Mary Ann Glynn, LCSW: How Sociopaths Target Us and How We Bite

By Mary Ann Glynn, LCSW, located in Bernardsville, New Jersey

Before I go into explaining in more detail the exercises to help you gather strength and lose fear to leave the sociopath (from my last article) it would be helpful to know how and why we end up reacting to the sociopath and getting attached and controlled in the first place.

Predators are extremely astute at quickly assessing and targeting our vulnerabilities, whether consciously or subconsciously. It’s very empowering to start becoming aware of what those vulnerabilities are that hook us and keep us hooked. Self-awareness, or “mindfulness,” is the most essential tool in going forward. It means to become conscious of our reactions instead of being subconsciously driven, so that we can regain control and inner strength, and become detached.

Perhaps the biggest question we ask ourselves after realizing we have been with a sociopath is, “How did this happened to me?” We may have started out as strong and independent, feeling relatively good about ourselves, had success in our lives, even had successful relationships. But when we were swept off our feet by the attentive, often intelligent, charming, and confident/strong personality that was our sociopath, we thought we had finally found someone who seemed to focus on loving us and was adoringly committed. At the end of it all, we feel foolish and ashamed for being taken in, for not seeing the signs.

When it happened to me, I was an experienced therapist who had worked long and hard in therapy myself to heal childhood wounds. I had recovered as a teenager from addiction and worked in the rehab as a counselor for three years. I had grieved the death of my husband after a long and happy marriage, become a struggling single mother while obtaining a graduate degree so we could survive. I dealt with mental illness in family members. I had great friends and a loving family. I loved my work. I felt strong. I was good. So, after having been taken in by a sociopath, I felt particularly foolish and ashamed. How did a therapist get conned?

I suppose some of that has to do with trusting that people who look you in the eye and tell you something are being truthful, plus believing in the inherent goodness of people — what I’ve now come to recognize as naivety. But, there were other things in me reacting and responding to the sociopath as well — some dormant for a long time — and these vary from person to person. What are those reactions and responses in us that the sociopath targets, that we can identify and change?

They target our loyalty, trusting nature, commitment

They can see that we are naïve to their type. I believe the “love-bombing,” the attention, the being everything we want or need them to be, their perfect glib answers, initially throw us off guard. The only thing we know about this person is what they present to us and that is all good, and we believe them. They have made it through the first level — gaining our trust.

We mistakenly perceive that they feel as connected to us as we do to them. We believe they are experiencing the growing feelings for them in the same way, becoming more committed — especially as they voice that they are. They may be feeling something intense (or not), but it is not emotional connection like we think it is. We explain away their questionable behavior in the only way we know how — we perceive their confidence not as arrogance, their glibness not as deception, their dominance not as being controlling — but as strengths. It is encouraging to them that we accept them, and remain loyal and committed.

They target our caretaker, codependent tendencies

We may have been very much in control in our lives, felt confident, were independent, even have overcome previous codependent tendencies, and built solid boundaries. But, when the sociopath we love starts outwardly exhibiting the need to be in control, our subconscious knows just what to do.

This response is likely to come from a younger version of us, perhaps going all the way back to childhood. We may have had a controlling/abusive parent or older sibling, a non-present parent, or witnessed the parent abusing or neglecting the other parent or a sibling. Maybe someone outside our family abused us or we were bullied. Or, maybe we just got too much correcting and/or criticizing and not enough validation. As children we may have responded by trying to be “good,” trying harder, being the peacemaker. We were over-responsible, blaming and looking at ourselves to solve the problem/chaos, in hopes that it ultimately will get us what every child needs: nurturing, validation. Some of us may have fought for it.

So, when our partner creates the same environment in the relationship (e.g. reacting in anger, dismissiveness, shutting down, dissociating/withdrawing whenever we express a need or are not submissive), we do what we know. We scramble to save the relationship by trying harder, looking for the answer in ourselves, or fighting, in the hope that our needs for nurturing and validation in the relationship will be met. But the sociopath’s message is always the same: “Either conform to what works for me or go away.” Over time we accommodate them more and more to save the relationship. We start to lose what boundaries we have and our very selves.

They target the addict

Some of us respond viscerally to the frequent over-the-top sex the sociopath is so good at, or to the feeling of “love” that comes at the beginning of a relationship. Of course, the sociopath knows how to pour it on in heady doses. If we have addictive tendencies, we will be vulnerable to the “love drug” as a means to feel better.

Through the sociopath’s continual demands for sex, the hormone oxytocin is being released, which creates a powerful feeling of attachment. The sociopath instinctively knows this! This process is genetically encoded for the survival of offspring. Sex also causes a powerful release of dopamine, which is the body’s natural opiate. It all just makes us feel happy and close to our partner, makes unpleasant feelings go away, inside us or in the relationship. We have to ask ourselves, what about that “high” works for us?

They target our own fears about commitment

This is something we may have to dig deep to see in ourselves. While we were consciously “ready” for love, and so happy to have found it in the sociopath, our subconscious beliefs about love were likely not so optimistic. For instance, deep down we might not believe we are lovable or worthy of happiness. Or, we may have experienced a trauma that changed our former faith in love, happiness, or our worthiness, such as divorce, death, multiple failed relationships, being alone, aging.

These subconscious beliefs will make us afraid to fully commit because if we do, we will experience the very painful loss of love that we had experienced before. So, we end up with someone who is not capable of committing, not even really present in the relationship. Then we subconsciously know the loss won’t feel as bad. In a strange way, we are protecting ourselves.

They target our inner victim

I remember thinking at times, “Why do I feel like I did when I was living with my abusive father?” (wounds I had healed long ago with my father). But then, there was that feeling of it being very familiar. My “victim consciousness” got triggered. When she did, she went off and isolated, curled into a ball of despair. (That is, until my “fighter” kicked in later on.)

We all have a victim in us to some degree — whether we were victimized by abuse and/or neglect in our families, abuse outside the home, bullying, rejection, or learning problems. As a child, we were powerless to protect ourselves or know how to feel good with ourselves. Our partner who abuses, threatens, dominates, etc., violates our personhood, and by definition, victimizes us. This triggers the inner victim, which may have been long dormant, but who will feel and react exactly the way it did before — feeling powerless to influence/stop the perpetrator, questioning his/her own worth, feeling shame — all crippling.

They target our empathy

This is the biggest hook! Subconsciously the sociopath can intuit our “childhood wound,” as we can intuit theirs. They may tell us about how they were abused and/or neglected by their parents or others. Indeed, they may have horrific stories of how their parents or others victimized, humiliated, and abandoned them. When we hear this, our own childhood wound of abandonment, abuse, loneliness, or neglect, is triggered, and so we feel intense compassion and sorrow for the wounded boy/girl in them.

Their wound is deep down in them, and it is unhealed because, while they may speak sadly about how they were unloved or victimized, they are not actually emotionally connected to it. They chose at some point to bury it under rage. But we very much are! This can make us determined to love and never leave that poor boy/girl who no one ever loved and who everyone else abandoned.

Our sadness for that wounded boy/girl will also encourage us to overlook too much. We may not judge him/her by normal standards or expectations, and may excuse his/her behaviors based on what s/he’s been through. At this point, because we identify and connect to our partner’s wounded child, to leave him/her now, we would be putting ourselves in the place of the parents or abusers who wounded them (and us). We are put in a terrible conflict between not abandoning them, and our own survival.

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I completely identify with what you have written. My parents weren’t demonstrative and my Father in particular was obsessed with power and control. My whole future was already planned out for me until I rebelled at 17 and all hell broke loose. I was also that child who felt I “had” to fix things, be the mediator…..even though I had no idea why or what was happening even. Thank you for this timely article. It confirms and validates my understanding so far of why I was such an easy target for the ex.
I so wanted to be the one person who would love him better than anyone had ever done before.


Mary, yes……yes……..and, YESSSSSSSSSS! What a wonderful article, and I thank you! The words that you’re printing, here, are validating that we didn’t necessarily WANT to be damaged by the spaths or lure them in to abuse us.

There’s another aspect of remaining with spaths that I think transcends the trauma-bond, and that is fear of failure. I, personally, had not experienced much success in previous relationship OR my first marriage. In fact, I remained with the first abusive exspath for a number of reasons, but one of them was because I didn’t want my marriage to become another statistic – I wanted to make it work, force it to work, make HIM okay, make US okay, etc, ad nauseum. It is, perhaps, a fear of admitting that we made “a mistake” and, rather than seeing it as a mistake or that we were intentionally targeted by a “bad person,” we work feverishly to correct the situation. And, we simply don’t have that kind of power.

You mention the naivetee, and reading this was like getting slapped in the face with a cold, dead salmon. I cannot count the number of times that the second exspath said (AND, I quote), “It’s okay to be naive because it means that all of your innocence wasn’t destroyed.” WHAT a line, eh? I mean, think about the words and how I was being told what was okay for me to believe! And, I bought it!

Hook, line, and sinker, the bait, lure, and snag is a comprehensive coup on the target. It’s emotional. It’s sexual. It’s spiritual. It’s financial – it’s the Whole Self that becomes involved in this entanglement, and the core issues are the strings that they use to tug us this way and that.

For me, I had maintained a very, very strong shame-core, and that’s what the exspath was able to hone in on so effectively.

I very much appreciate this article, Mary. The tactics and reactions that you’re talking about are identifiable, across the board.

Brightest blessings

Off Topic: what is your perception of HOW spaths “know” how to use our issues to entrap their targets? Seriously. People aren’t born with a “Handbook Of Life,” and I am really interested in your view on precisely how a spath sorts out their targets and is so able to say words and use actions to elicit the responses that they intend.


WOW! Again, I am amazed at something I have read here and how it fits what I have been experiencing these past two years.

Like this section of your article:

“We all have a victim in us to some degree ”“ whether we were victimized by abuse and/or neglect in our families, abuse outside the home, bullying, rejection, or learning problems. As a child, we were powerless to protect ourselves or know how to feel good with ourselves. Our partner who abuses, threatens, dominates, etc., violates our personhood, and by definition, victimizes us. This triggers the inner victim, which may have been long dormant, but who will feel and react exactly the way it did before ”“ feeling powerless to influence/stop the perpetrator, questioning his/her own worth, feeling shame ”“ all crippling.
They target our empathy
This is the biggest hook! Subconsciously the sociopath can intuit our “childhood wound,” as we can intuit theirs. They may tell us about how they were abused and/or neglected by their parents or others. Indeed, they may have horrific stories of how their parents or others victimized, humiliated, and abandoned them. When we hear this, our own childhood wound of abandonment, abuse, loneliness, or neglect, is triggered, and so we feel intense compassion and sorrow for the wounded boy/girl in them.
Their wound is deep down in them, and it is unhealed because, while they may speak sadly about how they were unloved or victimized, they are not actually emotionally connected to it. They chose at some point to bury it under rage. But we very much are! This can make us determined to love and never leave that poor boy/girl who no one ever loved and who everyone else abandoned.
Our sadness for that wounded boy/girl will also encourage us to overlook too much. We may not judge him/her by normal standards or expectations, and may excuse his/her behaviors based on what s/he’s been through. At this point, because we identify and connect to our partner’s wounded child, to leave him/her now, we would be putting ourselves in the place of the parents or abusers who wounded them (and us). We are put in a terrible conflict between not abandoning them, and our own survival.”

I was actually to the point where I would believe and say to my ex gf THAT I WANTED TO GO BACK IN TIME TO DEFEND AND SAVE her from the beatings that her mother gave her, the rapes, the abusive lesbian relationship, the taunting high school peers, the sadness of noone showing up for her birthday party, the sexual abuse by her relative, etc, etc.

But – she really appeared DETACHED from all of those things and to my knowledge did not and would not pursue therapy. I have a theory — she probably ‘split’ herself into two people from those experiences. A really ‘good girl’ and, a really devious and sneaky relatively ‘bad girl.’ And, she would not acknowledge how her words and actions affected me – and what the root of her behaviour may have been.

But, at the same time she pushed and pushed and pushed me to acknowledge that I was damaged and traumatized to the point where it all became about me – I needed therapy and she was the one that was stable, pure, unscathed and logical. I see how this worked because in reliving my pain – and she really ‘helped’ me to do that – I bought an excuse for what I perceived to be doing wrong in the relationship. Also, more importantly, remembering my pain INCREASED the empathy and sorrow that I felt for her.

And she would not want me to feel better and get over those past pains rather, she would want me to search inside myself for MORE of them (‘Keep going to therapy – you’re not done yet!’), would poke at them and stoke the emotions that they evoked within me. WHY?
I began overanalyzing myself and began to wonder WTF I was doing in therapy anymore while she avoided it!

How did it all become about me – when it came to faults and dysfunction and, all about her – when it came to unmet needs and desires?

(P.S.: Thanx, Truthspeak, for your input on other threads. Am following your advice.)

It’s always validating to read that someone with your credentials, also got conned. Though I’m sorry for the pain you experienced, I’m so happy that you took that painful experience and are using it to help others heal.

I look back and wonder what it would have taken for me to avoid the hell I went through. At age 17, I was certainly naive.

I did try to leave him 3 times. He had not made a commitment and consequently neither had I. He didn’t ask me to marry him. But by the time I was 25, he realized that I was eventually going to leave him for good, if he didn’t figure out a way to nail me down. So he suggested I buy a house. That was the commitment. He didn’t even have to marry me. The house was the trap. It was our house, on an island, in the woods, isolated and I was completely dependent because he was poisoning my food.

Responsibility was my downfall. I took on all the responsibility that he handed me. All the bills were in my name, but so was the house, so was the business. I took responsibilities that were not mine to take. And I never questioned why.

Granted, I met a very evil person who almost killed me and may continue to try, but I think if I’d never met HIM, I would have met some other abuser. I was set up by my upbringing. Both my cousins went through abusive men for years. Both my sisters married abusers. It just runs in our family. There was not going to be anyway I was going to avoid it. It was not luck of the draw. It was familiarity that attracted me. A familiarity that I wasn’t even aware of. I THOUGHT I was looking for a man who was the opposite of my dad. What I found was a man who was worse than anyone in my family could ever imagine.

But that said, perhaps that is what a family so mired in a history of evil, needed to be able to even perceive the evil. Anything less would’ve seemed like just another “one of us.”


To Truthspeak:

“what is your perception of HOW spaths “know” how to use our issues to entrap their targets?”

I am being targeted by another sociopath! This time, though, instead of falling for the lines, I can watch in amused detachment. I think the second part of the equation is the willingness on the part of the victim that plays a role in their success. This is really paramount, in my opinion. But I think it may sometimes be a numbers game to them. They throw out the hook multiple times until SOMEONE gets reeled in. Now, they may also have a built-in radar that gathers information and helps them to know where to cast the hook. So if you are not in a vulnerable position, it just falls away without harming you.

Sociopaths are not infallible (no matter what they think!). They are still “humans” and have limitations just like the rest of us. If I can identify my vulnerablities and shield them, I am in a better position to protect myself. It’s all I can do. Using the AA saying: “HALT=Hungry, angry, lonely, tired?” Then stop and make no decisions or committments. Come back with a clear head and then make a decision. It’s safer bet.



You wrote something, above.

“But that said, perhaps that is what a family so mired in a history of evil, needed to be able to even perceive the evil. Anything less would’ve seemed like just another “one of us.””

I think this is a really important point.

All day I have been mulling, if God doesn’t make mistakes, then why did he make the Spath?

And I think you have it exactly right. David Barron, who wrote “Social Animal” and writes in the New York Times said that there is SUPPOSED to be a natural tension in all things.
Low pressure systems versus high pressure systems. Day versus night. Men versus women. Spring versus fall. He said that this tension is *THE POINT*.

I think that if God doesn’t make mistakes, then the point of the spath is to create tension, and awareness, so that those of us who are not spaths can see the contrast, and learn.

Lesson Learned, a frequent poster on this site, got it exactly right.

Thank you, spath, for my lesson learned!




Ox Drover


Which goes to show that no matter how “with it” or “together” we are emotionally, spiritually, or intellectually, we are still RIPE to be conned if we don’t keep up a reasonable level of CAUTION in our interacting with others.

Accepting other at “face value” is going to get you into trouble SOME of the time….maybe not often, but often enough that it will pay to exercise some REASONABLE CAUTION in dealing with people.

Accepting that we are PREY animals and that there are members of our own species who are the PREDATOR animals makes it a bit more difficult for us to determine WHO the predator is than it might for an antelope who knows that ALL lions are predators, we are not given the advantage that the antelope has in knowing that ALL of our predators don’t look different than the rest of us.

The antelope tries to keep away from the lion, so there is some distance to run away.

We also need to keep some distance between ourselves and others until we are able to rationally (not emotionally) judge their potential for danger.

yes, the spath serves one function: as an example of how not to be. That became very apparent once I knew what he was, the devil.


Thank you for a very good article. So many of us identify with our over trust, loyalty, and over commitment. It was especially bad for me after the children were born. That was the start of ramping up the emotional and verbal abuse. I didn’t want to leave because I had now committed to not just “him” in marriage” but also children now. He took grave advantage of that.

But because I stayed too long I am now working on getting rid of emotional scar tissue.

Just a week ago there was an article in my local newspaper titled, “Domestic violence – it happens even in the nice neighborhoods”

It said how abusers in our area have money, power, influence, and technical savvy to make it very hard for a woman to leave safely, reach a fair settlement, keep custody of the children and maintain standard of living. Also mentions the social stigma attached to abuse. (Did that ever apply to me) I thought people would think I was NUTS for putting up with the stuff I did.

Now they think, how can an intelligent, educated, professional woman with a Master’s Degree… successful in so many aspects of her life have had this happen? I know “they” do. But I know longer care that “they” think this. In my heart I did what I did because it was probably all that I could handle at the time.

I had a desire to also protect “his” image and career. The article also mentions that the affluent abuser RELIES on his image and career to triumph over any evidence to the contrary.

It takes a TON of courage to admit, confront, and ACT on what we know is wrong and evil. I am so grateful that I finally got the courage to file for divorce and get out. I always thought divorce was such a terrible thing. I was very opposed to it. I just thought it meant “everyone” hadn’t tried hard enough. Now I know, Two must try, Not one.

Glad to be out of denial and I hope if I ever bite again on the line of a spath that I realize quickly who the fisherman is at his core.


Newlife43, good point about the H.A.L.T approach. It’s been YEARS since I’ve put that into practice, and it’s a pretty good technique.

You brought up an interesting point that there seems to be an immediacy to spath entanglements, no matter whether they’re romantic or platonic. There’s this undercurrent of “HURRY!” in making decisions, accepting a friendship, engaging in sex, etc., etc., and I’m looking back over the years and seeing that the mild-mannered and seemingly well-grounded individual that I believed the exspath to be was frought with immediacy.

And, what is so weird is that I can clearly see (in hindsight, of course) that what he was preaching was 180 degrees from what he was doing. He would pontificate about the virtue of patience, and yet place this rush on important decisions, especially if I were experiencing some sort of health issues or other traumatic event.

Honestkingdiver, I don’t know who first used this as an analogy, but it makes absolute sense. If you toss a frog into a pot of boiling water, they’re going to jump back out, immediately. But, if you place that same frog into a pot of lukewarm water and begin turning the heat up, slowly, he’ll be dead before he even realizes that the water has begun to boil.

Brightest blessings


I’m a little confused about sociopaths and their so called cut off buried rage. If they don’t really feel with the intensity of a normal person and they are essentially born disordered, how do they come by the rage and do they really feel rage. Rage is an intense emotion and they aren’t suppose to feel very much except basic primitive emotions. Can anyone enlighten me?

It’s called shallow affect.
Imagine an infant dropping it’s binky. It will rage and scream until someone gives it back. Then, in 5 minutes, it forgets all about it. All that drama, which the baby really FELT for a second, gets forgotten rather quickly. There is no DEPTH to the emotion. Because the babies have not yet connected any meaning to the event. For the baby, it’s just a feeling of not getting what it wants and then the feeling goes away when it gets what it wanted.

Spaths are just like babies in that way. They rage to get what they want. Then they are fine and can’t understand why you are still looking at them funny.

I’m pretty sure the only thing they feel most of the time is an all consuming envy. That’s the buried rage. The fact is, they ALWAYS want something and they are never satisfied for long. That is what they hide from us. They don’t want us to know how greedy and insatiable they are.

When they rage to get what they want, that’s mostly theatrics meant to manipulate your emotions. When they aren’t raging, they are planning a cold and calculated con meant to destroy what you have. They never stop plotting.


Mary Ann,

True, true and true. I can see myself in everything you have written.

I have been a sitting duck for these types. They, like Skylar wrote about, are SO familiar to me. The narcissistic mom and the peodophile grandfather (along with the addicted and screwed up motley crew that makes up the rest of my family), left me with gaping needs.

I had poor boundaries, magical thinking in regards to ‘love’, addiction issues, and a deep desire to ‘help’ other’s feel better. I was a personality disordered person’s dreamgirl.

Not no mo’! It took me MANY years, more than a few of these losers, and the internet (thank goodness for INFORMATION) before I KNEW what I was actually dealing with. Knowing about personality disorders opened the door to figuring out what was happening on my end, that COULD be changed; instead of me trying to fix/change the disordered person.

Slim One


Mary Ann – very well stated. It’s like reading my story all over again.Looking back I can see how vulnerable I was when my father passed away and I clung to the spath because I needed attention and a diversion. I agree with another post that I was “destined” to meet one sooner or later because I am an attention whore. That is what I am working on in counselling so that I do not attract another spath. Now that I am dating again I have met a really nice guy (so far – LOL) and he doesn’t lovebomb me which at first was frustrating for me because that is what I was used to with the spath. But now I can objectively look at that behavior as not normal. My new guy shows me that he cares in many ways but it does not involve texting me every 5 minutes or demanding that I send pictures via text to prove my whereabouts. And another red flag that I always ignored was that my friends and family despised him but toloerated his presence for my sake. My nephew got married this summer and the spath demanded that we go together or I not go at all because he knew my family didn’t want him there. So we went together and I rented a separate house so it wouldn’t make my family uncomfortable. I realize now that I am relaxed and happier than I have been in a long time. I was always frantic with the spath and his demands. He wanted me to quit my job yet he doesn’t have one. He wanted me to sell my house because I once dated that mailman who occasionally delivers mail to my home yet he doesn’t have a home. He has a small two bedroom ghetto apartment. And he doesn’t even look for a job. Just lives off the system or his mom pays his bills or his next victim. A great example to set for his three kids. No job and a revolving door of “victims: who get attached to his kids only to be discarded when he gets bored with them or uses them up. I appreciate reading everyone’s posts on my journey of healing.


Mary Ann;

100% right on!

“They can see that we are naïve to their type…”

In retrospect, once the x-spath was unmasked, I felt humiliated more than anything else, especially given that he is a gay flight attendant — essentially the most stereotypically notorious of all legitimate professions…

“We scramble to save the relationship by trying harder, looking for the answer in ourselves…”

Despite his outrageous behavior that was always targeted at me, I blamed myself…

“Through the sociopath’s continual demands for sex…”

As a gay male, I was over sex. I wanted a soulmate. Thus, by actually withholding sex, my x-spath was better able to hook me.

“These subconscious beliefs will make us afraid to fully commit…”

Long distance relationship. He was in London, me, New York.

“We all have a victim in us to some degree…”

Yes, several previous “relationships” with manipulative people.

“They may tell us about how they were abused and/or neglected by their parents or others…”

Bingo. My x-spath was abandoned by his father when he was 4 years old. He, his sister and mother were left in poverty. His mother (and father, but he hated him) died when he was in his early 20s…



I saw myself a lot in this, too. Wow is all I can say. This opened my eyes a lot. Thanks, Mary Ann.


Excellent article.
Thanks so much for sharing your insights with all of us.

You have provided me with soul sustenance for this night.

Thanks for the validation.




It is amazing and validates that we were all involved with a sociopath.


Kmillercats, the question about the “rage” is that their “rage” is just ask Skylar mentioned: take away a baby’s pacifier, and they will throw a kiniption. They will howl, kick, shriek, and let you know precisely HOW important that pacifier is to them.

Anger is a normal human “reaction.” Rage is what it morphs into when it’s not dealt with, immediately. The “buried” rage of sociopaths is that they want what they want, when they want it, and they had dammed well BETTER have it, no matter whom they get it from!

Yah….just like managing a 9 month old infant that wants its binkie, NOW.


Kmillercats, I am once again reminded of Richard Wilbur’s poem, The Undead. I think many if not most of the sociopaths have their origins in being shamed as children in their childhood households. Their anger became rage when the need or anger was ignored or ridiculed. The effects of being shamed on a child is to disconnect them from reality. So they sit in profound distrust.


We can sit (like I have) for years and try figuring this all out.
We can pick it apart, dissect it into little pieces and we will
always end up right back where we started: in confusion.

WHY? Because it was MEANT for us to end up this way.
It doesn’t matter what their ‘reasons’ are !
The way they live and the horrid things
they do to the people who care for them,
UNKNOWINGLY, is inexcusable.
That’s all I need to know,
that’s the bottom line.

We will NEVER figure this out because there is NO
‘figuring it out’. How do you ‘figure out’ a psychopath?
There is no way. I have given up trying. Instead, I am
doing what I think is the only option: MOVING ON and
burying it like the ugly, nasty, nightmare it was for too

“The Undead” – that is exactly what “IT” reminds me of.
I think that’s why I was so deeply hurt and sad:

My (once) best friend turned rabid without any explanation
other than “IT” could. Just like snapping your fingers….
“IT” found a much more ‘wealthy’ and ‘younger’ victim and
has moved on….ALMOST…

What’s with this continued stalking?
Hm? A little reminiscent of the horror movies….

I am not afraid of “IT” anymore, although
I do not underestimate “IT”. NEVER underestimate
a psychopath.

Yah, I don’t care what their ‘reasons’ are….
“I” have enough reasons myself to disconnect
and bounce off walls and hurt people, just like
the next person but I don’t do it and that is called
restraint/constraint. I have a horrid childhood too
but I CHOSE different. Everyone has to live with
their choices. Hm?

Anyways, thanks for listening.
Hope everyone has a good day today.

Get out there in the sunshine and soak up some
of that Vitamin D. It does wonders for the attitude.



The spath I was with would go into a restaurant and as soon as we sat down he would immediately start critiquing the server. If his water glass wasn’t full all the time he would start getting annoyed and the tip would depend on it. He said he had been known to make servers cry on occasion. We were sitting in a restaurant one time and I saw his face take on the angry look. I asked what the matter was. He could hear somebody tapping on a table 2 tables down from us and said if he didn’t stop we would have to move. I couldn’t even hear it. Suddenly he picked up his glass and sternly said, “Come on”. He stomped 4 tables away from the guy and sat down. He looked like he was going to loose it. There are other incidents where his anger was barely controlled also. Inappropriate incidents. He also told me he had to stop dating a girl one time because of the noise the fork made as she pulled it out of her mouth. Really? Is that the buried rage surfacing?


THAT IS THE PSYCHO EMERGING, My Dear kmillercats….
The ‘on the edge’ persona. You MUST recognize when it
is time to step away from the spath….

Blessings of safety and peace to you.


that sounds like aspergers syndrome. They are particularly sensitive to hearing other people eat. Sometimes they also are sensitive to seeing how other people eat.

That doesn’t mean they can’t also be sociopaths too, but generally spaths are not concerned with our eating habits. The only thing I noticed about my ex-spath, regarding eating, was that he ate really really fast, and when he was done, he would literally take the food off my plate and eat it too. That’s when I learned to eat fast or lose my food.

Now I understand that the ex-spath was envious of my food. He couldn’t stand to see me have anything, not even food. It’s so bizarre that for him to have food was not enough, I had to go without. LOL!

I deduced pretty early on that he would take anything I was eating and shove it in his mouth. Which is how I was able to slip him sleeping pills once and homeopathic anti-stress tablets on another occasion. Psychopaths are so predictable, they simply want what other people have.

As far as the spath you are describing, you seem to describe a lot of rage and temper tantrums. That actually is more of a symptom of aspergers. Usually, it happens when they are hungry. But again, I’m not saying he isn’t also a spath but the co-existing conditions do affect how each presents symptoms.



Haven’t been with him for 6 months. I was discarded. Guess I should count my blessings. Don’t ever want to be with him again. I got tired of living in insanity.


He did all the other things along with the restaurant stuff. Cheating, lying, projecting, manipulating, stealing from me, lovebombing, rollercostering, etc. I never lived with him and really wasn’t in his life. He didn’t want me there. When I finally talked to his x fiance, that was the first thing she said, “You know he’s a sociopath”.


Its been quite a while since I have logged in and commented I was almost 3 years no contact in person but had a moment or a few moments of weakness anyhow he would always tell me I was an “excellent care taker and provider” it was kind of erie… now looking back kind of robotish….and he was just the TAKER… disgusting… never admiting anything he did wrong and the EVIL that I can clearly see and the fact that he knows where I live again….I know we are not supposed to fight back but I am not going out like a sucker! period … Im a fighter! he can’t take me DOWN without a fight… dumb ass that he really is they think they are so smart and manipulitve but under neath dumb ass shit!


Spirit40, long time no type. Good to “see” you back. And, he can’t take you down unless you kneel. And, you’re not kneeling, so he’s not going to win.

Brightest blessings


Skylar, interesting observation about eating. Same with the exspath – he actually ATE my food, one time, when I was in the restroom and just acted like it was something normal to do! And, “Are you done with that?” and helping himself even if I said that I wasn’t!

ENTITLEMENT. The exspath believed that he was entitled to eat my food AND take my money! LMAO!!!!!!!! What a dope-a-lope.

Distressed Grandmother

This article just opened my eyes so much. I’m thankful that I never married a s path. I am a prime target. My daughter used every emotion you talked about except the sex to control and manipulate me for years. My sons seen it but I found excuses to over look things and stood by her. The more I stood by her the more she used me.She would never see the good we done but always make everything look bad. Through this whole nightmare I spent most of the time blaming the boy friend not wanting to admit they were both sociopaths. The part that will always bother me is like in your article what did I do to cause her insecurities. She did have a learning problem at school.She over came this and became a very good hair dresser. She does work best on her own though. Working for others was very hard for her.


@ Truthspeak Thank you! Nice to “see” you as well!



I know what you mean about the entitlement. Some of the things he took from me were just plain stupid. Face cleanser, half of a petrified wood rock I found. I assume he gave it to his son. Things he could easily afford. Plus, I’m financially strapped. I have to laugh and say, WTF?


Interesting comments about the spath eating. My ex would literally inhale his food. It was difficult to watch and he would shove it in his mouth with his finers. It completely grossed me out. Then he would loudly blow his nose and wad up the napkin and twist it in his nose. There were so many times I lost my appetite watching him eat. And yes he would eat my food to and anyone elses for that matter. Food is a BIG thing for him. He prides himself on his cooking abilities but the only thing he really knows how to make is heavy cream sauces. And he is overweight and doesn’t exercise. Well he exercises his fingers as he types on his keyboard trolling the internet for his next victim(s). And the rage. He would scream at me at the top of his lungs in front of his children and it was always something trivial that he would rage about. That I allowed my daughter to have a sleepover. His children never leave the house. He plants them in front of the TV to play video games so he can find his next prey on the internet. And in the end it was me who was clinging to him trying to figure out why he was detaching himself from me. I blamed me. He blamed me. But in reality the relationship was doomed from the get go. As all of his sick and twisted relationships will be. Sadly he is someone else’s nightmare now. Not sad for me. Sad for all of them!!!!!


“Interesting comments about the spath eating. My ex would literally inhale his food. It was difficult to watch and he would shove it in his mouth with his finers. It completely grossed me out. Then he would loudly blow his nose and wad up the napkin and twist it in his nose.”

Such behavior is also consistent with Aspergers Syndrome. Keep in mind, such people can be very, very difficult and can appear to be sociopaths, when they are not. However, while some of the underlying physiological causes are shared with sociopathy, sociopaths are generally much more functional than those with Aspergers Syndrome.

the aspergers man I know is a very picky and refined eater.

He is obsessed with manners. It’s part of the obsession with rules. So I don’t think disgusting eating habits is part of aspergers at all. Though I think it is related to being a spath.


More on this. I know or have known individuals with Aspergers Syndrome(a long-tie family friend), Bipolar Disorder, Borderline Personality Disorder and Sociopaths.

In terms of “functionality” my observation is the reverse order of the above. The Sociopath was the most functional, the Aspergers the least functional, at least in terms of general interpersonal behavior.



Thankfully, being non-professional, our sample size of such individuals is small, so your Aspergers friend could be a meticulous eater, where as the one I know is a slob…

But neither sociopath I knew ate in such a manner — table-wise, they are both reserved eaters.

Part of the mask — sociopaths typically display no external manifestation of being disordered, other than the stare and lack of vocal affect, both of which would not be apparent as indicating a disorder except to the learned…

In addition the Aspergers person I know is almost always cool and never overtly emotional, whereas the sociopaths were prone to odd, inappropriate outbursts.


As a child in Sunday School, I was taught that all people are good. I believed this to the bottom of my soul…even the murders’ etc. just did not know what they were doing… I was convinced that they had a lost inner core that was good and God given. Being married to a psychopath destroyed that false belief.

God did not make a mistake or created psychopaths. They are simply a deviant mutation of evolution. They have human bodies and brains without a soul. How that happened, I cannot comprehend, but that it has happened I know to be true. Like all of you, I learned the hard way by being too trustful, naive, honest and committed.

I do believe there is a reason we have had to learn this though…to help others and to let posterity through science, child protective services and law enforcement figure out how to diagnose and contain them.

They are not new, they are just being defined.


I’d like to add a few thoughts.

I think too much credit is being given to the Ps’ ability to pick us out. Just like we need to be on the watch for their red flags, my guess is they’re on the watch for our green lights, e.g., everybody is born good etc.

Yes, I absolutely agree that we unconciously gravitate to those who remind us in some way of our upbringing. My guess is that they’re doing the same as us, but from the other side of the coin – gravitating to those who were the victims in their childhoods.

I’d like to see a list of our green-lights, i.e., those things that we say and do that say, “Come on down! Will I be a victim for you!”

I bet we give off a lot of clues (or tells.) My guess is that nobody has really looked into that aspect of relationships (if anybody knows of any studies and can cite them or post links to them, I’d be really interested in seeing them.)

For example, it was very revealing to me how differently I reacted to what the P was saying at the most recent child support hearing. Instead of rising to his bait, I dismissed what he said to the judge.

Example – he told the judge that I hung up on the guy he had call me. I sure did. Instead of trying to convince the judge that I really am a good girl and would never do anything as rude as that, because the judge might not think well of me, I realized that what I did was very appropriate; I told the guy to have Daddy Dearest’s attorney call mine. I relayed that to the judge. I really didn’t care if she approved of me or not, but I knew that she wouldn’t find fault.

Now that I have had some time to think over how I could have responded, I could have added that I would never give out personal information to a stranger over the phone. How did I know who this guy was?

As it was, I did have the presence of mind to say that I couldn’t have submitted the application if I had wanted because quite simply, the health insurance policy isn’t in my name.

Now that I have a 19-year-old son, I hear him making statements that he wants Mommy to do for him the drudge tasks, the things that are boring, take time etc. so he can have fun with his friends. My answer to him is, “Don’t we all?”

I strongly suspect that a version of this is one of our green lights.

I’m a single mother. I’ve had to do it all since my son was born. Many times I have longed for and wanted somebody in my life to share the burden, i.e., tell me what to do, make the decisions for me etc. I remember one time telling my brother that I’d be happy just to have somebody tell me what to have for supper tonight. Somebody who is that worn down isn’t going to look very hard at somebody love-bombing me or wanting to step into my life to “help out.”

Isn’t that true, though? We all want our Mommys or Daddys to step in and take care of the routine, heavier stuff so we can go off and play for a while? To me, these are green lights-I am willing to invite somebody into my life to tell me what to do.

Back when I was a good girl, I would explain my reasoning and/or actions, giving away much too much information. Now, I am a grown woman. I don’t have to give you anything that I don’t want to give away, and that includes my sanity.

No more explaining myself. It’s nobody’s business. That hit me in the face within the past few weeks. I do not have to explain myself. There are always going to be critics. There are always going to people who find fault. So what? Get a life. Take it some place else. I am not interested.

So, yes, we do pick up on words and mannerisms that remind us of somebody long ago. Unless we are vigilant, we’re at a high risk of going right back into the old mode.

We may have had lousy relationships with those people, but when it feels comfortable, like an old shoe. We do not need to accept the invitation. Old shoes need to be properly seen for how worn out they have become. They’ve got thin spots, they’re beaten up, and they simply do not flatter us. We, not somebody else, need to replace them with something new. We need to decide how we want to walk in our lives.

If we’re emotionally needy, we want those strokes that they give us from time to time. I bet one of our green lights is saying something like, “Did you really like that? You honestly think I look good in this outfit? Do you really think I did a good job with that?”

We don’t just give away our power. We hang out the sign and say that we’re open for business.

We might even justify it as “the devil we know is better than the devil we don’t know.”

I’m just not into devils anymore. I want angels in my life. Peace and love, too.

So, what do we do to turn off the green lights? Well, one of the best things that I ever did was decide to take child development courses as an undergrad. I realized that I didn’t know what constituted an emotionally healthy family. I wanted to learn because I did not want to do to my children what my family had done to me.

What I didn’t learn is what constitutes emotionally healthy behavior-what can I do (or not do) to signal to other people that I am my own person and will not be taken advantage of?

I’d like to see something that tells us how to turn the open sign over to closed, pull down the shade, and lock the door.

I would really love to see a list of the green lights that we keep on.



How you’ve been?

I do like your thinking here.

To me the spath is always looking consciously or unconsciously for their next feeding. It doesn’t happen all at once but it is a process. Down the spiral staircase until they have their prey trapped.

We all know when someone is interested in us. We usually know in the first few seconds. Mostly through body language. How long the eyes meet etc.

And as you have mentioned we don’t know what we do to flag the spath. Reason is we are “out of rapport with our unconscious minds. Think of it as two distinct persons being joined together. One is is the conscious mind the other the unconscious mind.

Unconscious Mind
Is in the Now. It is Rigid.Sensitive to negative information. Our Pattern detector. Handles Multisystemic.

Conscious Mind sees into the Future. It is Flexible. Sensitive to positive information. After-the-fact checker. Single system.

“Two Personalities?
Are we really two personalities woven into one person?
I confess, it’s a funny thing:The personality of the unconscious mind correlates to a person’s behavior and the person’s conscious mind correlates to a person’s behavior—but the conscious mind and unconscious mind of that person don’t correlate to each other! Gulp.That’s why people say things like, “I don’t know,” “I have to think about it,” “I’m not sure what I want to do.”
People typically look to make sense of themselves and the world around them. Because we all do and say things that truly surprise us, we must construct (fabricate) a narrative (story) that makes sense of those behaviors that conflict with our intentions. The rationales and explanations help us put the incongruency behind us and move on to other things.
What makes understanding ourselves and others even more difficult is the painfully distorted memories we all carry in the three-pound universe.
The brain simply isn’t a videotape recorder that records events.The brain is a vast array of storehouses and interpreting functions that constantly store, re-store, interpret, and reinterpret our memories and beliefs. False memories are so common that almost every conversation of any length includes reference to at least one memory that never happened. Recognizing these two defective elements of the human experience(our suspect memory and the dual nature of our personality(ies)), one can understand the arguments, the fights, and the butting of heads that take
place in relationships and communication in general between people who have lived through the same events and remembered and interpreted them so differently.
Recent research does show that there is some predictability in how we will respond to other people. For example, a person who is fond of her sister will tend to be fond of people who exhibit behaviors similar to those of the sister.
How do you actually come to know yourself? Pay attention to your behavior in any given situation and you learn who you are. And, of course, even that is suspect because we don’t see ourselves as clearly as we see others.” Hogan, Kevin.
“The science of influence”

My 2 Cents



“I think too much credit is being given to the Ps’ ability to pick us out…”


In my experience, I tend to agree, simply because of where I met the x-spath and the fact that he was clearly “eyeing” me. However, many x-spaths are active predators, who seek a particularly type, for example, an older woman with money.

All sociopaths “watch for green lights,” in my case being either trusting enough or naive enough to fall for “reserved and sorted” act.


Regarding “active predation,” I am not sure regarding “targets” my x-spath does employ a method.

He is a gay male flight attendant who uses his profession to provide him with short-term, long-distance “relationships” as well as sexual liaisons.

While he is very active on the internet internationally, he is not active on the internet locally. In fact his most active online profile is a lie regarding his location, age and personal details — clearly he is hiding something…

Denise Guiney

I was really not that into the person who targeted me but I got caught out when he impressed and befriended and deceived my employer who then did something illegal with his enrolment in a government funded course. I do not know why this happened but it was a disaster. He called my work constantly but covered this by calling my boss too, and she often took his calls. It was all super friendly until I tried to distance myself from him and he started to threatening to use private emails I had sent from work to threaten my job. This could have happened to anyone. Beware of letting any social contacts befriend your employer.

Ox Drover

Denise, they will weasel in any crack in our armor that they can find, both social and professional.

I do agree though that it is usually a VERY good idea to keep our social and our professional lives separate. I have made friends at work that were life time friends, but I have also had people at work who I thought were “friends” who later stabbed me in the back, and though I am now retired, and I no longer have to worry about that, I think looking back, that I would keep my work life and my professional life totally separate if I had to do it all over again.

regarding your reserved eating spaths: maybe they are just mirroring you?


Hi, Spoon, thanks.

I’m a big believer in “actions speak louder than words,” which is another way of saying that behavior tells what the person is.

I wasn’t thinking in terms of split personality. I was thinking along the lines that in a relationship, there are two people involved.

There are times that I read posts on LF that make me wonder if the Ps are being given magical abilities, such as they have x-ray eyes that can see into our souls and hypnotize us.

I know that there are other explanations. For instance,

1.) trying to be nice and positive and see only the potential of the individual and/or the relationship
2.) minimizing the bad things as a gesture of how accepting we are
3.) being accepting without having a real basis for it (or, as one of your links suggested about trust, giving it immediately)
4.) declaring that you trust everyone until they give you a reason not to trust them
5.) forgiving people who never show remorse, never ask for forgiveness, or when we know the “I’m sorry” is about them, not you because we believe that makes us bigger people

We’ve been strongly culturized to think the best of everyone. I think we should be neutral and see how things go.

I definitely agree that Ps are predators. In part, that is what they are, but what if we stopped feeding them? Are they the extreme predators that they are because they cannot help themselve, or is it partially because the other half of these relationships present themselves indiscriminately (display the green lights) as ripe for the picking?

In other words, until the word spreads and we learn what it is what we are doing that makes us vulnerable, the Ps are roaming through a candy store of very trusting, very forgiving, and very accepting people. We might want to consider what we are putting on the shelves that makes us so attractive to the Ps.

There is a stigma if we hold back and not welcome someone. We roll out the red carpet to show that we are not people who judge. Heaven forbid! That would be horrible.

I think we should judge in the sense that we need to slow down and be discriminating. How does a lot of society regard someone with “discriminating tastes?” Some people admire it, but a good number ridicule them for being snobs or thinking that they are better than everybody else.

We do that with people, too. Who hasn’t heard things like, “What? Do you think you’re better than him/her? You think you’re above those people?” Well, yes. When it comes to Ps, I don’t want to sink to that level. I don’t want the drama. I don’t want to be around them because I think I deserve something better, like respect, love, and kindness. When we’ve had enough bad encounters with Ps and have learned what they truly are and/or capable of what they are doing, I think we become very discriminating. And yes, I will go on record and say that I think that I am better than Ps.

We also don’t want to work on ourselves. That’s a slow process, can get real uncomfortable at times, and it takes a lot of work. If I am vulnerable because of my upbringing or experiences, I want to address those vulnerabilities. Nobody else is going to be able to do that, although outside help can speed up or aid the process.

What a lot of people do is look externally for someone who will make them feel good. We through our power at them and then we fault the Ps for being (gasp!) predators.

Yeah, they are. I don’t mean to trivialize that fact, but they’re not operating alone. We are contributing to the mix. I do NOT think it’s a 50/50 mix. Uh-uh. No way. Not at all. I simply do not accept that we are not contributing to the dynamcis, that we are powerless to stop them, or that we cannot do anything to protect ourselves.

Knowing the red flags and being able to protect ourselves are parts of the equation, but read anybody here who has learned the hard way about Ps. They have all stopped doing certain things. They have low tolerance or no tolerance for certain behaviors. Those changes I would call turning off the green lights, locking the front door, and pulling down the shade.



The clinical description of Aspergers includes physical clumsiness. In addition, Aspergers is also associated with poor hygiene habits, whereas with sociopaths, in general there is no such association. In fact, Narcissism almost dictates good hygiene.

But there are always exceptions.

it’s very common for Asperger’s patients to have issues with listening to other’s eat. they don’t like it. It’s also common that they are picky eaters, refusing to eat anything except their favorite foods. Yes, the physical clumsiness is also obvious in some of them.

The thing about spaths, is that they like to imitate. My ex-spath was best friends with an aspergers person and he tried to BE him. He imitated all his characteristics, his preferences etc…

I do believe that spaths target narcissists and asperger’s people. Anyone who is out of touch with their emotions is prey for spaths.


Skylar, the exspath actually began to “set up” his own “defense” of his behaviors, choices, and actions before I discovered what he’d been doing. First, he tried to make me believe that I suffered from some sort of mental illness when, during an argument about his activities, he screamed at me, “You’re in some kind of MANIA! You’re having some kind of MANIA!” When I evenly responded that what he was telling me didn’t make any sense, and was he having an affair, he realized that I wasn’t going to cave in to the crazymaking efforts, and began launching a campaign that woudl absolve him of wrongdoings via an organic disorder! No kidding! He sat in the living room, one day, and OUT OF THE BLUE asked me if I believed that he was bi-polar! This was after he had made the “MANIA” remark, and I evenly responded that he already knew the answer to that and that I was not the person to render a diagnosis.

Having typed all of this brings me around to the fact that the exspath had read a couple of books almost 4 years prior that explained sociopathy and their tactics: “Sociopath Next Door,” and “Stalkers Of The Soul.” Well, he apparently viewed these as textbooks on HOW to perpetrate the crazymaking because some of the tactics were straight out of those books.

What is interesting is that he wasn’t very adept at maintaining the illusions, so he actually researched methods using books that were written with a completely different purpose. What a schmuck! And, he did this, constantly – he would read a book and become an instant expert on whatever it was that he was reading about.

And, I agree that they target ANYONE who demonstrates any emotional issues, on any level. It’s much more of a challenge to manipulate someone who is in full control of their lives and emotions than it is to manipulate someone who has obvious issues. Even so, sometimes that challenge is more tempting for spaths to ignore, and they seek to take down someone who is successful and self-assured.

Brightest blessings


As a complete aside and off-topic, I am amazed that I remained with this man for as long as I did. I had suspicions about his motives when my finances began to dwindle, but the cog/diss kicked into overdrive and I always found some excuse to believe in because the alternative was too horrifying to accept.

Retrospect is always so very, very clear and, while I was in the moment, I wasn’t able to “see” what was going on, at all. Fear. It all boiled down to my own fears of “losing” the illusions, etc.

(Dope-slap) WOW…..instead of a sociopath, I could’ve had a V-8!

Brightest blessings

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