By | February 14, 2015 32 Comments

For Valentine’s Day: The difference between sociopathic “love” and real love

Yes, there is love after the sociopath.

I divorced my sociopathic ex-husband, James Montgomery, in 2000. A little more than a year later, I met Terry Kelly. We dated for a few years, got to know each other, and then married.

Terry and I just celebrated our 10th anniversary. I can honestly say that I am as happy and in love as I was on our wedding day.

What’s different about love with a normal, caring person, and “love” with a sociopath? Just about everything.

Real love is peaceful

I don’t have the stress, drama and doubt that I felt while married to the sociopath. Instead, with Terry, I feel calm and content.

Real love is supportive

My sociopathic ex-husband was demanding and indifferent to how his demands affected me. Now when I need help, caring, or just someone to talk to, my husband is there.

Real love is teamwork

I’m not the only one working; I’m not the only one carrying the burdens of life. My husband and I are in it together.

Real love is balanced

Yes, we face our ups and downs. And when either of us is down, the other is there to offer a boost. It’s a true give-and-take.

Real love is sexy

Sex with the sociopath was exciting in the beginning and then became rote. With Terry, along with the physical pleasure I feel a deep, soulful connection, a much more powerful experience.

Real love is companionship

My ex traveled a lot (seeing other women, I later learned). Quite frankly, I was happy to see him go. When Terry travels or even goes to work for the day I look forward to his return.

Real love is happy

When I was with the ex, I was miserable. Now, even as Terry and I deal with day-to-day problems, I feel light and joyful.

Real love is easy

I no longer struggle in my marriage. I know I can trust and depend on my husband, and he knows he can count on me. We share, we laugh, we travel the road of life together, hand-in-hand.

We offer this to you, Lovefraud readers, as a message of hope. With your own healing, anything is possible.

Love to all,

Donna and Terry


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Donna and Terry,

Thank you both for the wonderful encouragement. Truthfully, it can be disheartening and discouraging to think that there is no way out or no better life than that which was experienced with a spath. Thank you and congratulations on being pathfinders for others.


Thank you Donna..
That all makes perfect sense!
Not like all of the nonsense.


Congrats Donna and Terry and Happy Valentines to you both!

In spite of an emotionally devastating marriage, I am a romantic. I love that people find someone to share love with. It means it’s possible for me too. And in the meanwhile, I do what I learned to do during my “Valley of the Shadow of Death”, I buy myself flowers. I send myself a card. I make a delish choc torte. And I invite a couple of single friends over for dinner/wine/chick flick movie. No 50Shades of Grey. We are watching “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” and looking forward to the sequel opening Mar8, “The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel”.

I’ve had my quota of life’s misery so I decided to CREATE good days. Even if I haven’t yet met a sweetheart, I have met ME and she’s an pretty okay ol gal. Even the birds are happy today, tweeting and chirping and making their love calls.

Happy Valentines to Everyone. Because you LOVE, you are especially Honored TODAY!!
<3 <3 <3 🙂



Hey Not,

Sounds like a great plan! I read this quote somewhere; and, it makes me think of your singleness (and, mine, too!):

“I have been single for awhile now and I have to say, “It is going very well. It is working out. I think I’m the one!”


Thank you for sharing a glimpse your beautiful relationship with Terry.

I write a lot about the experience of a sociopath while trying to help people identify and understand what they’re dealing with. But perhaps I need to say a bit more about how wonderful life can be (and is) when we move away from their dynamics, restore ourselves, and move forward. Thank you for that reminder.





Congratulations Donna. I’m so glad you got away from loser Montgomery, are so happy and have made big success of your life. Terry is also much better looking than Montgomery too, as well as being a man to admire. Your life sounds like bliss now.


I am happy for you, Donna. But this entrance reminds me that I think that one mistake we can make, in general, after meeting a sociopath is to overvalue relationships that are simply “normal”. I think that all the list of things you described are in a love relationship too but they are also in a standard good friendship relationship. That list is a must for any type of personal relationship we should allow ourselves to have. And then, love is that list plus much more.



What a great post. I didn’t date for almost 2 years after my husband left and eventually met the man I believe I will marry. He is the love of my life and our relationship has essentially the same characteristics that Donna describes.
I think it’s important for those of us who have experienced the mind altering experience of being with a sociopath to shift gears regarding normal relationships. The quality of give and take is wonderful as is the mutual trust and support. But it’s not the same buzz as being in love bombed and the day to day could seem to some boring if you’ve become used to the drama.
Sadly I have come to the conclusion-i am a therapist who was completely hoodwinked by a guy who made up stories about a violently abusive childhood to cover his tracks-that many if not all of us who are such attractive prey to these people have pre existing wounds and boundary problems. The predators can smell a vulnerable person a mile away.
So in the aftermath of life with a psychopath, which IMO takes years of deliberate self care and healing on every level, it is quite a project to figure out what’s normal and what’s not. If you’ve come from a family where there have been any serious problems at all, I chances are good that you have to figure out what constitutes a notmal intimate relationship.
I at this point think of myself as a realist, and when my guy moves in with me in a few months we will most likely be engaged, I have no illusions about happily ever after. But I am confident that because there is so much mutual regard, respect and give and take that we will do very well after an initial adjustment.
We’ve both been on the planet a long time and valued the time we have left too much to waste ii. That doesn’t mean it won’t drive him a little crazy when I leave my knitting all over the place of the kitchen a mess if I dash out to work late.
It just means that we’ll figure it out respectfully and comprimis because neither of us needs or desires to dominate the other. I have such gratitude for this time in my life and if needed I would do fine as a single woman again. But it’s partuculary sweet to have a chance to do it again and to do it-life partnering-well.
Thanks for listening!


Thank you Donna, that is very hopeful and encouraging. I know that is the kind of partner I am and was, but after 24 years with a sociopath who posed as Mr. Near-Perfect for 22 of those years, I sometimes think, “Real love isn’t possible…. I thought I had that…” So it really helped to read that healing and normal love is out there.

I’m 3 years out, and not interested in dating yet, still. Even tho I sometimes long for a date and that companionship, I know I’m still not ready, as I’m still being strangled by the legal battle to separate our assets. As a single parent with sole custody (ex was given zero contact), my mind can’t hold anything more right now.

Donna – reading your words perfectly describes my life before and after as well! Since I had been with my sociopathic spouse since we were teenagers and then raised a family together for 30 years, I had no CLUE what a normal, comfortable relationship was. During the long, painful and slow dissolution of our marriage, I couldn’t imagine WHY anyone would choose to be in a relationship. I had no interest in resuming any romance in my life, but luckily did a lot of therapy and attended a support group for spouses of sex addicts that helped me do more work on myself. Healing myself eventually led me to be open enough to renew a friendship with a very old friend that blossomed into the type of relationship you described. There IS hope for everyone here!


Happy 10’th Anniversary Donna! Wishing you both many more wonderful years of togetherness!


Thanks for the encouragement. At age 67, after spending 35 years in a spath relationship (with good times mixed in with the bad), I wonder if there is time for me to heal, meet a good man, and have a good relationship. The comment about targets having prior emotional “injuries” makes sense, as predators always select the hurt or injured ones as their targets. Our injuries are invisible to normal people, but glaringly obvious to the predator. I overcame a difficult childhood, to succeed in every area of life except one: marriage. I still hope to have a healthy relationship, but doubt that I would marry again; it’s just too scary.


Hi Donna,

Thanks for the post. It supplies hope. It is applicable for both romantic relationships such as yours, and is a reminder that we should also expect and experience those things in familial and friend relationships as well. Safety and nurturing.

Seeker of Truth

I’m truly sorry you feel so low.
I married and divorced two sociopath, unfortunately, and I felt like that so, so many times. It takes quite a while, in my experience, to heal and understand, and re-discover yourself again.
In the present I am single, quite happy and I only ‘plan’ to get another person if he has integrity, good character and is able to pull his 50%.
But having said this, I am quite happy now as I am, and really believe that I don’t have to be in a relationship to be happy.
I enjoy my quiet times on my own, reading, playing with my pets, talking to my children when they’re here and in the last year, my beautiful grandchild who is a delight to me.
Women =or men= not necessarily need to have a partner. I, for one, I repeat, am happy as I am.
I wish you happiness, and lots of love for yourself.


Donna, I am so happy to read this. This is a true message of hope and I’m pleased you found the love you deserve. I’m so thankful for your support and dedication to this cause. Happy Anniversary and best wishes for the next 10 years of happiness ….


I’m glad you found happiness. I feel I have wasted 3 yrs. I am 56 and in therapy due to what happened. I never married him but almost did. He was clearing land at my place for us to build a house and at the same time purchasing land in another state and on a dating site saying he was looking for a woman to share his land on the other side of the country. I never understood what he was going to do. Have two wives? Play with me for awhile and then break up? I will never know. I have tried to move on but because things were so intense with us I am not doing very well. He has moved in with another who has money but he also has some from his shared retirement with his wife. This whole things confuses me. His ex was a doctor and they were married for 25 yrs. My therapist says that his ex was so busy she may have not know of his double lives and may have contributed it to his bi polar but when his moods were stable he was still such a confident liar and always had two cell phones, several email addresses, and women on several dating sites. He always had an excuse to travel. I always knew when he was seeing someone. That is when I got the biggest flowers, he would be very happy, and always on the phone with his “daughter.” I am a mess. A real mess. My therapist has me filling out a workbook about self-esteem but I want to understand what happened. I want someone to acknowledge my feelings. This is not like a usual break up. What is really crazy is that I miss him and envy the woman who he is with because I know what she is feeling. This also sounds terrible but I wish I could know if and when their relationship falls apart so I don’t feel so crazy. I am STILL second guessing myself even after I have read the emails to other women and even after I see evidence of his double life. And the gaslighting…..oh my gosh! He even tried to tell me that I put up his dating profile!! Then when he can’t deny it anymore his response is “Whatever. If you were a better communicator, I would have given 100%.” His son would not even invite him to his graduation because he found out something. I’m not sure what. I feel the need to find answers that I know I will never have. I honestly don’t think I will ever find love again. I tried going on a dating site and there doesn’t seem to be anyone out there. It was all a lie. Just a lie. He showered me with flowers, cards, a car. He didn’t take money from me, he spent it on me but now I believe it was money that he took from his ex wife. He divorced her right when he was able to get half of their retirement. He had to be 59 1/2 to get it. Now he has abandoned his children, moved to the other side of the US and started over with someone else. I am suffering from depression, want to sleep all of the time but I don’t know what to do or how to start over. I know what I am not to do and that is to make contact with him. The last time I did he sounded like a different person. He told me that he had someone and for me to “f” off. It was terrible. In a way that has helped because she he is with her he is no longer contacting me in another type of way. Donna, my question to you is how did you move on? What kind of things can you tell me that is okay to do? I know what not to do but since I don’t know what to do, I just stay in bed unless I have to get up to go to work.


Hello JCrown:

I have just come across your post I CAN’T believe how close our experience has been. I am in the same situation and know what you are feeling. Can you email me back and we can help one another because we can both relate to what we are going through because we have and are going through it. My email is [email protected]. I look forward to hearing from you.



Hi Donna,

Great article.

I, too, have met someone. After two and half years together, we have the best best best relationship. It is so healthy with both of us contributing to it, helping each other and being very respectful and loving to each other.

Sadly, my crazy ex is still — CRAZY.

My ex is getting remarried and he still bothers me? Why?


I cannot imagine why it still bothers you. Mine moved out of the marriage home directly to another woman and I was grateful. You just have to accept that what you thought was there was all a big fat lie. Then you can forget him.


Often it is good to be reminded the difference between a healthy relationship and a sick one. After living widowhood for 5 years, I met a man who was very intriguing and very sexy. He had nothing else going for him other than in the bedroom. I learned after a few weeks, he had lied to me about just about everything. Talk about peeling an onion. The layers of this man was and still are falling off and like a chameleon that changes colors, a new person evolves weekly.

The phone calls have tapered off, but he felt the need to call me when a friend saw him out and took a photo of him then sent it to me. I was with friends visiting from Berlin (who happen to be gay men). We were at Marti Gras in New Orleans at the time of the call. He then went on to berate me and tell me that I was a bad women for having gay friends. I hung up on him, but he still called a few times later. He finally quit for the time being. I know his pathological behavior will not allow him to stop calling occasionally but I can deal from a distance. I question myself and why I bother listening to him and I have established I find him very entertaining. What does that make me?

Statistically there are many Psychopaths and Sociopaths on the planet. We may need to live among them, but we certainly don’t have to live with them.



I understand your comment of, “I have established I find him very entertaining. What does that make me?” I guess this is why these types of people are good at what they do. They are entertaining, charming, and magnetic in many ways. It’s so difficult to not feel like it’s a reflection of us and I have days where I question my integrity as well. When I start to feel that way, I remember that this is part of their game and what they want us to feel. Succumbing to it means they won and I refuse to let him take anything else from me.


This was the first story I read when I visited this site and it gave me hope for the first time in 2 weeks (since I recognized my ex-boyfriend of 5 years as a sociopath). For one, I did not know there were people fitting the criteria of sociopaths that weren’t apparent as such (serial killers etc.). This is part of the reason I kept pushing to save our relationship over the last 5 years. That and my childhood lacking love, protection, and encouragement. I can honestly say I do not know what a healthy relationship looks like and upon reading the differences between what described my latest relationship perfectly and a healthy one, it has gotten me through a rough 2 weeks. I would love to find a buddy or more than one buddy going through a recent ending of a long-term relationship with a sociopath. I would like it for encouragement but also for accountability. I will begin seeing a counselor next week, but feel there is strength in numbers and being able to discuss the scary, negatives can help keep things in perspective.


Donna- I’m glad you are in a healthy marriage. I have friends who have been happily married for 50 years. It does happen.

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