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By January 14, 2016 47 Comments Read More →

Sociopath Control: Social Isolation and Intermittent Reinforcement Equals Addiction

Isolated

Abusive people often isolate the people they want to control.  This happened to me and is chronicled in my book  Husband, Liar, Sociopath: How He Lied, Why I Fell For It & The Painful Lessons Learned (available via Amazon.com).

Isolation is a Huge Red Flag

Isolation is a red flag that should never be ignored. Due to Paul (not his real name) “working” such long hours and on weekends, we had virtually no social life as a couple. Yet, if I went out with friends alone, Paul was often home early that night waiting for me.

Here’s a Typical Exchange

“Hi, Paul, it’s great you’re home. I thought you wouldn’t be home ”˜til after midnight.”

“We got done early,” Paul said, his face devoid of any “nice to see you” smile. “I was really hoping you’d be here ”¦ the one night I’m back before midnight ”¦”

Of course, I’d made perfectly reasonable decisions and had nothing for which I needed to apologize, yet Paul encouraged me to feel that I’d been insensitive because he had been home alone for a short period of time.

“I’m really sorry,” I said, regretting losing a rare chance to spend time with my husband. I joined him on the couch and gave him a kiss. He returned it halfheartedly. The fun of my rare evening out evaporated.

“You abandoned me, again,” Paul said, then shut off the TV and walked out, leaving me alone in the dark.

Not Knowing His Behavior was Deliberate, I Searched for Answers

That deflated “What just happened?” feeling enveloped me. I started making excuses for him. Maybe he was just exhausted and disappointed because he’d hoped to see me when he walked through the door. Maybe he’d had a bad day at work. Maybe. Maybe. Maybe. It didn’t occur to me that this was a deliberate setup to isolate me by making me feel guilty about having a life of my own.

When I talked to Paul the next day, he said, with an appropriately caring but incredulous tone, that of course he’d just been kidding about feeling abandoned and that he couldn’t believe I took his comment seriously. “I don’t know what you’re talking about. Of course it’s great you went out with friends.”

“How Dare You Have a Life of Your Own”

As most communication is nonverbal, what had Paul actually expressed? Something like, “Don’t you dare have your own life, or I’ll withhold love from you.” Would he ever admit to that? Of course not!

Paul’s nonverbal message in this case, and in countless others, influenced me below my conscious awareness. I started feeling tense when friends suggested I do something with them or when I considered calling them to make plans. As a result, I started isolating myself by going out less, especially when it might interfere with time with Paul. If I did go out, I’d leave early, just in case Paul beat me home. Before long, invitations from colleagues waned. Too often my answer was “No,” or a guarded, “I have to leave early.” Anything that weakened and isolated me made me more malleable, more dependent on Paul.

Subtle Criticism Shapes Choices

Looking back, another ploy Paul used to isolate me and to keep the world from responding to me positively was to imply that my friendships with male colleagues were inappropriate. I worked in financial investments, so many of my colleagues were male. Paul encouraged me to dress conservatively in dark, drab colors and in professional but not flattering clothes. He implied that, by wearing makeup, I was trying to attract other men. I started to feel bad when I even considered putting on mascara, and at some point, without making a deliberate decision, I stopped.

Intermittent Reinforcement

While helping me craft my own love-starved, negative environment, Paul did not completely withdraw his love. Were it clear that Paul did not love me anymore, never would, and perhaps never had, I am sure I would have sought a divorce. Instead, he expressed his love sparingly, and, as a result, inconsistently—a small act of kindness here when least expected, a nice dinner together there. Psychologists call this type of reward system “intermittent reinforcement.” It’s inconsistent and unpredictable, and it has a dark side. It is strongly linked to highly addictive behavior. It is our response to intermittent reinforcement that keeps us playing a game that is stacked against us, because the occasional win keeps hope alive.

Intermittent Reinforcement and Addiction

Decades ago, the famous psychologist B.F. Skinner observed that intermittent reinforcement of something of value (e.g., food for animals) creates highly addictive behavior. I knew about this from college psychology classes. What I didn’t know, however, was that it was being used on me and is a cornerstone of emotional abuse.

A slot machine is one of the most intuitive examples of how intermittent reinforcement works. These machines have varying financial payouts at unpredictable times. When a player wins at a slot machine, he or she feels good and gets money—two things the player values. The only way to achieve this success is to play the game again and again and again, enduring failure after failure along the way.

It’s hard for the player to stop, because a big, exciting reward might be just one lever pull away. Because there is no exact correlation between the gambler’s actions and the payout of the next pull of the handle, the slot machine could even be broken and unable to issue any positive payout, but the player would have no way of knowing this. Once the addictive behavior has been established, the player will likely persist at the game for a long time.

Early “Love Bombing” Sets the Stage for Later Addiction

Now, think of Paul as the slot machine and think of the payout not as money but as love—something fundamental to human existence and happiness, and something I value as a normal, healthy human being. I particularly valued Paul’s loving attention, because his maneuverings and my decisions had put me in a love-starved environment, isolated from family and friends. Just like the person pulling the slot machine lever and hoping for the next big payout, without even deciding consciously to do this, I continually tried to please Paul and connect personally with him, hoping to stumble onto something that would trigger him to act in a loving way toward me again.

I knew he was capable of showing me love and affection, because he’d directed those feelings toward me in the past (especially the initial love-bombing stage), and I saw him acting in a caring way toward other people (Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde behavior is typical of sociopaths after the love-bombing stage). Believing I would receive a positive response eventually, I persisted. The payoff I got, albeit infrequently and unpredictably, only served to keep me in the game, hoping for the next payoff—maybe it would be the next time, or the next, or the next ”¦

No Contact!

Once neural addictive pathways have been paved, we don’t get to just erase them once we understand they exist. Even in the absence of the sociopath trying to pull us back in (which would be a blessing if that were to occur), these addictive pathways are among the reasons leaving a sociopath can be so difficult, why it can be so challenging to put the relationship behind us once we leave, and why “no contact” is critical, once we do leave. It’s hard to pull away from a sociopath. It’s really hard.  And the fact that we are able to do so, even amidst pain and chaos is testament to our strength–strength we may not even know existed until we must tap it in order to survive.

Identifying names, places, events, characteristics, etc. that I discuss here and in my book have been altered to protect the identity of everyone involved.

 


Comment on this article

47 Comments on "Sociopath Control: Social Isolation and Intermittent Reinforcement Equals Addiction"

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Many. many thanks O.N.Ward. for this wonderful article. I have been thinking a lot about this topic the last few days and trying (to myself) find the words, and how to describe that aspect of my relationship…..what divine timing! Intermittent Reinforcement wow, now I have a name for it. It use to drive me so crazy! but with this type of thing, there was never anything tangible to grasp & work on or sort. And boy did I work hard trying to ‘work it out’

The isolation, for me was his deliberate isolation & my own that i would create, it was easier than trying to cover, protect & stop crazy stuff occurring to my friends & family. It is just plain crazy & brain torture!

Thank you again for this wonderful article.
wishing you peace & blessings
Dragon

I have returned to site once again. Your article reinforces everything I am experiencing. I have parted from my sociopath more times that I can count. He continues to seek me out and soft talk me into returning to him and our very toxic relationship.

My sociopath has done a fine job of further isolating me more than I am. I am caregiver for my mother who Alzheimer’s maintain a large house and any excuse to leave the house even go to the grocery store helps my sanity.

Previously I have gone as long as two and half weeks when I end up falling for the same lines. Like mentioned in your article, the answers to the many questions I have is important for me to move on. My sociopath has caused me to have stomach aches and high blood pressure. When we first met he told me he lived with his sons and that he was divorced and left his wife in Bosnia. After a few months of dating, I learned not only did he have a wife, he had a girlfriend. My first impression was to run. But this silver tongued devil had me already programmed through the use of his very cunning methods. The girlfriend soon became history and he told me he was very unhappy at home at first. Later he changed his tune. He would tell me how much he loved his wife. This often would be the start of an argument and then he would change his tune. This and many other tactics were used to aggravate me and get me upset. He thrived on me getting upset and would then hug me and hold me making me think he had remorse for his actions. I know it was his sick mentality that caused him to behave like this. However, I would remain in the relationship.

I needed to read your words today because as of yesterday I decided I had enough. I am having a rough day but I KNOW tomorrow will be better as the day after and the day after that. I am a friend who is going through the exact same thing and we have made a pack to have no contact.

Thank you for your words.
Haanginginthere.

Stay strong, Catnoch. It is so very hard and there are moments of desperation but it does slowly get better. Like you I had a busy day yesterday and was desperate to get in touch but I let myself cry, feel sorry for myself for a day – but not contact him. We want them to feel our pain, take some responsibility, but they NEVER WILL.
Come here, read, read, read about these manipulative, sick creatures – and stay strong.
Wishing you love and support
Ax

Not a busy day, a bad day!!! Blooming spellcheck

Andi:
Thanks so much. The no contact did not last. Although I blocked him from my phone (s), my friend convinced me to go out. Even though I explained we should not go to a particular place she insisted all would be fine. Just ignore him. That did not sit well with him, he had the nerve to walk up to me and a gentleman I was talking to and say, “did she tell you I she is my girlfriend for over a year?” I told him he was out of line and that he should move along. He went back to his corner and then sought out a woman to dance with. The gentleman then asked me to dance and so I did. I was enjoy this man’s conversation until I realized he too had issues but seemed harmless enough. He gave me his card and said we should go out sometime. I took the card but knew this was never going to happen.

The entire time I sat at that bar and spoke with this man, my SP would walk by and tap me on my back as he would walk by. I guess he though I would forget he was there. Then I suppose he could take no more, he came by me when the gentleman went to the men’s room and began his rhetoric on how I had a plan to date this man and this is why I broke up with him. He then began rattling on when I put my hand over his mouth and told him to move along and shut up. When he didn’t I called the bartender over and asked him to tell him to stop harassing me. He immediately moved away.

The drama continues to play out when my girlfriend said we were leaving to go elsewhere. I thought SP left and this friend of my friend thought he was going in my car and followed me out. I told him he needed to get his own car. I could not trust SP to actually leave. I pulled up to my friends car and this other guy followed me. Then I did a stupid thing and called SP to tell him off for his behavior. Out of nowhere he returned. I then decided to just go home. Well needless to say he was following me and on the phone. Then the other guy was following me as well. This fiasco was getting better by the minute. I pulled into a gas station and so did both of them. I pulled out up to a light and the guy pulled along side me and I asked him why he was following me. He said he thought I was going to the next place. I told him I was not and that I didn’t even know where the place was and he was following the wrong person. SP followed me home of course acting as though he was my savior and making sure I got home safe from predators. Needless to say we fought for two hours after that and needless to say he was back.

My no contact failed again. I feel as though I am have a sociopath and I cannot give him up. I pray the days ahead will give me strength to either have it on my terms or no terms. Time will tell.

Wishing you all the luck in the world and thanks for yours. I suppose I will have to get bashed around some more until I have had enough.

All the best!
Catnoch

Oh Catnoch – that sounds really awful. Your friends need to understand that you must stay away from any environment where he could be present. Like you I’ve been desperately trying to find some value in myself through other men – to prove that I’m not as worthless as he made me feel. However, I think what we really need to do is love ourselves and learn to be alone – not lonely, but alone and content in our skins. It is a long, hard process and I think I’ve spent a lifetime of co-dependency in most of my relationships, subtly made to feel inferior and my needs secondary. I’m working really hard to look deep inside myself and heal the things in me that make me so vulnerable. yes, there are many, many hours, days that I still spend feeling sorry for myself, feeling abandoned but I know the direction I need to move in now. There are some great Youtube videos out there – type in co-dependency.
Good luck and stay strong. Try not to beat yourself up. There is a better life in the future but we have to work to achieve it. Right now I expect you have no energy and no enthusiasm for life but it will slowly come back. Take care of yourself, be kind to yourself
Ax

Andi, I have a long history of codependency issues too (I was very well trained, being raised by my codependent parents). I found the book “Codependent No More” by Melodie Beattie to be very helpful in recognizing some of my larger misconceptions about myself, and starting to break the habit of thinking that other people’s needs and wants somehow take priority over my own. Why is it so hard sometimes to just say “no”, or “stop”, or simply to walk away? Something in me always thinks I’ve got to participate to the bitter, ugly end of things.

I think I’ve gotten better these days, but the compulsion remains to be there for people who really don’t deserve my time or attention. My healing is a lot about self-control and simply staying out of the game. And it’s amazing really, as I become more aware, how many people have no problem with messing with my head if it means getting what they want. Codependents are particularly vulnerable to criticism or suggestions that we are incapable or unworthy in any way. Looking back I can see how I’ve let myself be easily manipulated and the reasons why I react the way I do. Now something as simple as asking myself, “is what this person saying about me, or suggesting to me, true?” I could get so caught up in my emotional reaction that I couldn’t see what was the truth. I find that my own recover is a lot about finding my personal truth and simply standing strong in it. Not easy after having my mind twisted up through time, but that is my goal.

When I first started learning about sociopaths I found it hard to believe that something like 1 in 36 people are likely sociopaths. But I believe now that it may be true as I am more keen to see through people’s motives these days.

Ax:
We all wonder how we become so vulnerable. I know for me, once a very strong woman who would take no crap from anyone was when my husband died and the loneliness set in. In addition taking care of my mother and not having absolute freedom. I think my problems stem from never having someone to care for and never having the opportunity to take care of just me.

Like you have pointed out we need to make ourselves happy because no one else will and in today’s society, there are not many that will. Narcissistic people are in abundance these days and when they see good hearted people they hone in to see what they can get from us. I know I will always be a giver because this is my nature. I just don’t like one taking advantage and I often feel this way about my SP. I can go on and on about how dumb I am with respect to him. The fact of the matter I set the wrong precedence from the beginning and now I don’t know how to real it back in.

I keep saying to myself there is a part of him that truly loves me and I feel a certain bond between us, but then the fact he never has any money really bothers me. I know he does not make much, but once in a while he could spring for something. I is getting really old. He is always broke but he is always looking at new cars. I know he thinks somewhere in his head I am going to buy him a new car and this is just never going to happen. He has his car maybe 8 months and has been complaining about it for the last four. Another saga that I will spare the details.

This is a mess I have gotten myself into and I know when the pot boils over, I will have had enough.

All the best to you and you too hang strong. It is the only way we can survive.

Best regards,
Catnoch

Hi Catnoch,

That was quite a night you had! I can only imagine how difficult it was for you. But you know what? I found myself understanding something a little better because of what you wrote.

While married to the SP, I was always giving in to what HE wanted. The last few years of the marriage, I used to tell him that I wasn’t even going to disagree with him over anything because he would just hammer at me until he got what he wanted. I no longer had the energy or desire to fight.

It seems to me that this kind of thinking carries over into other relationships, including work and friends. You knew you didn’t want to go to that place but your friend talked you into it. I completely get it. She meant no harm and was trying to be helpful, but you knew better. I am almost 5 years post divorce, totally no contact, but this behavior has caused me problems with others. I am still learning how to stick up for myself.

Hang in there, we’ll get it right.

Thank you for your article. Yes isolation is key. SP’s use subtle and coercive tactics. My SP would say: “Why do you want a job most women would love to stay home with their kids”-reasonable tactic; “You can go any where you want between 9-5”- huh am I in high school stupid tactic (the reality is his work schedule was so irregular and I never knew what it would be I found that it was not true since I would be punished if I wasn’t there waiting if he got off early. Then the coercive tactic if I got a job would be to appear at my work and create a scene about how I’m “neglecting” the family by working. My all time favorite was when I went against his wishes and visited a close relative (with my kids in tow) and he cut off my credit card so I couldn’t even buy a Burger King hamburger and had to drive off with hungry kids in the car. It’s always an unpleasant/mean response when you step out into the world. My social anxiety got so bad I would get nervous when I did anything for myself (getting my hair cut was even painful). Now I have my own credit, my own friends, and his ability to manipulate and isolate me is coming to an end.

Becomingstrong how insane it is that they want you available WHENEVER it suits them but that is NOT to apply to THEM. Until I split up with him I didn’t realize how totally my life revolved around him, his schedule & whims, we didn’t even live together. lol insane when I look back. The no contact feels like I got out of prison….Ahhh freedom 🙂

Blessings to you
Dragon

Dragon,
I saw a documentary on Josef Frizil (sp?). The monster who enslaved his daughter for decades in a dungeon beneath the house. Now most SP’s won’t go to those extremes but they all wish to subjugate, enslave, and in prison their targets. If they can get us, through their tactics, to improson oursleves same effect as if they locked us up. How many slaves do we encounter in a day? They look free but the shackles are there.

Becomingstrong,
Wow he would have to be one for sure, no normal human could do what he did, an extreme case to be sure but you are so right how many are there out there wearing the invisible shackles? must be a hell of a lot! considering how many people just one of them harms. The mind boggles at the number!!

brightest blessings
Dragon

The moment that really drove home to me how little the sociopath cared for me as a person was when I was doing some shopping a week or so before the baby was born. I had dropped him off with some cash at a bar while I went for diapers, wipes, etc. that we [I] would need soon. He had refused to come with me. I was so swollen and in such distress that I could barely walk around the store and had to lean heavily on the cart. I had stopped to sit on the bench near the checkout to rest and catch my breath(because I couldn’t handle standing in line) when in walks SP. I lit up with joy to see him [for what would be the last time in my life], but he was nearly shaking with some undefined emotion. When we got to the car, it turns out he was furious with me for taking too long with my shopping [buying only baby items which he was too “manly” to shop for] . He had run out of money for alcohol and was walking [staggering?]across town to the store when a police officer stopped and ended up giving him a ride. It was my fault that he had to endure the humiliation of being picked up by law enforcement. He took no responsibility for forcing me to shop for necessities in a condition where I could barely walk, and even managed to imply that the reason I took so long shopping while 9+ months pregnant was because I was fooling around with someone at the store. Despite the isolation and slow downward spiral of abuse, I never forgot that moment when he showed his true colors. My only regret is that it too so long to escape.

NoMoreWool, It is so heartbreaking to hear what you went through…I am so sorry that happened to you, and am so glad that you are now free…Hugs. There behaviour & words are so outrageous & unthinkable to how a normal person acts & talks, It defies belief how they get away with it over and over again. Maybe it is because of how outrageous and unconscionable it is, that the normal mind cannot process it and passes over it or pushes it away hmmmm.

How sad a moment to find out, when it should of been one of the happiest times in your life (bringing a baby into the world) it highlights how strong and brave you are, and I thank you for your courage in sharing your story as it gives hope to all of us that we can stand strong as well and we will survive and thrive.

Sending you blessings and hugs
Dragon

Thank you

I don’t know if this is allowed on here, but I was the victim of a sociopath a few years back and now am facing losing my apartment. My ex stole most of my savings so I am have trouble coming up with the money to move. I have a GoFundMe at gofundme.com/fhjffztg setup to help defray the costs of moving. I deeply apologize if this is not allowed on here. I’m really down on my luck and desperate and feel too ashamed to ask friends and family for help. If anyone has any question or need verification of anything, please contact me. Thanks so much.

O.N.Ward,

Thank you for this article, it was just what I needed today. After three months of NC my sociopath texted me this week and it’s put my mind back in a spin. All it took was one little line, “hope things are going good with you” to set my thoughts racing. That big mashup of extremes between fond memories of our good times and his otherwise reprehensible treatment of me. I didn’t bother to delete him from my phone. His usual script is to just block me. Which is why I didn’t expect he’d bother with me again since we’ve played out the same script over and over for years. And with that one little text he has succeeded in holding my thoughts again, or should I say, imprisoning my thoughts. I find myself wanting to know why he contacted me, what’s on his mind, has something changed, does he want something between us or is he spinning some new web and he’s thinking I could play a role in his scheme. He currently has a girlfriend but of course that has never stopped him before. Triangulation keeps things interesting for him and can be used to inflict pain on women who he perceives have wronged him and who require punishment. What better way to make a woman stay under control than if she thinks someone else is at his doorstep trying to seduce him away.

Your slot-machine metaphor is a perfect description of the emotional attachment I’ve felt. Years of waiting for that big payout because of the scant rewards I received along the way that fueled my false hopes. I was so sure that there was a pot of gold that would be waiting for me at the end of the rainbow after all the storms had passed. My storms really…the things I weathered by always digging deep to accept, rationalize, and forgive his sociopathic behavior. Because I was too naïve to realize what was really going on. I didn’t know what I was dealing with. I didn’t figure it out until I stumbled upon this website. The reality of it.

And it’s interesting when you speak about isolation. My sociopath only ever had half the battle on that front because I live hundreds of miles from my family and closest friends. He found me fresh from a divorce and in a “reconstruction” phase of my life. I was naturally a bit isolated putting my life in order. My ex-husband was a control-freak so I had very few close friendships after 16 years with him. I was a little lamb wandering alone in a big field making the perfect target for the waiting wolf. Finding me in isolation, it was easy for him to keep me there.

Like so many others I have struggled to understand it all. I have felt compelled to autopsy my emotions and his behaviors and really figure out how I could have been lured in by it all. Where did my dignity go, my confidence, and my sense of self-respect? My emotions for him still run deep. I love him as intensely as I hate him. Finding a way to integrate and accept the experience and let it go continues to be a challenge. Some days my mind gets drawn back into thinking about it all over again and I can get stuck there. And when I do, everything else in life and all sense of joy goes right to hell until my obsession subsides. But when I get in that place these days, I come here and read other’s stories, that are so very much like my own, and I realize that I need to keep trying to find a way to accept the futility of contemplating anything he and I had. Because we had nothing, none of it was real. My feelings are real, my pain was real, yes, but they might as well have never existed at all. None of them changed the outcome or the relentless cycles of “idealize, devalue, discard”. I’ve heard it said that love is never wasted; that it’s an infinite resource, but really, loving sociopaths isn’t just a waste of love, it’s a waste of life itself. Life is not an unlimited resource.

And so my sociopath wanders back this week…and my old self would have eagerly engaged in the cycle all over again. Pathetic, and grateful. Hoping that this time things will be different; things would be better. My new self comes here to Lovefraud instead to keep reminding me of the dead certainty of the pain that awaits me if I put myself back in his game. Thank you again for sharing your story here, you’ve really nailed it for me today.

Please, please stay strong and don’t allow yourself to be dragged back into his shallow world. You deserve so much better for yourself sweetheart.
Much love – and wishing you strength
Ax

I appreciate your supportive words andi. They mean a lot to me. Thank you with a big hug from me to you.

Loveliesbleeding7,

You wrote…”And so my sociopath wanders back this week”and my old self would have eagerly engaged in the cycle all over again. Pathetic, and grateful. Hoping that this time things will be different; things would be better. My new self comes here to Lovefraud instead to keep reminding me of the dead certainty of the pain that awaits me if I put myself back in his game.”

I would like to say to your NEW SELF “keep coming here to reinforce the STRENGTH you have found in your SELF when you need to, you CAN do this!” Everyone here at lovefraud gets IT, we have all been where you are and we Hear you and Support you. Stay Strong.

Hugs and blessings
Dragon

Thanks for your support Dragon. This site is about the only place I know where people do get it. Blew me away when I first found the site. All the stories…different and yet all the same. The only people that can really understand how deep and twisted the sociopath’s web is woven are here. If I hadn’t lived it, I don’t think I’d really believe it. I still struggle with believing it’s hopeless. My mind sees that it is true, but my heart wishes it weren’t. Time and acceptance are the only solutions for that one I think.

Hugs to you too Dragon, I appreciate your thoughts and encouragement.

LoveLiesBleeding7, Yes lovefraud community is definitely a very special place. I get what you are saying, if you don’t live it, it seems like something out of a psycho thriller movie and it does take time for the heart and head to get to the same place of acceptance and awareness.

One step, one day at a time and being gentle & caring with yourself helps make this journey a little better, as well as gaining the knowledge, venting & sharing on place like lovefraud and together we will all get to a better place.

Hugs and blessings
Dragon

Oh, aren’t they just so predictable!! I was convinced mine would stay clear of me because I had shamed and exposed him to his family. But I get home today to find a bag of my belongings (half bottles of shampoo, face cream – which I don’t want) in a bag by the front door with a red gift box containing a chocolate on top….WTF??? Does he really think a chocolate excuses his abominable, self-seeking behaviour which has devastated me???????
I can’t believe the effect it’s had on me – shaking hands, churning stomach. But I will not be in touch. I don’t want to breathe the rarified air of planet narcissist any more. Tomorrow is another day and I will be strong. And like you, Loveliesbleeding, I will be here reading all the supportive comments and remembering that I am not on my own.
Ax

Oh my gosh Andi, I’m sorry but I laughed reading about the delivery of half-used toiletries and a chocolate. Not because any of it is funny, but the audacity of his actions is so – as you say – predictable and yet unbelievable at the same time. If I couldn’t laugh at the ridiculousness of it I would cry (as I have so many times in the past over my SP’s insane behaviors.) My imagination took over as I read your post, picturing some tiny little chocolate, like a single Hershey kiss, not even a whole candy bar or a small box of assorted chocolates. Just a little chocolate crumb; a reflection of all the other little crumbs these guys dole out. Just enough for him to tell himself that he is thoughtful and generous, but at the same time showing you how little you are worth. Just one little chocolate, no more than that. Just a crumb.

The rest of it, well, obviously that was to force you to think about him. And we both know he didn’t give an iota of consideration to what you would think about his “gift”. He wasn’t looking to do you any favor, or ask for forgiveness, the whole point of his paltry gift was simply to force you think about HIM. If he’s like my SP, and some of the others I’ve read about here, he’d just laugh to think it upset you so. I remember my SP asking me once, “how many times have I made you cry?” I replied, “so many that I’ve lost count”. He just laughed. And can you believe, at that time it didn’t even occur to me that it really wasn’t funny at all. That it was really quite sick and sadistic. That a decent man wouldn’t have had to ask the question in the first place.

But I totally understand your physical reaction to it all. I had a bit of that with my SP’s text last week. They blindside you with an emotional sucker punch and it hits you right in the gut. I think we all have felt that “stomach-churning” reaction and been just as surprised at how quickly it can overcome us. You finally get to that place when you’ve really put them out of your mind and “bam” out of nowhere they find a way to jump back to stir things up again.

As you say, tomorrow is another day and I hope that you can put this quickly behind you. Might make you feel better to just take the whole “gift” and pitch it in the dumpster.

hello everyone,
well I have not been on the site for a few days, my ex decided to come to my house as I did not make any contact with him. he tried his best for several minutes with the attempts tug on my heat strings, then anger at my awful treatment of him and what a terrible person I am and how he thought I was a bad mother to my daughter. I just agreed and said that with all that he deserves better and he should go find it and no more at my address or I would use police to stop him. he went to get angry again-I could see it starting with his face changing-and I just said, oohhh your date went badly and you came here hoping to upset me enough to weaken my resolve and have sex?
he walked off and got in his car. minor attempts on phone then nothing again.
he was always accusing me of cheating which I have never had before been accused of- seemed so strange and I could not understand any of it until I read this site and then I realize, its whatever method it takes to get me to feel bad about myself or doubt myself so he can regain control. not going to happen.
That said, I have a very high risk job and work well with the risk, but since splitting with him I have realized that my self confidence has taken a bashing. I am so thankful for this site and for my daughters love and the respect I get at work and from friends (my family live in a different country). I have had recent conversations about my ex with people-and without giving them detail (as you all know the private hell is so strange its hard to really let other people in on) they all said it wasn’t going to last as he was very intense and demanding-they all had faith I would move him on. Bloody hell!!!!. they clearly had more faith than I did. I have been scared to do this because I felt like I was under a spell or trapped somehow. like he would be able to wreck havoc on my life because he is a no holds barred fighter. and went to my bosses–way up my food chain complaining about how mean I am. Yes a grown man (185cm tall solid build) said I am “mean” to him. they luckily though he was a bit of a douche for it as they have known me for years. but also said good on you because while you don’t take shit you don’t give any either. then made a joke cos I am only 162cm tall and “mean’. I took it well, but was kinda boiling on the inside, I felt like–yep, yep ,yep-calling him and asking why. which the call would of been the reward and the answer why. sigh.
reading all the blogs reminds me that the why I put up with it isn’t so hard to face as the FACT that so many do the things he does and will continue to do is very important. its his storm not mine, I just got some storm damage but the sun and calm weather is slowly returning.
I so get why its hard to not stay or why people go back.
strength love and best wishes to everyone, you are all my sanity and inspiration.

cheers
for now

Stunnedmullet xxx

Stunnedmullet, woohoo! way to go & saying no to his attempts. I must admit I laughed when you called him on why he was there & his response…..ran away! lol What a self empowering moment that must of been for you…..YOU ROCKED IT.

Isn’t it amazing how like a child they are when not getting there way and having a tanntie (4yr old tantrum)I don’t mean in any way to down play the violence some are capable of. And running to your boss telling them you are being a ‘meanie’, yep, they will pull anything & everything if they think it will get them what they want. Good for you Stunnedmullet!

The first time my N sister tried to ruin my name in town, I was so hurt & was crying to mum, she said those who know you will not believe it as they know you & if anyone does believe it you know they are not a friend & don’t want to know them. As much as I was hurting, It helped & she was right! These days I believe it shows their character not yours when they do this.

Wishing you peace, wellness & blessings
Dragon

My ex did something similar. He drug me through a highly contentious custody battle for my sons entire first year of life, made all sorts of accusations (false) claiming I am a terrible mother, then a week after our custody trial I found a gift in my bushes and in the box was a “super mom” t-shirt. Gee, thanks…

Did you laugh and toss it straight into the trash? Preferably outdoors where he could see if he was lurking?

Worse…didn’t even acknowledge. That’s the only way, ignore ignore ignore. Lol! I bet he waited for HOURS for a text or phone call thanking him

This is dead on. I was never outright told not to see family or friends, but if I did I was guilted and told all of the things I “should” have been doing (cooking, cleaning, grocery shopping, etc) during the time I was having lunch with my mom.

I remember one time in particular, I had made plans to go to yoga with a friend of mine who was going through chemotherapy. She called that morning and was not up for exercising so we went to brunch instead…he knew this as I TOLD him. When I got home, he told me how his sister had called to tell him I had “duped” him and lied about going to yoga because she saw a picture of me at brunch with my friend on FaceBook. He told me to think about how that makes him look when he tells his family I’m doing one thing and then they find out I’m doing something different. The fact he had even his family monitoring everything I did and reporting back to him was quite scary.

I left, but we have a child together so he continues to use the court system to try to control, monitor me. He’s gone so far as to tell me he feels the hood of my car to see how long I’ve been home when he comes to pick up our son, has asked people to send him screenshots of my FaceBook/Twitterbso he can keep tabs on what I do, and most recently tried to subpoena all of my bank statements to track where I shop and how I spend my money. It’s scary, but I’ve been told by numerous court professionals that it’s not their job to protect me, and I’ve also been told I do not have enough for an order of protection and pursuing that will only make me look bad in custody litigation. So I live in constant fear knowing that he’s probably watching me and everything I do.

So sorry to hear what you are going through. I was lucky enough that the SP screwed up in front of third party witnesses when he had the kids. The witnesses were scared enough for my kids’ safety that they were willing to testify in court. That is the only way I was able to get the SP out of my life, and I am thankful every day for the courage of the people who testified against him.

If my SP had told me that about the car hood, I would probably deliberately leave the car idling whenever I knew he was coming over. I can be passive-aggressive that way sometimes.

Thank you…it was even funnier when he wrote a letter directly to the judge about my “false” stalking allegations, when I never even brought it up in court…HE did.

Unfortunately no one in my case has been able to help much, he makes a lot more money than I do and is trying to make good on the promise to ruin me and put me out on the streets…thank GOD I have a good lawyer. I have also had to deal with his mom throwing objects at me when I pick up my son and his sisters waiting out side when I get there staring me down and flipping me off. They’re a classy bunch.

I learned early on to have a camera recording whenever I was forced to have any sort of contact. My kids were old enough that at pickup time I waited at the curb for them to come to me.

I was the puppet to a gaslighting professional. I went through every medical book and the Psychological standard to try to excuse 20 years of deliberate manipulation. The manipulation served a purpose. That is the sum of it. Discovering I was nothing but a tool and a cash cow. Was shattering. When I seperated from him he treated me as if I was dead. Not even a mention of me to my children. He doesn’t care if that affects them. As if I never existed. Disposable. His family are all the same and had provided him with the support he needed to cheat me. Including their home for numerous affairs. A very capable and believable liar as well. He had isolated me from my family. Only his family ever held any importance. I had lost all my friends by year 2 of marriage. A mutual situation had brough me into a group who supported each other through work injury. He hated them. Tried to accuse me of having an affair with a man 25 yrs younger than myself. He wanted them out of my life and he pull out no stops to do his dirty work. However one new friends worked for a victims for crime and picked him immediately. Making short a long complicated story. I discovered with the help of my support group he was overdosing me by using my perscition drugs. Things became messy but I was able to leave under police protection. I will never allow any man to isolate me from those I love ever again. If they are good enough for me my friends and family will be good enough for a partner. Isolation is the devils playground.
My X SP is now headed to court with a forensic accountant on his case. Oh, I have a good lawyer too. Set up by a wonderful lawyer friend.

I to know what it’s like when someone you loved deeply turns out to just get a sadistic pleasure in hurting you causing you pain and heart ache with my story I hadn’t had a boyfriend partner before I had such high ideals of love what it was like to love and be loved to meet someone and just know you would be with that one person forever unfortunately meeting this person has void me of feeling this way I wish I had experienced a relationship before to know how he was treating me didn’t.me he loved me and want scared to lose me but the opposite it started he seemed so lovely sweet caring caring about his family about me he told me he loved me wanted to marry me and me to have his baby early on he also said I would cheat on him as all women cheat after saying he was proud to be the only man I’d ever been with to telling me I’m having sex with people on his dreams he said I looked at men in a way because I wanted to have sex with them made me cry then would say he’s sorry he loves me he doesn’t know why he’s hurting me I might leave him I then discovered most of what he told me was all lies everything he kept me separate his sister was weirdly jealous of me jealous we were intimate she sent him messages calling me a whore a slut a white gold digger saying so many cruel things when to my face she pretended to be nice thing is I asked him does she have a problem with me without telling him I saw them he said no it’s all in my head I’m crazy after her then calling me a tart I told him I knew he lied he was sorry loved me more than ever he didn’t care what anyone thought a few weeks later I found out I was carrying his child and from then after months of telling me he wants us to be a family his family use him don’t care about him when I found out the first day he seemed happy the second I was talking to him about what we will have to get the baby and he told me I might as well get rid of it he had his sisters wedding to pay for and she comes first I was totally shocked I couldn’t believe it or understand it I was very poorly in pregnancy and in and out of hospital I was told to expect my baby not to make no stress but all I had was stress In tears all the way through it his sister said I should get an abortion it would be better for him as they both berated me around the table after that most of it he was gone he came back promising me he loved me wanted our baby I thank god every day I have a health beautiful though 7 week early baby who is 3 and so beautiful and amazing of course he wasn’t there he came back after months he was sorry his family pressured him he wishes he stuck by me he loves us we will be together all the while asking have I had sex with other men he wants to know I’m his not giving me any explanation of where he’d been or what he’d been doing he has gone in and out when I was strong and told him go away for months he tried and I had none of it then he barraged me he’s life is nothing without me he won’t hurt me agin be cruel again of course he was and he did doing as he pleases while I’m on my own with his child living miles away with his mother rather than taking care of us before I got pregnant it was I’ll take care of you and our baby give up ur work ur studies and I’ll take care of you to what have you done for me why should I,I don’t have the money he could before our baby came then it was all different telling me he doesn’t like going out anymore he’d rather stay with just me somewhere in a car or a hotel that didn’t cost to much money when I asked when are his promises going to be fufiled as he had all he wanted he would just say I moan when I started to ask him what is he doing as he disappeared a lot! He would say I’m crazy he hasn’t got the time for it when I said it’s all that he asked me he would have none of it always hiding he has hurt not only me but my child who says he doesn’t love her and it used to be he’s being nice to me now he’s being nice to mummy now he always caused arguments when he wanted to go awol then blame me and say we didnt see each other for a month because of you after he contacted me with his love his sorry though not as much effort in to them anymore I know he feels good hurting and coming back I wish I could erase him I feel he robbed me of the first person me believing the only person I would ever be with being good to me and treating me how I would want a man to treat my daughter of a my first journey in to mother good making it all about him a family life how it’s supposed to be not completely and utterly alone trying to be strong carrying all the burden of all the things he put me through that has happened to me not understanding it I never will I know he lives in his own world where he has done nothing wrong it’s someone else’s fault never taking responsibility guilt and remorse is not in a sociopaths vocabulary.

oh crickey storm- you are amazing, a great mum, a great daughter and no doubt a great and true friend. You have come through hell and remained focus on what matters-the above, your ability to mother and hold onto those values so close to your heart Bravo brave lady, bravo.
ignore the bullshit and focus on what you know as clearly you have a higher understanding of how to behave and what matters.

Thanks everyone for the support, every time I come on here and read every ones experiences I am constantly surprised that we are not or have not being seeing the same person in the flesh so to speak. when I think of the destruction of lives and trauma caused its awful and reassuring at the same time.

I know that sounds odd because clearly with all my heart I wish NONE of this happened to any one of us.
but while at work or on train and I am thinking- thinking about my situation, I also think of everyone here and know we will be okay.

Different from how we were, smarter, wiser, somewhat battered and bruised on several levels, but okay.

better than with them.

I went to the Doctor today and had a full STD check up with a brief explanation of why -I have no proof of any cheating but since he was so constantly saying I was cheating-logic told me to get a check up.

The doctor asked if I was going to confront my ex, I said nope, no contact.
she didn’t speak for a little while and said, Christ, that’s the only way with some people isn’t it??. I have so many women come in here with horrible stories and have to do these test, and then next thing they are back with the guys.

I told her about this site and said, it seems no contact is the only way, otherwise our better natures combined with that awful tiredness and constant pressure they can apply-we could end up back with them, so no contact seems the only way to me.

so instead of feeling like, welllll scum, like I did when I first walked in, I walked out feeling that I did a very mature and smart thing.

I think he cheated as no way could he of survived without that kind of drama and attention- as my mind tells my heart and soul-“Facts people, we must face facts and deal with them, wide eyed and straight forward”.
then kinda fall over crying in a small heap or kick the rubbish bin.

all my best thoughts hopes and wishes to you all..

Stunnedmullet

Intermitent reinforcement is very subtle.

Wonderful article.

Wow…….. Is all I can say!
If I didn’t know any better I would wonder if you had camera’s in my home. You have just described my relationship to a tee. And that has really opened my eyes to what I am going through…… Thank you for your story. You are a very brave & courageous person and I am grateful for the knowledge that you have given me and that IF I dont leave this toxic relationship it will only get worse, never any better. Thank you again, and God Bless you and your loved ones.

Wonderful article. I got alot from it.

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