By | April 13, 2007 131 Comments

Why you can be addicted to a sociopath

Understanding helps us heal from our painful experiences. Understanding also helps us avoid repeating those experiences. What is understanding? Understanding is knowledge gained by our higher-verbal brain that helps it to manage our lower non-verbal brain. Understanding is, therefore, a path to our own impulse control. In the next few weeks, I am going to present a series on the science of motivation. I hope that a new understanding of motivation will help you in your quest for healing.

Where does motivation come from?

The first thing to understand about motivation is that it does not originate in our higher verbal brain (the cerebral cortex). It originates in our non-verbal, lower brain or limbic system. This part of the brain performs the functions of what Freud called the unconscious mind.

The unconscious mind is very much like wind. It is unseen yet very powerful. We know it exists because we see its effects and we can feel it. Yet, we do not know exactly where its force is coming from. Just as an experienced sailor uses his understanding of the wind to travel, one who understands motivation can use its energy to go far.

Motivation starts with the anticipation of pleasure

Motivation research began with the discovery of the fact that rats will press a bar to obtain various rewards. This discovery allowed scientists to study motivation in mathematical terms. For the first time, we had a measure of desire and therefore motivation. If a rat pressed a bar many times, he showed a strong desire for a particular reward. With these measures we discovered that motivation starts with the anticipation of pleasure. Something about pleasure is rewarding in that pleasure causes behaviors to be repeated.

We soon discovered that all the things that act as rewards and that increase motivated behavior are sources of pleasure. These things are food/water, sex, entertainment, possessions, affection, social dominance and substances of abuse. When a behavior causes us to get these things, we repeat that behavior. Thus, by some brain process, an association is made between an action and its outcome—getting a source of pleasure. All rewards influence motivation by affecting the same brain process.

Pleasure is necessary for learning an association between action and obtaining reward. This association, once made, causes behaviors to be repeated. Repeated behaviors are motivated behaviors. Pleasure, therefore, is the beginning of motivation. The things that give us pleasure are necessary for survival and we physically need them. We want and crave these things and we like them because they are sources of pleasure.

Needing, wanting and liking

There is an interesting interplay between needing, wanting and liking. For example, when a person is starving, food is much needed, and thus very pleasurable. Food becomes less needed, and thus less pleasant, for someone who has already eaten. The motivation for a particular type of reward is not constant but waxes and wanes, as does the pleasure from that reward. One piece of chocolate, for instance, can be quite tasty and rewarding. But even a chocolate connoisseur will probably only experience disgust if he or she is forced to eat two pounds of chocolate at once!

Recently, scientists trying to understand addiction have discovered something truly remarkable. That is, although pleasure is required to establish a behavior pattern, pleasure is not required to maintain that behavior pattern. Wanting related behaviors can occur in the absence of pleasure and are called compulsions. The bottom line is that wanting to do something and liking to do that something are not the same.

Cues from the environment become associated with pleasure in the early stages of establishing a motivated behavior. Later, these cues trigger wanting to do the behavior even in the absence of pleasure obtained by that behavior. Addiction is the best model for understanding this aspect of motivated behavior. Long after the addict has stopped feeling pleasure from the addictive substance, things that remind him of using trigger drug cravings and the compulsion to use. The brain pathways that are active in craving, wanting and pursuing addictive drugs are the same ones involved in all motivated behavior. This is why addiction affects all motivated behavior.

Motivation and healing from a relationship with a sociopath

Where am I going with all this psychology? I am trying to convince you that your compulsion to be with a sociopath can continue even after the relationship has stopped giving you pleasure. The sociopath knows instinctively that all he/she has to do is hook you in the initial pleasure phase, and you will continue to feel a compulsion to be with him/her. Sociopaths typically change in their relationships once they sense the other person is hooked or attached.

Just as cues trigger craving in addicts, reminders of the sociopath can trigger a longing for that initial relationship. Furthermore, just as complete abstinence is the only hope for recovery from addiction, staying away from the sociopath is the beginning of recovery.

Even though the maintenance of addiction and attachment to an undesirable person are the same, I do not believe that attachment to a sociopath is a sign there is something wrong with you. The sociopath and the substances of abuse hijack a brain pathway meant to serve survival. Once hijacked, the survival system becomes a path to destruction.

If a sociopath has hijacked your attachment pathway, start to break the compulsion today. Use your conscious mind and stay away from the person, don’t answer emails or phone calls. Remove from your life as much as possible reminders of the relationship. Distract yourself with other pleasures. Lastly, do not isolate yourself from other people. Since the sociopath has hijacked your attachment pathway, if you are “starved” for affection, your craving for him/her will only increase if you are lonely.

Next week we will discuss the brain pathways and hormones involved in the love bond.

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Thank you!

This helps me understand and forgive myself for staying with my ex for so long when I knew it caused me so much anguish and pain. Once again I am reminded that once I understand something it no longer has any power to hurt me.



This does explain why we seem to be obsessed/addicted to the sociopaths in our lives. Even now, a year after her departure, I find myself sometimes longing to have her back in some form in my life, but I know how unhealthy that would be, and I have to remind myself of the reality of just what and who she is, and of the misery she has caused in my life.. I recall that intense feeling of love and passion and the feeling that the world was right when we first met… that pleasure was the catalyst for me allowing her crazy, mean, inconsistent behavior to continue after the “honeymoon” of the relationship was over and her devaluation had begun. With those first “hurts”, I had begun to try to change myself, perhaps thinking that in some way, I was to blame for her “hot and cold” nature, and wanted to make sure that I had my bases covered, that I wasn’t the blame of her crazy actions and insensitive assaults. I spent the last half of that relationship trying to recapture the wonderful, perfect beginning… I could have never known that I was jumping through hoops to save and recapture something that really never existed… That concept is still by far the hardest to grasp. The perfection of those early times and that total feeling of ecstasy that I felt with her when we were together…. a fantasy……. I have never had any experience in my life that gave to me such a wide spectrum of emotions… from pure joy and deep love and fulfillment to deep hurt and disappointment and sorrow. It would be interesting to know if those rats in the piece above, if given a electric shock, would they still hit the bar for the reward….. pain/pleasure,/pain/.pleasure… both are strong emotions.. both seem to sum up a life with a disturbed person with anti-social behavior.

Thanks Liane, what you’ve written adds clarity to my understanding — and with that understanding I can continue to build my beautiful life in freedom.

When I first was freed from the sociopath, I intuitively knew I could not have any contact — and contact meant mental as well as physical. By keeping my mind clear of thoughts of him, I opened myself up to the possibilities of healing.

Thanks! As always, you’ve given me great insight and great food for thought. — so much more envigorating than thoughts of him!


How did you keep your thoughts clear of him? I struggle everyday with thoughts of her. It angers me that I find myself thinking about her. I have used technics such as evrytime I think of her, I say to myself.. NO.. or go away.. or I say to myself, that was my old life, this is my new one.. but yet.. it’s always there. I have been through break ups before in my life, and lost a wife to cancer as well.. I admit that I was preoccupied with her and her death for nearly 2 1/2 years be fore it stopped being a daily mind struggle. The reason it stopped?…. I met the sociopath. I’m quite afraid that the obsessing will remain with me until someone new comes into my life, but I hate that, and I feel that it certainly wouldn’t be fair to this new person, but yet again, I have talked to others who obsessed about old girlfriends until they met a new love and then things were fine and the obsessing faded away. I feel like I’m a whole person, and am quite capable of loving, although more wisely next time, but with the obsessing, I worry that I may not be as whole as I think or wish. Yes, I have a deep wound, but even with that said, I have forgiven myself, but not her completely….. It is also very difficult because she lives only 5 mins away. I avoid going near where she lives like one would avoid the plague even going out of my way to do so, but then again.. isn’t that saying something as well? Yes, I’m not “over” it, but can we ever be “over” this? Do we have to be over it to be healthy and whole? As I wrote that last question, it seems like a stupid one.. but yet, many here say that one truely never gets over this, and that the scar across the soul remains. I welcome any advice. I can honestly say that in the year since the abandonment, I have come a very long ways, and for the most part I am a happy man, but the thoughts of this woman, and what she did to my son and I seems to be with me on a daily basis.


I would like to reply to you southerman429. I watched my daughter go through a relationship with a sociopath/psychopath, I never have really understood the difference between the two but according to her therapist that’s what he was. She started out by sharing with her family and friends about this guy that seem to come into her life at the perfect time. She had lost her best friend in life to a suicide and had a tremendous amount of guilt inside from that. She described him as “a breath of fresh air” even though he had met her at what was probably the worst time in her life she still gave it a go. He would tell her that they were soulmates and she was the one he had searched for his entire life. I later learned from her therapist that is what they do to reel you in and make a believer out of you. How could you not stay in a relationship with someone that says those things to you? Was he “the one” for her? absolutely not! I kept listening to the things she was telling me about him and I saw them as “red flags” even if she didn’t, so as a mother wanting to protect her child I hired a PI to do a background check on this guy. I spoke with his ex girlfriend before my daughter and couldn’t believe the things I had uncovered about him. It broke my heart the day I had to bring all of this to her attention but I had to. She was heartbroken and couldn’t even believe it was info about him but it was. She ended her relationship with him and it wasn’t an easy thing to do, it never is but it had to be done. I stayed in close contact with her and her therapist afterwards. The therapist told me she had her good and her bad days but he thought she was going to be okay in the end. Her and her world were so devistated by this man that her therapist did hypnotherapy to help remove him from her memory. She has no recollection of him or their relationship any longer. I know that people say we need to learn from our mistakes and experiences in life but when you can prevent yourself from maybe a life long pain, I think it is a great alternative to the sufferage that would come with that. It all takes time for some people, healing takes time. I’m just glad that my daughter found what some consider a “quick fix” to her experience with a man that hurt her so much. The emotional scar that would have been left behind was worth the “quick fix” if you ask me. Just know countryman429 that you’re not alone and you never will be on your journey to put your life back together after someone took some of your innocence away from you and betrayed you in the worst way possible, breaking your heart. Best of Luck to you and your son in your future together.


“Where am I going with all this psychology? I am trying to convince you that your compulsion to be with a sociopath can continue even after the relationship has stopped giving you pleasure. The sociopath knows instinctively that all he/she has to do is hook you in the initial pleasure phase, and you will continue to feel a compulsion to be with him/her. Sociopaths typically change in their relationships once they sense the other person is hooked or attached.”

This is a perfect statement of what happened to me. Thanks, Liane!

The nagging question I have is about how “instinctive” or not the sociopath’s knowledge is. Is it unconscious or completely calculated?

I know for example “my” (actually quite blue-collar low-brow beer-swilling**) sociopath had a collection of psychology books. Had he really read up on this stuff?

** Of course in the beginning he feigned otherwise in order to seem like we had lots in common!


I would like to reply to Fromthe Heart. You are very lucky to still have your daughter in your life. My daughter was taken in by a con artist/sociopath one year ago, and our lives have been totally uprooted. She was in college, working, had her own home, loving family, etc. Met him in May last year and began to see him even though he was married. I googled his name and found that he had been indicted by a fed. grand jury for stealing vehicles, changing VINs, and reselling the cars. He is now serving 14 months in a “country club prison” in Pensacola. He divorced his wife and 4 days later married my daughter. She’d only known him for 4 months. He has convinced her that we want to kidnap her, want to have him killed, etc. She retained an attorney and had him write us a letter forbidding any contact with her whatsoever. I might add that he has gone through a trust fund that she inherited from her grandparents, bought ANOTHER house with her name only on the mortgage, made her quit school, and now….I find out yesterday that she’s pregnant. She has told everyone but her father and me. I might add that she is sending out “blanket” e-mails to many people in the small town that we live in that are nothing but the most farfetched lies anyone could dream up. She has repeatedly told people she wants me dead, wants to watch me die, etc. This person graduated at the top of her class, class president, dean’s list scholar, and so on. She is convinced that he is the man for her. I’m sorry to go on with this, but so often I feel like this (site) is the only place I can go where anyone understands what I’m going through. Just one year ago, my daughter and I (she’s 24) were the best of friends and many people told us that they envied our relationship/friendship. And now, nothing. I’m a Believer; but right now I can’t help but feel that God’s not listening. From the Heart, cherish your relationship with your daughter. You are a really lucky person now.


Hi Dr. Leedom,

I am interested in the bio-chemical aspects and neuro-science behind both sociopathy and also addiction to a sociopath. Having had a traumatizing involvement with a sociopath a couple of years ago, I hypothesized the following, and I’m wondering what you think.

As far as charisma in sociopaths goes, my theory is this:
if a sociopath has no conscience (and no guilt), he or she might often be in a better mood – or at least appear to be in a better mood – i.e; generally more upbeat and seemingly happy with whatever is going on – than the average decent non-sociopathic person dealing with the typical ups and downs of daily life.

I have heard that when someone is feeling happy, his or her facial expressions. tone of voice, and even their pheramones and neuro-chemicals are probably more “attractive” or magnetic to others around them.

Therefore, is it possible that these happier neuro-chemicals, and aspects of body language – are responsible for increasing their charisma?

Also – if a sociopath experiences no guilt or remorse for their actions against others, and in fact does not even possess a conscience with the same rules and ability to empathize that non-sociopaths hold dear, then that would suggest that the sociopath is perfectly congruent in their happy, good moods; even when others around them are going into chaos, confusion, financial/emotional ruin, etc. as a result of the sociopath’s involvement in their lives.
And the congruency is what is so confusing and dumb-founding to the victims, because – it appears that nothing is wrong – at least from the sociopath’s view-point. I’ve heard that the congruency of a sociopath in believing their own lies is what often enables them to take a lie detector test, and pass with flying colors, because they don’t think they’re lying! (Although they are usually so intelligent, I wonder how they can not NOT know that they are lying…)

Further, let’s say I’d become addicted to the sociopath, and trusted him or her.
When doubts came up in my mind, because of tiny indications that the sociopath was in fact a liar and perpetrator of fraud, hurt, deceipt, etc.,

I would then be dealing with “brain-fog” – a sense of odd and incomprehensible self-doubt, because afterall, my esteemed and trusted new friend (or counselor or spouse or whatever) certainly seems clear-headed and confident, so he/she MUST be more level-headed, and probably more right about what’s going on than I am!

Anyway, this is what I’ve concluded after my unfortunate encounter with a prolific criminal sociopath who was an expert in intimidation and the art of the “mind-f–k”! (Excuse the bad language, but that is the best way to describe it.)


amr asks the nagging question – how “instinctive” or not the sociopath’s knowledge is. Is it unconscious or completely calculated?

My theory is that the sociopath sees others with emotional ‘handles’ displayed – those aspects of personality that they have learned are powerful manipulative tools that can be used to steer other people.

A metaphorical example might be drawn from motor vehicles. As young children, our capacity to differentiate the various types of vehicles on the road was relatively unsophisticated – maybe car, truck, motorcycle – and we just wondered about the differences. But we soon enough learned that each vehicle has identifiable attributes that make it more or less suitable for specific uses or budgets or environments, because we can see what the vehicle is and we know how to evaluate its attributes relative to our needs.

Most of us have considerably more difficulty assessing people as effectively as we see vehicles, because their attributes are less obvious. When we engage with people, especially outside our professional environments, our own feelings contribute to the interaction and have the effect of clouding our perceptions of the other person.

Sometimes we see what we feel we want to see, or perhaps we overemphasize something that triggers a feeling of fear or similar strong reaction, or we may fail to identify the meaning of an attribute that we share with another person. Metaphorically, we are back at the childhood stage of our perception of vehicles, noticing the obvious differences but perhaps wondering more than knowing what some of them mean.

Sociopaths perceptions are unclouded by their own feelings because they have none. They gather a picture of people’s attributes much more quickly, and have probably moved on to ‘test-driving’ a candidate very shortly after “hello” compared with the rest of us.

Hence, they have learned a skill and developed it to a level that far exceeds the skill of those they choose to use for their purposes. They have an instinctive advantage that is put to calculated use.

Another point – we talk on our site about the seduction tactics of predators. Their use of mind control techniques and NLP (sold online by gurus like Ross Jeffries and Robert Greene)… many of our victims say they need to go through months of deprogramming after being involved with a predator.

The trauma, NLP and motivation factors have been controlled by someone with an agenda. Emotional rape sets in, the trauma bond kicks in and yes – brain chemistry does change.

In our opinion, far too many victims blame themselves that they should just be able to “let it go” or “move on” when they are in the throes of PTSD or unaware that they are recovering from a cultic relationship manipulated and done to them by the predator. We try to help them relieve the shame and guilt and validate them.


Maybe you can enlighten me. I just finished a relationship with a man who coercred me into having a three-way with a friend of mine that later became almost a permanent feature in our relationship. Needless to say these two are together which most upseting for me. I contiune to ask why and how and have sought solace in silence of taking time out to work on getting me right. This has been and continues to be an awful situation that i find myself in. To make matters worse there have been periods in our relationship that I did not truly feel appreciated or loved. My ex was diagnosed as Bi Polar 2 in 2004, but never really exhibited any of the characteristics of the disease. Rather he became controlling, manipulative, cunning in operation of what he wanted and when with no regard for any else. I saw examples how he pushed people out at work; he would often say “I know what people want and then I take it away from them” he would say and flick his fingers when saying it and give this smile. Suffice to say, I seen the trestment that he gave his ex, I witnessed the treatment that he gave work colleagues and I’m now experiencing this myself. To make matters wose, he instilled in me that “I had a problem” and should seek professinal help. I’e been seeing someone for 12 months and I have been through this and my therapist seems to think I don’t have a problem. I’ve read Dr. Hare’s book “Without conscience” and “snakes in suits” whilst don’t want to pathologise him, it has made things quite clear that I’ve been in a relationship with somone that was not normal. Hare’s work and others have made me realise that I was in a relationship with a sociopath / pyschopath? With this in mind I have deliberatly cut off all communicatin with him. Since, he’s contacted my Dr’s offering help. I ask myself “who are you helping” or are you just trying to save your own skin. I have since run into him at several close locations around our house and I point blank refuse to speak to him. But he still keeps trying to talk to me. I have sent him a Lawyers letter but he still refuses to acknowledge this.

What advice can you give me to end this.


At times I’m so get so angry with what’s happened and how I allowed this to happen. The more distance I give, the more I see and it’s only through removing myself from this pit, that I see the reality of what I’ve been in. I cry for the last 5 years, to know that I was seeking out true love (well I thought), whilst my ex was operating on a diefferent level. It’s time that cannot be replaced and that’s hardest realisation to come to terms with.


So many red flags with this man I became involved with–he might as well have been the United Nations.

Oh, the emotional abuse he put me through–mostly through email. We knew each other just over a year, met on an internet dating site, and had only three dates. But I was SO incredibly attracted to him. A gorgeous, honey voice, just simply a beautiful man. I have never been drawn to any man like I was to him. He exuded warmth. We developed deep, emotional intimacy, and it became abusive–almost entirely through email, though we also spoke on the phone. How I ever let it continue I’ll never know, except to say that I fell so in love with him–I think I just figured out the answer. I loved him deeply, but knew he was very big trouble and he kept hurting me, subtly, over and over again…he’d hook me in with a lovely email, and then make vague promises and never fulfill them. He did this constantly and we would fight and make up, or fight and tell each other good bye. Inevitably, he or I would write again, and the cycle would continue. We both knew it was a cycle, but I knew he was manipulating me and yet I let him. I thought somehow he was falling in love with me, but I knew, on a gut level, he didn’t love me at all. He might have liked me, but what he loved–if that’s what it could be called–was having power and control over me. Our interactions became more and more volatile, and I felt battered–emotionally battered–by his manipulativeness. He took complete advantage of my empathy and nurturing personality, and now I have to try to rid myself of the feelings of love I still have for him. It is terrible to admit how much I miss him, but I do believe I’ve gathered (finally) the strength to stay away from him. I’m so glad this site exists.


My ex has now resorted to stalking. I’ve “accidentily” or so he have me believe that I’ve just happen to run into 4 x over the last two weeks. I believe his worked out my daily pattern and is just trying to make contact. Further, last week I received an email saying that “I just wish we could be friends” and “I love you” etc… To make matters even worse his contacted my Therapist and GP (Dr), offering them “help”. I feel violated and have said I don’t want contact. I’m staying away from his life and have not made contact, why can’t he stay away from mine? This is unfair, so unfair that I’m even thinking of moving out of this city …the unfortunate thing is this has been my home for the last 15 years and necessarily don’t want to leave for my family….


I can finally say that my ex is really an ex, and I WILL let him be that. Ive spent the spent the past several months analyzing who I am, what I want, and how this man was just sucking me dry. I met him late last year, and it was total bliss. It was a long distance relationship ( so I thought) with us living about 2 hours away! Some how he made time to travel to see me up to 4 times weekly with work and all. I always qeustioned how he had so much free time. He told me that the kind of work he did allowed that type of flexibility,( also a lie). I was astounded at how commited he was to getting to know me. He eventually met my children and my family. They all fell in love with him. He appeared to be shy, unassuming, humble and my kids loved him( neither of their fathers are around). He came off being this big time family guy, saying he has 3 children back home in Jamaica. As the months progressed, his attentiveness started to wane. I asked qeustions on numerous ocassions if he had anything else going on , he always responded no, that I wasnt trusting of him. So I beleived him. One sunday morning while shopping in the mall, I got a strange call. It was a woman saying she kept seeing my name on her cell phone bill and couldnt figure out why. I told her that I didnt know any one in her area( which was about a half hour from me). Some thing in my mind told me to ask her, if she knew HIM. she said she did, and that he was her fiancee! I came to find out that he did not work were he said he did. He also lived in the same state as me, with her. He did not have 3 kids. He has 6!!! With 6 women. He wasnt 35, he was 40. Every thing I knew about him was all lies/or lies from half truths. I was totally devasted. His excuse was that he knew I wouldnt have given him a shot if he told me the truth. But even after I knew the truth, I couldnt stay away. She kicked him out a month later after finding out we were still together. I thought we could put that behind us and start fresh, honest. He left one month later saying that she wouldnt allow him to see their son if he was with me. It was so abrupt. I knew he was lying. He said he was staying with his mom until he saved money for his own place. I knew that something was off. He still came to see me,I even snuck to his job( I now know were he worked ) to see if was really their!! I was tiring of playing inspecter gadjet with him. Then another call. From her.Asking me if we were still toghter. I answered honestly to all her qeustions. He came home to their house while we were on the phone, and openly talking about him , and said absolutly nothing. He called me while still at their home,asking why I was on the phone with my enemy!! He called again and told me all the things she told me( her and I was on the phone for 4 hours) was lies. I told him I was tired of being a pawn in his sick game. He stated that he had to do what he had to for his son. I hung up the phone. I was done. I got a call the next day at work saying that had been violent with her all night , arguing about me. Saying I was the liar, I was despret for a father for my children. That really hurt if nothing else did…. I think about him every day, from the time I wake…. till I sleep. I love him. But Ive come to realize he is sick. I told her she was fool to stay, but I knew it would be especiialy hard because they share a child. He never loved me. And thats ok. Im glad I was able to get away from him, with my pride, dignity( alittle tarnished) .I would lie if I said that I dont miss him. But I love myself more, and thats what carrys me through …. Thanks


Dr. Leedom,

Thank you for writing this. I had kind of worked the ‘addiction’ of it all out from a physiological stand point, shared it with Oxy… and she suggested that I email it to you. In your response, You mentioned this article blog, but didn’t find it til just now. I actually just found the link on Free Forums.

Thanks again,


Ox Drover

This is a powerful article and one that I think we all should be aware of in our healing. It accounts for why we can’t “seem to get them out of our heads” even after we know they are TOXIC. Why we fall almost back to square one if we even get a “taste” of them by breaking no contact. Just like there are no drug addicts or alcoholics that can “drink or drug” in “moderation” neither can we stay in a friendship or contact with the psychopath and be whole.

This also answers why we long for the psychopath after they are physically out of our lives. Of course I at least and Iknow some others here too have “beaten themselves up” over “staying so long when I knew”—this answers why we stayed and I think takes away the “shame” at least for me in doing so. And God alone knows how much shame I felt in allowing myself to be abused and NOT doing something about it.


When does it stop hurting, when do we stop missing what we thought we had? Some days I miss him so much, miss talking to him, and other days, I’m very, very grateful he’s out of my life.
He had never gotten physically abusive, but the potential was there, and he was so controlling. He put me up on a pedestal, and toward the end of the relationship he told me that he was the best thing I’d ever have. I’ve also learned a lot from this, I deserve to be treated with respect and loved, not controlled and manipulated.

Ox Drover

Dear Blackrose,

I wish I could tell you it will stop hurting in 2 more days or 2 more months, but unfortunately there is not “time expiration” on the pain, it is different for each of us. IT WILL GO AWAY though I can tell you, but you will have to work at it. It is part of the grief process when you lose anyting that is important to you. (not just when someone you love dies) and you go from step 1 to 3, back to 2, then 4 and back to 1, etc etc it is a process but it doesn’t go 1,2, 3,, 4, 5 and bingo you are out and done. Coming to ACCEPTENCE that the thing you wanted, loved, thought you had is gone, and that you come to peace with it, the anger is gone, the sadness is gone, wanting to “bargain” to get it back, etc. all are gone and you come to a peaceful acceptence that in the case of the P it was all a “fantasy” not even real, he was not real, just a hollow picture without substance.

We can’t avoid the pain of grief, we can’t go over it, under it or around it, but must go through it. Let your anger flow, let your sadness and tears flow, let your frustration flow, and you’ll work your way through. Don’t hold it in. Come here and learn about Ps and about yourself, and lett’er rip! Post, scream, cry, and heal! ((((Big Hugs)))))


OH MY GOODNESS…. Addiction is exactly what this feels like. I heard more messages of his and ofcourse one of them was one of the same girls as before another message was a local girl wanting to see him again to finish where they left off…Me thinking that is not good is correct right. I mean my mind is saying that is not good, the heart is saying maybe its not what I think. My heart is racing. I dont know what to do. Should i call some of these females and find out how they know my fiance or just completely walk away without a word. HELP. I feel so out of control right now…that maybe I am the crazy one. Its almost like my MIND says END THIS NOW!!!! but my heart says wait maybe all these women that called just might be calling him and saying things…that he isnt telling them anything special…wishful thinking right….HELP PLEASE



Before you do anything, take three deep breaths. Do it with me right now – it works. Breathe in all the way…breathe out. Breathe in deeply….breathe out. One more time…breathe all the way and let it out.

You can’t make any good decision if your engine is racing like this and I can tell you want to make the best decision, one you won’t regret later.

I don’t know your story yet but, for starters, all these women in the picture is not a good thing. Your instincts are right. As you go through this, remember to listen to them. They’re on your side; they’ll protect you.

This manic, crazy feeling you’re experiencing is something most of us have experienced in the early stages. You think you’re going out of your mind, but if you can calm yourself down by breathing and learning more about sociopaths, your mind will calm down, too.

At times like this, our hearts – and wishes – can be deceiving. Separate the soundtrack from the movietrack, turn it off and just look at the action.

The pull to not see what is really happening – or has happened – is so great and it’s so natural that if you’re not strong you’ll get pulled back into the undertow. Swim strong and keep the shore in sight. The shore is safety and once you get there, you can think straight.

You can do this without calling the other women and, in the end, you’ll be glad you did. You won’t have embarrassed yourself in the process and you’ll be proud of your strength and dignity.

Part of the process for some of us is recovering our dignity. You only hurt yourself more when you throw your own dignity away.

Try some more deep breaths…


thank you. i havent made any calls yet and really dont want to.almost afraid to hear the truth and also like you said i dont want to embarass myself. He will know someone check his messages soon…but really no proof it was me. How should I start this. How do I just leave. Do i tell him i know about the others …. or do I just stop talking to him. he gets so angry and mean when we go thru things such as me trying to leave. I will hear all the crap about since I want to ruin his life then he will do the same to me…and things as far as i have spent money on you and no other man has done that and its because of who you are why your not with anyone good…and so forth…he gets bad…im a whore, i will just have someone in my bed like i always do….(i DONT…THAT IS JUST HIM BEING MEAN) its like im scared and hurt all at once and its a itchy feeling pins just want to come out of my skin…does that make sense



I was like you – I didn’t want it to end, I wanted everything to be okay.

If I knew what I know now and how it was going to end anyway, I’d want to be the one to call the shots. I’d want to be the one to leave and I’d leave in style.

I’d calmly collect all my things (if he was like your S, I’d probably do it when he wasn’t around so I wouldn’t be harassed) double-check that I hadn’t forgotten anything, say goodbye to any pets or anyone I loved, leave the keys and no note (he would call or email to know what happened but you’ll look cooler and more in charge if you never respond) and drive off without looking back. Hold your head high. How repulsive that someone thought they could treat you that way. Obviously, this whole thing was a huge mistake.

No anger, no remorse. Just glad I finally found the truth and, once I did, I handled it in the most self-assured way. I could always be proud of my response. But you have to calm down to get there…and you have to realize that what you see is what there is…and it really won’t get better. It’ll only get worse, I promise, and harder to leave.

That’s the mindset I’d have today.


so true. it should even be easier for me since we live in different states. I guess the fear of the things he says such as I will just show up if you chose to leave me or stop speaking to me. U are someone I will go to jail for and so forth. I mean how true is it, Im not sure…… so you would just suggest that I just stop taking calls though right. Let that be my decision and words to him…NO WORDS…!! its crazy cause just this morning it was the whole i love yous and miss yous and such and then to just stop….it sounds so crazy but i know the best…because this really isnt love from his end if these women are calling him with loving words as well right……


Again, I don’t know your whole story but I certainly wouldn’t be part of a circus of women where he’s the center of attention and you’re just part of the audience. I would walk away. I think, from your email, that’s what you think you should do, too.

It would be alarming to me if he said anything at all about “going to jail” over you and you should protect yourself. I’m not sure how that’s done except by perhaps calling a women’s shelter and/or your local police station and asking for their recommendation. (Donna Anderson may know.)

They may suggest a temporary restraining order, moving…I’m not sure, but none of it guarantees safety. You really do have to be very careful before you make any move if you’re at all concerned about violence and follow the advice you’re given.

But, if you’re in a situation like this where violence is threatened, you really must know this is not good.


True. Pretty much my story is just I met this man on line. We connected right away…He told me about a “crazy ex” of his because I found him on dont date him He claimed she did that because she was just angry. Then ofcourse I spoke to her and she had lots to say about the situation. He denied everything and I believed him and stayed with him. He has been here a few times and wants marriage and kids….swears he wants me pregnant NOW!!! One of these other women is another female he was talking to online but had never met…but now she is again saying that she loves him (according to the message) and then the others ofcourse. Deep down I believed the first other woman because he cheated on me with her…(well he was still with her too so i guess in his eyes he wasnt cheating) But even though I believed her I fooled myself enough to believe him.

His threats I dont know how serious. I have told him he shouldnt play around and say those kinds of things and he just says okay say what you want…that I just dont know him…I told him I wasnt afraid of him and he said thats what worries him. I mean it could be just idol threats. I will change my locks to my apt.. He mentioned once that He would kill me and who ever I was with if he ever knew i was with someone else.


also thank you so much…..i am calming down a bit after talking (typing lol) with someone. I dont have friends really that will listen or understand…my family says im foolish that i even stayed this long…..and when i try to talk about it its just like “oh here we go again” its sad but my 12yr old boy knows this is a bad relationship..knew it was before i could admit it…
so anyways…thanks for letting me share and vent….NO ONE UNDERSTANDS what its like to go thru this…its not just “ok lets break up, i dont want to be with you anymore” and everything is fine


To OxDrover:
Thank you, I still cry and fantasize about hitting him with my purse (I carry a really big purse, lol). But seriously, I still wake up at night thinking what’s wrong with me that he could not love me?
And then I remember it’s not me. I am not the one with the problem, I know how to love someone, I know how to be faithful, they are the ones who are not capable of having the emotions and feelings we have, and we can’t help them, because they don’t think they need any help.


Now, he sounds like he’s “your” crazy ex.

Tell me you didn’t really find him on Don’tdatehimgirl and then dated him? 🙂
How did that happen?


because he was good to say that she was crazy and He must of called her while at my house because before he left for the weekend his profile was gone. I dont know what he threaten her….but she took it down…hes there again though…lol



It’s nice to see you’re lol’ing…it’s a good sign. You’re on your way…you’ll get there. Don’t be surprised if you take a step back or two- it happens. Just keep going.


THANKS SO MUCH FOR LISTENING…its sad that any of us have to go thru any of this……

about his threats should i just see how things go and what kind of messages he leaves before i take any action. I have a 12 yr old so im not sure what to do…(not his son)


You’re very welcome.

Well, since neither you nor I know anything about threats and potential follow-up on them, and since I don’t know him and I’m not sure how well you know him, I’d check with the police just to see what they think. Tell them what you know.

It’s abnormal for someone to issue threats. Normal people don’t do that. And so it’s a good idea to find out what can happen from people (police or a woman’s shelter) who deal with these personalities all the time.

I’m not an expert but since you have a son, I think it’s very important to model clarity, strength and wisdom, self-determination and self-protection for him.

You don’t have to check in to a shelter to get their advice. The experts there can also tell you the best way to handle this with your son. He’s watching and you want him to watch only the best.


Dear Blackrose, I think many of us have asked that same painful question ‘what was it about me, that he couldnt love me?’.

When I look at the way that some people treat others, it varies by the person. A highly evolved, sensitive and self respecting person, will be respectful, diplomatic and valuing of a person’s attributes, with a high degree of sensitivity. On the other hand a person who is self obsessed, manipulative and selfish will take take take, without any regard to their partner’s feelings. The closest they will get to ‘love’ will be feelings of euphoria, when they have manipulated a scenario to get something out of it. That is not love, or even close to it.

There is nothing wrong with you, or me, and with the right respectful person, they will mirror back that respect and love. I think I chose a man of such low status, that I thought he would never leave me and would appreciate and value me, how could he not?

But we are not talking about an ordinary relationship, which progresses in a normal way, in which love and trust are built up symbiotically and in which there is genuine give and take.


Dear Beverly:
my P was of a different background than I am, and I don’t mean money, different way of being raised. I also thought that those things should not matter to me, I did not want to be shallow, he seemed like an honest, hard working man. Totally different than the guys I dated, and even different than my ex-h, and I also thought how can he not love me, I loved him unconditionally, accepted him the way he was, and he just used me to boost his ego.


Dear Blackrose, Some people, including my daughter, said I could do alot better. He had no money and lived in one rented room and like you, I thought that decent basic values, such as reliability, integrity were more valuable to me. And I loved him alot too and bent myself out of shape accepting him as he was. Trouble was, he would not accept who I was, he had a different agenda. If he had been a rich good looking guy, I probably would have taken it less painfully.


Hi Learningme

Just checking on you….how are you doing?


I have a question. What is the difference between recovering from an addiction to a relationship with a sociopath (in my case an extreme narcissist), and recovering from just a “normal” relationship where things simply didn’t work out and you part ways peacefully? Don’t people who leave each other, who are NOT disordered, also experience a feeling of missing the other person so badly that it’s like an addiction? What is the difference?

Some of you know my story from other postings, but my ex-N (and I’m still battling the no-contact thing, what with the divorce still pending) doesn’t want to give me up. He is seeing a therapist and willing to admit to all his wrong-doings. But I’m just beyond going back anymore – too much betrayal and abuse and lies. If he can modify his behavior and do better with someone else, good for him, but I’ve had enough. So why am I still questioning my decision.

The issue of the addiction plagues me. I’ve been separated 2.5 months now and every single day is a battle for me, I have to have the same conversations with myself, my friends & family, to convince myself that it IS for the best that I leave. That even if he improves, it doesn’t matter anymore. That I haven’t somehow been too hard on him and judged too quickly, and thrown out a 13-year marriage that could have been salvaged. Why does part of me still fear having regret over cutting him off.


Hi Tmassar

Your question: “Don’t people who leave each other, who are NOT disordered, also experience a feeling of missing the other person so badly that it’s like an addiction? What is the difference?”

I’m not an expert on addiction. In fact, the only addiction I’ve experienced is the one with the S and now I can understand how overpowering an addiction can be. I believe the neuropathways in our brains have been altered in the process so we’re fighting against our own chemicals.

I think part of the difference may be that people who aren’t addicted to their partner are not overwhelmed by desperation to reconnect at any cost even at the expense of their sanity, their emotional stability, their children/pets, their work or friendships.

They don’t have to struggle to put on the brakes. This addiction, like all others, can cause a sense of powerlessness over our feelings or actions. Someone who’s addicted to ice cream (ok…maybe me sometimes) will struggle knowing that there’s still ice cream in the freezer when someone who’s not addicted can forget about it.

Ox Drover

TMASSAR, glad to see you here. MY opinion, and that is all it is is an “opinion” is that when we have a normal “this isn’t working out” thing with someone who is not an N or a P (and BTW I think your N is a P rather than just an extreme N, because an “extreme N” =a P) anyway, when you break up with a normal relationship, you may be angry at them, or you may be sad, but you won’t FEEL BETRAYED and USED.

It is the feeling of betrayal, the feeling of being disrespected, gaslighted, mindf&@ked, when they “at first” were “everything” you thought you wanted on a silver platter—I think it is realizing that it ISN’T like a normal break up.

Your “symptoms” that you are describing sound to me like the “addicted” problem, otherwise it wouldn’t be THAT hard. I’ve had several relationships over my adult life time that lasted from one to four years (never married them but close) and each of those break ups was somewhat painful, but I am still FRIENDS with all of these men, we still keep in contact, we respect and LIKE each other. None of these men ever BETRAYED me, or called me names, or used me, or LIED to me. My divorce was painful (my husband was mentally ill) and his father was a psychopath and using him and me, but I don’t feel that my X betrayed me or used me, or never loved me, I don’t and never did hate him. I was never so angry at any of these break ups that I lay awake nights wondering how I could “get even” with them. Then realizing that my mind was twisted and that wasn’t “Me”—because I’m not like that, vengeful.

The FAKENESS of their “love” is another thing that is painful.

Your X may be “playing the game” with therapy and so on, but I will bet the farm against a nickle that he is just using that for another manipulation tool to get back with you. I don’t have to have a crystal ball, or be a witch or a gypsy to make that prediction. I think everywoman and man here will second me on my “prediction”—it is WHAT THEY DO.

Tmassar, your marriage can’t be saved, it NEVER WAS. It was only your fantasy that he presented to you, he was never what he pretended to be. He was always what he IS. A liar and a cheat. They can’t comprehend normal emotions and bonding….it is all about them. I am sure right now that he has been taken away from his “security” he is frightened and scared that he may have to go out into the world to find another victim, and you were so willing for so long, it made him feel secure to have you there.

Second guessing yourself is normal though, I think we all do it, I know I did with every psychopathic relationship I ever had, but in retrospect, NO CONTACT is the only way to “win”

I’m proud of you for holding to your resolve, and it will strengthen and the second guessing will decrease. When I am “making” a decision I stress out more until it is “final” and then I usually relax and dont’ look back. (((hugs))))


Hi OxD!!! Great, great to hear from you. I hope you’re well.

“He was always what he IS.” – what a great line – it’s so ironic, just today he emailed me to say “I am not what you think I am” (ie, with respect to his philandering) – i found that such a tragic statement coming from him.

Yeah, extreme N = P – this made me laugh out loud.

Indeed he was secure with me – I offered him everything – emotional sanity, the appearance of a normal healthy relationship, a second income, and all his creature comforts. And I let him do his own thing, I tried not to make demands because when I did, there was hell to pay.

I write these things and I think, what HAPPENED to me, that I would even doubt myself???

I feel sorry that he suffers these disorders, that he probably can’t have what he wants: a normal life. It’s a tragedy, no matter how much bad stuff he did.

But you’re right – I do feel betrayed, used, confused, hurt in a way that has no clarity to it. And remaining his friend – I can already see it’s impossible.


Hi Gang….. Learning me—– My x made threat’s to me, once when I told him he had to leave and he could’nt take the car. He said if I don’t get the car I WILL ROCK YOUR WORLD. I was kinda stunned at that comment, after all I had done to make him human. Well he did rock my world, one stone at a time. It took almost three year’s of wanting to believe him, trying to love him. I gave him my soul. I became empty and of no value to him, he had drained me of all life. So he left, and now is with his next victim. The last thing he said to me was. ( Actually I am a honest person until I get f—ked over). Learning Me- Please listen to Eyes Opened and read every post. Why would we want to be with someone that make’s cruel threat’s? Love does not hurt. You have come to a place in your life where it is TIME to move on. I was like you, just a big bundle of nerve’s, I never wanted to kill myself but dying would of been better. I just wish I had found this website along time ago, then I would not have kept taking him back. The last time I even begged him to come back, I said if you don’t come back that means you HAVE been using me all this time. It was the final realization that all my doubt’s were right. It was hard to accept. But educate yourself about personality disordered people and in the process you will find yourself again. Because he will leave you in the end, I regret that I was the one that got left the last time. I wish I had left him sitting at the bus station like the homless drifter he is…..

Ox Drover

DEar Tmassar,

I hope that you can stay with your resolve now, but there may come times that you start to doubt again, and if you do, come here and read and re-read, and your strength will return.

Yea, it is a shame that ANY creature would be in this world totally ALONE and they are alone because they can’t bond to anyone in a normal sense of needing and loving another person. BUT that is NOT our responsibility to give them sucor because they’ave had bad luck in the genetic and environmental pool. Just like a rattle snake is poison, and while you may feel empathy that he doesn’t have a lot of “friends” because of that, no matter how much you love it, or pet it, it is NOT GOING TO GROW FUR AND BECOME A PUPPY. Your soon to be X husband is the same way, no matter how much you pet him or love him, he isn’t going to gorw a conscience and start loving you. It just AIN’T GONNA HAPPEN.

Good luck with your divorce, and hey, watch your back, whenhe realizes you are really REALLY NOT coming back he may become vindictive and try to screw you over in the settlement—NEVER LET YOUR GUARD DOWN FOR A MINUTE, HE IS WHAT HE IS….and you know what THAT is!

((big hugs))))


Dear henry: Think of it this way. When you met, didn’t you think he was your soul mate, the best relationship you ever had in your life … never arguing, always liking the same things, couldn’t believe your luck that someone out in the world was that compatible with you? Yeah, then after they got what they wanted from us … they moved on … and not with the ones that were behind the scenes either … someone new … All of a sudden, there’s a crack in the fascade. The once happy relationship is causing some sort of friction, except the friction doesn’t come up at an appropriate time, it comes out of no where … out of the blue. So we question them if there is something wrong. Answer: NO, nothing is wrong. So we believe them on that answer and we’re still going strong on the relationship, just thinking we’re hitting this rock patch, or our partner is off in their emotions … give them space … give them room. When all along, they’re dragging us in front of a train and we didn’t even know we were on the tracks. That’s why it’s so devastating. Get it. That’s what all these Ex’s did to us … the Madonna trip using people to step over to get what she wanted. And any Madonna fans out there … don’t shoot me … it was her quote in a magazine years ago how she used everyone to get where she is. So don’t shoot the messenger please.


Wini– Like I have said before, he left here in much better shape then when he came here. New teeth. a driver license for the first time in 10 years. Insurance in his name. A 2000 ford ranger, paid for! A better paying job! He even took my clothe’s!!! And all the hanger’s!!! This website is priceless. NOBODY understand’s the damage. Only those that have been with and survived the evil’s of the dememted physco’s understand. btw Madona is no fan of mine, and she is getting divorced, again. I hope her X get’s million’s……………


P. S. sorry but I cant spell the best!!!lol and speaking of his white ford ranger, man I never knew their where so many white ford ranger’s! when I see one I get a little panic attack………..not because it might be him but because I had to sell my new truck and am now driving a 95 chevy…..

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