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.

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

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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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