By | August 9, 2007 14 Comments

Finding value after the sociopath encounter

Finding value in all things is an integral component of healing after an encounter with a sociopath. When I look for what is good in being freed from him, I create opportunities to be surprised by the unexpected. As Oscar Wilde wrote, “to expect the unexpected shows a thoroughly modern intellect.”

Expecting the unexpected is not a license to let go of rational thinking. It means staying connected to intellect and allowing my intuition to guide me —- especially where people are concerned.

New encounters can lead to wonder…or not

When we first meet someone, we do not know who they truly are, just as they don’t know who we are. New people in our lives can be the best thing that ever happened to us -— or the worst. They can contribute joy, laughter, friendship, fun and shared experiences, or they can contribute pain and turmoil. When I met the sociopath, the intensity and velocity of his attentions were unexpected -— and not unwelcome. Wow, such a talented and successful man was interested in me? Cool!

And thus I fell. I took his unexpected, and sudden, attentions and turned them into the expectation that he would be true to his word and never hurt me. In his railroading me, I got bowled over by the weight of his convictions that he knew what was best and right for me. I took my intellect off what he was — hurting me — and kept my mind on what he’d told me he would do — never hurt me — even while he was. I fell in love with the prince of my dreams and ignored the ogre prancing before my eyes. In my embracing of the unexpected ”˜gift’ of his romance, I made a decision to let him into my life, and the lives of my daughters, too quickly.

Quick access paves the way for deceit

Quick access was important to him -— he needed to ensure I didn’t see who he truly was until he had me under his spell. I obliged. It was easy. I didn’t want him to see how needy I was. So while he seemed like an unexpected gift from a benevolent dating god smiling down on me, he wasn’t really all that unexpected. He was part of a pattern I’d indulged in most of my life: find my value in someone else’s presence in my life and don’t look for my value in me, in who I am, what I do, what I believe in, what I value.

Author and security expert, Gavin de Becker, aptly describes the series of tactics con men employ as thus:

  • Forced teaming
  • Charm and niceness
  • Too many details
  • Typecasting
  • Loan-sharking
  • The unsolicited promise
  • Discounting the word “No”

(Source: Protecting the Gift. Survival Signals)

In those first heady days of that relationship, the sociopath used every single tactic to perfection. He told me my ‘exceptional’ talents as a communications professional were critical in his efforts to take his company public. (Building market-awareness for junior companies going public was my expertise. He hired me to help his firm list their stock on an exchange.) “This won’t happen without you. It’s you and me against the world of high finance. Together we can make this happen.” (Forced teaming)

He used his considerable charm to snow me -— his very first statement to me when I suggested we had met before was a seductive invitation to step into his web, “If we’d met before I’d never have let you go.” I swooned and fell. One Saturday, we had a meeting at his office (did I mention he was really, really busy and simply could not make a meeting during the week). I brought coffee and muffins. His old-world charm was seductive. He met me at my car. Held my door open. Complimented me on my outfit (I wore shorts and t-shirt, nothing special.) Insisted he pay for the coffees and muffins. Enthused about the coffee (it was regular old Starbucks) and the muffins as if he’d never had such great tasting muffins before. (Charm and niceness)

During one of our first meetings, I sat on a chair on the other side of his desk feeling somewhat uncomfortable and exposed as he described, with sensual explicitness, the joy of washing a car, his hands caressing the air in seductive curves. He asked me about my color preferences for car interior leathers and explained why as a woman, my choices were so incredibly relevant to their efforts to build the ‘perfect car’. He also mentioned how his former wife didn’t have any interest in what he did… (Too many details mixed with charm and niceness)

Typecasting was easy for him. He constantly stated I was naïve, lacked awareness of ‘evil’, and hadn’t really experienced true love in my life.

His early gift-giving was overwhelming —- creating an aura of gratitude. Look at all I’ve done for you. You owe me. (Loan sharking)

I remember wondering about his promise to ”˜never hurt me’. I never suggested he would. Why did he think it was important to reassure me? (The unsolicited promise)

And, finally, discounting my No. I refused his invitation for a date, insisting I was not interested in dating; I’d just left a longterm relationship. I needed time to soothe my aching heart. He pressured and pressured me until I acquiesced and said Yes. My No became an unheard voice in the wilderness of his lies.

In the end, it was easy for him to dupe me. I wasn’t expecting the unexpected -— his duplicity —- I was expecting his adoration. In my expectation that he was the man of my dreams, I kept my eye on what I was looking for, not on what he was doing.

Create value in all things

In healing, I have found the value in that experience and used it to build the foundation of my beautiful life today. I didn’t live my truth back then; didn’t keep myself free of my victim’s thinking. Today I know better, and I do better.

Today, I still expect the unexpected. Life is too filled with wonder not to. Instead of accepting the unacceptable in unexpected surprises, however, I am willing to stand up and be counted on by me when someone crosses my boundaries. Recently, after two dates a man sent flowers to my office. I sent him packing. That gesture, combined with a couple of other unexpected items, showed me very quickly that he did not respect my boundaries. “I think you’re spectacular and only wanted to put a smile on your face,” he exclaimed when I challenged him on the appropriateness of sending a woman flowers to her office after a coffee date and a dinner. “You barely know me,” I replied. “And sending a woman flowers at her office after only meeting her twice presumes a familiarity that does not exist.” The flowers raised questions with my co-workers that I had no desire to answer. It was not acceptable.

On the other side of the darkness is light

Standing on the other side of the divide between the sociopathic experience and my life today, I’m not bowled over by the unexpected. I’m judicious and conscious of my responses. I don’t get taken by surprise when the unexpected turns into something I don’t want. Instead, I stand up for myself without fear that someone will think I’m wrong for how I feel. I know that when I stay true to myself, my values, principles and beliefs, I am powerful beyond my imagination. I am free.

Posted in: M.L. Gallagher

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“I wanted to put a smile on your face.”

Something about that statement gives me the creeps big time.

I think it’s that it reveals his motives for sending the flowers.

And it smacks of control issues.

Wouldn’t a normal person, who just miscalculated, say something more like, “I just wanted to express my affection.” or “I thought you would enjoy the flowers”.
Not, “I wanted to PUT a smile on your face”.

Because wouldn’t a normal person send flowers to express their affection, or because they think you’d enjoy the gift somehow.

A normal person doesn’t do things to illicit a reaction in someone else.

That just seems so empty and hollow.
And suspicious.
And manipulative.


wow wp! You’re right. I had never thought of that statement “I wanted to put a smile on your face” in that way! Almost every man I have been with has said something to that effect when they have given me a gift. It’s not like, Ï love to SEE you happy”it’s “I want to MAKE you happy”.

Very interesting.


I never stop learning from this site. Looking back now my psycho would say ” I want to make you deleriously happy”. I always thought it was weird, but now it fits like everyting else does. He never said “Are you happy”?, like a normal person would.

thanks ML


Please keep posting this type of thinking, I need it badly. Yesterday was the last time I’ll see my husband of 32 years who is definately a sociopath and a sex addict. I thought I could SAVE him!!!! Today he is off on some trip with his latest woman (too many to count) but I did close the door on him, but I’m still reeling. Hard to sleep, not eating, etc. I have a strong faith in God and I know that I need to heal and find myself again. I think it’s great how you feel empowered…you sound very healthy. I gave my power away to this man over and over, I don’t know why really. I’m praying that God will hold my hand and reduce my terror as I go into a life on my own after not being alone since I was 19 (I’m 53). I have a counsellor I see once a week. My problem is I wish I could hate the man (father of my 3 children) but he’s done such a number on me that I still feel something (besides anger). I have no job skills but I hope to do some volunteering once I get my emotions in check. I do hope some day to find a caring kind man to marry, but I know it will probably take some years to get myself “normalized”. Are there any out there that have been able to trust again in this manner? My husband not only was a serial cheater, but a criminal, but he always seems to land on his feet, partly because I was there to help him. Part of me hopes he crashes, but that is vengeance speaking. I know that eternally this man is lost lost lost. He never beat me or took from me financially, he just took from me emotionally and used me like a prostitute. Toxic Toxic Toxic. Thanks for letting me vent. I could use some encouragement about the future!



I never cease to learn & benefit from your posts!

You are indeed healthy and growing. And you are way ahead of me!

Usually, I do not like frameworks like this because we all too often become ‘stuck’ in them, but your simple account of the “Unsolicited Promise’ struck a nerve within me: Why did he/she think it so important to perpetually assure me that she’d never hurt me???

“I’ll never hurt you.” And it came out of nowhere — perpetually!

[Why did I ignore that? Why couldn’t I have commented on her unsolicited promise and ask where it came from? Why she said it? How it fit in the conversation at that moment! OR, better yet, run away and canned it.]

Damned good tip.

The author you mention seems to be on the money with his framework.

While it is easy to think of the bullets in relation to my situation, I draw a blank at Typecasting. Oh, I just got it! She read me like a book and assessed me for my vulnerability as her victim. But there was nothing overtly said to indicate this. When I draw blanks, I know there are things I am not facing, not ready to face or just so hot an area that I am not able to handle it.

[Patience, patience with myself]

It sure is nice to read your ever increasingly satisfying progress. I am not yet as well as you are [~2 years post con and still trying to recover–recouping is not possible] BUT I appreciate gleaning from you. I look forward to the time when I am not merely observant (of others who try to get into my life) and cautious but ‘judicious in my responses.’ I guess this takes more awareness of my own responses. These days it seems I am rather reserved.

But, no butts, it is extremely satisfying to pass up on people who seem to be trying to hook up with me who have ‘something’ about them that alerts me by intuition that they are not well and not likely to be good friends much less partners. I am more picky and better able to defend and protect myself. And it is increasingly satisfying to not have to have a relationship and settle for something I don’t want and, more importantly, it is extremely satisfying avoiding another disaster.

I’s still growing. And getting better everyday. I can’t wait to see what tomorrow brings. Time to get back to today.

Thanks for your posts and your insight.


It has been nine months and nine days since we parted for the last time. In that gestational period, I have had my first panic attacks, feelings of hollow horror that I allowed someone of such poor character in the beautiful life I worked very long and hard to create.
As a physician, I did not need his money. Learned and learning so many lessonsincluding some of the following: my codependence, feelings that I needed a human in my life, financial fears, childlike trust in others, and omnipotent belief system that if I work diligently enough — anything is possible. I was wrong. I have seen the movie of me behaving like a child, even though I am an incredibly strong and brilliant woman.
I understand how Lisa the NASA scientist was temporarily insane. Living in a situation of deceipt and consistent inconsistency is like being the lead character in the movie Gaslight. I am still shaking. But the good news is that I am stronger. My emotional intelligence is on meteoric fast forward. If we learn the lessons from being in relationships with these “others” the future is full of light. I am cautiously optimistic.
And dinner dates are different now. I am listening.


“I wanted to put a smile on your face.”

I can understand how this could be creepy once you have the context and the supporting details of the sociopath’s other behavior.

But I want to ask, couldn’t a normal person say this, too? What would be an appropriate expression from a nice man giving me flowers?

Sometimes, I think all of us, just use expressions we’ve heard elsewhere that sound good to us, without really analyzing them.

I am trying not to overreact or be too sensitive to things that other people say to me. This is hard for me, because I want to protect myself from ever being involved with another sociopath again – not just romantically, but in friendships, work, etc.

I think one sentence can be a part of a dangerous pattern, or it can be an isolated statement by someone who is just not as careful with words, who maybe heard it on TV the night before and thought it sounded good.

What do others think?

“I’d never treat you the way other men have in a million years. How could anyone treat someone like you with anything less than respect. I have so much respect for you.”

You know this site is a revelation. This statement gave me pause for about two seconds, I was busy listening to his other words but, what was odd about it was how early on it was said. Perhaps the second time we’d even spoken he was saying this. Where is the part of me that in any other circumstance would have said “You barely know me at all, this statement seems to presume a lot! And why would you be making promises about how you would treat me since you don’t know me at all!”

The best thing about waking up after this experience is coming back into your own skin so you can see how you are “teamed” up with these type of statements so early in. There is a presumption of friendship, of being on the same “side” that is inappropriately assumed far, far too early. No other centered mature adult would make such statements. It helps to see how this happened. The guilt is tremendous. The suspending of normal reactions and beliefs starts right away in ways you are not aware of exactly. No wonder the hallmark emotion of being involved with a sociopath is confusion. Everything you know about yourself is no longer available to you in this experience at all and it escalates the longer you stay.

The best thing about being free and out of that hall of mirrors cage is coming back into your own skin, having your thoughts belong only to you without derision or judgment, and being able to live in sweet reality with no word salad responses. I can honor what actually did happen to me and respect myself for doing so. What he decides to turn reality into is of no consequence to me any longer. The truth is the truth without varnish and projection. What a relief!!

What is it about the sociopath that makes you want to suspend belief for them, to feel that they much have a higher nature than they are actually showing you they do?! Perhaps, it is the AWE of the next low thing they are doing, not wanting to face that someone we have cared for so much is actually this devoid of empathy. It’s frightening to try and face up to it all. What we run from though is the horrible knowledge that if we keep suspending belief, keeping hanging on to find a shred of redemption in them it get far, far more frightening than just leaving for our own good.

This experience is devastating in so many ways but, if you made it out then you can heal and so can I. The truth is they will always be this way. I am hearing his voice now saying “I do know what I did to you and I do too have compassion about it, I have feelings and I feel sorry about what I did to you.” This would be followed by setting a time limit sooner than later on my healing over things which are astoundingly cruel. There is a presumption of so many things on their part. They presume themselves to have “compassion” but that too is only said with a goal for their own gain in mind. Our healing is never the objective when a sociopath says words at us.

The proof is in actions. Long term consistent actions and not flip comments designed to yet again get things their way.

It’s a relief to read all of your comments here. I can easily see that I knew the right thing to do all along deep down and that all the things that didn’t feel right to me were NOT right for me. In future, I will honor that voice in me without fail to the very best of my ability.

My past before the sociopath spoke of my true character, it still does and no amount of re writing of history can change that about me. Or about him. The real truth is there and we are free of their “word arranging”

We’ve got pain to deal with and healing to do but, thank god there is a path out and we ARE on it! Today I will be grateful for that! God Bless You All!!


The words of a sociopath are so intoxicating. My ex also told me he would never hurt me. He also said something early in the relationship that sounded odd and has stuck with me ever since. He said that when he moved from Vermont to Idaho, he made a vow to himself to be a better man. At the time I thought “who makes a vow like that.” Well, now I know. It was someone who recognized his illness, but couldn’t really do anything about it because it’s his innate nature.

What really sealed it for me was he was always saying things like…

“I would never hurt you..have I ever hurt you? I am trying to help you.”

“When you’re happy it makes me happy.”

“I am a great guy! When are you going to realize that” (that’s the best)

I read in an email he sent to his girlfriend something like…

“I am that kind, compassionate, caring guy… my ex is history after how she treated me… I am someone who truly loves you.”

It’s that word “truly” — he used it with me all the time in texts, emails, letters, voice…

Now after 1 month he was saying it to someone else he met in a psych ward who was passed out drunk every night, who he allowed to post pics of themselves sexually all over the place.

Does a man who truly loves you let you degrade yourself like that?

It’s sickening… this isn’t the “kitty” I came to love.


I want to throw up.

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