Editor’s note: Lovefraud received the following letter from a reader, who we’ll call Matt.
I am a gay man and a criminal defense attorney. After 22 years in my business I though I had seen it all, heard it all, and knew it all when it came to the bad side of human nature. That was until 15 months ago when I became romantically involved with a sociopath.
Hook, Line and Sinker
July. I met “S” when I was facing 50, flying solo and fearing my own mortality — I had just come from signing my will. I walked into a bar and S homed in on me like a heat-seeking missile. He had a beautiful smile, but I remember how it never reached his eyes — they were laser intense, but flat and unblinking. A few drinks later and big pools of chemistry were forming under S and me. That night, he put the ”˜good’ in good night kiss.
August. S launched a full-blown charm offensive. In one week I was swept up in a whirlwind of romantic dinners and phenomenal sex — he made me feel like I was the best lover on earth.
At the end of the week I went on vacation. While I was checking into the hotel a florist showed up with a beautiful arrangement. I said to the desk clerk “Somebody got lucky.” He looked at the card, handed it over and said “Somebody did.” S had sent the arrangement. I fell for S like the proverbial ton of bricks.
Danger Will Robinson
September. The red flags began to pop all over the place. S refused to take me to parties because his ex would be there. S never left messages on my answering machine or voicemail. S never had me over to his apartment though he lived two blocks away. S was secretive in the extreme. But, I ignored the red flags because S was still showering me with attention and the sex was great.
October. Hindsight being 20/20, I could have walked out when S stood me up for a date. I would have walked out when S confessed that he had only broken up with his ex three weeks before me met, not a year earlier like he originally told me. And I should have walked out when S told me that he had been released from prison three weeks before we met.
But, before I could walk, S hit me hard and fast with the “pity play.” He “came clean” and told me how he got hooked on cocaine after his beloved mother was left brain-dead by a stroke. S was convicted of stealing paychecks from his employer to buy drugs. Then S began to sob and told me he didn’t want to “bring the problems that being an ex-con has to your doorstep because I love you.”
As odd as it sounds, S had been lucky. He was sentenced to a “shock incarceration facility” aka “scared straight boot camp,” instead of prison. S also served 10 months of a one-and-a-half to three year sentence and was then put on probation. Another stroke of luck.
If anyone should know from experience that all criminals and ex-cons lie and play people, it’s me. But, S stirred up the caretaker in me and I vowed to help him rebuild his life.
November. I was so besotted with S I ignored even more red flags. He repeatedly violated his probation by leaving the state without permission of his PO. He conned his group therapy leader into letting him out of his post-release program early. And when S informed me that “From here on in I’m only thinking about number one” — I was a fool not to take him at his word.
S finally introduced me to his “ex.” I now see that he was deliberately pitting the two of us against each other for his own amusement. S also did this to increase my jealousy. And it worked. I opened the financial taps. Each date became more lavish than the last.
December. S no longer wooed me with dinner and flowers. S wasn’t concerned about me or his problems. And why should he be? I had become S’s personal ATM, social director and lawyer. I had become S’s one-man Salvation Army.
Devalue and Discard
January. S chose New Year’s Eve to pick a fight with me for agreeing to spend the holiday with “his” friends without his consent (the fact that he had told them this was fine with him two days earlier escaped him). And I took all the abuse he heaped on me. Why? Because I was determined to win back the man I fell in love with.
February. I should have paid more attention to S’s choice of friends — and lack thereof. I threw him a catered birthday party. Forty of his friends said they would attend. Six showed. I actually hurt for him. It wasn’t until later I realized that this indicated how little his so-called friends and colleagues thought of him.
But I was asleep at the switch when S reestablished his friendship with his college roommate – who was also his “former” drug dealer. The night they reconnected S picked a fight with me in a bar. He stormed out and “broke-up” with me by text message.
S made me crazy that night. I walked around his block for eight hours straight. The next morning S finally let me into his apartment. Then S blamed me for his cashed paycheck being lifted from his back pocket and told me “I need your help to pay my February rent.” I agreed to “lend” him the money and wrote the check then and there for $1,550. Why? Because I was determined to win back the man I fell in love with.
March. I wondered where S’s family was. I remember when a friend of S’s said, “I never understood how S’s family, to a man, turned their backs on him when he was sent to prison,” Now I see that S had burned them so many times they cut S out of their lives. But, I didn’t. Why? Because I was determined to win back the man I fell in love with.
April. I took S to Washington, DC to see the cherry blossoms and to share with him a place that was special to me. S was overly eager to go to church. When we entered the sanctuary I learned the priest was S’s former partner (two exes ago). Shocked, I thought “I can’t believe he’s sandbagging a priest on the altar.” S thought it was hysterical. But, I hung on. Why? Because I was determined to win back the man I fell in love with.
May. S “needed my help” and handed me an envelope. A letter from his landlord threatening eviction. The landlord had rejected April’s rent check because S hadn’t paid February and March. I realized he had lied to me earlier and I had paid January’s rent. But, I didn’t ask any questions and agreed to “lend” him $3,750.
The abrupt personality changes, his constant lack of money. I knew from experience he was using again. But I rationalized it away. If he was using, he couldn’t pass the drug test run by his PO. Right? I ignored the fact that the system can be beat. And I didn’t call him on any of it. Why? Because I was determined to win back the man I fell in love with.
June. Weekend trips. Restaurant checks. Bar bills. Theatre tickets. I paid for it all. He went out of his way to ruin whatever I planned. I was going into debt. I felt more and more empty, more and more abused. I was in a relationship but had never felt more alone.
The more I gave, the more S withheld – Time together. Emotional availability. Sex. Love. And the more emotionally abusive he became. Why did I put up with it? Because I was determined to win back the man I had fallen in love with.
July. Our first anniversary. What was I celebrating? One year of emotional and physical exhaustion from dealing with his never ending dramas? One year of fearing his temper and was walking on eggshells?
S and I celebrated by returning to the “scene of the crime,” the bar where we had met. Over a champagne toast I handed him a ticket to Greece. He handed me an envelope saying “I’m going to need your help again.” Inside was another eviction notice.
This time I finally drew a line in the sand. I told S that I wouldn’t “help” him financially. The most I would do is walk him through the court process so he could represent himself and halt the eviction until we returned from Greece. Period.
The next day I did what I should have done early on — I combed every database I could — public (New York e.courts) and private (Lexis). I uncovered 15 judgments against S for nonpayment of credit cards, car loans, student loans, taxes, rent, and loans from friends and three more pending cases. Then it struck me — his secretiveness, desire to move, avoiding certain places — of the 18 people who sued, how many more hadn’t?
The Brain Fog Starts to Lift
August. I told S this trip to Greece was a chance for us to get back on track. We arrived in Greece. I promptly caught him stealing from a neighbor’s villa. His response? “They’re not going to miss it.” The weird grin on his face when he said it chilled me. Like I was the fool.
I would have put him on the next plane out, but he had the keys to my apartment. So, I spent the next two weeks watching him like a hawk, paying for everything and being made miserable in the process.
September. We returned. I changed my locks. The next day the judge ordered S to pay six months back rent by September 30th or the eviction would proceed. A friend told me that S was cruising bars and turning tricks. I knew there was no getting us back on track. I knew that we had no future together — our values were completely different. I knew I was never going to win back the man I fell in love with — that man was an illusion.
But, I still wasn’t ready to let go. I only curtailed contact, I didn’t cut it. I maintained sporadic contact. Big mistake.
October. Against my better judgment I went with S to his brother’s wedding. That day I went online and learned S had a court date that very morning regarding his eviction, but I didn’t say anything to see how he was going to play this.
Play it he did. The next night. In public. S deserved an Oscar for his performance — crying “how hard I’m trying to go straight,” how “I told my doctor he screwed up our love life with the beta-blockers he put me on,” how “my sister asked me if I was certain ”˜you were the one’ and I told her you were” and the capper, “last night my father told me that before the week is out, I’ll have to go home because he’s disconnecting my mother from life-support and going to let her die.”
That was the moment I finally realized I was being manipulated — no parent — no matter how monstrous, would say something like that at a child’s wedding.
S then asked for my “help” with the rent. I refused. And I realized I had to do something or this was never going to stop.
To Get Rid of a Sociopath, Become a Sociopath
November. I finally realized I needed to get S out of my life to save my own life. I turned off my compassion. My understanding. My love. And my guilt. This one-man Salvation Army declared war on S.
S launched his next attack a few nights later. My phone rang at 11:15 and I was asleep. It was S, talking word salad. Then S moved in for the kill — he told me he had to be in court the next morning and didn’t have all the rent money. He asked if I would take some his jewelry as collateral for a loan.
I didn’t have the money, and started to babble something about taking a cash advance on my credit card when I snapped to and stopped cold. I realized he was manipulating me. I cut him off and told him to go into court with what money he had, the jewelry to show the judge he had something to sell to raise cash and take his chances.
The end came two weeks ago. S called me at 4:45 PM on Friday and told me that the landlord had changed the locks. S said his employer would lend him 10 grand to pay his back rent, but his bank was closed until Monday. S then asked me to lend him 10 grand CASH until Monday. I said “NO.” Then S asked if he could crash at my place. I agreed to one night — I finally decided we were going to have it out once and for all.
S arrived bloated (15 pounds heavier since the last time I saw him — he had already packed on 45 pounds since the start of the year), reeking of alcohol, with dirty matted hair, and smelling sour. I thought was “he’s manipulating you into feeling sorry for him.”
He launched his pity play. “How the person I hate most in this world (employer) came through for me again” (translation — I failed him). S then upped the ante and told me his blood pressure was now 220 over 180, his doctor thought he had diabetes and was afraid he was going to have a stroke. And on. And on. And on.
After four hours I finally told S that I didn’t know what to do for him anymore. I told S that I was sure he was on cocaine and our relationship wasn’t working since my needs weren’t being met in the least. S told me, “I love you and want things to go back to the way they were in the beginning.” I told him “No, you want me to pay your bills while you do whatever you want while I wait for you to call or text me. Those days are over. It’s clear we want different things, so I think its best if we no longer see each other.”
Then came the moment of true irony. I told S that I expected him to pay back the money I lent him. S replied indignantly “I always pay my debts.” I just stood there looking at him and thinking, “We’re standing in my kitchen at 2:30 AM because you have been locked out of your apartment for not paying your rent.” I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry.
The next morning I asked S if he wanted to take a shower. He refused. It dawned on me what S was up to — S was going to make the rounds, looking like he’d slept on a park bench and hit up everybody he could for cash. And then he was probably going to split.
Having read the stories of other Lovefraud bloggers, how they suffered at the hands of their sociopaths for years on end and ended up financially bankrupt, I know, on an intellectual level, that I got off relatively cheap. However, emotionally and physically, I feel like I’ve been hit by a freight train.
A friend of mine told me I must be incredibly strong to have withstood what S put me through — he said he would have snapped a long time ago. Strong? I don’t think so. If I were strong I never would have allowed S to cannibalize my life like I did. I would have stood up to him long ago. I would have gotten rid of him instead of hanging on.
I’m furious at S for using me and making a mockery of my beliefs and my love. I’m furious at myself for letting S do this to me. My friends and family can’t bear to hear another word about S. I expect to crawl over miles of broken glass on my stomach before they’ll ever listen to me again.
S hasn’t vanished yet. I suspect he’s still working his scam. He has started the smear campaign. Several nights after I ended it S started showing up at places I frequent and events I had bought tickets to. S ended up seated directly opposite me at one event (reserved seating). Once is a coincidence. Three times is stalking.
A psychiatrist I consult with periodically on my cases told me, “Don’t think S is going to go away easy. He knows how good he had it with you. And there’s only one way to beat him — NO CONTACT.” I got the same advice from my detective friend who also told me that I could get a restraining order. But, if anyone should know how worthless they are, it’s me. So, now I am constantly on guard and looking over my shoulder — and maintaining NO CONTACT.
The money I “lent” S? I know it’s gone for good. But S will be held accountable to a higher power — the IRS. I had the good sense to write “LOAN” on every check I wrote to S. And when I was taking care of one of the numerous problems S was too lazy to deal with himself, he gave me his social security number.
My accountant sent the first collection letter today. Two more will go out. And when S doesn’t respond — and he won’t — I’ll report his debt to me as uncollectible. I get the tax loss, S gets nailed for income. Hey, if it was good enough to bring down the sociopath Al Capone, it’s good enough for me to bring down my sociopath — S.