He was either the most incredible person I ever met, or a deplorable monster

Spath TalesEditor’s note: Lovefraud received the following story from a reader whom we’ll call “Adelaide.” Names are changed.

I met Joe at a bar. It was the first time I ever went out alone.

I was forcing myself to do new things on my own. Trying to prove to myself I did not need a man beside me to do the things I wanted to do.

After I ordered my drink I started to feel uncomfortable. I noticed a jukebox and thought it would give me some comfort to hear some music I enjoy. So, I went to put in my selections.

When I turned back around I noticed someone sitting in my chair. All my belongings had been pushed to the side. But my drink remained right where I left it. I immediately got angry … wrinkled my nose and stomped over to the stranger in my chair … ”You are in my chair!” I exclaimed in an irritated voice …. he apologized profusely … “Oh…I’m sorry!! This is your chair???”

I wasn’t even looking at him I was so ticked ”¦ I just wanted the safety of my chair back!! “That’s MY drink in front of you too!!”

He apologized again and he said it so sweetly that I felt bad that I had been so rude.

That’s when I touched his arm and finally looked up and said, ”it’s okay … just please pay your bill and let me have my chair back okay?”

It was in that moment I saw his face … so handsome!!! And he looked at me in a way that made me feel like he was looking IN to me.

He introduced himself. We started talking … we talked and talked … about everything … he told me about his brother’s suicide … I told him about my divorce and the horrific betrayal I had experienced …. yet when I told him about my divorce I told him I no longer had anger toward my ex … after all it takes two for a marriage to fall apart right??

That’s what I said … princess of empathy … I also told him I was a nurse … QUEEN of empathy …. Pay Dirt!!!!

When we left the bar he walked me home. We walked arm and arm … it felt like we had known each other forever … I already felt bonded. The night ended with, I swear, the best kiss I had EVER experienced in my life.

Our texting sessions started just moments after he left me that night. And they would quickly get more intense and constant.

(By the way, he would eventually reveal that he stole my seat on purpose as an excuse to talk to me…brilliant hunting skills!!)

But he never asked to see me…which seemed so odd. It was obvious we had a strong connection … why didn’t he ask me out? I thought maybe there was a girlfriend in the picture.

By the way, I forgot to mention, I lived in Pennsylvania and he lived in NY.

Finally I just came out and asked him when he was going to ask me out. I even sent him a picture of me in a pretty dress to remind him of “what he was missing.”

We arranged to meet the next weekend.

That meeting began the whirlwind of the most romantic, passionate intense experience of my life. On date number two, he picked me up and seemed nervous. He kept saying, “I need a drink.”

Finally, I asked him if he was ok and he said “NO!” and pulled over. He stopped the car and looked at me, unblinking… “I have to tell you something …. I’m separated … and I have two kids.”

The news was shocking and disheartening. Especially since I had promised myself I would never date anyone who’s divorce was not finalized AND I would not date anyone with young children … also on my list … I will not date firefighters or hunters …. Joe was all of these things.

It’s amazing how quickly one can abandon their principals when they believe they have met their soul mate.

We proceeded to have our date. I asked lots of questions. The following morning I had more questions and an off feeling in my gut and asked him to meet me at the diner. I had come up with what I thought were brilliant questions that would reveal if he was telling me the truth while also poking at his conscience if he was lying.

I reminded him of the horrible betrayal I had been through. I told him, “Joe, I don’t want to do to another woman what was done to me … only you know the truth ”¦ please don’t do that to me … or to her.”

Then I said to him, “You have gotten to know me over the last couple of months. Tell me, do you think I’m a good person?”

Yes, he said…you’re a great person.”

To which I replied, “Good … I think you are a good person too, Joe, so I’m choosing to believe what you are telling me ”¦ but again, only YOU know the truth. If what you’re telling me is not true, it’s okay. We can still part ways as friends at this point. Just don’t take a good person down a bad road.”

“I would never do that” he said. “I believe in do onto others as you would want them to do onto you.” (Oh, did I forget to mention that I had revealed to him that I was a faithful Christian?”) … He ended with “I understand that this might be hard for you to accept Adelaide … but I know, if you will let me, I will make you happy.”

What followed was a year and a half of intense love bombing and being mirrored. My friends and family weren’t buying it. “They just don’t understand,” I thought. Joe would tell me, “It’s okay Adelaide … they just love you and are looking out for you. I get it. One day I will prove to them who I am and that I’m for real.”

Everything with Joe was intense and passionate and perfect, I thought. He could read me ”¦ it seemed he could anticipate my every desire. I had never felt so loved and adored.

I told him my deepest, darkest secrets. Within months he knew more about me then the man I had been married to for 17 years.

Before Joe, I never believed in the notion of a soul mate. Thought it was romantic silliness created by the movie industry. But Joe changed my mind ”¦ he made me believe. Like a child made to believe that Santa Clause really did exist.

I was the happiest I had ever been in my life and I loved making him happy. I never loved so hard, so deeply, so purely before.

He told me all the things I ever wanted to hear but had never been told by a man. He told me he wanted to marry me (something before Joe I had sworn I would NEVER do again!) and I would feel elated at the thought of becoming this man’s wife.

He would look me deep in the eyes and say, “You’re going to say yes right? When I ask you?“

Even crueler ”¦ I had told Joe I hadn’t been able to have a child and that my ex-husband had never once told me he wanted to have a baby with me. I told Joe how as a woman I had so longed to hear those words from my ex, but they never came.

So Joe took it upon himself to give me my dream ”¦ to tell more during intense, passionate “love making” sessions that he wanted to get me pregnant. That he was determined. It would make me cry with such joy that the man I loved with all my heart would want this with me even though I could probably never give it to him. He was speaking the words I always wanted to hear.

The man of my dreams wanted to not only make me his wife but the mother of his child. Can you imagine what that did to my psyche?

We would have deep conversations ”¦ about everything ”¦ our childhood, our faith in God, our fundamental core values. We agreed on everything and at every level.

When speaking of Joe to my family and friends I would say, “I feel like I have met the male version of myself ”¦ I have never felt so understood and accepted.”

Many times after our long discussions, Joe would get very serious and again look me in the eyes and say, “Just please Adelaide, please ”¦ don’t ever lie to me. It’s the one thing I cannot tolerate. I hate liars. I was lied to my whole life. Please don’t do that to me. I always tell you the truth Adelaide so please do the same for me.”

He would always have the saddest puppy dog eyes as he said this and my heart would just melt. I wanted nothing more than to love him, heal his wounds and protect him for the rest of his life. I would have laid down my own life for his. That is how much I loved the man. That is how much I believed in and trusted him. There was so much more, but I think you get the gist of the magnitude of the lying and manipulation that was occurring

As our relationship progressed, though, there were times I felt that nagging feeling in my gut and the questions would start to fill my mind. Why wasn’t he divorced yet? Why hadn’t I met anyone from his life?

Really, I began to realize I didn’t know anything about his life outside of what he told me. Yet he had access to all of mine. He almost always came to my home. He had met my family and some of my friends. He knew everything about me and yet, outside of our little bubble, I knew nothing about his life once he left my home.

I started to express this to him. How I was starting to feel like I was being hidden. Which didn’t add up to what he had told me about the state of his marriage. That they were legally separated for years now and both had agreed to live separate lives until the divorce was finalized. So why hadn’t I met at least a friend of his yet?

Something started to feel very off. But he always knew how to reassure me.

In fact around Christmas, after expressing my disappointment over not being able to see him, he told me “You know what Adelaide, you are right ”¦ forget all this. I want you to come and meet my mother. Come to Christmas dinner with me so you can meet her.”

How well did this man know me? Enough to know that just the extension of the invitation would be enough for me.

“Oh Joe, you know I would love that but we can’t. We have to wait until everything is settled before I meet your mother. Its only right.”

Other times, when doubt would creep in I would ask “Joe you ARE truly legally separated right? “He would tell me, “Yes Adelaide, I have the papers. I brought them with me to show you. Do you want me to go get them? I left them in the car.”

I never made him show me. I thought it would make it seem like I didn’t truly trust him. The mere fact that he supposedly brought them reassured me that his word was good enough for me.

Still, many of my family and friends were concerned and they expressed this to me at various times. One night I was drinking wine with one of my close friends and her husband, Steve. After listening to us talk and hearing me explain once again how I chose to believe that Joe was a good and truthful man, Steve had had enough.

“Michelle, I have to say something and I hope you don’t hate me for it but I am going to tell you what you are ”¦. you are kind, and sweet and compassionate, independent and self-sufficient AND you live in another state. You are the perfect mistress!”

The words felt like a kick to the gut. I remember my reply to him. “Joe can only be one of two things … he is either the most incredible person I have ever met or he is a deplorable Monster … there is no in-between … and I don’t believe he is a monster … no one could be that horrible … no one could do and say the things he has and not be true … he would have to be the devil himself.”

I later relayed the troubling exchange back to Joe.

“He said that?” he asked. “Yes.” Joe frowned and once again said, “I understand. It’s okay. They will see. One day I will marry you and they will all see I was telling the truth. They will all see that my intentions were always true.”

Then he followed with, “You know I already have it planned in my head ”¦ where and when I am going to ask you ”¦ you said you would say yes, right?”

And with those few simple words all of my creeping doubts and fears would disappear and it was once again Joe and I against the world.

One day everyone would see just how true and magical our love was. And then we would have our fairytale ending where everyone lived happily ever after.

And then it began ”¦ quite subtly of course. The devalue stage was initiated.

I could swear I was starting to catch him staring at other women when we were out. I was never much the jealous type but I began to feel very uncomfortable, even insecure.

When I would call him on it, he would tell me I was seeing things. That he only had eyes for me. That I was the only woman he wanted. Yet I felt like I was beginning to notice it more often. I decided to take him on a trip to Nashville because it had always been his dream to go.

One night we went to a karaoke bar. There was a very attractive bartender, who for the oddest reason, made me feel threatened.

I remember I had excused myself to go to the ladies room and as I was walking back I could swear I saw the two of them engaged in an intense eye lock.

I walked right up to Joe and asked, “What the hell is going on here?” He told me he didn’t know what I was talking about. That I was acting crazy. Well, I felt crazy. I could have sworn I saw what I did, but he was trying to convince me it wasn’t so.

I wanted so badly to believe him.

In the end I demanded we leave the bar because I felt so uncomfortable. I kept apologizing to him for my behavior, telling him I didn’t know what was wrong with me and why I was acting this way.

It was the truth. I didn’t know what was happening to me, suddenly feeling so jealous and insecure!! I was not that woman!! What was wrong with me??

It was an awful feeling and an awful night. He managed to convince me that his version of the event was true and contrived a story that really the girl was looking at HIM as an indirect way to challenge me because she felt threatened there was another attractive woman at the bar.

Once again I chose to believe him because after all, this man loved me right? He wanted to marry me ”¦ wanted me to have his child. I had to have been imagining what I saw.

I let it go but the discomfort always lingered.

I began to pray a lot more. I had been praying all along but this time I changed my prayer. I told God, “God, I want to do what is right here. I have been asking you for signs to let me know if I am being deceived and going against your will. Please God ”¦ if you are sending me signs, I’m not seeing them or I am excusing them away. So, I’m changing my prayer today ”¦ If this is not right God, I need you to take this man out of my life because I’m too far gone. I can’t walk away from him. You have to do it for me if this is not right.”

Interestingly, I shared my prayer with Joe. I will never forget what he said.

At first I thought it was funny. I completely missed the mask drop in his words. “Ummm”¦can you change your prayer please? I mean I don’t want to wind up dying in a fire.” He was dead serious and I thought it was funny.

“Joe” I told him, “I think God knows what I mean ”¦ I think he knows that I’m not asking him to have you killed but if it makes you more comfortable I will clarify to GOD that I don’t mean that.”

I said it with a smile and small chuckle.

When I look back I cannot believe what I missed. My prayer frightened him because he knew what he was doing and it was the furthest thing from what God would want.

I only had to pray my new prayer a few times before the hideous truth was revealed.

Things suddenly started to fall apart. Joe told me his soon to be ex had begun trying to break into his phone.

“Why would she do that?” I asked. “Because she is crazy, and I am done protecting her about her craziness,” he replied.

“Crazy? You never told me your wife was crazy! You always said things between the two of you were amicable and that you were both in agreement that the marriage was over and would end peacefully. Don’t you think you should have mentioned to me earlier that she was crazy?”

I told him something was off. If things were as he said, why would she be trying to break into his phone?

To me the remedy was simple. I told Joe, “If everything is as you say ”¦ give her the phone records. You have nothing to hide, right? So show her. And also Joe, I hate to ask this but I need you to show me those separation papers as well. I never asked you to before but something is wrong here. Someone is lying. I’m sorry but I need to see them.”

He told me “I will show you. I brought them with me so many times, I could have shown you then. I will bring them and show you when I come back.”

I watched him leave to return to NY and “sort out the mess.”

“I love you “ he said. “Don’t forget that”.

That was the last time Joe was ever in my town. The next morning, as I was getting ready for church, my phone rang. Who on earth calls on a Sunday morning at 7 am I wondered??

I heard an unfamiliar female voice say my name. “Hello Adelaide? This is Joe’s WIFE. I’m calling you because Joe is too much of a coward to get on the phone to speak with you himself but he is here standing next to me right now. He told me everything. That you have been together for the last year and a half. He told me that he told you we were legally separated ”¦ we are NOT ”¦ we are MARRIED!!. He also told me that you never wanted to be the other woman. I hate to tell you this but that is exactly what you have been!”

After a few speechless seconds I asked in a quiet voice “So ”¦ you aren’t getting a divorce? You haven’t been going through divorce mediation?”

“NO!” came the reply.

“We have been working on fixing our marriage.

“So ”¦ he doesn’t live in the basement?”

Again “NO! He can’t live in our basement!! He lives in our house. He sleeps next to me in our bed every night!”

My mind was racing. How could this be? He had brought over the mediation papers and asked me to help him figure things out.

He had asked me to talk to my lawyer brother about referrals and had a list of questions for me to ask him about the legalities of dividing up assets.

He had me and members of my family racing around trying to help him in any way we could.

I began begging his wife to put Joe on the phone ”¦ he wouldn’t. He said nothing.

In fact I was starting to wonder if he really was there at all.

But then she ranted, “I can’t BELIEVE he was being intimate with you while we were supposedly working on our marriage. It’s disgusting!”

That’s when I finally heard Joe mumble something in the background and I yelled into the phone “JOE!!!!…HOW COULD YOU???…I always said, you were either the best person I ever met or the absolute worst…now I know!!!….

“You said that to him?” his wife asked me.

“Yes” I replied.

“That’s funny … I’ve said the same thing to him.”

There were a few more respectful exchanges between his wife and I. She was obviously upset but her anger was not really directed at me. It seems she understood I was a victim here as well.

I apologized to her. I promised her that I didn’t know. That I had been terribly deceived.

She ended the conversation by saying there was nothing really more to talk about. That our relationship was now over and she and Joe would see where they would go from here.

I hung up the phone ”¦ and that was the end. Gone. Finished. Over in an instant. Life dream toppled, hopes destroyed.

The silence that followed was unbearable. I contemplated ending it all but my faith kept me from doing so. In reality, I was actually blessed. The monster was taken out of my life just at the start of the devalue phase. If Joe hadn’t been discovered by his wife I’m sure it would have gone on much longer. Until he was truly ready to discard me on his own terms.

The level of pain I was experiencing was excruciating ”¦ I can’t even imagine how much harder it would have been if I had been taken full circle. I questioned how anyone could survive such a horror.

The realization that true evil does exist has been hard to accept. But now it is very clear to me that it does. Not every human being is inherently good. And there are those among us who are inherently bad.

Joe had made contact quite a few times after, professing his love. Promising he would “fix” himself and come back to me ”¦ yet one thing never changed ”¦ no one ever filed for divorce. He was still trying to keep me in his clutches while salvaging his marriage.

It suddenly became so clear. His plan all along was to break me to the point that I would accept the role of mistress in his life at least until he decided to discard me and find a new victim ”¦ a new source of supply. And I realize too”¦I probably wasn’t even the only one.

It may sound like I am a strong woman but truth be told this has been the most devastating experience of my life. The betrayal was more severe and the recovery even more difficult than that of my divorce.

I am still not completely healed. I’m still working on it. It is a constant battle, but with the grace and strength of God and his unfailing love, I’m getting there.

I am changed but I will not let this man destroy who I am at my core. I can’t ”¦ if I do then he has truly won, hasn’t he?? I WON’T let him win. He’s not in control of my life … I am.

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125 Comments on "He was either the most incredible person I ever met, or a deplorable monster"

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Hi Bev,

I am amazed at you and your husband’s resilience. The whole molesting thing must have hurt so much. And from a little kid.

Your husband doesn’t sound disordered, he sounds lovely. Overly naive, and too idealistic perhaps, but pretty normal by the sounds of it.

Obviously I don’t know, and these things do run in the genes. We have it running rampant in my mother’s side of the family. Bunch of personality disordered folks. I stay away from all of them.

My friends kid (the Japanese one) brought a knife to school when he was 9, and had a list of kids he was going to stab. He also told his mother that he didn’t care if she died, but he wanted his bedroom window locked so no one would kill him. It baffles the mind, these young disordered people. So incredibly sad and frustrating that we have tried and true method of prevention or treatment.

I hear you when you say you also feel bad for your son. I feel bad for my mother. She didn’t ask to be born so messed up, either.

Makes me think of how little autism was understood up until the 80’s or later. In the 1950’s it was thought to result from a cold mother who didn’t bond with her child. What was actually happening is the autistic baby was withdrawn mentally and emotionally, and continually fussy and colicy usually due to physical discomfort, and did not return the mother’s interactions, so the mom was responding to the child when her the warmth in her interactions waned.

Hopefully someday psychopathology will be better understood.

Yes, I also hope that we will learn more about people with this severe psychopathology AND ways to heal their broken brains.

Oh, if only.

Somehow I doubt this will happen in our lifetimes…

Thank you slimone.

This is beyond torture.


“He was either the most incredible person I ever met, or a deplorable monster”

My spath was both; that’s how she got close to me. And monster trumps everything. Sometimes we need to see things in B&W, and I think when dealing with spaths, especially in the beginning of breaking away form them, we need to characterize them as monsters to help us firm up our reserve.

I just want to say a few words about trust. I am searching for Kathy Hawks writing on LF, which are about trust. This issue is one I circle back to, time and again. I continually come up against the damage the spath did to my ability to trust. I would have to say my’picker’ was already broken or I wouldn’t have gotten involved with the spath, but the experience left me damaged beyond my wildest nightmares.

With every step I take toward intimacy with people I bump into walls of hurt, fear, indifference, and vulnerability within myself. The indifference is the most surprising, and the vulnerability leaves me humbled and hopeful. I may just heal. It’s a long road. If I can honour that I am on a road, that it is long, that i can learn and change and find love in my life again…well, that’s about regaining my confidence and that was one of the casualties of the experience. The loss of confidence/trust in myself is the most devastating of all. But again,

I may just heal. I wish it for all of us.


What is it about how spaths con us that we can’t see it? and why is it that others often do? I know that the chemical bond is strong, but…

I always think about it as if spaths are in a play when they are conning us, and they have their playbook. If we know the playbook, we can SEE them. It’s the META pattern that matters, but that’s not we see when we are being conned. Is it because they are engaged in hooking the minutia of our dreams and needs? Is it because we are engaged in the microcosm, that we don’t see the macro?

I know that I used to say that my spath made her ‘character’ weird, because weird hides odd.


[email protected],

They fool us because they are so crafty. They are skilled in telling lies and training us to see them as gods. we are honest and they capitalize on that.

My soon to be ex seemed infallible to me. All in one day the ugly person behind the mask came out. When I told him I knew the true self that he is, he swung that at me and started saying I was stringing him asking all these years acting like I was normal and as if I loved him.

When I watched this video, I almost thought they were talking about me being the wife of a narc. The description met a lot of criteria


@survivor1, in her post on trust kathy hawk wrote about emotional dependency and how that propensity is exploited by the spath. it range true to me. so honest (and I’d say earnest)people who deeply need the reflection given to us by spaths may be more likely to be duped. I think i fit this description.
I live in Canada, and a famous, beloved Canadian broadcaster was found out to be a violent sadistic sexually abusive person. This guy championed a progressive society and was inclusive of a number of oppressed groups in society, many of which I belong to. he had helped define a new sort of society in Canada. I had listed to him for years. I was well shocked when his BS became public knowledge. When I talked to my male heterosexual friend would say, more often than not, that they never liked the guy, that there was something about him that was off. THEY could see it. I could not. He had a carefully build self-deprecating charm, which most men could tell was faked. For about 6 months (and way post spath) before all this became public knowledge I did see that there was something off in interviewing, that he asked the same question about fame and the toll it takes of all his guests, whether it was relevant or not. So, I was able to detect the crumbling of the facade, but hadn’t known for years that it was a facade. I applauded his success, needed the social change he was both reflecting and bringing about, and delighted in his charm. I needed him to be as I saw him. That’s dependency.

Thanks for your reply…it got me thinking further. 🙂

one joy


sorry about all the typos and a couple of bad cut and pastes….can’t seem to find the edit function anymore.


I too am a Canadian who ‘loved’ that ‘beloved’ Canadian.

However, when everything ‘came out’. as disappointed as I was in who I thought that he was, I believed it immediately.

We are all taken in by charm and even a bit of what we think is delightful ‘oddness’.

Too bad we have to be wary of these characteristics…especially now that we are AWARE of it…

Cheers to you 🙂


@Bev – yah Ghomeshi. And I believed it immediately, also. funny that!

Your posts are very good, one/joy.

You said that you had a crisis in your life that needed to be healed. I do not want you to elaborate, however, did this crisis occur when you were young, like as in as a young child? This makes sense, as we are so affected by good and bad events in our young lives. It helps to make us who we are, for sure.

Also, it is really interesting what you said about an emotionally immature parental figure, leaving their children feeling as if they have to take care of things instead. They likely keep that fact as secret, as well.

Unhealthy dependency. Yes, Spot on.

Oh yes, and Gomeshi.

His being found ‘not guilty’ was something that I am sure most of us could see coming.

His accusers should have told the truth about seeing him after being abused the first time, no matter what they thought that would look like. Instead, they hid it, hoping that it would not be found out.

I think that had they been completely honest, things may have gone a different way, regardless of them continuing to see Gomeshi. Going back out with him is really classic ‘victim’ behavior and I am sure that the judge would have recognized that, had he heard the story from their own mouths.

Oh well…he has another trial in June from a fourth accuser. Let’s hope she tells the court everything.


Hi Bev,

The new way that comments thread on Lovefraud confuses me. I don’t know how to reply to your March 31, 2016 at 9:35 pm comment, so I will respond here.

There were early traumas, but I was actually referring to a crisis when I was 23.

As a kid: My mom had a bad car accident when I was a kid, and her long absence and ill health came to act as a focal point in the home – much in the way alcoholism does. She came from an abusive home, with an alcoholic father (she was the favoured one, and to this day thinks fondly of her dad…..)she became an enabler, and tried to get us to do the same. Between her codependency, her ill health (and years of pain killers) and dad’s narcissism, it was a toxic household.

Wow. Thank you one/joy.

I don’t know what to respond regarding your post about your family.

If I really look back at my own childhood, my sister’s death at age two was extremely traumatic she got very ill and died within hours, of spinal meningitis. For awhile after, my poor mother sort of shut down. Understandably.I was age four myself at that time, and I suppose that I felt that I needed to take care of my mother and be really well behaved, so that she would not cry so much.

Some of us have these tragedies in our young lives. Perhaps that is why we became such empathetic people. We learned at a very early age that we had to ‘grow up’ and sometimes, not only take care of others, but of ourselves as well.

One Joy,
I am moved by your statement regarding reflection.
I am the survivor of a narcissistic father who drove my mother to suicide when I was nine.
It seems that all I have wanted as an adult is for people to empathize with my trauma.
The moment I met my Spath, I fell in love; I wondered why, long and hard, after knowing my father was disordered and leaving home at sixteen. I thought I understood human behavior well enough to avoid someone who could never empathize. I was wrong…
But here’s the deal; what I saw in Al was a reflection of myself. I wanted to fix, love, understand the man I fell in love with. What Al needed more than anything was empathy, understanding, love; things he simply could not grasp. It was me, however, that I saw in him. I needed love, empathy, understanding.
I learned from Al that I had not healed from the abuse and trauma subsequent to my father’s narcissistic behavior. It led me to an amazing therapist, who said to me yesterday, that I am not that which my father created; it’s just a part of who I am.
It may sound trite to express my particular gatefulness regarding Al, but I am grateful for him. I’m no sociopath, but I did recognize my own pain in him, and that is one of my greatest blessings.
My advice: realize empirically, that you are not the sum of your abuse, you’re the sum of all your parts, and look at that relationship as a way to learn something about yourself.
The difference I feel for Al and my father is incredibly different.
Many of us have been abused before. Ask yourself why, it’s not your fault, but why. It may be you your trying to heal, disguised
as the person you fell in love with. It’s you that you love.


Hi Dee,

I think we learn to be extensions of the family narcissists (my dad is one, too), as that is what they require of us. they are emotionally immature, and demand things of us that leave us emotionally dependent. So, we grow up at risk for being we are so used to relationship in which unhealthy dependency is the norm. We learn that relationships are about reflecting the brilliance of the sun back to it, ergo we expect the same.

One of the things I came to know was that there was a specific incident/crisis in my past that needed to be healed. That it wasn’t healed was one of the big reasons I could be conned by the spath.

one joy

I am saddened that so many victims of SP/narcissistic personality disorders, etc., continue to describe the REASONS that they were targeted and abused.

This is all victim-blaming, and although one may in the end become more empowered and able to heal, it often causes secondary trauma to victims of domestic violence.

Predators prey on people.

People once blamed rape victims for being victims, using many “reasons” they were raped: short skirts, out too late, on a dark street, at a party, on a date, drank alcohol…

If one is held up at gunpoint on the street, one is not then confronted with WHAT DID YOU DO THAT MADE YOU A TARGET?

OF course, we are taught how to conceal wallets, how to put away expensive items in certain areas of a city, how to walk down a street, etc., etc., etc… And of course we can always learn more about how to protect ourselves from predators.

Emotional abuse causes an erosion of identity. Abusers intend to erode the identity of their victims. It is intentional. They may not directly think or state: “I am going to erode her identity,” but they do think and say things that stem from their desire to destroy their victims.

Two important books to read:

Stalking the Soul: Emotional Abuse and the Erosion of Identity by Marie-France Hirigoyen


Healing the Trauma of Domestic Violence: A Workbook for Women, by Edward S. Kubany, Mari A. McCaig, and Janet R. Laconsay.

In Healing the Trauma of Domestic Violence, (AND YES, emotional abuse, gaslighting, financial abuse, duping, etc., IS domestic violence), much focus is on removing the bias of “hindsight.” The should’ve, could’ve, would’ve thinking that is based in guilt and shaming that is only destructive. The bias of hindsight information makes VERY clear that the victim does not know that the abuser is an abuser – the the victim does not choose the abuser based on any previous experience.

Abusers abuse. Predators prey.

In “Stalking the Soul,” Marie-France Hirigoyen clearly explains how and why American psychologists and counselors started using the “it takes two” dynamic, and how it is based in faulty thinking and essentially originated to protect the therapist from the SP abuser.

Victims struggle with guilt and shame because we had our trust, integrity, and safety violated. We did not choose to be violated. When the abuser does not demonstrate any remorse and act to atone for his /her violations of another person, the victim is left to find a “reason,” to try to understand HOW such horror happened. Then, if the victim seeks help from other people, including counselors, the court system, police, social services, etc., the attitude that she somehow was a willing participant in the dynamic, she is simply further abused by such discrediting.

I often wonder HOW did I allow this to happen to me???? WHY didn’t I protect myself? WHY didn’t I see that he was a liar, a cheater, an abuser, that he was discrediting me to everyone, that he was bit by bit diminishing me, my sense of self, my identity, my confidence? How did I miss the clues?

This thinking keeps me diminished. I missed the clues because he LIED, he covered up, he created confusing, distorted realities all around me and my children and everyone we knew… He is a PREDATOR. He duped us, he duped his therapists, his 12-Step colleagues, his friends, his family, my family, and hundreds of women. He duped people TRAINED to catch liars…
He is still duping them, still conning, lying, manipulating, deceiving…

Perhaps we simply “woke up” faster than all those other people…Perhaps we are actually the healthiest.

It’s a balance between not blaming oneself for a predator’s evil choices and figuring out ways to protect oneself.

In my view, I was lied to, betrayed, abused, manipulated and otherwise harmed because my ex psychopath is a pathological liar, manipulator, abuser, bully, sadist; and he likes harming other people and getting them to give him things under false pretenses.

It helped that I’d been married and widowed (to a wonderful, normal, loving, honest, giving, family oriented man) before the psychopath targeted me. I know I was the exact same person in both marriages, and my first husband was happy with me. Fairly logical that the spath is the cause of all the problems he blamed me for. He had a previous failed marriage, ‘coincidentally’ everything he said was wrong with me was pretty much the same as what he said was wrong with his first ex wife.

Excellent post Anabelle,
I can remember my flustrations. I LOOKED for explanations. I went to therapists about what I was doing wrong, trying to fix my part in my marriage. All that effort, and NOT ONE PERSON, not one professional mentioned that he might be disordered. Why? B/c they hadn’t diagnosed him. Yet, I was blamed for not knowing. If he had beat me, then they would have helped me, but b/c the abuse was not physical, there was NO guidance.

At a time when I was a puddle mess, my self worth stripped to nothing, no assets, very VERY sick from stress illnesses, my very life was on a very fine line, I, a housewife, was expected to know and to act on that which Dr’s of psychology did not.

I do know, once I stumbled on this website and learned about sociopathy, I was awakened; it ALL made sense, ALL the confusion fell into order once I realized he is a sociopath and confirmed by testing my hypothesis, I was FULLY AWAKE and there was no more ambiguity.

I’m agreeing with you, my ex was a predator, an opportunistic covert predator. But his behavior was compounded by professionals who refused to help me. They didn’t have to diagnose him, they could have just INFORMED ME, and that would have been enough for me to free myself.

Like you, like everyone here, my ex is as you write… still dupping, still lying, manipulating, scamming and if anyone asked me, I’d tell them the truth about him. Otherwise, I have worked to move forward and create the best life possible FREE of that nightmare and now informed enough to free myself faster if ever another disordered being tried to trap me. It doesn’t make me cynical, it made me EDUCATED.

Just saying Annabelle,
It was very flustrating, they didn’t hold HIM accountable, they blamed ME for being his victim. They KNEW the truth about him, they LIED to me about it, and they blamed me even while they withheld the truth from me. I got a lesson in more than sociopath, I got a lesson is how people enable sociopaths. Yes, I am emotionally healthier than them, and far wiser. But ya know what? It’s a very lonely place to be, b/c the general population doesn’t have a clue and aren’t interested, not until or unless it happens to them…

At least I will not lie or withhold info from a victim. Victims may have to figure it out but I will tell them about sociopaths and give them the resources so they can assess and verify… something I wish had been done for me.

Yes. I understand… I experienced similar things, and was stunned – and further traumatized – by attitudes from many professionals…

I had to finally simply isolate and find healing by reading, journaling, music, and complete detachment from EVERYONE –

I think that you are right about how people enable the sociopath…I had not thought about it like that, but I witnessed – and experienced – the same thing.

We need to stop blaming the victim, stop asking or thinking that the victim is part of the dynamic.

As Mr. Bundy writes, we need to stop asking “why does she stay,” but instead ask, “WHY does he do that?”

I think you’re referring to Lundy Bancroft – his books were a huge help to me. Why Does He Do That was the first book I read and helped me realize that I was the object of abuse.

Yes – thank you for correcting. I ALMOST looked up his name to make sure I was remembering correctly. 😉

I strongly recommend reading “Stalking the Soul.”
This book, most of all, confirmed my thoughts and experience.

I most strongly recommend particularly for professionals. The author, Marie-France Hirigoyen is a psychiatrist, psychoanalyst, and family therapist based in Paris – “Her studies on victimology in both France and the U.S. led her to further research in the area of stalking and emotional abuse.”


Stalking the Soul was a very validating, helpful book. I underlined so much of it. AND Lundy Bancroft’s book, “Whey Does he DO That?”… there was so much to underline that I stopped marking it… b/c it was ALL turning into an underline. Both of these books helped me get to the truth , but esp Marie’s book, b/c her book helped me get to the truth of ME, of that manipulation trap…that I thought “IF ONLY” I stopped making mistakes, our relationship would be resolved. No. That was a lie b/c my ex NEVER intended for us to get along, which is why NOTHING worked except for a moment.

My book, Stalking the Soul is fire engine red, at the time I thought it the color of my broken bleeding heart.

I am free, but sometimes I am aware that my heart is still sad, still wary of others. I have more work to fix my tendency towards depression, that awful feeling that I am unable to manage my life on those days when ordinary stuff goes wrong or on days when I feel so alone and ignored. Those are the feelings I never had before I married a sociopath.

I want to be careful and not get distracted b/c your posts are SO important. “Stalking the SOUL” was especially valuable to me b/c she also had the chapters about consequences.

Consequences of seizure of power, and what it does to the victim.
Long term consequences.

This book is written by a professional but this is the rare professional who GETS IT. She writes in a way that any of us can understand.

She’s especially helpful for those who were abused long term. She talks about how this type of abuse and abuser strips us of our very identity, of the way we think about ourselves. So it’s more than getting free of the abuser, we have to rebuild, to think about, and reset our very identity. We are SHATTERED, our potential is stripped from us b/c we have had our attention Misdirected, we spent our time trying to make sense of the crazy, trying to “get along”, trying to figure out what we were doing wrong… when that wasn’t the problem. The problem was, the abuser was assaulting our emotional senses, and our life turned from being productive caring loving giving partners into being defensive, wary, suspectful, angry, responders.

Leaving my ex stopped his bombing of my senses. His emotional bombing was continuous, I never got enough time to recover. I was always pulled off balance. But… free from him? I still have to recreate a sense of being… recreate WHO I AM, who do I think of myself… NOT what he said of me or smeared about me, but WHO I will stand up and claim about myself. ANd that takes healing b/c at first, we may not know that answer.

VERY VERY Important book. I am re-reading now and boy, now that I have the ability to think, it’s VERY educational.

As you write, a must read, now and again after a while. Powerful validation, words I didn’t even see before.


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