By | May 26, 2016 18 Comments

Sociopaths Assume We’ll Use Old Frameworks To Process New Information

Husband Liar Sociopath

By O.N. Ward

Every week, a chapter of my book, “Husband, Liar, Sociopath: How He Lied, Why I Fell For It & The Painful Lessons Learned” (available via, just click on the title or book cover) will be published here on Lovefraud. To read prior chapters, please see the links at the bottom of the post.

Chapter 7: What’s In It For Me? Another Red Flag Missed

Against the vast, sparkling sea of emotionally and intellectually fulfilling time spent together studying, attending classes, working out, sharing dinners, and looking for jobs, the ripples that appeared in my relationship with Paul hardly registered. No person or relationship is perfect, so of course there would be disagreements, small hurts, and misunderstandings. Only now am I wise enough to know that the root cause of the minor discord in our relationship was the important part —not the mere fact of the discord.

It was easy to think that Paul and I shared important interests and values, because, throughout our second year in business school, our narrow goals (to get good grades and get good jobs) and our lives overlapped almost perfectly. How could I imagine what would happen if our goals ever diverged or conflicted? The only way I could have done that would have been if I had extrapolated New Year’s Eve to sharing a life with Paul. However, I did not know why that short interaction with Paul on New Year’s Eve left me so unsettled. I just knew that it did.

It never occurred to me that a key reason Paul was sharing so much of his life and time with me was that talking to me about our assignments helped him get better grades with less effort than studying on his own. I just assumed that Paul loved the intellectual banter with me, that he valued my opinions, and that he enjoyed the learning process, as I did—that we were so alike, soul mates. Starting out with these assumptions, and having them reinforced by the rewarding time we spent together, meant it took me far too long to abandon that framework and understand the truth.

I am not alone in being unable to discard firmly entrenched but inaccurate assumptions. People tend to have a “confirmation bias.” We interpret new information in the context of an existing framework—looking for evidence that confirms our current viewpoint and discounting evidence that contradicts it. Thinking the world was flat, humankind rejected strong evidence to the contrary for centuries. Old worldviews that have served us well are not cast aside easily, even when opposing evidence abounds.

Perhaps not by accident, Paul and my second-year MBA course selections overlapped almost perfectly, allowing us to study together and even co-author papers and work together on projects. Paul, however, took one class in the fall that I did not take until the spring.

One night in April when I was preparing for class, I asked Paul for help. Paul refused, which struck me as odd. Hadn’t we always studied together and helped each other? When I pressed him, he became annoyed and said he had such high ethical and moral standards that he did not think it would be fair to discuss the topic with me or to tutor me, because he had already taken the class and knew the professor’s point of view. This would give me an unfair advantage, and, as a highly principled person, he could not do that. It was almost a burden that he was so exceptionally honest, ethical, and honorable, but his integrity, and that of anyone in his life, was of the utmost importance to him.

I backed off and did not ask for any more assistance, but Paul’s stance struck me as bizarre, because there was no basis for it. In fact, students who had taken and excelled in a class one semester were often asked by professors to tutor students in the class the following semester. Several professors had asked me to do this, and I was able to earn a fair amount of spending money that way.

What was going on? Although I was blind to it then, I know now that this was one of the few times in our narrow, almost perfectly overlapping MBA lives that Paul’s goals and my goals conflicted (as they had for a few hours on New Year’s Eve). Paul had already taken the class; so devoting an hour of his time to discussing the coursework with me was of no value to him. There was simply nothing in it for Paul, especially when there was a Mets game on television. Paul’s high moral ground was a smokescreen for not wanting to put any effort into something that would not benefit him, even if it would be quite beneficial to me. Sociopath math, remember? No empathy. If it was not a means to a better grade for Paul, and if he could fabricate an excuse that would not blow his cover (his lofty morals and ethical character—brilliant!), Paul had zero interest. None! He’d rather watch baseball, and that’s what he did.

Conflicting needs should trigger discussion not annoyance. A person in a mutually loving relationship should not hesitate to help his or her partner, especially when the partner’s need is high and the price of helping is low. (Sorry, guys, but missing a Mets game does not qualify as a high price. You can always record it.) Paul wrapped himself in claims of honor, honesty, and integrity to hide exactly the opposite qualities. My love for Paul blinded me to these red-flag, no-empathy moments early in our relationship when the price of getting out was far, far lower than it was two decades later.

Start from the beginning:

Chapter 1


Go to previous chapter:

Chapter 6


Go to next chapter:

Chapter 8


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

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Hope Springs

Thank you again for this, O. N. Ward.


Thank you for the patient step by step telling of your story. Your thoughtful process is so helpful and creates a calm space for me to think clearly about my experience.

I really like how you framed your sentence about creating a calm space in order to think about your experience. I find myself looking for those places because there is so much to detox from.


Thank you O.N.Ward. This post was extremely helpful. I used your argument that we use preconceived ideas and notions to explain to my lawyer that this is what my divorce is about. I explained to her that the paradigm that women/mother’s have no feelings, no goals for themselves and only live for children who don’t respect them and want to live with their mothers is a fallacy. At the end of this brief discussion I told her there is nothing wrong with mothers letting their children live with their fathers. If their father happens to be a P the children can love adore that P. I believe she understood and during last week’s hearing she pushed my spath’s buttons and he glared at me while he was on the stand testifying and mouthed “bitch”. The judge admonished him. When the hearing was closed and while the judge was on the stand my spath stormed out of the courtroom and muttered, “you all are a bunch of fucking crazy people.” I am not sure why the judge didn’t call him on that one other than he was two steps from the door when he said it. Little by little the truth is emerging and the mask is completely off. It is getting interesting to see what will happen and something tells me jail is not too far fetched for him. Thanks again.

Hope Springs

Dear becomingstrong,

Once again, your ex is the weirdest! Wow. It really must be something to behold. It so sounds like he is losing control.That is when you finally see some REAL emotion out of them (anger of course)…when they are not ‘winning’.

I feel as if I am in a movie and I am waiting for the ‘bad guy’ to get what he deserves…

More to come 🙂


Dear Bev,

Couldn’t believe how many errors were in my previous post-sorry. I have been nothing short of exhausted for nearly a week. For the past few hearings I’ve made it a point to look him in the eye (something I’ve avoided). This past hearing drained me, even though it was a win win for me. He left the courtroom drained and depleted. Yes I agree with you rage is the only “Real” emotion they possess and rage is what I saw. I spoke with an attorney I know who does a lot of contested cases and she told me in the 17 years she’s been in practice she’s never, ever had a client who behaved the way my spath did in court. Little details: When he arrived I was already seated in a corner of a very large corridor of the courthouse floor. He made it a point to sit a few seats over (though there were many other options which didn’t entail him sitting next to me). Once seated, he sat there and sighed loudly repeatedly and he took repeated loud deep breaths. One could mistake these very obnoxious sounds eminating from him as nervousness. No, these sounds were him signaling me to approach him and ask him what was wrong and then offer to ‘fix’ the problem. I didn’t take the bait and got up and moved to another area. His methods of communication are nothing short of bizarre. He never has to utter a word and yet we are having a full on conversation through his ‘sighing’. I wonder what he is going to do next. He keeps pushing and pushing a very patient judge. He’s warning me in his own way what is store if I keep on with the divorce.

Yes it’s liking watching a movie. A movie that needs to end.


Good news. My spath lost all of his motions last week. One of his motions was to change custody of my 7 year old daughter from my custody to his custody. He cried (yes real psychopathic tears) that he hasn’t seen her in 8 months. Now for a man who has visitation whose fault it that? Mine of course. It’s my fault that he has to arrange visitation through me and cannot just go into court and argue he “wants her”. Now we know he doesn’t want her because he cares, he wants her because he knows I do. The judge threw his motion out because his motion was improperly pled. I’ll take it.

Hope Springs

That’s right becomingstrong.

Not because ‘family’ means something to them…but because it means something to YOU.

Hope Springs

Ugh. This guy makes me ill and I don’t even know him.

Sighing and breathing only so that he can ANNOY.

Childish and ridiculous!


Yes Bev “ridiculous” is right! Sighing and breathing loudly so I can read the tealeaves- Sigh-decoder “take those kids back now”- breathing loudly “do you really want me to go into court so the judge will address my bad behavior and possibly put me in jail and then you’ll have to take all the kids on no money”… My walking away decoder “I don’t give a damn what happens”.

Hope Springs


That is SO good…and spot on!!!

You are, well, there is no word that is enough…priceless, funny, wonderful, strong (much stronger than you even are aware of)…I could keep on going.


OMG! The sighing… My ex s-path used sighing to get me to have sex with him for years. The sigh let me know he needed a sex fix again. Towards the end the sigh turned to the most subtle, almost non-existent sigh, but at night in bed, I could hear it. It was an unspoken word, a signal he used, that trained me like a dog to get me to meet his unending need.

I was thinking about a silent conversation
my ex and I had on Skype a year ago. I logged in, he sent a quick chat, “Look who’s on Skype” and I didn’t respond. For 3 hours I didn’t respond but it was like we were still married and having a conversation, but there were no words. My s-path was quiet much of the time. It was just like being married again, it made me sick to my stomach and it took a lot of strength to not respond to his silence and finally disconnect Skype that night.

He recently married a young girl in her 20’s. He is pushing 60, but is still handsome so it was no problem snagging another lady. With his high sex drive, that girl will be challenged keeping up with him. They have only been married for a few months but I can only wonder if she is living in confusion yet. For me the confusion was early on, but I couldn’t figure out why. The fact that his new wife is also a psychotherapist (as stated on Linked-in), I am sitting here with my bowl of popcorn, waiting for the show to continue.

I divorced this s-path over 4 years ago. But I got sucked back in recently when he defaulted on a loan that he assumed when we were divorced. My good credit that I need to function in my business and life for my children has been ruined. I can’t help my daughters get a car. This is 4 years later. It wasn’t enough that he was a wealthy Texas attorney who gave me NOTHING in the divorce because I was scared to death of him and just wanted out. I was sick and could not face a litigation with him. I was in court just weeks after first getting married to him; His second wife sued him for custody and the battle was 2 years long. I know this guy in court and watched him with his ex. I was terrified because he knows all the tricks. I couldn’t face being in court with him because I was suffering from PTSD. When I divorced him, I thought I was free, broke, but free. Years later he has financially ruined me. I just never considered this could happen.

Psychopaths are the gift that just keep on giving. God, give me strength.

Hope Springs

SPs are the gift that keep TAKING.


stillrecovering –
I told my attorney upfront to give the spath what he wanted in terms of debt and property. I took all the debt and once I explained to my attorney why, he agreed with me. I knew if the spath was assigned any of the debt, it would just come back to me eventually as bad debt. If I assumed all of the debt right away, I could deal with it upfront without worrying about any spathtastic little surprises down the road.


correction: and don’t want to live with their mothers and want to live with their father is a fallacy.

Sighing ”“ wow, I never heard of that tactic. The skill and subtlety is amazing.



Today was one of those days in which my “becoming strong” mantra was certainly put to the test. I appreciate you and your encouragement. Today, I went down and protested my taxes with the local taxing appraisal entity (property taxes are huge where I am from and you have to be ever vigilant or you be taxed right out of your home). Though my house is for sale, it is a slow market and my appraisal on my home doubled and so goes the taxes. I took my daughter with me and I wanted her to see her mother redress the government, thought be a good lesson. Well needless to say, I did not prevail and I am only left with filing a lawsuit against the appraisal district. No thanks-I cannot take one more problem and really felt like I have taken on too much. Tomorrow is another day.

Dear Still Recovering and Donna,

Yes sighing and breathing loudly is a means of communication with psychopaths. They will communicate in ways that to the unobserving eye would view sighing and breathing loudly as “exasperation”, “fear”, “anxiety”. I discovered this means of communication last year. My spath came to my home to drop off the kids after a “visit” and I had made it a point to be inattentive to him. As I was cleaning out the the embers from the fireplace and focusing my attention on the job at hand, he came and sat next to me and breathed really loudly, all the while looking at me two inches from my face. He kept looking at me as I worked and I made it point to not pay attention to his staring and breathing into side of my face. The more I ignored him the louder his breathing and sighing became. After about ten minutes of this very awkward encounter (me working cleaning out the fireplace while he two inches from my face sat there and sighed over and over), I turned to him and said, “okay well thanks for dropping off the kids see ya”. Now what I supposed to do/say, turn my head and ask him, “oh what’s a matter you seem upset.” And then would say, “oh no I’m not”. Then I would say, “Oh please tell me what’s the matter please”. And he would say, “oh nothing”. Then I would say, “Oh no please don’t leave without telling me what’s the matter”. Then he would say, “nothing why do you think something is wrong”. And on and on we would go until I had to guess what is was he wanted to say. Now I know what he wanted to say that day. He was saying, “take the kids back”.
So if I took the kids back he could tell people, the courts, etc…, that he never asked for me to take the kids back. And wouldn’t that be true? Still recovering, your ex never had to ask for sex or initiate it, did he? He sighed and you complied. So he tell the next victim he never initiated sex with you and wasn’t attracted to you and it was all your doing. Yes, I do see how that works.

Hope Springs

I am so sorry to hear that you are having even more trouble. As if dealing with the ex is not quite enough…

I am thinking of you becomingstrong…

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