A Lovefraud reader asked me what I thought of advice offered on a website called “Womensdivorce.com.” In a post about relationships after divorce, the website says women should start dating as soon as possible. It also seems to advocate that women engage in brief sexual affairs, and find a transitional partner who can help a woman heal, but whom she shouldn’t marry.
Read Your first relationship after divorce, on Womensdivorce.com.
My reaction is that this advice may be okay for someone involved in one of those amicable divorces, where the partners simply grew apart, are still on speaking terms or even friends, and want what is best for their children. The advice is terrible for someone who has been heavily damaged by marriage to a sociopath.
People who have endured marriage to a sociopath need time—perhaps a lot of time—to rebuild themselves. Healing may have two distinct dimensions.
Recovering from the sociopathic relationship
First, you need to recover from the sociopathic relationship. The difficulty of the recovery depends on the psychological damage done.
I now know that I was relatively lucky in the type of predator that found me, although it sure didn’t seem that way at the time. My ex-husband, James Montgomery, only wanted my money. He lied to me, he used me, he betrayed me—but he didn’t try to destroy me. When my money was gone, he just abandoned me.
Many Lovefraud readers had experiences that were far worse than mine. Some of you endured physical and sexual violence, gaslighting, threats and brainwashing. Some of you continue to suffer because you have children with the sociopath, and your ex purposely tries to use the children to hurt you.
If you are raw from one of these extremely damaging relationships, the last thing you should do is try to find a new partner. Instead, you need to focus on personal healing.
The first step is to take care of yourself physically—eat well, find time for exercise, avoid drugs and alcohol, get enough sleep. You also need to rebuild emotionally. There are two different paths of emotional recovery. One is allowing yourself to grieve, and feel the anger and pain. The other is finding ways to bring joy into your life, however small. Nourishing encounters with friends and family whom you can trust will help.
You’ll find many articles to assist you in this section of the Lovefraud Blog: Healing from a sociopath.
People often ask, how long should it take to recover? There is no standard answer to this question. Recovery takes as long as it takes. But until you are feeling stronger and healthier, it is best not to get involved in another romance.
Here’s an important reason why: Sociopaths target vulnerable people. If you are not yet healed, you are vulnerable, and a prime target for another sociopath.
Recovering from deeper injury
Many Lovefraud readers, as you make your way through recovery, have realized that the marriage to a sociopath was not the first damaging relationship in your life. There was an older, deeper injury that made you susceptible to the sociopath in the first place.
Some of you recognize that a previous romantic relationship was exploitative. Some of you realize that one or both of your parents were disordered. For you, the games sociopaths play may have seemed normal, because that’s what you grew up with.
The pain caused by the most recent partner may cause you to realize that you have a long history of mistreatment. In fact, sometimes recognizing trauma in your past helps clear up one of the big mysteries of involvement with a sociopath. It answers the question, “Why did I allow this predator into my life?”
There may even be spiritual reasons for the dangerous encounter, which I talk about in my book, Love Fraud—How marriage to a sociopath fulfilled my spiritual plan. So before looking for love again, you need to recover from the sociopath, and you need to recover from any deeper traumas as well. Thankfully, you can do both at once. The process is the same as described above—slow physical and emotional healing.
So as you walk the road to recovery, be careful about listening to advice from others. As we well know, most people have no clue about what it’s like to be involved with a sociopath. They have not walked in your shoes, so however well meant, their suggestions may not be helpful or healthy for you.