Editor’s note: Lovefraud received the following letter from a reader whom we’ll call “Cecilia18.”
I didn’t marry “my” sociopath. I didn’t live with him. I didn’t have children with him. I’m not even sure you could call what passed for a relationship “dating.” Nevertheless, he messed up my life for several years.
I’ll call him John. He was a local radio host, and I was a fan. I enjoyed listening to him banter with his producer/on-air sidekick and with his wife when she called in. Looking back, I don’t know why I liked him so much. He made a lot of jokes at the expense of others, including minorities and seniors. This is not my thing at all! But there was something about him: He was witty and clever and charismatic. I remember thinking he would be so much fun to hang out with – not just him, but his wife, too.
I was in a long-term romantic relationship with someone I’ll call Bob, and honestly wasn’t interested in anything but friendship with John.
I spent about a year out of state for work, and was excited to hear John again when I returned to the local area. Shortly after I returned, though, he disappeared from the airwaves. Turned out he’d had a nervous breakdown, attempted suicide and spent some time in a mental hospital. He was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, but looking back and knowing now what a lying liar he was, I’m not entirely sure the doctors read him right. In any event, this episode ended his marriage.
A few months later he returned to radio on a different station. I was so excited to hear him again! Once again I was a fan with dreams of becoming a friend. I attended a couple of his personal appearances. I gave him a couple of gifts I made myself, one of which was a song I’d written about him. We exchanged emails and were hitting it off big time.
Shortly afterward, the love bombing started. He had a mad crush on me (he said). He couldn’t possibly settle for just being friends with me (he said). He wanted more (he said), and this made ME want more.
Something you need to know about me: I am on the autism spectrum and grew up at a time when nobody knew what that was. I spent all of my childhood and adolescence and much of my young adulthood hearing, “What the heck is WRONG with you?” from parents, teachers and peers, and not having an answer until I was diagnosed in my 50s. Until then, including the time with John, I was a sucker for anyone who seemed to not only get me, but be totally INTO me. Everything I was interested in was fascinating (he said). Everything I said was brilliant (he said).
I was married once. I left my husband for Bob, because we hit it off so beautifully I decided I must have picked wrong when I picked my husband, and Bob was The One. Now I’m hitting it off so beautifully with John, I’m convinced I picked wrong again and John was The One.
The climax happened on March 9, 2003. I came to his house and there was some sexual contact – not “all the way,” because (a) I didn’t want that and (b) I learned much later that he was impotent.
Then, almost as quickly as it began, the love bombing stopped. It started with a broken date, then serious pulling away with no explanation. He would tease me with offering to get together (“let’s have lunch this week”) then never get around to confirming plans.
I was flabbergasted and devastated. I simply couldn’t understand how he could be so into me one minute and blowing me off the next.
We didn’t lose contact because I continued listening – obsessively – to his radio show and emailing him clever comments about it. Once upon a time he raved about my cleverness, so I was desperately searching for the magic key that would bring back the Man From March 9th – the man who thought I was the most perfect woman ever, the man who couldn’t possibly settle for being just friends because his feelings for me were So Special.
Over the next few months, I lost interest in everything and everyone I cared about. My world got smaller and smaller, and the only thing in it that mattered was getting the Man From March 9th back.
One day, about a year and a half after the obsession began, I snapped out of it. I won’t go into the details, but someone said something that hit home, and that was the end. I was no longer in the grip of my crippling obsession, but the questions remained: How could feelings that intense just vaporize? It took another couple of years before it hit me like a bolt from the blue:
He never HAD those feelings for me. It was all a lie, an act. I was still left with the “Why?” though. Why would someone lie about having feelings for someone?
Eventually I found information online about narcissists and sociopaths, and the scales dropped from my eyes, and I realized I was not alone. These people lie because it’s What. They. Do.
I also was able to connect with some of John’s other “victims,” and that has been a great comfort to me.
Still, I yearned for the opportunity to confront him, to tell him in no uncertain terms the damage he had done to me. I shared this with Bob (yes, amazingly enough we are still together – 26 years now!) and he asked, “Why? So he can laugh at you?” Maybe he would, but I held out hope that I might be able to reach him and get some sort of apology.
Three years ago an acquaintance sent me a Facebook message that John had died. The obituary read simply: “John ___, 63, passed away on (date). He is survived by all those who knew and loved him. May he rest in peace.”
If he really is dead, then this obituary is sad beyond belief. He died alone and unloved.
But the wording says to me that perhaps he isn’t dead – that he has gone into hiding. It wouldn’t be the first time. In the mid-2000s he was sued for some hateful comments on his radio show, and nobody could find him to appear in court or testify.
I admit it: Part of me hopes he is still alive and I still have a chance to confront him. It’s been more than a decade, but I still want closure.