By | October 19, 2009 189 Comments

Normal behavior and the sociopath

Last week I did something that I really didn’t want to do. Thursday evening, I went out in the cold and rain to sit through a “customer appreciation” dinner at the dealership where we leased our car. My husband, Terry, wanted to go, but he couldn’t, because he just had knee surgery and was supposed to stay off his feet. So he put on his best smile and cajoled me into going. The event included a drawing for a big, flat-screen TV, and to win, all we had to do was show up. There wouldn’t be many people there, so our chances were good.

I knew I wouldn’t win the TV. I’m not the lucky one—he is. Plus, we don’t need a TV. The one we have is fine. But Terry, like most men, is a gadget guy. He really wanted to try to win the latest in TV technology. So to make him happy, I went to the dinner.

This is what we do when we’re in love—we try to please our beloved. We’re cooperative. We acquiesce to their requests. It is normal behavior in an intimate relationship—behavior that gets perverted when the other person in the relationship is a sociopath.

Giving in to requests

I remember the requests from the sociopath in my life, James Montgomery. They all came after he proclaimed his love to me:

• He needed money to cover expenses until his big business ventures, which would benefit us both, were funded. Could I help out?

• He wanted to take me to Australia to show me off to his family and do some business. Could I put the trip on my credit cards?

• He wanted to get married quickly. We were in love, we were adults, what were we waiting for?

• He really needed a new computer—it was important that he work with the latest technology. Did I believe in him? Would I buy it for him?

Although I had trepidation about many of the requests—especially as my savings diminished and my credit card balances grew—he cajoled. He proclaimed his love. He talked about our future together. I acquiesced. I gave in. I caved.

My behavior was normal for an intimate relationship. When two people are together, we cooperate with our beloved. We try to make him or her happy.

That’s the problem with sociopaths. They appear to be normal, but they are not. Consequently, we respond in normal ways, and get ourselves in trouble.

We weren’t stupid. We were deceived.

Sometimes sociopaths can keep up the façade of normalcy for a long time. In my case, my ex-husband never deviated from the “I love you, we’re in this together” script. That’s what kept me behaving as a normal wife would, accommodating his requests, even to my own financial detriment. It was only after I found outside evidence of his treachery that the whole charade fell apart.

Most people are normal

So now what? How do we keep ourselves from repeating the miserable experience of the sociopath?

First of all, we know they exist. We know there are people who look normal, just like us, but are missing the parts that make us truly human. They have no conscience, no empathy, no emotional connection to others, and no remorse.

Secondly, we must learn to trust our instincts. When someone generates an atypical feeling within us—nervousness in the gut, prickling on the back of the neck, doubt in our minds—we must pay attention. An abnormal reaction to another person may be our only clue that someone who appears to be normal is not.

The good news is that most people are normal. Most people are capable of love, human connection and supportiveness. Yes, we all have our flaws, but when we are with a normal person in a loving relationship, we can safely do as they ask.

So I went to the dinner at the car dealership. I didn’t win the TV. But by going, I made my husband happy, which made me happy. That’s what happens in a normal relationship.

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Ox Drover

Dear Donna,

A great example of the many little things we do for those we love.

Another thing about your husband’s request that struck me too, was WHAT DID YOU HAVE TO LOSE? A couple of hours of your time.?…it wasn’t like he had insisted you go to some “Bernie Maddoff Investment Seminar” and that you invest your life savings in it.

The RISK vs. BENEFIT, the COST vs POTENTIAL benefit, is another indicator, to me, of “normal” request vs the “conning” request. Sometimes, though, like you with James Montgomery, there APPREARS to be a potential or actual “benefit” when there actually is nothing but a con job.

A “normal” person who actually loves us, does not request that we engage in “risky” financial or otherwise unwilling or behavior distasteful to us.

A very good article Donna, thank you.


I don’t remember that my xP never actually asked anything of me. I think he just dropped hints about wishing he had something. Then he would look unhappy until it occurred to me that I could make him happy by purchasing it. LOL. He was very sneaky that way.


Dear Donna, thank you for this timely article. It is very important for me to have positive role models, that there is normal loving relationship possible and actually in progress!

What bothers me is the discerning when “healthy manipulation” on the “Tit for Tat”-rule ends and where “conning” starts. I have so many difficulties in discerning the two, and I may be recoiling from “normal” behaviour too, as I am allergic to EVERY kind of pushing me in some direction I have to do something I do not REALLY like. And what is MY part in the whole game, what kind of signals am I sending out so people think they can “handle” me this way?? Food for thought, anyway!

And thank you for keeping us all a decent, caring, loving, understanding, well behaved, wonderful bunch at LF’s! I am honored to be a part of it.


Donna – what a great reminder to those of us whom are still trying to understand it all. There is “healthy” and giving love….love that returns as much as it is given.

The SP only wanted sexual favors to his liking. Always pushing me to do things “his” way… things I wasn’t comfortable doing. It was never about me….although he tried to act as though it was. I can now see that from others posts here at LF. It was like watching himself on TV…..all to boost his outragously huge ego.

And now I’m STILL sorting through the fallout and he probably doesn’t spend a minute of his day that I cross his mind.


my mouth twisted up at the ‘no emotional connection to others.’ strangely, i still have the sense that he does have a deep emotional connections to others. why all the anger? why all the running around with 100 friends and 10 women at a time? i think he just stopped having an emotional connection toward me.
if it isn’t emotions (anger, lust, etc), what is it?

Twice Betrayed

That is something my x hub was generous with….money. Most of the time….I controlled the money. He was/is willing to fork over the money generously for whatever/whomever he deems ‘in need’. He never intended for me to ever leave….he always wanted the home safe where he could return from ‘conquering the world’ and everyone in it.

Twice Betrayed

lostingrief: in response to your question….they don’t feel emotions the way we do. They are very dependent on others for their sense of self. While we reach inside to bring out emotions and self worth they do not do that. They use people to be their emotions and self worth. That is why they ‘collect’ people….always have many waiting to ‘worship’ and give them what they want/need. They feed off people….think: no soul….and basically that is them.

Twice Betrayed

*that’s why when they lose their primary source of supply they flounder until they can attach and attach is the word…to another victim to be their primary ….and then they are up to their old tricks again….’back on stage….back in business’. People collecting……


sometimes i forget. thanks for the icky reminder!


Yeah, and don’t ever forget to worship. That makes a benevolent god into an angry and vengeful god. Sacrifices must be made, the more the better, the god’s appetite must be appeased. If you forget the ritual sacrifice, they will smite you and go get new worshippers. To whom much is given, much is expected. – Luke 12:48


That was my mistake, I stopped worshipping and I was cast out of fantasy land into the torment of hell. Now all I have is weeping and gnashing of teeth.


ExN was very sneaky in this regard…he was very good at rolling out some of the things he knew I liked. Flowers, or making elaborate dinner for me now and again, and he rained me with jewelry and clothes and shoes (was very proud of his ability to buy me good designer shoes). But when it came to the big things…like fidelity, or truth…couldn’t get those things to stick in his memory as things that might be important to me. I remember early on we had an “open” relationship (read: we fully accommodated his sex addiction) and one of my few requests was that he not wear my favorite cologne if he was going out with anyone but me. Seems easy eh? Within a week or so off he went, wearing it.

How sad that I was reduced to that…you can go do what you want with these women just don’t wear the cologne I like? I’ll settle for that little? Yeesh.

But his being fairly consistent about the other niceties kept me off balance for sure…gee, he didn’t do this…but he *must* be decent because he did do these other things right?

Thanks for a great article, I’ve found myself wondering about this lately as I navigate the world of normal.


I remember just before I divorced my first husband (who was not an S or N I don’t think…) one of the last images I remember was of him out on a lake with our kids – our son was 10 or 11 and really loved to fish. I would go fishing with him but his dad would say – Why should I do something I don’t really like to do – I don’t like to fish. And I’d say ‘you do it because your SON LOVES TO FISH and it would mean alot to him. ‘ When we were out on that lake even our daughter who was only 7 said to her dad – Dad! You’d probably catch more fish if you had a better attitude! And I remember thinking ‘ Boy, if this guy was a date, I’d never go out with him again!’

He is actually a good man even if he is a remote personality. Trouble was, I think I punished myself for finally getting up the nerve to divorce him and then found someone who was more ‘passionate’ but definitely more abusive.

This last man in my life has alot of anger – I can tell he really needed more love from his mother, and his father was an alcoholic and gone by the time he was born – same way with my second husband. Perhaps they really do shut down their ‘connecting’ capacity of loving as a coping mechanism to not get hurt themselves, even children show this early on. Then they act out with people, maybe as a form of revenge – maybe because as we all know, they can’t stand indifference, they need attention – even if it’s negative.

And alot of us have had neglect from our fathers early on so we want that love and attention so much more, and we’ve not been allowed to have a male father figure (reverse this for males here)) who would give us safe and loving care and approval as we grew – and the kind of love that gradually helps us build esteem without the confusion of sexual trespassing against us thrown into the picture.

Mainly, I wanted to mention the anger I’ve seen in these people we’ve all struggled with loving. Sometimes I think they’re snakes, other times strange turtles – they can snap and bite you but they retract, retract as soon as you try to really engage with them. And then I think we learn to over-retract ourselves just for our own protection.

Still makes you too crazy, too broke trying to undo whatever damage has made them who they are, we have to get ourselves out in the sun again. Thanks for reminder, Donna that we can find ‘normal’ love if we’re open to it.


Did anyone see piece on Drew Barrymore last night on 60 Minutes? She had such dysfunctional, self-absorbed parents from time she was a little kid – they were a terrible influence and she had no supervision. She started to drink, smoke, do drugs herself between 9-12 that finally around age of 15 or 16, she decided to go to court to ‘divorce’ her parents – and won her independence! She said she knew she needed to find her own family who would really support and sustain her, otherwise she was going to derail. And she did still flounder in finding her own balance and ‘normalcy’ but I admire her for really using her creative gifts and approaching her life with such optimism and confidence.

So maybe there is no set theory – it’s our own choice to make what we want out of what we’re handed, or discard it and go after something else.


Donna I am curious – has James Montgomery ever taken legal action against you? is he aware of your website and what has he said if anything about it? I love the fact that you exposed him and dont hesitate too use his name. Is he any kind of threat too you?


YES! To every thing you said. And YES! I did see Drew Barrymore last night and was soooo struck by her narcissitic family and her ability to survive it. Amazing that a 15 year old girl who was raised by such a couple of selfish assholes could find her way clear of that. She survived and thrived. It’s just phenomenal. She worked at a coffee shop to get emancipated from her parents because hollywood deemed her too fat to get work. Unreal.


Getting back to the subject of normal behavior in relationships, There are two normals – the sociopath’s normal and “normal” normal.

For sociopaths, grooming adult (and sometimes) child victims is normal. For sociopaths, “relationships” are about power and control, not companionship. For sociopaths, there is always a hiding of the true self so that a non-predator’s risk analysis is skewed. Normal behavior plays right into the sociopath’s grooming, and doing the right thing in many cases turns out to be wrong (and in some cases DEAD wrong) with sociopaths.

Another reason why when red flags go up, they should be heeded!

Ox Drover

Dear Donna,

When you collect, I know that you will keep your “promise” to take us all on an ocean cruse FIRST CLASS! ROTFLMAO I’m holding my breath til you collect! (choke, gasp!) LOL

Twice Betrayed

You know…I don’t mind to be a friend, family encourager, helper etc….but, these p’s suck you dry. I realize that’s what has so depleted me regarding my adult kids too….no matter what you do it’s never enough. I want to be supportive and proud of my successful adult children especially when we have holidays, get togethers…..but, it always turns into a contest of who is the best one etc and I wind up getting sucked dry emotionally and then sick for weeks. They are all so competitive of one another and full of advice that I don’t get any fun time or any personality of my own. You know, I am a nationally published writer, yet my kids have never read one single thing I’ve written. One of my articles made front cover and they would not even look at the magazine cover….my son tossed it on the counter w/o even acknowledging it…my older daughter said….”well, mom, at last you have done something” and my younger one totally ignored the whole thing. And they wonder why I just go nc. [They all say I am just depressed, withdrawn and am a introverted hermit.] Lawd, who needs that kind of ‘relationship’?????


TB, we are proud of you. To be able to accomplish so much in your life WHILE dealing with the betrayal of your family speaks volumes about your strength.

Envy and shame is the root of this disorder. And it’s so sad when you think about it. They feel so ashamed and lacking in self-worth that they can’t give kudos to anyone else for fear of feeling diminished. I’ve just finished reading a book that touches on this. It seems to be a trait inherent in all human beings, but some of us outgrow it, I guess.



I believe the appropriate response to your snot-nose daughter who said “well, mom, at last you have done something” would be: “Remind me again exactly how many national magazine covers you have been featured on?” As for your son’s tossing the magazine to the side, I believe Newton’s laws of physics apply — for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.

Twice Betrayed

Sky: Thank you so much for those kind, sincere words of encouragement!!! You have no idea how much they effect and mean to me! 🙂
Envy and shame. Well, I never really knew that! I feel good when someone accomplishes something…in my mind…we all have something to give and we excel at…I don’t feel envious because I feel we all have our own special, unique abilities and gifts.
They feel diminished, wow….that must feel awful and make them angry….no wonder they are hostile.


Matt, TB,
how about this response:
“I’m proud of you too, sweetie, for uhh, you know, whatever it is that you did.”

Twice Betrayed

Matt…..that’s SWEEEET!!!!! LOLOLOLOLOL!


TB, I thought you knew that narcissism is about shame and envy. ALL ABOUT IT. Read, “why is it always about you”, by Sandy Hotchkiss.
You’re perspective on life and everyone around you will change.

Twice Betrayed

sky: she has accomplished much. She is VERY successful and very well educated and has done it by herself. She thinks motherhood is nothing….she puts it down and considers it worthless.

Twice Betrayed

*she thinks in term of wordly things….like big $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$

Twice Betrayed

and………….her dad [and my son’s dad]was/is the exact same way and neither of them were raised around him…he deserted us to get many degrees and inherit big bucks of which he has never shared one dollar of. Never supported his kids and won’t give them a dollar even now. And they are both just like him. Get this: he contacted me via facebook this year and he asked me if I ever got to finish my degree since “you had kids to raise”….[HIS KIDS!]. Can you believe that????


TB, perhaps her attitude about motherhood is sourgrapes?
Someone who would do what she did with her stepdad, obviously isn’t capable of empathy. So she can’t/doesn’t want children – who would require her to give them of herself and her money. But at the same time, she sees that other people get happiness from having children, THAT’S the part she envys: happiess.

My P-sister is the same way – won’t even have a cat or dog.

I completely understand your need to be NC.

Twice Betrayed

sky: I think you are right on motherhood….she cannot have children. But, even when she was younger she disliked motherhood-wanted me to get an abortion when I found out I was having my younger daughter. Course that could have been because she was fooling around with my hub………at any rate: she did reach a point several years ago when she really did want kids but she cannot. Now she is divorced and dotes on my gd in between being jealous of her…etc. I would agree on happiness.
No….regarding N….the only book I’ve read on N is Sam’s big book and he mostly indicates it’s because they just flat think they are the greatest.
Ok, I will read that book. Thanks!
Oh… sis is like that. My daughter loves dogs. More than people….she will help dogs, spend money on vets etc but if I needed money…she would not even buy me food. Go figure.


I’m very happy for you, because you got to find a decent person after the Sociopath. In my case I don’t know but I find it so hard to trust another man again. I’m afraid that even if I find a good and “decent” man in my life again I will be the problem, because of my lack of trust. The next “if there will be any man”, that happens to cross path in my life has to be a very patient person. I changed so much from the loving person I used to be. Now I put a thick wall around to protect myself.

Ox Drover

Dear TB—congratulations on your accomplishments, I think Matt is right, but NC is even better!!!!!!! TOWANDA!!!!!

Today has been a spirit-lifting day for me, though I didn’t make the cover of anything, but the sun was shining, the breeze was blowing a little and I cleared some brush from the woods behind my house, ground some corn meal for corn bread for supper tonight, and smiled….just cuz! Perfect day! NO Ps. LOL

Twice Betrayed

Oxy: thanks so much! Yeah, NC is the best. I don’t think it’s supposed to be like this….you know, we moms all love our kids and somehow it seems our kids are supposed to love us. And the vow of marriage before God is supposed to mean something…but to these p’s and their offspring…it is just not that way. I know this logically and I understand it….but emotionally I cannot wrap my mind around it. It’s like matter what occurs or how prepared we think we are for it….we never are. I could hear the leaves blowing today, the sound of children’s laughter from the school yards as I drove past, the crispness of fall in the air and it transported back to a time when my kids were small and loved me. It got to me so badly I had to pull over and regroup. Then I began to realize I’ve got to just shut the door on who I was=mom. When I came home I almost burned all my photo albums and keepsakes….keepsakes of what? Something that is no longer? I am at what old people call ‘a reckoning time in my life’. Another bridge to cross on my road to Oz. 😉

Twice Betrayed

Oxy: wow…you ground cornmeal? Ummm, I will bet you made a great supper. I love fresh corn bread…..Yum, hey, I think I smelled it over here. 😛

Ox Drover

Dear TB,

Yea, I know what you mean about our “idenity” as “mom” and I loved that time of my life–it is like “different incarnations” but all in the SAME life time….we are “different’ people at different stages in our lives by what is important to us at that point.

I remember when I was a “rodeo queen” and that was all that was important, then this, then that, and as each stage came it seemed to be at that time, who “I WAS” and that was my “idenity”—now my “idenity” is this “eccentric old lady with the funny one liners” and I smile and think about all the different “oxys” there have been—but I am no longer just “my kids’ mom” I am ME now—-and I am not just an appendage to the farm, and not “just” my idenity as a nurse practitioner, and in fact, I am getting further and further away from all of the “old” idenities that WERE Me, and making a new one.

My life no longer depends on what some one else things of me.

I did put away all the photos of my P-son after he was about 12 or so, because prior to that age, he was FUN, he was wonderful, but somewhere in there my wonderful son “died” and his body was taken over by some kind of evil android.

I put away all the photos of my egg donor as well, and I have photos up of people I love and taht love me, to make me smile. I remember my P son when he was young and loved me back, and that little boy is a good memory, but the “man” that animates his body is a monster, a stranger, and not part of my memories or my life. I hope all of that makes sense some how.

Yea, I have a grain mill, and like the meal I grind better than that you can get in the stores. always wanted a grist mill, but they are very expensive, and I lucked into this one for $50 at an auction.

Son d and I are going to a 3-day living history event this weekend too about 2 hours away, and meet up with a friend and camp with her, meet some new people (this is not our usual group) and just see some different geography. doing something nice for the two of us. Plus, this weekend is supposed to be nice and there may not be too many more nice weekends to get out and just BE OUTSIDE and not to work out there. I enjoyed working outside today, therapy and getting myself in shape with some hard work and cardio-vascular exercise, plus good sunshine on my eyes (helps lift spirits) and good memories (also helps lift spirits) and good companionship (helps lift spirits) and a sense of accomplishment (also helps lift spirits) so all together doing things to make me feel better.

Then, to top the day off, got a call from the guy I hd the date with a few months back, he is coming back to Arkansas for a visit with his dad and brother and wanted to come see me, so, had a GREAT day!

ps. corn bread is the staff of life and is/was yummy! with lots of hot real butter! and a big glass of goat milk!

Twice Betrayed

Oxy: all that you said makes total sense. I so relate. We are different people at different times in life. Yeah, I guess I am having trouble giving up being mom. I do not really know who I am/want to be now. I don’t want to marry or have a deep intimate relationship….I am so burned. I cannot give that much of myself away again. I know what I do not want to do. 😛
Sounds like you have a great weekend coming up! No, probably not a lot of nice weather left this year. I would love to go to Florida for the winter….I hate winter. Yum on the corn bread….and butter….hmmm, I like goat cheese. I hear the milk is very good for you.

Good Morning All….My ex accountant/ex businrss manager/exreal estate agent/ex boyfriend….that I left does not leave me alone. I am so happy without him…but again ( I already left him once and he harrassed me back so i wouldnt have to deal with the repercussions of leaving him) example endless fikings in court…of things I didnt pay…because he was”dealing with the business and HE didnt pay!oH…i SIGNED THE CHECKS after I took away the signiture stamp…but the checks got ripped up and I had thought they were being paid…apparently not.He is threatening another involuntary bankcrupcy…the last one that I won cost me 55,00 dollars…in which I lost my house…and now I am homeless but still trying to run what is left of my business…He drives by my business all the time to see if I am making money…he drives by my kids school…he scopes the city to see where I am. Last night he drove by and it was soooo busy which put him into a tizzy knowing that he cant touch the $$$$ anymore…so here are emails sent to me in his rage


How would you feel about a group of unpaid individuals and creditors holding poster board signs (legally on a public side walk) in front of your restaurant this Friday and Saturday night asking customers to boycott the restaurant because of the signs that say: MY PAYROLL CHECK BOUNCED,” CHEF BOPEEP DOESN’T PAY HER HELP,”CHEF BOPEEP DOESN’T PAY HER BILLS ON TIME,” “CHEF BOPEEP DOESNT PAY HER MEALS TAXES,” CHEF BOPEEP OWES THE DOR -&35,00, “CHEF BOPEEP IS A CHEATER,” CHEF BOPEEPDOESNT PAY HER VENDORS,”MY OIL BILL HASN’T BEEN PAID IN THREE YEARS,”CHEF BOPEEP CITED BY THE AG’S OFFICE-NON PAYMENT OF WAGES,’CHEF BOPEEP IS A TRAITOR-JUDAS ECT…ECT…ECT…?

How would you feel if the XXXXX Daily Times, the local Cable-” On the Menu” XXXX high School Media and channel Five news were informed about a compelling news event taking place outside XXXXX Restaurant this friday and saturday evening?

I wonder how your kids would feel about seeing their MOTHER EXPOSED FOR SUCH DISHONEST!!!


tHIS IS JUST ONE EMAIL FROM YESTERDAY…It is Hell to leave…but I THANK GOD….do give a crap anymore….and I am so happy to be away from all that PatholigyEveryday more and more threats…I had been working hard for “US” thinking we would have a great life….Prime example of the lies and deciet with a sociopath..Run away…dont walk!

Alsothank you for the statement that we aren’t STUPID WE ARE DECIEVED… true this is….


Stupid is as stupid does! FG


BoPeep, Keep that email. If he does that, you might be able to use it in court or show it to the media.

But he isn’t going to do that. He is just gaslighting you. He’s trying to keep you living in fear because what they love most is the emotion of despair. They suck on it.

Twice Betrayed

Bopeep, that is verbal intimidation and threats….you need a restraining order. They always use this type of fear…but to keep him from possibly trying to do this type of harrassment…I would get a restraining order against him.



Unfortunately, I believe this dupe is on the rise, and “normal”

I cannot trust a man at present and move through my day like a fugitive. I am looking at my mother and asking myself ” is she the psychopath who set this up ?? I’m very puzzled about it all.

You were very loyal (if you had been lucky to really meet someone capable of appreciating you) You were trusting, loving, hugely invested in the love of your life, the future together….and that’s what leaves me stumped.

The myths they told us endlessly how we would meet our “love” and we would get married and have children and live happily ever after….terrible bullshit as it happens.

I kind of “don’t care anymore” I had given up on men before I met the psychopath, I put extraordinary effort into suspending my suspicions…but when he asked me to marry him I said No…but I helped him financially, emotionally, sexually and spiritually….but I could not marry him…why? I didnt trust him fully. I held back. So do you think I will ever let go again?

He has fleeced me, skipped off into the sunset with my money with another woman….and I am sitting here, stunned….just about to give up or surrender or something…..I just feel old, ugly, bitter and finished…..until another day



Thank you for this post. It is important to remember that a woman can be engaging in what would be healthy ways normally, and get terribly hurt. The natural tendency for me, at least, was to say what did I do wrong. And in asking that, I came up with some legitimate answers, but I also realized that MOSTLY I did the kind of things that a person does in a loving relationship. My error was in believing I was interacting with someone who loved me, was “chit together”, caring, loving, empathetic…..and wanting so much for the “dream” to be true that I kept ignoring signs that it was not true. And then the hurt from that went extra deep, because it touched hurts from childhood. In other words, I took his knife he stuck in me and then stabbed myself over and over. But bottom line, with a normal person, my behavior would not have gotten me into the emotional pain that it did with a P, there would have been no knife.

Thank you for confirming that with a great example.

Recently I was challenged in my marriage with my husband exhibiting some very P like behaviors in trying to deny a drinking episode. I immediately went to the therapist who said a) my husband has a 50 year history of being an alcoholic, not a P b) he did apologize and express true remorse and backed it up with already meeting with a therapist to work on why he fell off the wagon, and is coming up with her help some new actions to take c) he expressed in writing how what he did went beyond lying into gaslighting and how wrong that was d) his behavior triggered in me all my “P” reactions… and I totally panicked.

A good person can have a bad day. My husband had a bad day. That is not being a P, my therapist had to remind me.



Thank-you for this validating post.

I also have the experience of being in a loving 13-year relationship.

This relationship ended less than 5 years ago. And even though it ended, it was not a failure and never were my loving behaviors abused, or used against me. I accomodated to many of my partners needs, as he did mine. We treated each other with respect, caring, kindness, honesty, and still came to understand we would be better going our separate ways.

While we were deciding to separate we did not cheat, lie, hold back, go into silence, or degrade each other. It took us over a year to make this difficult choice. We argued and worked hard to find solutions. But we never disrespected one another. In the end, we let go….with love.

When we parted each of us felt heard and seen. I knew what he wasn’t proud of, what he felt great about, and how much he cared for me. He knew the same. We still sometimes talk about new things we understand about relationships; our connection continues to enrich our understanding of ourselves.

We are still friends.

Though I too (as JAH writes) examined my own beliefs, conditionings, and behaviors, in an effort to increase my self-awareness and contribution to my own suffering, understanding the part the p/n played has been essential in my moving on. Because I generally accept my own contributions to any situation fairly easily, it felt to me that the lack of honest sharing became MOST clear when I was left to figure out why it went the way it did, without any honest input from the p/n.

We are left HAVING to figure it out on our own, because the disordered person will not examine their own behavior and share it with us. They don’t open themselves up and allow themselves to be ‘vulnerable in love’. So we are left holding ‘our part’, and wondering WTF their part is. Or worse, believing their projections and that we are unlovable people.

It was so much easier with a sweet and honest person. No obsessing, wondering, excruciating self-doubt, humiliation. There was alot of grief, for sure. But I KNEW what I was grieving, and I wasn’t ashamed. It felt like a totally different process.

Of course this doesn’t speak to the fact that I have been involved in short term relationshits with quite a few of these disordered people. BUT, now that I KNOW what they are, it is a different world. I am different. I can honestly say I do not believe it will ever happen again.

This is a great post to remind me that I will hold on to my loving heart, and my ability to respond to the needs of others. And I will listen to the responses of my body, and ‘quiet’ internal voice that tell me when it is time to shield myself and move away.

Thank-you Donna, for this wonderful healing place.



Thankyou for this post – so much of what I read here is succinctly said and explains what I struggled to find words to express for years in the horrible marriage that lasted a decade.

Many thanks for all your comments as well. I read down them all and many resonate with me but obviously I cannot respond to all 35!

Their behaviour is abnormal definitely but it takes some time to see it. And then you get the excuses. And then some lies. And then it gets blamed on ‘male priviledge’ and societal conditioning. The truth is, I gave far more than I ever got. Not that I gave to get, but he bled me dry and then still kept sucking and screamed ‘Is that all you got?’

He just couldn’t behave as I did because he didn’t care. When I loved him, I was always thinking about ways to make him happy. He, too would be passive aggressive in articulating what he wanted so he would drop hints and I would race out and run up my credit to get it for him – anything to make him smile. Anything that might make him love me a little more. How pathetic of me to try to buy his love and attention in this way. He never paid me back.

He would occasionally bring me a gift out of left field – not something I wanted. Like one day he came home with vouchers for a very expensive makeup company. I was really angry about it because I was even buying my makeup on sale and the amount he gave me although it would have bought a lot of a regular brand, could not buy much with this brand. It was a waste as far as I was concerned and he was just impressed withe the label. Of course when you wear makeup though nobody can see a label! He also wasted money on flowers while I struggled to pay the power bills – that really used to make me angry. I think he blamed me as the reason he couldn’t save to go see his parents for a decade – lies of course. He never planned his spending and wasted hundreds of dollars on soft drinks 🙂

I had to buy everything for the house with my money alone … towels and bedding, furniture, appliances and kitchen items. He considered that beyond one towel and one set of bedding these things were a waste of money – he never said it = I just knew that was his attitude. He never bought a teaspoon, a pot or a fry pan despite the fact he often wore out kitchen items and they tend to wear out eventually anyway. Towels don’t come with a lifetime guarantee. So because I was buying EVERYTHING I learned to buy things on sale quite quickly – the net effect of that is that nothing in my house matches. I have everything I NEED but it isn’t what I wanted – it is what I could manage at the time. He had no respect for anything I bought and frequently broke or damaged things – including stereos and other electrical equipment. He would swear it just happened while he happened to be using it, but it was a bit coincidental. I also saw a pattern of sabotage when he was asked to do something in the house – for example breaking window panes when asked to scrape the flaking paint or breaking plates when asked to dry the dishes.

I bought him so many things – lots and lots of technology – cables and cords and storage solutions, a laptop, a video camera (both not looked after and discarded in broken states when he ‘upgraded’ and bought much more expensive equipment for himself on interest bearing credit) Coincidentally that credit was the reason he couldn’t contribute to the household when he crawled back the second time. I had to pay all the bills, all the pets needs, all the insurances, all the utilities. he just paid half the mortgage and brought home the occasional bottle of milk – pretty sweet deal!

I also bought all his clothes throughout the entire marriage and relationship. This was particularly manipulative. He would never buy his own clothes and would say ‘I don’t need anything.’ He would then wear un ironed and sometimes unwashed clothing that was going into holes … to go to work and professional functions. He did buy a couple of suits but never bothered to get them dry cleaned and left them on the floor after wearing for the cats to sleep on. When I bought clothes he would tell me off saying I shouldn’t spend my money that way but would then wear them all the time. No enthusiasm though – no big thanks for getting them – even if his friends complimented him on what he was wearing – he would tell me about it almost as though he disagreed with them – weird. The clothing was quite a lot – all shoes, socks and underwear, all casual and dress clothing, all hair gel, deodorant and special shampoo. I knew I was responsible for these things as well as everything else so I tended to shop very carefully – I would pick up a few items here and there when I saw a sale. Sometimes that meant a few items a week for him. I am done with it now. The last shop was a wardrobe for him to go overseas and see his ‘sick’ mother. I haven’t had a holiday in ten yrs of working like a slave thanks to him. I should have just let him dress like a bum – I see that now, but I couldn’t cope with anymore shame and humiliation at the time. It was bad enough he was behaving like a f***wit at home without him broadcasting the fact to the entire world. I had a professional role in a small city and didn’t want my reputation besmirched by association to him dressing like a bum. For that reason I often laundered and ironed his clothes too. Lazy so and so.

I think what really brought home to me that he didn’t care at all though was his response to my grief about the baby. He had no response at all. He didn’t try to comfort me, hold me, listen to me – nothing. If someone I love is upset about something, I am liable to independently go google about it to get some learning so I can better help them. He never did this. He didn’t even read what I had printed out. What an idiot I was.

Skylar – you said this and it made my heart thump when I read it:

” He’s trying to keep you living in fear because what they love most is the emotion of despair. ”

YES YES YES!! That is the word – despair means no hope of a better day. Despair is exactly the state I was in for so many years – couldn’t do a thing to change the situation. All while he manipulated every element of my reality then denied any awareness of the pain I was suffering. Despair is what drove me to contemplate taking my own life. There was no hope of a better day because he had me convinced I needed him for my very oxygen and there was no way I could change him even slightly … so despair is the perfect word indicating stalemate and giving up fighting the control.

Here is a definition of despair:

A state in which all hope is lost or absent
Abandon hope; give up hope; lose heart

Thankyou to everyone who shares the horror of their own experience that others may recognise their stories within it.


This is SO true:
skylar says:
Yeah, and don’t ever forget to worship. That makes a benevolent god into an angry and vengeful god. Sacrifices must be made, the more the better, the god’s appetite must be appeased. If you forget the ritual sacrifice, they will smite you and go get new worshippers. To whom much is given, much is expected. – Luke 12:48

WOW this is exactly what happened to me! I gave and gave and worshipped for so many years that I have become physically ill. When I got sick and could not ‘worship’ to his high standards anymore, he found new worshippers and I was ‘devalued and discarded’. Just exactly like a piece of garbage.


me too, there was nothing left to sacrifice on his alter. LOL.
Well, that’s when the mask came off.

He had taken all the money, he was poisoning me so my health had been failing for 20 years, his lies embarrassed me so I could no longer socialize with his friends. I stopped trying. That’s when it all fell apart. A normal person would have said, “honey, what’s wrong, you are obviously depressed and I want to help”. But a P says, “you can’t depend on me to make you happy, that’s not my job, that’s your job. BTW, unconditional love for me is also your job. and don’t forget to give me money and change my DIAPER.”


It is a crazy experience reading what people write here — it constantly has me jumping up and down shouting inside ‘Yes! That happened to me too!’

I second about the poisoning so health failed, him spending all the money, being embarrassed by lies and unable to socialise with his friends and others. I also went through a period of not trying and HE LEFT ME THERE. He didn’t care. I realised over that darkest period he had no regard for me and I needed to pull myself up. He liked it. It suited his agenda to have me in that suicidal state and unable to fight it and unable to explain it to anyone outside. It was like the ultimate checkmate. He had me cornered – here I was suffering so … and for what? He hadn;t done anything bad – there wasn’t any disaster or betrayal – in fact there was no string of events or ambient abuse to cause these symptoms. So I must have been depressed all along. . .
And wasn’t he a good husband to stay with me and ‘look after’ me?

No wonder I couldn’t bear to socialise or even bang into his friends or people we knew together. I could take an educated guess at the lies he had told them. because he told me some absolute whoppers. WHat a mindgame. How could anyone not go mad in such a contrived and boxed false reality with no objective observer to support a view it was terribly toxic. I am just stunned at the design of the personality disorder. What an incredible advantage it gives someone in communication and any social relationships.


We must have been married to identical twins Skylar. When my husband left, he said “i am not responsible for you, you are reponsible for your own happiness and self, you can’t depend on me anymore”. I am left here with severe health problems. Compounding the fact that I am in the initial stages of NC, I am sick with bursitis, I cannot even bear weight on my leg to walk. All of these health problems are a result of immunosuppression, I know that. I have all the signs. But not only am I trying to deal with him being gone, which was my choice, but is hard after 30 yrs, I am jobless because of my health. I am an RN and have worked my entire life, I WANT to work, but I am constantly sick. I have had the Swine flu for the last week and this knee thing and it is always something. It is scary because I am too young and have too much ahead of me to have all of these health problems. Has anyone else had this to deal with? I wish I could get healthy so I could get started with my life. I am just drowning in ….crap! Thanks for listening.

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