How to recognize and recover from the sociopaths in your life › Forums › Lovefraud Community Forum – General › Can they get better?
May 8, 2018 at 9:21 am #45368
I dated someone for 4 years before getting married. There were clear red flags – he had serious anger issues, etc. – but he was willing to go to therapy and wanted to get better. After we got married the verbal abuse got much worse until once a week I was locking myself in the bathroom out of fear until he calmed down. I then found him texting other women – it wasn’t physical as the women lived in a different country. I also found out he had hidden a video in our apartment to video us having sex after I said it was something I didn’t want to do. When the abuse escalated further, I left, but I ended up going back and then he did sleep with someone else – he lied about it but eventually had to admit it. We got divorced soon after (which was a year ago) but he was very much still in my life this past year texting me every other day with Jekyl and Hyde messages – you are my soul mate/you are a fucking demon. I also found out he’d broken into my apartment a few times. The last time he wrote was roughly two months ago, asking why I’d blocked him on WhatsApp (after he had just blocked me on all social media). I didn’t write back for three weeks but then broke down and wrote and he never wrote back. I know now, he has stopped his year long daily messaging to me because he is with someone else (a 26 year old model – I’m 34 and he is 32). We live in a small town and were just at a party together on Saturday where he brought her and acted like he’d never seen me before. He and this new woman looked so happy and I remembered how happy we could be during the ‘love bombing.’ I want to hate him but I miss him so much. Is it possible this new woman is able to give him the things he needs (more sex, more compliments and attention) so that he doesn’t need to lie to her, cheat on her and scare her? He often said I was the only one who brought that ‘bad’ side out in him and I’m wondering if it’s true. I’ve read that with many Personality Disorders, they can get better or are better when not in a state of stress. Maybe, with me, because of our history, it was just too much stress for him? And now, with her, starting fresh, he can be different? I also read with Narcissists, they never leave you alone but it’s been two months and he’s had zero contact with me so clearly it is possible for him to move on without me and not look back. I just need some clarity around it all. My friends say I should be happy he has left me alone but it feels so much his choice, I feel so discarded. He’s just moved on now like he never knew me. Obviously if he is capable of change, I want it to be with me. I never took him back this past year, although he begged me to, because I kept seeing signs of the same behaviour but now, seeing him with her, I’m confused. I’ve read many of the posts on this site and they all seem more extreme than mine – he didn’t have a double life, doesn’t do drugs, only cheated on me once that I know of, he is incredibly successful so doesn’t need/want money, he’s gorgeous and smart and has lots of friends. But our therapist said he has borderline PD and likely a bit of narcissistic and anti social too. All thoughts welcome.
May 8, 2018 at 9:49 am #45369
Needingclarity – your ex has a personality disorder – it doesn’t really matter which one – your therapist could be right. But please understand – NO HE WILL NOT GET BETTER. His behavior has nothing to do with “stress.” (I don’t know who is saying that their behavior is caused by stress but they don’t know what they are talking about.) Sooner or later he will treat the new woman exactly as he treated you.
Everything you describe is typical disordered behavior. I agree with your friends – be glad that he is out of your life. Now work on your own recovery. And never, ever take him back.
May 8, 2018 at 1:36 pm #45378
Breaking into your apartment and filming sex without your consent??? Locking yourself in the bathroom. He sounds scary — and unlikely to get better. The rejection is the thing that is hooking you in. Remember: they’re always nice at the beginning. Give him 12 to 18 months and I’ll bet he’ll be hammering at your door again.
May 8, 2018 at 3:59 pm #45379
The hard thing I can’t get out of my head is how good it was when it was good. Is that typical? This is someone who would check in on my family just to see how they were doing, he made huge compromises for me, was hugely supportive and loving. We liked the same things, we laughed together, we went on adventures together, he planned elaborate dates (which I guess could be the love bombing part), but he also went to a therapist to get help, he admitted he had a problem. It just feels like the ‘good’ parts of him felt real and normal, way beyond the love bombing stuff. It wasn’t all tense and terrible. Does that make sense?
May 8, 2018 at 4:26 pm #45380
The good part was an act. The real guy is the abuser. He will not get better.
May 8, 2018 at 4:57 pm #45383
I agree with everyone above. He sounds disorded and has already caused you significant trauma. I know what its like to think back and want the good moments. I took my sp back several times and each time it got worse and more sick. Im sure it all has been painful. I feel sorry for the new girl too for what she has in store for her.
May 8, 2018 at 5:44 pm #45384
Hi Needingclarity, if you go back to him, he will destroy you. That is what sociopaths do. That is their mentality. You escaped his grips once & if you went back he would make you pay = punishment for leaving him the first time.
What do ALL sociopaths want? power & control over others. Dont let him rent space in your mind now!!
I was married for 12 plus years to a sociopath…he got worse with each & every year. After just the first session of marriage counseling, it got worse. When I crawled away from the married, I was broken down spiritually, emotionally, mentally & physically exhausted…he destroyed me finically in divorce court & enjoyed every mind of destroying me. That is what they do. That is what they love most. Your ex h is NO different!!
Your ex played a mind game with you at that party, by bring his newest victim. Sociopaths love mind games with everyone…he most likely played some type of mind game with his new target victim that night too… just like he made you feel insecure and question your decision about breaking up with him by bring her.
They are pure pure pure evil. Their mindset is not normal. DO NOT second guess your gut instinct…you flied to the bathroom that night out of pure FEAR of him!! Remember that!! your gut instinct was to flee his presents for your safety that night!! Your gut instinct was to divorce him. This is what wild animals do = they flee from danger..they dont second guess themselves, they just RUN away from another animal or human.
Google “oprah gavin debecker you tube” to watch their video on listening to your gut. Gavin Debecker’s book is called The gift of fear (do a seach here at LF up at the top right) your local library may have this book. Listen to YOUR gut about his guy.
This new victim of his, will endure the SAME exact abuse, in the same manner as you did. Almost to the T. That is what they do…if their abuse worked with the first victim (you), they will use it on every victim in their future. Same Love bombing methods, some times same gifts, same words and I have read they will take their next target vicim to the same places that they took the first i.e. restaurants, bars etc.
His latest target is already a victim of his abuse. She just does not know it yet. She sees RED flags, just like you did, but cant quite put her finder on what is really going on. She is being manipulated, lied too, gas lighted & ever other trick in the book by him. Like a frog being placed in a pot of water & then the stove being turned on until the water is boiling & the frog has no idea what is going on.
“he didn’t have a double life, doesn’t do drugs, only cheated on me once..”
YES, HE DID HAVE A DOUBLE LIFE = HE CHEATED ON YOU!!! Who else did he cheat with & get away with it? But cheating once is enough. You must have relationship deal breakers = cheating, being lied to, manipulated, abused are ALL deal breakers!!
” incredibly successful so doesn’t need/want money, he’s gorgeous and smart and has lots of friends.”
HE IS ALSO A ABUSER!!!!
He is a emotional, mental, verbal abuser!!!
He is ugly on the inside hon!! As he ages his “friends” will start to see the truth about him and slowly move away from their fake friendship. Sociopaths do not have deep connecting friendships.
” But our therapist said he has borderline PD and likely a bit of narcissistic and anti social too.”
BELIVE YOUR THERIPIST!!!!!
You are one of the lucky ones to have found a therapist that is knowledgeable with personality disorders. She has given you the TRUTH about this guy!!! Do not try to second guess her. She has your back!! Your therapist is telling you he has “anti sociol” traits = sociopath or psychopath traits!!
I have read that sociopath do not just have one personality disorder…they have many! All sociopaths are narcissist. I believe my ex h has many personality disorders. I just dont care which ones…I only care that I will never see him ever again.
It’s time for you to go full NO contact with his guy. Block him with social media, dont go to parties he will be attending etc etc.
I would suggest that you by Donna’s book Lovefraud 10 signs you are dating a sociopath, watch her videos up at the top of love fraud, read the yellow tab on the home page and let your counselor know that you have been triggered by him at this party & are questioning your decision to end the relationship with him.
There are 7 BILLION people on this planet, half are male, half of them are in your dating age group…join a club, organization and meet new people & this might lead to a healthy romantic relationship. dont settle for an ex h abuser.
Wishing you all the best. Take care.
- This reply was modified 1 year ago by Jan7.
May 8, 2018 at 5:45 pm #45385
ps the “good times” if you were to really break them down to the truth = horrible times = you were just in survival mode at the time & trying to see good in him. There is no good in a person that has a personality disorder. none.
May 8, 2018 at 7:38 pm #45387
I found the book ‘Women who love psychopaths’ by therapist sandra brown very helpful in understanding what a psychopath is and how to get away.
May 9, 2018 at 11:25 am #45391
I’m afraid the short answer is No, he’s not likely to get better. After all, he did say around the time you got married that he “was willing to go to therapy and wanted to get better”–but it never happened, did it?
But I do understand your confusion on certain points. One of them is your perception that his behavior is not as “extreme” as many of those described here, leading to the hope that “he might get better”–which is unfortunately wishful thinking. The problem is, some people seem to have the impression, or even declare it out loud, that abusers are “all the same.” I’ve even heard people say on several occasions–if it’s women sharing stories about abusive husbands for instance–things like “It sounds as if we married the same man!”
That’s all very well, but this supposed “sameness” is a limited perception due to focusing on a particular subset of behaviors common to a great many abusers: things like blameshifting (which is practically universal), rages, manipulative behaviors, giving their partners the “silent treatment” and so on. Because these behaviors seem so incomprehensible to innocent partners, those are what stands out in their minds–the similarities among so many abusers–and they’ll say things like “These abusers all went to the same school.”
But the fact is, chronic abusers are not all the same by any means! All they really have in common is abuse and manipulative behaviors. In other respects they can be as different as chalk and cheese! Some are tolerable to live with, to one degree or another; others are lethally dangerous. Some are physically violent; others only verbally and emotionally abusive. Some have frightening rages; others are just insidiously manipulative. Some are intelligent; some are dumb. Some are pillars of the community; others are lowlifes. Some are hardworking, self-sustaining and successful; others are lazy, losers and parasites who sponge off others. Some are generally perceived as “good-hearted folks”–outside their own family, that is!–while others are jerks or shrews to everyone around. Some are only abusive to their spouses or partners; others abuse their children as well. Some are addicts: to alcohol, drugs, gambling, sex; others are sober and straight. Some are financially honest; others are thieves and con artists. Some are serial cheaters; others are not. Some say they’re sorry for their abuse–though they eventually do it again; others never apologize. Some are compulsive liars, about everything under the sun; others mostly tell the truth–as long as it suits them. Some eventually devalue and dump their erstwhile partners; others are dumped themselves when their partners tire of being abused, and the abuser begs to be taken back. Some stalk their ex-partners; others never look back. And so on.
People do come here, take a look at the list of “sociopathic” traits, and while some can check off nearly every item on the list, others say “My partner only does some of these things; can he or she really be a ‘sociopath’?” In fact it’s not necessary for anyone to fulfill all the items on the list to qualify as a “sociopath,” as long as they fit the general pattern. Whether they do or not can be a judgment call. But for instance, someone may be a psychopath without being a criminal, or an addict, or a financial predator, or “leading a double life.” And as you said, your ex has been successful in life and doesn’t need money from others. He likes to flirt, but he hasn’t been a serial cheater; he was only doing that once, but that was after you’d left him, and so on. There’s a world of difference between that and having another “wife,” or even several, in some different place.
However, there’s another factor to consider. Abusers come in different “types.” Although the word “sociopath” is used here as a blanket term to cover the Cluster B personality disorders: “antisocial,” “narcissistic,” and “borderline” (oddly enough, I don’t recall any mention of histrionic personality disorder, but that’s beside the point), “sociopath” is a term I try to avoid myself for the simple reason that it has no universally recognized definition. So different people use it to mean different things. To many, it’s more or less synonymous with psychopathy, or with “antisocial personality disorder,” which is similar but not the same, and rather broader. I use the term “abuser,” as many people do, to cover all types, including some who don’t even fit Cluster B.
In your own case, your therapist thinks your ex has borderline personality disorder (along with a few other traits), and she’s very likely to be right. I’m glad you’ve got a knowledgeable therapist you can trust. While there can be much overlap in abusive behaviors, it’s important to understand that BPD is different from psychopathy (or what some people see as “sociopathy”); different not just in degree but in kind.
That doesn’t necessarily mean the borderline is any less dangerous. Some borderlines are lethally violent. It’s not clear from your post whether your ex was physically abusive or not, but he certainly raged enough to frighten you into locking yourself in the bathroom!
Apart from that, the “Jekyll and Hyde” behaviors you mentioned fit the borderline to a T. His rapid alternation between “you are my soul mate,” pleading to be taken back, and “you are a demon” reflects perfectly the title of that classic book on BPD: “I Hate You–Don’t Leave Me.” I’m not hearing so much from you about outright psychopathic behaviors, such as compulsive lying. I know he’s told you lies, but I gather that was mostly to cover up his sleeping with someone else after you’d left him. Psychopaths on the other hand can lie out of sheer habit, about everything under the sun. They often lie when they’re be better off telling the truth!
Incidentally do you know why he broke into your apartment several times? If you didn’t find out about it until later, he obviously wasn’t leaving visible signs in order to scare you, but keeping it secret instead. It could be because he was still obsessed with you and looking for signs of whether or not you were seeing someone else.
The most striking aspect is that you felt the good parts of him were real and normal, “way beyond the love bombing stuff.” You may be absolutely right–and that’s very confusing! It’s as if he really does have two opposite sides to his personality.
Many people here, without necessarily using the word, are seeing abusers as essentially psychopathic (or “sociopathic”) in nature, and there are differences between that and the borderline. The two may have similar behaviors at times, but they don’t necessarily have the same underlying motivations, which is what other people can’t see.
To start with, what’s at the root of psychopathy is the profound emotional deficit that, among other things, renders the psychopath incapable of empathy. The borderline by contrast is not necessarily lacking empathy, not all of the time. At least, practitioners dispute the issue. What is clear is that if borderlines do have empathy, it’s intermittent at best, like a flickering light bulb, depending on what mental state they’re in at the time. When they’re in a rage they’re obviously blind to empathy.
Psychopaths typically display a Jekyll and Hyde personality too, but the “good” side is usually fake, a persona they put on to appear normal in front of others. With the borderline there’s reason to suppose that both Jekyll and Hyde are genuine and sincere enough–at the time!
There’s a lot of “black and white thinking” with borderlines, polar extremes from one mental state to another. You’re either an angel or a demon. It’s been theorized that borderlines, unlike normal people, have difficulty holding an integrated “picture” of a partner in their heads. Instead, their perceptions are fragmented. If an ordinary man’s wife does something that annoys him or makes him feel disregarded, he’s still got a holistic picture in his head of his wife as a “good” person who loves him and usually treats him well. This moderates any anger or disappointment he feels, so he doesn’t fly off the handle. But the borderline can often see only what’s in the moment, overreacts and flies into a rage at any perceived slight.
Psychopaths are often cruel just because they enjoy being cruel. They don’t “feel for” others, so to them cruelty can be a form of entertainment. Many other abusers on the other hand, including borderlines, are cruel and blaming because, in their distorted perceptions, they see you as having “hurt” or “offended” them. They vent their rage or “punish” you, not for the sake of being “evil,” but because at the time and in their own minds they genuinely feel you “deserve” it.
Then there’s a lot of harping on about how psychopaths in particular are fond of “power and control,” supposedly for their own sake. That may be true, but while other kinds of abusers are “controlling” as well, much need for control and manipulation in the borderline stems from underlying fear and insecurity. Nevertheless, it’s still oppressive behavior.
I’d recommend reading Steve Becker’s article on this site, among others: Differentiating the sociopath from the borderline from the narcissist.
What about your ex’s claim that you were “the only one who brought that ‘bad’ side out in him”? That may be pure rubbish, just the usual blameshifting that all abusers practice. Alternatively it might be true that he behaved worse with you than with other partners he’s had. But if so, why was that? Not because there’s anything “wrong” with you that “brought his bad side out,” but simply as a function of time. You had a long term relationship: four years of dating, followed by marriage. Typically there’s a “honeymoon period” to start with where everything seems to go better; then things deteriorate. Your relationship with him gave his behavior plenty of time and opportunity to deteriorate. So no, you couldn’t have made him behave better by giving him more sex, more compliments and attention, or more of anything. He’s still in a honeymoon period with this new woman of his. Eventually that will deteriorate too.
As for the “stress” you mentioned, I imagine that stress is likely to make borderline personalities behave worse, by triggering their demons. But stresses in life can’t be avoided, and even if they could be, that’s still not going to make a disordered personality behave well.
In summary, you may be right that in the case of your ex, his “good side” is real enough. Unlike the psychopath, it’s not necessarily an act he’s putting on. The problem is that his bad side is equally real! And it’s not likely to get better.
That’s the catch. It’s a fatal flaw. I look at it this way. Suppose you had a car with every merit we could think of. It’s new; it came as a gift, so it’s not costing you a car payment; it’s sleek, sporty, fast, handles well and is fun to drive; it’s roomy and comfortable and has all the accessories you need; it even gets good gas mileage to boot. It has everything you’ve ever personally wanted in a car–except for one thing. You’ve discovered that the brakes and steering are prone to fail unpredictably at any time–and there’s no way they can be fixed!
No matter how “good” and desirable the car is, you can’t risk driving it, because it’s likely to kill you! And even if it doesn’t, the unremitting stress of worrying what it might do is going to wear you down and destroy your health.
It’s no different with an abuser like your ex. He may have his “good” side, but his bad side will never leave him either. You just can’t afford the risk of living with someone like that. I’m sure he and that other woman will break up eventually too–if she knows what’s good for her.
May 12, 2018 at 10:46 am #45438
The book psychopath free talks about how when you see a sociopath move on. It talks about how now he has the new victim in her own idealization stage and its custom tailored to her and that is why it can look different. Im glad you moved on.
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