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Sociopaths and love

If you’re like most Lovefraud readers, you’re here because you were romantically involved with a sociopath. This person probably declared love for you repeatedly, exuberantly and convincingly. Then the individual lied to you, betrayed you, cheated on you, abused you and perhaps even threatened you.

You were left stunned, distraught and devastated. How could someone who loved you treat you so badly?

A letter Lovefraud received recently might help you understand why that person’s love was so shallow:

I have read several articles on your site out of curiosity and boredom over the past few weeks, and I agree with almost all of their content. If I weren’t a sociopath I would probably find some of those articles useful. In my opinion, however, you seem to have missed one important point about us. I’m not blaming or criticizing you for this, because it isn’t your fault. This point is that we can love in some way.

It isn’t some intense feeling. You aren’t “attached” to the other person. It is more like a different way of seeing a person. They stop being just another background character in your life, who does things for you and who you occasionally have conflicts with. Instead, you enjoy their company, feel protective and possessive of them, and become very disappointed if they die or otherwise fall out of your life. Another sociopath, a friend of mine, once told me that he felt a similar way for his girlfriend, and he was surprised that I could relate to this.

What I think is strange about this version of love is that, for me at least, is that I had the same feeling for a close friend who has since died, my pet guinea pig, and a boyfriend who I became bored with and broke up with. In the latter case, I felt disappointed when I realized we had nothing new to talk about, and we had fallen in to a rut. The disappointment was over by the time I formally broke up a few days later.

This particular sociopath equates “love” with “enjoyment.” From her point of view, if the enjoyment is no longer in the relationship, neither is love.

Other sociopaths equate love and sex. When they say, “I love you,” what they are really saying is, “I want to have sex with you.”

So sociopaths may not always be lying when they say, “I love you.” Sociopaths may think they do love you. They simply don’t know what the word means.

Three parts to love

What exactly is love? Poets, playwrights and songwriters over the ages have struggled to describe the sensation of falling in love, and the pain of losing love. No matter how beautiful the language,  words are often inadequate. We just know love when we feel it.

Scientists have also tried to explain love. Philip R. Shaver and Mario Mikulincer wrote a paper called A Behavioral Systems Approach to Romantic Love Relationships: Attachment, Caregiving, and Sex. Their explanation of love is useful for us because it illustrates why sociopaths can appear to be in love, when they really aren’t.

Shaver and Mikulincer say there are three distinct components to romantic love:

  1. Attachment you want to be around and spend time with the person you love.
  2. Sex you want to have physical relations with the person you love.
  3. Caregiving you want to take care of the person you love. You are concerned about his or her health, wellbeing and growth.

Real love has all three of these components. Sociopath, however, only experience two of them.

Sociopaths fail at caregiving

Sociopaths experience attachment they definitely want to be with you, especially in the beginning. And they certainly want sex.

But sociopaths are not capable of true caregiving. They really are not concerned about you, your future or your fulfillment. Sometimes they seem to be taking care of you, but it’s not because they actually want what is best for you. Sociopathic caregiving is all about manipulation and control.

This is why love with a sociopath is so confusing. They do actually want to be with you. The sex is often extraordinary. They sometimes pretend to take care of you.  And sociopaths can keep the act going for a long time—until you are no longer useful to them, or they lose interest.

Another email

I never replied to author of the above email there is no point in engaging a sociopath. So about a week later, she wrote again.

At this point, I’m sure that if you were going to reply to my letter, you would have by now. Why haven’t you written back? I considered writing it from the perspective of a normal person, but I figured that you would see through it if I began with “My friend has this disorder and SHE said…” Do you think that just because I’m different from you that I deserve to be ignored? It isn’t my fault that I was born a certain way. You could have just as easily been born a psycho. Would you ignore normal people because you think you’re better than them? I don’t. I know that both types of people—and we are both people, I hope you aren’t so deep in your own world as to think we aren’t—have their merits, strengths, weaknesses, and perspectives that are worth considering. Don’t you agree?

Actually I don’t agree. Yes, it’s sad that sociopaths are born with the genetics for the disorder, and often grow up in difficult, even abusive, environments. But when someone says she’s a sociopath, and sounds like a sociopath, I have a choice on how to respond. I’ll play it safe and stay away.

 


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Aleksandra

Well, it does describe how shallow “love” of sociopaths is… My ex-husband, a sociopath, who still wants to be with me (despite dating with other women and having sex with whoever’s handy), explained me yesterday, why he tried so hard to come back to me: “Look, there’s something special between me and you. If I date other women, I feel fascinated, then we go to bed and usually after the second or third time I realize SHE IS NOT MINE, SHE IS STRANGE. And when I was with you, YOU WERE TOTALLY MINE.” He didn’t know of course, why this explanation didn’t convince me to come back to him…

I think it’s interesting that she needed acknowledgment and feedback from you and was obviously disturbed that you did not respond directly to her. That is a classic symptom, no? They need the engagement and to feel valued or accepted, maybe even superior. She clearly feels you are not responding because you feel superior, it’s almost a child-like :”why aren’t you playing with me?”

Alexsandra made a good point that ‘love’ is all about how the sociopath feels, and they do seem to need a comfort zone to fall back on or something they control.

I love the statement about being disappointed if their ‘loved one’ dies or falls out of their life, it’s with the detachment as if she’s talking about her favorite shirt getting ruined at the dry cleaner’s.

I think it’s clear that she reinforces the sense that sociopaths cannot bond with other people, and do not value anything except their own needs. It’s a disturbing set of letters, to say the least. I felt sick by the time I finished reading them.

terij

Hello Donna. I emailed you a while ago about using information contained on lovefraud for a writing project and/or finding interview participants. The author of those emails would be a wonderful candidate if that’s possible. Anyway, could you get back to me soon? I want to start looking for other avenues if this one is closed.

Thanks.

P.S. Yes, I do see the irony of asking for an email response on a post that’s about not responding to an email.

Sticky

Hello. I’m the one who wrote the letters featured in this article. I doubt that Donna would give you my email address, because she advises her readers to avoid all contact. Don’t engage them, don’t fall for their crap. This avenue is only closed if you close it, because I want it to stay open.

Unlike almost everyone else, you’re speaking to sociopaths (I don’t like that word. Movies and television have overused it to the point that it sounds cheesy and overly-dramatic. Not that I don’t love overly-dramatic.) in the wild, as opposed to bored inmates, or “researchers” who never bother to consult the people that they claim to be experts about, often resulting in wildly incorrect assumptions.

If you’re interested, I am.

Axz

Hi Donna,

First of all, bless your heart for such a great site. Count me as among the “stunned, distraught and devastated” to be so abruptly discarded with the p.a. weaponry of silent treatment by someone I thought was capable of normal love. A little Godley and Crème (living every word of “Cry”), a lot of God (prayer, fellowship) and reading a lot of your site’s resources have helped the healing process. The e-mails above stunned me with their eery familiarity, as my ex recently had a close friend die and lost a guinea pig in her youth (which she always seemed fixated upon recalling) – – but all I got was the cowardly dismissal of the silent treatment and online evidence of her straying to boot, not a formal face to face break up. Alas, glad to be free – only cost me a year instead of the lifetime I had wanted early on. Again, thank you so much for this website! Have a blessed day.

legendsleuth

Perhaps best to remember that sociopaths (1) hate boredom and seem to thrive on creating drama and conflict with and between others; (2) seem to believe they are the smartest person in the room and seek out ways to prove that – regardless of the cost to others and sometimes themselves, even if no one else immediately knows what they are up to; (3) excel at glibness and sounding plausible and reasonable – like in written correspondence with lovefraud – while attempting to manipulate one into responding in a second writing. After all, there is no game without interaction.

freedomfare

Dear Donna:
The real issue with psychopaths is the intentional hurt they cause others. This is the real issue. Everything else is beside the point: whether they love or not; whether they feel or not; whether they are normal or not.
They hurt, they break, they devastate, and they intentionally cause innocent lovers to kill themselves and they do not care. That is the real issue.
They do this by lying, manipulating, and purposefully damaging any loving relationship that their prey may have with others. This is the real issue. If a psychopath knows that he or she is a psychopath (like this writer) then all they need to do is stop any behavior that may cause pain and hurt to others. The psychopath does not need to feel love or any other attachments. He/she needs only to stop the criminal acts that they engage in. Period.
So your psychopathic writers can be as psychopathic as she wants to be but her being “born” with this disease is never a license to hurt others. This the real issue.

Imara

ALRIGHT Freedomfare!!!
You say it like it is!!! That IS the issue….

freedomfare

Thanks, Imara, for the agreement.
Many times, I would come across a long and worded discussion of what is and is not psychopathic. If you look at it, many of the traits of psychopaths might be common to certain people but what makes a psychopath a psychopath is not whether he/she is smart, charismatic, glib, or charming; what makes him/her an evil is the intentional hurt the they inflict on others by the use of such traits.

Aleksandra

I’ve been thinking about that issue many times – and I agree, what makes psychopats is intentional hurting. And that is the moral part of the issue, probably the most important. But psychological environment is important too – they (psychopaths) are unable to change their behaviour, they are not simply bad people in terms of morality(remember many saints were bad people converted to good). I was observing my ex-husband and his actions for more than 10 years and I’m sure he is unable to change, even if he wanted. He underwent a therapy for domestic abusers (and that was beacause HE wanted it after I decided to divorce ) and understood for example that tapping children over their heads when they are noisy or disturbing is unapropriate. And he hasn’t done that since. But the way he sees himself, his actions and other people makes him unable to understand how he should treat others in situations that are not so obvious. Moreover, he implemented psychological knowledge he gained during the therapy into his manipulative actions. He doesn’t even know when he manipulates people – he simply wants this or that, and uses people as tools. Having been grown up in a christian family, he can’t see any connection nor contradiction between religion and the way he deals with the others. I’m sure there’s more in psychopathy that bad will (that is not a mitigating circumstance though).

freedomfare

Dear Aleksandra,
Let me start by saying that not every abuser, not every criminal, not very liar is a psychopath. Psychopaths are a totally different breed of “human” (if we can call them human.) For me to judge your ex as a psychopath, I need more information than just knowing that he was an inveterate abuser.
He could be, but may not be, a psychopath. The fact that he “could” not change although he “wanted” does not make him a psychopath. It only makes him a psychologically sick person who may need extensive treatment like any addict.
But let’s assume that he was a psychopath, can you ever believe anything he says? If you ever think that you could believe what a psychopath say, then you are really a very nice person who is willing to treat a psychopath as a normal human being. Psychopaths lie even when they tell the “truth”.This is why I do not believe that psychopaths cannot change even if they wanted to because, to me, a psychopath is someone who can never tell the truth or if he does then there is no way on earth that we can know for sure that he tells the truth. As I said earlier, psychopaths lie even when they tell the “truth” which means if a psychopath tells the truth then he must have a bad intention for telling the truth such as fooling you so you believe his other lies or giving you an excuse to continue being with him. This is, Aleksandra, my take on psychopaths. I could be wrong and you could be right but thank you for taking the time to share your experience and opinion with me. I disagreed with you but I am really grateful for your input.

Aleksandra

Dear Freedomfare,
I think there’s no general disagreement between us, I simply wanted to stress another part of the issue. You say being abusive doesn’t make one a psychopath. Constant lying doesn’t make one a sociopath. I agree. I only add – hurting others on purpose doesn’t make one a psychopath either.
When I first came across this site, reading about the inner triangle was a discovery for me – and I strongly believe one has to develop all the three groups of traits to be considered as a psychopath. My ex-husband has all of them, that’s for sure, but it’s not him I wanted to write about. I wanted to say that evil and harmful actions are the most painful side of psychopathy, but people who are not psychopaths may be bad and hurting too. And we have to remember psychopaths differ from one to another, and one side of the triangle may outweigh the others. They can be more calculative (and that’s the case when they act because they want want to hurt) or more impulsive. What is common is lack of remorse, and that’s strongly attached to their way they see themselves (as very special) and other people (as things they posess, as tools, things that disturb, as sources of pleasure etc.). And observing my ex-husband I came to conclusion that in his case (I refer to my personal experience, but I’m absolutely aware each of us had her/his own “very special case”) seeing people as things is crucial, not wanting to hurt. What’s interesting, after the therapy he stopped smacking children not beacause the therapists had made him understand it is harmful or humilating.But he understood that people at his level of education and taking professional positions like him don’t use such punishment. For him it was as if someone had told him “your shoes don’t match your look, you shouldn’t wear them”. That was what appealed to him!

bluejay

freedomfare,

You DO say it like it is, appreciating your comments. Thank you.

freedomfare

Thank you, bluejay.

Totallylost

Donna – These letters gave me chills when I read them. The attitude and comments are so eerily similar to what I heard over and over from my ex-spath. I don’t like confrontation, especially with him because it was a no win situation. I was dumbfounded when we were first married because any time I tried to talk through any sort of disagreement, I literally got up to a four hour lecture on how wrong and bad I was and how I needed to change my ways. I always felt like a little child being chastised for doing something really bad, when all I had done was challenge or confront him. I would also be called names like stupid head and fatty fat. This coming from a man who was very well respected in our church and who was a millionaire. I know my jaw dropped most of the time because of the extremely immature behavior. However, he could not stand it when I chose to not engage in “debate” as he called it. He would literally follow me around the house and get right in my face trying to provoke me into an argument. It happened a lot towards the end because I simply refused. Good for you for not responding to her. In the second letter, she was obviously trying to let you know how superior she was and how inferior you were for not engaging her.

Hopeinhealing

This train of posts makes so much sense to me.
When my ex and i were first dating we had a huge fight about a rape trial that was in the news. I thought it was horrible that the victims history was being drug through the mud and the perps history was not being allowed in the trial even though he apparently had been charged before and had the charges dropped or acquitted. I received a huge lecture as to why that had me in tears. Friends tried to get me to break up with him at that point and I wish I had listened.
Shortly before I left my ex I was unemployed. He kept telling me that he and the kids would be better off if I died, because then they could get my life insurance and pension. Finally when he was away at a week long work related meeting I agreed when he told me that again. For the next three days after that he refused to answer when I called him on the phone. We had a huge fight when he got home and I had the feeling that it was because he was mad I was still alive. I didn’t do it, because I could never have left our kids for three days with no parent. Then I knew i could never do it period, but I then insisted I needed counseling and he agreed. But when I left him a few months later, he used it against me as proof that I was insane and unstable. (After the fact I discovered this encouragement for me to kill myself started about the same time he started an affair).
He was such a lousy nurse maid if I ever was sick or injured. I remember I fell down the stairs once and he was in the next room. I hurt too bad to move for several minutes and he never came to check on me. When I limped into the room and asked why, his response was that he figured I would have yelled if I needed help. I asked what if I had passed out and he just shrugged his shoulders. And I hobbled off to get pain medicine and ice for myself,because he never budged from the couch.
When we had to take a flight when I was 10 days post surgery once, he left me to carry our infant daughter, the diaper bag, another carry on and my purse. All while he carried one carry on. And I was not to carry more than 10 pounds. And he did not even offer to help with getting the stuff in the over head compartment. Another passenger who noticed my pain level did. And I have many other similar stories. If the positions were ever reversed he was the biggest baby in demanding attention.
I also remembered that early in our marriage we were both required to have an IQ test and were tested at the same time. When my IQ came back 4 points higher than his he was convinced that they had mixed our tests up.
He could never loose at a board game ever. He would cheat in order to win, even against our kids with games like Candyland. The kids never liked to play games with him because of this. And I think I am a more normal parent who often “cheated” to allow my kids to win sometimes.
I do not feel now that he ever really loved me. He liked the sex, and it increased his “image” professionally to be married, and I think he liked having me around for a while as someone to bounce ideas off of and we had fun traveling together early in our marriage.But he was constantly doing things to embarrass me and to curtail my ability to advance. Once he did not show up to take care of our 2 year old daughter and I had to take her with me to sign a contract for a new job. Such knowledge is hard, because while I would never get back together with him there is a part of me that still deeply loves him.

kaya48

You cannot let yourself believe that a part of you still loves him. Remember that he is nothing but an illusion. It took me over 6 month to finally start believing this. My soon to be ex also told me I was better of dead and then you this against me and claimed I was mentally ill. Remember every word that comes out of his mouth is worthless. Every day I getting stronger and by ignoring him you will show him you are superior of him. These days I find that I think much les of my past. I truly focus what is ahead if me. By him discarding me I am finally free and most important at peace.

freedomfare

To confirm your statement, this is from Donna’s Jarrett Weaver’s case:
“Debra Miller (the mother of the deceased victim) gave a speech to the Odessa Crime Victims Coalition”:
“I know what many of you are thinking. How in the world did a beautiful, intelligent, loving young lady with such a bright future fall for a total loser like that? I’ve often asked myself the same question. The answer is simple. The person she fell in love with never existed. It was an illusion created by him to defraud her into marrying him. Once married, he slowly began to reveal his true self, but she still believed in the basic goodness of humanity and got satisfaction from nurturing and helping others. He preyed upon this and deceived her with his charm and flattery, built up her trust, and then slowly isolated her from family and friends, and then it was all about power and control. Being the type of person she was, she believed in honoring her commitment even as she was beginning to realize that she had made a terrible mistake.”
“There are no adequate words in the English language to describe the horror, pain, anger and despair her dad and I have suffered. This has forever changed our family structure, and shattered our lives. We will spend a lifetime trying to put the pieces back together, but it is impossible because a big piece is missing. A piece we will never get back.”

Delores

This is so powerful. Thank you for referencing it, I had not seen it before. It sends shivers up and down my spine because it is so typical of the psychopath, the target and the legal system’s lack of concern and non action that so often leads to a tragic and dealy conclusion. Parents are helpless to protect their adult children who have been brainwashed and indoctrinated into a private deadly cult whether it is by lover, spouse or the psychopathic other parent. God help us all.

freedomfare

Dear Revjanice,
You wrote: “…while I would never get back together with him there is a part of me that still deeply loves him.”
What is it that makes part of you “still deeply love him”?
If you (or any other woman who loves psychopath) could answer such question, the world might become a little bit more safer for us all. I hope you could come up with an answer that we can use to cure our loved ones when they fall in love with psychopaths.

gettingon

Hi freedomfare,
I too felt like this towards my psychopath when I first got rid of him. I knew I had to be rid of him & knew he was like a monster and this was my rational thoughts. But in my darkest hours that he had brought about, the first thing I could think of & wanted was to be in his arms again. After no contact for 9 months, I from time to time still feel that urge but is far less frequent & no way near as strong. I think this comes from all the conditioning that they do to us whilst they are cutting us off from everyone that cares about us.
It becomes like some kind of addiction? When they are controlling you, there are times when they exude sooo much warmth. So, I just used to have conversations with myself, “ok you’d love nothing more than to be in his arms right now…but hey, you know damn well that’s all just an act & he caused all of this…”
The ONLY way is to go no contact, then eventually these feelings fade. Counselling for the grief is one way – so that you get to grieve the relationship that never was!

freedomfare

Hi Gettingon,
Thank you for your contribution. I understand how you feel towards your ex and I commend you for your strength and ability to move on. I was mainly concerned about the women who forgive, forget, and go back to their abusers because their love over ride their mind.
Thank you for your input and I wish you all the best.

flicka

I stayed with my ex for 23 years although I knew, down deep, that something was awry. This knowledge drove me to research at the local library where “narcissism” seemed to hold the answer. This was before computers and the free access to knowledge that it can provide.
To try and answer your question as to WHY I was so deeply attached to him, I can only guess that it was based on my own morality; when I said my marriage vows, I meant every single word I uttered, especially regarding fidelity. I would remain faithful regardless of the “ups” and “downs”. As a person, I enjoyed the role of being supportive to an idealized image who never really existed. But I lacked the knowledge of exactly what a psychopath was.
Thirdly, I was ignorantly attracted to the power and superiority he seemed to display and misread it as a signal of being cared-for!Thereby, I relinquished all my power to him in my ignorance.

Delores

Excellent explaination of why we stay when we know whe should leave. Our survival instinct is disingaged by their deceptive, brainwahing, controling and inconsistent behavior. It is an evil power, disguised often as kindness and caring
.

freedomfare

Thank you flicka for explaining the reasons that made you stay that long with your ex. What you said makes a lot of sense because bad people always succeed in hurting the most trusting souls around.
I have noticed that these predators succeed in harming and controlling the most loving and caring people on earth. Those who have loving and caring hearts are the ones that psychopaths succeed in ensenaring because they are so innocent that they do not see beyond the fake facade that the psychopaths exhibit. I do find this very troubling because we do our best to raise loving and caring kids but these kids are the very ones who would be trapped and hurt by the most vicious people on earth.

flicka

The only “cure” for victims of psychopaths, I feel, is compassion and a caring friend; so much of which we victims get from wonderful people like Donna and this fantastic website.

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