By | October 24, 2011 543 Comments

Spotting sociopaths by intuition

Russell Williams was a colonel in the Canadian Forces, a pilot who flew dignitaries including Queen Elizabeth II, and commander of the largest airbase in Canada. That is, until he was arrested for breaking into women’s homes and stealing their underwear, sexual assault and murdering two young women.

Lovefraud has written about Williams before: For Halloween: A real monster who liked to dress up.

The question, of course, is how did such a predator achieve the rank of colonel? Should he have been flagged along the way? How was it that Williams received nothing but stellar reviews, and turned out to be a murderer?

The Canadian Forces, stunned by what happened, launched an inquiry into how candidates are selected for senior command positions. Could enhanced psychological testing have revealed Williams’ true nature? Here’s what Macleans reported:

The answer, sadly, is no. Among hundreds of pages of internal military documents, obtained by Maclean’s under the Access to Information Act, is a draft version of that review. It confirms what leading experts have long maintained: there is no off-the-shelf exam that employers, armed forces or otherwise, can use to detect sociopathic killers. “Given the recent events in CFB Trenton, it is natural for the CF to question whether or not the organization could have identified a sexual sadist or predicted that an individual would become a serial sexual murderer,” the report says. But that “would be unrealistic to expect.”

Read There’s no way to spot another Russell Williams on

It’s probably true that no one could have spotted Williams. His case, however, is highly unusual. As I wrote in Sudden psychopath: The horrifying yet strange case of Col. Russell Williams, this case is unique in that Williams showed no signs of disorder before he suddenly became a sexual pervert and predator. Unlike most sociopaths, he didn’t have a history of lying, cheating and abusing. That’s why his case is so weird.

Judged by behavior

Although I don’t know much about the various psychological tests that are available, I doubt that any self-report inventory, where the subject answers questions about himself or herself, would work. After all, sociopaths lie.  They lie about everything, so of course they’re going to lie on a personality test. Even if the test is designed to spot inconsistencies, how would anyone know which part is true?

To diagnose sociopaths, you need to know about their behavior. Most sociopaths leave a lifelong trail of destruction, ranging from overt crime to subtle emotional and psychological abuse. Dr. Robert Hare developed the Psychopathy Checklist Revised (PCL-R), and it has become the gold standard for diagnosing psychopaths (the term he uses). The PCL-R has two parts—a semi-structured interview, and a “file review.” This means that the individual’s criminal and psychological records are included in the evaluation. In other words, the psychopaths are identified by their behavior, not by their answers on a test.

The Gift of Fear

We, of course, don’t want to experience a sociopath’s behavior. We want to avoid them, so they don’t have an opportunity to inflict any damage of any kind. Can we do it?

I believe the answer is yes. The way to avoid a sociopath is to listen to our intuition.

Several people on Lovefraud have posted about a book called The Gift of Fear, by Gavin de Becker. Oprah Winfrey called de Becker the nation’s leading expert on violent behavior, and his company helps hundreds of people, including celebrities, stay away from stalkers and other predators.

De Becker’s whole point in The Gift of Fear is this: Your intuition will tell you about danger. Listen to it.

I can back this assertion up with data. In the Lovefraud Romantic Partner Survey, conducted earlier this year, I asked the following question: “In the beginning of the involvement, did you have a gut feeling or intuition that something wasn’t right about the person or the relationship?”

Seventy-one percent of respondents said yes. Let me repeat that: 71% of people who became involved with sociopaths knew early on that something was wrong. Unfortunately, most of them stayed in the relationship anyway.

Trust your intuition

I think it’s unlikely that an accurate paper-and-pencil test for spotting sociopaths will ever be developed. However, we all have a built-in early warning system. The system isn’t designed to identify sociopaths in an abstract sense; it’s designed to warn us when we are in the presence of danger.

Here are the three steps to protecting yourself from sociopaths:

  1. Know that sociopaths exist.
  2. Know the warning signs of sociopathic behavior.
  3. Trust your intuition.

The key is to pay attention to the warning signals that we receive. But often we don’t. We doubt ourselves. We give the person another chance. We wait for hard evidence. In the end, we are damaged and filled with regrets.

Would listening to their intuition have saved Russell Williams’ victims? We’ll never know. But Gavin de Becker did relate a story about a woman who was assaulted in her apartment. The assailant told her to be quiet, promised he wouldn’t hurt her, and left the room. The woman, filled with fear, didn’t listen to him. She listened to her intuition and slipped away. The guy returned with a kitchen knife, intending to kill her. But she was gone.

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The Williams’ case has interested me because my former fiance also is a high ranking military officer (a line officer the US Navy) and has, to the best of my knowledge, remained undetected by the Navy despite the rigorous psychological exams that his particular line and security clearance require. To be clear, he, to the best of my knowledge, has never treated anyone with physical violence.

To draw an analogy with a medical disaster, I do agree with you that preventive medicine is valuable and one should be aware of one’s circumstances and one’s experiences, but it is rare for victims of medical disasters (or natural disasters) to spend much time dwelling on “what I should have done differently to prevent this” or “why my broken past led me to this experience.”

I wonder if your survey results can be explained by the strength of hindsight and the passionate desire to wish that such a disaster had never happened. It is easy, in hindsight, to find signs that should have been followed but were not because one’s “intuition” about a positive outcome was stronger. A lot of things happen during any relationship and a laser-like focus on these issues may just well lead to finding them everywhere (“perceptual vigilance”). It is also easy, in the hindsight that comes from being injured like this, to fall into a negative shame spiral that includes self-blame and self-loathing.

Those paths may be easy, but they are not helpful and I would suggest that they are destructive towards the victim.

“Intuition” is a funny concept and usually arises when one talks about a decision (stay with someone or leave them; leave the house after an intruder enters or stay; go to work on time on September 11th or get another cup of coffee) and one wants to feel better (or worse!) about the choice that was made. If the other choice had been made, the tug in the other direction might be labeled “intuition.” Thus, some who marry a “bad boy” but have an “intuition” that he is a good man beneath it all, actually do turn out to be fortunate and can delight their grandchildren with how important it is to trust ones intuition because it leads to a happy life.

I spent the past 32 months badly frightened by my experience and was, like so many other victims of this sort of psychological violence, diagnosed with PTSD. One of the hallmarks of PTSD is hypervigilance. Speaking from experience, hypervigilance means that one’s intuition can not be trusted. It can not be trusted because the brain has suffered an injury as a result of the experience and not because it was always untrustworthy.
I mulled and mulled about “what I should have done differently…” and wished I had seen a way that would have allowed me (a psychologically very health person). With that mulling, I can now look back and see signs that were there but were subtle (he once hung up on his ex-wife in the midst of an argument over their child; I realized once that he was not as forthcoming as he might have been about former relationships, he made wildly-exaggerated comments about violence in a clearly mocking tone (including, as an extraordinarily extreme example, using “shooting him in the face” as a metaphor for a bad fitness report for a junior officer); and so on); they were subtle in the face of many positive actions. As far as my “broken past,” my childhood was filled with sand castles, snow angels and a very loving family which led me to a very successful adulthood.

None of these things foretold the extraordinary depths he went to deceive me, at least two other women, his wardroom, and the US Navy. No amount of “intuition” prepared me for the enormous pain that he caused me.

To go back to my medical analogy, in the outpouring of articles about Steve Jobs, there are only a very small number of articles about the fact that Steve Jobs initially resisted modern medical treatments and instead trusted his “intuition” about the proper course of action. He died needlessly. Few would use Steve Jobs death as a lesson on ignoring the part of his intuition that suggested he follow medical best practices, although surely there was some part of his 21st century mind that suggested it. This lesson is just as apt as any other lesson one might draw about intuition. I think the reason we don’t give that lesson is that it is currently viewed as unseemly to blame the victim of cancer.

I would like it to be as unseemly to blame the victim of a sociopath as it is to blame the victim of cancer, even if one of the consequences of our particular “cancer” is a damaged brain that persists in self-blame for not choosing a different path.



I am not a doctor, but pancreatic cancer is usually not survivable. Even with the rare type that Steve Jobs had that allowed him to live longer than the common type where people tend to succumb quicker, he would have died eventually from this cancer. So he didn’t die needlessly because he initially resisted modern medical treatments. God could have performed a miracle and had him live out a full life, but that was very unlikely to happen. I have never personally seen anyone survive pancreatic cancer in its advanced stages and it is seldom caught in the early stage so that it is curable.


there are layers and layers to each story. I don’t know yours but I’ll fill you in a bit about mine. When I ran from my spath, I met a stranger, a successful lawyer, in a sushi bar and I told him what was happening. He said, “oh, that’s a malignant narcissist.” With those words, this stranger saved my life. He had experienced N’s and P’s in his family and had learned about them. Later he asked me, “is there anyone you can say you REALLY trust?” I answered, “yes, my parents. I trust them COMPLETELY.” OMG, Was I off the mark. They are evil spaths and they are the reason I ended up with a spath. It’s covert spathiness and almost undetectable. It appears in the guise of love and concern. I had to look from a new perspective and stand waaaayyyy back from my emotions to understand.

My own spath had almost everyone who knows him thinking he’s such a nice guy.

my brother in law, the trojan horse spath, has been a police officer for almost 2 decades. He is now working for Homeland Security. They investigate everything before hiring, but the spath KNOWS that and has taken precautions to put on a veneer. Before marrying my sister, he had terrible credit, no money, owned nothing. And that was on a police officer’s salary. He married my sister and used her credit score to clean up his veneer. He’s blown through most of her nest egg, but that doesn’t show up in any investigations. All that shows up is what he wants people to see.

But my accountant met him ONE time and KNEW what he was. She told me he liked to show off by breaking traffic laws and his comment was, “laws are for the sheep to follow so that us wolves can get around them.” If he gets stopped by a cop, he just shows his badge and they extend him “professional courtesy”. These red flags are there and my accountant is familiar with them. She refused to do his taxes after that, not because she didn’t like him. She said she found him amusing. But she knew that he is a liar and would lie about his taxes, so she wants nothing to do with him. She said nothing to him. She just wouldn’t return his calls.

I believe that Russell Williams probably displayed many red flags throughout his life, but very few people know what it means.

Thinking you can break the law because you’re a cop is a form of narcissism. It’s the “I’m special” type of thinking.

Currently, I have a potential wholesale customer from Russia, requesting a sample product. They offered to pay for shipping with a Mastercard. But they didn’t want to give me the cardholder’s address. They said that it was a special card and that they didn’t need to. “special” yeah, right. It’s the same red flag.


missyj- thank you for your insightful post.

i agree that my PTSD injured (and chemically injured) brain is not so trustworthy. i don’t trust my intuition NOW, as it is based on my sense of trust in my own abilities and perceptions (laid waste by the spath). I am one part victimized person, and one part injured brain.

one of the hardest things now is feeling safe – safe in my own perceptions. instead i bumble through the days, trauma bonding to anyone who appears to slight me in any way, and living behind a wall. Behind this wall, hate brews.

I am working on figuring out how to take down the wall, because i am suffocating behind it.

Ox Drover


I agree with Donna on this. As for Steve Jobs, I (as a retired Registered Nurse Practitioner) was stunned when I read that he had waited 9 months and tried to use “alternative” methods to “cure” the cancer. From what I have read, he had a SLOW GROWING kind, that was discovered VERY EARLY by accident and surgery might well have cured it before it spread….but with the BEST available medical care in the world, he went into “denial” and chose to WAIT—and the wait probably did kill him. He might very well have been one of the RARE survivors of pancreatic cancer.

I don’t “blame” him for his decision, it was just that the CONSEQUENCES of that decision were most likely his death. He is not a physician or medical practitioner and he didn’t act on the BEST advice he was given. We all do that and I think the psychopaths we have dealt with were like his cancer, we went into denial (like Jobs) and tried to find ALTERNATIVE ways to “cure” the disease without SURGICAL REMOVAL of the “tumor.”

In fact, the ONLY cure for a relation-shit with a psychopath is SURGICAL REMOVAL of the person from our lives before they KILL US or disable us so that our life is essentially destroyed.

TRAINING our intuition what to look for, in other words WHAT is a SERIOUS and what is NOT a serious “symptom” is KNOWLEDGE (Knowledge is power) is important.

My step father was bad to “diagnose” himself medically (and was very often WRONG) One day I was at his house and noticed that he was lying on the couch during the day which was not usual for him. I asked what was wrong and he said he had a “sinus infection”—so I asked more questions and discovered that he had been running intermittent fevers off and on for several months. Hummmmm????? Plus he had none of the Other symptoms of a sinus infection. The first two things that went through my mind were CANCER? and Tick FEVER.

So, long story short, I was praying it was a tick fever (though serious mostly curable with antibiotics) but as it turned out it was indeed cancer, and he died 18 months later. He felt something was wrong with him, but he did not have enough KNOWLEDGE to make an informed decision about treatment and since he didn’t continue to feel bad or get “sicker” he DID NOTHING and in that case, it didn’t hurt anything as far as his longevity with the disease because it was an incurable cancer, and he was 82 years old besides. However, if it HAD BEEN A TICK FEVER it might indeedy have been a fatal decision.

We have to TRAIN our intuition to know what is a DANGER sign, but we also have to TRAIN our rational brain to LISTEN to the intuition, so it is a mixture of “gut feeling” and “education” we need to keep us safe.

Some of the things we are taught as kids “it takes two to fight” or “there are two (valid) sides to every story” or “forgive those you love” (meaning also to RESTORE TRUST) and so on, are NOT necessarily TRUE. There are NOT two VALID sides to every story, and it does NOT take two to fight…only one person to throw the first punch…so we must listen to our intuition and we must then decide if what we are FEELING is valid.

I also have PTSD and had for a while a very severe case of hyper-vigilance and jumped at every sound. Now I am CAUTIOUS but not terrorized. I am probably more vigilant than the average person, but I don’t want to be any more “laid back” than I am now. I have reached a balance between complacency and hyper vigilance.


I think they can be spotted by intuition. But as I read in an article the other day- society at the present, at least, is so constructed that it diminishes the importance of intuition- so perhaps people are so conditioned not to listen to it… we are taught that logic is king… well I think intuition is even stronger than logic… intuition reads between the lines… what you don’t see… And as Donna has illustrated in her post, no victim is at fault for being targeted by a sociopath- you are innocent. Perhaps at least here on LF, we can attempt to change this societal conditioning by educating each other and reinforcing truth.. which is that our intuition is there for a reason. yes. And it is important to tune into it.

As an aside, I also want to post a quote which I thought was appropriate to share here..

“The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he did not exist.”

That- I think sums up a whole lot.


With my socio, my intuition definitely told me that I was dealing with something bad, but I couldn’t figure out rationally what it was… so I stayed too long. By the time his mask was coming off more and more, I was too hooked in, and he had the advantage of knowing my weaknesses and drawing me back in, though I really tried to get away numerous times.

Intuition helps, but you’ve got to have the guts and bravery to go on your instincts and not look back. Don’t second guess.

I believe my intuition will help me with locating a possible narcissist or sociopath – but what’s even better, I can pick up on the tell-tale signs and look for them. AND, I will always be very slow to develop relationships with new people, allowing time to for both intuition and red flags to work together.


For the two years in my life when I had a potentially dangerous job, I practiced psychic self-defense rather than carry a weapon. I kept my heart open to my customers who were were maybe a little toxic but not totally dangerous. However, there were a few situations where I walked into a situation and just got a bad feeling. I couldn’t explain it, but I just knew it was a dangerous situation. In every one of those instances, I made an excuse and got out as quickly as I could. Because of my keen intuition, I was able to keep myself safe the entire two years, and never had any major incidents. The other employees who worked for the agency had a lot of incidents and most of them carried guns or at least mace. I always thought I was just lucky (and this is probably true, too), but I could tell who the really dangerous ones were.

Strangely, my intuition failed me with the spath I met in 2008. I thought he was a little needy and stalkerish in the beginning. But I never felt that fear in my gut. Strange.

Ox Drover


I agree with your quote! Thanks for posting that here….we must all I think keep in mind that the “devil does exist”—evil exists, and keep our eyes out for the TIP OF THE ICEBERGS of EVIL that stick up out of the water, there may not be much visible, but the bulk of the evil hides underwater, but that is where it can SINK OUR SHIPS if we are not vigilant in watching for the TIPS that stick up out of the water.

A couple of years before my husband died, I made a conscious decision to “cull my rolodex” and to spend more time with fewer people rather than spend so little time with so many people and I sort of started deciding who I wanted to spend more time with and who less. We had some people who rented a house from us, a couple and their kids and the couple started to really “love bomb” us. At the time I felt sort of “uneasy” at the love-bombing they were doing, though at the time I didn’t realize what it was, just that it made me “UNEASY.”

Later, I found out that my “uneasy” response was my INTUITION telling me there was something OFF about this couple. I think now, that the man probably was very high in P-traits, and the woman just dysfunctional and a victim. He ended up in jail and she ended up divorcing him.

Sometimes I have HAD the intuition, and sometimes NO intuition at all, I fell for the love bombing—-and every time I have been “had” by a psychopath it has been BECAUSE I fell for the love bombing.

Now, I see the LOVE BOMBING as a HUGE RED FLAG….whether or not it comes from a potential love interest, from a neighbor, or a business association….or any other type of relationship, and just stand back and see what happens.


oxy- yes. love bombing is a gigantic red flag.. and the thing about love bombing is that it’s intended to do just that- confuse you. Your intuition might be going off like a firehouse alarm, but there’s that twist in your thinking ( which they completely intend! ) where you say to yourself ( erroneously ) “I’ll feel guilty though… they aren’t overtly doing anything wrong…” but THAT is what they want you to conclude- to set you off balance. That’s the whole intention of love bombing. A close analogy might be the venus flytrap.. some species of the plant have bright colours, so they can “fool” insects into thinking they’re normal flowers ( when the truth is, the insect is nothing more than PREY to the plant) … likewise, with lovebombing sociopaths i would say demonstrate a form of “aggressive mimicry” ( wiki link ) … the lovebomb is the “bright colouring” that is meant to draw you in so when you’ve finally “settled in” and subdued yourself- and given your trust they can SNAP! Shut the “jaws” close and devour you. It’s entirely predatory.

That’s why intuition is so important. Your intuition is in place to protect you- because a part of you- knows or senses that you are in danger- that your safety & well-being is in grave jeopardy. The love-bomb is intended to “smother” that voice inside of you that tells you : RUN


Nancy and Oxy,
That is also my experience, that the love bombing “deactivates” my intuition. I actually think I have really good, almost “psychic” intuition about people –until they love bomb me. Then I can’t see anything at all. It must be why they say that love makes you blind.

Each time I’ve been taken in by a spath, it was with love bombing. In the past, the pity ploy was also very effective on me but I’ve been able to see through that one more often lately.

More recently, I met some female spaths who love bombed me and I was completely fooled, initially. They seemed so NICE! In retrospect, I did notice the signs but because I liked them so much, I decided to give them the benefit of the doubt. After a while the signs were GLARINGLY OBVIOUS, but at that point I decided that it would be interesting to continue observing and watch what unfolded. Sure enough, the mask slipped. The funny part is when you point it out…it slips even FURTHER!!

Then the drama begins and it’s best to back slowly towards the door and not make any sudden moves. 😀

So now, love bombing has become a BIG RED FLAG for me too.


Thank you for this article. I was really struck by some of the comments:

Ox said: Some of the things we are taught as kids “it takes two to fight” or “there are two (valid) sides to every story” or “forgive those you love” (meaning also to RESTORE TRUST) and so on, are NOT necessarily TRUE. There are NOT two VALID sides to every story, and it does NOT take two to fight”only one person to throw the first punch”so we must listen to our intuition and we must then decide if what we are FEELING is valid.

This really resonated with me. This is the crux of what I have had to let go of, and I am still working on it. These beliefs were embedded in the foundation of who I once was. The unshakable faith in the goodness of everyone, “deep down.” And yes, the nonexistence of Satan/evil.

Also, the comments about “love bombing.” I think I know what that is, but I’m actually a bit confused. How would one know the difference between love bombing by a sociopath, and someone genuinely falling in love with you (the real deal)? This is one area where I still cannot trust my intuition (that was badly damaged). Can any of you give some concrete examples of love bombing, and then what were the oh, so subtle “tips” or red flags which (now that you know about sociopathy) made it so glaringly obvious to you. Whereas before you might have missed them.

To be honest, I am afraid of making a mistake in the other direction — being so suspicious and PTSD now, that I inadvertently run from someone who is genuinely kind and truly loves me.



Thanks for a great post. You said you might feel guilty when being love bombed. I didn’t feel guilty, I felt like hmmmm, maybe I AM the one! Duh, how stupid! So yeah, my intuition was up and I knew something was off, but get this…not only was I thinking that he may be genuine, the OW was telling me that he may be genuine! Who does that other than an extremely manipulative snake?? Wow, just looking back this very moment did I realize even further what she was doing. She was also putting that doubt in my head so I would fall for it. She WANTED me to fall for it so I would be hurt just like she had been hurt. It’s amazing how much hate I have for her and I normally don’t hate anyone! Oh, well…another step towards healing.


Another thing I must say. I am extremely intuitive and always have been. It’s a gift I have. I have even been told by one friend that I should further develop it and become a psychic, but I’m not going to do that. Anyway, just saying this because if I could be taken, anyone could be taken. Just like I knew something was up of course when this was happening to me, but in reality, the feelings I started having for him overrode my instincts. That’s exactly what he wanted to happen. He is a predator in the worst way.



OK, I think the main thing you need to watch for and I realized later is the SPEED of the relationship. Lovebombing will come fast and furious when they are only trying to get something out of you they want…money, sex, etc. I have found in normal relationships where men genuinely cared about me, it was much slower. This is only my opinion, but I think “normal” men are a bit afraid when they start having feelings and don’t tell you they love you right away and lovebomb you with all the gushy words that all women want to hear. My X spath would email me and constantly ask me out; it was relentless. Your intuition will tell you something is not right. If someone is genuinely kind and truly loves you, they will PROVE it and it won’t be just verbal. And they will stick around. Make them work for your love.

Ox Drover

Dear 20 years,

Louise’s post above is I think pretty right on….you tell the difference by HOW QUICKLY IT COMES ON. Meeting someone and 3 days later they declare that you are the LOVE OF THEIR LIVES, that you are THE most important thing in the world to them, and they send you 6 dozen red roses with love poems….THAT is love bombing…..just covering you up with “love” like out of a cheap romance novel.

Folks, you heard it here. You heard it FIRST right here on LF—-I am NOT so hot at sexy that within 3 days my (now X) BF just couldn’t live without me for his very own. He smothered me with kind words about how sexy I am, about how people respected me (that one really was kind of odd, until I figured out later that he was only looking for another “RESPECTABLE WIFE” to CHEAT ON!)

Sure, when someone tells us we are beautiful, sexy, funny, in fact PERFECT, we WANT to believe that—they put us up on a pedestal and boy is it lofty and wonderful to feel like we are “worshiped” by this person….but sincere and REAL people don’t do that sort of thing. Even if someone is falling in LOVE with you, it takes place over an extended PERIOD OF TIME. Healthy people, people who have normal and good relationships don’t FORM those relationships OVER NIGHT. They get to KNOW each other over a period of time, in different situations—-love at first sight is NOT LOVE it is infatuation….or love bombing.



“Can any of you give some concrete examples of love bombing, and then what were the oh, so subtle “tips” or red flags which (now that you know about sociopathy) made it so glaringly obvious to you. Whereas before you might have missed them.”

I would say that I passed over some large inconsistencies in his story about his life.

Prior to our relationship, he was involved in a nasty divorce and custody battle and was left with very little visitation rights with his son.

I took him at his word, that he was a “victim” in all of it, but later I realized the real story.

So, first I would make notes of past problems – if someone denies, does not accept responsibility, makes themself into a victim when details do not add up, I would say this is a huge “red flag”.

If details someone gives about themselves do not add up, seem sketchy, or give you the feeling of being off in any way, in general, this is also a clue. Do not override your instincts when a story does not add up.

One thing, which is kind of typical (but not all experience this), is the sociopath “stare”. My socio had this – it’s an unwavering, un-empathetic, predatorial kind of look. Piercing eyes and the feeling of being “probed” is also something I will make note of…

Unfortunately, I will always be suspicious of overly charming people, and those persistent about developing a relationship too quickly. This is, in my opinion, abnormal. Someone should want to get to know you pretty well before wanting to get into a relationship.

You can also tell A LOT by someone’s language. What are they curious about, what are their motivations, what direction are they moving in, what is their focus on? … my sociopath was NOT a big communicator, in fact, the less the better – however, there WERE a lot of signs of cruelty that slipped out, that I passed over. Listen to what they say and take them at their word! You will be surprised at what you pick up!

Sociopaths do have variable personalities, in ways, but what it seems like, is that they do have a lot in common. It’s spooky how much of carbon copies they are of each other…

The PERSONAL things I will make note of with a new person, is: do I feel uncomfortable, threatened, uneasy, nervous, etc? Do I feel like this person is coming on too strong, invading my personal space, throwing me “off center” etc.


For me, I’ve ignored my intuition simply because I chose to. “Red flags” made me feel a conflict of emotion – excessive flattery FELT GOOD!!!! It fed that needy Insecurity Monster, and the Monster wanted more of it. The flip side to that was, I’m being complimented/flattered for something that is either insignificant OR utterly bogus. What’s up with that?

The best recent example of that for me was with New Face: “You are SO talented and you have SO much knowledge! What do you think about _____?” When I answered that I couldn’t provide a true schooled opinion on a specific method of firing pottery, she responded with, “But, you have SUCH GOOD insight. What do you think?” I was being CONSULTED! I was being VALUED! I was being love-bombed by someone who saw my insecurities and exploited them to HER benefit.

Judge Judy often said, “If it doesn’t make sense, then it’s probably not true.” It didn’t make SENSE for her to compliment me on something that I didn’t have one ounce of practical knowledge about. The moment these arbitrary compliments started coming, I should have backed WAY the hell off, and observed. Instead, I responded to the sudden and overwhelming “inclusion” because it felt GOOD to be flattered!

Here is another thunderbolt that struck me only a few moments ago: if another human being can move through society without remorse, then are WE capable of the same lack of empathy? This may just help to explain why people who have not really been harmed by a sociopath (that they know of) cannot entertain the idea that there are some human beings out there that are NOT behind prison walls DO deliberately intend to use, abuse, and discard others to get whatever it is that they want. Perhaps, it has been the primal fear (and, for me, the horror) that I could be capable of deliberately destroying others that caused me to ignore “red flags” in others’ behaviors.

Throughout my lifetime, I’ve always assessed other people using my own yardstick: if I can’t or won’t do something, then anyone that I care about can’t or won’t, either. This is just not true. People can and will do whatever they wish to their own benefit, and it’s my task to start accepting that fact down to my very toenails.

Just some random thoughts….BLESSINGS!


Ox, good food for thought:

“love at first sight is NOT LOVE it is infatuation”.or love bombing.”

I guess this is where I am right now… at age almost-50 I’m thinking I should know this by now! But I don’t. The difference between infatuation and love bombing. But I think those of you who have responded are saying, time will tell. Yes, at first maybe infatuation and love bombing are indistinguishable… but wait and see.

With my ex-husband (met him at age 28), he never did love bomb me. We dated 7 months before becoming engaged, wedding was 7 months after that. He seemed “normal” up until the moment we left the wedding reception. Then Mr. Mean and Ugly came out, and all of a sudden he could only find fault with me. I was flabbergasted and chalked it up to too much pressure with the wedding/reception. The next 7 years (before I left him) were more of my making excuses for his behaviors. But there never was any love bombing.

My second marriage, I thought I was doing it right. We both seemed to fall head over heels in love with each other. I was in my early 40s. I thought, “OK, this is infatuation — we are so “old” — but isn’t it fun! Let’s see where it leads…” and it seemed to lead to a good place. We dated a year and a half before getting married. Then, all of a sudden he got very gloomy and dissatisfied with most everything about me. I chalked it up to the stress of going from being a single guy to overnight being married/stepdad to 3 kids. But it didn’t get better. Also, there was the penetrating stare and the feeling that he was probing every bit of me. While letting on nothing about himself. I felt like he felt that I was his property. Everything I did (and I mean everything — I even mowed the lawn for the family) he took credit for to our friends. He seemed upset about things. I asked him to share what was on his mind, and he would shut me out. To this day… I don’t know if I can call him sociopathic… but what seemed such early promise during our head-over-heels days, and calmer dating days (once the initial infatuation wore off) — faded rather quickly.

It has made me now extremely skittish about a new relationship. I guess looking back, I know that neither man loved ME. They just seemed to fall for an “idea” of me — but it wasn’t the real me. And, in the first marriage, I know I played into that by walking on eggshells to be more of what he wanted, and less of what would tick him off. Until I nearly disappeared.

In the second marriage, I felt more like I’d been plundered for whatever I had to offer — you know, kind of used up and sucked dry, giving-giving-giving, but not actually cherished. Not actually seen.

I had thought that my being loving and accepting of my husband was what I was supposed to do. And lest that sound like I was too codependent or something — like many of you, sure I stuck up for myself. Sure, I was a very strong person who asserted her individuality — and I did it with good humor, too! But it was met with derision, contempt and any kind of undermining/gaslighting imaginable. That wears a person down.

So… thanks, everyone. I’m hoping not to make the same mistake a third time. But I don’t want to hide myself away. I’m hoping to be more aware of red flags this time, but also not inadvertently push someone genuinely warm and loving aside, out of my now damaged ability to judge a person’s intentions.


“Go slow and keep your eyes open” seems to be a golden rule.


My intuition told me to stay away from him the first time I saw him walk by. He wasn’t even aware I existed. Once he later became aware of me, I saw his deceitful actions and I wanted to have nothing to do with him. That is when I became a target. Evrything inside me screamed “be’s bad news”. And yet my own intuition backfired.

The same night he started to zone in on me, the night he stared at me for mins on end and was kind and seemingly respectful… I had a dream about him. It was a predictive dream. I’ve had two predictive dreams in my life, and this is one of them. I dreamt we both were in a violent river, being taken by the stream (aka… strong violent emotions, upheavals, drama, etc). The helter skelter water would switch sometimes to a secluded area where everythign would be peaceful, and that’s when he would reach out for me. It had a hypnotic peaceful feeling about it. The river was in the jungle, and though there was noone to be seen, it felt like the jungle was full of people on a war path. It gave me a feeling of being a guerilla fighter, an us and them feeling. And at one of the peaceful spots, he proposed and talked of wanting children with me.

I woke up with a start from that and out loud said, “Him? No effing way!”

What I did not really take into account was that the predictive dream was a warning to show me what an emotional turmoil it would be with him, on and off with some quite moments. How it would make me cut myself off emotionally from other people, because I’d have to stick up for a loser and criminal. It even predicted the lovebombing.

But sadly enough the dream had also made me feel how I’d feel on those peaceful moments, how I’d feel bonded. So when I woke up again the next morning an enormous attraction had started to kick in, that I fought with reason only for 3 days. I catalogued the predictive dream as showing me that it was meant to be. When the mask came off, I realized the dream had tried to show me what kind of a relationship I’d end up having.



That’s really strange, because I had a lot of psychic experiences with my ex-socio. In fact, there were a few times that I woke up and hallucinated a dark shadow figure standing up straight in my bed. It was waist deep through the bed, but the figure was facing me. This only lasted a minute and disappeared once I woke up completely, but I was left with a very scary ominous feeling.

Then, my socio called me on my cell phone. Coincidence? I don’t think so.

Why do these people have all this psychic/energy stuff going on around them? Still to this day, I can tell when he’s thinking about me because I’ll start seeing his name pop out at me reading various places, street signs, dreams, etc. I know it sounds totally nuts, but this stuff correlated with him contacting me (before getting out of hell like a bat, and going no contact).


This psychic stuff only added to how hard it was to leave the relationship, too… because it was so surreal and supernaturalish… in a bad way, but still.

I suppose it COULD be the result of the sociopath just digging down so deep into the psyche, but some things really were beyond explanation. He knew where I was, what I was doing, thinking, feeling, etc. It was like he literally occupied my life.



First, thanks for making me laugh…getting out of hell like a bat…too funny!

Very interesting about the psychic stuff. I know what you mean although I can’t really put my finger on it; can’t verbalize it. I would love to hear other takes on this…



I have a much better sense of humor now + 3 years away from sociopath. 😀

I wonder if the majority of people feel that their sociopath has an extraordinary ability? Or, if the majority of sociopaths that people encounter are just exceptionally manipulative, and not so invasive and psychic.


speaking of fingers and being psychic…
After I knew that my spath was evil, but not knowing what he was, I pretended to be unaware. I knew I had to bond extra close to him so he wouldn’t suspect. Even though we didn’t sleep together for 15 years, (he slept on the couch) I asked him, “Honey can I sleep with you on the couch? I’m so stressed out from everything that’s been happening.”

I didn’t know it at the time, but he loved to hold my body during periods of stress so he could “feed” off the signals. So he agreed. We laid down in the spooning position and I fell asleep surprisingly quickly. Then I started to dream.

In the dream I was watching my fingers getting chopped off but felt no pain or any anxiety at all. Then I was watching myself from behind. I was laying face down without a shirt and someone was whipping me with a whip and blood was coming out from the lashes, but I felt no pain or anguish at all. It was like I was observing someone else’s thoughts and their complete lack of emotion. I have never had a dream or even a waking experience that was so devoid of emotion – especially in the presence of violence.

About a year later, I found a stash of my ex-spath’s behind his toolbox in the shed. In it, was a box. In the box was a collection of what appeared to be old, decaying, chopped-off, bloody fingers. They were actually ceramic but very realistic looking.

I wouldn’t call the dream a premonition, but more of a connection with the spath’s very strong thought projection.




I had several dreams the last 3 months about my spath: he didn’t contact me as often anymore, and in the dream I was searching for him, but it began with a bird view and I ended up in Costa Rica where he was selling himself on the market, completely ignoring me when I tried to talk to him. When I heard of him afterwards I learned he had been in Costa Rica.

And then I had a dream where I arrived on a canoo at his village. Water all quiet (a sea)… and a refeence to ‘The cold waters of death’. I arrived feeling depleted and unhappy, but was welcomed by his father (who died several months before that and knew what his son was, and while trying to do the correct thing, he did not let his son play with him: no money, didnt care what his stories were… he was a good man) who pointed me the way to a staircase cut into a rock. It was made by my ex-spath, and rather hidden. I took the staircase and ended up on top of the mountain with great high perspective. And his staircase seemed to reference to ‘moving on’.

I do not think that sociopaths are psychics in that way. But I believe that our subconscious cuts out the confusion and reveals us the most likely explanation on what is going on, what will most likely happen, etc… It kicks in either when we are in real danger or confused.

He’s not the sole one I have such dreams or premonitions about. I’ve had it with my grand love too, for ten years. And it was mutual. Even when we were friends, he seemed to know exactly when to contact me and tell exactly what I needed, even though he could not know what was going on in my life. And I’d do the same for him unknowingly. And when we had a fallout after our break up where he wanted to break all contact with me, I had a predictive dream months later out of which I knew I would get a mail from him 3 days later. And it happened. And that man is not a spath. In hindsight, it was highly likely he’d eventually make contact again, certainly around Christmass. But my conscious self would not have believed such, so a dream alarted me that I’d have good news soon.

So, I think purewater that with all the observing you did of your spath (because of hypervigilance) your subconscious is able to tell you when he’ll try to contact you, and tries to give you a warning he will. This seems freaky, but is actually a helpful thing. It can be seen as a ‘headstart’, so that by the time he does call you, you’ll be more in control of yourself and less surprised. It’s an aid to avoid you beign taken off guard by him.


Wow!!! I’m so glad you mentioned the psychic stuff (also so glad Donna touches upon this in her book). Because that was my experience, as well. (and it’s a weird thing that I’m afraid to bring up because — you know, we already sound so crazy — do I really want to sound even more crazy?) My second marriage was to a man who I seemed to have this psychic connection with. I am wondering… did I mistake a psychic connection for attraction?

I had a sense that he and I knew each other before, from another lifetime (who knows) or that this moment had been foretold (in a dream? planned before we were born?) — like we were destined to meet and have a relationship. Like it had been all planned out. It never occurred to me that — if that were so (destiny) that it might have been due to bad karma and not like we were loving soulmates.

It really isn’t so simple as, he stared into my eyes, or… he told me he loved me and that I was beautiful and sexy, or… that he pursued me and it felt good… there seems to be way more to it than that! But hard to put your finger on…

At this point, I am curious AND creeped out by it, but also these types of hidden connections (such powerful bonds) have tripped me up in the past. That is why I am so interested in hearing from all of you about differences between psychopathic love bombing and simple (loving) infatuation that could lead to a healthy, normal relationship.

It is too hard for me, at this time, to get my mind around “destiny” or… why I might be tricked or fooled into being with someone who is psychopathic, when yes absolutely there are deep, spiritual lessons to be had from the experience. So, in the end, will it turn out to be true that these were lessons I had chosen to learn in this lifetime? I am still on the fence about what to make of all of that.

But I think (hope!) I’m done for now with these danged “lessons” — it would sure be nice to have some peace and love/healthy relationships in my life, at this point.


Okay so I spoke to the financial lady last year and she’s saying it appears he has to pay for college as a form of child support. She looked at the payments made and it was on time. I also did not speak to him during that time. She suggests that I call Legal Aid of Maryland and google different forms of child support. I have found that in the state I use to reside it, it can be a form of child support if both parties agree or the child is disabled for post secondary schooling. If he doesn’t have to pay for college, it looks like I have to apply for a student loan to finish up here. But the college I attend is very pricey which means I have to transfer next school year to an in state school. Education is important to me and to better myself. I just hope I get the truth and move from there. I just want my business degree and open my own fashion boutique. So tomorrow I’m going to see a woman in Financial office and call Legal Aid. Please keep me in your prayers! 🙂



A sense of humor is good. We all need that! 🙂

Hmmmm, I don’t know. I think they are more manipulative than psychic. Sometimes I think WE are so into them and so much in love with them that WE are the ones who become somewhat psychic…does that make sense to anyone?



Wow is right!! How creepy! Shudders!


Yes, Louise, that is what I think too. I think it’s our subconscious trying to help us by warning us or by making us understand.



What you explained is very logical and balanced.. It’s been very hard for me to tell my “behind from elbow” so to speak, because I WAS so tuned in. Leaving the relationship literally felt like splitting myself in half.

” So, I think purewater that with all the observing you did of your spath (because of hypervigilance) your subconscious is able to tell you when he’ll try to contact you, and tries to give you a warning he will. This seems freaky, but is actually a helpful thing. It can be seen as a ’headstart’, so that by the time he does call you, you’ll be more in control of yourself and less surprised. It’s an aid to avoid you beign taken off guard by him.”

I sometimes wonder if I’m not still reliving a panic response to the fear of being with him? Like some kind of “panic bond”.

I literally felt panic and fear for the majority the latter part of the relationship. Like a panic signal constantly firing, I couldn’t tell what was the panic or what was my intuition anymore. Also, like I mentioned before, he was really down deep in my life/heart/mind… I could feel him around and the strange extraordinary stuff that at first made me feel bonded, became a source of greif and terror.

And, unfortunately, the dreams and premonitions I have now always spawn more emotional stuff… like sadness, greif, fear, anger, etc.

If this makes any sense 😛


20 years:

“It is too hard for me, at this time, to get my mind around “destiny” or” why I might be tricked or fooled into being with someone who is psychopathic, when yes absolutely there are deep, spiritual lessons to be had from the experience. So, in the end, will it turn out to be true that these were lessons I had chosen to learn in this lifetime? I am still on the fence about what to make of all of that.”

I am on the fence about this, too. As it’s hard for me to accept that if there’s a loving God, why would he send someone to almost completely soul-destroy me?

I do accept some responsibility here, because I had a lot of warning signals. And, the last time when he went to Texas, and was supposed to stay there for good… he called me 3 days later and wanted me to help him get back.

God really, really put it down on me to not give in and go back again, and I had really moved on at that point (I felt really positive)… and then I stupidly gave in and bought him a plane ticket home. He never paid me back, of course. And, 1 week later I was pregnant.


I’m not too bright. But, still get angry about the whole way this plays into God and spirituality.


I understand… I’m sure that my predictive intial deam about my spath was a warning though. Trouble with dreams is that the only thing that is NOT symbolical are the emotions you feel during the dream, and it’s exactly those emotions in a spath relationship that are confusing us. We can’t explain them and feel so strong and that’s when we start to think ‘destiny’ and such.

I know it’s hard not to feel things, for us. But that’s why I gave you the ‘you get a headstart’ explanation for you. Just a question… when had the sign he was gonna contact you, you probably were very emotional based on that. But what happened when he did contact you? Were you able to gain more control? Had the emotional reaction lessened? If so, try to compare the actual response to him when he contacted you and your initial response at warning he would contact you? Which one would you prefer him to have witnessed?

PS I’m spiritual, but not a believer of the supernatural nor destiny. And whenever I was compelled to believe something was destiny purely based on emotions in my life, I learned that I had it wrong. It were important encounters to learn something out of it, to help me on my truer path… but my emotions made more of it than necessary and tried to hold on, using ‘it’s destiny feelings’ as an argument. I was proven wrong each time. I could have spared myself a whole lot of extra unnecessary hurt without it.

Anyway, whatever your beleifs of the source… you can use the alternative insights (psychic or subconscious) to your advantage, as a form of intuition to help you.


Seriously 20 years,
those are my thoughts as well. If nobody believes us when we tell them what ACTUALLY happened, who is going to believe us if we start up with the dreams and psychobabble. BUT we can’t deny it to ourselves.

On that note, I had another dream just a few days ago. It was funny and bizarre. I was in the back seat of my car (not a car I recognize but it was mine) with… are you ready….? get this: Ziggy, that loveable cartoon character.

Yes, it didn’t seem strange to me in the dream that I was talking and interacting with a life sized, 2-dimensional cardboard cutout. Anyway, he wanted to drive, but I wanted to go to sleep. It was night time and I was tired so I gave him the keys and told him he could drive. Unfortunately, he had some kind of accident, I can’t remember what kind. The end result was that I had to go to court because it was my car and I was responsible. I told some people that it was Ziggy who was driving, but as I was explaining to them, I realized how utterly unbelievable it was to them that there was a cartoon character driving my car. And that if I went to court with that story, I would not be believed.

I woke up laughing. It’s not hard to translate the dream. The car represents my life and the direction it took. I gave the keys to my life to a spath. Spaths are 2-dimensional cartoon characters with no depth. He did look innocent and loveable, like Ziggy. I gave up control of my life to an imaginary character because I was tired and wanted to rest. It caused all kinds of trouble in my life and no matter who I tell the truth to, nobody is going to believe it.


I’m assuming this is for me and not 20 years…

“But what happened when he did contact you? Were you able to gain more control? Had the emotional reaction lessened? If so, try to compare the actual response to him when he contacted you and your initial response at warning he would contact you? Which one would you prefer him to have witnessed? ”

I’ll try to remember specifically… the time with the premonition of the black figure was spooky, and when he called I always felt like doomed, nervous and maybe a little relieved and happy?

With him I felt in love but afraid all the same time. It was a mix of belonging, safety, and abuse all mixed into one thing. He would call me and demand me to be with him, or to pick him up somewhere… it was almost always in his control and in his terms. And, don’t even ask me how he got me so brainwashed… I probably couldn’t completely explain.

When I was pregnant, I tried going no contact. When he would contact me, he would be sweet at first, and then say the most horrifically terrible things… I always felt anxiety when he contacted me because there was no reasoning with him, he could get angry, say something terrible, hang up/call back, or call if I didn’t answer repeatedly until he would get a reaction…

So, I guess it was a duality of things there… some part of me felt relief because I hoped we could reconcile through speaking, but there was another part that just felt totally fearful and doomed, scared.

If I compared the premonitions to the feelings I had when he contacted me… I suppose they are similar. Yes. It’s a mix of remaining love, and fear, and hurt, anger… just a whole ocean full of turbulence there. It is similar.

Was I able to gain more control when he contacted me? I suppose in a way, yes. Because something about being with him and believing or pretending things could be or would be normal was better than the chaos standing ahead of me… I didn’t always know what he was or how to fix the situation I was in… I can thank Dr. Phil shows for turning me onto the term “sociopath”… before that I was lost.

“If so, try to compare the actual response to him when he contacted you and your initial response at warning he would contact you? Which one would you prefer him to have witnessed?”

I would have prefered him to witness the reaction I have from the premonition – because I would have run in the opposite direction! I was so pliable with him, so much like a zombie, so weak with him… I didn’t have it in me to resist, I just didn’t understand what he was.

I would have said… get the hell away. Or, something nastier… Actually, I would have just changed my phone number and left town earlier than I did 😀


And, I think I just got what you are saying Darwinsmom…

The INITIAL response to the premonition, like the freaked out sick feeling… compared to the actual response to the sociopath…

Maybe you are basically saying that my intuition was trying to JAR me AWAKE! Gotcha.


Exactly! you had a chance to freak out and rant in private, so it was out of your system by the time he contacted you. Maybe you wish you could rant and freak out to him, but you already know it would be just giving him the drama he’s vying for. You may have felt like zombie when he contacted you, but that zombie feeling also made your responses to him calmer and thereby unwittingly grey rocking him.



I realized hindsight how important gut instincts and intuition is… Just never made those connections, so you asked some good questions.

What does “grey rocking” mean, by the way?

And, yes. I did wish I could rant and freak out with him, but he wouldn’t allow it. He would either abandon me, abuse me, call me and harass me, etc.

Any sort of resistence would always make my “punishment” worse if I fought back… and everytime I left, when we reconciled, his behavior towards me got worse and worse… he felt justified in pretty much torturing me.

Basically, I had to be his servant, no reactions no fighting back. I was an “owned” person.

It’s interesting how you said the premonitions I had in safety how they allowed me to have the correct response to my situation. Really cool perspective. Never thought of this stuff this way before.


Well, this actually helps… instead of seeing the premonitions as a product of mr. psycho… I can thank MYSELF for trying to save myself!!!




Grey rocking means becoming dull to them. There are two things that spaths abhor: being bored and being ignored. No Contact gets you off them and get a clearer view, while it’s the sole thing that they hate from the one they wish to control and posess. What they run from though on their own accord is boredom, instead they love drama (especially when they are the cause of it). So, when you can give calm sounding short responses and talk about daily stuff (such as the weather or watering plants) you become like an inspicuous Grey Rock to them, something they voluntarily wish to get away from.

So, when you fought back, you gave in to his need of drama. You gave him what he wanted the most. And he punished you, to get more drama out of you. But at some point you have no energy to fight left anymore, and then you become boring and they go looking for new prey they get more drama from.


“Well, this actually helps” instead of seeing the premonitions as a product of mr. psycho” I can thank MYSELF for trying to save myself!!!”

Now that is self empowerment! TOWANDA!


Wow. This was really good info. Thanks.



That Ziggy dream is hilarious! 🙂


Sky, I think you got that car accident dream nailed down. The other dream you wrote about while spooning with him on the couch: you mentioned how you were studying him in that time. I don’t believe it’s really possible that he could take over your dream or mind, but I do think that, now that you were open to what person he was and you were so close to him, your dream gave you the opportunity to ‘experience’ what it’s like to be so unfeeling. It’s as if you were able to crawl into his skin for a moment. And that experience, no doubt, helped you to arm yourself to get away from him.

For myself, I will cherish the dream with his father. I don’t think the spirit of his dead father really waited for me there, but at least the memory of him and the knowledge that he cared about me from human to human, though he knew he tried to get his son to settle with me, feels like that in a way my ex’s father wanted to release me from his evil son (and I know from others that is what he called his son), wanted me to get a clearer perspective and give me his blessing to move on. Before he died, he had set up finances and inheritance in such a way that his youngest son could get his papers done and his plane tickets for Belguim without burdening me any more. I know he expressed the regard he had for me to other family members before he died. But I also know that he would have turned around in his grave if he could have seen what his son was dong with it all after his death. And deep down I needed to make my peace with his father before I was ready to move on myself and face the truth about his son.


your spaths sounds like a dominating bully. So many of our spaths want drama. They want to see us fight back so that they can have an excuse to get angry and beat us down some more. When we fight back they ramp up the abuse until we “learn” to “respond correctly”, to quote my spath.

When we cower and walk on eggshells for them, they feel they have dominated us. One would think that would satisfy them, but it doesn’t because they are sadists. If you appease them, they just come back for more. They want constant and continual evidence that they have power over you. Their lust for power is never satisfied and and never enough. They will up the ante.

Grey rock is when you don’t give them any emotional reaction at all. We call it that because you must fade into the woodwork and become as noticeable as a little gray pebble among the millions in the landscape.

Give them no drama, no appeasement, no happiness or sadness. Nothing. Often times it becomes to boring for them to keep coming back because they don’t get the power trip they are looking for. I imagine though that, at first they will only try harder. But if you have money or assets, being boring will not make them go away – since they still want whatever you have.

In a sense you have to play dead. It might even require moving your assets into a trust and telling the spath you have sold or lost it. If you have kids, you have to pretend that they don’t matter to you, be very nonchalant about custody.

These are ways to use non-aggression to get rid of a spath. Others might be more successful using other methods but that’s the only thing I’ve been able to come up with.

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