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One woman’s experience of romantic manipulation

A reader recently contacted Lovefraud about her experience with a sociopath. Although she does not want to be identified—she still fears the man—she is willing to share what she learned. Following is her e-mail.

I am 41, newly divorced after a long marriage and new to dating. While my two-year separation was a healing period in my life, I was not prepared for the emotions and loneliness that followed the divorce being final. I met a man who is a stone-cold predator and struggled between what my gut knew to be lies and ongoing romantic manipulation and wanting to believe that I was wanted and adored by this new person in my life. I don’t see myself as the village idiot . . . I am a successful professional woman with my own home, but I do tend to trust, to yammer on about anything and all about my personal life and feelings, and these very same characteristics are what allowed this predator to come knocking.

Here are some things that I learned that perhaps will help other women.

1. The guy is too smooth—on our first date, mine sang to me in a bar, my favorite song, “Unforgettable” putting my hand over his heart. That should have been the first red flag.

2. The guy starts working on your integrity—he questions your sincerity, trust and truthfulness in sly ways while painting himself to be a completely honest man. My sociopath said from the beginning, “I do not lie” and so this planted in my mind that any questioning of what he said or did was to imply that he was a liar and that I did not trust.

3. The guy is jealous—I have many male friends and some are single. My active outdoor life avails me to making male friends. My sociopath questioned who I was with, whether I thought they were attractive, and if I had ever dated them or had sex with them.

4. The guy’s story changes as soon as he realizes his tactics are not working—I was lonely and after we dated for a while agreed to “safe sex.” As soon as my sociopath realized that I was never going to change my safe sex rule unless I was in a much stronger relationship, he became “long term relationship” oriented and immediately was offering me all the key points I said I needed and wanted in order to be in a sexual relationship that did not have safe sex rules.

5. The guy wants you to believe he’s only into you—Yet your gut feeling tells you otherwise. My sociopath is early retired from a professional career and kept his laptop computer up and running all of his waking hours parked by his TV chair or on the kitchen counter . . . Continuously checking his email. I suspect that he was using the internet dating services to scope out potential victims or also had several other women going at the same time. His cell phone calls needed to be taken in private, even when he would say it was just his elderly uncle calling to check in. His rational was that he had several “pen friends” in various states that he kept in touch with.

6. The guy makes you feel bad, even when you are trying to do the right thing— We weren’t dating each other when his birthday rolled around so I didn’t send a card or call him. When we got back together via more manipulation on his part about a week after his birthday, he was using guilt to imply that I didn’t care enough about him to celebrate his birthday. I was way too nice and thinking, “oh the poor guy doesn’t have a lot of friends so I’ll do something now a week later to show I care.” Big mistake. He wants you to feel guilty . . . That’s part of the control mechanism. I bought expensive men’s cologne that I thought he’d enjoy and I thought was sexy only to have him question me, upon receipt of the gift, that I didn’t like the cologne he normally wears (I did, but I thought something new would be nice) and an off-the-cuff comment on how women always try to change men.

7. The guy has strange rationalizations—We weren’t dating. He wanted to go on one of those wild singles vacations where folks party til dawn and it’s not unprecedented that casual sex occurs. He sent me a post card from this vacation indicating that he wished I was there. I did not respond to him. I later found him walking near my home in the rain. He had walked seven miles to my house in the suburbs in the rain and claims to have just stood on the corner just looking at my house. He also claims to have waited in parking lots where the hiking club was meeting up to see if I was going to be at that day’s hike. He said he was just thinking about me . . . But this story never felt right. Who walks seven miles in the rain to watch a woman’s house? These are the things he told me about, but my gut says that there were probably other times and places where he’s been waiting and watching for me. He has never been physically violent, but I feel violated with this knowledge of being watched and it scares me.

8. The guy will not give up or go away—I would tell the sociopath that we were dysfunctional together it was over or that I could not see him further and initially, he’d let it go but he’d follow up within a month or two with some kind of manipulating romantic correspondence. My sociopath would send me cards or letters scented with his distinctive cologne offering friendship, alluding to how much we had gone through together and how much we could be together. Other times I would get postcards from him on his travels that were followed up with an email or additional correspondence in the mail. Depending on my loneliness factor, I would get sucked back into his mind games. He was a master at reading me and figuring out how he could work it. I had blocked him in my email accounts and so forth, but ran into him at a hiking club activity recently and he started working on me again. I was terrified as if I was in the crosshairs of a gun and running for my life. He was able to get me to agree to see if we were ready for that special relationship and to go away for the weekend with him. I knew I was being snared and a couple of days later had a male friend send this guy an email saying to do not contact her at all or she will file a restraining order. I feel like I escaped with my life. I did not go away for the weekend with him, but had spent some time at his house where he was able to really start working the manipulation again. The sociopath indicated that he would not contact me further, but now I can’t even go to the hiking club because I cannot risk running into him. The question remains if he will pop back up at some time in the future and if he believes I will file a restraining order.

9. I am scared and will need to work this through. I was lucky. He never got me to have unprotected sex with him. I still had STD tests done to ensure that nothing had been transmitted. I did not give him access to my home with a key or to my financial information. I feel emotionally vulnerable and that I can’t trust men or my perceptions. I am working through these issues now with a therapist. I worry that he’ll come back and that once again, I’ll have to deal with this psychological nightmare again even if it is to just ignore him.

I hope my sharing helps just even one woman.

On behalf of all Lovefraud readers, thank you very much. Your story will help many women—and men.


Comment on this article

19 Comments on "One woman’s experience of romantic manipulation"

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Thanks for posting this.

My experience was different but there are similarities. I feel I was manipulated into falling in love, just so he could then say it was all me and turn me away. I believe he has done this many times to women to give the illusion that so many women want him and he just doesn’t know what to do about that. The common theme here is manipulation, smoothness, careful planting of things he knows you want, the unspoken promise of love and admiration…perhaps we women need to take a good look within to heal these things in ourselves and become stronger so we don’t become victims of these creeps.

For me, I’ve been seeing a therapist once a week for several months now…the relationship I had with my sociopath has revealed so much within me – it’s amazing. While I am still angry about him, I am now looking at the relationship with my parents (especially Dad) and how perhaps the sociopath was really a symbol of unresolved feelings for my parents. I urge anyone who has been victimized to do the same – therapy is really good and helps you see within yourself in ways you didn’t expect.

Peace to all of us…

Kitty cat

I am the author of the original blog on this topic. I wanted to add a few more helpful things I learned or felt I should mention. Never second guess yourself when dating. Our inner wisdom knows a lot about human behavior even if we can’t put our finger on it. Just today, I learned that this man had posted a personal ad in Yahoo Personals the very same day he was repeatedly writing me manipulating emails about my decision to not see him further and request that he stay away. I was disposable in his life because if his emotions were actually those of someone loving and caring he would not have been trying to manipulate me to resume a sexual relationship with him nor would he be so fast to go out hunting again. And that’s the key thing with these types of people . . . they have no emotions to get over . . . he’s just moving forward to get what he wants.

and yet he still had the need to control you…my sense is that it has something to do with an intense need to control everyone around them, women in particular. Why would he feel the need to contact you further? It’s driving him nuts that he didn’t make the decision to leave you, that YOU made that decision. That’s control. He’s getting something from the contact, some sort of unresolved issue is going on in his mind. Posting yahoo ads is just a way to continue doing what he does to other women, but it’s still bugging him you aren’t under his thumb. Good for you.

My gut also senses that it bugs him. He likes to win too much and he has gotten close the last few encounters I have had with him, but he never completely wins. That’s the part that concerns me. How much of a need to win does he have to fulfill before he gives up completely?

I did a little healing ceremony last weekend. I knew I could not contact him again even though I am now very angry and wanting to tell him off. Nothing good would come of it if I did. He had a talent for turning everything around and blaming me and of course any communication would enable him to start manipulating me again. I did, however, write it all out and then burn the letter over the BBQ. It was rather healing doing that.

Kitty_cat, the family issues that you speak of are also present in my own life. I have my emotional healing work cut out for me. Thanks for responding. When I share some of this story with friends, they have no idea why I am afraid or why I’ve been sucked into his mind games several times this year.

Well, I’ve learned that with the bad comes the positive, if we are brave enough to learn. Some women go through this time and time again. Looking back at my past relationships, I was probably involved with one other sociopath in my early 20’s. So in therapy I’m working hard at trying to figure out what this particular type of guy symbolizes for me and why they come into my life.

I’m glad you burned a letter…I did that too and found it really healing. Yeah, the complusion to get back in touch to settle things is a bad idea. I did it many times and found that it just ended badly each time and increasingly hurt my feelings too.

I’m glad this blog exists. I’m glad there are other women out there for us to talk to concerning these creeps. It’s very comforting.

Hello ladies,

I am new to this blog, but not new to psychopaths. I can relate to the feeling of wanting to contact the psychopath and wanting to make him/her feel “something;” however they do not feel and when they are cornered it becomes even worse for us “victims.” They are oblivious to consequences, consequences that inhibit certain actions in normal human beings are unknown to psychopaths. Psychopaths do not have that compass that guides them through life, they just do not care and believe me THEY DO NOT CARE. They sacrifice anything (including their offspring) for their own selfish needs and wants.
I purposely used the term “psychopath” and not “sociopath” because I dealt/still deal with a psychopath. There is a difference: where sociapaths “mayhave a well-developed conscience and a normal capacity for empathy, guilt, and loyalty, heir sense of right and wrong is based on norms and expectation of their subculture or group,” psychopaths on the other hand have no conscience and are “incapable of empathy, guilt or loyalty to anyone but themselves” (Babiak & Hare, 2006, p.19)

I can sure relate to Donna’s story. My predator is not interested in sex – he manipulates women for money. It is all about control. I should probably go public about him and / or socio-paths in general… but I am not dating a very public elected official in Oregon & it could definately hurt our relationship if not his position. More later – Gypsy

You must not allow yourself to be reeled in again by this creep! He is just annoyed that he was not the one to break off the “relationship”.

Your story was so similar to mine (published in a previous blog on internet predators) that I had to remind myself that “my” psychopath is dead.

If you have a really close and trustworthy (preferably male) friend in the hiking-club, you could ask that person to remain at your side at all times – just in case the psycho turns up. Just get him/her to say something like “PN” to you repeatedly if the creep approaches or engages you in conversation. PN stands for “psycho nut”. If you remain strong (with the support and reminders from your friend) you will gradually feel more in control – and be able to resume enjoying hiking.

On the other hand, if you fear for your safety or strength of will, it would be best to get as far away as possible.

I too found counselling and reading Robert Hare’s book “Without Conscience” to be a great help. In the future, you will hopefully be able to look back on this part of your life as a learning experience.

Good luck

Bobbie, thanks for the supportive words of encouragement. I am going to wait a bit to resume hiking with this club. Bringing a male friend is a great idea. I don’t want to see the psycho nut. I especially don’t want to deal with noticing him interact with other women and then being afraid for them also. I am still dealing with fear issues and trying to get him out of my head. It’s been awful! Now that it’s been a full month since my last encounter with him, I am doing better emotionally. I do have to say again that most of my friends don’t understand what it’s like to be targeted or the fear I have that he’ll come back in some manner. I can’t imagine what others have gone through when the manipulation and the consequences of their encounter with a sociopath have been much more severe than mine. My heart goes out to them.

I understand your concern for other women when you see the techniques being used on them. I went through the same conflict – and thought long and hard about my responsibility toward other women. I realised that most women would think it was jealousy or “sour grapes” on my part – and being so charmed by him, they would ignore – or even be fascinated, by whatever I said. I decided that the most I would say was something like “Oh – you’re girlfriend number 29 in the time I have known ….”. If that didn’t give them the hint – well. It is also important to consider your position and safety. Is he likely to do you harm in some way e.g. legally or safety-wise? Psychopaths are very clever and cunning. They make sure that they leave a convoluted trail and that you will look like a vindictive or unstable female to anyone who has not been their victim. I would strongly suggest you keep a journal – going back to how you met him – and for some time after he is out of your life. I found that there were certain patterns which kept repeating. It also made it possible for me to remember and describe certain conversations and events to my counsellor. I look at my journal occasionally – and thank my lucky stars that my finances, health, and sanity were not ruined. It is now far enough in the past that the hurt has become a dull ache – and he is dead (of lung cancer) – and I am alive.

Okay, how about a gay man’s experience with a sociopathic/psychopathic man? Creepily similar to some of the comments I’ve read here. Met the guy on the internet. Started out intensely sexual (safe), respectful, fun…Hints were made to me that he felt strongly. I was lonely. I took the bait. We professed love (I said it first). For 10 days it was daily intensity with emails/contacts. Then, without warning, driving back together from a spontaneous visit to me in my home town, he demanded to know where he stood (I am in long-term relationship with someone else and this was my first affair EVER).

After that, it was all about when i would tell my spouse and move out to be with the sociopath. I thought I was deeply in love and became very conflicted. Soon thereafter, he stopped our physical contact and said if I really loved him we would now see. We had lunches for awhile and they were very romantic, and then he pulled back from them.

He broke off for me completely with the expectation i would leave my spouse immediately. I googled the sociopath and found he had been incarcerated for white collar fraud for 2 years. He had never been in love or had a long-term relationship (he had told me), was intensely sexual, shallow affectation despite incredible intelligence (graduated from college at 18).

He put all the blame on me for his pullback, because I didn’t immediately break up with my partner. yet, the socio-dude didn’t offer any guarantee he would be there for me long-term. he just wanted a “clear-lane.”

His behavior was opposite of what it had started as, and by the time it had changed, I couldn’t forget the intensity of the good times, and can’t stand my obsession with him.

Now, that I’ve figured him out, and he has been cold as a fish for 2 months, without ever breaking off with me (I once broke off with him because of the silence and he reacted with anger and tried to make me feel guilty and responsible for my own isolation), I am ready to understand that the person I was “in love” with does not exist.

He proved to himself that he could get my love…and has moved on to others no doubt. I don’t want to believe it, but I have to.

I am ready to bury a picture of him in the backyard as a fantasy that was never real.

Wow as I read all these stories. I had to go research myself on the extremely charming and clever man I feel for and found that he was indeed a sociapath. LAMan I can relate to your story very much so.

Me and Crazy starting dating there was a very strong attraction to this man. (He laughed at his own jokes over dinner, should’ve been a red flag) He was very handsome and charmer. (funny how they all seem to be) But in my gut I knew something wasn’t quite right. I just couldn’t put my finger on it. But I was going to figure it out somehow. Anyway we started a sexual relationship right off and at that time I wasn’t seeing anyone so it didn’t bother me. What did bother me is that he wanted to have sex unprotected. Seeing that we didn’t know each other I tried to have this conversation about being exclusive. Not to control him because I did want to continue the sexual relationship but rather for safety purposes. I felt it was the adult thing to do, sure why not why can’t adults talk about this kind of stuff.. Well he became very evasive. Maybe he thought I was trying to get him to committ but I wasn’t. So he would at all cost try to change the subject and every time I brought it up he would sigh and pout and pick a fight so I would just end up leaving.
(Keep in mind we both dated other people. His phone would be blowing up and mine would to) But in his crazy mind “a woman” shouldn’t talk to whomever they wanted only men can do this. “It’s not showing him that I want to be exclusive”. So basically he wanted me to stop doing everything I was doing without giving me any hope for anything with him. I was not having it.

We fought about this for months until I guess the woman he wanted to pursue dumped him because all of a sudden the fights were about him wanting to be with me “huh” we never talked about this. But he was so slick with his words he would try to make me feel like we had. They are masters of manipulation. They are never wrong. Everyone loves them and thinks he’s so wonderful (in their mind).

About a month of crazy I finally did a some digging. He made a mistake and left me at his place alone. I was able to log into his yahoo account and discover he was apart of every dating website you could think of. Sending out emails to pay for sex and sexual acts. To inviting over for dinner and play time. All while I was with him on those day. It was like he needed attention from every woman didn’t matter how she looked or anything. He went crazy when he found out what I had done and swore that what I found wasn’t what I was.

Me being already sucked into his lies continued on playing the game. As time passed we fought more. I tried to show him that i wanted to be with him and again he pushed me away only to always call me back. What was amazing about this man was he acted like nothing ever happened….Till one night he decided to pick up my phone and go thru it. I have never had access to his cause he kept a tight rain on it. I don’t know what I was thinking by leaving it open but he got in it. Called a few people. Became in raged and beat me up. WOW! I have never had anyone put there hands on me. I was so in shock it was actually happened I didn’t scream, or run next door for help, or try to leave. My children were in the next room and once he was done I took them and left. Couldnt call the police because he took my phone, ipad, and my shoes. (He kept them for leverage to get me to come back after the incident) cause in his mind it was my fault why he did what he did. And that I caused him to do it. And the only way to get my things was to see him. I pressed charges on him that next morning when I left the hospital and he knows if I go see him I will lose my case.

Its been a month now and I have not seen him. Refuse to. I will talk to him via txt but that’s it. I have gotten fed up with that. I thought I was the only one going thru this.

Dear Sociabused,

There is NO UPSIDE in ANY contact with him, even texts….NO CONTACT is the ONLY way to cut this guy out of your life. As long as you have ANY contact with him, HE WINS.

They are after CONTROL and as long as you will LISTEN even, they have a HOOK IN TO YOUR HEART AND SOUL.

I strongly advise you to go NO CONTACT, block his texts, or delete without reading them. He has nothing to offer you except MORE PAIN.

Glad you are here and glad you have started to learn how to help yourself, to heal yourself. There is NO hope for this kind of man or woman, they are TOXIC AND DANGEROUS.

God bless.

ps this is apparently one of those older posts I some how missed in my attempt to read EVERY article here on LF….it is the rare one now that turns up from the archives I have not read. There is not a one of them that doesn’t hold some GLOBAL TRUTHS! Keep reading, gang! Even if you’ve been here a while, go back through the archives and read read READ!!!!! KNOWLEDGE IS POWER and that is where we get our “ah ha” moments. Even if you’ve read an article at one time, sometimes later it will mean even MORE TO YOU as you are in a different level of understanding the second or third time you read it.

Sociabused,

I think I saw that you posted a while ago, no?

In any case, your story rings true with me too. When I met my sociopath, he insisted on unprotected sex. He said he was “fixed”. So, I assumed, and then asked, if our relationship was exclusive. The joke was clearly on me.

Good for you that you finally recognized and acted on the red flags.
Snooping will tell you the truth. Lovefraud will set you free!
I snooped on my spath too. I became a full fledged snoop and yet I wouldn’t believe what I saw – much like you.

It’s so hard to comprehend, isn’t it?

Glad you ran way, minus shoes and ipad. Screw all that stuff. Just protect yourself. But be ready, because he WILL COME BACK TO TRY TO HURT YOU AGAIN

Superkid

Thanks guys, I really had no one to talk to. And for some strange reason you began to think maybe it’s ME. Maybe I’m the crazy one but I realized I have all my sense. But they will try to make you think you are crazy.

Yea the personal possessions were a big indication to me that he didn’t care about me at all. To use my things to try to gain access to me. And why in the world would anyone want to take from a single mother of three kids. Just heartless. But they have no remorse, no guilt, or any kind of feelings. They just bounce around hurting people, I wish there was some way we could warn others but in the healing process we have to let go and move forward.

Dear Sociabused,

I have been warned, and did not listen.

I have warned others, and they did not listen.

Unfortunately, you are VIEWED as the crazy one, because people will not accept that THEY ARE EVIL….

All we can do is to move forward and IN THE FUTURE LOOK OUT FOR THE SIGNS (RED FLAGS) THAT INDICATE THAT SOMEONE IS EVIL—dishonesty, love-bombing, lies, irresponsibility, controlling, and so on. Anything that is not KIND, CONSIDERATE AND LOVING is a red flag. RED FLAG=NO TRUST EVER.

Both my children have learnt a hard lesson early in life, their so called father is a liar, thief, fraudster, child abuser and a no body, also a rather thick spath.

My children, more easily than me have accepted that it is pathetic and wish NC. As my son commented some months ago ‘well Mummy, it (spath) does not matter in the scheme of my life, he is 50, I am 16. I have my life ahead of me, it has nothing and nobody and he never will because he is a tosser, always was, always will be, a total irrelevance’. Followed by, ‘I am starving what’s for supper’, my son says it as it is.

It crossed my mind at the time, the black and white view of youth, and as we get older, we go down the shades of grey, second/third/fourth chances, wanting to believe, just hoping for change. I now have two colours which I call ‘seem okay’ or ‘suspect’ ..anyone who is ‘suspect’ is ejected immediately, one shade of even a pink flag is enough for me!

Dear movingon,

Good for your son! He gets it! and Good for YOU, you get it too. One chance—liars, dishonest, irresponsible, need not apply.

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