Editor’s note: Lovefraud received the following story from a reader whom we’ll call “Noreen.”
My soon-to-be ex-husband of 14 years, whom I thought was loving, adoring and charming, is actually a very manipulative, deceitful and emotionally abusive sociopath.
Met at 17
He hooked me at 17 years old. I was fun, ambitious and a lot of boys pursued me. Best of all, I was naive. I see the good in everyone. And even though he did some bad stuff at the time ”¦ I attributed it to him just being a teenager.
I was amazed how he seemed to be a magnet to everyone around him. People were drawn to him. He was so charismatic and no matter what he did ”¦ they loved him. We met working for a retail shop and he was the worst employee, yet he was praised for being the best. He made fun of our co-workers to their face, and they would laugh at him because they thought he was joking, and they loved him for it. Even though I didn’t like that, I felt like I was privileged that he wanted me.
I was suffering an abusive situation at home. He understood coming from a troubled childhood himself, and he loved and adored me. He showered me with attention and bought me jewelry. He told me hold beautiful I was. I hadn’t heard or felt like anyone loved me since my parents died when I was 11.
I firmly believed in waiting for marriage, yet I got pregnant in less than a year of being with him and we got married shortly after that. I ignored any warning signs because he was so loving; he treated me like I was a prize.
Cutting me down
After we were married, he began to subtly cut me down and he did this for many years, all in the pretense that he was telling me things to help me. I never recognized it till now, but I had become a shell of my former self. I just didn’t know it ”¦ it was my normal.
He would praise me, but then emotionally disengage. I didn’t know what would cause it and I found myself working hard to get the praises back. I kept telling myself that I was happy and I should be thankful for what I had, but deep down I knew I wasn’t.
My husband acted like I should be grateful because he was such a catch. He often told me how girls would throw themselves at him, but he would proclaim that he was a happily married man. Yet, he always did things that just didn’t seem right, he never grew out of what I thought had been a teenage phase. And he always pushed my limits and made me slightly uncomfortable around people we knew with his behavior. If I brought this up, he would play victim or get angry. I never supported him or I needed to loosen up. After awhile, it just became easier to ignore it.
We always seemed to be broke, living paycheck to paycheck, even though we both had respectable jobs. And I had to sacrifice things like dental visits or work clothes because of it.
He would praise me for being sacrificial and subtly made me feel guilty for spending money because we couldn’t afford it. Soon, he didn’t even have to say it. I would end up making myself feel guilty for wanting to spend money on myself for even the most basic necessities. Yet, his closet was filled 3x greater than mine, and he went to the doctor just about every other week because he had “back issues.”
I was always responsible for everything to do with our kids. He helped out when he wanted to or when it was convenient for him. But he only truly engaged with them when he was in need of entertainment. He thought it was funny to get them to cuss or “show someone the bad finger.” He would laugh hysterically if he got them to do it. I had to teach them that these were bad things and not to do them even if daddy told them to.
I also did the majority of the upkeep on the house and anything that had to do with responsibility. It was draining. Working, school, raising kids, keeping house. I felt like a single parent.
In the meantime, he would go to the bar with his buddies or play out at shows with his band. He made me feel guilty when I wanted to go back to school or hanging out with friends because I didn’t give him or the kids the attention he deserved; I was neglecting them. And he always made me feel guilty from the very beginning if I even spoke to another man. I stopped talking to people around me in fear that he would think I did or said something inappropriate.
Lost his job as a detective
A few years ago, he had been fired from his detective job. He said a few guys higher up in rank were out to get him, and had run a smear campaign against him. They accused him of doing things that he hadn’t done, so he had lost his reputation and he had a hard time finding work in any other agency in town. They ruined him.
He had been home for a year, and began lying around all the time. I would leave for work and come home only to find him in the same spot I left him. He always claimed that he had just finished searching and sat down. Sometimes he just said he didn’t feel well.
We were broke from him never working, and it got so bad that we had to beg family for money, our electric bill got so high they turned it off and we had to run power from a neighbor’s generator, and we got our food from the local food pantry. He said that after he paid the bills, we barely had enough for anything else. Yet he still just sat there.
I gave him a hard time about it and said to go to the doctor, find a job, or find a new wife. So he went to the doctor and we found out he had liver cancer. I felt terrible for giving him so much grief.
Cancer and recovery
During the cancer, he didn’t want to add any more stress to me and refused to let me come to the doctors with him. He was out of work for another year. When he got better, he began talking about relocating. He needed a fresh start.
I was scared because we had no money. But he thought if we moved, we could get back to where we were, and he could be a great detective again. It sounded nice. I had my doubts, but I wanted to be a supportive wife.
We would take long walks every night after dinner, and we began talking about all of our hopes for the future. We did this until the end. He would bring up random stuff in our walks. He would bring up a show he saw on polyamorous relationships and how he thought it was so disgusting.
He once talked about a fallout he had with a former band mate and how he could kill him and not feel guilty. I found this alarming, but he had moments of irrational anger (towards other people) and he was an emotional guy … I didn’t think he really meant that.
He found quick work while we were packing and looking for homes to rent in another city, so that he could help pay some bills and save up a little. He said that he would be working some evenings and overnight hanging drywall in hotels.
I figured visitors would be angry listening to construction while trying to sleep. That didn’t sound right. It was fishy because he came home clean every time ”¦ no white dust. He said they let him shower when they were done.
After his first two weeks of work, the money from his paycheck was stolen out his car. He was so angry. He made a huge show. He had worked the last two weeks for nothing. I suspected that something else was going on.
A few weeks into it, he said that he was going to be traveling to Chicago to hang drywall in a hotel. Why would a temp job pay for you to travel to another city to hang drywall? That was so farfetched and confirmed for me that he was lying.
When he left, I used the time to begin researching through phone records, bills, email, his Facebook account and even the trash. I found out that he was up there having an affair and using my credit card to pay for it. I immediately cancelled my credit card.
I called them on their way back home on her phone and asked to speak to my husband ”¦ I told him I knew everything and I knew why he was really up there. I asked him to leave when he got home with the intention that he would feel bad for what he had done and we could go through counseling and eventually work things out.
I thought that maybe he was just so down from the last few years and would be desperate to keep his family intact, but he could recover from that. He certainly acted remorseful and continued to claim how wrong he was, but I later found that once he stayed with his mom he realized that he could continue on with the affair without having to sneak around.
While he stayed there, I began digging and found out that he has had multiple affairs over the years, had been financially abusing my name … opening credit cards in my name and not paying for them, stopping payment on all credit cards and dragging my credit down severely (it went from 810 to 496), he had a garnishment in my name that he hid, took out a title loan against my only car, and had been abusing and selling prescription medication and using our mortgage payments to feed his habits (so we were in foreclosure he hadn’t paid in 9 months).
His mother was seriously ill and he was stealing her medication too.
He had lied about how he lost his job (he was an officer and had been stealing from evidence and dealing out of his police car among other things ”¦ he was fired for 108 counts of misconduct and they were wanting to charge him with possession and distribution and possibly even send him to jail, this is why he couldn’t find work and why he wanted to run to another town), and he even faked having cancer! He really had Hepatitis C from the drug use. I was in a state of shock.
I learned all of this slowly over the next few months, but still had a hard time believing it. As I confronted him, he denied it saying I was crazy to think he could do something like that, even when I had physical proof of it.
The more I learned, the more he began to change towards me. The mask was coming off, and he didn’t like it. He “admitted” to other things like never feeling guilt or remorse or affairs I didn’t know about and even that he did it because of the drug use and he was better now. Now I know why he brought these things up in our walks.
He threatened suicide countless times. Toward the end, I thought it would’ve been easier if he had died. That way I didn’t have to be burdened this and I could have missed him thinking he had actually loved me.
He would call me up several times to “confess” about something, and for a long time ”¦ I wanted answers, so I would listen. I didn’t understand what had happened.
But then later, he would deny his confession (even though I would playback a recording of it). He would tell me that I don’t listen right or that I made stuff up in my head. He would tell me 50 different truths so I wouldn’t know what the truth was even when I heard it.
We went back and forth for awhile because I still thought that maybe he could be “rescued” from it. I held on to that hope for a long time because, despite everything, I still loved him. I thought that he would soon see the light, repent and spend a lifetime making up for it, but things could eventually go back to the way they were. He made me believe that over and over.
But he never stopped seeing this girl. I would continuously catch them. He thought of it as a fun game. He began to enjoy it, like he was a puppet master or something. He could pull my strings, push my buttons and watch me play his game. I felt like the aftermath of finding out about his sociopathy was far worse than him having an affair. I see women complain how they don’t know how they could get over the betrayal of an affair, and I wish that that was all I had to deal with. It seems so trivial after everything else.
His girlfriend showed up at my house the day after I found out about the affair to see if it was true. She showed up while my kids got ready for school. I had her wait in the back room until they left, and then I talked to her for a few hours as she told me about the affair.
She also shared that she was a borderline, self-diagnosed. I had no idea what this meant at the time, and I’m not sure she did either. I thought she was sincerely sympathetic, but she called him up a few hours later and wanted to meet up with him. They resumed their affair the next day.
Sometimes, I think he manipulated her into it, but then again, she has manipulated the situation many times herself. He used the BPD to his advantage to convince everyone just how crazy she was. He hadn’t only changed towards me, but he was in desperation mode and changed towards everyone he once knew. Because his secret was out.
He tried to convince them all she was a knife-wielding physical and emotional abuser who would ruin him if he ever left her. He was actually scared of her. She was a DFS worker, and he said she threatened several times to have our kids taken away even.
I still never fully understood how she could continue the way she did after only knowing him a few weeks. At first, I tried showing her that he was married and that he was lying, but he was always able to smooth talk her back into it, and I got the worse end of the stick for it.
I went to visit him back at his mother’s house while we were still “working things out,” and I caught them in bed together. He scrambled to put on his pants yelling at me when I opened the door and she just sat on the bed smiling smugly.
The more she found out truths, whether from me or other sources, the more abusive he became to me. He soon made it a habit of calling me up to yell at me for stuff I didn’t do to appease her. And she seemed happy when he would do this in person. Only to call back and apologize for it all a few hours later. She was a either a better victim than I was or she enjoyed abusing me as well! I still don’t know. He’s filled her head with so much crap, I’m not sure what she believes.
Won’t see the kids
For awhile he wouldn’t come around to see his kids and he told everyone that she was keeping him from them. When I finally got him to visit with them, he would spend his whole time on the phone calming her down because she wasn’t comfortable with the situation.
So he began making them visit her. He forced them to be around her while telling them if they didn’t go along with his lies or if they acted out in anyway, they would be messing up his chances of repairing our marriage. He would take them off to the side to privately threaten them.
They knew he was saying that he still wanted to repair things and come back home … cause he said it in front of them, he just couldn’t right now because his new girlfriend had all this information on him and she was threatening him if he left.
She would randomly text me out of nowhere calling me bad names and accusing me of horrible things, and that’s when I would present my truth of what was really happening ”¦ to defend myself.
And he would yell at me with her and then call me up to apologize for her crazy behavior afterwards. She forced him to do that. This cycle continued for months. I finally put the divorce papers in because I just couldn’t handle it anymore. The triangulation and abuse I’ve received from the both of them has been enough to make anyone feel crazy.
Learning with Lovefraud
Your site has helped me to understand that he wouldn’t change because he doesn’t think anything is wrong with himself ”¦ and the realization of that fact actually saved me!
I stopped listening to his excuses and reasons because I realized that I would never understand why he did those things to me because I am not a sociopath, but I do understand who he is and how I can protect myself. Your site helped me to see that I wasn’t the crazy one!
Divorce and custody
I am still going through so much and am not 100% there. I am in the middle of a divorce and custody battle, which has been a whole other nightmare. He’s seeming to enjoy dragging out the process just to make me suffer more. Because now I am the reason why his world fell apart.
But I recognize that my life is so much better without him here. I have since tried the no contact thing, which he uses the kids as pawns to continue to wedge his way in there, calling from their phones or pretending to be them in texts.
Anytime I have tried to set up a boundary, he has done his best to try to knock it down. I still haven’t found a way that completely works. I have to take it one day at a time, some days are worse than others.
I have seen so many positive benefits since he left. My money no longer disappears, I have become so much more confident in my work and even in myself. I kind of like who I am now, which is new. I’m starting to see the person I formerly was emerging again. He did a lot of gas lighting, and I was always unsure of what was real and now I feel some stability because, suddenly, those things stopped happening.
I have had the opportunity to restore relationships lost and build new ones and I am working my way to getting out of the debt he put me in.
I have hope
But the best thing is, I finally see a light at the end of the tunnel ”¦ I have hope. There was always a darkness, a sense of dread in the air. And it lifted when he left.
I have begun to freelance, something I’ve wanted to do for years, but he always made me feel like I would be neglecting the family if I did. And I recently joined the board of a local non-profit. I’ve found that investing my time into positive activities like helping others gives me so much more joy and takes my mind off of the hold and the negativity that my ex still has on me.
I continue to use your site to stay strong because I am forced to deal with this sociopath because of my children. I have been on the countdown till my youngest daughter’s 18th birthday (the day I will no longer have to see him) and I still have 56 months. That’s less time than some car loans.