Lovefraud recently received the following email:
It’s almost a year since I last saw my x-sociopath as a boyfriend, the real last time was in May in a court and some after.
It is hard this time of year with the Holidays around, and I have a lot of health issues and so not hearing his voice, or getting calls, has been hard—even though I know now he is liar. This time last year I did not know how much I had been scammed up til then.
Still, with all the reading I have done, and all the thinking and grieving, I just can’t understand how this person could have fooled me, or that he knew that he was doing so much wrong to me, while sometimes still saying I love you back to me after I said it.
I just loved him so much, and miss the person I thought he was so much too. I just can’t seem to understand, because I am not a sociopath, and it is still very painful.
Regardless of how we celebrate the holidays, they are a time of year during which all of our personal relationships are magnified. We have expectations about what will happen when we see the people who are important in our lives, which may or may not prove to be accurate expectations. And if we have gaping holes in our lives where healthy relationships are supposed to be, we feel the emptiness more acutely than at other times of the year.
Sociopaths and the holidays
I don’t know what sociopaths actually feel regarding the holidays, but they seem to recognize this time of year as an extraordinary opportunity for manipulation. The type of manipulation depends on where they are in the relationship lifecycle with a particular target.
If sociopaths are in the love bombing stage, they may employ the “grand gesture,” to seduce the target with over-the-top gifts and celebration.
If they’re in the maintenance stage, where the target is hooked but not yet totally drained, the sociopaths do what they have to do to keep the con going. My ex-husband, for example, always bought me at least one decent Christmas gift. He also was around for Thanksgiving and Christmas, although he was away immediately before Thanksgiving and over New Year’s. I later learned that while he told me he was handling military matters, or attending to the estate of his deceased wife on these trips, he was actually seeing other women.
If they’re in the devalue-and-discard stage, sociopaths may actively work to make the holidays miserable. Some Lovefraud readers have told me about rampages of emotional abuse, such as sociopaths saying, “Why don’t you just kill yourself—that would be a real Christmas gift for the rest of us.”
And then, if the sociopaths need a new source of supply, they may use the holidays as an excuse to reconnect with former targets, just to see if they can bleed them again.
Afterwards, coping with the loss
The Lovefraud reader who wrote the letter printed above was feeling the emptiness of not having a relationship, even though she now knows that the sociopath was lying to her. Here are my suggestions for this reader, and anyone else who is feeling home alone after getting rid of a sociopath.
First of all, remember that anything good about the relationship was an illusion. If early on, you had a magical Christmas with the individual, realize that it was all an act. The sociopath did not give you a fabulous gift, or take you on a wonderful getaway, because he or she was in love with you. The sociopath was after a prize, and was seducing you to win it.
Secondly, realize that you may never “understand” why the sociopath did what he did. The reason, as you say, is that you are not a sociopath. But you must accept what he did. Accept that sociopaths do what they do because that’s who they are; that’s what they are. They take from us because they can. They hurt us because they want to. There is no other explanation.
Finally, no matter how badly you suffered because of the sociopath, there is a gift in the situation, and that is the gift of wisdom. Now, because of your experience, you know the sociopaths are out there. You know how they behave. You know that you have vulnerabilities.
I suggest you take what you have learned, about them and you, and set a goal for the New Year—a goal of achieving real peace within you. This may require letting go of people, possessions or ideas that you never wanted to release. It also may require believing in yourself, in your inherent value and goodness—perhaps for the first time.
Yes, it may feel like a tall order, but now, as one year ends and another is about to begin, is a terrific time to take the first steps.