Editor’s note: Lovefraud received the following story from a reader who posts as “Gaslit073168.”
I met him in spring of 2014 through an online dating site. He was so honest in his profile (sarcasm now, in awe then) about being imperfect.
Depression was his biggest flaw, in his eyes. He was sad because his kids live in Japan where he can only see them when he can financially manage to make the trip. It’s been this way for a couple years because his now ex wife left him and decided to go home to her family in Japan.
This wasn’t the only reason he was depressed. He had brain cancer in 1998 that caused him to be legally blind in one eye, a huge bald patch across the back of his head and no teeth (he has dentures) due to massive radiation treatments, and was left with a seizure disorder for the rest of his life. This is just the beginning of the list of reasons I was supposed to feel intense sympathy for him. I did not disappoint.
He fell in love almost immediately, giving me the keys to his apartment on our second date. The whirlwind was intense, and he won me over quickly. I moved in within a matter of weeks after we first met.
This would be foolish all on its own, but there’s an even deeper reason I should have walked away before we ever began. I did a criminal background check and found he had been charged with exploitation of a minor through pornography in the state where he lived years ago and he was a Level 1 Sex Offender (the lowest level).
I confronted him and he explained that it happened when he was 30 years old in a state that is known for its religious control (a true statement) and the pictures were not intentionally of an underage girl — it was pornography with a girl over 16 who appeared to be older.
I called a court clerk in Utah to ask if this could be true, and she said it was, considering his punishment was so light. His explanation was something I decided I could live with (a major regret now), and not only did I move in immediately, but I also decided I wanted to take legal action by way of writing letters to attorneys to have him removed from the Sex Offender Registry. He was so appreciative that I cared enough to make this effort.
The first three months of our relationship were a beautiful love story. We were in love, planned for the future, started looking for a house, and even decided we would have a baby if I were to become pregnant (in other words, no birth control”¦ poor judgment, as I’m 46 years old, but I wanted to make him happy).
It was an amazing time in my life, even though there were little signs that I was dismissing along the way, such as a look or a comment that wasn’t quite right (the look was as if a mask of anger or annoyance appeared for about a second and then disappeared, always replaced with him blowing a kiss to me, as if he was knowingly making up for the brief mask).
There were other bigger elements that I was dismissing as well”¦ he had ”˜friends’; two females. One was 27 and quite unusual (from what I have learned, she is autistic) — he described her as a past potential girlfriend but he knew within the first days of knowing her that they were only going to be friends.
The other was 26 and a much different story — she’s a prostitute that he had met when he first returned from his last visit to Japan, when the depression was spiraling out of control, as he put it. She was also a heroin addict and was wanted by the police when he and I first met. They became ”˜friends’ after his initial business arrangement with her.
I was stunned when he told me right before I moved in with him that she had been found by the police because he contacted them with her location. She went to jail that day, and during the first three months of our relationship he would visit her in jail once a week with my blessing (I didn’t want to be one of those girlfriends who made demands, blamed for past poor judgment, or didn’t allow friendships with the opposite sex).
It did bother me that he had no male friends, and both of the females were 20 years younger than him, but I ignored that. It also bothered me that both were ”˜friends’ after a very short dating period (if you’re like him and can refer to hiring a prostitute as dating).
Out of jail
Our love story took a major hit when the prostitute was released from jail. She called him and said she needed a ride to her drug dealer’s house, and on top of that, she also told him: “talk to your girlfriend because I need a place to stay for a little while.”
This was the first time I drew a line in the sand ”¦ she was not staying with us, and he would not be driving her to her drug dealer’s house or anywhere else. I insisted if he was going to be with me, he needed to end it with her.
He was distressed, but he agreed. He told her no on both counts and that was the end of it until the next day.
I went out with a friend and he began texting me asking questions about when I’d be home. I had a feeling”¦ I told him it would be a while, but in reality, I was heading home at that moment.
He wasn’t there because he was out with the prostitute.
I began packing my belongings in that moment, and told him he might want to get home. We had our first blowout. I cried, yelled, accused, insulted, and continued to pack the whole time ”¦ which was about an hour. That’s how long it took him to convince me he loved me and would never do anything to hurt me and he was only doing that one final favor for her by giving her the ride.
I accepted his explanation and decided our love story was worth the hit to my ego and my trust in him. But things changed drastically.
There were suddenly blocks of silence where he would answer my questions with shrugs or nods instead of words.
Sex was no longer a daily event for us, he claimed because his headaches were getting out of control (he still has a benign brain tumor that causes problems).
When the weather started getting cooler, he began more frequently staying in bed watching TV or listening to his sci-fi audiobooks (I dealt with them every night because they helped him sleep, even though they helped me NOT sleep).
He began making requests to start eating in bed. I did all the cooking and cleaning and brought him food, picked up milkshakes for him on my way home from work, and other tasks that a caring girlfriend would do.
He still wanted sex, but it was becoming more and more impersonal and a bit degrading at times.
He didn’t work (he’s been on disability due to the cancer, vision problems, and seizure issues) and I was getting more and more afraid the cancer was growing again (a constant concern, or so I thought). He would minimize my concerns by saying it was fine and he would know if something was wrong, but then he would accentuate the pain and suffering he was going through.
I was becoming less happy every day and I had to fight it because I didn’t want him to see it. I wanted to be the one who would stick by him even when things weren’t great ”¦ he had told me many stories about how people have deserted him since the cancer crisis began.
Snow and ice
I was supposed to have surgery for a foot injury but had to cancel due to feeling he would not be able to care for me the way I would need him to. There was a set of stairs leading into the apartment that had no railing and the snow and ice were going to be a big issue for me, surgery or no surgery.
It was a terrible winter, and every day I worked, the amount of snow that had to be removed from my car, those scary stairs, and the long driveway were all on me, as he would stay in bed while I limped and struggled outside so I could go to work.
He never once offered to help me. But he would still show moments of that special guy I had met several months before, just enough to keep me foolishly hopeful. We were still doing things like going out to eat a few times a week, or for a drive, a movie, shopping — nothing too strenuous because he claimed to be too exhausted and sick (although there was no real evidence of sickness).
We had a few more blowout arguments; one right before Thanksgiving and another a couple weeks before Christmas. He would go silent when I needed him to talk, blatantly ignoring me as my agitation would amp up (which is what he wanted because it made it easier to blame me).
Once he had been silent long enough (usually a matter of hours) and I was sufficiently distraught, he would come to me and hold me, tell me he loved me and wanted us to be okay. I would apologize for getting upset and he would express how sorry he was that he wasn’t feeling well and his depression was worse because he so badly missed his kids (even though he did nothing to save money for a visit to Japan, and he wouldn’t do anything to increase the amount of Skype visits he had with them — only 1 per week for about 20 minutes, even though his ex would have been open to more, and I suggested it dozens of times).
That brief mask of annoyance (and what looked like hatred at times) would show up, often when we went out to eat. I would look at him across the table and there was that mask”¦ then the kiss blown to me, every time.
We made it through the holidays and had an amazing New Year’s Eve where we promised each other a special and happier 2015 together, planning great things for the future. It was January 14th, just two weeks later, when he destroyed anything that I believed we still could have had.
He started that day texting someone with a big smile on his face. He also made it clear that he hadn’t removed the password from his computer (something I noticed a couple months earlier but kept letting go because it was easier than looking deeper for the truth).
I asked him what was going on and he ignored me. Later in the day, he appeared loving toward me again and wanted to spend time with me. We watched a movie together, laughed and had a good time, ate dinner, and chatted like we used to.
Then it was bedtime. He began texting again, in bed, with that same smile on his face. I remember staring at him and finally saying (tears pouring down my face) “it’s never going to change”¦ you’re always going to have secrets”.
I told him I was done and he exploded on me, telling me we were over because of my lack of trust in him, my insecurity, my accusations and my anger. It was all my fault. I moved out two days later.
I later found out he was texting with the prostitute throughout that day, and it was all planned with the purpose of hurting me so much that I would make the accusations and he could tell me it was over for him too.
Yet, when I told him I was leaving and he was watching me pack, he tried to change my mind, tried to make me question myself about what I was doing.
I pointed out that it was my decision to end it and that he wasn’t going to be able to stop me. He then began pushing for me to not go “completely—¦ he wanted to keep me tied to him, and he knew using his poor health was a good means of getting me to agree.
I moved out but continued seeing him, talking constantly, and begging him to explain what changed for him and why he did this to me. He blamed his depression, his health, my insecurity mostly, but said there was no real answer.
We continued contact — getting together to eat, go to movies, talking daily — this went on until late March when he had a medical crisis.
He began having uncontrolled seizures and called me for help. I stayed with him day and night at the hospital for the next few weeks taking care of him. He wouldn’t allow nurses to do anything; he would only be cared for by me.
Incredibly affectionate again, he acted as if we were back together. I fell back into it quite easily. By the end of April he was home again, seizures gone, and I was staying with him at first. I tried tapering off the amount of time I stayed with him (no longer sleeping over), but still was there daily.
Woman on the bed
One day, I showed up and the other female friend was there laying on the bed watching TV with him”¦ another set-up to devastate me.
I lost it to the point of demanding he show me everything on his computer or I would be calling the police right then and there. I was afraid he may have pictures or videos of me because I had learned a lot during his hospital stay.
I had full control of his phone, and that meant I had access to his pictures and emails. What I found was disturbing to say the least.
This was how I learned it was the prostitute he had been texting and plotting with to hurt me in January. I also found pictures of her asleep in the bed I had once called mine (date stamped only a couple days after I moved out).
Seeing that he had taken pictures of her asleep, I had instant fears about pictures he may have taken of me in that bedroom without my knowledge. He had no choice but to show me what was on the computer, and that’s when my world caved in.
What I saw involved preteen girls being shown in a sexualized manner. I later told him as I stood over his shoulder that day I took video and snapped pictures of him opening the computer files.
He begged me not to turn him in or tell his family, saying he would kill himself if I did. To this point I have not exposed him, but that is only with the understanding that I’m watching him and I’ll expose him to the world with no hesitation if I find he’s been seeking out young girls.
One thing I did find in his email was his Craigslist account with ads he had placed ”¦ the title of one stating: older man looking for much younger girl, willing to make ”˜donations’.
The real mask
What I have come to realize is those brief masks that showed up were glimmers of who he really is.
The face I saw most of the time was the real mask”¦ what he put on to charm and trick me. In reality, he is hateful and bitter and clearly mentally ill in many ways.
No matter how much I try to explain what he did to me, I can’t get it to make sense. I have to accept that the love story for those months in the beginning were all a lie, and as time went by, he was less capable of hiding his reality.
Master’s degree in psychology
What I personally find to be one of the most stunning parts of this story is my own role. I have a master’s degree in psychology and I’ve studied disorders such as sociopathy and narcissistic personality disorder. It will always baffle me how I could be so blind and so easily dismiss what was presenting itself to me all along.
Why is it that when it’s someone else I can see it so clearly? But when my own heart is involved I’m as insightful as a brick wall. It’s something I need to figure out about myself as I also try to figure out if I can ever trust anyone again.
As it stands now, I have ended all contact with him but I’m keeping him guessing about the evidence against him in regard to preteen pornography. I can only hope it stops him from seeking out young girls with the idea that I’m watching him.
Still, I think about where this leaves me in the equation, and it is all about needing to accept the reality that a sociopath has used me for nearly a year and a half for his own twisted entertainment.
It is a reality I have yet to comprehend and learn to live with, but I will get there.