Is my partner salvageable?

It can be pretty tricky navigating the continuum of narcissistically disturbed individuals, attempting to separate the salvageables from the unsalvageables. Yet, there are two awfully basic, interrelated questions that can help you cut to the chase, and guide your decision to keep going, or cut bait.

Here they are:

1) Is your partner someone who genuinely recognizes he has a problem respecting you?

2) If he genuinely recognizes this, then does he have the genuine motivation to confront his disrespectful behaviors and attitudes (be they chronic or episodic; devastating in their impact or more quietly, gradually corrosive of your goodwill)?

Ultimately, it comes down to these separate, yet related, questions.

If the answer to either of them proves no, or probably not, then it’s boogie on out of the relationship time. If the answer to both questions proves yes, or probably yes (and it must be “yes!” to both questions!), then you have a basis to hope for improvement in the quality of the relationship.

But wait a second! I hear the shrieks! “How do you evaluate how genuine someone is, especially a manipulative personality?”

Well, the truth is, it’s difficult to assess how “genuine” someone is, on any level, no less a really good manipulator. But you must still make this assessment in an ongoing fashion, and you must make it without certainty of its accuracy.

Now, we always need to be clear about this: Sometimes, when you are dealing with a sociopath tremendously skilled at dissimulation (as a great many sociopaths are), it may be impossible to bust him before he’s had the chance to wreak terrible, longstanding and long-lasting levels of destruction. God knows this is too often the case. Of course, Donna Anderson in her upcoming book will arm her readers with incredible tools to do precisely this—bust these harder-to-bust sociopathic types.

But in many cases, more than one thinks, partners can be flushed-out for lacking true recognition of their disrespectful behaviors and the true motivation to modify them.

Of course I can’t stress sufficiently that it’s not enough to flush these individuals out: once flushed out, you need to be willing to overcome defenses like denial and pathological hope to heed the red flags you’ve identified. (I’m going to write about what I call pathological hope in my next article. I see it as a defense mechanism that can be almost as self-destructive as the sociopath can be destructive.)

So what are we really looking for here? What do we really need to see? Yes, we are looking for recognition, but most of all we are looking for change. Recognition without change is ultimately useless, a big tease.

And we are looking not for signs of small, itty bitty changes, but real, durable, meaningful, yes big changes. If the changes are too subtle, too slow in coming, too contingent on things like his “moods,” or the alignment of the stars, or if they’re subject to “relapses” of any sort (and especially rationalized relapses), then”¦bzzzzzz”¦.it’s time to send him back to the dugout, permanently, to sit his a** on the bench with his fellow underperformers.

Why do I emphasize big changes and downplay small, subtle changes?

Because we are talking about a big problem, and big problems, on which the quality, integrity and perhaps even safety of your life literally depend, demand big changes. The evidence of the commitment to these changes needs to be absolutely unmistakable; but again I repeat: the key thing is less the evidence of such recognition than the evidence of the changes!

Let me give a small, somewhat tangential but, at least, one specific example of what I’m saying. Let’s say you’ve been feeling disrespected by your partner and for you this is a very serious problem. You’ve been feeling variously misunderstood, blown off, violated, neglected, abused, mistrustful; feeling, let’s say, relegated to a hurtfully low priority in your partner’s world.

In a word, you aren’t feeling respected, and this has become, for you, a serious problem that you share with him. You request that he join you for couples counseling to address your, and perhaps his, concerns?

His answer is “no.”

Well, the answer, “No,” to your request for his participation in couples therapy, is a “You just struck out, pal” answer. That’s a damning, indictable  answer. “No” is a virtual affirmation of what you’ve shared with him you’ve been experiencing—his disregard of you and the relationship.

“No” is an utterly lame answer, especially if you’ve requested his participation in couples counseling in a non-belligerent, sincere, and utterly serious fashion.

“No” is tantamount to declaring officially, “I am uninvested in this relationship.”

It may come in countless forms, among them:

“You’re unhappy, that’s your problem.”

“Go get help yourself.”

“I don’t need help. You’re the one with the complaints.”

“Nothing makes you happy. You are insatiable.”

“It’s pointless”¦seriously, get your own sh*t together first and then let’s talk.”

These, and countless similar responses, which blame you and exculpate him, while simultaneously affirming his perspective of the relationship not as a unity or partnership but more as a “sole proprietorship—¦these kinds of responses tell you all you need to know.

But now let’s say he says “yes,” and joins you in couples therapy. That’s nice. If he’s a sociopath, as I’ve written previously, you will hope the therapist will be shrewd enough to know that he, the therapist, is dealing with a sociopath. Because sociopaths do not belong in couples therapy. But for purposes of this argument, let’s imagine he’s not a full-blown sociopath.

In any case, as I’ve been suggesting, it is the evidence, ultimately, that will tell the tale.

He will either change meaningfully and permanently, and begin making these changes in earnest, very soon; or, he won’t.

He may or may not talk the talk effectively, persuasively. But if he doesn’t walk the walk and maintain the walk, you will have gotten your answer.

Walking the walk doesn’t mean it’s necessarily onesided; you too may have changes to make on your end. Nobody’s perfect, and even if you’re involved with a salvageable jerk (the best case scenario and hope), that doesn’t mean you too don’t have room to make some changes.

But let’s not kid ourselves, or let him kid us. If he isn’t motivated to leave you feeling more fulfilled, loved, respected and less neglected; if there isn’t evidence of his sincere desire to do this, and evidence of his willingness to work hard at doing this, and finally, evidence of his success at doing this, well then again”¦.we have our answers.

And let me repeat this point: the changes need to be sustained. Transitory changes made from desperation are more likely to revert as complacency creeps backs in. The regression, as complacency reenters the picture, will tell you something very important, namely that the changes weren’t made from a deep, or deeply honest enough, place.

The interesting thing, here, isn’t that any of this is a news flash or rocket science, because to the contrary I’m aware how almost insultingly obvious it is. The really key thing to beware of is the pervasiveness with which we’re inclined to put, or keep, the emotional blinders on in such a fashion that we either fail to proactively seek this evidence of a parnter’s commitment to change or else, seeking and discovering the partner’s lack of commitment, we find ways to minimize and ignore the urgency of the evidence’s meaning and message!

I will write about pathological hope as a defense mechanism next week.

(This article is copyrighted © 2011 by Steve Becker, LCSW. My use of male gender pronouns is for convenience’s sake and not to suggest that females aren’t capable of the attitudes and behaviors discussed.)


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251 Comments on "Is my partner salvageable?"

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For those here that are currently at this point – please, please heed Steve’s words. You will save yourself tears, finances, losses you cannot recover and years of wasted time.

Pathological hope – I can’t wait to read next week !

I told myself I loved him , I told myself I wanted a family life for my children, I told myself it would get better , that I could endure and pray and surely my prayers would be answered. That perhaps the other side -being divorced from him would be even worse – and right now it is.

Although I believed and still do that my motives were deeply held and I loved him – he took advantage of this and is still wreaking havoc in my life . EVERY DAY. It is insidious – he passes the house, calls incessantly, he is at the bus stop every morning – all to intimidate and send the message he isn’t going anywhere.

I am older now, still raising kids, he has depleted our finances into the hopeless zone – all the liens are cashing in and he could care less where I wind up with my children.

Honestly, I think he wants me trapped right where I am.

Pathological hope – started for me in 1994 and began to end around 2009 with a whole lot of help from an angel sent to rescue me and he knows who he is.

Don’t waste time, youir love , your energy , your soul – there is no investment to be made here . Life has to be better on the other side – at least there is a chance in that hope.

Nice article, Steve. However, I have to say that at this point in my life, there is no longer sufficient time to keep asking the question, “Is this person salvageable?” Indeed, as far as I’m concerned, if someone fits even vaguely into this category, it’s enough for me to jump ship altogether!

Of course, if someone is asking this about a child or a parent, that’s another matter: in some cases we can’t avoid those types of relationships. But for all the others, I’m simply too weary of bad or selfish behavior to even bother with this stuff anymore. In short, if I find myself thinking, “Is this person reformable, etc.?” – well, for my purposes at least, that’s a pretty good indicator that they aren’t!

Really, being alone isn’t such a bad thing. And it sure beats the hell out of trying to fix selfish – or even “kind of/sort of” selfish people!

Great job, Steve! One of the best things I have ever read.

Good article, Steve, and I agree with Constantine about “if I have to ask the question, the answer is NO!!!”

Constantine, however, you mentioned that if the relationship is with a parent or child, (and I would add spouse) —in other words a relationship of SOME DURATION AND INVESTMENT—it might be something that someone would want to INVEST MORE TIME AND EFFORT IN. Nah, Constantine, ANY relationship where one is DIS-RESPECTED and treated with lack of courtesy and compassion—nah no matter HOW MUCH you have invested in it, trying to salvage the unsalvagable because you have already invested so many dollars, years, love, etc. is still “throwing good ‘money’ after bad!” Tossing your “pearls before swine”!

Excellent way to explain things, Steve.
Thanks so much for the clean and fresh perspective.




You raised a good point about a child or parent which made me think further along those lines…what about marriages where there are children? A lot of times (if not most of the time), these relationships or marriages involve children and that’s where I observe people staying with the “unsalvageable” person because of the children. Is that right? And why do people do it? Is it just easier? Is it easier to stay than to go through all the garbage and turmoil of divorce and custody battles? And by the way, the mere fact that there ARE custody battles confirms to me that people in general are just so selfish. Why can’t people just be fair and real? Sigh. But it will never be.


We posted over each other. That is kind of what I was saying, but why do sooooo many people do it?? Why do so many people stay??? I would love to hear people’s perspectives on this.

Hey Louise (And Hi to you too Dupey!),

Well, as a child of a single working mom, I’m highly biased on this one. I think it’s one of the dumbest cliches how people are always saying, “You need a man in the house.” I don’t object to that or disagree with it entirely. But I can honestly say that I never felt the lack of a male “authority figure” in my life. (Other than the fact that I was probably a bit more wild than I would have been if my father was living with us.) In that respect, I think growing up with just my mom gave me a much freer development than would have been possible otherwise. (It also probably accounts for a few of my eccentricities!) But no, Louise, I wouldn’t have had it any different than it was.

At the very least, if the parents are fighting and arguing on a regualar basis, that’s a no brainer: ANY arrangement is better than that.

Also, you have to remember that fifty percent of marriages end in divorce. And out of the fifty that stay together, probably half of those do it “for the sake of the kids,” or “for the sake of inertia,” etc. – with most of the others living out some similar variety of “quiet desperation.” That being the case, one has to wonder whence all the fuss about finding an “ideal partner” or “soulmate”?

Steve: Thanks for the great article. The words “Sociopaths do not belong in couples therapy” really rang a bell for me. The first time I agreed to give my ex a second chance we did indeed go to couples therapy. I remember the whole time listening to him thinking he was really pouring out his sole to the therapist….even crying. The minute we got back to the car a huge smile came across his face and he remarked “Well I think that went well!” I couldn’t respond ~ I just remember feeling like a duped fool!

Louise: I think people who stay in marriages with minor children may remain there for a few reasons: 1) They don’t want to have to traumatize their children with the spouses multiple new love interests 2) Feel they can better control who the spouse would be exposing the children to by remaining in the relationship 3) Diminishes the chances of the ex taking off or abusing the children. For example: I believe I would have remained married to my ex if my two children were still minors ~ because at the very least I know they would be under my control in my own house. Once you divorce there becomes the custody and stalking issues and who knows what else. BUT I have to say; my ex was never physically violent ~ so this shouldn’t apply to everyone.


Fantastic article.

I’m with Constantine for my own future… I don’t tolerate irresponsibility with other people’s feelings anymore, not even in acquaintances. I cut them off. So, I don’t even see myself be or stay with someone who needs to change in order to show me fundamental respect.

But then we were either discarded or cut the spath already out of our lives. It is different when you are still IN the relationship and living with hope. For people in such a situation, I think the article above is a good lead.

Living with ‘hope’. 🙂
I have learned to graciously ‘let go’ of living with the hope for “IT”. I have completely ‘given up’ on “IT”. Entirely. A person can only tolerate so much disrespect and abuse, married with children, or not. There comes a point where you get tired of being the one doing all the ‘giving’ and the one taking all the abuse. There is no ‘hope’ for “IT” nor for our continued ANYTHING anymore…

IT’s actions are completely unacceptable. Children or not.
When a person is so dysfunctional that they can’t even speak right, anymore, muchless, make any sense with themselves, and when they attempt trying to kill you or constantly threaten you, it’s time to get out, no matter what –

That’s just my take.

Love & hugs to you Constantine…
Love & hugs to all of you…


This is a complicated subject.

For us “rescuers”, it’s our nature to want to continue sacrificing and investing in anyone who might be salvageable.

Consider the analogy of the gambler. He knows the odds are stacked against him, but he has already begun “investing” in the slot machine and all those bells and whistles are providing “feedback” that could possibly mean the next time will be a payoff.

Much of what entices us to continue investing in the disordered people in our lives is “a feeling”. It’s actually an addiction.

I would say, that for me, I might consider feeding that addiction if there was a payoff OTHER THAN saving the spath. If I was going to learn something about myself and my ability to deal with spaths by investing in this spath, then there will be a consolation prize in the end, even if you lose. There is one caveat though…if the spath decides to poison you or destroy you in some way that you could never imagine, then you’ve already lost.

I guess what I’m trying to say is: it’s a gamble. How much of a risk are you willing to take? How much of a gambler are you? Ask yourself: what is at stake here? could it be my life?

I think a lot of people do NOT ask that question. there is the problem. We are so intertwined with the spath, I think until the very end do we think: is my life at stake? Which is so sad!!! We don’t get that message till the end, if at all and escape anyway! God Bless!

Hi Ana,
It’s very hard to believe that a person you loved so much would want to kill you. It takes a very strong desire to want to ground yourself in reality to believe the truth.

Hi Duped!
Glad to hear from you. How is the new man working out? I hope you have a fulfilling relationship!

Good to hear that you are doing well physically and mentally as well! Keep in touch.


I agree with you regarding the other 50% who stay together only because of the children or inertia or just because they have been married so many years; can’t throw all that away…all BS. I myself would not stay just because of the kids or any other ridiculous reason if I discovered or realized the spouse was toxic…a liar, a cheat, etc., etc.

donna dixon: You did bring up some very good points that I have thought about before. 1) They don’t want to have to traumatize their children with the spouses multiple new love interests 2) Feel they can better control who the spouse would be exposing the children to by remaining in the relationship. There is also the fact that some men don’t want to have a role in raising their children. They have the wife in the home and she takes care of everything to do with the children, but if they divorce, that man is now forced to take care of the children on weekends or any other time he has them and he doesn’t want that responsibility. I wonder what happens to those marriages once the kids are grown and gone?

Yes, that is a terrible truth. Not many face it girl. You did. Please feel proud of yourself for this one thing. Love ya.

Dear Steve,

I agree with your premise although there are some extremely adept sociopaths who can ‘act’ and put on a performance worthy of an acadamy award. If they are patient and careful, the sociopath can keep his act going on for some time. During this time you doubt your sanity because you think they are really the good person they say they are and you are the crazy one.

Case in point. We went to a highly recommended phd for our last ditch effort in trying to work out our marriage. Spath was a reformed man, he wasn’t admitting to everything but said he made some mistakes. He started grocery shopping, doing the dishes, listening to me, asking me to do things together, buying me gifts and asked me to re-new our vows because he loved me so much.

Spath convinced the phd that the problems we were facing had been partially due to the abuse I experienced as a child and from my anxiety. Spath just wanted me to get better and the phd was duped. When we were done with the horrible experience of counseling I felt like I had been run over by a steemroller. I wanted to just give in and do what spath said. So badly. This could be the pathological hope you were talking about.

I had so much cognitive disonance it was torture. This man (spath husband) was sexually abusive to my daughter, tried to get an intervention for me and put me in a mental facility. But he had seen the light and all that bad behavior was in the past. He even went to church and cried to the priest about how much he wanted the marriage to work.

If you are going to gauge your staying or leaving a possible sociopath or narcissist on these two questions, you need to know that they can act the part for a very long time. Not days or months but years and years. During that time you may have lost yourself so completely you will never be whole or sane again. You may be battling debilitating depression or addictions just to cope.

You need to listen to your intuition, your inner voice. That phd didn’t believe me at first because of how convincing the spath was in his proclimations of love and fidelity.

If you need to even ask those two questions, err on the side of caution and leave the relationship, please.

As far as “studying” them, I don’t know, Skylar Goodall; but considering that you’ve already spent a quarter of a century studying spath monkeys in the wild, I have to wonder how many more apprenticeships you could possibly require?

Yes Louise, I think conventional wisdom regarding “compromise” and so forth in relationships is just so much BS. At least as far as the “big” things go, like truth-telling, honor, empathy, and the like. I can only speak for myself, but I refuse to budge so much as an inch on these issues!

LOL Constantine,
A person can never stop learning, but I get your drift. you made me crack up. thx.

I lack enough humility to admit when I’m wrong sometimes. If I had had the opportunity, I would have stayed with the spath to study him. Thank God that fear made me run. I didn’t even have the imagination to think that he would poison me. That’s what I mean. I can’t advise anyone on what they should do, I can only relate what happened to me, in hindsight. If I had stayed because I thought I could handle it, I’d be dead. The spaths have NO LIMITS. That is what we have to know before we make our decisions. THEY HAVE NO LIMITS.

Fear can often be a great substitute for humility.

Dear Constantine,

I’m with you on this one, ONE AND DONE! One lie, one nasty outburst with name calling, blame placing, etc.

ONE AND DONE. Works for me!

living with a physco is like living with a physco – this brings back memories of the hypervigilance I lived with – trying to salvage him and the mess he had made out of my life – I remember the threats he made and the love he professed in the same breath – sleeping with one eye open – planning a life together and wondering if this nitemare will ever end at the same time – your right Sky they have no limit’s, he would still be rockin my world if I was so inclined.

I think the key answer in the article of above is the “big change”… What our spaths did was change some little things: help out in the household, stayed at least a few nights at home without going out, went to work for 2 weeks, took us out on a date one time… But they relapse or keep on doing the big issues which have not changed at all.

In a way it was good he and I had to live at long distance at times… I know I helped him less over time when he was in Nicaragua by himself, because I felt that certainly after several months, he had had time enough to get a job and work his life out more, even if it was supposed to be just for a while until his papers were in order. I was able to see over time how he kept on making excuses and ruined his own chances. It took time, but I could get the info on the bigger picture from a safer distance. I lost time though because I clung too much on the hope based on small changes that were no more than bandages for the bleeding. But when the mask came off, I was ready to accept the full reality that he would never change. Perhaps that is probably partly why he jumped ship. I was not helping anymore financially for months already, because I felt it was his responsibility after all that time (couldn’t either) to get on his own 2 feet, and accepting less and less of his excuses. I actually started to say “no” on his requests without an apology. Meanwhile I started to do certain things I used to do by myself again, before I met him.

All in all, I probably would have ended it soon myself. He just wanted to have his alternatives ready for when that time came, and dump me first. The reality is that I broke up with him a week befor,e, not having any hope at all, but went back on it after several days because of the bond addiction.

Not that it made me suffer any less in the aftermath.

Hens, you described the experience so simple and yet perfect… When I’m triggered, it is not so much the details I remember, but the hypervigilance, the sleeping with one eye open with my wallet under my pillow… it was mental torture by sleep and peace deprivation

Being raised by my Grandfather who was a military person, I was taught not to take disrespect and things such as I have just came through and experienced with my ex spath. I was taught to cut away the chase and only regard that which is deserving and honorable and respectable. WHY I allowed “IT” as close to me as I did, without noticing all the ‘red flags’ that I sort of acknowledged was there but believed the longer you expound on all the negative, that is what you will have: negativity. So, I chose to believe in someone that I thought perhaps was WORTH the efforts and the pain and the torment and the TORTURE I went through for “IT” and because of “IT”.

I endured a very long time and I am here to tell you that after almost ten years of this (and yes, I am still being stalked) and reminded of the threats upon my life…often. WHY? Why am I being targeted when I have done absolutely nothing to warrant any of this?

I will tell you why: because with spaths there is no rhyme nor reason. They live on instinct. They react by instinct. They are basic and primal human beings who have a preset determination to be selfish and consuming. Yes, we all HOPE for the best but the best doesn’t always come; does it? Unless WE MAKE IT happen.

For me, putting an abrupt and very NOT NICE AT ALL “END” to this drama and chaos in my world was absolutely necessary for my survival in more ways than one. It isn’t easy cutting a part of us away. Especially when we have no real explanation for everything the way it has come down.

But, instead of focusing on our emotions, we need to be using our heads and realizing that these people are distorted and ill. Or, they were just predisposed to BE the way they are; OR, they are making conscious CHOICE to BE the way they are. If they didn’t want to be the way they are, they wouldn’t be. RIGHT?
We are all responsible for our own choices in this life.

It is soon to be six months NC on my behalf. Although “IT” is going = kicking and screaming. 🙂 I have absolutely NO DOUBT nor worry for my safety – but that doesn’t mean he won’t try.

It’s just a matter of time now. Healthwise, I received a great report from my cardiologist last week. He has put off talking any further surgery for another four months and has increased the dose of all my medications. I am still scheduled for a colonoscopy/biopsy within the next month. It has been difficult getting medical approval for this, with my heart condition.

Thanks for the wishes Ana however I have forsaken all relationships about me until I am healed. They never seem to work well. With my ‘new found knowledge’, I find myself not wanting to tolerate a whole lot and I am self sufficient, I need no relationship around me. No where in the handbook of life does it say that we MUST be a part of an equation in order to be whole. I am just grateful to have survived my heart attack, and the spath attack as well.

It hasn’t been easy, to say the absolute very least, but we have survived it. I HAVE SURVIVED IT. My life deserves much better than the nightmare I had been living in all these years. I am sorry for the sick person I banished and the way his life is. But nobody chose all that but himself. HE made it happen and I can’t hang on any longer.

Trust me: if the stalking doesn’t stop, I will make it stop.
I will definitely use any legal means at my disposal and have already ‘informed’ “IT” of the same and have made all such provisions.

It seems to never end; doesn’t it? 🙂
It’s not an affectionate stalking – it is a stalking of ‘ill well’.
It is not flattering in the least. It is ‘sick’ and ‘twisted’ and ‘off base’ as it always has been.

They say if the devil knocks on your door and you open it and let him in, it would be ugly just like this. I had to get the devil OUT OF MY LIFE or I would not have survived. Literally.

No: no ‘hoping’ here. That small little flame that pilot light of hope, inside my heart, was murdered and I have had to accept that my heart was lying to me – still – I was believing in someone who hated me and everything I stood for….everything I DO stand for…so much so, the vortex quickly sucked in everything about me…I was giving unconditional affection to a psychopath who found it not only amusing but decided that it would try to take as much as it could, including my life, if I stood in it’s way…it was love bombing me to death and I mean that completely literally.

Where I used to have ‘hope’ that ITS life – with or without me – would straighten out, I have no ‘hope’ for “IT” anymore. I give up. But I am not giving up on MYSELF ANYMORE!

AFTERMATH, darwinsmom, that is a GREAT way to explain it. We will be fine. We will learn to reprocess all the ugliness and come to find a comfortable spot to rest our minds over all of this. I remember and I think I will always remember the good mixed right in with the bad – but now when I think of it all, it doesn’t hurt near like it used to….it’s finding it’s spot inside me now. Like water finding it’s level.

I can relate darwinsmom: hyper-vigilance, 24/7 for about 10 years over here…

MY GOODNESS what we allow our hearts to get us into!!!!! 😉

Peace, love and light to you all for a 🙂 weekend!
THIS life and this world is meant for US too…xxoo


Super Dupester your reference to LIGHT:
Amazed by all the reference to ‘LIGHT’ on LF. Examples such as ‘seeing the light’ ‘going to the light’ ‘living in the light’ and ‘light at the end of the tunnel’ and so many others. It is the place we can’t imagine when we first come here. I believe all good starts at the moment that lightbulb is flipped on. Do you remember the very moment you started seeing truth in the light? Wondering what special meaning ‘the LIGHT’ has to other LF posters. Shalom

Hi I have just found this site and hope somone can help me as at the moment I feel bereft. My guy certainly ticks alot of the boxes and my head tells me to get rid and move on, but deep inside i still feel attached. When we met he overwhelmed me with flattery, attention and hounded me in a nice way until he ‘got’ me. At first and for quite a while our relationship was the best thing that has happened to me. He had, however, an ‘ex’ which he was meant to finish with to be with me. They had some joint property abroad and he told me he was being cordial with her so she didn’t steal his half of the property as it was in her name and they had not yet received title deeds. I accepted this because I believed in him when he told me he had waited all his life to meet someone like me. It turns out that he disappears abroad to this property frequently. I can never go. He is there for up to 2 months at a time. He can’t answer his phone at night even though he says they are in separate rooms! we always fall out because I don’t believe him but when he comes back he sweet talks me back with plausible reasons for his behaviour. These are usually to do with protecting his investment til he gets the deeds. Why do I feel so miserable? And why would I want to be with such a liar? he says he lies so he dosent hurt me! I enjoy his company- should I use him the way he has used me and should I tell this woman what is going on??

Dear PK,

Welcome to LoveFraud. Sorry you “NEED” to be here…but glad you are, because this is the life-tansforming place to be when you are involved with a toxic person.

You ALREADY know what he is—he is a Liar and he says he “lies to KEEP FROM HURTING YOU?” LOL ROTFLMAO Yea, right and I belive that like I have a bridge in Brooklyn to sell you and an ocean-front property in Arizona!

This man is using you, USING YOU…he is lying to you…and you need that why? So he can LIE to you some more with “sweet lies” when he is sleeping with someone else in another country for several months at a time?

PK each of us must make our own decisions about relationships and anything else in our lives, but from MY past EXPERIENCE, I would dump this guy TODAY…cut him off and never speak to him again, no matter how he tried to get to me. I would block his calls, his texts, his e mails, and then learn about how to spot the RED FLAGS that indicate a person is dishonest. But I’ve had the EXPERIENCES, and I’ve been here for 4 years learning about how to spot them and the ONE “cure” for the relationship, and that is GET OUT AND GO NO CONTACT as soon as you see the FIRST RED FLAG. But not everyone is ready to effect the cure yet.


Sometimes the “light at the end of the tunnel is an ON-COMING TRAIN!” LOL Seriously, with one betrayal right after another sometimes it does seem that even the “light” is evil, but eventually we do come to “see the light” and it illuminates the ugly darkness.

I read once that it doesn’t take EVEN MUCH LIGHT to banish the darkness….darkness is a 100% absence of light, so ANY amount of light banishes that darkness. We must sometimes produce our own light, and shield that small fragile flame of light from the hurricane winds of the psychopaths, but we can do it, so many people here have proven that we CAN DO IT!


pk – there is a very good book that will help you to understand your bond to him and to extricate yourself from it: The Betrayal Bond.

welcome pk – if you clicked on sociopath and box’s started ticking then you have been shown the light – you can use him ( he would love that ) but you will not win – but only go deeper into the abyss of unhealthy attachment..run like your ass is on fire cause it is. best wishes.

People like that get their thrills from duping others.
It gives them a sense of power to lie and be believed. When he is being sweet and loving, that’s the biggest lie of all because that’s not how he feels. It’s an act and an illusion which he presents just to manipulate you into allowing him back into your life so he can continue to toy with you.

Cut him out of your life and start working towards healing from being in the presence of evil.

shalomy – the light bulb kept blinking but when I went to replace it, it would stop blinking, so I thot it was ok for awhile then it would grow dim and blink again, I would jiggle it and it would burn bright for a while then dim and blinking again – it kept fixing itself to burn bright when I was ready to throw it out – I got tired of waiting on it to shine bright so I threw it out and now my light shines bright – I bet that old bulb is still blinkin somewhere out there. lol 2 shay


GREAT ANALOGY with the light bulb that “blinks” intermittently. That is like a car that runs well sometimes, but other times leaves you stranded on the road and you decide to junk it, but then it runs great for a while….rinse and repeat! Oh, well…if it is NOT DEPENDABLE then I don’t want it. That’s kind of like “he’s a great guy when he isn’t robbing banks.” LOL or Saying about Ted Bundy, “he’s a great friend when he is not raping and killing girls” LOL Ann Rule would have thought he was a great friend and I think did for a long time even after he had been arrested a time or two.

We need to HEED those red flags, not just notice them, but to take ACTION IMMEDIATELY. Not keep hoping it will shine brightly! Steve talked about “pathological hope” for his next article. I have called it “malignant hope” (denial) for a long time, and I think anytime we hang on to UNREALISTIC HOPE we are just in denial and it WILL bite us in the arse deeper and deeper than if we took ACTION SOONER.

Dear skylar, hens ,Ox Drover and One joy, thank you so much for your helpful advice. I will get that book and I hope it explains my unhealthy attachment. My head tells me to go but my heart wants to believe he is genuine- don’t laugh – but when I think of how intense our relationship was and all the things he’s said and done for me- the heart in me wants to believe he meant it. His stories are plausible- would you tell this other woman? Does she not deserve to know what she is involved with- a lying duplicitous s***. I suppose i am also very competitive and feel i have lost here. Am I clinging to malignant hope?? Can these people be cured or change??

PS – What does ROTFLMAO mean?? Sorry 50 something and English!

Thank you, thank you, thank you for this site. I thought I was going mad until read that other people have been through exactly the same experiences as me. I was pretty low after my divorce but he targeted me straight away telling me how lovely I was and building my self-esteem up (or so he said). Upshot being I’ve spent 10 years being ‘the other woman’ in a relationship, which is totally against my upbringing and character but i’ve not been able to break free. Everytime I’ve tried (5 years now) I’ve been reeled back in with more promises, resulting eventually in him leaving his wife for me last year, but only after I had started seeing someone else. We booked a holiday but at the airport he drove past the car park and dumped me and my children on the pavement with our suitcases proclaiming that he couldn’t go with us! I spent most of the holiday devastated that he could do that to us. He picked us up from the airport and carried on as if nothing had happened! Found out later that he’d taken his wife away instead. He then became Mr Wonderful again, although my friends saw him several times with other women. He denied everything saying my friends (and my daughter) were liars. He spent Christmas and New Year with me and was back to the charming man again. Then on the 5th Jan, 9pm, told me he was going on a 10 day cruise to New York with his wife the next day! I phoned her and she confirmed the cruise but it was a 4 month round the world cruise. He then kept phoning giving one excuse after another for not being able to leave the cruise. I have a postcard from every port saying he loved me and had made a mistake! Came back in April expecting to move straight back in with me! Constantly phoning, texting, emailing, stalking. Even had his hands round my throat at one point and put me up against my car because I wouldn’t take him back. I thought I was going to die that night. I have to take his calls otherwise he comes around to demand why I haven’t answered. I can’t go out with friends because I get called all sorts of names and it’s just not worth the stress, so I seem to be stuck in this nightmare. Reading all your posts I realise that it’s not me that has the problem, as he keeps saying. To everyone else he is the charming person he professes to be in public. I am going to have to bite the bullet and cut him off completely aren’t I? But I am frightened. But the bit I hate most is that a small part of me still loves the man that I thought he was. Is that normal?

pk. What you are saying is exactly how I feel. My head tells me one thing, but my heart still wants to believe that no-one could be that evil. I have tried just using him, but it makes you feel more and more worthless as time goes on, and you will never win. Your life will never be your own as he will always have a say. I know all this, but still I can’t break free at the moment. Will try to get hold of the book Betrayal Bond for my own sanity.

Yes, Confused… it is very normal that you still feel love for this man. We bond to these people on 2 levels:
– hormonally when they lovebomb us
– and through trauma

The lovebomb bond: when they lovebomb us and have frequent sex with us, oxytocine gets released into our body and brains. Oxytocine is the bonding hormone that gets released for example when a mother delivers her baby and suckles him. This is nature’s way to facilate the creation of a bond for the mother towards her child. Sex also does this for women, which is why it’s very difficult for women to not experience sex as lovemaking. A spath ensures that our brains are on a constant oxytocine rush with their lovebombing. By the time their mask starts to slip and even when you see more of the Mr. Hyde than you ever see Dr. Jeckill, our brains are already so conditioned to the oxytocine that a little gets us a long way. So, you can consider yourself to be literally addicted to the man.

The trauma bond: you’ve probably heard of how kidnapped people are defensive about their kidnappers, how they are bonded with them. This is because the kidnapped person depends on their kidnapper for survival. If they are nice, kind and understanding to them, they hope to facilitate their kidnapper to be kind to them. If a kidnapper shows violent or distrustful behaviour as well as kind behaviour, the trauma bond will augment. Without the danger of the kidnapper becoming violent and dangerous to their safety, the kidnapped person would have less of a motive to appease them. A spath shows kindness as well as hostile behaviour to you. You’ve tried to use your empathy in order to predict and gain control over the outcome of his behaviour and in that way bonded to him.

The only cure to the addiction is to go cold turkey and have no contact. The only way that you can gain a healthy perspective again on your situation, and start to break off the betrayal bond is by leaving the spath and getting to an environment where they cannot create chaos and insecurity anymore

pk – rotflmao – means – rolling on the floor laughing my ass off – some of us have been here a long while and have regained our sense of humor – I realize new people are probably at the lowest low of there live’s when they first find this place and humor is the last thing they want or need…no disrespect to your situtation – I would also like to recommend a book that helped me in the beginning , Meaning from Madness by Richard Skerritt
This life lesson you are about to embark starts out about the spath in your life and ends up being more about you/us than we can see at this point in your journey – hang tuff you will recover and be fine I promise —

yes, it’s exactly as darwinsmom says, you MUST GO COLD TURKEY. Nothing else works. He will play you like a yoyo. When he sees you pulling away, he will pull you harder back. The addiction becomes stronger with each high and low that you experience. He KNOWS this. He knows that drama is the key to bonding you to him. Whether positive or negative emotions, it doesn’t matter as long as they keep switching back and forth.

Furthermore, he will likely want to punish you more each time you pull away. Mine began poisoning me after one of my exits, but I didn’t know it for over 20 years. This was a ploy to make me too sick to work, isolate me, drain my money and make me more dependant on him.

One of the best ways to get away from him with the least amount of stalking and drama is to lead him to believe that you are broke, sick and depressed. When you are no longer a “shiny” thing, he will lose interest. They like shiny things. Dull things bore them and a spath can’t stand to be bored.

Don’t tell him that he upsets you, don’t accuse him of playing you – that would just give him the drama he wants. Instead tell him you have a foot fungus, a hang nail, gas and bloating. You are stuck doing bookkeeping and taxes all day. If he suggests going to dinner, tell him you feel constipated. The only way to get rid of them is to be boring and mundane and pathetic. He will slither away on his own without you even having to get a restraining order.

Skylar that is hysterical. Taxes, constipation, book keeping, fungus, broke, sick, depressed. Rock on!!!!!

It’s because they are soooo boring they can’t take one more minute of it..LOL

I started planting again. I like gray rocks too, lots of them. The plants are sloow to grooow, but I do see some buds sprouting up. But, they are all brown and very, very ugly. I guess I’ll plant a different variety, maybe they will grow then.


I recognize what you say is a distinct possibility.

Given your extensive knowledge of these types, could you please tell me, what is the best way to get a spath out of one’s life?
And what is the best way to get revenge?

Shalom: The light is the warm and comforting spot where we all can go to and be at peace and protected. “The Light” was indeed a very scarce commodity when we all first came here…

My, my, how time turns tides; hmm?

Shalom, Shalom xxoo

Nice post! I love the light too 🙂

That warm ‘light’ is our salvation in times of trouble.
Our shelter when all hope seems gone.

When everything else has forsaken us,
the ‘light’ still flickers to show us the way home.


WOW! Excellent question. Can’t wait to hear the answer.
How DOES one make the spath slither away?

I have some ideas but I’d really like to hear from an expert.


SK – please don’t feed the spaths. this one won’t go away until we ALL ignore him.

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