By | January 4, 2009 151 Comments

Sociopath-proof in 2009

Editor’s note: This is the first post by Lovefraud’s newest blog author, Kathleen Hawk. She previously posted many thoughtful comments under the screen name “khatalyst.”

Last year, 2008, was a year in which we faced the cost of sociopathy in our economy. Huge financial firms were destroyed or deeply damaged by their own corporate cultures. Their employees were encouraged to pursue personal gain, without concern about the messes they left behind or the damage they did to other people’s lives. The results are loss and suffering, even for people who had nothing to do with these companies.

It sounds familiar, doesn’t it? Sociopathy taken to a grand scale. But there are people and institutions that didn’t buy into the subprime mortgage debacle. There are people who turned down the opportunity to invest with Bernard Madoff. Likewise, there are people who don’t get involved with sociopaths. They don’t attract them, or if they do, they get rid of them before any damage is done.

This article is about my suggestions for New Years resolutions that will help make us like those people.

About 20 years ago, I was fortunate to attend a week-long training at Brain Technologies, a consulting firm founded by the authors of Strategy of the Dolphin.* This book — written for business managers but also useful for people wanting to better manage their own lives — divides the world into sharks and carps. Both act out their addictions. Sharks are addicted to winning. Carps are addicted to being loved.

There was a third type of character in the “pool.” That was the dolphin. The dolphin learned in action, adapting its behavior to what was required at any given moment. If threatened, it might act like a shark. At more comfortable times, it might act like a carp. One of my favorite dolphin strategies described in the book is “tit for tat.” That is, if a shark takes a bite out of a dolphin, the dolphin takes an equivalent bite out of the shark. Not to escalate the fight, but just let the shark know that it was not dealing with a carp.

You’ll notice the dolphin doesn’t cringe and say, “Please don’t bite me.” It doesn’t pat the shark on the head and say, “You must have had a difficult childhood and you clearly need more love.” It absolutely doesn’t lie down and say, “I can see you’re hungry, and I can spare a part or two.” What it does is communicate in concrete terms that a dolphin lunch is going to be very, very expensive for the shark.

Which brings me to the New Year’s resolutions we might consider to makes ourselves sociopath-proof.

1. Eliminate pity.

This may sound very strange to those of us who were taught that we are responsible to help the less fortunate. But pity is not what we were supposed to learn. Pity is an emotion that places us in a one-up position to someone we view as less than us. It is also dangerously linked to feeling sorry for ourselves. In acting on pity, we get into emotionally tangled situations of entitlement and debt, which leave us feeling unappreciated and resentful.

Empathy and compassion are much more functional and respectful emotions. Empathy is extending ourselves to understand another’s circumstances. (“That must be difficult for you.”) Compassion is extending ourselves to understand how they feel. (“That must be painful for you.”) Both of them can lead to bonding experiences. Neither of them requires us to take action to help. In fact, “dispassionate compassion” is the respectful recognition that other people are following their own paths, which have nothing to do with us. This doesn’t mean that we won’t help, but it keeps things in perspective.

As most people who have been involved with sociopaths know, the ability to elicit pity and then take advantage of our knee-jerk inclination to help is one of their greatest manipulative tools. It can be particularly seductive, because they seem so strong and confident, except for this one little weakness. If we practice offering empathy or compassion without offering to help, we can short-circuit the pity play, and gain control over where we place our helping efforts.

2. Demand reciprocity.

“Demand” doesn’t mean trying to make people do what is unnatural to them. It means making choices to pursue relationships in which reciprocity clearly exists. If we are generous to someone who seems to have an unlimited appetite for our generosity, but little inclination to give back, we cut that person out of our life.

In demanding reciprocity, we become clear about what we’re giving and what we want back. For example, if we are open about our feelings, then we may want the same in return. If we are willing to provide emotional support, we may want that back. If we are providing financial or material support, we may want something material or financial in return for it. (If we’re paying money for emotional support, this is a professional relationship, not a personal one.)

Reciprocity exists in real time. This is not like being good all our life, so that after we die, we go to heaven. This is being good and getting good back. Here and now. People act out of their characters and also out of their real objectives. If the other person’s real objectives don’t include being fair to us right now, then we are in an unfair situation. This is the year we abandon unfairness in our lives.

3. Trust conditionally.

It’s a basic human need to trust and be trusted. Like love, we want it to be perfect and forever. Like love, maintaining trust often takes shared effort, and it can lead to disappointment. Some of us hope that we if treat people as though they were trustworthy, they will rise to the occasion.

As those of us who have been involved with sociopaths know, treating them as though they can be trusted is equivalent to asking a burglar to watch our jewelry box while we make a pot of coffee. What we got back for treating them as though they could be trusted is loss.

But this isn’t just about sociopaths. In day-to-day living, we are continually learning new things about the people we know. Sometimes, we learn good things that make us trust someone more. Sometimes we learn troubling things that make us trust someone less. When we trust them less, it means that we are more guarded in sharing ourselves and our resources. When we trust them more, we are more relaxed.

Diminished trust is not the end of the world. There are ways that we can work with another person to rebuild trust, if that person is worthy of trust. And there are ways to deal with untrustworthy people if we can’t get rid of them, as in a work situation. However it plays out, the important thing is to be honest with ourselves about how trusting we really feel. It has everything to do with our survival and well-being.

4. Value what we have.

Other than pity, the sociopath’s best tool of manipulation is identifying our dissatisfactions with our own lives, magnifying them, and then claiming to have the solution. They set their hooks in the voids in our lives, the lacks that we worry over, dream over.

If we wonder what kind of person is invulnerable to sociopathic wiles, it is the kind who invests time and energy on what he or she has, rather than what’s missing. That doesn’t mean they aren’t working on improvements. But when they look at themselves and their lives, they see something they own, planned and built by they own efforts. It doesn’t mean they never made a mistake, but they survived it and learned from it.

That kind of attitude is fundamentally positive. It looks at what exists in the environment — internal and external — and says “What good thing can I do with this?” How can I use it to make me happier or my life more interesting? What can I do with it to make the world a better place for the people I care about?

For those of us who are still raw from a brutally exploitive relationship, it may be hard to focus on anything but what we’ve lost. We are wounded and we feel pain. But in healing, we learn that pain is one of our valued resources. It motivates us to learn. It can even keep us from learning the wrong thing. For example, deciding to never trust anyone again is a premature learning, and we feel pain whenever we go in that direction. Pain is one of the voices of our inner wisdom. It keeps us from settling for the wrong thing.

5. Self-validate.

In other words, care less about what other people think. Turn within for encouragement, approval, comfort, inspiration and kindness.

Sociopaths have been called “soul killers,” because they separate us from our inner wisdom. First they seduce us with our own dreams, then they cause us to question our ideas and our values, and finally they beat us down with disloyalty and denigration while telling us that we asked for it. The longer and deeper our involvement, the more we lose ourselves in self-questioning and ultimately self-hatred.

If there is one good thing about a relationship with a sociopath, it is the clarification that we are our own primary support. In dealing with someone who is dishonest, undependable, untrustworthy and viciously unkind, most of us discover that we know better. We know that we are not what they think of us. We are not even how we are behaving. There is something in us that knows better. Knows who we really are. Knows how we really want our life to be.

We also discover that no one else — not the sociopath, not our friends, not our advisors —knows us better than we do. It doesn’t mean that we know everything about the world. We still collect information. We still seek role models for things we don’t know how to do yet. We’re not proud or over-impressed with ourselves. We just know rationally that we’re our own best counsel, our only decider of what we think, feel, believe, want and choose to do.

When we learn how to self-validate, it changes our lives. For those of us who hear the denigrating voice of the sociopath in our thoughts, self-validating is a way to bypass it. To say, “Oh, shut up. You’re not me, you’re just a bad memory” while we move on to explore our thoughts and feelings. It takes practice to self-validate. We have to make a decision about wanting to be independent in creating our own lives. We have to train ourselves to find our inner wisdom and push aside anything that gets in the way of hearing it.

This year, 2009, is the year that all of us get better. Better friends with ourselves and others because we’re cultivating compassion and empathy. Better lovers because we’re learning to love out of choice, not need. Better partners of every sort, because we give and demand kindness and respect. Better members of our community because “dispassionate compassion” enables us to select our helpful efforts, rather than feeling forced into them.

Should a sociopath show up, we are learning the best way to be sociopath-proof. That is, to value ourselves and our lives. And to exercise our options — to be a ruthlessly determined shark or a sweetly generous carp — depending on what our circumstances require.

Namaste. The dolphin in me salutes the dolphin in you.


* Strategy of the Dolphin, Dudley Lynch and Paul Kordis, 1989. Out of print, but available from sellers at Amazon. More information on additional books and personal assessment tests can be found at Brain Technologies.

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Thank you Kathy. Your post is very helpful to me. I’m especially struggling with self- validation right now. I can’t wait for the day when he is truly just a bad memory. I will be filing for contempt and failure to pay child support tomorrow.


Thank Kathy for your article which is very will thought out and to the point of many issues some of us are dealing with. One point I found very interesting is number 3 “Trust conditionally”. Trusting people again is very important to me. We all need to trust other people from time to time no matter who we are. But we can choose to trust conditionally which of course is the very opposite of trusting unconditionally which is something I did with my ex P/S. To me trust is something to be earn but then at times we must make the first move (trust of faith) and trust a little. From this point my trust then will grow within my self and the other person. Or it won’t depending on how this trust is used or abused… Thanks again!


Dear Khatalyst.. I remember you by that name.

Good to see you here.

As I look back at what I have changed and overcome in the last three and a half years, I have followed some of your steps.

I have eliminated relationships that drain me.

I apply my trust carefully (add a dash if wisdom).

I dream less and plan more for what I want. I work the steps and slowly, I achieve.

I am still working on feeling okay about what I don’t have.

Self validate… hmmm. Might need some work there. I don’t think about this. I am just on auto pilot.

I am still struggling with “Hopes and Dreams.” I think I equate these with being vulnerable and needy. I still don’t hope and dream. Instead, I plan and I work my plans. There’s not much dreamy about it.

Anyway, I look forward to reading your articles.

I hope things are well for you!



Hello Kathy: Your points are good, but . . .

I am a dolphin. He was wearing a dolphin suit. He was adept at answering all those points. and that was how he engendered trust. The really, really good ones can fool even the experts for quite a long while, even when the experts are folowing your advice to the letter.

This is why we feel blindsided.



“I am a dolphin. He was wearing a dolphin suit”

Very good point for I too thought I was swimming with a fellow dolphin just to awake one day knowing how I was swimming with a shark wearing a dolphin disguise..

Strange but I always ask God if I have to come back as a animal I would like to be a dolphin. Guess I know now why I felt that way.

Always loved dolphin and would wear a pendant of one around my neck in my younger days.


Since this has been a recent break up for me I am so lost and confused and having a very hard time dealing with this. I know everyone tells me to move on and to get over it but they didnt hear what he told me and how I felt i was the one! I was with him every day but being told by others I didnt see what he did when he was at work. it doesnt make any sense to me. How can someone not have a concience? Why do I feel so much pity for myself? I am a strong person and everyone can see me being weak! They want to help and are trying but I keep telling them they dont understand… they dont! They tell me to not respons to him when he begs me back. Why wont he leave me alone? He denies everything and blames me for ending the relationship. How could he tell me he wantes to marry me and within hours be with his ex? I feel violated, betrayed and dont know who to trust? I am hopeful by reading this daily it will help me get through this.


Thanks for the post about “Tit for Tat” strategy! Understanding its principles is a must for anyone who wants to have a happy live.

Please everyone read or see more youtube videos about this strategy and how it was discovered. The logic behind it is impeccable. It was the simplest and most successful game strategy in a computer tournament while playing “prisoners dilemma”. In my opinion this game reflects encounters and effects of encounters with sociopaths and normal people.

Using tit for Tat makes you 100% predictable in a way that the lying party can predict your retaliation and bothers not to engage you, or leaves you after only a brief interaction without causing major damage.
I personally began adopting the Tit for Tat as my life strategy once I learned about it.



AngieSue8: Your EX had ulterior motives for being with you … or anyone else. That’s why you didn’t know what was going on.

For now, read as much as you can on this site. Always stay and blog with us. Anyone on line at the time you write, will gladly write you back.

For now, take a deep breath, know it’s not your fault … so be good to yourself as you go through the healing process of being involved with a selfish, self centered, self absorbed person.

And NO CONTACT with you EX. Not by e-mail, phone, driving over to see how they are doing, do not stay in touch with family or friends of your EXs. You need time to wean yourself from your EXs influence over your life so that you can see TRUTH and break down all the lies told to you. The TRUTH will set you free!



Dear Kathy, or Khatalyst. Thank you so much for this very soul-invigorating, wonderful post. You are so right, the new year will definitely be much better!
Yesterday I read the sentence: Be yourself; those who matter don’t mind, and those who mind don’t matter. I wish you all a very successful wonderful 2009! Namaste!


Trust KNOB

Now Witch way did I throw That Thing ? :)~

Ox Drover

Dear Kathy,

This is one of the most excellent articles on healing and “P-proofing” ourselves that I have ever read. I think that many of us have been using some of these techniques, but your article sums them up alltogether perfectly. Thank you so much. I have always enjoyed your postings and this article is just GREAT! Thanks for posting it. Glad you will be a contributing member and hope to see more articles soon.

You have a great talent for putting things into understandable words and phrases!!! ((((hugs)))))

Healing Heart

Kathy – I agree with everyone – this is great! I particularly like the sections on trust and self-validation.

Trusting a sociopath is like asking a burglar to watch your jewelry box – YES!

But I thought my guy was incredibly trustworthy – and (in analogy speak) he was wearing a police officer’s uniform, so why on earth would I think him a burglar??

But this is a vulnerable spot of mine – it has been since childhood. I tend to trust too quickly too easily. Like everybody has my trust 100% in the beginning, and they only stand to lose it. It should be the other way around, they should not have my unconditional trust until they earn it!

This was such a great article – very inspiring and so rich with helpful rules for us. Thank you!

Hiya Kathy,

Great to see you post more insightful, wise, encouraging commentary for us at LoveFraud.

I would like to add a wee bit more to your helpful writing, if I may.

The self validating is tremendously important and I consider it fundamental in all aspects of growth, wisdom, intolerance towards abusive, exploitive people, and the most difficult process of all for many folks is….truly liking/loving yourself.

To reach the level of love for oneself, you must first begin to LIKE yourself. Recognize and focus on all the wonderful character traits, skills, abilities you possess and ignore the negative, because guess what?…none of us is perfect and every single person on this planet has insecurities and other issues to deal with. And anyone who says they don’t, are either a narcissist and/or a liar.

It’s how we choose to work with our insecurities, how we calmly accept them for what they are, yet refuse to let them undermine our own self worth and value.

We continue to focus on our goodness, we continue to nurture ourselves without seeking appreciation, validation from others and eventually our confidence grows layer upon layer. And as our confidence grows, we begin to LIKE ourselves more and more. We begin to believe that we are valuable and damn good people who do deserve respect, kindness, and most of all…love.

It’s a slow going process, this self-validation, this self like/love, but if we continue to rely and depend only on ourselves for our emotional needs and wants, a person we never knew existed, appears.

This is the person who heeds their own advice and ignores the clacking of fools and busybodies. I think it’s imperative to listen and learn from others who have experienced trauma and abuse, and then transformed their pain into healing, recovery, and the most beneficial to each of us, inspiration.

I think we all need, truly need inspiration from as many wonderful, decent, kind, loving people as we can find.

Whenever I read or hear of another person’s horrific life story, it gives me perspective and also emphasizes my compassion for them. I just stop in my tracks with whatever situation, thought I was pondering at the time and give them my complete attention. Whether they’re aware of my presence or not, I listen. And learn. And deeply care.

As all of you folks at LF have shown me time and time again, there is no limit to the depth of compassion and caring that you shower on each other.

Thank you all for being so frikking adorable and lovable. You restore my faith, everyday in the goodness and decency inherent in many, many human beings.

Peace, Love and Joy to all… more thing:

Some of you may get a kick out of this (I know the lovely Oxy will).

I’ve been labeled a b*tch twice in the last couple of months by 2 men.

Why, would you ask, would anyone call me such a “dirty” name?

Well, it wasn’t because I was behaving manipulative, or cruel, or deceitful. It was because I wouldn’t allow them to treat me like a doormat! To treat me with disrespect. To treat me as if my thoughts, my ideas/ideals, my personal boundaries were non-existent and therefore, invalid. UH…NO.

I actually laughed my booty off both times in supreme joy! I’m weird like that, I guess. I told one dude..”Get out of my face, I just don’t like you” and he called me a b*tch.

Oh, I had a credible reason why I didn’t like the loser: he was rude, masogynistic, appearing to be dominant, and flat out lacking in courtesy and respect.

I stood my ground with both guys and they revealed their lack of evolvement by referring me as a once-upon-a-time derogatory term, seeking to hurt me or demean me in some way. Didn’t work.

As I said, I laughed out loud and hard and thanked them for calling me a b*tch.

I have graduated to the most esteemed position of Babe In Total Control of Herself and I ain’t giving it up! hahah!



I wish I could say I never seen a worst case then yours but it wouldn’t be honest or true. We all felt like you at some point during and after our own devalued and being discarded by our own personal S/P. The shame the feeling of hopelessness and the string of betrayer. Not to mention all the questions upon question we asked others and yourself. One being “how could I be so blind?”..

I do Thank my Lord that the one thing I can tell you is how some members are just were you are standing. Still other in the half way mark but still feeling the pain and shame of it all. Then still there are others who are farer down this road of recover with a few years without them and some with complete NC (No contact). Still these members too have day of a bad EM (Emotional Memory) and some of that pain and shame comes right back into us. If you were to ask anyone of them “Was it easy?” Not one will agree with that statement for you see angiesue it is never and I mean never easy for anyone. It takes work and a lot of hard work. It may be weeks months or even years before you see the sunshine again but in my heart I know that someday Yes, Angiesue someday that Sun will shine and oh how brightly it will shine for you!



I really don’t believe I could start to love myself unconditionally until that day that I accepted my self for whom I am and what I am. All the good and bad mixed in one body and mind. After that I started to understand just how much I didn’t like me. I spend so much wasted time trying to hide the “bad” part of my personality and show the world only the good. But no more for today I am what I am both good and bad. I will promise those I love and my God that I will work hard on the bad parts of Jim but also keep trying to make the good parts of Jim even better then before. After learning this and trying hard to keep my promise I started to really love myself for whom I am. And for the better person I will become someday!


S-Proof in ’09! A worthy goal indeed.

Thank you, khatalyst, for your pro-active suggestions to help us achieve that goal! I plan to use each of the five areas as the basis for my meditation and journaling this week!

I’m looking forward to your commentaries and wise gentle guidance.

Eye of the Storm



Here is the video that goes into details about “Tit for Tat” with many real life examples, the title is “nice guys finish first” by Richard Dawkins, 45 minutes.

Thanks for your video!



Thank you, thank for writing this post! I am going to print off the 5 strategies to put on on fridge. The amount of healing, helpful, & insightful information on LF just never ceases to amaze me. I look forward everyday to coming here to read, or read & post. For the first time in a long time, I am beginning to feel hopeful again. I have learned so much here, & found the answers to many of my “WHY” questions. I look forward to your future postings here at LF.


Kathleen thank you for the article, I think maintaining no contact even when they attempt too contact us and we don’t respond is our greatest weapon, not playing the game, ending the dance is taking control and and it just frustrates the hell out of them when we won’t play anymore. And no contact is our ultimate salvation, even when we are fighting so hard to let go. SStiles Hey there, it is so good to read your post, you seem so much better than when you first came here. LoveFraud has helped me beyond any thing else I have done, I think most of us find this website out of desperation, good to see you doing better !!!


Hmm, I’m confused. What “bad part of your personality” are you referring to?

Not the part that stands up for himself when people are seeking to use and exploit him, I hope.

Not the part that instead of biting his tongue when he is unjustly hurt by cruel words and actions, but confronts such awful behavior right then and there, so that particular person backs the hell off.

Or the part where somedays you’re moody, sad, irritable, angry just like every human feels from time to time.

If that is what you consider “bad part of your personality”, it ain’t. Not even. Not at all.

And I think it’s super to continue to want to grow; emotionally, psychologically, and best of all, spiritually. Heck, that’s the meaning of life in a nut-shell!

But don’t forget to celebrate the awesome man you are today, NOW, this very minute. Celebrating the very minute you live and breathe and laugh and love.

That future man will be there when you get there…haha!


Angiesue, it’s shocking to realize what you’re up against when you get discarded by a sociopath. It can really throw you into a mental tailspin trying to figure out “what the hell just happened there….?” If you keep reading, you’ll see that this is exactly what a sociopath does–one minute you are the love of his life, the next minute, you don’t even exist and someone else is the new love of his life. Then perhaps he decides once again that he “loves” you. These pathological people don’t know what love is. But they are the most convincing actors you will ever know. Keep reading.


Reciprocity? Here’s the danger in that line item. With apology for my failure to ask permission, I’m a part of Ox-Drover’s comment over to this site. (Track me down and get in my face about it, if you have a problem with this, Ox-D! But I might give you a hug first.)

From Ox-Drover: “Someone (CRS) posted a quote from Sam Vaknin yesterday that I printed off about the Toxic Ns “giving” to others with ATTACHED STRINGS and using those “gifts” (which are really down payments on control and adoration) for CONTROL. I printed it off and gave it to my son C today and asked him if he saw “anything” or “anyone” in that quote.

He read it, his eyes opened wide and he said “How do you tell the genuine gift giver from the toxic N?” You can’t always from just the “giving” but you have to look at the other aspects of their behavior as well to put two and two together.

I “flashed” on this concept 30+ years ago (but didn’t know what it was, ust the idea) with my P X-FIL who used to “do all kinds of nice things” for my husband and me, but then when we did something (anything) that was not what he wanted us to do, or how we were to live our lives, he was FURIOUS and pointed out “after ALL I have done for you!” I realized at that point that these “gifts” were LURES, and HOOKS. I also realized that my X-BF-P gave a lot of “gifts” to his GFs, and my mother did—-back to CONTROL.

I also thought about a “precept” in my cultural and social training about NEVER BE BEHOLDEN TO ANYONE.

It is acceptable, even good, to be a giver. To DO favors for anyone. It is NOT acceptable to TAKE FAVORS from anyone except a VERY close friend or a relative. Because if they ASK a favor in return, you are compelled to return the favor whether you want to or not. Actually, in the older generation, you can know who thinks of themselves as your CLOSE friend when they will ASK for a favor. So I think, in a way, the CONCEPT of this “being beholden” to someone you might not completely trust, by receiving a gift or favor, is something that has been around in our culture for a LONG time.

The reciprocity concept in our society (and even in chimpanzee colonies) must be very old indeed. And, the caution in accepting gifts as well. The old saying “Beware of Greeks bearing gifts” may be changed to “beware of Ns or Ps bearing gifts.”

I think Ox-D stated it well. The S/P I was dealing with was masterful at appearing to be reciprocal, while he was just rearranging pieces and stealing from others to make it look like he was putting up some effort or value of his own. And this went on long enough to pass the “trust test.”

(BTW, thank you for the encouragement.)


Kathleen, you wrote………”But I believe in tit for tat, particularly in early-stage contacts with exploitative sociopaths. They don’t like to lose, and they’re not interested in a contest of equals. If you establish the fact that you’re not easy pickings, it goes a long way to reducing their interest.”

This is so timely for me! You posted exactly what I needed to read and I mean right now! I am dealing with a situation where this applies. I suppose it could be considered minor in a way, but the basics we are discussing are there! I have taken a stand before with this person and he retaliated! This time I have taken a stronger stand and he will have consequences in the form of a hefty fine $$$. So….I have tightened my seat belt and I am waiting for his next move which I know won’t be pleasant!

You are right, this guy does not like to lose …..especially to a “girl”! Perhaps that is part of the bullying tactic…..a need to feel the other person is not the bully’s equal or better. One way to accomplish this is a power display whenever he gets the chance! He is at least a major N; I hope he does not travel down the alphabet!




I gorgot to add that I did not know about Diane English’s website! I looked at it and enjoyed looking at all her great work!

I used the term “meditating” rather loosely! I’m not too formal about it, but I suppose that is the term that best describes my effort. After reading many articles about how to meditate, I’ve devised my own way which often has unexpected results!

I like sstiles54’s idea too about the 5 strategies on the fridge! And that brings me to the idea of creating our own way of having these or other important healing prompts be visually present during our days.

I have found doing something creative very important in the process of connecting to oneself and healing. It cultivates the practice of working from within and developing inner resources. It shifts focus back to where it belongs and enables us to explore being the source of our own power. It helps generate a transition back to owning our talents and gifts while living from the perspective of a centered self. It explores the possibilities of taking one thing and using it to make something else as we must now do with our personally devastating experiences.

I think the people here are gifted. I see it in the posts all the time. Everyone here has the power to embrace those gifts and use them to emerge from their individual trauma. Creativity……the way of thinking and training the mind that results from exercising the creative self can have a remarkable influence on one’s life.



That should be “forgot” not “gorgot”. I suppose I could call it creativity instead of an early morning goof! 🙂


I GorGot to ask who was going to get me somthing from the store?





It took me 18 years to realize my ex was a sociopath (shark). He was definitely one of the more clever ones. His behavior was so extreme, his violations were so egregious, knowing now what he did makes is hard to believe he ever could have gotten away with all that he did. That he was able to convince so many for so long that he was a loyal, devoted, caring, compassionate husband and father is truly astonishing.

In his ongoing world, he is still able to do that. He has remarried now, to a woman much younger who, of course, has not the slightest clue that the man she thinks is a dream come true is in actuality her biggest nightmare. I met her once, and during that meeting, let drop a few subtle comments, clues for her to think back on, hopefully say “A-ha!” at some time down the line when she feels that little tickle at the back of her brain. I know if I tried to outright warn her, she would think I’m a lunatic. My ex, of course, has done a magnificent smear job.

And the point I am trying to get to is that, without knowing what it was called, since discovering what my ex is, I have initiated a tit for tat strategy. I initially got him to confess by telling him if he did not come clean I would expose him to his new gf (now his wife). He had been gaslighting me and lying and denying for so long, causing me far more torment than any amount of the horrible truth ever could.

And I’ve told him several times since, if he wants me to go away and leave him alone–which he does want now that he is firmly entrenched in his new life and replacement family–the recipe is simple. All he has to do is keep his agreements with me and not lie to me or about me, at least not in any way that will get back to me.

I followed through on this threat recently. I still have a connection with his family. I am close to his sister and have sporadic communication with his mom (who I recently realized–to my great shock–is a liar too; I had assumed my ex inherited his sociopathy from his father’s side o the family). His mother inadvertently revealed (which she later tried to lie about and deny, change the story, make me think I misunderstood) that he is trying to re-write history, so that he won’t look like a bastard. When I found this out I took immediate action, sending his mother a long email, detailing more of his offenses.

I have no influence on him other than my threat to expose. And I know he would kill me or have me killed if he thought he could get away with it. So I have a personal blog, in which I have things well-documented, and every time I have occasion to talk to him, which is becoming more and more rare, I remind him that if anything should happen to me, even if it looks like it couldn’t possibly be his fault, he will be totally exposed, that my family and friends will see to it.

I know he is a threat. I take that very seriously. But through a tit for tat strategy I think to a great extent I have demonstrated to him that if he violates me in any way, in any way I find out about, he will pay for it.

He is a cheat, through and through, and all those years I was the carp. I did not recognize him for the shark he was. I thought he was a carp too. But now I am a dolphin. Biting back in equitable amounts, taking control of my life.


Kathleen Hawk: Yes your statement …

“Or worst case, present myself as an ally and supporter, and then let him “fire” me. Which may sound (and is) a repulsive option, but I’m very goal-oriented. If that’s what it takes to put this creep behind me, that’s what I’ll do.” IS REPULSIVE … and costs people like me to loose everything because people like you play the anti-socials games until someone like me has the BALLS TO LOOSE EVERYTHING so that you can have a cushiony life because you are goal oriented.

Have a nice day!


KH, In your long lovely comment, you’ve detailed the trust-building, reciprocal behavior that helped me to get comfortable with this fellow carp or dolphin — a loving, responsible, talented man who was momentarily displaced from his life track, who was ready and qualified to build a new life with me.

Gillian says, “It took 18 years . . .”

I know — from my reading, research, talking with other professionals who evaluate S/Ps, etc. — that I was dealing with one of the worst of the worst of this breed. And he was so effective because he played by all your rules. Until he didn’t. Because his agenda was ALWAYS different. He can play tit for tat. Or not. Loving, caring . . . Or not. On and off like a light switch. And until “the room was suddenly dark,” I didn’t even know there was such a thing as a “switch.”

Ox Drover

Dear Kathleen,

You guys were right on in “reading my mind” on what I was trying to say. I ASSUMED that a “gift” was giving freely, NOT a down payment on control, but I quickly realized what was going on, and STOPPED accepting gifts from those people.

When I was dating my X-BF who was a P, the first week he and I were dating, my washer went out and he immediately offered to buy me a new one. I immediately realized that was “odd” for someone who had just started dating someone to offer them a $500 gift. I know he had been “generous” with his previous GFs. But I told him “I appreciate the offer, but I will get me a new one.” He seemed upset really that I had refused his “gift” offer.

I realize now that his “gifts” were given so he could say “Oh, I was so generous with that woman” AFTER he had screwed her over. He was giving gifts in advance so she wouldn’t be able to say how mean he was….he knew he was going to be mean. LOL

After my husband died, my mother kept asking me if I needed money (a nice gesture, right?) NOPE. I thanked her and declined her offer of financial assistance and said “Thanks, but I am doing fine.” I also realized that if I had been living in a tent and eating out of a dumpster I WOULD NOT HAVE TAKEN A DIME from her, because I will not give up my independence or sell it for money.

She also was “offended” that I would not accept money from her….but my P-DIL and the Trojan horse P sure would!!! They also “sold” control to her as well, and then BETRAYED THAT BY STEALING FROM HER. She was totally bumbed out and said “But they were always so RESPECTFUL to me” Like, DUH! Yea, they should call you a “senile old bat” like I did and you would have given them more money, right?” Of course not, they were “respectful” to her because to be otherwise would have stopped the flow of money. I was NOT after her money so I could be “rude” (I did apologize for that comment immediately, but she refused to accept my apology because she said “it wasn’t sincere.”) LOL

The tit for tat thing works SOMETIMES with SOME Ps. My X-BF P burned down his previous GF’s house when she dumped him. I figured he would do something like that to me, and I set some consequences on him (or told him anyway) that if lightening struck my house and set it on fire and I SAW the lightening strike that my sons would still come after him and that he would be IN his house when it burned to the ground.

I realize that making such a statement is technically illegal and is called “terrorist threatening” and you can be arrested for it, BUT I made sure there were no witnesses so it would have been a he said\she said thing if he brought charges against me. I didn’t think he would as it might have brought some attempt to charge him for burning his X-GF’s house. He h ad threatened her, and was in her town the day it happened, and he had actually told me how he would “burn a house” and that is the way her house burned. He knew she would not be home that day etc. and there is enough evidence to convince us, but not enough for a conviction) Anyway, I knew he was about half afraid of my son C because one time we had been horsing around in C’s presence and he had actually accidentally hurt me and Ii didn’t see it, but C had almost gone off on him for it, then realized it was an accident and let it go, but the BF had noticed it and mentioned it to son D who had also seen the incident and his brother C’s reaction. So, I don’t think that my BF would take a chance to burn my house like he did the other GF;s. I do think he would have if he had not feared my son C.

Sometimes a GOOD BLUFF is as good a deterrent as “doing it,” but they MUST BELIEVE that you are capable and willing to follow through. A bluff that is not believeable or you are not capable of doing is no good. The BF did get “even” with me in another way that actually wasn’t damaging to me because I didn’t care (slander) but I knew he would do SOMETHING and he did. Better a smear campaign than my house burning.

I have effectively used bluffs of various kinds with various people over the years, and as long as they think you can and will follow through on them, they are effective deterients. However, if you are not good at it, it is a losing proposition, and you must PICK AND CHOOSE where and when you make a “threat” of a bluff.

With some people it is like the “red flag” in front of the bull, it makes them more determined to charge at you….and you can make the situation worse.

First you must assess if the bluff is effective and “believable” and if there is something that is “valuable” enough to them that they will do ANYTHING to avoid it happening. If not, you better quit while you are ahead and keep your mouth shut.

Some people are so afraid of being publicly “exposed” that they will do anything to keep from being exposed. Some people are so afraid of going to prison that they will do anything to not go. But there are some people who will not be afraid of anything, and some Ps fall into that catagory. I have bluffed my P-son a few times, the first time when he was 11 yrs old, and he STILL RESENTS IT HIGHLY and carries a BIG GRUDGE against me for it…I did what I had to do, and it worked. He knows NOW it was a bluff, but because I “won” that round he is pissed. I also turned him in to the police when he was 17 for robbery, and he RESENTS THAT TOO. I had told him I would, and I DID..that wasn’t a bluff, I was willing to carry through if he didn’t stop stealing. I’m not sure if he thought it was a bluff and he challenged it, and was suprised when I did, or what, but he HATES ME FOR IT. Still, 20+ yrs later.

So with him, I would never bluff him again.

My son C told my mother that if she continued to send money to my P-son, he would go NC with her, he has and I think she thought he was bluffing, he was NOT bluffing. I’m not sure if she really cares, I know she doesn’t care if I am NC with her, I have no value to her. We hoped that son C would have value enough that she would prefer him over son P, but didn’t workk out that way.

Now, we are going to use one last “bluff” against her to see if we can get her to stop sending money (and therefore ammunition) to son P, and that is PUBLIC EXPOSURE OF HER LIES TO THE CHURCH. Her public reputation and this saintly old lady with a good heart as good as gold, is important to her, so we will see if we can make her think her LIES and other bad behavior will be exposed. Will see if it works, if not, we haven’t lost anything…but even exposing her won’t help if the bluff doesn’t work…since son C actually followed through on NC we will hope that she will BELIEVE it and that her reputation will be important enough that she will stop sending the P money to use against us.

I realize it is manuvering, still playing the game some, but since it is concerning our SAFETY I am willing to “play”—but on MY terms, not theirs. Since I no longer WANT anything from them except for her to stop helping him get in a position again to harm us, maybe this will work…can’t hurt and I am not emotionally involved with her. It may tic me off if she continues to send money, but at least I will know that I did the best I could to protect myself, and I may end up having to leave home again, and if so, will do so, but would LIKE to avoid it if I can.


You said..”Personally I don’t care who thinks they “won.” I care about the quality of my own life, and my ability to pursue the things that give me pleasure and a feeling that I’m contributing something.”

And…”From my own perspective, I would be more likely to disappear from the scene if possible and let the bully think he’d won.”

Great advice here. I choose which battles I wish to fight. Or I simply don’t play the game at all. The latter is a win-win situation for me as I am so direct and forthright that mind games will either piss me off or tire me out. In both instances, I just walk away in disgust while the fool is still rambling away in crazyville.

Why would anyone want to waste such precious energy and time trying to be rational, logical to the illogical, the irrational?

I only figured that truth out in the last year or so. Yes, I would beat that poor, dead horse over and over again, resolving nothing and going nowhere.

Never again, I say. I’ve fortunately realized, from extensive de-brainwashing, that I’m far removed from submissive, docile, agreeable (to the wackos, not normals), and tolerant of ignorance and bullchit.

For years I smothered my true nature, misbelieving that I should give, give and give some more of myself or people won’t like me. People won’t love me. Pah! What crap I sowed for myself! I’ve dispelled that myth completely now that I no longer give a fig if I’m liked/loved or not.

The good people in my life love me and respect me more because I’ve revealed I have a spine of steel. Ironic, huh? I cluelessly thought I should bend over backwards, forwards, sideways or folks will not want to be with me. Not true. Quite the opposite, I’ve learned.

Anyway, so ecstatic you’ve become a LF contributor. You have so much to offer, to share to those who need to hear it.

Thanks much!



Dear Wini, I read a book about Strategems, old Chinese war Tactics, and out of 36 very elaborate tactics there is the last one:”just go away when it is not worth the effort”. It is the last advice/resort in this book, and sometimes when you risk to lose EVERYTHING it might be better to just let it go and move on than to be brave, and sometimes you have to use tactics like a fox for not getting bitten in the behind as you leave (like the postman gets bitten by some dogs). Sometimes the other one has to have the feeling of “having won completely”, and if you do PLAY these tactics in full knowledge that you are playing THEM then in order to PROTECT YOURSELF it is not bad in my oppinion as you have it in your hands when to switch back from Shark- to Carp-mode (I like the analogy). Protecting oneself is not just about guns and oven cleaners and peppersprays! Use of their own wheapons is far more rewarding, because they do not sense them. It looks like a favour to them.

Although being brave pays off sometimes in the memory of further generations. Maybe you made a difference in the head of one of your coworkers, and you do not know? Maybe in 10 years some other will stand up because he/she remembers YOU as you remember your father?. I was at the Alamo in San Antonio a month ago, VERY IMPRESSIVE, with sarcophages and a solemn air I never encountered in the USA so far. They ARE now heroes, REMEMBER THE ALAMO. It was a DEFEAT at first, that turned into a victory!
But there are other people who did small things that made a big difference in the long run as not getting up from a seat as Rosa Parks. She got prosecuted, if I remember correctly. Martin Luther King said we shall overcome and got killed, and I am not sure whether he could imagine some 40 years later there would be a black president. Or Mahatma Ghandi by simply collecting salt from the sea, or Nelson Mandela not getting bitter over his very long imprisonment on Robben Island (I am still wondering what forces kept him from becoming insane). Mandela later managed to cooperate with his former enemies to a higher goal, his fellow countrymen to live better, and he now must be very uneasy to see how his accomplishments are thrown in the dust by his corrupt and violent followers. THAT IS BITTER!

Maybe you can turn your what seems to be now a total defeat in analogy to the Alamo into a personal victory (I am not American, so the patriots may forgive me); look at it as Your personal victory because you did remember your wonderful father and did do the right thing for your own peace.
I’d rather lose everything than my face in front of the mirror in the morning; because that is the very moment where validating myself starts. When I can trust myself basically, and go tit for tat and liking it, with a dash of cooperation.

You can be VERY proud of yourself by having accomplished these things, and it is at your complete discretion when you think that it is better to move on with better thoughts and not to give them bastards one more blocking minute of YOUR PRECIOUS BRAIN TIME. Sometimes it is very nice to indulge in self pity, I am a great master in it, but it is like Fango to me, and it sticks around (I then like to imagine myself being a lovely, laughing pig in the mudpot and LOVING it). But in the long run it is not helpful at all as I get stuck and needy for external validation, and exactly that is the perfect situation for the next P to start his game. It is “more of the same”, and I am decidedly not willing to get “more of the same” in 2009. I wish you a very successful 2009, and “remember the Alamo!”



Just after the initial breakup, way back before I knew just how bad my S/P really was, I grabbed a novel called “Revenge of the Middle-Aged Woman.” I was so, so disappointed! Not only was there NO actual revenge, but the heroine was a piece of damp cardboard who let the cheating ex and the new girlfriend walk all over her.

I suspect there is quite a market out there for some REAL revenge fantasy! Ha!


Excellent article, Kathleen, and something I really needed to read today. Yesterday was 11 months exactly since I last saw my P. He can’t leave a vm (box been full 11 months), but he has tried periodically, plus has phoned my Mom (whom he does not know well) up thru the 1st of Sept. As of yesterday it was 3 1/2 months since he last tried to reach me so since this is the longest he had gone without trying to make some sort of contact I thought finally maybe it was really over.

Until last night. Phoned twice, but of course I didn’t answer and he couldn’t leave a message. Previously he did not have pic txt on his phone, so I guess he switched phones since I saw him last. Later on I got a pic msg and since my nephew frequently sends them to me, I opened it, thinking maybe it was from him. It was a up close up pic of the ex –the P. I damn near SH*T. I have some old photos of him and in most he looks very teddy bear loveable, but he also sometimes gets that “P LOOK” we have discussed before on the blogs.

This pic was “THE P LOOK”. You know how some people just look like the stereoptypical ax murderer (even if they’re not). Well this pic looked like an evil MUG SHOT. I’m assuming he wasn’t having “fond” thoughts of me when he took it and sent it. (this is the point where after not having a cigarette all day cause I was trying to stop, I went and bought a pack and started smoking like a fein. Of course, being a smoker who makes excuses to not stop a frightening thunder storm may have had the same effect. 🙂 )

Then when I got back I got another pic msg and this time I opened it knowing full well it was probably from him. (what can I say, I had my cigarettes now and –curiosity killed the cat and I am a very curious person. Of course he KNOWS this, too.) It was an upclose of a death notice of a very young (barely out of teens) and close relative of his. My reaction to this was OMG poor XXX, what happened! Then I started feeling guilty like I should call the P or at least his family. This went on awhile, then I looked at the pic again and realized the date of death was SIX weeks ago. Plus I also started thinking how the P didn’t even like this relative, nor did this particular relative like him.

So, why did he send me the notice? My theory on that is that the phone calls and his pic didn’t work, so he knew how I would react to news of the death, both by feeling like I “should” call or if I didn’t that made me a bad unfeeling person. Plus he knew I would be curious as to what the hell happened resulting in such an untimely and young death. So he was counting on that to tug at my emotions and make me cave and call. I still feel bad about the passing and I am still struggling with that “should” call and express condolences or I’m a bad person feeling. But I’m STILL not calling.



Thank you for your reply to my post and for your helpful insights. I don’t want to go into more detail because I found out for a fact today there is a lurker on here reading my posts…….someone I told about the site. Someone I trusted and now regret it……..I have to tweak my trust knob and decide about continuing to post!

Anyway, you made good and valuable comments which I will keep in mind. They will undoubtedly help others too
because I think this sort of thing is all too frequent.



Oh, I forgot the paranoid phase I also went through last night. Because when I was in the same area he would make direct threats to my face, but via voicemail he would couch them in inuendos that would get the point across what he was thinking, yet without directly implicating him in any way, the thought also occured to me that since the only portion of the death notice I could see was “BURIAL OFFICE, then most of the name (but not all of it) and then the DOB and DOD, that this could also have been a subliminal type threat he was issuing since it had already been six weeks since this person passed.

Sort of like when in person he would directly say to me he would burn my house down if I did or didn’t do so and so…..then later on if I didn’t do what he wanted he would phone and say you did this or that and I’m so mad right now all I can see is red…fire…all I can see is red. I just see red…FIRE. Or would call and leave a message asking me if I remembered to get a fire sprinkler system installed in my house because “you know how careless you are” and “how easily fires start.” (that sort of thing).
So I spent some time feeling like a bit crazy paranoid over the death notice and why he sent it, but then I decided it was likely just a ploy to get my sympathy so I would call.

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