Mary Ann Glynn, LCSW: Intensity, Charm, and Sex

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

Most partners described sex with their sociopath as having been more intense than they had ever experienced. It’s one of the factors that confused them into thinking they were with the right person. Sociopaths have the ability to be dynamic, charismatic, attractive, sexy, even hypnotic when they are in predatory mode, in either an extroverted or a subtle way. What fuels this charismatic energy, this sexual electricity? I have come to the conclusion that it has to do with their underlying rage. How does rage translate into charm and sexual intensity, you ask?

Just under the surface rage

Sociopaths build their false selves around control to defend against vulnerability and exposure. Maintaining this control would take a lot of energy which the underlying rage provides. It comes through as intensity, edginess, charisma. It can be magnetic. Down the line, all partners of sociopaths experience the rage that seems to simmer just under the surface, when they do something that offends the sociopath or threatens their cover — like a match to gasoline! If subterfuge and evasion don’t work, their defend/fight mode is ever ready. Think of a soldier as the enemy approaches. He is ready to defend his life and survive at all costs. He is like a cornered wild cat poised to pounce in blink of an eye. Sound familiar?

Feeling safe and protected

At first the sociopath’s strong, take-control persona may have seemed admirable — made their partner feel protected and taken care of, even safe. And, that is, yes, pretty darn sexy and, oh, so confusing later on when everything changes. Now imagine the rage that fuels the control, that edgy, even predatory, energy, and apply it to sex. A partner who is dominant and forward sexually can be pretty exciting. It can be flattering that your partner’s sexual passion for you appears to be insatiable. And, because the sociopath is narcissistic, they will usually make it their business to be very good lovers. They take pride in making sure you are very satisfied. Remember, they’re competing with any lover you may have had. That’s how they see it.

Lots of sex means lots of oxytocin

You’re likely to have a lot of sex with a sociopath, especially early on, which releases a tsunami of oxytocin, the attachment hormone. This could make you feel like you’re “in love” early on, too. Also confusing! Put all this together and you can have an explosion of sexual passion that may overwhelm your defenses and your reason. This could be deliberate on the part of the sociopath, especially in the pursuit phase, or when you become suspicious, or to lure you back when you try to walk away. And/or, it is just how they experience connection, while maintaining a feeling of power and control.

Sex is sex; not love

What partners don’t know at the beginning is that for sociopaths sex is sex. Since emotional connection is a foreign concept, sexual attraction is the only way they experience “love” — in actuality infatuation, obsession, lust. For them, sexual connection may be a substitute for the emotional connection that eludes them in relationships. Orgasm can serve the purpose of feeling good, “loved”, powerful, forgetting everything. For this reason, many sociopaths are sex addicts. When sex is an end in itself obsession, lust, and the feeling of power can be powerfully addictive.

Emotional connection not reciprocated

The lack of emotional connection is what makes it so easy for sociopaths (much to their partners’ shock) to move from their relationship quickly on to another sexual partner. It’s always a rude awakening when a partner of a sociopath realizes down the line or even at the end of the relationship, that the emotional connection they experienced during sex was not reciprocated. It’s hard to realize someone could even operate that way. But, that’s just one more unfathomable aspect of a sociopath’s character that makes connection to them unlike any other

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32 Comments on "Mary Ann Glynn, LCSW: Intensity, Charm, and Sex"

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An excellent article Mary Ann and it hits on one of the many “somethings” I’ve been trying to figure out since my breakup. Early on in our relationshit, let’s say the first couple of years with a gradual phasing out, my ex-spath would hyper-ventilate during sex. There were times I’d stop the intercourse because I worried he was going to die of oxygen depravation – literally! Now I’m good (-: but not that good!

I’ll probably always wonder if the hyper-ventilating was 1) real due to his hyper-sexuality or 2) total BS he used to capture me by getting my oxcy going but by also appealing to any insecurities I may have had about myself. Perhaps it was a combo of the two but I’ll never know.

Hi Lifeisgood. This may be a piece of your puzzle about hyperventilating during sex. A sociopath once told me that to orgasm made him feel a loss of control, a feeling of vulnerability that triggered the powerlessness he never wanted to feel.

Thanks maglynn! Such interesting creatures they are!

This is very helpful ! Now I can see exactly how this has played out in my life. My mother with her barely contained malignant envy that would erupt into tirades in the car and later translate into turning on the charm toward those she envied. My husband with his frequent flirtations with strangers and instant anger if she did not flirt back. Just the sheer energy in these interactions whether anger or intensity or charm was amazing.

If I look at the spaths in my life from the perspective of seething rage, then so many events make sense. My husband turns on the intensity long enough to get to the sex (with whomever), but his addiction seems to be to the attention and control, not the actual experience. It makes perfect sense that with no emotional connection it is so easy for him to move from one target to the next.

I am feeling less and less crazy. Thank you for another piece of the puzzle.

This article was really helpful for me, even though its been months, and may be months more before I know that I no longer feel attached and connected to this guy, I haven’t had any contact. Fortunate for me. When the feelings of missing him, brought on by the hormonal cocktail start to nag at my mind, I often start to count off to myself the things that led me to detach in the first place – even though it was SO hard to do, distance and detachment…for I’d done all of the normal attachment we all do when we feel such strong feelings, all part of the lie in surrendering intimately. All of the things he WANTED me to do because he knows how to play the game so well. Somewhere in me is that feeling still, of missing.
And, I know, I know I wasn’t the only one, but maybe one of the few that caught on and detached…I’m sure there are still others who are groveling for the little bit of attention he’ll give once he loses interest or finds someone new who catches his attention.
I do realize it is about control and power and anger.
But, something in me still…holds…onto the unbeleivable and the fantasy…


Donna posted a great article in the past couple of days, about why we become addicted to these Spaths. It is all very logical and scientific. You would find some peace in reading it.

I can so relate to your story. My husband has done and said unbelievable cruel abusive things to me, but if he was to walk in the room right now, I would want him to touch me and hold me. I WOULDNT LET HIM, but I would want it. I pray that those feelings will die. NoContact is preventing me from hearing his voice and his words. That helps the illusion to fade, but I can tell that I have a tough road ahead.

I hope yours is easier. Remember, it was a fantasy, not reality. Best wishes to you.

This can be true of “normal” men, too, particularly if they are emotionally immature. They love the thrill of the chase but once they have made the conquest, they lose interest. They are wired that way biologically. For those of us who are single and out there dating, we need to be very careful and protect our hearts. It’s not just sex that will release oxytocin, but a passionate make-out session or even dancing with a man! There are signs along the way that a man is emotionally immature, but sometimes I miss them. Or I think I’m immune to the effects of oxytocin.

I sometimes feel like I should just go live a monastery. 🙁

“like a match to gasoline! If subterfuge and evasion don’t work, their defend/fight mode is ever ready. Think of a soldier as the enemy approaches. He is ready to defend his life and survive at all costs. He is like a cornered wild cat poised to pounce in blink of an eye. Sound familiar?”

Totally 100% familiar and beautifully put!

I never really had the ‘amazing sex’ thing with my ex. I think he worked out when he met me from mutual friends that what I needed at that time was a gentleman. So he mutated into the exact opposite of the idiot boyfriend I had recently finished with. What he offered wasn’t great sex, it was great attention, patience, kindness and gentlemanly behaviour. It worked. By the time we actually slept together and I did make him (us) wait several months, I was already hooked. The sex wasn’t the best ever but it was good. The frequency however, peetered off very, very quickly which is the only thing I find slighly different to much of what I have read on here.

Perhaps he had to spend so much energy on controlling his underlying rage that it was just too much for him.

I’m a huge Harry Potter fan and I often think of him now as being just like Nagini, Voltemort’s snake – when she was posing as the little old lady and suddenly morfed back into her real, ugly, very dangerous self. That is my ex.

Wow, I am always amazed every time I come and read on this wonderful website. It is absolutely uncanny how exactly similar they are. You hit the nail on the head with the sex thing. What you wrote was my exact experience. He left me without warning the day after xmas 6 years ago and was sleeping with other women within a day or two. Needless to say, I had PTSD and Cognitive Dissoance to the extreme. While I am now well past the painful despair, I still to this day have never had sex with anyone else. What he did to me and the way he distorted what I thought was the most loving beautiful sex I ever had….well, now, I’m just disgusted by the thought of sex.


My situation is very similar to yours, except I believe my one was carrying on with other women while we were still together, as if he was keeping me in the background to fall back on whilst he looked for someone with more money.

When I ended the relationship he was with a comfortably-off businesswoman within a couple of weeks (who he ended up marrying – she paid for everything). She ended up committing suicide as she became psychotic; indeed she had posted on a social media site that he had stolen off her and really done her down, leading to her mental collapse. Within months of her death he turned up on my doorstep after finding out where I lived (9 years after our split) with the attitude that I should be grateful to see him! It was obvious that he was looking for sex, somewhere to live, etc, which just made me want to throw up. However, what used to come across as intensity, charm and sex came across as desperation from a sad old man who had burned all his bridges. He was still blaming everyone else for his misfortune in life.

As for me, the thought of sex fills me with dread and makes me want to throw up! Perhaps if I’d been given some kind of guidance or counselling I would now be in a relationship with a really nice person but was just palmed off with Prozac and told there was a waiting list for counselling which wasn’t that good anyway! To be fair all of this happened 12 years ago so maybe professionals weren’t as aware as they are now.

OMG BELS!! It must have been satisfying for you to blow him off. I cannot believe after 9 years, another marriage and a wife who committed suicide, he showed up on your door. But then again, what am I saying…of course I can believe it, the self-grandiosity of a psychopath knows no limits. No limits on time or distance. I was 47 when he discarded me and I’m almost 54 now. Right after he left me and was living with a woman within weeks (in our marital home), I tried to look on the dating websites thinking if he can jump right back into bed with someone, well so can I….but I couldn’t. I never did more that email a couple men. Most of my life I always wondered why some people just breaking up out of a relationship could be with a new mate within weeks. There were times I almost admired this quality…it definitely puzzled me, because of the 4 or 5 major relationships I had during my life all came to an end. The soonest I was ever able to be in bed with someone new was about 1 year. And it didn’t matter who ended the relationship…me or the guy…I never had a desire to jump right into a new relationship. If I knew then what I know now…man, I may have really had a chance to have someone to grow old with. Once you know the typical relationship behaviors of a sociopath, they can be easily avoided. I really encourage everyone who is looking for love to find out how to identify these sociopaths, because when you read they will wreek havoc on your life like no other…believe it! Me and Bels are living examples of 2 women who wanted someone to grow old with, and now find ourselves completely unable to date….and believe me, it’s not because we still carry a torch for the sociopath (it’s been 6 years for me, 9 for Bels), it’s because they emotional damage they do, will change who you are. I was just telling my sister the other day, when my marriage to a sociopath ended not only did I have PTSD and Cognitive Dissonance, but in the aftermath My Soul and my spirit feels folded, twisted, and turned inside out. I’m not, and will probably never will be the same.
Bels, your story is so fascinating!


It gets even better! I bumped into an old friend of mine who said he had pestered her at about the same time he tried to ingratiate himself back into my life and had to get her boyfriend to see him off! (I had to call the police eventually as he was shouting outside my home because my neighbour is a nurse who works shifts, so I could no longer just ignore the doorbell).

He even put a Christmas card through her door this year (after Christmas!) suggesting that if she was now free to date perhaps they could meet up for a drink as she had always made him laugh! It certainly gave us something to laugh about but she couldn’t understand where he was coming from. I posted her the link to Lovefraud so she could fully acquaint herself to the antics of sociopaths.

ughghg….it’s so creepy….I can just see my ex writing something like that in a card. They are people of few words….less risk of giving themselves away. Think about it, did your ex ever write anything that was more than a couple words? I remember back when we were first married I was sending out Thank You notes after our wedding and when I was done I had this great idea to send one to my new husband thanking him for choosing to spend his life with me. I really constructed the letter beautifully. I just thought the idea itself was novel. I actually wrote him at least a few love letters early in our relationship….his reaction was like a fake smile and “Oh, how nice.” Another warning sign: Has the person you are with ever written you a love letter or poem? Think about it….if someone is truly falling in love with their soul mate….love letters are pretty common. I have love letters from every other man I was ever involved with…
I really hope your friend believes and knows to stay away. I recommend anyone who is on the dating market to watch this series of videos…they are excellent: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tro2U-cezqo&list=PLBAF0AFC457D5493E


Actually he did write me love letters and poems but I believe this was only when he could sense I was getting fed up with his antics. I was the financially secure one in the relationship and he had not found someone else at the time it was worth moving on to.

I was working as a legal secretary and was fully familiar with the law in the UK, i.e., unless you are married to someone they have no right to any of your assets, money, property, etc, and I wouldn’t marry him for this very reason. I learned that he did in fact go to a solicitor to see what he was entitled to and when he found out it was zilch he started with the love letters again, which I would not buy into!

My friend is a home owner and is in fact better off financially than me as she is a good few years older and bought her property when the housing market was a lot cheaper. I know this is the real reason he has tried to latch on to her as the last I heard he was living with his mother! I think what has happened is his reputation has preceded him and he cannot find himself a financially secure woman to sponge off any more. He has also aged very badly. Players think they are so clever but karma does catch up with them in the end and when it does it hits them badly because they have not made provision for themselves!


I can’t imagine sex with anyone else either, but I don’t want to go years without. I wish I could be disgusted by the thought as you are. At this point, it would be a blessing.
So glad to hear you are past the despair.

I hope you get past it too Hoping. Age might play a role. I was 47 and just entering menopause when he put me through the worst experience of my life. Often this is the reason I give to people when they ask why I do not date anymore. I actually wonder if I was in my 20’s or even 30’s when this happened, would I still be so adverse to ever dating again? How old are you Hoping? How long since it ended? Please know that the pain you feel is because you are a normal empathetic person. IT IS NORMAL not to want to jump right in bed with someone after a serious relationship or marriage ends. I use to think there was something wrong with me because I couldn’t do it. You cannot turn love off and on. It is a process to fallout of love and then heal. That is why when these relationships end it is so extremely painful for the victims. One day your married to the person you think loves you most in the world and the next day he’s in bed with someone else, without there ever being a clue there was a problem. To realize, instantaneously, that everything you believed to be true about your reality was actually a lie….well, that is what they call Cognitive Dissonance….and it is painful beyond what anyone other than those who have experienced it can imagine. Keep us posted on how you feel Hoping. Hugs.

The main trait of a psychopath is lack of emotion. I do not believe there is an underlying rage but an underlying indifference. I am so tired of hearing the misinformation on rage. Anger is an emotion,they do not have it! They appear to love too but they do not love. They are incapable or either.

They may use a semblance of anger and even act out rage to get their way or control someone but they feel nothing because that is simply what they are. It is all part of a plan to use, abuse and destroy someone to make themselves feel good.

I will agree that they do not like to get caught and react strongly to that but it is not because of any normal feeling. It is simply a need to overpower and win at any cost. Please stop humanizing them by confusing their behavior with feeling or emotion.

Delores, you are right. My ex was so controlled, cool and emotionless…traits by the way that will initially make you admire them. You will think they are so in control of things, so rational and thoughtful….and in the end you find out they are manipulative, calculating and they do not love you. Not even a little, because they can’t love. The strongest emotion I ever saw my ex display really sticks out in my mind, because he reacted to something with expressions on his face I had never seen before. It was creepy and strange. It seemed to me at the time like it was embarrassment. It felt creepy because when I noticed his expression and equated it with being embarrassed I instantly realized I knew this man for 10 years and never saw him display the fairly common emotion of embarrassment before???? He came home from a shopping trip and I could tell there was something wrong or different about him. I pressed him to tell me what was wrong. He told me that he went to Walmart and he pulled into a parking spot and when he got out of his car a woman was walking toward him yelling at him about how rude his behavior was. She was waiting for the spot and was there with her blinker on there was no way he didn’t see her waiting. He just didn’t care and didn’t think anyone would dare confront him….and let’s face it, most of the time things like this will piss people off, but they usually don’t confront the person right up close and personal. It really affected him. I equate it to how important it is for the psychopath to remain a person who is admired and adored by all he meets. That lady called him out.

I also have heard conflicting info about the rage. The one I was with would immediately start critiquing servers in restaurants as soon as we sat down. Water had to be there and full all the time, etc. I could literally see him start to become annoyed. He told me about one time he grabbed a kid over the counter at a movie theatre because the kid was eating popcorn out of the serving bin as he was working. One other time he followed a group of three 13 year old kids that had been teasing his 10 year old son at an amusement park. He told me he got in the one kids face and forcefully shoved him. I was appaled and told him he could have been arrested and “what kind of way is that for a 47 year old adult to handle the situation”? Was that underlying rage or him simply reacting to being out of control of the situation?

Thank you for an insightful article Mary Ann Glynn,

I’ve read many articles on this so called rage that the Spath experience, and also the comments posted above where some disagree with the idea.

My perspective is that while we state that Spaths are devoid of emotion, I question what it is that drives their behavior? They seem to seek satisfaction in control and manipulation. Satisfaction is an emotion. Their narcissistic side seeks affirmation and recognition. That desire is an emotion.

While I see that they have no emotions that express love for others, and they are strictly self focused, it appears to me that self-love is an emotion. So I guess I can see where they would have rage that drives them. Just my thought.


It’s very tragic and unthinkable that you have invested so many years of your life with a man who is not only incapable of loving you, but who is actually dangerous to you and your children. You didn’t know. But knowledge is power. Now that you know, you have a chance to break free and rebuild your life. Don’t hold onto that creep who has no real love or respect for you.

I just told the story (then deleted it) about the monkeys in Thailand I was reading about. They are very easy targets for hunters. All the hunters have to do is place a nut inside a hole in a tree trunk. The hole is just big enough for the monkey to get his hand into. But once he grabs the nut, he cannot pull his fist out. That monkey will actually DIE or be killed before he will let go of the nut and take his hand out so he can flee to safety. The sociopath is like that nut. If you keep hanging onto him with malignant hope that things can be better, you will never be free. You will never be able to get your hand out of that hole and flee to freedom.

The story about the monkeys in Thailand is an appropriate illustration of how trying to hold on to that hope of “making things better” with the sociopath is not possible!

Your article offers amazing insight into the many “whys” that lurk behind our memories!I never even gave thought to the fact that underlying rage could be the factor behind his charisma!Those two qualities seem so opposite!But it makes sense once you get to thinking!My husband was very angry about the fact that he was considered a nerd by his peers;as ‘much less than desirable’ by girls when he was in school.So he has always tried to ‘prove himself’ socially!

I always wondered why sex was finished so early in our relationship.For a long time I blamed it on the fact that once I put an end to childbearing (tubal ligation),he lost interest in me.Now I understand that once the thrill of “love” was over;so was the thrill of sex.He gave me the silent treatment.


I can relate to how the sexual interest ended early in the relationship, and how I blamed myself. I always thought that I had become less appealing and I became very self conscious.. He used my insecurity to demean me and lower my self esteem, but always in a Passive aggressive way- looking at and flirting with other women, looking away when I was dressing or bathing, forcing me to make the first move when we were intimate. Looking back, I can clearly see that I didn’t change physically nor did my intensity in my interest in our intimacy. The only factor that changed was that I grew deeper in love with him and thus he became bored. He ad me, and the challenge was over.

I’ve constantly tried to impress him and make him believe that I was/am attractive. Now I realize that all of this was a conscious or subconscious plan to make me insecure and lead me to feel that no one could ever be attracted to me.

Having read so many stories of similar circumstances of others, I’m sure that there are many of us who, even after realizing why we were led to believe these untruths about ourselves, we still end up thinking we are undesirable which leaves us in a vulnerable position. I’m working to overcome this mindset, but I’m not sure I can see a future with much self confidence. It’s just another aspect of the abuse from a soulless partner.

Any suggestion on books that may guide you through this part of the recovery? My counselor is not a lot of help in this area.

Thanks so much for these lightbulb moments & validating Mary Ann Glynn. Please write more on this subject of Intensity, Charm, and Sex.

This could have been written about our marriage. The sex in the beginning was absolutely mind blowing. The first time we had sex I remember weeping because I felt cheated for many years of what great sex was all about. Fast forward to getting married, and suddenly the sex just fell off.

About the two year mark of our marriage I received an e-mail from somebody claiming they worked with my husband and they wanted to let me know he was having an affair and everyone knew about it. I did my own snooping and found evidence. Of course he pleaded, swore it would never happen again, became what I thought was very transparent about his actions, and I forgave him and moved on.

We have been married for seven years and the last 3-4 years have for the most part been sexless. He convinced me he just didn’t have desire for anyone anymore, but what I’ve read makes a lot more sense.

We are all the “other women” is my belief…
I just couldn’t put my finger on it…
I use to tell him he was “conquering” me,using that exact word!
Sadly I mistook intimacy for intensity…it was a “sporting event” to him and a “performance”…
He always wanted to take pictures and or video the sex…
He has 2 Facebook accounts…
He is a sex addict as well as addicted to porn and he was even Skyping with others doing sexual stuff like pleasuring himself while they Skyped. He was also big into sexting. He was always cheating…it was never enough…
sex is sex, not love…
This article fits to a T…


You are so right. We are the “other woman”. Just since I’ve been on LF have i started to realize that is true.

How awful to learn the truths…
He was never real or was his love…
He never wanted my love , only my body is another sad truth.
Since I became his “conquest/conquered” I’ve been on a quest to find the truth.
I have no idea what happened to all the pics & videos he’s taken of us…
Only clue I found is that he uses zip files stored & accessed on Internet.
He goes out of his way to look more innocent than the innocent…another truth…

When someone you trust so much betrays you, it destroys your self esteem. After so many years of doubting my instincts, I find it hard to focus and have a clue of what to do next. I have spent my life raising our kids and being his wife. I’m isolated and having trouble even thinking of the future sometimes. Such is the dramatic destruction left behind after a sociopath discards a person.

I realize through LF that the impact is the same whether you dated them only awhile or married them for years. While there are different amounts of pieces to pick up depending on how long and how deep you are involved, we are all left with the same feeling of disrespect and abuse.

soooo true!!!!……….I have been healing and moving forward….then after no contact for some time now , I could just feel it…I knew my Birthday was coming….I was just telling someone the other day that I thought he was getting it and going to leave me alone…then sure enough…I get a e-greeting card from him for my birthday….I have not opened it….so that will help some…but it is disturbing….It came from some other site so my computer did not block it…but it went into spam….so will he get it? …when I never read the card??? He has fooled himself ….that I would have anything to do with him…ever…but see how he picks my Birthday…to try to get at me? ARGGGG!!!It does not send me into anxious panic like before….but I need to go smell my essential oils to interupt the thoughts…!!!!!!!!

I was with my (now ex) husband since we were 15. We were married 30 years. Never displayed outright anger…very passive aggressive. But I read on a blog about body language that clenched hands is a sign of anger. My ex ALWAYS had his hands clenched while sitting and relaxing and it bothered me. I took it as a sign that he was tense, but the information about body language, combined with the information from this article, leads me to believe he always had underlying anger/rage.

grace, what an obvious maneuver to get a reaction from you! These predators surely know the things that tweet our hearts….a birthday card. I hope he knows you never opened it, or at least it irks him that you didn’t respond. Any amount of loss of control makes them less interested. It’s painful but beneficial to us. Stay strong!

[email protected], I have never heard that about clinched fist. That is very interesting! My Spath always has his fist clinched.. He, like your husband, is very passive aggressive. He criticizes and demeans without actually saying to words. Very calculating. Thanks for the info!

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