s experience is very different, but we all go through a process of getting all the information that makes us strong down to our bones.

I have a lot of engineers around me at work. My condolences once again for the loss of your good man, and for having lived with an eng. 😉

Ox Drover

Dear One_step,

Hey, darling I lived with TWO! My first husband was an engineer too! So I have lots of experience.

No, I didn’t mean to act like you didn’t get it, cause I know you do, but what I meant was that SHE (the perp) I think was on the HIGH SIDE of the ruler, maybe not as high as say Ted Bundy, but none the less on the HIGH side of it all. Her “loving” presentations could NOT in my opinion have been REAL since the “puppet” she was talking through was NOT REAL. It was almost like she was in a way acting like a child with an imaginary friend and yet it was MORE Sinister than that, as she was Not a child playing pretend. She was an adult using her “imaginary” friends to emotionally HARM OTHERS and she KNEW she was harming them.

Also, you have to take into consideration that this was a con for a con’s sake. She wasn’t having sex with you, she hadn’t moved into your house to mooch off you, you weren’t a potentially million dollar pot of gold to steal, so I think it was just to mind fark you….for her own evil “FUN” and THAT I think is REALLY SICKO!


oxy- 2 engineers…bbaaaa karma!

i am not convinced that her being loving ‘couldn’t’ be real even if the characters weren’t. i am not saying i believe it – i think she is a being without the capacity, BUT as a model, i don’t know that any ‘loving’ presentation can be seen as real….even if the person is in front of you. not sure if i am being clear enough…and i am not going to spend too much time on this, but i think the hypothesis Dr. L is writing about poses an interesting paradigm that deserves consideration from many angles.

i tend to see the ppath’s ‘body of work’ and not just her con of me when i think of her. she has actually moved in with others as the dear friend of the dearly departed. She WAS setting me up for something more…don’t know what though. the pic she used to be the sister who was trying to set me up didn’t look anything like her and she wouldn’t have been able to move forward with a replica con, and move in on me.

another of her effective cons: a person who became dangerously suicidal when she convinced him that she was both his raped birth mother and rapist father via one of her online scams.

and yes, she wasn’t in my physical space, but don’t assume there wasn’t any sex involved. the wired generation is endlessly inventive, even if we don’t all have ‘imaginary friends.’

Ox Drover

Dear One step,

When I was a small kid we lived out in the sticks where I didn’t have daily play mates, so I had an imaginary friend, actually two, one male and one female. Their “names” weren’t even real names but words that I had heard that I didn’t know the meaning of but thought the word was cool. I also had a pet pig once named “tissue” when I was about 3. I actually remember her and petting her—before she became BACON! I guess at the time I didn’t connect the BACON to the TISSUE! LOL

Well possibly what the PERP was getting out of the “relationship” on the phone and over the internet was the “fake love” I don’t know–I wasn’t there, and even though you were “there” you weren’t inside her head, just like the rest of us you can only surmise their “motive” whatever it is—I don’t think they think like the rest of the human race, so how could we get inside their heads?

Oh, well,k too much drama for me! I think your PERP was a pretty sick-o creep-o and wish she was in the cell with Brunhilda. May the fleas of a thousand camels infect her arm pits!


Those involved with the “mildly psychopathic” have to make a tough decision. They have to decide whether or not to let go of a person who they have shared real intimacy with. That is much harder than letting go of someone with severe psychopathic disturbance where the entire relationship was a sham.

I agree so totally with that statement and THANK YOU for stating that! Agree with Oxy. This is vitally imprt!


One step….For me it is pretty simple. If someone is pulling something over on you, no matter what else they are doing, that’s not being loving. That’s similar to what apparently happened to Tiger’s wife. It doesn’t matter how loving he was with her when he was with her. The fact that he was pulling one over on her makes the WHOLE THING, even the SUPPOSEDLY good parts, a lie. Anytime we find out someone has hid a secret from us, that they KNOW would matter to us in a major way, it is a HUGE betrayal and they have NOT been loving towards us. What they are hiding matters. The more the truth would disorient us, the bigger deal it is and the less forgivable it becomes. Does it mean everything Tiger did with his wife was NOT loving? To me, yes, it does. (Put aside the controversy about she married him for his money, etc. etc. …this kind of scenario happens in the middle class too). To me, it would mean he hasn’t a clue about what love is. Maybe I am wrong, but if I were her, it wouldn’t matter what he MIGHT be capable of, he sure wasn’t demonstrating love to her, with that going on in the background. PULLING ONE OVER ON SOMEONE IS NOT COMPATIBLE WITH LOVING THEM…unless you are planning a surprise party, and even in that case, the person is usually pretty shocked that you could lie right to their face!



You were so proud of me with my last post, and I am now I am feeling confused again, and when I am confused I have difficulty with thinking rationally if my anxiety is high. I’m working on this and my therapist has given me a few helpful suggestions to alleviate anxiety. With that said, I am still confused.

My spath was a patho liar and womanizer who could sound sincere and self aware. Before I knew about the lying, I stayed because sometimes I felt so cared for, but realized that he had what I thought were intimacy problems. But, in my experience, even during those times where he was affectionate and I felt close to him, he was lying and womanizing the entire time, telling another woman he loved her–lying and playing around on her as well. He deliberately manipulated me and I got the distinct feeling he got enjoyment out of it. He did say something that I remembered when I read this post–I had told him that I don’t even know who he is and he said that it isn’t black and white and that ALL of it is part of him. So then I read the above post, and I feel sick thinking that he could possibly love someone. It’s easier to think that he can’t. 🙁


Ox Drover

Hopleful, sugar, don’t worry about him loving someone else “better than he loved you” that’s for sure—he will “love” the next one just like he loved you with LIES AND MORE LIES. Don’t let this spectrum thing throw you for a loop.

Okay, there are baby camels and baby horses who are not really very big, and there are medium sized camels and medium sized horses that are medium big and there are big horses BIG and there are REALLY REALLY BIG camels and horses that are REALLY REALLY BIG and all sizes in between, but they are all horses and camels no matter what the size.

Now let’s say that a horse or a camel kicks you—well a baby camel or a horse that kicks you might hurt you a little bit but if a REALLY BIG camel or horse kicked you you might be in the hospital with a broken skull. Yet they are all still horses and camels. Same way with psychopaths, the “little bitty” ones might just get off on one-uppiing you at work, but the REALLY BIG ones might need to cut your throat and rape you to “get off” but you don’t want ANYTHING THAT IS TRYING TO HURT YOU in your life and “circle of trust.”

Here on my farm we have THE RULE! as we call it. ANYTHING that is BIGGER AND MEANER than I am goes to the happy hunting ground in the sky! NO second chances.l No excuses. If it is BIGGER A*n*d meaner than I am it GOES. I can handle something that is smaller than I am that might be meaner (well, except for a cat!) but if something is bigger than me and not as mean I can still handle it, but if it is BOTH bigger and meaner than I am, I am not going to take the chance it hurts me.

That “rule” kind of came about as a joke, when a pair of oxen I had trained one of them started kicking. It really wasn’t entirely his fault, because a man at an event had “goosed him” and he had reflexly kicked back, actually lifted the man off his feet by the BALLS, it sounded like a sledge hammer hitting a side of beef. I didn’t get sued or anything because it was at a rodeo held on the man’s own farm and he had poked the steer so he deserved what he got and actually 500 people would have bought the steer a beer because he wasn’t well liked anyway.
But the steer never quit kicking after that, and I could NOT have anything that I was going to get close to (and believe me they can kick in almost a 360 circle around themselves out about 3 ft in ANY direction except right in front of their nose.) So I sent him to the butcher and the “rule” was born. It broke up a wonderful pair of steers I had worked for 3 years to train but I couldn’t take the chance in getting my brains bashed out by a well placed kick of an animal that had a HISTORY OF STRIKING OUT.

It is the same way with a person who is “near you” who STRIKES out even every once in a while. Say he is great 99 percent of the time, but about 3 times a year he beats you black and blue and you never know what days those days will be.

It is like saying “Ted Bundy was a really good guy when he wasn’t raping and killing girls. He and Ann Rule were great friends.”

So I hope you get my meaning, you are not losing anything any more than someone who has hurt you and WILL HURT YOU AGAIN. Even Ted Bundy didn’t kill every day, but even one time is too many to keep him around! Same with your X. You didn’t lose anything worthwhile. ((((Hugs))))) Now take 3 deep breaths and say “I’m doing [email protected]


Hopeful….He COULD ” love” someone….if she was a megamillionaire interested in him. Until the $$ ran out. IF you define love as an emotion, as many do, then emotions come and go….but most that can “love” a little, can do it like you can “hate” a little. Maybe you could hate someone enough to punch them in the face in a flash of emotion….but it is going to be RARE and it won’t last, AND you will never sustain it long enough to kill someone. Is it part of you? Yeah, a tiny tiny part that rarely manifests itself, and so what does it really matter?

If you define love as “commitment”…a decision you make, in which the other person’s happiness is almost as important to you as your own, then you see that love is something that develops slowly and proves itself through actions.

I doubt your spath can sustain any good change for long at all. THAT is the crux of who he is, regardless of which “side” he is showing. The defining characteristics are his inability to sustain positive change, his inability to realize the impact he has on others, and shallow “love” feelings that can change on a dime. THAT is what is consistent in him, always.

Sounds like what you want is for him to love YOU. The thought that he could have loved YOU but didn’t, isn’t that what really gets under your skin? I HATED that feeling. It is part of what being with a man who has two, three, four sides to him does to you. IT IS NOT A NORMAL AND HEALTHY LOVE RELATIONSHIP. That is why these breakups hurt so bad and are not normal breakups. If you could just break up with the “good” side (that is, if he were a normal guy), you might hurt for a week or two, but then it is over. BECAUSE IT MAKES SENSE. Because you don’t have to keep replaying it to make it make sense! These kinds of relationships you have to replay and replay and say wait…when I thought x, it was really y, so what does that mean about the thing I did next. You can go on for years and years with that thinking. I KNOW. Try to go no contact in your head as soon as possible.

And you are kinda proving the point of the article. The more that there is a tiny bit of good in them regarding something….he was kind to my cat……the harder it is to really believe that the evil is there and will NOT change and is not worth the few pets to your cat!

Ox Drover

Neveragain and Hopeful,

My maternal grandmother was a great enabler, she was THE best. No matter what someone did, even if he had murdered his wife and family with an ax, she would say “well, he was good to his dog.” Or some other such statement! She would find something “good” in every person…that may sound “nice” but it was TERRIBLE. When her son was trying to kill her baby infant daughter she would not let his father know because he “might get a spanking” and “he might run a way from home” so she allowed him to smother his sister on a regular basis until he was 14 and the sister (my egg donor) was 7 before his father caught him and put a STOP to it. Was that a “Kind” or “good” thing she did for her daughter? Or her son really? He grew up to be a monster wife and child abuser but no matter what horrible thing he did she “saw the good” even when he held her hostage once at gun point in a drunken rage for three days.

We must look at the ENTIRE person, just like neveragain said! The good and the bad, and we need to see which part out weighs the other. Like I said in the post about my late husband, we had a good marriage but there were some things he did that drove me bat guano but they were small things, and I’m SURE he had something about me that drove him ape manure (don’t know what, I’m actually kind of perfect LOL) but I’m sure he had something! LOL

There are some things that are DEAL breakers. I am now sure of what my deal breakers are—-anything dishonest! OUT and gone! No second chances!



You’re absolutely right. I love your metaphors and it certainly gets the point across. I hope you know how appreciated you are here on LF. It’s so easy to see. You put in such genuine effort–and INTEREST in the people here, and it’s why people “gravitate” towards you. Moreover, your particular experience with Spathiness seems so extreme, yet you’ve kept your sense of humor and realism about the situation. That said, I think that it gives people hope that they CAN get through their experience with a Spath. I really am doing much better, although I think it’s a two step forward, one step back sort of process.

Also wanted to mention that I did get even more validation that my XSpath is still Spathing. I know. BOINK! Like I should expect him to do anything else. But, when he showed up here a month ago saying he was going to therapy (impression management since I outed his ass to his “girlfriend” who then dumped him and to others he was conning, including a male friend who will now have nothing more to do with him), he said that he wasn’t going to be dating since he needed to get himself together. I should have known, since I’ve heard that exact same thing each time we broke up when I caught him doing his spathiness thing. He’d say with such sincerity, “The last thing I should be doing is dating, so I’m not going to date for a while.” Anyway, so he said it for the 3rd time this last time he came by. He also said that he had a new roommate, a redheaded woman, and he made sure to point out that he’s not attracted to redheads or blondes. He also said that once a week he plays board games with a group of women who all have boyfriends. (That never stopped him before, BTW). SO THEN…just two days ago I get on a dating site I had been on before because I’m thinking about finally starting to date. Well, guess who pops up on the dating site!!!!! He’s still lying about his age by 2 years–says he’s 37 when he’s actually 39 1/2. He used to lie by 4 years. He’s using a photo from about 10 years ago. AND where it says what he wants in a dates–he is NOT excluding redheads and blondes. He also says he speaks 4 languages fluently, which is not true. And ya know what got me? He used to say that I was too short at 5″2. His last “GF” wasn’t any taller than me and he puts on his criteria of what he is looking for anyone that is 5″2 or taller. In his profile, there is nothing written about WHO he is. And he says he is looking for someone who is naughty, nice, and saucy. Hell, I am! F**cker. He also writes that among all the fun things they’d do together–“of course, money business indoors and outdoors.” F**cker! Anyway–NOT dating my butt! So, is it any surprise he is STILL lying?? Dr. Steve wrote a great article on here about the pathological lying of the Spath. He writes that even if they were to lie less, it doesn’t make them less spathy because they use TRUTH TO MANIPULATE just as they use lies. Oxy, this is SOOOOOO TRUE. They use truth to sound more credible. My therapist says she has no doubt he’s going to play the “I’m going to therapy” gig with people he’s dating. I have no doubt either. Anyway, I am okay and I’m going to continue to get even more okay-er! 🙂 TOWANDA!!


Ox Drover

Dear Hopeful,

I don’t ask much but pleassssse do NOT cyber date, it is so dangerous and your own x P is a perfect example of the guys you will find out there! We have got to get our own cheet together before we will even be a good partner to an honest partner. I got involved with a P about 8 months after my husband died, and I thought I was OK, but BOY was I fooling myself. Paddling down that river DENIAL and it wasn’t in Egypt! I felt so needy. I realized finally that I needed to put my energy into taking care of me, not trying to handle a relationship. Until I was OK by myself, depending on ME to supply my happiness, not a new relationship, then I wouldn’t be emotionally ready.

A new relationshit will not make you happy, or whole. We have got to do that for ourselves BY ourselves. SO right now focus all that wonderful energy on The best person you know YOUU!!!!! ((((hugs)))))

And, you are RIGHT, he will GO ON LYING until his last breath.



Okay, I won’t cyber date. I promise. I have heard it’s where the P’s love to congregate and “fish”. In fact, I met him online, but on a totally different site than I saw him on.

I do have male friends that are wonderful, so perhaps I may just stick with that for right now. And yes, I SOOO know that nobody can make me whole. In fact, if a guy starts putting me on a pedestal, which may be part of the honeymoon period of any relationshit, I don’t necessarily discount the person, but I WATCH, because it may be a sign that the person can only do the honeymoon period and can’t do the real part of the relationship. Don’t wanna sound pessimistic, but something tells me you get the gist.

Okay, no dating on the internet. School starts soon so maybe I can score a cute, smart guy in class! 🙂


Ox Drover

Cyber dating is definitely a no no in my book, but until we get out of the worst of the grief over the last “spathsode” and figure out why we were “targeted”–what is it about us that makes us vulnerable to their spiel? I don’t think we are safe to take care of ourselves, plus, we use energy for the relationshit that we would do better to use on ourselves.

You’re a big girl though, so only YOU can decide when to date again, but my experience has been it isn’t good to get in too soon, and I’ve proven that to myself with my broken hearts and my feeling (prematurely) that I was “healed” when I wasn’t and got right back into a relation-shit spelled with a T, not a P. LOL



Thanks so much for your response. You are wise! Sometimes it amazes me that I can offer comfort and good advice to people who are suffering from the aftermath of multiple spathisodes, but it really is much easier to be objective when you aren’t looking at your own spathisode.

Your first sentence is right on!! My spath is such a user. I could absolutely see him hooking onto someone with money. He’s very well educated, but at the age of almost 40 now, he’s had a very sporadic job record, and works in capacities far below his intelligence level. Got fired from his last job, and maybe more. Early on in our relationshit, he said something like, “So, you wouldn’t put up with someone not working, right? You wouldn’t be a sugar momma, huh?” He was TOTALLY feeling me out for what I would tolerate. He borrowed money once and then the next time he asked, I BLASTED him. Guess what? He has yet to repay it, so I’ll count it as a loss. Even though it was only 40.00, it’s the principle of the matter. I also found checks from other friends that he was borrowing from.

Neveragain, you’ve made great points, especially your first paragraph. Looking at those moments where he seemed “nice” is just not the reality of who these people are. And again, you CAN go on hanging on to the “good” parts for years! There are women that stay for YEARS! Luckily, I HAVE gone NC with him, so this is good. He can’t maintain an attachment with anyone.

I’ve exhausted myself. I really need to begin putting the energy that I give to ruminating about him to putting this behind me and REbuilding my life. There’s lots of life to be lived!!!

Thanks, Neveragain!




I just posted to Neveragain, and hadn’t yet seen your post to me where you state, “we use energy for the relationshit that we would do better to use on ourselves.”

I just wrote that in my post to Neveragain, in regards to Spath–that I’m truly ready to begin shifting all this energy I give to ruminating about the Spath to REbuilding my life.

BTW, I love hearing about rural life on the farm. I grew up in rural western Massachusetts. We had a farm up on the hill that we would go to get our veggies, and had a huge garden of our own. My neighbors had horsies, so I would go get them hay from the field to feed them, even though they certainly weren’t starving. I live in the city now–a choice since I wanted to go back to school and expand my life socially and culturally, but I am SO a country chick at heart. In fact, a friend of mines family lives in rural Wisconsin, so she has invited me to visit her family, and I cannot wait. It’ll be a little vacation from city life. Actually, at some point, I’m still determined to do a “dude ranch” vacation. I don’t necessarily want to herd cattle, but many of these dude ranches offer your own horse for a week of riding, hiking, and hanging out in a cool cabin surrounded by nature. Just my style. Anyway, I like hearing you talk about farm life. It just feels so appealing.

Thanks again for your support. BTW, I think maybe I should be more clear. I’ve been broken up with the spath for over a year now, BUT I haven’t been NC, and he has taken every opportunity to make sure that I’m always thinking about him. He cannot stand that I won’t be in his life as “a friend” and that I don’t think of him as a nice guy. My point is, is that I am finally NC, and I do want to begin to date again. I really feel like I need to be vigilant with any red flags, and I am so glad I have my friends here at LF for support!



I have gained tremendous strength and a great deal of wisdom from the articles and posts on this site. Thankfully & hopefully, I believe I am on a fast track to recovery and understanding of what went wrong in my relationship because of this site. My (to be X) Mild to Moderate or perhaps severe P/S/N had me thinking I was the problem in our relationship, I would defend myself until exhaustion and tried every which way to work with and then around PSN, but PSN made it impossible and the harder I tried the worse it became. I knew I had had enough and when I had some hard evidence I finally was able to get him out, but only because that is probably what he wanted. I have been truly concerned about his motives, his desire for me to get a life insurance policy and terrible feelings in my gut stemming from his cleverly veiled comments/threats.

While I find this site a tremendous support, I am concerned about the times when PSN is nice to me. I get a horrible, dull feeling in my gut, but later I wonder, ever so slightly, if it ever could be/have been right. That makes me really feel sick because there is no trust, no love and I have serious questions and doubts about his moral character–so why am I second guessing what I know in my heart to be true?

I have had thoughts about this idea of P/S on a continuum; however, the idea that they are chameleons would indicate we can’t really know when they have been authentic, truly intimate. How much should I believe?

If we did not have a child I would have nothing to do with him.

He keeps me on this roller coaster. Mr. Nice and considerate one day turns to Hateful vindictive and cruel the next. I never know what will trigger these behavior shifts. I am looking for a way to not allow his threats effect me. To take the power out of him.

OX-you have great perspective & Hopeful-I love that you wrote, “relationshit”–I think I might use that one 🙂

Ox Drover

Dear fearlesspeace,

Welcome here to LF…since you do have a child with him, there are great articles here and a link here on LF to Dr. Liane Leedom’s blog about “raisingn the at risk child”—since there is a definite genetic link to the disorders it is good for the normal and nurturning parent to know and how to nurture that spark of empathy. She also has a wonderfull book called “Just like his father” that I would recommend you buy and read.

Him keeping you on a roller coaster is what “they do” to keep control, LIMIT contact as much as possible and READ READ READ here, as many of the articles as you possibly can.

Oh, BTW, don’t let the fact that they are in a level of from bad to horrible make you think there is ANYTHING desirable about a relationshit with them. THERE IS NOTHING about them that would make a normal person want to be around them. So don’t let “mr nice guy” fool you, THINK of it as a big fat juicy worm on a HOOK to lure you in like a FISH to sink that hook into your throat where you can never get free! DON’T BITE the [email protected]

Dear Hopeful, Start counting your time now that you are NC…I know you think a year is a long time, but believe me, not to discourage you, but this healing thing is like peeling an ONION, and there are MANY layers there. I speak from experience on this—if there is any way to do “healing” wrong, I HAVE DONE IT starting from a YOUNG age and I got to take REMEDIAL LESSONS over and over as I got involved with the NEXT Psychopath in the espathisode–and my onion was the size of a BOWLING BALL, but I am now down to a pearl onion I think, and it’s been a long hard trip, but I think after almost 50 years of the healing path I’m getting there. Been NC with the last batch of toxic beings about 3 years and that sure helps—so I’m making progress. For now, just keep NC and keep on reading and learning and digesting. Take a break once in a w hile and do something FUN!

I’ve lived in several major cities, Miami, Los Angeles, and Dallas/Ft. Worth and I choose to return to the farm about 20+ years ago….PEACE on this special place where I grew up. Where my husband and I lived the best 14 years of both our lives, and where there are so many happy memories mixed with the garbage, but there is more and more happy and less and less garbage!

I have my pet cows, my dogs and cats, my horse, and my Jack asses, Fat and Hairy, and can ‘”pee off the porch” in privacy! What more could anyone want! LOL


pee off the porch? that will kill yer grass girl ~!

Ravenless Tower

The connection, after 22 years, that he drew me to was the fact that he’d found me and learned we both had special needs children. Mine a cancer survivor for seven years at age 14, his, two children adopted from the Soviet Union with attachment disorder.

A connection to a profession I trusted – Law Enforcement at the highest level – our Nation’s Capitol.

Now, after the D and D, he finds me a year later through friends with full knowledge that my lovely seven year brain tumor survivor is once again facing the monster… he smiles, he enjoys, the heartache I experience. You SEE… he doesn’t even have to be the Angel Gabriel, he doesn’t have to inflict it… he needs only watch the pain and anguish and then attribute it to his very special power. Like the woman he drove to suicide. God curse his damaged soul!

He can’t have me or mine… he can only wish for inclusion – but he will find each and every time rejection is the only solution for his wicked soul.

Sadly, these men find themselves time and time again meeting women would would love them, compromise, create a healthy relationship… but that is not what they crave… if there is no trail of teardrops, after all, what is the point?

My soul is worth saving… his soul is claimed in hell!

RavenlessTower STANDING


Well, I don’t think mine fits in the category of being able to love. Hell, he hasn’t got a toehold in reality.

How do you measure the ability to love? Do you weigh it against the propensity to lie?

Too many words. Not enough jails….


Great article – I had to read it a couple of times to really get it but it makes a lot of sense. I’ve been wondering for quite a while about the idea of a spectrum – it allows me to understand how my ex sits in a less bad position than someone who murders in cold blood, yet they share many symptoms. I think all psychopaths from moderate to severe are capable (well more capable than the rest of the population) of doing severe violence, crime and murder, but whether they do bad things or not depends on their place on the spectrum of impulse control. Iin other words, I see a spectrum for each of those symptoms -whereby each can manifest mildly, moderately or severely.

My ex P was severe in some traits and less bad in others – he had some impulse control, so was able to hold down a job and didn’t get himself arrested for anything, but he had a general lack of impulse control in the area of spending money copulsively. He was severe in flat affect, extremely charming and a compulsive liar. Lying was severe, but I have no evidence of cheating or promiscuity.

The fact that he wasn’t severe in all areas made it harder to assess the relationship and harder to leave ultimately. I was able to make excuses for his behaviour because he seemed responsible enough to hold down a job – yet he ruined his credit rating with irresponsible debt management. The mix of good versus bad was terribly confusing and made it so difficult to understand what was going on.

I believe my ex had no ability to love at all – no empathy, no desire to understand anyone else, except when he was flashing his charm. His proximity seeking behaviour in the beginning wasn’t sincere or authentic – it was a grooming behaviour designed to trap me. He never displayed a ‘motivational displacement’ towards me even in the period of seduction. A motivational displacement is a common caring behaviour found in all loving relationships whereby one’s motivation is displaced towards the loved one in an effort to help them reach their goals and dreams. Yet he expected I would displace all my own motivation for him to help him in his life.

My only real regret is that I wasn’t more vocal and action oriented about the awful things I noticed early on. My perception of reality that I talked was quashed by him and it was easy after all the mind games and isolation for me to believe him after a while. I know there was nothing else I could have done to help the situation – he is incurably sick and always will be.


I have a hard time knowing if the h-spath is a mild or a moderate sociopath. He is charming (although not with me since I have a hard time being civil toward him), irresponsible with money, a liar, a thief, etc. I haven’t been aware of him cheating on me, but heck that could have happened, I just don’t know (nor do I care). When things were uncomfortable and/or he wanted to go play, he would have disappearing acts, leaving for a day or more (usually telling me where he was at, but finding out some of his stories were b.s.). One time he told me he was going to attend a wrestling association meeting in Jacksonville, FL – I learned via the owner of a local gas station who had talked to my h-spath that he was going to attend the Daytona 500 (which happened to be held at the same time period). The h-spath insisted that he was at the wrestling association meeting – later on, I saw a credit card bill clearly showing purchases that were made at the Daytona 500 – the h-spath told me that his friend, M., was down there too (the friend was at the Daytona 500, NOT the h-spath), letting him borrow his credit card. Absolute rubbish.

Frank Lee Speaking

“Because they can love a little, what they do is particularly harmful to “loved ones.” They switch back and forth, in and out of “loving” states. When they are in a loving state, they truly have no emotional or other memory of their experiences outside of that state. Similarly when they are in the “power mode” they have no access to the memories of the love mode. It’s as if they have a split personality. Their poor partner is left asking, “Will the real ________ please stand up?””


Finally I have read the entire experience in a single paragraph. You could not put a realtionship with a psychopath in to a more clear and suscinct statement.

This should really be the motto.

Frank Lee Speaking

“OxDrover says: Liane, I think this one article is THE MOST IMPORTANT ARTICLE ON LOVE FRAUD OR ANY OTHER SITE ON THE INTERNET about this subject.”



There is something eery about the term ‘mild sociopath’ it actually sounds more menacing, threatening than a full on one…..


If some mildly-disturbed psychopaths can love, then what is the deal with all of the seduction and “love-bombing” in the early stages of many of these dysfunctional relationships?

Why not just let the relationship progress naturally, if it is possible for some of these psychopaths to love, or at least be in a loving state?

I still believe POWER is at the root of everything a psychopath does, even the mildly disturbed ones.
At least that has been my experience.

LOVE is at the core of an empath, and POWER/WINNING is at the core of a psychopath.

I really think that’s what it boils down to at the end of the day.

I believe to truly love someone or something, you have to be able to leave yourself VULNERABLE.

Psychopaths, including the mildly psychopathic, can not do this.
In fact, I don’t think they even understand the concept of vulnerability.

One thing I’ve noticed about the psychopathic individuals I’ve been involved with is that they never leave themselves vulnerable.
They are always in the driver’s seat…or so they think.

A person who can truly love puts the other person’s happiness equal to or ABOVE their own!!

A psychopath will NEVER do this, even if they are only mildly disturbed.
They always have an agenda, even though it may be hard to see at the time.
They are great at seducing us into thinking they can love, though.
That’s how many of us got hooked into these toxic relationships to begin with, right?

I read a great quote a while ago (can’t remember where) that read, “A sociopath will put you above others, but he will never put you above himself.”
So true.

Everytime I asked my ex to do something that would leave him vulnerable or not in the driver’s seat within our relationship, he became resentful and nasty towards me.
And I was not asking for much, either….which really confused me at the time.

That’s why it’s impossible to have an authentic, loving relationship with these psychopathic types.
Their desire for power/control over-rides everything…..even LOVE.


No kidding, Rosa. I think they experience OUR love as an attempt to control them and it brings out rage.


neveragain -ouuuu, THAT’S an interesting thought! if their fake love is all about power and control, of course they would project that, exactly as we project their being empathetic. Good one!

Ox Drover

“Love” is one word for meaning a THOUSAND things. I loved my dog. I love my kids. I love ice cream (look at my arse and you’ll know that’s true!) so each of us interprets the word “love” in different ways and with different meanings. I think Ps have a bit of trouble interpreting that word, even more than the rest of us.

There are a million different variations and depths of “love”—sure, the more we love a person, the more vulnerable we are to hurt coming from a betrayal or loss of that person or the relationship we have with them.

People are dying all over the world this minute and in my community, but because I either don’t know these people or have no special love for them, I am not badly grieved for their deaths on a personal level. When my husband died, that was a horse of a different color. MY WORLD CRASHED WITH THAT PLANE THAT DAY. I LOST THE MAN I LOVED. I grieved. I hurt. I was devastated.

A couple of weeks ago, I lost my precious Border Collie, Boss Dog. I was DEVASTATED. I cried and I grieved, and I still grieve. I feel more grief over the loss of my dog that I LOVED than I feel when I read the obit of a neighbor that I hardly knew.

Would I have sacrificed my life for that dog if he had been in the road and a car was coming, would I have thrown my body in front of him to die instead of him dying. I can say for sure that I would NOT have done so. He is, after all, no matter how much I loved him, a DOG. If it had been my young child in the road, you bet your life, I would have sacrificed myself to save the child if I could have. It is a CHILD. If it had been YOUR child in the road, a child I didn’t even know, I probably would also have done my best to save that child even if it meant risking my own life.

Did that mean I “loved” your child without even knowing him? In a way, I think, YES. Because “love” is an ACTION as well as a “gushy feeling.” Jesus said to “Love your neighbor as yourself” which means I think to ACT KINDLY toward your neighbor. You’re not going to have a “gushy feeling” toward everyone that is your “neighbor” and you might even have an active dislike, but ACT KINDLY toward them anyway.

Psychopaths (or any of the cluster Bs) don’t as a policy ACT LOVINGLY to others, act kindly, but instead they act in a way that will benefit them the most.

Tiger Woods might have been “really nice” to his wife at home, but he was not ACTING LOVINGLY to her when he was sporting around with all his GFs and then come home and make “love” to her. Did he “love her”? Probably “sort of” but the kind of “love” we want from a man? NOT ON YOUR LIFE. He was not consistent with his “loving actions.” He was a liar and a cheat. THAT is not LOVE. He might have even had some “gushy feelings for” her, but still —-is that LOVE? Not by MY definition.

A RELATIONSHIP with a man, for me, must comprise a love that is consistent and honest, putting me– before all others— as the marriage vows say. So even if a person was only a “little” psychopathic I don’t want a relationshit with them.


Tiger Woods absolutely DEVASTATED his wife…He willfully and knowingly lied to her and totally BETRAYED her in a way that is SHOCKING and HUMILIATING…He now acts like he has remorse..okay ..well I’m watching…I would not put it past the man to FAKE FAKE remorse because that’s what the million dollar therapist told him to do if he wants his wife back…his golf game isnt as good as it used to be…maybe he has feelings…maybe it’s an act …would YOU ever trust him again??

Oxy I hear you and how much you loved Boss dog and that you are feeling huge grief around his death….that DOG was loyal, loving, a hard honest worker, he loved life, ran to help others..if a DOG can demonstrate these admirable qualities…then whats the problem with human beings???

The conclusion is a border collie called Boss had more integrity and warm heartedness than Tiger Woods….end of.


Neveragain ( they experience our love as an attempt to control them and it brings out rage ) yep your so right, specially when we ask them where they have been for the past few days, that really makes em ragey..



Great post, especially regarding vulnerability (and I would add trust). My x-spath online presence leaves and interesting trail of clues regarding both him and sociopaths in general. While he never really says much, there are some “gems.” In fact, I believe his lack of detail is consistent with sociopathy. One gem is the word “independent,” used in an otherwise terse profile: “I’m a single, independent gay man…” I find this a curious word for a gay man to use, with an underlying implication of power and control.


A relationship with a psychopathic type is always going to be fragmented and unpredictable at best.
Because the psychopath’s power motive is going to take over at inappropriate times, leaving you with that “what the ??” feeling or maybe complete devastation….depending on how well balanced their inner triangle is.
It can also be called the cycle of abuse, right?

And it’s NOT something that’s ever going to change, either.
That’s another thing I’ve noticed about psychopaths, regardless of where they fall on the spectrum…..their ROCK-SOLID personality structure is VERY RESISTANT to change.

That’s another mistake I’ve made in the past.
I fell into the “Hope for Change” mentality, and I tried to make it happen. It never will.

I also mis-interpreted a man’s resistance to change or show vulnerability as “confidence” and “strength”.

But, at the end of the day, it turned out to be neither confidence nor strength…..just dysfunction.

Being the hopeless romantic that I am, I still believe it’s OK to leave yourself vulnerable in the name of Love.
Just make sure you are leaving yourself vulnerable to someone who also has the ability to love….truly love.

Red flags…..they don’t just fly in Russia, you know.


“neveragain says:

No kidding, Rosa. I think they experience OUR love as an attempt to control them and it brings out rage.”

I did not see rage per say but when I hinted that maybe my x-spath should take better car of himself, especially regarding smoking and drinking, his reply was angry: “I need to do that for myself…”

Conversely, I will use an example I told at an AA meeting last night. Right now, I am back up un Montreal for a long weekend. While I was living here last summer, I met this very nice, very caring guy who, if you believe in the AA higher power thing, was sent to me by some higher power to protect me from me long enough until I could make my life manageable. This guy does not drink, and only once did we ever go out where I was drinking.

That night, I had two large glasses of wine at dinner, then one more at the Saint Laurent bar (very famous bar in Quebec City, I used this as an excuse to get him in!!) and then we left for a club. At the club, I went for a beer and he said to me very kindly that he wished I did not have another drink. Instead of being angry, I saw this as care and concern, especially since he knew about my health condition at the time.

With the x-spath, despite my concerns of his and my own drinking, my x-spath was very “in my face” about it, politely, but almost spitefully so.


Don’t you love it when the psychos start touting their “independence” as they suck the life out of everyone & everything around them?

An “independent” psychopath….is that an oxy moron??

Sort of like the “productive” sociopath on the other thread.



this has been a very interesting thread. The spath spectrum….I find myself wondering if all I felt, thought, went through has really happened. He is remarried for the third time, having a third child in five years as well as custody of my daughter…I keep thinking maybe there is nothing wrong with him. Maybe it was me? But when I read these various descriptions I KNOW it wasn’t me. I can love. I have empathy. Huge amounts of empathy. I didn’t want to be divorced and never would have left him had I felt cared for. He would say to anyone who listened that I was needy, and that I expected him to meet all my needs. HUH? Seriously? I am very independent…what I asked from him and what his first wife asked from him too (he told me) was that we wanted our husband to be our friend…I never felt he had my back. He put me in the line of fire with is crazy family, his mother..he would say I am not taking sides. He would allow his only male friend to put me down and not say anything. I’d ask why and he said “You can defend yourself”. So, is that needy that I wanted my husband to side with me? Hell no. But it is the crazy making feeling that he does by putting this on me and by his winning so far….I feel like the crazy one because of the position I am in right now. Yes, he might have had moments of something near to love…but I look back and see the video of him when we got our daughter and the tears are fake. I can see it now. All the crazy push pull he did while dating…he could see how I reacted to know if I was a target…I was…I wasn’t healthy enough at that time I say No to those behaviors. OxDrover is right….there are no second changes any more. I dated one guy that was just about as sick…and I broke up with him, I took him back only to break up again…and then he called my ex spath and they worked together. That was a while ago but the damage is happening now. It is amazing…I am so not ready to date. Mostly because I trust no one and it wouldn’t be fair to anyone that was healthy. Altho I don’t know I can choose healthy yet. Despite five years out. And I wonder, like others have said, he is married again…and five years, three new he making it with this woman. Is it me? Why do I still go there? I think because, as I said, I am losing right now.
I’m feeling confused and wondering if I will ever get out of this. Will it ever get better because five years ago I remember thinking in five years it will be so much better and it is so much worse! Worse than I could ever have imagined.
But, I started my contact with daughter, after having the judge believe him and make me do supervised visits. I have been immobilized after that…after my mom died, my brother started working with spath…all those things that hit me the past 6 months…so unfair and untrue. I set up a time to call her (she lives three hours away by car) three times a week, email daily to new wife (I cannot deal with spath at all), sent her a big care package. talked to her today via phone for an hour…..I cannot let him win any more. I need to reverse this. God, it is a lonely feeling doing this shit. I have to pay to see her and I am not making much money….barely making it and I used to have a life! Wow. It’s hard to even imagine wanting to be with someone. I think I do but I think that is more about having someone help me through this…no one can. It has to be up to me because that is how I will grow. I cannot give anything to anyone except my kids. They are all i care about. And hopefully I will start caring more about me soon. Not a self pity comment, but the truth

Ox Drover

Dear Chinagirl,

Sugar I hear a GREAT DEAL of PROGRESS in your post above. A great deal of self awareness about where you are, what you need to do, and you are WORKING on these things (the contact with your daughter) in a HEALTHY WAY.

Working on yourself, your trust issues…..and if my past experience is any guide—-I think the issue of trusting YOURSELF to keep you safe is the biggest issue. We have let ourselves down by allowing these people to abuse us continually. We have lost trust in others, but most, I think, we have lost trust in ourselves.

You can learn to trust yourself again, in a healthy way, by acting in a healthy manner. You are starting to do that. Realizing that you need to focus your energy on yourself and keeping the contact with your daughter. Accepting that there are things you cannot do anything about right NOW but you CAN do other things, like the phone calls, the “care packages” and the letters. GREAT!!!! I think that is SUPER good planning.

Remember on the airlines they tell you if the Oxygen masks fall down, and you are with a child, PUT YOUR MASK ON FIRST rather than putting it on the child first. In order to help your CHILD YOU must take care of YOU FIRST. Hang in there Chinagirl, I feel so uplifted by your post, that you are working a plan, and planning your actions. Using your resources for the best possible uses, taking care of yourself and your daughter! TOWANDA!!!! ((((Hugs))))) and you are in my prayers!


thank you so much. What is TOWANDA? I read it somewhere the first day on the site but cannot remember.

I have decided to use spath’s wife as contact person. evertime I try to just text spath to just call D he texts me 15 texts with a diatribe I do not want to be a part of. so, she is the one I am contacting and so far she seems ok with it. I set up a different email acct, like I said, just for them. I told D today on the phone that I would email her daily and as her step mom to have her copy them for her and she can email me me whenever, as well. I also set up those three times to day. My D told me a better time and we will do that.
My D sounded great. I thought she would be angry, distant….but she was happy and talking about her chickens. She seems to just stay with her kitty and her animals and kind of live there….she is going to a new school for gifted kids and starts tomorrow..Very cool. I was the one who always did everything for her…you know….I taught her everything, set up the house so she could explore, draw, read, write, color, jump, whatever….and I took her to play dates, library, movies, she cooked with me, she and I did everything together. Until I left. I always wanted her to be in a Montessori school…because I know her.. I know how she learns. my spath would always fight me for every single detail of everything. If it wasn’t his idea it wouldn’t happen. Is this common for spaths? Even having a pond! I came up with idea, he laughed and put it down. One month later he says oh let’s have a pond and viola, we had a pond. asshole. But my point is it is so VERY HARD to sit here and have nothing to do with my daughters life. He won’t follow the court orders for example to tell me which airline he flies when he takes her to his home town,,,or what she si doing in school, or any of that. i try to call and talk to teachers so they know I am around but he is now setting it up to tell them I have to be supervised so they think something is wrong with me. Anyway, I got off phone with D today and just allowed myself to cry. So scary to cry because it feels like it won’t ever stop. and the only things I wanted were to be with my dad and my kids and I don’t get to have those right now. It just pains me. As you all know. But, I do feel more empowerd by doing something….by taking action, taking a step forward despite not being able to see into the future..I can’t imagine having to do this for 10 more years….my god….but I can’t go there with my thinking. It’s pointless. I do what I can do now. today. that’s all I can do. Tomorrow I do it again.

Ox Drover

Oh, I’m sorry. TOWANDA! is the battle cry of older and wiser people. It comes from a scene in the movie “Fried green tomatoes” where these uppity kids in a VW ram their car into a parking spot ahead of one of the characters who was obviously trying to get into the spot and the kids made some rude remark to the middle aged woman, who yelled TOWANDA and smashed into their car! The kids were WTF???? and basically she said “older smarter, meaner and better insurance” I can’t even remember what she said, but the TOWANDA was used here for the last year or so as our BATTLE CRY!

We also have “relationshit” which I think Henry came up with and
there are others as well. Can’t think of them off the top of my head right now, but if you come across one you don’t understand just ask!

I imagine the cry felt both good and scary at the same time. They say that the tears do wash our souls so I hope it gave you some comfort as well. I suggest though that you live in the NOW and not worry about what will happen in 5 years or 10 years, but just think about TODAY and how you have actually taken some ACTION about keeping in touch with your daughter. You know for now her step mother is being kind and cooperative with you, so that is a good step forward. Your daughter is responding to your calls and e mails so that is good and she knows that you care! Progress. Baby steps, but progress! TOWANDA!!!!!! (((Hugs))))



You just might end up being a source of support (in the future) for the current wife – you never know what’s up the road, in store for her. I think communicating with your daughter’s step-mother is brilliant, allowing you to interact with another person who hopefully can relate to you as a mother and a human being, avoiding the toxic one (who you cannot handle right now). I pray more things go your way.



I hear your pain, but more importantly your strength, insight and intellect. It can be so hard when we aren’t where we want to be, but if you can take it as it comes, hour by hour, one day at a time you will find yourself closer to where you want to be. That is what I have to tell myself, it’s advice from a good friend and sometimes it is the best we can do. All the best in getting to where you want to be.

Ox, thank you for the tips and insights.


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