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How to speed date a sociopath

By Sarah Strudwick

Sarah Strudwick, based in the UK, is author of Dark Souls—Healing and recovering from toxic relationships.

For the three years since I broke up with the psychopathic ex I have remained single. I’ve met a few wannabe boyfriends, but unfortunately they have turned out to be disordered, so I never took it past the going for a coffee stage. Like many other victims, I’ve focused on my own recovery and have even written a couple of books on it to help other women.

During the time I was dating this man, whom I call “Oliver” in the book, I was also friends with another man. We had met long before on a dating site but never consummated the relationship (i.e. had sex), and had just stayed in contact as friends. There was just something I didn’t feel comfortable with.

Every time I was single or on a breakup from the psychopathic ex, this man (We’ll call him “Lurch” for want of a better word) would miraculously appear out of nowhere and try and rekindle our friendship. In the past he declared his undying love for me, but has a long history of failed relationships with women and an even longer track record of past drug abuse.

The last time we spoke was about three years ago when he tried to rekindle the relationship. I told him to go and sort himself out and got a long email from him saying he was planning on getting off the weed, stopping drinking and was going to move overseas and become a teacher after he finished his university degree.

Apart from a brief couple of emails from him, where he bragged about this new relationship he was in and how “sorted” he was, I’ve not really heard from him and have avoided all contact. Up until now ”¦

They always turn up again like a bad penny

Just before Xmas, Lurch contacted me saying he was returning from overseas and that he had been on many temple retreats and “sorted” his head. He said he had stopped drinking and was no longer smoking pot, and had had this epiphany moment where he realised he wanted to stop being an “asshole” and a “bastard” and settle down.

I know that people can change. Despite bumping into a few disordered people over the last couple of years, there was a big part of me that didn’t want to end up as cynical old woman who thought all men were either psychopathic or had some kind of character disturbance.

Lurch is a very charming character. He’s funny, somewhat sarcastic and intelligent, but at the same time he has lots of “issues,” all of which he had promised he’d sorted out.

Lurch sent me an email saying he wanted to meet me over Xmas and New Year and start a relationship. In my efforts not to be this horrible old cynical cow, I decided to give him the benefit of the doubt and meet up with him, albeit it very tentatively.

The big meeting

The night before he was on the telephone saying how much he was looking forward to coming up the following day. Lurch said he had originally planned to come early. He was planning on visiting two women he had known from about 15 years earlier, and was going to spend New Year with them and a bunch of other friends.

The morning he was meant to come up I received a text message saying he wasn’t going to leave until I texted my postcode. I was surprised that he hadn’t even got in the car at this point and so I called him, apologising for not answering his text sooner. He said he would jump in the shower and be there as soon as possible.

Six hours later he finally arrived.

Red Flag One — Putting others down

He explained that he had planned on seeing this other friend, but that she had “blown him out.” That’s a British colloquial term for being stood up. He said that he was delighted that she had blown him out because it meant he didn’t have to fork out for a ton of petrol money. He also talked about another one of his ex-girlfriends saying she was crazy. He compared to having sex with another one as “shagging a wet fish.” He also talked about another girl whom he had met overseas and said “she was boring as f**k, I felt like a walking dictionary.” The final insult came when he talked about another woman saying, “She has the biggest Konk (nose) on her he has ever seen.” He described his sister as a “flying mattress.”

Red Flag Two – Stalking

I have two brothers, and I have been estranged from my eldest brother for a number of years, after having therapy and realising that he’s not so healthy. Lurch explained that he had asked my brother to build a website for him. Lurch then went onto to say that my brother managed to rip him off for thousands of pounds by building a website that was no good. I asked to see the evidence, and was surprised that he was actually telling the truth for once. I was also surprised that he had got my brother to do the site, out of the thousands of people whom he could have contacted.

He then went on to say that he had gone to “great lengths” to try and track me down, because my phone number had been changed. He also mentioned how jealous he was when I was going out with the pathological ex.

Red Flag Three — Gut Feeling kicks in

During the five years I was with Oliver, I suffered from extreme cluster migraines. Now I have stopped taking the prescription pills I was put on for nearly 5 years, and very occasionally have a migraine. That evening my head started to spin and I could also feel this very big knot in my stomach, but couldn’t understand why.

After talking about my brother I decided to call my younger brother, who I still have contact with. Having grown up with pathology in the family, both of us had had tons of therapy and share our new found knowledge if we get a sense that something is wrong. After explaining to him what our older brother had done to Lurch, he suggested we both come round and see him.

Red Flag Four — Bragging, putting other people down, objectification and more stalking behaviour

The moment Lurch met my brother and his girlfriend, he started bragging about all of his accomplishments. My brother asked him what he did overseas, and he explained that he was fed up of being with people from Korea. He said he just did the job for the money and hated every day of it. He liked to “take the piss” out of the students who didn’t understand what he was saying because they couldn’t understand English properly. He then went on to “brag” about how he used to be a bastard and a nasty piece of work, but how sorted he was because he no longer took coke, ecstasy and pills. He said he only drank occasionally, but bragged about what a good laugh he was when he was pissed up (drunk) and how everyone liked him.

When my brother asked him why he hadn’t confronted our eldest brother about ripping him off for a bad website, his reply was, “In the old days I would have gone round and bashed his head in with a baseball bat” but “I’ve done enough work on myself and lots of temple retreats to calm my anger.”

When he pulled out his laptop to show my brother all the invoices for the payments he made, I was shocked to see that his screen saver was a somewhat saucy photograph of me! At which point he hurriedly tried to hide it, but was laughing. I asked him where he had found that picture of me and he said, “It’s amazing what stuff you can find on the internet.”

Red Flag Five — The flattery, projection and love bombing

We arranged to go and have a meal. On the way we collected his bags from his car, as he planned on leaving that night to stay with friends. He gave me a box of Thornton’s chocolates (unwrapped), which in hindsight, was probably meant for the woman who had “blown him out.” He described my eldest brother, who had ripped him off, as being an “oxygen thief.” This was kind of interesting, considering how Lurch behaved with others. Lurch again reiterated how tired he was of being around people that lied to him.

On arrival at the restaurant, he kept saying how wonderful it was to see me again. How he missed my upbeat, fun personality, and that he had never laughed as much as that in nearly three years.

Red Flag six — The deer in the headlights

It was this point, I had what can only be described as a “deer in the headlights” moment. Although I knew something was clearly wrong long before the dinner, and I wanted to run, I felt frozen and couldn’t move. Coming from a childhood background of sexual abuse, I’ve discussed this a lot in therapy. Many targets want to do “something,” but feel powerless. After suggesting it was time to go home we left the restaurant and he went onto his other engagements.

Red Flag seven — Love Bombing and mirroring

That night I couldn’t sleep, and left my mobile in the kitchen overnight. The following morning I awoke to six or seven texts that said, “Anyway you are still ravishing, very sexy, but most of all you still have your hot wonderful personality which I have missed badly.” Then a load more texts including how he wanted to “give me long hot slow sensual massages and how much his ex hated having them and how he hoped I liked having massages.” He then sent texts saying how alike we were. I mentioned I hadn’t slept well the night before because of restless legs and snoring, and he called us a “perfect match.”

Red Flag Eight — Ignoring, shifting the goal posts, minimizing, the silent treatment, devalue and discard

I texted him the following day, asking what time was he planning on coming and he replied with a question. A few hours later, after no response, the same thing happened. He said he would be coming in the evening of the 1st, although previously he said he was coming in the morning. He wouldn’t respond to any calls, at which point my gut feeling said run away as quickly as possible.

My brother called me up on New Years Day and I told him that I’d felt uncomfortable around Lurch. I asked him if he thought I might be imagining it. His response was that both he and his girlfriend felt very uncomfortable around him. He described Lurch as cocky, arrogant and full of himself, and both he and his girlfriend were “creeped out” by him and he thought he was dangerous.

More silent treatment continued and I finally plucked up the courage to tell him I didn’t feel comfortable seeing him again. To which I got a final childish message back saying, “bye, your loss, bye,” then another saying “You fucked it up. You need to heal more and do a temple stay.”

Red Flag Nine — Devalue and Disregard, Grandiosity, Rendering me Silent, Crazy Making

The next day I was surprised to get yet another text from him, as if nothing had happened!

There was no apology, no explaining why he couldn’t answer his phone for two days to firm up our plans. The text said he “hadn’t left yet and could drop by and see me on his way back down south.” At this point I called him. No answer. No response.

He finally answered his phone and I expressed concerns about his behaviour, using the silent treatment and so on. He listened with the utmost calm. There was no apology, no concern that I had been upset and in fact at one point he laughed at me and put me on speakerphone. I realised that there was no point in getting angry or upset. He wanted me to act upset so his friends could see that I was the crazy one. He had the same calmness and flat effect my psychopathic ex displayed when called out in a lie. Then he suddenly said, “I’m not talking to you,” and hung up.

During the whole conversation, he called me “Lisa.”

After rendering me silent because he hung up I sent him a text. I said there was no point in seeing him, since he wasn’t prepared to answer his phone. Nor was there any point in discussing anything if he was going to hang up like a five-year-old. I received a whole lot of texts back, which included how much of an “enlightened being he was” was, how he was of a “higher consciousness,” and that I should go and have some therapy about my trust issues. After I calmed down I read back his texts, I realised that much of what he said was complete projection.

At which point I finally found my power again and told him not to contact me and to kindly f*ck off.

He continued to send multiple texts, saying it was my fault because I had “f*cked up,” in between sending other texts saying what a shame because he would “Go to the ends of the earth for me.” I finally received one more text from him, which said, “Wanna last try?” I thought to myself, “Wanna last try at what.” Text ping pong.

Escaping quickly

He had relentlessly pursued me over the last couple of years, finding pictures of me on the internet, sending me multiple emails, and was quite miffed because I was the only woman that had never slept with him. I realised that the “relationshit” that never was, was now over, thankfully.

Although I had a very upset stomach and migraine after all the head games he’d played, I realised that if you have the right tools, it doesn’t have to take years or months after giving someone the benefit of the doubt before you see the light and discover that they are disordered, whatever his label is.

No matter how upset they make you, or however vulnerable you feel in their attempts to disarm you emotionally, it is possible to escape very quickly with minimal harm.

I read that many victims of borderlines end up having long term health problems such as colon disorders and migraines. With a history of Chrohn’s, which stopped after my last relationship, this was firm reminder to listen to my own body whenever my intuition screams run!

For all the flattery, love bombing, mirroring, mind games, gas lighting and silent treatment, it was also a stern reminder at how someone who proclaims they want to be with you can quickly can turn around, to the point where you are discarded like a piece of dog doo.

So on a positive note, remember it’s easy to “speed date a sociopath” by standing back and observing their behaviour. It took me exactly three days to figure it out.

I also learned that, whilst I might still have trust issues, I was thankful to Lurch for stepping in to remind me exactly what I do NOT want in a relationship ever again.



Comment on this article

138 Comments on "How to speed date a sociopath"

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Proud of you that you have written books and learned about pathological and disordered people. Sounds like you have done some heart and soul work.

I am also glad that have tried to remain open-minded and you took the chance to meet up with your old friend to give him the opportunity to see if he had changed. However, when the dinner did not go well and you had the “deer in the headlights” feeling, sleeplessness, and having a “gut feeling” that all was not well, I wonder.

Why in the world, after the negativity, lovebombing and texts, etc., did you continue to text and call him? All the red flags and drama were there. I hope next time you listen to your intuition sooner and just go no contact!!

Blessings and Peace to you.

Excellent article, Sarah. I’m sorry that you continued to give him the benefit of the doubt after all those initial red flags, but if you hadn’t, you wouldn’t have been able to write this awesome story!!

Seriously. It has so many elements of what the typical loser does. Also, by describing how you were affected by him, how you kept responding to him despite all the red flags, we are reminded that sometimes the emotional FOG does confuse us, even when we know better.

It’s easy to armchair quarterback, quite different to restrain our emotions, especially when triggered by childhood programming to behave a certain way.

I think I’m pretty good now at spotting them very early on AND resisting the automatic trauma bonding that is my tendency. Still, it doesn’t hurt to be reminded that we must continually practice boundaries until they become second nature –the way they were intended to be.

Sara, “trust issues??????” Does that mean that you do NOT TAKE EVERY WORD SOMEONE SPEAKS AS 100% TRUTH without some sign it is true? Does “trust issues” mean that you do NOT GIVE AWAY YOUR TRUST to just everyone you know or that knows your phone number?

Well if you have “trust issues” GOOD FOR YOU!!! TOWANDA!!! WAY TO GO GIRL FRIEND!!!! I HOPE WE ALL HAVE THAT KIND OF “TRUST ISSUES” so that we protect ourselves from that kind of guy/gal.

It doesn’t matter if someone is a 30+ on the PCL-R or not, if they are dishonest, arrogant, irresponsible, hateful, disrespectful of borders and manners…fark’em and they can get out of my life! And stay out! Because I have TRUST ISSUES, thank God!

Hey, Peggy!!!!! So glad to see you back! Hope you are doing well!!!!

Sarah, after my affair with the sociopath in 2008, I had one brief run-in with a similar person in 2009. I encountered him on an internet forum after he had had a brief (supposedly terminated) romantic interest in another member. She and I started talking and realized we were both being played, and that he told us each lies depending on what we wanted to hear. Weeks later I found a post of his where he mentioned his “fiancee”. After he was exposed and banned from the forum, he was still trying to contact me to tell me how much he thinks about me. The entire episode took a few weeks. I went NC when I figured it out.

The reason I bring this up is that I was amazed at how powerful that love bombing was for me. I never even met the guy – we only had 2 phone conversations. But it was very powerful. I still remember it. This is why sociopaths are so very dangerous. Your mind can tell you the guy (or woman) is bad news. But your emotions get hooked, and it’s difficult to get unhooked.

It’s been 3 or 4 years now without any spaths in my life. It’s really great. I don’t really even think about them anymore. In retrospect, their behaviors made them very easy to spot.

I am working out some different kinds of issues with men right now, but thankfully, I’m not attracting spaths anymore. The lesson for me has been that when I get emotionally attached early on with a guy who is inappropriate or not able to give me what I want, to just feel the pain of the disappointment. Just feeling the pain of it is bringing me to a more centered place, where it’s not about the man but about me, who I am, and what I want. I think this is the only place to be when dating. They are proving themselves to ME, not the other way around.

Great article Sarah! I can understand how you gave someone the benefit of the doubt – I’ve read so much about how spaths simply can’t change and/or be fixed, so I am petrified that if my spath comes back around that I will fall back into his trap! I know he will use his “smooth words” to try and woo me over because it worked last time — I just have to keep telling myself that it’s not real – he isn’t real – he is a menace and is all about himself!

Thanks for sharing this situation and am glad you saw him for what he really is – glad it only took three days to figure him out and not longer!

Rena

I don’t agree that people can change. That is due to me personally not ever seeing someone change. I have said many times before, we are who we are.

Of course it doesn’t take months or years to get out. It’s up to us to just LEAVE. Stop the madness and get out! Some choose to stay, some don’t.

Sarah,

Good for you!!! Well done!

Thank-you for outlining your experience so concisely. By being able to read it bit by bit I could re-evaluate, again, many past experiences, and see where I was ‘tripped up’. This helps me to remember to lean on my knowledge, and less on my feelings during those moments; finding strength in the things I have learned, and not letting the shifting feelings these types solicit in me to throw me too far off.

It has always been the same with me that it is my intuition, my body sensations, which give me the most accurate picture of what is going on. I get butterflies, can feel dizzy, my focus gets fuzzy, and I can feel nauseous or lose my appetite. Then my feelings get all jumbled and confused (because they are being abused and manipulated): I feel insecure, guilty (maybe), excited or anxious, and shamed. Then I don’t think ‘straight’.

That’s when I have to remember everything I have learned. That this combination of intuitive alarms, confusion, and unfocused thinking are the hallmark responses to abuse.

When I had no understanding of this I kept on trying to make sense of it, to see the whole picture (which you never can with a liar….it is hidden), so that I could either fix it, or worst-case walk away ‘understanding’ what happened and able to place responsibility where it was due.

But with the disordered you can never get a clear picture. Once I got this I made the commitment, as I can see you have, to TRUST my gut, my mixed up responses, and my KNOWLEDGE.

Your experience reinforces my learning. Thank you!

Slim

denbroncos007,

They can have a habit of turning up again like a bad smell. In my exp, the more you educate yourself on how it ticks, the less likely we are to be drawn in. Again.

One of the great things about LF is the recognition of type! I have recognised the modus operandi of the spath from all the articles and posts that I’ve read. What is more, I believe any form of wishing to reconnect with me is merely about him. It is not to benefit me in any way.

Hang strong my friend. Believe me, if you do have to endure the spath coming around for another bout of BS, try the “grey rock” approach …..courtesy of Skylar. If you do have to talk to it, avoid drama at all costs and hopefully it will slither off and annoy some one else.

This article is tremendous! I see so much of my ex husband in it. I wish I would have known the red flags sooner. I am SO glad you got to see this guy for what he really is. As I pity any woman who gets involved with my ex, I have also come to the conclusion that it’s not my problem. In the time we were engaged/married, I used to have my head in the toilet on the average of 3 times per week. I lost 30 pounds during the relationship. I was on edge the entire time. I am BLESSED that it is a closed chapter in my life, and I pray every day that I never see him or hear from him again. And yes, I have trust issues big time. Thanks for sharing your story.

denbroncos007 says:I’ve read so much about how spaths simply can’t change and/or be fixed, so I am petrified that if my spath comes back around that I will fall back into his trap!

I know that is why he has left me alone…in the past he has always given me about a month before he sneaks back in with an apology/sob story that he can’t live without me.

This article is so good, that it should be a CHILDREN’S BOOK! With Slim’s comment as the introduction!

The article is very instructive on the way they operate. As I read it, I actually felt the push and pull of the interaction, the confusion and the guilt for being too judgmental of a man who was so obviously trying to “connect”.

Only my knowledge of the red flags revealed that he was a snake. Obviously the reason he couldn’t show up on time was because he had several other victims set up and he was trying to juggle them all at once.

It would make a great children’s book because it’s short and to the point and I think it makes an impact on the gut, which children need to learn to trust. It just needs a little tweaking to make it more child friendly.

Hi Daisy
Hope you’re having a good Sunday! What’s good for me is that i don’t have a FB page – I did, but I got rid of it when I first got together w/ my spath (per his request) and I have never reactivated it again – he doesn’t have any social media outlets, that I know of, so I am not sure he would be “cyber stalking” me – lol! Thank goodness!
I haven’t heard from him and honestly, the way I feel today, I feel confident I won’t hear from him again – but because of the way things ended between him and I; there’s just a lurking feeling I have that I haven’t heard the last of him. I have nothing nice to say to him and if he did reach out to me I would instantly want to tell him off – but hope I have the strength at that time to just ignore him……I honestly dont even want to crack open the door and give him any bit of acknowledgement. He doesn’t deserve it, not after everything he put me through — still can’t help but wonder……but not losing any sleep over it though!

🙂

Mine too was a “speed dating” experience, although a bit longer. While, it was after just three days that I first saw signs of sociopathic behavior, I saw certain red flags almost from the first moment we met.

Day 1 – I meet the x-spath at a gay club — I noticed him looking at me from across the room and went over and introduced myself. He was polite, charming and British, but a flight attendant. However, he had no signs of “capmness” and spoke very intelligently. When I asked him why he was a flight attendant, he told me that he was only doing it for a few years so he could travel more extensively. Then he told me he would go back to a white collar job.

He went outside for a cigarette, a personal red flag for me that I chided him about. Of course he told me he had quit and only recently started again and knew that was a “mistake.” So, almost from the start, you see his mirroring behavior.

Day 2 – I go out with the x-spath and two of his friends to a couple of gay bars. In the course of one conversation, I was concerned when he called his best friend a “c*nt” and told me that this guy was in a long-term relationship with a former boyfriend but he was not talking to the former boyfriend. When I asked the x-spath about his most recent dating experiences, all he told me was that earlier in the year he was dating this one guy but that the x-spath ended the relationship because this guy was “never seemed able to find time for me.” Here, you see the x-spath putting other people down, holding grudges and Narcissism.

However, he later turned on the charm and employed almost word-for-word mirroring when I discussed my goals and what I was looking for in a person. I did not want to impose too much on him and his friends. I asked the x-spath if he wanted to join me for dinner the next night. He said yes and I hopped in a taxi.

Before I got home, he texted me that he was very excited to be going to dinner the next night with me…

Day 3 – I take the x-spath to a famous French restaurant in Manhattan. The entire time was fun and I was beginning to think that this guy was for real. I asked him if he wanted to go back to my place for a beer and he became insulted and walked out of the restaurant on me. Outside, he told me “you offended my British reservedness by asking me back to your flat” and that he was “sorted” and “not that kind of guy…”

I apologized, saying that he misunderstood my intentions. He suggested that we just go to a pub instead. That we did and after a bit more damage control on my part, he was acting more like he didi earlier in the evening. When he got into a taxi to go back to his hotel, I remember thinking to myself that while he was charming, he was trouble and had some issues…

The next day, we exchanged some text messages and he seemed cold to me. A far cry from the night before when he told me that very excited to be going to dinner with me. He went back to London, and to my credit I told myself I would not contract him again. And I did not.

However, after not hearing from him for two days, he began “text bombing” me — very complementary, very flattering. He even said he needs to me more open like me…

So, my gut was right. He would soon very much prove to be trouble. And troubled…

Hi Oxy! From what I’ve read on BPD websites, the term for people who return time and time again is “hoovering” (i.e., sucking you back in). I used to have the “three red flags and you’re out!” rule. Now it’s down to 2…or even 1, depending on the severity of the red flag. Perhaps it’s like a pendulum, originally I didn’t have firm boundaries, now my boundaries are VERY firm and I may even be hypervigilant. But it’s safer this way!

Peggywoever,

Yea, I’ve heard the term “Hoovering” which is funny since I have a Hoover brand vacuum cleaner for my floors and it SUCKS very well. LOL

My boundaries are pretty FIRM as well…and DISHONESTY of any kind is a ONE STRIKE and you are OUT.

My personal opinion about the “BPD” designation is that it is used many times when “PPD” would be more appropriate so I think the “diagnoses” are BLURRED as to where one starts and the other stops, so much of what is written about BPD and PPD apply to both terms–the returning again and again and the sucking you back in sure applies to both.

Another one is if you are “friends” with my enemy then you are not my friend as well. i.e. if you KNOW that my enemy harmed me, and you continue to be friends with them, then you can not ALSO be My friend. I used to be so “open minded” and to take the “high road” that if you wanted to be friends with someone who had harmed me I didn’t see a problem with that. I might not like it, but I would be “above” requiring that my friends NOT be “friends” with the person who hurt me.

Well, folks, I am NOT that open minded any more, and as for my friends ALSO being friends with my enemy…nah…not so “broad minded” any more at all. LOL

Just like my egg donor sending money to my son in prison after he tried to have me killed….nope, she can’t be “friends” with us both. Just like her wanting him to get out of prison and come live with her here on the farm. Even if he did get out, I can legally put a stop to THAT sheet! He isn’t gonna move here and we all be one big happy family. And if he tries to come here the family reunion won’t be happy either.

The guy I dated before the x-spath I believe to have BPB. I am still friendly with his best friend and when talking about my x-BPD, he described him as “empty” and “always searching for somebody.”

Both Spaths and BPDs tend to latch on to people, but for different reasons. The Spath will do so for one or more of the big three reasons: sex, power/control or money. Spaths intentionally use people for the moment and have no trouble manipulating multiple victims.

BPDs latch on to people whom they genuinely think could be a soulmate. They will stay with that person until they meet a better soulmate.

BPDs are very susceptible to manipulation; Spaths are not. Since they have empathy and are emotional, BPDs have great difficulty ending relationships, even when they are the terminating partner. Spaths will end relationships abruptly and without much thought, like turning off a light.

Similarities: both tend to have a history of unstable relationships, both are sexually promiscuous, both tend to substance abuse.

One other major difference is regarding self-harm such as cutting. This is not typically seen in Spaths but is a major, almost defining trait of BPB. However, one could argue that Spath criminality and disregard for laws is a corollary: Spaths harm others, BPDs harm themselves.

BPDs are perfect prey for Spaths. Interestingly, the majority of BPDs are women and the majority of Spaths are men. Of male BPDs, a third to half are either gay or bisexual, perhaps even more…

BBE:

Thanks for this info…very enlightening!

I hope you are doing well. I am excited. I am getting a passport (never had one before) and am hopefully meeting my best friend in beautiful Whistler, Canada next month. Staying at the luxurious Fairmont. I looked it up online…absolutely gorgeous! Hey, it gives me something to look forward to…we who are healing all need something to help us.

Oxy:

I agree with you entirely, the lines between BPD and PPD are very gray indeed, if they exist at all. I have come to believe that BPD does exist as a disorder, however, I believe it is underdiagnosed in males and (perhaps) over-diagnosed in females. I also think that a lot of people who are diagnosed as Bipolar are in fact either BPD or PPD. Furthermore, I have come to believe that up to 20-25% of the population has serious pathological issues, and that frightens me.

That being said, and having dated (or married) several that are BPD, PPD, and/or Narcissistic, for the first time in my life I have chosen not to date (for over a year now). In the past 5 years I have done not only extensive study about these disorders, but some serious heart and soul work of my own (i.e., why have I chosen particular types of men?) I believe it comes back to childhood issues and my comfort zone.

Very firm boundaries these days. Certainly one lie and you’re out (even a small one, like lying about one’s age). Playing the victim is something I watch very carefully as it is sometimes difficult to determine who the victim is. Also…I am VERY wary of charming men, compliments, and people who I perceive as “too nice”.

So glad to see that you are still here offering your sage wisdom and writing your terrific articles, Oxy. You’re the best.

peggywhoever:

Something you just said sparked something for me. You said you are wary of people who are “too nice.” You may have just made me finally realize something about myself. I am genuinely “too nice.” That is just my nature. I am good to people and am nice to people. Sometimes I have noticed that people shy from me…don’t like me and then I get my feelings very hurt because I wonder what in the world did I do?? OMG…perhaps they are shying away from me because for them my personality is a red flag? Very interesting.

Louise, one of the HALLMARKS of BPD and PPD people is that the very MINUTE THEY MEET YOU, they want to BE YOUR BEST FRIEND, and Want to know what they can DO FOR YOU right then.

When I meet someone who immediately wants to be my “best friend” and do things for me, I BACK OFF IMMEDIATELY and watch them. Most of the time it doesn’t take long to see that they are personality disordered in some way.

Now, “just nice” people may also come on too strong, too fast and I may find later that these “just nice” people REALLY ARE “JUST NICE” but that coming on too quickly is a RED FLAG.

BBE you are right about the self harm (cutting etc) is almost a diagnostic spot light, and I have only known one male who self cut though I am sure there must be others. The “labels” BPD and PPD etc. on the “Cluster B’s” are very difficult to draw lines between the different disorders. As for there being a high percentage of PDs among gay and bi-sexual groups, I agree. And there is a high percentage of PD people who ALSO have BI-POLAR, and ADHD as well. Interestingly people with PPD’s are a higher number of left handedness tan would be normally expected as well.

In some ways I think possibly that BPD is the “female version” of PPD and maybe the hormones make a difference in the slightly different behaviors.

It is NOT UNUSUAL though for two people BOTH WITH PERSONALITY DISORDERS to “hook up” and I call it “gasoline and fire” because it is GOING TO EXPLODE EVENTUALLY.

When it explodes, the loser will present themselves as “the VICTIM” when in fact they are a CO-abuser who lost the fight with their last partner. It is difficult to decide who is a “true” victim in my opinion versus a PD who lost in the last fight.

I think in any case, we must be cautious in giving our TRUST to people. Trust should be EARNED over a long period of time, not instantly given.

Louise, you may be right, and I would wish that you don’t stop being “too nice” since this is your genuine nature.

In my past men who were “too nice” or too complimentary always wanted something in the end game. Power. Control. Money. Sex. Material things. You know the game.

I now surround myself only with people who are genuine and compassionate. I have cut loose a lot of people in my life, including some women friends that I have had for many years.

I try to listen to my “gut” and how a person makes me feel, and to listen carefully not only to what they say, but what they don’t say. It’s a process, and I’m still learning.

Oxy:

I know what you are talking about when you describe someone who wants to be your best friend right off the bat, etc.! I have also encountered those types and you have to be leery. As a matter of fact, looking back to 2005 when I first met OW in the new department I was transferred to at work, that is how she came on…interesting, isn’t it??? But I am NOT like that. I don’t push myself on people and want to become their best friend. I am just genuine. I think that does put some people off though because I think in general and this is only my opinion, but I think in general people are not nice; people are downright nasty to be honest. So when people meet someone like me who is nice, they are not used to that…it makes them take a step back I think.

peggywhoever:

Well, you are right…I guess I really can’t stop who I am.

Exactly! I think when people are nice, we think they want something from us. This was certainly the case with spath…he was only communicating with me when he wanted something…whatever that something was at the moment. I just had another lightbulb moment!…that is why I didn’t see his niceness as a red flag. Because I am “nice,” I don’t see that as a red flag when someone else is. It’s the same when someone is a liar and cheat…they think everyone is like them…a liar and cheat. Hmmmm, I am having a lot of aha! moments today.

I have also let a few women friends go recently for the same reasons. I think it’s great we are learning and no longer in the dark!!

Louise;

Good for you! Fairmont Hotels are all very nice and the ones in Canada are spectacular! I have been to the Rene Elizabeth, Chateau Frontenac, and Empress.

You should have gone here!

http://www.fairmont.com/lake-louise/

Louise, once when my son D and I went to visit Patrick, Patrick was trying to manipulate D and while I was gone to the rest room Patrick looked at D and said “I KNOW YOU, You’re just like I am” and was FURIOUS that he could not manipulate Son D…the psychopaths think that We are just like them. Because they can NOT understand what we feel, and actually they not only don’t understand, the don’t care…they are out to get all they can from us and they figure we are out to get from them as well…

We, on the other hand CARE and we figure everyone else CARES LIKE WE DO…so we get stung when we are WRONG and the other person does NOT care. LOL

BBE:

Thank you! I am going to the Fairmont Chateau in Whistler…almost the same as Lake Louise from the pictures I have seen! Such beauty! Wow. I have never been to Canada. I hope the flights are OK and not too long. I am glad you have experienced these.

Oxy:

You got it! That’s exactly how they think! Boy, do we ever get stung when we realize they do not care the way we do. It takes a long time to accept.

Ox;

I agree 100%. There is such a blur among Cluster-B personality disorders even trained professional often cannot make a proper diagnosis. Comorbidity is high with other problems such as depression and bipolar disorder.

I forgot, the guy I dated after the spath was also a BPD. He was a cutter. Perfect bookends: a BPD, a Spath, a BPD…

The cutter x-BPD was very typical in latching. He was in love with me after one date and did not want to let go even after I told him that he was not right for me. Like the other two, he was a smoker and heavy drinker. All three came from troubled backgrounds.

I completely agree that BPD can be viewed as the female expression of Sociopathy, probably due to hormonal differences. This is also why of male BPDs, perhaps half are gay (and that is just those who admit such in studies) as gay males are very interesting. While in many ways they are hyper-masculine (very sexual, larger genitalia, ) they can also be very “feminine” as shown by camp behavior, fashion obsessions and preferences for female singers. This is furthered by studies showing gay men and straight women have, on average, equally proportioned brain hemispheres. Lesbian women and straight men have, on average, slightly larger right brain hemispheres.

I am a gay male and obviously support all efforts of equality and acceptance. However, in a politically correct over-reaction to past discriminations, I think the mental health profession has done the gay community a disservice. We are not “normal” people with a same-sex preference.

We are a group of people with a much, much larger set of psychological issues than the general population. In the past, this was considered a result of discrimination, shame, childhood bullying and such. However, recent studies show that among gays, the highest level of mental health issues are in the most open and accepting countries, not the least. My personal dating experience agrees with such: the most functional gay men I have dated came from repressive countries, for example, Lebanon and Russia.

Given the very high levels of Cluster-B personality disorders among gay men, I suggest that homosexuality might very well be a Cluster-B disorder, at least among gay men. Further evidence is the continued high rate of HIV infections among gay men…

Yea, Louise, I can remember thinking when Patrick was a 17 yr old teenager trying to get into prison “If I could just open a hole in his skull and pour in what I am trying to say so he would get it, everything would be okay”

I just kept trying to get across to him if he had a criminal record it would RUIN his chances for a career, life, etc. and I wanted….I WANTED….him to have a career and a college education and so on…I WANTED. the **I** wanted part is the problem, HE did not want for himself what I wanted for him. He wanted “excitement” and the “adrenaline rush” he got from RISK TAKING…he wasn’t willing to WAIT and get his adrenaline rushes LEGALLY and legitimately. He wanted them NOW, and the way HE WANTED, not what I wanted. He really SHOWED ME that I could not control him didn’t he? FIXED ME! spent 23+ years of his life in prison, more than half.

Spent 2 years in prison from 18-20, got out and 5 months later back in for murder in January 1992—he will be 42 in march, and he has spent 23 + years of his life in prison..almost 55% of his ENTIRE life and 96% of his adult life in prison. and has spent 100% of his ADULT life on probation, parole or in prison. And still has not followed the rules of any of it.

“You got it! That’s exactly how they think! Boy, do we ever get stung when we realize they do not care the way we do. It takes a long time to accept.”

In the short term, the BPD feels remorse when end a relationship. This is quickly forgotten with the new one.

Spaths never care, save for:

1) Jealously.

2) Keeping options open for further exploitation.

Also, BPDs, since they have feelings, will not say things that would upset a former partner, for example talk about the new partner.

Sociopaths, since they have no feeling, and are very ego-oriented, will talk about new “conquests” to the last partner.

BPDs are like emotional bulls in a china shop. They do a lot of damage, but when they look back and see the damage, they recognize it.

Sociopaths are those who run over turtles. They do it for fun.

There was a moment when at the time, I felt the x-spath was playing cat and mouse with me. Now, I know this was true.

Oxy:

Such a sad story. I am so sorry for you. No parent should have to bear the cross that you have with your son Patrick. It’s a tragedy, but you really hit on something when you said those are the things YOU wanted. As a parent, of course you wanted the best for him, but as long as he didn’t want it and was going to mess up his life, there was nothing you were going to do about it. It’s a huge lesson in realizing we CANNOT control other people.

That is a huge change I am making for 2013. I am letting go of trying to make people see the light about whatever it is they are blind. I recently tried to in a gentle way show my friend who just got engaged she may be making a mistake, but she doesn’t want to see it so I will never say another word. We are still good friends and she actually appreciated me telling her my sentiments, but I will never say another word. I give my opinion and then they can do whatever they want. I can only hope that it will plant a seed.

BBE:

From everything you have said, mine is spath all the way.

Louise/Oxy:

You’re both right; we use our template of character and place it onto people we meet. If we are honest, kind, generous and compassionate we tend to think others are like us. I do not think psychopaths think they are like us…they have their masks, and secret self and are master cons and manipulators. They only think about “mememe” and what they can get from others.

They know full well what they are doing, but they have entitlement issues and think “stuff” (power/control, money/materialism/possessions, sex, image, etc., which they attain from others) is their RIGHT. Because of their malignant narcissism they think they are better than us, smarter than us, and they delight in “getting”. They only return (hoover) when they think there is something else they can take.

It does take a long time to accept that there are people who are this vile and selfish. But once the lightbulb or aha moment happens, life is different from that point on. It is a painful lesson, but reality and hopefully we can reach out to help/inform other souls who have also had this experience to heal.

Blessings and Peace,
Peggy

peggywhoever;

My trio of consecutive Cluster-B “relationships” provides insight to both them and myself.

First, them:

The BPDs both could be described as “nice” guys. There was a similar “franticness” to both of them; however, I never remember either of them saying anything bad abut anybody. Both could be described a “warm” individuals.

Regarding the x-spath, I never remember him saying anything nice about anybody or anything. While he was soft-spoken and generally calm, he could also be acerbic and nasty. Then switch right back to being charming.

Of the three, interestingly, the x-spath was the most “together”. at least on the surface. He owned his home, had a “career” albeit as a flight attendant. The other BPDs were under-achievers. The x-spath is the kind of guy you could take home to meet your family. The BPDs came across as “messes.”

The spath’s mask of sanity is why such persons are particularly dangerous: the first seem so normal. OTOH, BPDs are easier to spot if you know what you are looking for.

So, why did I find myself with any of them? Simply, due to the stress of a Sociopathic employer, I was an emotional and physical wreck. Right after I met the x-spath, I was illegally terminated from my job and I was also facing serious health issues. He seemed to be the only thing “good” in my life at that time and I latched on to him. The BPB after him was just a rebound.

Interestingly, at that point in my life, I was acting like a BPD. However, when I raised this with my counselor he provided several reasons why I was not, including the like of cutting and career success to that point.

My mental health issues continued to mount until all stressors were removed from my life: open-heart surgery and a legal battle with my former employer, both a big success.

However, two years of recovery were required. At one point, a changed psychiatrists to one highly recommended and accomplished. He viewed my as cyclothymic and wanted me on a mood stabilizer. I tried several and stopped, as they made me feel like a Zombie.

I pointed out to him that my symptoms were very much like PTSD, something OxDrover pointed out to me. My psychiatrist disagreed. However, I decided to manage my health condition with such a diagnosis. Slowly, with only a very low dose of a transdermal MAOI, and various holistic approaches, I began to feel better. I could finally get some restful sleep, something that has not happened in 5 years.

Now, I look back and see that I would not have entertained any of these three guys if I was in my current state. Or past states for that matter.

Proof:

The second BPD – I met him several years before. He was a falling down drunk. A sad case, yes, but one that in my mind I would not date. Or even want to be seen with.

The x-spath – he is very similar to somebody I dated six years earlier. Very similar look, although the other guy was a bit more attractive. Both were charming, the other guy being from the South, whereas the x-spath is British. I would not date this other guy for my most simple red flags: he smoked, drank and had a job where he was often away.

But at least this guy was nice and never nasty. Still, when I was in my right mind, I would not date him. My life centers upon healthy living, at least when I am mentally healthy. I am an avid bicyclist and smokers and cyclists are like oil and water. This guy also drank way too much. I have some issues there at times, which is why I do not date men who are heavy drinks — too easy for me to fall into that trap.

So, in my right mind, I rejected a guy very much like the x-spath, even a nicer person. When I was dysfunctional, I latched on to somebody *worse*.

peggywhoever:

They don’t think they are like us…they think WE are like THEM…deceitful, dishonest and manipulative.

Louise:

I agree with most of your posts, but I do not believe they think we are like them. I do think they project upon us the things they think or do, “You are a liar, you are a cheater, you are a manipulator,” etc., when they know we are not.

I believe they are students of humanity and they choose their targets very carefully, and their targets have “super traits” i.e., kind, thoughtful, compassionate, believe in the goodness of humanity, try to help others.

They pretend to be like us (i.e., mirroring behavior) and they are very good actors. This is why we often believe they are our soulmates, the love of our lives, etc. IF we were like them, they could not get one over on us.

Louise,
I think they use a form of splitting to simultaneously believe that we are weak, docile and easily victimized, while at the same time being paranoid that we are “out to get them” so they have to get us first.

I know this makes no sense, but we are talking about people who BELIEVE THEIR OWN LIES, “remember Jerry, it’s not a lie if YOU believe it”. (quote from Seinfeld)

I only recently learned about the concept of “splitting” from the book by Otto Kernberg, Severe Personality Disorders, Psychotherapeutic Strategies. It’s really beyond anything a normal person can relate to. It makes me wonder how they function at all.

Sociopaths do not trust. Right after lack of empathy and lying, this is almost a defining trait.

Since sociopaths do not trust, they most likely very every person with suspicion. By extension, since Sociopaths are always “up to something,” one must presume that Sociopaths fear that others are also up to something. This is why Sociopaths are controlling — for example, to prevent a partner for cheating. Sociopaths are very envious. They know there is a world they can never have.

Put it all together, especially when the Sociopath meets somebody new. Sociopaths are not trusting so the probably assume you are dating other people. By telling the sociopath that there is nobody else in your life, you have reduced his suspicion. He will not fully trust you, but you have made yourself a comfortable target. If you were dating other people, the sociopath would move on. Thus, I do not think the Sociopath makes his selection based upon being a study of humanity — he merely goes on instinct because you provide some comfort to his suspicions and jealousies. I saw the jealous side at the mere mention of a previous BF’s name…

Since the Sociopath lives on a revolving door of “boys, beer and fooling around” — his words — what could make the Sociopath any less trusting and more jealous than somebody with the apparent means to more boys, beer and fooling around?

While the fundamental issue to the x-spath breaking things off was my near unmasking of his HIV status, there was more to his ending the relationship — my Midtown Manhattan apartment and the “opportunity” he saw it provided me. It was the “bachelor pad” of his dreams. For me it was just home and in reality, far less of “pad” than he thought.

Thus, I probably left his head spinning — on one side, open and honest, telling him about by desires for a relationship, yet living a place that he dreamed of for less than virtuous reasons. He could never trust me because he viewed my life as a turnstile of “boys” — because that is what he was doing even when living in less substantial and convenient accommodations…

How do I know this? He said so on a dating profile…

peggywhoever:

I agree. I know without a doubt I was chosen for my goodness. He even commented once about how a woman at work who was very forthright and stern scared him…haha. He really is a coward.

skylar:

I think splitting does make sense actually. It makes sense because I saw it in action. He thought I was an easy target because I was so nice, but at the same time, he was very paranoid I was going to report him.

BBE, I would say that inability to trust is the root and the first trait of the spath. I think that lack of empathy and lying follow from that.

Since they never bonded with their mothers, they are not bonded with humanity and consequently cannot trust anyone. This paranoia leads to the lies and misdirection, as well as the lack of empathy, since they can’t really imagine themselves in your shoes.

I guess, though, that we were guilty of something similar. I lacked the imagination to imagine how a spath could feel so much envy, paranoia and hatred. I noticed little bits of it but I projected my own feelings onto the spath and didn’t recognize that for him, those feelings were ALL ENCOMPASSING. For me, when I feel those things, they are a fleeting moment that I barely notice and then go on to something more pleasant, not so for them. They wallow in those feelings. so bizarre.

I wonder if it’s a choice or if they can’t help it.

BBE:

In talking about how the spath is jealous and doesn’t want his target to see other people…months later when the relationship was long over, but he was just trying to keep me on the line (for what I don’t know…there was no sex, etc.), he asked me if I was seeing anyone and I said, “No, should I be?” He said, “Not really.” That told me right there I was involved in one of those classic “I don’t want you, but I don’t want anyone else to have you” scenarios. I think he is jealous, but he tries really hard not to show it.

Louise, I see. He thought you were an easy target but then he also thought that JUSTICE might catch up with him.

Spaths always have an exit strategy planned. I wonder what his would have been.

skylar:

Yes, he thought I just might be the one to finally trip him up.

I don’t know what his exit strategy would have been because I had way too much evidence. But I am convinced he still would have gotten away with it.

Skylar,

When you say splitting, do you mean as in DID or MPD? That is how I learned about splitting and I’ve actually seen it happen. Not in my spath though.

Daisy,
I don’t know what DID is.
I was reading about splitting in regards to spaths and borderlines.

“I guess, though, that we were guilty of something similar. I lacked the imagination to imagine how a spath could feel so much envy, paranoia and hatred. I noticed little bits of it but I projected my own feelings onto the spath and didn’t recognize that for him, those feelings were ALL ENCOMPASSING. For me, when I feel those things, they are a fleeting moment…”

Skylar;

I almost posted something very similar. I assumed that when I was open and honest about issues, that the x-spath was similar. Thus, when I told him that the doctors thought I might be HIV+, I assumed that he would take such news just as I would — I like you HIV+ or not. Thus, when he did not react to the news, I thought it was a non-issue, because it would have been a non-issue for me.

I did not realize it was a big issue — that he was HIV+ and not telling me. I cannot think of a better example, with resulting trauma bonding. First over his rejection of me the following day, with my assumption he could not handle dating an HIV+ person. In my unwell mind, he was “perfect” and I was “dirty.”

Then, when I put two and two together and figured out he was HIV+, I was double-trauma bonded — thinking what did I ever say or do to make him think that he could not be open with me?

Not until did I learn about Sociopaths did he make sense. Like you say, sociopaths are 180 degrees opposite of what you think they are. They use your shame to cover theirs.

But even there, I had it on him. Had I been HIV+, I would not have felt shame. I made a mistake in judgment while drunk and did something I never do. Thus, no shame. His story is different. Being a sociopath, he took risks and paid the price.

BUt even then, I sometimes wonder if he actually feels shame or views his HIV status more as something that limits his sexual possibilities if he is honest. Given that he only mentioned dating people not in London and that he is only active on international gay sites, not UK ones, I think the latter is more true.

Skylar;

PS about wallowing — all I can say is that my x-spath does not come across as a happy person. He admitted to being on antidepressants several times in his life, hated his deceased father and had almost no family contact, save visiting his only sibling once a year around the holidays.

Even regarding his mother, also deceased, is that she died of colon cancer. He never said anything else about her.

BBE,
regardless of HIV status, neg or pos, a spath would never be honest, so it’s a non-issue.

I’m not saying that he would lie about being negative (I guess), but it doesn’t matter either way. Remember, spaths have NO LIMITS. Anything that would limit him, he would lie about.

No, I don’t think he feels any shame, in the way you or I would feel shame, but they DO compare themselves to us. If, in that comparison, they find themselves in a losing position, then they bypass the shame of it and instead feel envy, hatred and rage toward us.

The most amazing part is their reaction to this hatred. Rather than leave us, they endeavor to get closer to us so they can destroy the object of their envy. icky.

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