By | September 13, 2012 17 Comments


Editor’s note: Lovefraud received the following e-mail from a reader whom we’ll call “Esther.”

I have experienced so many disturbing relationships since I left my psychopath former husband. I thought relationships could not be any more dysfunctional than my marriage. What I am now discovering is that I am a magnet to these predators.

This site and many others have helped me to understand how I doubt my fear response, second guess my feelings and am actually delusional when I project onto others the psychological work that I have done to clear my ego defensiveness, blame, shame and guilt. I want to believe that others will work with me, be kind and Christian. I have found this to be a delusional state. Others want an easy target to blame, shame, guilt, and use. I feel like a negative Nelly when I write this phrase.

I choose not to date, I am still afraid of getting into a relationship and being betrayed again. I have had experiences where others have criticized me, lied and manipulated. People will listen to my experiences of financial abuse and legal abuse and then label me as strange. They may state, “She must have brought this upon herself.” I have begun to ignore these typical blame the victim attitudes. I understand that the truth is difficult to accept and delusion and blame are much easier defense attitudes.


One strange relationship happened when I was asked by a woman to be her friend. She claimed she wanted to assist me. What I didn’t realize is that she was a lesbian and she was grooming me. She groomed the same way an abusive man would groom. She set me up in situations so that I would have drama and chaos. She was very clever and used other people. She would make statements to me that I would “cross over.” I assured her that I would not. She attempted to be a rescuer, my goddess in shinning armor.

I began to understand what was happening and I terminated the friendship. I did it in a very positive manner. She began to crucify me, spreading rumors, etc. Breaking free of dysfunctional relationships is never easy. It has to be quick, unexpected and fast; otherwise they will create more drama. If you break the relationship, you are breaking the supply and the rage will ensue. Be prepared!

Guest ignores boundaries

Just this weekend, I allowed a young male to stay in my home. He was visiting the state for a seminar. He does not make a lot of money. He was in a legal group and he claimed he wanted to meet me. After a day, I experienced a relapse of my Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. I thought I might have been triggered by an external event. A few days later, he was not leaving. He began to do his laundry without my permission. He began to sleep in late, only getting up when I went for a walk. I began to feel that he was ready to move in. I had set boundaries for him before he came. He began to ignore the boundaries.

There was no intimacy between us and he even began to talk to strangers about where we lived. I discovered that he had come early to the state to see another woman before a seminar. She had brought over another man and went out on a date with this man, while he stayed and babysat her children. He left this woman’s home and this is why he wanted to visit me. (She may have done this to get rid of him.) This man would follow me around from room to room. He would look over my shoulder at my emails. When I fell asleep I would wake up and catch him on my computer. I began to not turn on my computer. I now understand that my Post Traumatic Stress reaction was to him. My body was telling me what my mind was denying. I was once told that my PTSD was a gift, my body would no longer allow my mind to deny danger. This is true; if I attempt to ignore a dysfunctional situation, my body reacts. I do not react when I am cognizant of the danger and take steps to protect myself.

Luckily I have a good support network and I was able to get coaching and was told that I needed to get him out that day. He began to do the power plays, I caught him sneaking, engaging in activities that I had asked him not to in my home when I fell asleep early in the evening. I prayed that God would assist me to get him out. After a drama that he created, I came home and found him sleeping in his car waiting for me. I was able to tell him that he needed to pack his bags and leave. He asked, “Can I ask you what I did wrong?” Typical of a disordered person, he was defiant and defensive. I stopped my explanations. I knew that if I told him any more, he would only use the knowledge to adjust the behavior in an attempt to manipulate another woman.

His premise for coming was that he wanted to meet me and help with projects that I had in my home. I felt sorry for him, listening to stories of how he struggles. He did not help with the projects, ate a tremendous amount of food, broke many items, did not assist with cooking nor cleaning. He studied how he could move his way in. Thank God for the friendships that I have been able to create that are healthy, they guided me to get him out. Thank God for the honesty of others on this site, so that I am able to come out of the delusional state that I am supposed to be a good and kind person. My kindness is my pearl and I cannot cast these pearls before swine (predators).


Predators usually have a three-person supply. One person they have been in a relationship for quite some time, perhaps the marriage. Another person has been in the relationship for a medium amount of time, the last person is the new person they are grooming. I could see this pattern in this young man. I was probably the middle relationship. Had I been open to a sexual encounter, his grooming would have been easier. My new rule since recovery from a sociopath: Never have a sexual relationship with anyone until you are positive of their motives in the relationship. I have learned to watch the behaviors, ignoring the words.

This young gigolo predator needs another female. He is looking for another wounded female. He will claim that people no longer want relationships. What he doesn’t understand is that a relationship with him is deceptive, abusive and all about him. He is a vampire, sucking everything out of the host. Beware of the gigolo bearing gifts of how s/he wants only to help.


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Well stated. You hit on so many good points. The above is precisely why I am terrified to start dating again. My therapist recently told me that eventually I need to get back into the game because one of the best defenses against my sons spath father is to marry someone who can be a positive influence for him.

This may sound like a terrible thing on some levels, but he is probably right to a degree. The only problem is that I feel completely damaged, don’t trust my relationship judgement, and am a total target until I can heal completely.

kim frederick

Very well written, Esther.
I think the young man was more than “just” a gigolo.
When he asked you to tell him what he did wrong, it reminded me of when my spath asked me, “Tell me what I did to hurt you?”

One might think that the question is meant to start a dialog if it came from a normal person. When a spath asks it, you might think he’s trying to figure out what you know or how to play his game better. But my spath asked me this question after 25 years of me telling him what he did wrong. And after I left him, I told him that talking to him is like talking to a brick wall because he didn’t respond to anything I said. So why did he ask? Because he wanted to revel in my pain. That’s all. He wanted to hear me tell him how miserable he made me so he could derive pleasure from it.

I side stepped the question by saying, “spath, you didn’t do anything to me, compared to what you’ve done to yourself”

Your story is an excellent example of how they test boundaries. How much will you put up with? Are the dirty dishes just forgetfulness or is it passive agressive behavior?
Nobody is so dense that they don’t understand that housework has to get done.

Ox Drover

Ester, SETTING BOUNDARIES is many times very difficult for those of us who tend to be “people pleasers”—-if you gave him a place to sleep while he attended a seminar, then he should have left when the seminar was over, and said “thank you” etc. and not tried to move in on you.

A year ago I had a “guest” who invited herself to my home for a visit….I didn’t want her to come, but I didn’t say no, I thought “well it is only for a couple of weeks and I can handle that” and the woman turned out to be the “house guest from hell!” and I honestly think now she was intending to irritate me, to make drama and create chaos.

Setting boundaries in this kind of situation when we have been taught to be “nice” and “polite” and all the rest was one of the MOST DIFFICULT things I have had to learn.

I’ve had “friends” literally move in on me as well…and then try to run the place and make me dance to their “band” but I have finally learned to say “this is NOT WORKING FOR ME” and then set boundaries.

I try to look at it this way, if they are not treating me like I would treat them, then I don’t need what they are doing.

The hospitality here at my home is awesome…I try to make my friends feel WELCOME, but I also don’t become their maid or their servant by inviting them into my home, but their hostess.

And As I would behave in someone else’s home, I expect them to behave that way in my home.


Hello…I havent been on LF for, I’m guessing a month or so. I thought I was doing Great! I joined a 9 week bible study,support system. I have gone to 2 classes. As I listen to everyone there, I feel corrupt because of what I endured. I cant believe that I am actually living today and my gratitude for life brings tears to my eyes daily. However, as I am listening to the others, I am so angry because they have every day aches and pains, gripes. I am sure they are very real and intense to them and I am not taking away what they are feeling but I feel that I dont belong, that no one would ever understand and I couldnt even explain it. I try to make a decision to move forward with a positive attitude but I know that I was damaged severely. I want to explain it like a prisoner of war who saw things and did things that no civilian could relate to. I think of it as a POW who had to adapt and conform to find some type of humanity in an inhumane enviroment. Attempting to trust and survive somehow. Then was freed and put back in society, always remembering the confusion and horror. The pain is so deep it hurts to type these few words in remembering it. I dont know if I will ever be “normal”. I cant express a stalked, raped and murdered soul.

I needed to say this and I apologize it is not quite related to the article but I needed LF to come to so I could connect with someone….Thank you all who are committed to supporting the people on this site.

you belong. Here and also with those people who have aches and pains.
The spath doesn’t belong and his intent was to make you feel how he feels: isolated.

You will always belong because you have compassion for others. If a baby drops his binkie and cries, you know it isn’t really serious, but it is to the baby and we have compassion for his pain or for his perception of it.

Yes, our experience is hard for others to relate to. You’re right it is very much like being a prisoner of war. That’s a spath experience too.


Skylar, spot-the-heck-ON. Super-insightful.

Alivetoday, yeah….hearing other people whine and complain about a foiled shopping expedition and their groceries, etc., can irritate the CRAP out of me. Try calling a homeless shelter…..try applying for food stamps and being DENIED because I still “own” assets and receive a laughable spousal support…..try getting to a doctor when he’s 30 miles away and you have no transportation and are prescribed all manner of medications that you can’t pay for. Try those things on, for starters, folks, and let’s see how much you complain about hot flashes and the wrong coffee creamer that your spouse bought. Yeah….well, here’s the truth of the matter, Alivetoday: people are involved in their own situations, and they cannot hear our stories because our experiences are too much to comprehend, and they sound implausible.

Forgive these people, Alivetoday – they are embroiled in their own Life’s drama/trauma, and they cannot comprehend our experiences. THIS is why I am a strong advocate of counseling therapy with someone that “gets it.” These professionals can hear us, help us find our healing paths, and set us straight on how we got where we are, in the first place.

You “belong,” as Skylar so aptly typed. You are priceless, precious, and unique in this whole vast Universe. But, the thing to keep in mind is that the Earth is not going to come to a screeching, grinding halt on her axis because you (or, I, or Skylar, or Donna, or anyone else) have survived your experiences. She keeps on spinning day into night into day into night….our experiences are earth-shattering to us, alone. And, our empathy and compassion are the things that remain with us and help us to sort this whole mess out in a positive, productive, and healing manner.

Brightest comforting blessings


Skylar, you are so right! A prisoner just like the “P”..this must be part of the aftermath, carryover and PTSD…
I do want to have a sense of belonging…to fit in..and I will remind myself that I do…thank you so very much

Truthspeak, Thank you for your encouraging words also! I cant expect others to understand. I dont want to look like a coocoo to them as the “P” would have wanted me to nor do I want to have anger in my heart towards them as the “P” does and I am glad to know that I now have a clearer picture of what was going on in me. This helps so much to overcome these weighted times.
I will hold you in my heart and lift you up in prayer.

Today, I interview with the court advocate office to work with women of domestic violence. (You know I “knew” they all had a “spath” of their own just like mine and I was going to bring the light to all!! – not!! I do know every case is unique) I am not in a position to council others, nor do I have the education to diagnose. I have to realize that my experience was my own. I can however, learn to actively listen, support someone in quietness just by letting them know that I hear them, encourage them in the moment and I am so hoping to learn from the experienced people in this department. This is just volunteer work and I start a 3 day training seminar next week.
My education never stops and I absorb so much from this sight and all the different opinions and perceptions.

I do hate the fact that I still trust people and I dont apply my knowledge..(to myself). I wanted to educate EVERYONE and warn them of the evil that lurks amongst us. I want to change that position now and just help myself to apply this knowledge in my own life..daily awareness and quietly to myself…to be wise and to discern with my heart instead of vomiting and purging with useless words..ok then, that should start my friday!!!!??? thanks again…support is very healing.


Alivetoday, BEST OF WISHES on your interview!!!

And, dear heart, it is important to maintain the ability to CHOOSE to trust, if that makes sense. You are empathetic and compassionate, and maintaing the ability to choose whom to trust is precious, as are compassion and empathy.

Brightest, brightest blessings to you!


Thank you…thank you from my heart.



Your challenges in life have created depth in yourself. Consequently, you can “fit” in anywhere, with any type of group. When you’re with people who have problems that are light-weight, you can relate, and when you’re with people who have heavier, weightier concerns, you can relate. In essence, you can be of help to anyone, in any situation. Jesus talked to (ministered to) people from all walks of life, some people having “fluffy” kind of problems and some having serious problems – He was able to help anyone and everyone.


Thank you bluejay….this is true and I feel like I am in a transition phase from being a “needy taker” to hopefully a “giver of light”..I want to apply my knowledge without a “fix it” mentaliIty but one of love…real unselfish love with boundaries…this comes to the trust and learning how to put all this in motion..I am older in years but not so emotionally and mentally but it I am a work in progress…..I want to realize it is NOT all about me..that other people do exist in the world with their very own pain and issues and now I can be used to shine a smile of hope their way…I do regress to old thought patterns and behaviors as well as wondering why I am enlightened to such darkness of the world……I’m so grateful again, that I can reach out here and be welcomed and received with love…

Ox Drover

Dear Alivetoday,

People have choices, and you will see women (and men) go back to an abuser over and over again. It used to break my heart and frustrate me to death when patients made choices that hurt themselves (like going back to an abuser) but I eventually realized that I can NOT CONTROL what they choose, only let them know what the options are and what the possible consequences are.

I’ve also learned that you can’t “logic” or “scare” someone into making a better choice, as they will RATIONALIZE away all logic and fear. So focus on the POSITIVE of taking care of themselves and taking care of their children.



Thank you so very much Oxy! I will hold these words near to my mind and heart as I am sure that I will struggle with releasing the “fix and save” mode…….

I hope that having a listening ear to someone who needs to be heard can help them make it through one more day…

Thank you for your vote of confidence:))))))


Wow, Esther. Did you see Andrew’s letter to Lovefraud on this same blog? You hit the nail on the head on so many levels. My number one red flag is if I meet someone who wants to ‘help’ me along from my pitiful state. I’m done with the fixers of the world. I am powerful enough to heal. I am okay. I am not needing someone to hold me up for the rest of my life. I can stand on my own two feet and succeed.

Period. Thanks for sharing everyone.

Divorced from Gaslighter

AliveToday: While I was still married to my husband, if I had gone to a Bible study and felt social pressure to present prayer requests to the group, I would also have talked of inconsequential matters, partly out of loyalty to my husband, but largely out of shame. My problems with him were horrendous, but I would NOT have felt comfortable talking about it in front of a group of people that might include somebody with some sort of direct or indirect connection to my husband.

My guess is that there are other women in the prayer group whose lives are as difficult, or almost as difficult as yours, or who feel that their lives are about to spin out of control due to divorce or bankruptcy or whatever, but they cannot bring themselves to discuss it in front of a group of strangers or acquaintances who may well tell them that they brought it on themselves in one way or another. So instead of talking about their sadistic or parasitic husband, or the financial death spiral that the family is in, etc., they talk about the puppy peeing on the living room rug.

Jesus loves you, and there are plenty of other women in your community with problems at least somewhat similar to the type that you face.

If you haven’t done so already, try talking to the pastor of the church directly to see if the church can help you with any of your current issues such as babysitting while you go on job interviews, or food or money for utility bills. The last church that I attended did not contribute to a food pantry in the area, but had cabinets filled with donated food for anyone who came in and needed it, whether they were church members or not.

I had a sort of mixed experience with a church that was starting up a ministry for “single mothers.” The ministry was run by a very sweet but flaky woman. But the interesting thing was that in a very exclusive part of town, MANY of the women in the group had ex-husbands who had spent time in prison. (The negative aspect of the ministry was that the single mothers’ group included a wealthy widow and a couple of “single mothers by choice” who were NOT experiencing endless problems with an “ex.” There really should have been a separate group for the women dealing with spaths, although this was a number of years ago, and the group was just getting started.)

What I found deeply disappointing with the “single mothers’ group” at the church was that the church was chock full of successful executives working for Fortune 500 companies, and many of the women in the single mothers’ group needed a job with a decent income PLUS medical benefits. The church did absolutely nothing to try to help the single mothers trying to survive in an expensive area with a below-average salary. As many of us know, the judge often forces the mother to stay in a locality if it is the husband’s home town.


Sorry, AliveToday, that you did not encounter more empathetic Christians. I would hope you can choose another church, with Celebrate Recovery and other groups who have been there. There are many people who attend church, but are not living like Christians. Part of our learning is to discern, and not open up to these people if they are shallow. I, (like cappuccinoqueen) am afraid to date anyone unless I feel a definate connection and lots of the same interests. I am very cautious and having no kids, I am quite happy to go home and lock the door after work. I have plenty to keep myself occupied and don’t need a controlling man in my life. I have learned to run at the first hint of control. I just fade away, not always with an explanation. So many men are control freaks, I think it’s safer to just trust your feelings and leave on your own terms. Perhaps this is where God wants me and I feel no need to settle down with anyone. I would hope and pray that people would think more of getting to know ones-self before getting into a relationship with another.

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