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Radar not for the sociopath, but for the wrong people

Most of the people who will be bad for us are not sociopaths, and so we want our radar to be sharp, not specifically for sociopaths, but for wrong, bad people of every stripe.

True, sociopaths will be terrible people with whom to enter relationships; in the end, though, they will represent a small fraction of a much greater majority of very wrong people for us.

As I suggested in a prior post, there are two keys to protecting ourselves from Mr. or Mrs. WRONG: The first is developing intelligent radar; the second is acting wisely on that radar.

After all, good radar, no less than good CIA intelligence, is useless if it’s ignored or devalued.

Now, are there cases of sociopaths (and the lot of devious personalities) so slick as to be undetectable until after they’ve wreaked their havoc? Of course there are; to suggest otherwise would insult anyone unlucky enough to have crossed paths with such destructive individuals.

Nevertheless, in most cases, the wrong person—sociopath or not—will and does leave clues much sooner than most of us want to admit (until much later).

WRONG, by the way, for whom? The answer, of course, is, YOU!

It is tempting and, at some point, I suggest, unfruitful to get stuck on the suspected psychopathology of a partner (present, or ex). Because when you get right down to it, there are only two diagnoses that really matter: Is this person, for me, RIGHT, and GOOD? Or WRONG, and BAD?

Only we can make this assessment, and it’s our responsibility, of course, to make it as soundly as possible. By soundly I mean being as honest with ourselves as possible, and keeping our best long-term interests uppermost in mind.

What, then, is the first—and, for that matter, secondtelltale sign that someone is wrong, and really bad, for you, sociopath or not? (And speaking honestly, should we really need more than a sign or two?)

The answer is, ANY EXPRESSED BEHAVIOR or ATTITUDE that leaves you feeling disarmed or disoriented by its inappropriateness, selfishness and/or insensitivity.

Take great heed of such an experience, because almost always, it is a sign that more are sure to follow. In other words, preparing to bail at this point is a wise consideration.

Specifically, what behaviors and attitudes am I referring to? For starters, how about the first, surprising flash of rage, contempt, arrogance, selfishness, coldness, presumptuousness, dishonesty, indifference, ungratefulness, even denseness; shocking acts of abuse, verbal or physical; and startling failures of empathy, or compassion.

It is really less the behavior or attitude, per se, that screams ALARMING”¦prepare to BAIL!, than the experience of it as, “Where did that come from?”

I stress: It is our job, first, to register these signs; and then immediately to register them as alarmingly ominous.

The question is, Will you be willing to see what you’ve seen? Will you be willing to acknowledge the sobering portent of the display? Or instead, for any of a hundred conveniences, will you find ways to pretend you didn’t see it, and/or minimize the ramifications of what you’ve seen?

It is perfectly fine to ask, What, in a new relationship, should I be watchful for? What are the signs that my new interest may be someone different than advertised? I hope I’ve addressed these questions.

Then again, such questions tend, I think, to promote a view of the world as waiting to unleash upon us ruinous new bogeymen and predators, instead of encouraging us to examine what can be harder, but perhaps more honest, useful, retrospective questions, like, What did I miss? Why did I miss it? And if I registered it, why did I choose to ignore or minimize it?

Insight into, and resolution of, these latter questions can confer the best insurance against future exploitation.

In most (certainly not all) cases, it may be less important to be wary of the next nightmare disguised as Mr. or Mrs. SENSITIVE, than more careful of our always lurking capacity for defenses like denial, rationalization and minimization to blind us to what we don’t want to see, and do.

(This article is copyrighted (c) 2008 by Steve Becker, LCSW.)


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328 Comments on "Radar not for the sociopath, but for the wrong people"

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My experience with a sociopath was perhaps the biggest life lesson in my life, and many positive fruits came from that one bad ordeal. Not only did I open my eyes to patho’s, but it certainly gave me new, higher levels of boundaries in relationships whether they be romantic or platonic. Pain is a great teacher and motivator…I also looked within my own self and examined my weaknesses, to better understand the why’s and how’s and how’s of it all.

Like with all who are here, the red flags were there from the start, but I lacked the knowledge and experience to fully understand what was happening.

The experience also taught me to really hear what is being said, and see what is being done. One needs to be careful not to over analyze, but a new awareness and insight that I have gathered since my run in with a socio, have been positive things that have better equiped me in all relationships.

One last thing, the experience also changed me in many positive ways, once healing had begun, and one of the biggest ways was my compassion for others. I find it ironic that the very thing that my socio used up and then tried to destroy in me, my heart and capacity to love, has proved to be the very thing that grew stronger….I call that a victory over evil!

“ANY EXPRESSED BEHAVIOR or ATTITUDE that leaves you feeling disarmed or disoriented by its inappropriateness, selfishness and/or insensitivity.

Take great heed of such an experience, because almost always, it is a sign that more are sure to follow. In other words, preparing to bail at this point is a wise consideration.”

I ALMOST did that after the X-S’s first shocking mask slip.. ( a shocking display of psycho- temper for an insignificant “slight” of his EGO) but I allowed myself to be manipulated by his fake apologies, tears and excuses…I could have avoided so much grief and pain…. However like Southernman so wisely stated in his post it was a huge lesson in my life and it is also a case of good over EVIL as I can and do still love my God, my children, my family friends etc. with more intensity and appreciation than ever….
Steve: Did you have a personal experience with a Soc. or did you gain your insight and knowledge from your work?

“Any expressed behavior or attitude that leaves you feeling disarmed or disoriented by its inappropriateness, selfishness and/or insensitivity.”

Amen!!! I haven’t dated yet, but if I ever do I will tattoo this to my arm, so I can lift my sleeve at any moment and remind myself. So on!!

Maybe sometimes we’re just too needy and afraid to be on our own. I’d rather live the rest of my life “alone”, than to ever put up w/ what I lived w/ with my ex-N.

My friends now fulfill my need for companionship. Maybe that will change, but for now I’m happy.

Do I sound bitter:)

I’m easy going to a fault. In some ways, I think it’s a function of laziness. I’ve come to realize that my failure to part company at the first sign of ridiculously bad behavior is a serious shortcoming of mine.

I once knew a woman who whined of abuse 24/7. I never tried to correct her mis-impressions, nor did I distance myself from her. I simply listened to her tales of woe with half an ear, making polite noises and bobbing my head. “How awful. Poor you. That’s too bad.” Our relationship ended when she decided I was persecuting her, (a truly wild confabulation), and convinced everyone in her wide social circle that this was indeed the case. (I always assumed that because I knew her silly tales were wildly innacurate, everyone did. Big surprise!) I should have run from the hills after the first whiny tale of woe, but I was too ignorant to see the eventual consequences of my laziness. She functioned as low level administrator at a local church, and I still get dirty looks from some of the sillier members of that congregation. Yes, they’re dumb clucks, but I’d still rather exchange pleasantries with them than undure their sullen glares. Her paranoid belief that I was persecuting her resulted from her being manipulated by her N husband. If she hadn’t been a Histrionic, she wouldn’t have done such a masterful job of doing his dirty work.

I shoulda known better.

Now I like to think I do.

A girlfriend of mind described her regular conversations with a quintessential “victim” in her life. The whiner would come to her with tales each Sunday. Each Sunday my girlfriend would pose sensible solutions, each of which the “victim” would declare unsatisfactory. The solicitation for her advice followed by the rejection of her advice left my girlfriend regularly feeling angry. My girlfriend quite sensibly began fending off the “victim” with pat remarks like “I’m sure God will show you the way!” and “I’ll pray for you!”. I’m proud of her for learning to fend the “victim” off with platitudes. It’s a low key way to avoid playing the victim’s never ending game. It also reduces the probability that the “victim” will eventually proclaim that my girlfriend is her latest “persecutor”. The less the two women interact, the better for my girlfiend.

There are plenty of people out there who aren’t S or P, but are still very bad news. More importantly, there are problem behaviors out there that we all need to avoid. When there’s no serious mental illness left, we can safely conclude that the problems that remain are not the people, but rather the behavior. For this reason I use the Karpman Drama Triangle and the Durable Triangle to analyze interpersonal dynamics.

Elizabeth,

I had a good friend who used to say she always took a long hard look at women who complained a lot about their husbands! Her reasons were similar to what you are saying, if I am understanding you correctly. They will eventually find fault with everyone, and all friends and acquaintances will eventually get top billing as abusers! Yes, triangles! They tell you what hubby (or someone else) is doing to them, then they run to hubby and tell him what you are doing….most of it inaccurate or twisted to get hubby mad at you!

Wearing, isn’t it!

Eye of the Storm:

Wearing, to say the least.

I think that it’s possible to have good relationships with drama prone people. That being said, I don’t believe I have the required skill set yet. Since I’m 47, maybe I’m unteachable.

Whatever! There other people to enjoy good relationships with. The blunt truth is, I feel immediate anxiety in the presence of a whiner. I want to help them. I want to fix the apparently broken situation. Unfortunately, I have no idea how. Catering to them, which is what I naturally tend toward, is absolutely not the answer. It seems to work for a short while, but in the end it always backfires. I find that when I give them resources to help themselves, they simply ignore those resources. I haven’t been able to figure out how to nurture victims past their problems. It seems that freedom from drama is a choice they have to make on their own. Not only that, but some people who present themselves as whiny victims are actually serious serial bullies. Their victim facade is just a ploy to lure dumb bunnies like me into their game. All I know how to do at this point in my life is get far, far away.

Eye of the Storm

“a good friend who used to say she always took a long hard look at women who complained a lot about …”

I bet you have been warned to avoid gossips, because when they’re not talking to you about other people, they’re talking to other people about you. This is almost universally true.

I have come to see that most whining is actually a slick form of slander. The whiner tells us bad things about their target in a way that we are programmed to accept. If they delivered the slander without the tears and pity plays, we would reject it for what it is. Because we feel pity for the whiner, and because the whiner’s obvious emotional engagement seems like convincing evidence they’ve been wronged, be fall for the slander.

I’ve noticed that real victims of abuse go to great lengths to conceal the abuse, only breaking the news when they’re truly broken and can’t take it any more. I’ve seen women who were black and blue from head to foot who still clung to their pride. Real victims of abuse are a lot quieter than the pretend “victims” who start crazy chit.

be=we.

Chuckle. You’d think I had a head cold from the way I type!

People
Real people talk about ideas

All the others talk about other people!

If you love people you don’t have to talk about them!

If you are dissatisfied with your own life , you will have a need to examine others for their own disfunction , so your own does’nt look so bad, and it’s easy to find fault in others rather than deal with your own!

Concentrate on whats Good and what you have and the blessings you have been given! You’ll be much happier ! Listen , to others , then show them or express the positives that they overlook about them selves. If they refuse then Your wasteing your time! LOVE JJ

Elizabeth and EyeoftheStorm: I think what we learned with our EXs is on the SELFISH scale of 1 to 10, them being definite 10s … what other selfishness do we need to rid our lives of?

I remember I’d always be in awe of my father who could lend an ear to a complainer. Never would my dad give advise to someone who obviously needed to hear corrective answers. I asked him how he did that? Did what he’d answer? I said, how can you sit there for hours and listen to someone complaining and not give them a 100 constructive ways to resolve their problems. He said “Wini, most people already know what to do, they just want to vent and don’t want to hear any advise”. I thought that was totally amazing. I don’t know how he did it, but I saw him do it time and time again.

Peace.

Dr. Steve,
Once again you’ve hit the nail on the head. That is EXACTLY the tell tale sign to watch for! I ignored that WHAT?! feeling, that scared- in -the- pit of my stomach feeling! One example was when he left me an arrogantly obscene, almost threatening, rape-like phone message….with no “just kidding” at the end, no apology the next day, nothing! That was left after we had exchanged some emails, talked a few times on the phone, were planning to get together, but had not seen each other for 40 years! I somehow convinced myself it was just sexy, despite my inital reaction of being repulsed. I somehow talked myself out of my gut reaction….and even learned to like listening to the message (I’m ashamed to say, now. What was I thinking?!)Why did I do that? Because I thought I knew the “real” him, from back in high school. (The truth is, I did! But I didn’t realize until after I was with him again, and went into therapy, that what he did to me in high school was very disturbed, deliberately cruel, not your typical “dump”. Even though I cried for a year, I didn’t know that was not normal, nor that what he did was not normal. And I’m no dummy….I was valedictorian in a class of 600+) So simply, I was (as outlined in the book Betrayal Bond) so seduced by my unwaivering belief in the person, in our story (it seemed so romantic to be reconnecting after 40 years with my first love), in the mission (that we woudl be true emotional support and another strong love connection in each other’s lives), and the promise (that here was a rich, successful man, a doctor who would be there for me in any time of need). Plus I was unhappy, a bit depressed, burned out. So all in all, it would have taken A LOT of red flags to wake me up…..and sad to say, he provided them in SPADES!!!! I just rationalized each one. I SAW them and chose to explain them away….sometimes that was hard, and I struggled, but I did! My subconcious I think was protecting me, however. I got the urge to take self-defense courses and did so and told him about it. I made sure he knew that at least two girlfriends knew where I was meeting him and when. But I didn’t CONSCIOUSLY do those things to protect myself, but I think they were enormously important. Anyway, wish every high school would teach what you have posted here Dr. Steve. I think that is exactly right. The hard part is having enough self-confidence (for some) to trust your reacion and enough self-discipline to resist the “dream”.

So true. I wonder what the hell I was thinking. Like Elizabeth I am exremely easy going. I am very laid back and can take a lot. I also made a ton of excuses for bizarre, awful, odd behavior. I grew up surronded by STUFF in the extreme, my mother was a hoarder, even my every day was weird. I lived amongst teetering piles.
I am also very patient, but my behavior leave me open for repeated abuse. And I often asked why, over and over. Wondered WHY something happened, when it was a repeat bad behavior.

I think my psycho was shocked when I walked away forever- I mean I never even protested the abuse. Just one day my back broke, and I could take no more. Now I take my time making friends and have not made any new ones in 19 months since I went NO CONTACT with a few including psycho.

Being solitary for the most part is not bad, and a sure sign I am sane. All the insanity left when I removed myself from them.

I think what’s key- is a normal r/s is give and take. Whiners, users, abusers never give they just take.

PS And you are SO right about the real danger is our “denial, rationalization and minimization to blind us to what we don’t want to see, and do.” I think that is what bad people succeed with some, and not with others.

But again, to protect my self-esteem, I have to remind myself THEY are the problem, not me. The real danger with a mugger is that they mug…but nonetheless it is also true that the real danger is not knowing how to throw them to the ground and escape. With enough self-defense moves, you don’t have to be so afraid of muggers, or on guard, because you know you can “handle” them.

With bad people, it is almost a given that we WILL get attacked, so yes, knowing those important tools..of not giving into rationalization, denial, etc. …not getting seduced by a dream… are incredibly important.

At times I struggle with now looking at my own forgiving of a slight lapse in responsibility on the part of my husband as …WAIT…am I minimizing here? Am I so in love with him that I’m fooling myself? And I HATE that. He has EARNED my trust. But I think for the rest of my life, I will always be a bit on guard. But what you have written here is enormously helpful with that too, because I realize that nothing he does gives me that “WHAT?!!!” feeling. Thank you. This is a huge help.

Forgive me, one more PS. At the time I thought I didn’t have long to live, so that didn’t help! I wanted to grab all the joy I could….and instead I got a ton of misery.

So as I said, it would have taken a ton of red flags to stop me, and I have to admit now….THEY WERE THERE AND I SAW THEM. In a way, that is reassuring for any “next time” that happens.

I’ve been sitting back watching people blog and I wanted to remind everyone of the following just to ease some hearts and souls out there.

How God wants us to live:

8 Habits to Perfect Health is:

1. Trust in God
2. Temperance
3. Water
4. Sunlight
5. Air
6. Rest
7. Exercise
8. Nutrition

8 Mental Steps to Perfect Health is:

1. Clear Conscience
2. Happy Heart & Laughter
3. Gratitude & Praise
4. Power of Prayer & Claiming God’s Promises
5. Forgiveness
6. To Love Others
7. Helping the Needy
8. Sweet Words

Now where on this list did any of us go wrong? I don’t see a single thing that we did wrong!

Peace to everyone’s hearts and souls as you heal.

I defnitely saw early warning signs, and like Dr. Steve said, ignored them. Some of them I didn’t know what they meant, but still I knew on some level these were not “good things” I was seeing in my ex. As time went on, these signs became so blatant I would have had to be comotose to miss them, yet I made excuses and kept allowing myself to get dragged back into the relationship.

Like so many others have said about themselves on here, I, too, am laid back. I think being kind and forgiving and loving are good traits to have, but still it does not absolve my responsibility in the role I played in the relationship with my ex P. I don’t find it helpful, for me anyway, to sit around and think I did nothing “wrong” except being kind and loving and forgiving. Although I want to keep those traits, I also have found it very helpful to look at why I allowed myself to remain involved with someone who clearly was a “bad” person and who treated me in such a cruel manner. I think only by examining myself and my motives and working on myself will I ever be able to move forward to a place where I am less likely to get involved in or remain in this sort of situation again.

One reason I say this is because I have noticed that some people have wash and repeat cycles of these type relationships with other people. Yes, we were targeted, but the common denominator is ME, if I get involved again with another one of these people and STAY in the relationship for any length of time trying to make it “work”. So I feel like it is my responsibility to me to make sure I learn and change what I need to change in me, to help ensure I am not one of those wash and repeat people.

Christmass Gifts
I was thinking of what to get my P for Christmass!
He thinks he’s a Martial-arts and Boxing star! So may be some Dumb-chucks , hopefully he will Knock himself out with them ! LOVE JJ :)~

Jen2008, agree with what you are saying. But just remember, if there were no exploiters around, you’d be just fine as you are! We could all be laid back, kind, forgiving, loving …and no problems! As long as we are surrounded with other people who are laid back, kind, forgiving and loving. so the bad guys ARE the PROBLEM, not you.

But given that problem, bad people are out there, yes, you want to arm yourself with good self-defense boundaries and clear vision, so it can’t happen again.

I like to think of it just the same way I thought about learning physical self-defense. It sucks that I had to spend time and effort learning to protect myself….but it feels darn good to know that if a man attacks me in my sleep, he’s going to have a few surprises….even if he’s armed!

Same for any bad guys who attack me emotionally. I’m out of there, but not afraid to throw a verbal punch at them if they dare to stalk! I found a good way to get rid of bad guys is to start hounding them for money, if nothing else works.

justabouthealed: I took Tai Kwon Do due to recovering from a back injury. The spiritual lessons learned through this art is one of the most awesome gifts I ever experienced.

I highly recommend taking any form of martial art even if it’s to build on your self esteem. Advise the instructor what your priority is for learning their art, s/he will understand and instruct you appropriately.

Peace.

Like Southernman, I have re-equipped myself with a whole set of new boundaries and values about myself. I realise that before, when I was with the N, I gave the impression that I was assertive, but I undercut myself by having a ‘go with the flow’ type of mentality, very soft boundaries and some big red lines. I further realise that although I DID register the weirdness, it made no sense to me, and because of that, I put up with the unease of it. In a sense, although my radar was registering many blips, I failed to act on them, because they made no sense to me. Furthermore, it was like I devalued my own feelings.

In sharp contrast now, I am much more tuned into my feelings and have many more boundaries, of which I put into practice regularly. My internal sense of myself has changed and now my sense of self esteem is so much better. What I would say, is that, if a blip is registering on the radar screen, I dont have to wait to be torpedoed, before realising what hit.

Mysticmud and I met recently for a day out together and we spent an enjoyable day.

Elizabeth Conley:

“I find that when I give them resources to help themselves, they simply ignore those resources.”

Boy oh boy can I relate. When I was playing “Daddy to the World” anytime someone would say “I’m thinking of doing X” I would spring into action and research alternatives X, Y and Z. Then I would get totally frustrated when they wouldn’t do anything.

The S finally cured me of this compulsion. He would bemoan the fact that his father couldn’t get the records out of the nursing hom his mother was in. I would research the law and write the letters on his behalf and give them to the S. Nothing would get done. S had no legal identifcation because his ex didn’t pick up his wallet from the intake prison. So, I called in personal and political favors to get him set up.

And know what thanks I got? In our final conversation he blasted me for giving him manila folders with “legal solutions” which I expected him to follow through on. Imagine the nerve of me expecting S to get off his fat ass and do something for himself.

My new policy going forward is if somebody asks my advice I’m going to point blank ask them exactly what they’ve done to solve the problem. If, and only if, I see they have taken concrete steps to resolve the issue AND they ask for my help, will I offer to help them.

Holywatersalt:

“I think my psycho was shocked when I walked away forever- I mean I never even protested the abuse. Just one day my back broke, and I could take no more.”

When we had our final donnybrook I know my S was shocked when I fought back instead of continuing to tolerate his abuse and also refusing to cough up the 10 grand cash he had been working me over for weeks on end. I remember the stunned look on his face when he said “Are you aware that this is our first fight?” And I looked at him and said “Yeah. And it’s 14 months overdue.”

Jen 2008:

“One reason I say this is because I have noticed that some people have wash and repeat cycles of these type relationships with other people. Yes, we were targeted, but the common denominator is ME, if I get involved again with another one of these people and STAY in the relationship for any length of time trying to make it “work”. So I feel like it is my responsibility to me to make sure I learn and change what I need to change in me, to help ensure I am not one of those wash and repeat people.”

You’ve got my number here. I was conditioned by my parents to “never say die” coupled with “you’ll show them”. That mentality has led me to stay in situations far too long, when any sane person would have cut their loseses and run. So, I always ended up feeling used and abused.

No more. Someone once said the definition of insanity was to keep doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. Well, after the S I’ve got concrete evidence that my old approach was a screaming failure. So, like you, I am gong to learn and change what I need to change in me to avoid becoming one of those wash and repeat people.

William James wrote………”The art of wisdom is the art of knowing what to overlook.”

Steve wrote about recognizing that first telltale sign……”The answer is, ANY EXPRESSED BEHAVIOR or ATTITUDE that leaves you feeling disarmed or disoriented by its inappropriateness, selfishness and/or insensitivity.

We have to learn when overlooking a behavior is wise and when overlooking it could be fatal both literally and figuratively.

As we go through life and gain experience, I think we each develop our own guidelines for identifying toxic behavior. Certain individuals might be toxic for some of us as individuals and not for others. We have all known someone we might get along with, and whom others do not like. They are not sociopaths, just imperfect people with personality differences that challenge our wisdom, our maturity, our patience, and our attitudes!

In terms of being hard on ourselves about not seeing what was there until it was too late, I think it is valuable to remember something I heard Ann Rule say in an interview.

Ann Rule volunteered to work manning a suicide hot line several nights a week. She talked about a very handsome articulate capable young man who also volunteered during the same time. The two of them were the only ones locked in the office while they manned the phones. At the time, Ann Rule thought she liked this young man, this kind and understanding volunteer. She had no idea that he would later become the subject of one of her books…”The Stranger Beside Me”. The handsome young man was Ted Bundy! Did you just have chills?

Ann Rule’s point is, we do not always have clues or telltale signs. These people are smart. They are masters of deceit. She said that psychopathy is her business. She studies it and writes about it professionally. She said she sat locked in a room with Ted Bundy sitting next to her for several weeks and she didn’t see anything to be alarmed about. So, Ann Rule reminds people, we shouldn’t be too hard on ourselves if we don’t see what is being so masterfully concealed. Sometimes, we don’t know and there is no way to know until after a major wrong is committed.

Thank you EyeoftheStorm for your post.

Peace.

Check this out!

I want everyone who needs to heal to HEAL Now!

1. It is NOT your FAULT!

Rape can not be Validated! Emotional , Physical , Financial!

For GIVE YOUR SELF !

2. All Evidance Proves They Don’t Change! You Can’t change them and They are’nt about to Change them selves!

3. YOU are Worth LOVING! YOU Deserve LOVE!

LOVE JJ

I am currently reading “How to Spot a Dangerous Man”. It is very eye opening. One of the types she talks about is the emotionally distant/unavailable man. A sign is that he has many jobs and hobbies and that you are #10 on his list. I lived with a man like that for 3 years. Up until I read the book, I always blamed myself for the way he treated me. It didn’t occur to me that this was a dangerous man. Sociopaths are not the only dangerous types. Some don’t seem like they would be dangerous (the parental seekers, for instance) but they are. I do think sociopaths are the most dangerous because they masquerade as something completely different than what they are. You don’t always see the signs until after you are hooked in. But if you are unfortunately enough to have that happen, get out as soon as you can.

Unfortunately, I think I’ve gone a little too far in the other direction with my radar a little too tuned in. For instance, every time a guy pays me a compliment now, I consider it as flattery and I start shutting down. I don’t think that’s necessarily good. Is anyone else experiencing that? How do you get past that? It’s natural for people to give each other a compliment once in awhile. It doesn’t mean that person is trying to get something out of us. Right?

Wini, you mention Tae Kwon Do, and your lists are great prescriptions for well-being.

I’ve been studying the spiritual aspects of the martial arts, and I found a group that promotes only the healing and spiritual side of Tai Chi. Check out http://www.taoist.org. I’d like to know what you think.

Stargazer:

I’m doing the same thing. I’m attributing it to once burned is twice shy.

I’ve finally forced myself to look at the context the compliment was made in. It boils down to “am I putting myself in a position where this person wants something from me either personally or professionally?” If the answer is no, take the compliment. Hell, we didn’t get any from our sociopaths. If yes, step back and listen and watch closely.

Also, I look at whether the compliment is reasonable or lavish. I got sucked in by my sociopath by lavish flattery. A real red flag for me.

When the uninitiated masses of us think of martial arts, we tend to think of hand strikes and kicking and white pajamas with different-colored belts. However the ancient traditions of martial arts are all about developing greater awareness and cultivating energy that can be used as energetic radar, and also used to heal ourselves and increase our well-being.

I have a friend who is a martial arts master. He admits that as a teen and young adult he studied under psychopathic teachers who did not embrace the spiritual values, but he learned in his life to take the more spiritual path.

Southernman,
I have experienced the same thing you have after leaving the phsyc 20 months ago. It seems my compassion for people has grown expotentialy. I am more patient, giving and understanding than ever before in my life. I thought it was just maybe getting older, but now that I think about it after reading your post, I thought well of course, he had robbed me of compassion for so many years that his lack of empathy almost seemed the norm. Now that I am on my own and back in life, My compassion has just come back to me, stronger than ever, as well as a true appreciation for each day and excitement for what the next day will bring.

I almost feel sorry for the psychos. How miserable it must be not know the difference between a good day and a great day, or never getting that “warm, fuzzy feeling”.

I have been coming to this site this whole time. In fact, if it wasn’t for this site, a may very well have gone on with my psycho ex just thinking it was me that was the problem, and not him. like he always told me. I used the name loserchooser, but I lost my password and re-registered. Anyway, I don’t write often, just unsually read, but I had to comment on this.

Heal-on everyone and have a great holiday!

Matt,
When my ex first met me, he couldn’t stop telling me how beautiful, sweet, and wonderful I was. He even went online and posted these things about me on the public forum. I was actually embarrassed because I’d just met him and could hardly even consider him as a friend at that point. The latest guy who is flattering me is from a dating site. He seems very nice, genuine, and sensitive from what I can see so far, and I am definitely not attached to him in any way (he lives 4 hours away). But whenever he tells me I am special because of my love for animals, I just cannot even accept that compliment. It would have been flattering in the past. Now it’s just suspect. How can someone I’ve never met know this about me? For all he knows I could be an ax murderer. I never used to be so cynical. It’s sad.

Dear Southernman,

I loved what you said about compassion. I feel that too… that I have expanded and in a way, have a deeper appreciation for being human and the struggles we face.

I wanted to say more but it’s late and everything I am writing is not making sense. It might have something to do with the Mall.. and Christmas shopping. :o)

Aloha

Steve

1. First become FRIENDS! This is a no Brainer! Wini said her Father told her wait nine months and see if you still like this person! Benefit of Doubt 1yr. If they don’t want to Wait! First Clue! LOVE JJ

Stargazer:

I have to admit I see red flags with both your ex and your current guy.

With the former it was the inappropriateness of the forum (public), the immediacy/sense of urgency his putting that much out there about you (beautiful/sweet/wonderful — for God’s sake, he didn’t know you) and the intensity of what he was saying that I find bothersome.

Remember Tom Cruise and his declarations of love for Katie Holmes on Oprah? Didn’t you skin crawl over that one? Your ex was baiting the hook, using his words as a lure, and roping you in hard and fast. Anyone on this site, having been hit by a sociopath in a similar context would be seeing red flags.

As for Bachelor #2, I think it’s one thing to tell someone a generalized comment i.e. “I think people who love animals are special.” Again, a problem, at least for me, is his doing this in a public forum. I think in your gut you know this is way too much, way too soon.

To realistically assess the sincerity and character of the person giving you the compliments you have to be able to see them — anyone can write anything on a website. And if you can’t observe the person making them, at least in the early part of the relationship, it’s easy to fall into the trap of creating an image of the person and falling in love with it.

My S was the master of the text message. I fell in love with the “Hello, Handsome” and “Bonjour Beau” emails. Problem was I never saw him enough up front to even gauge his sincerity, let alone what else was going on.

A realistic question you have to ask yourself you can have a viable relationship with someone 4 hours away. I personally live by the “3 subway stop rule”. I’m not saying long distance relationships can’t work, but my experience has been that you end up with too much intensity up front because you aren’t close enough to take things at a more normal pace. Instead you end up doing things on an accelerate basis because you try to make get so much in the time you have together.

Also, I think it’s okay to meet on-line, but again, 2 or 3 emails, and then a call, and then coffee. I’ve fallen into the trap of chatting with someone on line and start falling for the image I’ve created in my mind. I fall into the trap of looking for the fairytale, but when reality hits I never never had the happily ever after.

EyeoftheStorm said: “Ann Rule’s point is, we do not always have clues or telltale signs. These people are smart. They are masters of deceit. She said that psychopathy is her business. She studies it and writes about it professionally. She said she sat locked in a room with Ted Bundy sitting next to her for several weeks and she didn’t see anything to be alarmed about. ”

I defnititely agree there is often no signs when in casual interactions with psychopaths. Although Rule and Bundy worked some together, and became friends, they weren’t spending vast amounts of up close and “personal” time together like someone who is living with a P would be. In a volunteer work situation like the suicide hotline working together a few hours each evening, Bundy probably had nothing to “gain” from targeting Rule thus she only saw his “normal” side. And socially I believe it was limited to the occasional lunch and a party they once attended together, and of course the letter writing once he was in jail. Lots of other people did see signs of Bundy’s character flaws, but from what I have read they made excuses for them or overlooked them. Bundy had a reputation as a theif dating back to his teenage years. Of course not everyone saw that side of him. Also, one older lady friend he constantly borrowed from and never repaid. And then Liz, the girfriend, saw some “unusual” behavior but simply didn’t know what to think of it. And Bundy’s nocturnal habits and disappearing acts he pulled on her, she chalked up to possible “other women” he was seeing behind her back. And of course, there was Bundy’s Aunt Julia who tells of Bundy surrounding her with knives when he was only three. So I think plenty of people saw “signs”, just not everyone he came into contact with.

IMO, even the dumbest psychopath can pull off fairly normal behavior in limited interactions with casual friends or acquaintances. But I think when a person is in an up close and personal relationship with them, like romance when you are living with them, it is much more difficult for them to keep up the mask for any length of time.

It is also my personal opinion that the ones who manage to keep the mask on better just have strong psychopathic “traits” and that the “successful” ones probably score in the sociopathic range (I define this as around 20 or so on the PCL-R). But those that actually score up there in the 30+ range, although they may get away with what they are doing for long periods of time, I feel it is only because they have people covering up their multitude of misdeeds, and they also have a trail of victims too frigtened, embarrassed, or otherwise intimidated who don’t come forward, or if they do come forward no one takes their complaints seriously. So although the public at large may think there were no signs and the “general population” they come into contact with on a casual basis through work or socially may not “know” I think there are plenty of people out there who do have strong “clues” as to what they are all about.

Ok, I’m on a roll here. 🙂 I also think that although only a small percentage of them are serial killers, and most of them do not commit murder, that a heckuvalot more of them commit murder than thought. With problems with crime linkage, cases of death being ruled suicide (later proved to be homicide), and “accidents” (later ruled homicide), poisoning (ruled natural death and later ruled homicide) that pops up so much in the news, a clever psychopath can commit crimes, even murder and often get away with it.

I mean, sure although some adults disappear because they want to disappear and start a new life, but where do all those other missing adults and children GO, who are never found? I don’t know too many 10 year olds who would hop on a bus to nowhere and start a new life on their own. And usually those death cases listed above are only discovered to be homicides after the psychopath commits a few more murders and suspicions start to be raised, then bodies are exhumed. (Drew Peterson comes to mind here–although I realize he has not been diagnosed as APD, nor has he actually been convicted of a crime…yet, and who knows if the cops will ever get enough solid evidence to get him convicted)

But think if the psychopaths had not committed those additional murders, then those earlier victims would remain in their grave, still ruled a suicide or accidental death, or natural causes statistic. So, if a P simply wants to get rid of “one” person and stops with that one person, I think they get away with that sort of thing with much more frequency than people would want to believe.

I do not believe there is a such thing as a non violent psychopath. I just think there are psychopaths who haven’t been “caught” being violent, or they haven’t run into a circumstance YET where they feel it is worth their while to get rid of a person or be violent to them in some manner. I think ALL psychopaths have it in them to be murderers on a whim if the mood hits them just right, therefore, I feel it is a dangerous assumption to think one’s psychopath is not the dangerous or violent type. But just my opinion.

Jen2008: Where my anti-social co-workers were concerned, every time I spoke up about their flaws to bosses (even the real bosses), I was reprimanded. I was given poor grades for people skills, that I didn’t play nice with the anti-social co-workers. I couldn’t believe this since I know I went out of my way for our customers and I was professionally nice to my co-workers (ALWAYS)! I never brought my personal knowledge about these anti-socials into the workplace. I had to work with them and I was always professional with them. As far as associated with them any longer after work … that would never happen again.

Yes, you are right, but not for what you think. I don’t believe people are embarrassed or ashamed to speak up … I think they are so beaten down is the reason they don’t speak up. I saw some of the evaluations over the years of said anti-social personalities I worked with. They were all given EXCELLENTS across the board. I couldn’t believe it. One anti-social personality after the other … all excellent evaluations… especially when it came with how they dealt with co-workers or the public. It was such a joke and a travesty. I was shocked at first, then I had to remember how they had all the bosses wrapped around their fingers, plus, they never could take any form of critism. In our place of employment, any REAL, caring, intelligent, patient … etc. boss was ousted and all the anti-social personalities rose through the ranks … where were these anti-social co-workers? Up front and centered of course, surrounding all the anti-social bosses. They actually sat in every primary location of the building N,S,E and W. No one could move without them knowing your every move … who you associated with, what time you left the building, where you sat, where you parked, what door you swiped your swipe card with. Oh, and while I’m at it … they oversaw everything especially the new age of computerized communication.

If you read any of my original bloggs you will see the rest of the story.

Wini said: “I don’t believe people are embarrassed or ashamed to speak up ” I think they are so beaten down is the reason they don’t speak up.”

Wini, I agree it is not always embarrassment or shame, but I do think that is sometimes the case, but anyways that is why I included intimidation, and frightened and that people don’t believe them…..
“and they also have a trail of victims too frigtened, embarrassed, or otherwise intimidated who don’t come forward, or if they do come forward no one takes their complaints seriously”
As for me, during the course of my relationship I ran the entire spectrum from embarrassment, shame, frightened, intimidated, and also not being believed when I did try to speak out….. Jen2008

Jen2008: I hear you. If I hear that phrase “He or she comes with them a WEALTH of Experience” I think I’ll go out of my gorde. For that phrase is/was perfected by the anti-socials of the world … aka meaning, they never did chit to get where they are, never will … and certainly aren’t qualified for the position they hold now … so hold onto your butt, you’re in for a bumpy ride!

Steve,

You are right on with your comments. Here is something I ponder though….. I admit that in retrospect, when I sat and wrote down all the red flags that I dismissed, they didn’t seem like red flags initially. THe flags were clouded by the things he said that at the time I thought were truthful and the things he did and the way he behaved that seemed genuine and sincere.

So in time when the behavior became bad…. and there were clear pictures in his behavior of arrogance, contempt, rage, selfishness and inappropriateness, it wasn’t so clear and it seems to me that’s where the confusion comes into play.

I spent so much time blaming myself 1. for staying when I saw these signs, but I loved him and believed all that I witnessed and heard in the beginning. 2. for allowing the bad behavior for as long as I did and not cutting the relationship off sooner. 3. For not being smarter and trusting my intuition and gut.

I know that my case is about more than a normal breakup. I later found that he lied to me from day 1. He was not in special forces EVER. He abused steroids, lived off of family money didn’t work for what he had, he was married, and later learned that he spewed the same stories, lies, and lines to his previous women. He did not kill people on behalf of the US government……yet when confronted he STILL talked like it all happened and I was crazy. Even when I knew the truth I wanted to believe him….why? How did this happen to someone described by my friends as a strong woman who doesn’t take any shit from anyone?

That is what is so hard to understand……. It doesn’t always happen so blatantly. It’s subtle, ambient abuse and mind fuck*^g that occurs. It’s a violation that made me fell in the end like rape victims feel. I did have PTSD. My therapist confirms. Still a year later, I recall small events, discussions, where I KNOW now the things he said were lies and for no reason most of the time. For me, there is no logic in that kind of behavior. We all lie, but I don’t go around telling people and believing that I work in my spare time for the KGB and I speak fluent Russian, telling people the actual aliases I’ve used abroad and teling my significant other that the FBI may come knocking to ask questions……

What goes on is his head? Do they truly believe all of this? Isn’t that delusional? I know this speaks to your comment about not getting so involved in the suspected pathology of these people and maybe I am too analytical….. yet it helps to understand. Maybe I am looking for answers that arent’ there. I wish I could have just said that on the surface soething doesn’t seem right…..and walked away earlier. BUT I fear that I may do that to the next guy and walk away too soon……due to a REAL lack of tolerance and fearing this kind of emotional damage again. Your thoughts?

Jen 2008,

“I ran the entire spectrum from embarrassment, shame, frightened, intimidated, and also not being believed…”

Yepindoodles. That’s the reason I decided not to share my real reasons for NC. It was easier to appear cold and unfeeling than to tell the truth about why I was breaking free of a ministry led by an S. Talking about what happened, which I tried briefly, only caused me headaches. All I wanted was to be free of the S. Talking about him with people who just don’t get S or Abuse was as bad or worse than dealing with the S.

Now he calls once in a while. He asks things like “Maybe we can get together after Christmas for lunch.” Rihh – ight! I don’t blame him for thinking I’m dumb enough to get sucked back into his crazy world. After all, I put up with a lot. He’s got quite a few dumb bunnies in his life who do keep catering to him, and he thinks I’m the dumbest of the dumb. I think his assumption that I can be charmed back into the fold is what keeps me tough. I’m not that dumb. I’m really enjoying sleeping through the night, having free time and energy to spare. If I got involved in his ministry I’d lose all that again.

Several people here have given great tips. One person remarked that when she had to call a P/S/N, she deliberately called when she knew he was in a meeting. That way she could pass vital messages without having to interact. That was great advice. He and I still work in a ministry that overlaps a bit, but I find I can avoid him gracefully. Because if this Blog, I’ve gained quite a few useful tactics.

The fact that I avoid him gracefully has been more helpful than any number of explanations. I’ve gotten a lot more respect for my NC position by being cool and dignified than I have ever gotten in the past from being open.

Technical Note – oopsy daisy! I got to zealous cleaning out excess programs and files. Now my computer’s lightning fast again, but I accidentally ditched ie spell. Gotta fix that, or I’ll look dumb as a stump!

onward and alohatraveler …

The expansion of empathy and compassion, I believe happens to people after a traumatic event. I felt the same thing before the sociopath, when my wife died. I felt a strong compassion for people who were fighting cancer. I remember being at the zoo, here in Atlanta, with my son and the sociopath, and I spotted a woman who it was obvious that she was fighting some sort of cancer. She was wearing a head covering, like my wife had wore, and it was again obvious that she had lost her hair… I felt no fear, and I approached her and talked to her giving to her encouragement. She was at first taken back, ( I had surprised her with my candor) but then her eyes softened, and she looked deeply into mine..when our short converstaion ended, she gave me a hug and thanked me. The socio, of course, didn’t “get it”…..

Again, I try not to think of myself as a victim of the effects of cancer, or a soicopath, but…. I have been affected by both of these life changing situations, and I must admit with both, I didn’t always have the proper attitude…At first, I was bitter about losing my wife, and later, I was bitter about the sociopath….

Forgiveness plays such a vital role in our healing… it’s very true… …for me, forgiving both my wife and the socio,( which I still have to work at everyday) opened my heart and it grew with compassion…..I think we have two choices in life… we can be bitter about the wrongs in ourlife, which, like acid, burns away in our insides…being bitter about life, or people, will surely keep you from ever having joy, peace, or a healthy relationship with someone special, because you are toxic in your heart.. the bitterness has to go…..

Or.. you can work on forgiving yourself and others, and God, look at the trial and tribulation from a different, more positive perspective, and ask yourself not only what can I learn from this?, but ask yourself how can I GROW from this.

“For everything you have missed, you have gained something else; And for everything you gain, you lose something else. It’s about your outlook towards life. you can either regret, or rejoice.”

Thanks, Matt (backtracking a few posts). Your post is very helpful. I don’t feel this guy I’m writing to is a sociopath, but the flattery makes me uncomfortable, even though it’s only in private messages and not on a public forum. A lot of guys do this online (for lack of a better way to connect). It’s all kind of a moot point because I’m terrified of dating right now anyway. The internet is a good way to expand your social circle if you don’t go out a lot. But it’s just feeling too wierd and creepy right now. When my ex did all that flattery on the public forum, I didn’t get red flags as far as danger was concerned. I just felt embarrassed and uncomfortable with it. I guess now I should start seeing it as a sign of danger. Thanks for your insight on this.

Rune,

About martial arts – buyer beware. A lot of Senseis are nuttier than Claxton cake. Really, there’s a high rate of serious dysfunctionalism in those who dedicate their whole being to the martial arts.

If anyone’s searching for a school, please read this first. It can save you some headaches, heartaches, time, serious injuries and cold hard cash.

http://www.nononsenseselfdefense.com/martialarts.html

and particularly

http://www.nononsenseselfdefense.com/MAculture.html

Yes, I know I keep referring people to the same sight. Dianna and Marc MacYoung are the most sensible people in the self defense business. There are a lot of crackpots out there. Listening to their sage advice can keep you safe.

Elizabeth: You are correct in your statement that there are a lot of nut cakes in the martial arts business. The instructor I took classes with never promotes a student to black belt just because they perfected the moves. All black belts need to register their hands with the police departments across the US as a lethal weapon. My instructor is from Korea … was instrumental in getting TKD into the Olympics in California for the first time. He was a black belt by the time he was 4 in his country. He does not believe in the sport as a money maker, he believes in the original concept of it as a spiritual way of life. He has his degrees in phys ed and taught in one of our colleges in our state. He will be the first one to tell you how greed has taken over the sport of martial arts. He along with others of the highest belts for teaching black belts in this country are trying to change how greed got the best of martial arts.

It was my honor to practice this spiritual art under this master and true gentleman. I never went the route of competition and I was never forced to do so.

Peace.

Steve, Great points. For 45 years of my life I trusted my good intuition. I need to again. Maybe I was a bit naive because I WAS married for 22 of those years and had not had exposure to dating. I AM angry that he took an innocence away from me that allowed me to be more trusting and not so leary or dismissing of people who simply turn me off at almost first glance. I HAVE been like that lately.

But you are right. He was too good to be true initially. I gave him the script and he read it just the way I wanted him to. I think I do need to trust that intuition and realizing now in all that has happened….. I can be more educated and more deliberate about who I surround myself with.

It’s not funny but it is now…. how he said so many odd things that I let roll off my back……the way he talked about his daughter’s friends hitting on him but he did it in a way that he seemed disgusted yet I think he was turned on by it now. He talked about how awful and disrespectful men were in general, but the first time he didn’t keep his word and disarmed and verbally abused me and was disrespectful….I allowed it. That was another one of those “character” issues that I was WAY too lenient with. The worst was how he referred to his adult daughters as his friends…… until his oldest called him constantly every time we were away together or out at night, telling him she didn’t like me OR telling him he didn’t deserve to have a family because he was repalcing her. On one occasion when we were all together she was physically all over him and I had never even seen her e like that with her fiance. THey were just some of the blatant red flags. When I wrote them down they filled several pages !!!! It was a constant game of control and manipulation that became all too bizarre. I got out and whetehr he was not good for me or is a sociopath, I guess it doesn’t matter. There is no logic to the behavior. His life will always be like that and apparently always was. Mine wasn’t, isn’t and hopefully will NEVER be again.

keeping_faith: It’s amazing how “THEY” all have the same thing in common, selfish greed. GREED doesn’t just focus on materialism or monetary … it’s greed for getting unwarranted promotions into positions they aren’t qualified for, sleeping with multiple partners, perversions of all kids, manipulation of all forms … all this including so many other forms they are disguised in is considered GREED also.

Peace.

Wini,

I was so blind to the GREED of it all. It wasn’t until I understood what had happened to me and I read about narcissism and sociopathy/psychopathy that I started to realize the motive for him was usually something very self serving. even his relationship with his daughters who he overinduled, was simply about “winning” over their mother, who constantly threatened that if he left her the kids would not give him the time of day.

When I found him with the former stripper 18 yrs younger, I struggled to understand why someone like that. She doesn’t even have a HS diploma, she has no job….. I have an advanced degree and a really good job. I have integrity and am an honest person. yet he would always accuse me of sleeping with men at work…… and strippers are known for their fidelity????? LOL….. It didn’t matter who the women were or what we stood for. There was no rhyme or reason. We were just there ! I understand the “why” of that part now. I stil struggle with why I allowed him to treat me so badly for so long. It was 2 yrs. His waife was with him for bout 25…..and I am certain there were many affairs, and lies and who knows what else??????

Steve, this is a great article…you are soooo right! It isn’t JUST the personality disordered (all forms) of it that we need to be on the look out for. There are lots of “dysfunctional” people in the world that are NOT GOOD FOR US.

The earlier posts about the person who is a continual “whining victim” is playing, according to Dr. Eric Berne in “Games People Play” a “game ” of YES, BUT… That game consists of “asking for advice” an interpersonal problem, and appearing to want advice. Then you give advice, and they end up by saying “Yes, but…that won’t work because…” then you offer another possible solution, and they “Yes But” that one too, and they “win” the game when you have run out of potential solutions and the last one you gave is “Yes Butted”

These people are NOT really wanting a solution, but to play a “game” that shows that there is NO SOLUTION to their victimization and YOU end up the “loser” because YOU can’t fix their problem.

The book “Games People Play” is a great little book to clue you in on how people play “games” to keep intimacy at bay. I highly recommend this book to clue you in to how people are interacting with you and to allow you to see what is “real” interaction and what is “game playing.”

If someone asks me for advice, I will give it to them, and if they say “Yes, well and good, BUT…” and then shoot down my suggestion, then I say, “Well, obviously, I dont’ know what advice to give you on this problem with Suzy, but I am sure you will come up with something.” Then, I don’t give ANY more suggestions, even though they ask again and agin. I just keep on shaking my head and saying “I just don’t know how to handle that one” and eventually if they are a game player they will move on to another person to play this game of “Yes, but”

I agree completely with spotting anyone with disrespectful treatment of you or others, or any kind of dysfunctional behavior and not becoming “intimate” friends with these people. Sometimes they are fellow workers, church members, etc. and there’s no way to totally avoid such people, but ONCE you spot this dysfunctional behavior and your RADAR goes off, then you are in a position to keep interactions on an “arm’s length” basis and not let them creep into your inner circle.

This is all, basicly, summing it up at the “bottom line” LEARNING TO SET APPROPRIATE BOUNDARIES.

To some extent we have done that since we were in kindergarden. We tried to stay away from the kids that would hit us, steal our toys, and say unkind things to us.

As “adults” we try to “make allowances” for people “having a bad day,” but at the same time, there are SOME things that should raise a PERMANENT RED FLAG, like lies, histerical outbursts, game playing, rage, etc. i’m sure we can all add items to that list.

It isn’t about being “non-forgiving” of other’s human faults, it is about DELIBERATE BAD BEHAVIOR.

I hear people talk about criminal behavior such as “Johnny made a MISTAKE and robbed a liquor store and went to jail.”

NO!!!! Johnny did NOT MAKE A MISTAKE, Johnny DELIBERATELY did something he knew was WRONG. That was a CHOICE.

So I differentiate between “Mistakes” which I think are done accidently, like bouncing a check because you added 2 and 2 and got 5, and bouncing a check because you over drew $1.00, to writing a check for $1000 when you knew you only had $5 in your account. One is a “mistake” and one is a “choice” of a deliberate action.

People who make a deliberate choice to do BAD ACTS are out of my life. This includes liars, thiefs, and people who engage in criminal activity. I realize that SOME FEW people who go to prison for criminal activity reform, but the VAST MAJORITY don’t, and “the BEST indicator of future behavior is past behavior” so I will “play the odds” and avoid people with any criminal past history within my circle of “intimate” friendships.

Maybe this is “unfair” to those few people who do “reform” and become “saints” after a stint of criminal behavior, but for me, it is my choice, and I think a safer choice than associating in any way with anyone with a past criminal history.

I have learned to be “choosy” about who I associate with in an “intimate” relationship and to weed out my associations and friendships like I would pull weeds out of my garden or flower beds. Keeping any dysfunctional person at “arm’s length” is a good rule of thumb.

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