Editor’s note: The following letter was written by a Lovefraud reader whom we’ll call “Gwendolyn.”
I was married to a sociopath and addict for four years. He did the love bombing thing with me and pushed for moving in and marriage very early, within the first few months. I was afraid of the consequences of refusing him, so I foolishly went along and moved into his house then married him. I only lived with him for two and a half years. It was a twisted game of lies, addiction and emotional abuse. It was a long and damaging period of time.
At first it was intoxicating. He said we were destined for each other, that I was “the one,” and that he couldn’t stand to be apart from me so I needed me to move in. But they were all lies.
Finding the truth
I moved out and spent two years on my own during my divorce and separation. I’d found out that during the portion of our separation when we were going to marriage counseling, my husband was already in another relationship, but he was too “afraid” to tell me. He said he was a sex addict and went to meetings.
During the marriage, I found texts from hookers on his phone. He was registered for a web site that allows men to find and rate local prostitutes. He watched porn constantly, including at work, in his sister’s bathroom while visiting there with several other relatives in the house, and also on his iPhone while driving. He used cocaine behind my back after swearing up and down he’d been “sober” from alcohol and drugs for many years.
He spent money foolishly and left me to pay bills, including credit card bills he had run up with his ex-girlfriend. He was in $55,000 in credit card debt. He bragged about his house, but the truth was it was neglected and in a shambles.
He blamed everyone else for his problems, including his exes, his employers, his family, and of course, me.
It took me a long time to let go, heal and move on from that marriage. But I learned the signs of a sociopathic personality. That became evident in my next relationship. It didn’t last long. But that was the point. I saw the signs. I dealt with my emotions and attachment. I broke it off before too much damage was done.
Here is the story of my next dating experience with a man I will call “Dan.”
High school friend
Several months ago, I ran into Dan, an old friend from high school. I was feeling strong and much smarter about matters of the heart. And it seemed magical that I’d known “Dan” for more than 25 years. When we were kids he used to have a mad crush on me. It was fun to talk about the good old days and the fond memories we shared. He told me he worked about five minutes from where I lived. So we met for lunch at a restaurant and had a nice talk. We hadn’t seen each other in years.
Dan was full on with the love bombing, rollercoaster romance, the fast “I love you,” and calling me his soul mate. My alarms were going off and my anxiety levels were skyrocketing. I wanted to believe everything was going to be okay. Surely, after all these years and this magical reunion, I must be wrong.
Of course, I wasn’t wrong. Dan broke into my email and Facebook on my computer within two weeks. He lied for two additional weeks about it and swore he would never do such a thing. Finally, I told him I had the history on my computer that showed he’d spent hours and hours digging through my messages. He confessed, only when I had the evidence.
He was controlling and paranoid about who I talked to. He asked me to delete people from my Facebook friends. He constantly badgered me about who I had dated and who I talked to. In the end it turned out he was calling and texting his ex-girlfriend all along. And God knows what else he was doing. He had freaked out and scrutinized everything I did while he himself did as he pleased and simply deleted the evidence. I did catch him in the end, and I left.
When I look back on this nine-week relationship, here are a few red flags I didn’t want to pay attention to at first. Thankfully, I eventually did listen to my gut instinct. There were signs of his real character, which he revealed in what he said to me. Here are some examples.
1. Every ex he mentioned (his three wives and some others) had cheated on him sexually and/or emotionally. He said he only cheated on one of them. He was always the victim in the break ups.
2. He said when he was younger, one of his first girlfriends made him feel suspicious. So he cheated on her constantly and then came home and questioned her about EVERY male she had any contact with that day. He did this to her every day.
3. He said I should move in with him after we were dating for about three weeks. When I said, “I have a lease.” He said, “Just get evicted.” (Shows he does not honor his word or promises.)
4. He said he knew a guy who could connect him with welfare recipients who would sell their food stamps or food cards to him at a cheap rate for groceries. This was something he was interested in pursuing. (Shows his willingness to break laws and exploit others for a relatively small gain.)
5. Even though he was financially overextended and had a high interest rate on it, he purchased an expensive sports car with a $650 per month car payment and very high maintenance, gas and insurance costs, because “he deserved a nice car.” (Shows he is irresponsible and cannot delay gratification.)
6. He said he had to move out of his ex-girlfriend’s condo in a rush, so he borrowed $1600 from a friend. Five or six months later he still had not paid the friend a single dime back and planned to get an expensive full arm tattoo (over $1000) before he paid his friend.
7. He said he was only acting friendly to the tattoo artist so he could “get back in with him” to get an appointment.
8. He said a woman he never met was sending him naked photos via text message on his phone for five or six months and he swore he never encouraged her or requested that the activity continue.
9. He took out all of his 401K and failed to pay the taxes on it. So the IRS came after him, and now he is paying the back taxes and interest each month.
10. He bragged to me that he never worried about money. Then we went to a pizza place where his debit card was declined because he had eight dollars in his checking account. I ended up paying for dinner (again).
11. His finances were a mess. He never paid his bills on time and simply didn’t care to get his credit in order or get on a budget. He once paid more than $500 to take an ex-drug addict girlfriend on a hot air balloon ride. One night I was at his house when he purchased a $55 cable TV feature fight, and he cannot afford to pay his utility bills on time.
12. He would often protest about me offering to pay for a meal or coffee or groceries AFTER the fact. He’d allow me to pay then act like he had intended to pay for things. It was all very phony.
13. When he broke into my computer and searched all of my emails and messages from BEFORE he was with me, he said he was going to find the men I had been talking to and “curb stomp” them, which means putting the mouth and teeth of a person against a cement curb and smashing a shoe or boot against the back of their head. I was not familiar with this term before. I found this to be excessively violent.
14. While he was on his jealous warpath, he was part of a sex-related web site that was so stupid it was embarrassing. They had his (clothed) picture on the site and also on social media with a fake name. I cringed when I saw it. He said there was nothing wrong with him putting up photos of naked women and corresponding with them “for the web site.” This man is 44 years old and trying to be part of an amateur web site that mostly features 20-year-olds.
15. He once said out of the blue that he used to look at his third wife when she was engaged in a sexual act with him and think she was nothing more than a “receptacle.” (Shows a blatant disrespect for women and a general hostility toward women.)
16. He claims to love his children. I believe he does feel attached to them. But he breaks promises to them and interacts with them very little when he has them for visits. I heard him speaking very abusively to one of them the day before I walked out and never returned.
17. When I caught him with a text message on his phone from his ex, he lied and said he didn’t know who the number was. Then he lied and said he thought it was her but didn’t know why she would be texting. Then he finally admitted he had been texting her and had been deleting everything. Then he admitted to talking to her on the phone. This started right around the time I asked for a night off from him because I needed to sleep and get things done at home. He was very resentful. I believe contacting her was a way to fill his desperate need to NEVER feel alone and also to punish me for daring to take a night off.
18. He has a scar that looks like a cut or abrasion shaped in a very distinct initial or letter of the alphabet. It looks like the first initial of his ex-wife who left him. He kept telling this rehearsed sounding story over and over again about the scar. He said, “I reached into the refrigerator to get something and when I pulled my hand out, there was this cut there. I have no idea how it happened.” He would tell this story over and over, as if he finally had it perfected.
19. He lied about many other things including drinking, how often he went to the bar before, etc.
20. When I broke up with him, he went and posted the SAME old messages on his Facebook page he’d posted in January when his ex-girlfriend broke up with him. They were things like “It’s your loss; I’m awesome” or “If someone doesn’t appreciate me, watch me walk away.” I noticed he also posted a lot of the same songs by the same band when he was with her and when he was with me. It seems like he runs his game, and it doesn’t matter who he is with. It’s the same old story.
21. He has lung problems and he smokes excessively. He said he didn’t smoke as much when he was around me. Therefore, it was my responsibility to be around all the time so he didn’t destroy his health. But even though he tried to take up ALL my time whenever he could, he mentioned that during the summer he was going for a long weekend with his buddies to drink beer. So I guess it was okay for him to take a break when he wanted. (Shows a double standard and unrealistic expectations.)
I should have listened to my gut when I noticed these signs. But eventually, I got wise and got out. He has stopped texting and messaging me for the past few days. He will go between saying he is a “failure” to defending himself and saying he is an honest man who is being treated unfairly. There is much more I could say. But his character was showing through from very early on. I only had to be willing to see it and act on it.
Thank you for reading. Please watch out of signs of poor character.