By | January 18, 2013 104 Comments

The Red Flags of a Scammer

By Joyce Alexander, RNP (retired)

Tonight on the news I heard where a local Arkansas non-profit had been scammed for over $100,000 by an employee. It is not uncommon in today’s news to hear such things.

I recently came into contact with someone involved with a non-profit group that I will call “” because I do not believe the management of this group was in any way involved with what I think is the dishonesty of one of its employees. Here’s how I became involved with this group’s Texas representative.

In the effort to get support for my protest of my son William Patrick Alexander’s parole release, I decided to contact every “murder victim’s support” group in Texas or nationally. I Googled and found several groups that I thought would be appropriate to approach for help.

I sent each of these groups a cover letter by e-mail and attached the official police report from Ft. Worth, Texas, describing the vicious nature of the execution-style murder committed by my son when he killed 17-year old Jessica Witt in January, 1992. I asked each group to please send protest letters and gave my telephone number and a post office box address for them to contact me if they could be of any other assistance. Okay, I admit that this was probably not wise, but I did give these groups my telephone number. It was probably about midnight on a Sunday night when I sent out these e-mails.

About 12:30 a.m., my telephone rang. It was a man named “John Doe” calling from He had received my e mail and wanted to discuss my situation and how he could be of help. Even though I was half asleep when I answered the phone and my “gut” told me that there had to be something wrong, I spoke to him.

Red Flag Number One: A telephone call at an inappropriate time of day (or night, as the case may be).

The next day he called me again a couple of times and e-mailed me. I sent him an e-mail requesting that he not call me at that hour of the night any more. I also gave him some information about where he could obtain therapy for his PTSD that he said he had because his mother had been murdered.

Red Flag Number Two: Poor baby had PTSD ”¦ the pity ploy.

But being the helpful, compassionate person I am, I ignored this red flag as well. I suggested that he might want to read several books that we regularly recommend here for people to learn about psychopaths, Without Conscience by Bob Hare, The Sociopath Next Door, etc.

Then Red Flag Number Three: I received the following e-mail with a different e-mail address than [email protected]:

Please send all future emails to this address [email protected]

Thank you. I appreciate you taking the time to talk with me about such a sensitive subject.

take care,


toll free 1-800-XXX-XXX

P.S. I am a trained journalist. I was wondering if you would consider selling me the book and movie rights to your story at a reduced rate. (Red flag number four, but this time I was starting to listen to my gut.)

I asked him why the change in e-mail addresses and I received this answer.


I just want to keep all our business out of business so please use the aol account only.



Yep, the red flags are starting to get my attention by now. So I started to ask him what his motives were. When I questioned him about why he wanted to keep information away from his boss at, what his “private PR firm” could do for me, why he was trying to get “expense” money from me, either directly or indirectly, through the “book and movie rights” to my story, I got this response by e-mail:


I wanted to explain something. I – whether you believe it or not – am an honest man. And try to do things on the up and up. But not everyone is honest, as you have learned. And I have one fear. I don’t want my boss to say it is a conflict of interest for my company to represent you.

We have conflict of interest clauses in place so make sure we don’t do anything wrong. I am am afraid he will see something wrong with me representing you if you join I don’t know why I think this, but I have an inkling.

I honestly just want to help you and yes maybe make some of my money back and pay my expenses, but I am not and never have been motivated by money and greed. I was going to run this by my boss and see what he says. If he says I can’t represent you I was going to do it on the side and do everything through my legal name James John Doe. Everyone calls me John, but I was born with the name James – that is another story.

So you see, this has nothing to do with a scam but my fear that my boss will say that there is a conflict of interest regarding me representing you. I hope this makes sense to you, because I really want to help you even if I don’t make a dime. I want to do the right thing.

I wouldn’t get involved otherwise. We are talking many, many hours of work without pay and me bringing in other people and asking them to work without pay as well.

That is the truth. I will take a lie detector and pay for the expense if you like. But that is what I am worried about and why I don’t want any paper trial to my biz e-mail account. Because if my boss sees a conflict of interest I don’t want him to tell me “no I can’t represent you.” I am willing to take that chance. And work for you behind his back – I don’t want to do that but I will, because I think we can work together and I think I can help you.

That is all for now. And, God knows that is the truth. I will call you later today at a normal hour to discuss this further.

Thank you for your attention.


P.S. Feel free to phone me at XXX-XXXX. That is my home line. I have a 9 a.m. appointment that should last an hour and some afternoon and night meeting, but otherwise I am free.

Notice the various RED FLAGS in his communications ”¦ trying to convince me he is “honest” and this is “not a scam,” just to “make back his expenses.” In another e-mail, he says that the profits from my story can be used to set up a scholarship in Jessica Witt’s name. How altruistic of him.

Dropping names

In several telephone conversations with me, John mentioned a man who has a very high level position in the office of a politician in Texas. This man, I’ll call him Fred Smith, was suggested to me by Parents of Murdered Children as a “go to” person to get some publicity for my “cause.” Then my attorney also mentioned this man as a “go to” person. I had actually talked to him on the phone before John Doe mentioned Fred as his “close friend.” By now I realized that John is a scammer and that he is slinging around the name of this legitimate man, Fred Smith, and I was at a bit of a quandry about how to handle this.

I really didn’t “know” Fred Smith, except for just the one telephone call, but I wanted to let him know that his name was being bandied around by a scammer. I also figured that if John is trying to scam me, he is probably also trying to scam other survivors of murders. I hesitated to report him now, because I was afraid he would sabotage my efforts in Patrick’s parole protest somehow—maybe with Fred Smith and who knows who else. But I finally decided to go ahead. I wrote a letter to Fred Smith explaining the sequence of it all, and sent it to him, along with copies of the e-mails from John Doe.

I also contacted the national office of and spoke to the new executive director about the problem. I sent him copies of the e-mails, and a copy of the letter I had sent to Fred Smith. I wanted the executive director to know that I was not going to hide this problem and I wasn’t going to allow him to either.

I got back an e mail saying that this was probably just a “misunderstanding.”

I spoke for over an hour the other day with Mr. Executive Director. After he had had time to completely review the e-mails, he agreed with me that this was dishonesty. He would “handle the situation” and let me know in a week how it was “handled.” I informed Mr. Executive Director that if John Doe did not lose his job, then I would be forced to go to the media, along with Fred Smith’s assistance. Fred Smith is not happy at all about his name being bandied about by someone who is trying to con money from victims via a non-profit. I don’t think wants this kind of negative publicity.

The RED FLAGS of a con are apparent in looking at this case in retrospect:

  • The man called me on the telephone at an inappropriate time of day for a business-type call.
  • His assurances to me when I questioned him about the different e-mail address, the hiding things from his boss, etc.
  • The Pity Ploy of “I have PTSD.”
  • “I’m going to help you even if my boss says I can’t.”
Con jobs are basically the same

Though this particular con job was an apparent attempt to find some way to gain financially from me, the basic types of red flags are the same in any kind of psychopathic con job. Whether it is business or love, the red flags are the same: The attempts to get you to trust them, even though there is evidence that they are doing something not quite on the up and up. The explaining away their dishonesty for the “greater good.” The attempts to get you to pity them or identify with them as victims, or to get you to help them. The promises to help you.

Donna’s book The Red Flags of Love Fraud outlines the various ways in which we can identify a potential lover’s psychopathic attempts at conning us. These red flags should not just be limited to romantic relationships, but applied to every relationship in all business or personal parts of our lives. Who would have thought a con man would be representing a legitimate victim’s advocate group?

I had a “gut feeling” from the first telephone call due, to the hour he called, and I should have listened to my gut then. At least, because I am familiar with the red flags, I did pick up on his con a lot sooner than I would have if I hadn’t been “tuned in.” Who knows? Without my understanding of the red flags of a con job, I might have been desperate enough to have given this man money to “help” me ”¦ after all, he was willing to take a lie detector test to prove to me how “honest” he was.

I am a bit further along in the healing process than many of the survivors of murder victims may be and I didn’t fall for the ruse that John Doe presented. Still, it sets my teeth on edge to think that maybe he has conned some unsuspecting and hurting survivor of a murder victim into “hiring” him to represent them with the police to try to solve their unsolved case, or some other “service” he purported to provide.

Regardless of what kind of relationship you had (personal, family, business, or romantic) with a psychopath, learn the RED FLAGS and apply them liberally to relationships of all kinds in your life. You may still get “zinged” from time to time, but the episodes will be shorter and less severe than if you didn’t pay attention to red flags and honor them when you see them.

Oh, and by the way, I got a call from Mr. Executive Director to tell me that John Doe no longer works at

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JOYCE!!!!!!!!!!!!! THank you SO Much for this article and I am just disgusted that people use well-intended organizations for their own purposes.

This is something that I’m horrified that you experienced – you’ve got ENOUGH going on without someone trying to run a con on such a volatile situation. But, I’m so very grateful that you’ve posted your experiences with this would-be con because we primarily discuss romantic spaths and cons, and these people are out there in groups and HERDS. ANY person who is traumatized and vulnerable is subject to a con, and they aren’t always romantic, in nature.

Again, thank you so much for sharing this despicable experience. The rat-bastid! Makes me stomp my foot and growl!

Brightest blessings and TOWANDA for putting the brakes on THIS con!!!!

EDIT ADD: This really pisses me off. And, it also frightens me that predators are working EVERY avenue as in-roads for a con. Dammit, jannit! Good for you for making noise about it, Joyce. That took a LOT of courage!


I appreciate this article. It is helpful to see where and how you are in the process (step by step) of recognizing red flags of a con/scam, and how you respond each step of the way.

How you had a gut feeling, didn’t pay attention to it at first, but a few more red flags allowed you to “connect the dots” and handle this before it got too far. Good work!

And your article is timely, because I am peripherally involved in a difficult situation, and if people here have direct advice or thoughts on any sort of solution, I welcome it (it feels like a chessgame where you are blocked and cannot move. I’d love to know if there are any moves available).

In this case, for two years I’ve watched a situation that screamed “sociopath!” to me but I held off judgment for a long while, collecting the red flags to be certain. now, I am certain. I can understand how we Lovefraud victims are extremely cautious in labeling anything that moves a sociopath; we do want to give some benefit of the doubt — I think that is who we are. We need to be certain and allow a certain number and combination of red flags to add up, first. I know I’m much better at detecting smooth operators than I used to be.

Here goes: I have been dating a very nice, very poor man for about two years. I mentioned him awhile ago here, and some of you raised cautions about his financial situation, in case it was a pity play and I might be taken advantage of. I’m still mindful of that, but as it is evolving, he does seem to be an honest, very kind man who is in difficult circumstances who doesn’t want my money or for me to bail him out in any way. We do not live together. We are both keeping some firm boundaries, mostly because I have teenage daughters who are unaccepting of the relationship. For now, this is working out OK though it is not ideal. It is hard for me, for example, to see that he struggles to buy nutritious food. I have him over for dinner a couple times a week. He will not allow me to help him (financially) even in small ways. Whenever he has a seemingly spare $10 (which he doesn’t really have), he takes me out on a very modest date to split a “half price” pizza or sub. I’m old enough I don’t need the fancy date nights any more. I love his companionship. In any case…. we have these boundaries worked out, pretty much.

About a year ago when things were already definitely going well in the relationship, he and I discussed the future/where things were headed — marriage? We both decided that while we each felt that way, his financial problems might end up becoming mine, if we joined legally (he had already had a bankruptcy, and in the bankruptcy, you cannot discharge student loans. That is the problem).

He has three children. When his wife died suddenly 6 years ago, his middle son “Daniel”, the one who was always supposed to become “the doctor,” was in his freshman or sophomore year of college. The wife had taken out some student loans for him, in her name, and when she died those loans were discharged. Like many families, they had not prepared for early death of a spouse/parent with insurance or a will even, so all my BF “Bill” could do was sell the house which went half to him, and the other half split between the kids. That money ran out in about a year. Bill was always the stay at home dad and he worked as a handyman, but was not the primary breadwinner.

When Daniel needed more student loans to finish college, at first Bill took out a couple small parent loans. But when Daniel needed more, Bill said, “I can’t do any more. I don’t have any more money. You will need to do it; you will need to pay them.” Bill co-signed Daniel’s loans but made it clear, “I cannot pay these at all.” Daniel agreed and said he understood.

Fast forward to the two years I have known Bill. Daniel is now 25 years old. He graduated from college about 3 years ago. He has never made a payment on his student loans; Bill has been paying them. From time to time, Bill would arrange with Sallie Mae to suspend the payments for a period of time (this always comes at a cost) because he didn’t have any money to pay them.

At first, two years ago, Bill expressed pride in his son Daniel for being such a hardworking student with ambitions to be a doctor, a smart and attractive young man with a bright future. He also expressed some parental exasperation for all of the parking tickets Daniel would get “because he was late to class and couldn’t find a spot” which would land in Bill’s mailbox because Bill was the co-owner of Daniel’s car and had him on his insurance policy, and Daniel would not pay the tickets on time, so after they doubled, Bill would receive the bill which HE now had to pay or it would affect HIS insurance. There are always consequences to BILL for not paying. It affects HIS financial situation… creditors can come after HIM. Or penalties are added. So he just pays and grits his teeth a little and expresses hope and faith that Daniel will eventually start taking over his responsibilities. He loves his son. (his sociopathic, parasitic son)

I asked Bill, why not get Daniel off your policy and you off the title of the car? Bill claimed that Daniel was hardly ever around (he lived an hour away) and he couldn’t seem to connect up with him in order to transfer tags/title.

And Daniels’ share of the insurance bill, too; he would not pay/reimburse Bill, who every month had to beg for the money through text messages. Daniel appeared to be just very hard to reach and non-responsive, always promising to pay the bill, never paying the bill, and this was also true of the student loan bill (about $350 a month which is such a high amount for Bill that he often struggles to buy food).

Sorry for the excruciating detail. I could go on more about it, but basically after two years of my watching this situation, I see that Bill is angry and resigned to the situation. Daniel appears to me to be a sociopath, willing to let his dad suffer in poverty (can’t afford food, clothing, gasoline, new eyeglasses which he desperately needs). Daniel claims he is studying for and applying to medical school. Daniel has a good medical assistant job, Daniel bought himself a fancy new convertible (and is off the shared car insurance finally as of 7 months ago; the jointly-owned car finally broke down, and THAT was what it took to get Daniel to contact his dad and work with him to get the tags/title stuff dealt with). Daniel lives in a house shared with 3 other young, professional men. Daniel keeps jerking his dad around by telling him he “set up automatic payments” for his student loan, or is going to pay it, or something…. and then Bill gets threatening phone calls from Sallie Mae that his bank account will be seized if he doesn’t pay. Because Daniel has never made a single student loan payment on this loan which Bill co-signed.

For a long time, Bill just thought “poor Daniel, his mom died. I have to take care of him. He is having trouble growing up. He needs this college degree. I have to co-sign, it is my duty as his dad; his mom would have wanted this. I do this in her memory. He will grow up at some point and assume these adult responsibilities. I am worried about him — maybe HE is struggling financially and can’t afford to eat! maybe THAT’S why he is not paying on these things…”

And now Bill just is trying not to feel completely devastated at the selfishness of his son, the disrespect from the son whom he hasn’t seen in a year, who won’t talk to him. Who sends him lying texts that he “has set up automatic payments.” He no longer believes a word this son says. He feels this horrible betrayal at the disrespect of a son he tried so hard to do right by, after mom died so suddenly/unexpectedly.

My question is of an entirely practical nature: given that his son is 99% probably a sociopath (in my view), are there any moves available to Bill at all? Financially. Legally. Any solutions to the problem that Bill is quite honestly too poor to pay 40% of his income to Sallie Mae. He needs to eat. He eats saltines, cereal and cinnamon toast some days because he has no money. It makes me sick with worry. I know student loans are tricky. Bill believes in paying his debts. So he would rather pay this debt and starve. This one ($350 a month) is in Daniel’s name and Bill is the co-signer. If Sallie Mae makes good on its threat to “seize Bill’s bank account,” would not Daniel’s bank account also get seized? anyone know anything about this? Are there any possible moves available to Bill so that he can have enough money to live on?

It doesn’t seem that there is any possibility of appeal to “the goodness of” Daniel’s heart. Bill can’t even reach Daniel, except through text message. He isn’t willing to go stare his son in the eyes and say, “your dad can’t buy eyeglasses or food. Please pay your own bills.” This isn’t really MY problem but I love Bill so I am sad and concerned.

Bill really doesn’t have the money. And he is in his mid-60s and is getting to a point where he can’t work much anymore though he tries very hard and is so very willing to work his a$$ off. He works hard but doesn’t make enough to pay about $600 in student loans each month ($350 of which are Daniel’s loans; the others are parent loans and belong to Bill). These loans will follow him until the day he dies. They will never be paid off. Bill makes about $1500 a month (gross).

Anyway, it’s a sad situation, it will prevent Bill and me from ever marrying, which makes me sad. While I am solvent and self supporting, I am paycheck to paycheck myself and have 3 kids of my own who haven’t started college yet. If I won the lottery, I’d pay off these loans. But in the real world, Bill and I have an understanding that his financial burdens are not going to become my burdens.

Sorry this is so long. Appreciate any words on any moves available to Bill at this point. I am getting my mind around the idea that he will carry this debt with him to the grave, which might be Daniel’s plan. It’s so sad to see Bill so emotionally devastated by the betrayal of a thankless son he loves and cares for. I know this pain; you do anything you can, for a very long time, to come up with rational excuses and explanations for behaviors like this — whether it is in a spouse or a parent or a child. It’s so hard when it is your child.



Back to the topic of the article. YES, it is so sick that predators prey on the weak.

But, isn’t that what they DO?

That IS what they do!

I know it isn’t true that niceness = weakness. Niceness is just one of the “red flags” of a potential victim! (I think predators have their OWN “red flag” playbook — what to look for in their victims).

And vulnerability from a death in the family, especially a sudden death or a murder or suicide… that must send out screaming signals/red flags to potential predators!!!

Joyce made ALL the right moves in countering the spath aggression towards her. In fact, it was probably one of those most delightful times when spaths get it right back at them.

Like spaths can lovebomb us (although theirs is deliberate and cunning, to fool us and suck us in), I think Joyce inadvertently presented an initial appearance of vulnerability that probably really got that spath salivating. Then, like spaths show us their true colors, Joyce showed hers — probably gobsmacked him. Totally didn’t expect that.

Sorry, that’s a bit of a mean view.

I worked in several nonprofits, years ago, and they are riddled with corruption. It is a great place for spaths to work because it is under the guise or mask of doing something for the good of others, or the planet, or something. there certainly are nice people who work at non-profits, too. Just that I found some of the most devious devils there, too.


20Years, indeed, non-profit organizations can be absolute hotbeds for spaths. Under the guise of altruism, they are often the WORST places for spaths to congregate! And, it’s terrible because there really are some “good” people working in many non-profits, but the predators overshadow their altruism.

Joyce pulled the plug on the con and her experiences very much remind me that predators are EVERYwhere and not always romantic, in nature.

On to you question about Bill’s options.

Bill has co-signed a number of legal financial contracts and is, therefore, liable. Sadly, too many parents do this for their children because they feel OBLIGATED to do so, and it’s never a good idea unless the adult child is 100% trustworthy and has proven that they are.

Bill may want to consult an attorney, but this would cost him money that he simply doesn’t have. There are other options:
* Contact the State’s Motor Vehicle Department to find out what options are available
* Contact all loan companies and find out what options are available, particularly WHO the “primary” is on each loan
* Shut this kid out of his life with “No Contact” because this young man is not going to satisfy his financial obligations
* Recommend counseling therapy so that Bill is able to process the facts about his own offspring

Unfortunately, there may not be any legal remedies for Bill – he signed documents and is therefore responsible for satisfying the debts. I don’t have any suggestions with regard to the student loans. He can stop paying them and, perhaps, the companies will go after the son, but I can’t really speak with any experience on this.

Also, if Bill has nothing left – no real income, no real estate, no assets, etc., then he can simply stop paying these things and contact Legal Aid for help.

I hope that others might have a far better list of options – these are just the ones that I could think of.

Brightest blessings


OxD, something just occurred to me in your article, above. The “dropping names” bit is GLARING to me because the exspath claimed to have had brief contact with a number of celebrities – bumped into someone in a bar, or auditioned for someone, etc…..

Dropping names is also something that the female ex-con spath did, frequently. She always made it sound as if she were on a first-name basis with local movers and shakers.

VERY interesting……

I hope you don’t hate me for saying this, but “stay at home dad whose wife died” reads to me like, “guy whose meal ticket died.”

I know too many of these guys who want the wife to earn a living so they don’t have to. They appear rather helpless, pitiful, good souls that the world would eat up and spit out. Actually, they are toxic. The entire story is a red flag to me, the data and the meta data.

Flag one, is the stay at home dad story.
Flag two is your emotional response to him: you want to save him.
Flag three, is the victim story. How is it he didn’t know who his son was by the time the kid is ready for college? Why didn’t he ACT and take the kid’s car from him the first time he didn’t pay his tickets?

Even if this guy is as helpless as he portrays himself, it speaks of very poor boundaries and the inability to plan. Those traits don’t usually stand alone, they’re usually the tip of the iceberg.

20, the last guy who presented himself to me as helpless and victimized by the world, was my spath. And he was the nicest, sweetest man who loved animals and children. He was worthy of all the 2nd and 3rd chances to finally make something of himself (with my help, of course).

I was living with him and still, it took several years for Mr. Nice guy to disappear and Mr. Hyde to show up. They can put on the mask as long as it takes.

So your daughters don’t like him? Why not?

20years, I’m was just like you. It was a point of pride that I didn’t choose my friends and companions by how well off they were. People like that are shallow, right? I was comfortable and liked helping people whenever I could. Well, with that attitude, I might as well paint the word victim on my forehead.

I know you will never believe me, that this man is toxic, because you love him. But you do realize that you are investing your precious time in this man who shows no signs of getting his act together. There is no future here, as long as you maintain your boundaries.

My suggestion to you is that you bail, or you move forward and give him rope. Let the boundaries drop and make yourself appear vulnerable to him. Really vulnerable. It’s only then that you will see his true nature. It will be painful, but you’ll save a lot of time. And time is all we really have, isn’t it?

I’m sorry, to have such a negative perspective. You probably really hate me by now, but I felt that if I don’t say it, then I’m guilty of not warning you, just like my parents didn’t warn me.

Ox Drover

20 years, your friend Bill is an enabler…a good hearted one who loves his son, who is at the very least a JERK and ABUSER.

I’m not sure what Bill’s legal options are but HE needs to check with an expert, like an attorney and HE needs to decide what to do about HIS son, and HIS problems.

I admire you for not becoming mired in Bills problems or taking them on to your shoulders because I can tell that Bill’s problems are keeping you and him from enjoying a closer relationship. It is a shame.

Also, as for your teenage daughters, I wouldn’t let them determine your relationship with Bill either.

I would encourage you to tell Bill that he might benefit from seeing a professional to find out what kind of options he has so that His lying piece of shiat son gets to pay the bills and not leave them for Bill. Good luck. I admire your honest and mature stance on this.

Ox Drover

20 years, I wrote my reply above to you before I read the others because I didn’t what to be influenced in my reply by what others said, but I think Sky has something in her reply.

I’m not adverse to EITHER parent being a “stay at home” mom or dad, so I’m just wanting to make that clear, in fact, I think that having a STAY AT HOME full time parent is a good thing especially for the first 6 or 8 years of a kid’s life.

That said, Bill doesn’t seem to be very ambitious at all, and he did sign papers that it retrospect at least, with his kid not being willing to keep up his end, turned out to be something that he couldn’t really do. (keep up the payments and live).

The “poor planning” of the couple before her death for the “death of the bread winner’ is unfortunately too common.

Is daniel his only child? Especially if so, it may be difficult for Bill to set boundaries for daniel. But I am like Sky, I don’t see this relationship going anywhere closer as long as Bill is going to continue in this situation without doing anything to call his son to task or get out of it. On the other hand, if you are content with the relationship as it is, then I think you can see what you can expect from the relationship and if that’s okay with you, then that’s your choice. If you are content with the relationship like it is, what’s wrong with that?


Skylar, you might be right. It’s not that I do not have doubts. I have and I do. I am glad for your honest assessment — a big reason I post here! People here can cut through a lot of the veils that most others cannot. I’m pondering…. and have been pondering for the past couple years.

So I’m in more of a truth-seeking mindset than a defending mindset. I might believe you that he is toxic. But I can be a slow learner. 🙂 By that I mean mostly that I have to actually open my eyes and SEE for myself, rather than just take someone’s word for it. Even if they (you) can see what I cannot quite yet see.

How might I give him rope/make myself vulnerable? If you have examples, I’m interested in hearing.

My gut has been telling me that he is a kind-hearted man, not a spath pretending (but you could very well be right that two years is not long enough to drop the mask, especially if I have these boundaries in place). The gut also has been telling me that I can’t expect anything different from what I am currently seeing (it is what it is; he is what he is). And the way I have been seeing his financial devastation after his wife died is that he did indeed fail to plan, fail to “put your own oxygen mask on before that of your child” which is not how I operate (I plan. I’m careful. I’m self responsible.) I have not wanted to condemn him for his failure to plan. Is it a red flag or tip of the iceberg, or just that we are different?

That is why my thoughts of marriage (a year ago) have now solidified into “I can never marry him.” Which is HUGE for me. I believe in love and marriage, as a sacred space where two people committed to each other can grow and share themselves with each other. The financial situation is a marriage dealbreaker for me, and it took me several months to get to that place.

But I had still thought/hoped for us to be partners. Thinking… I’m 50…. maybe that’s the best I can hope for at this age? And that I could completely protect my meager assets (which goes against my nature of sharing). But that I would have to — chances are I outlive him by a good number of years and to be self-responsible, I MUST take care of myself. (at the same time, money IS fungible, and if he owes $600 to Sallie Mae each month, that is money he cannot contribute to the household)

My daughters don’t like me to date — period. I don’t know if it is personal about Bill or not. It makes them uncomfortable. I think they like just having an all-girl household. Also, he smokes (outside) and we are not smokers. My kids find smoking disgusting and I am fine with it — I grew up around smokers. Different generation.

OK, here’s another probably screaming red flag I have been withholding: he has offered/hinted/suggested/made clear that if he lived with me, he could make my life so much easier by being my “helper” around the house — that he is so good at cleaning and running errands and home repairs that the current stress I experience from being a single parent trying to be the sole breadwinner, raise the kids, take care of the house, etc. would all be dramatically lessened because he would be there, sharing. I’ll admit while that does sound attractive/tempting to me, I also admit that I have felt for two years that he could give me a little voluntary demonstration of that (paint my bathroom, fix my broken back steps, come over and keep me company while I do chores and while he’s there, he might pitch in) — and he hasn’t. So it is all theoretical. I’m not exactly being love-bombed here. I am still very stressed and overwhelmed with being a single parent. I have suggested gently that since he seemed sad he had no money to buy me a Christmas present (no big deal) that if he wanted to, he could just come over and fix my broken lamp for me or something. 🙂 None of that has materialized. And I guess I have decided, OK, so that is pretty clear. I even offered to pay him to paint my bathroom, and he has turned me down! (it really needs painting). I am not demanding he “prove it.” I’m just opening the door, and he is not walking through it.

Lest this sound like I’m interested in using him (I know it can sound that way), that’s not it. It’s just that I am a favor-doing person; I’ll bring chicken soup or herbal teas to my friends/family when they are sick, I run errands for people, I drive other people’s kids places, and I have brought Bill food sometimes and given him small, useful gifts (toaster oven, coffee table, blanket) that he didn’t have and really needed and couldn’t afford to buy. So when he says “I’m a helper” I guess…. well, I’m a helper, and so I help, and then…. you reciprocate? When? How? Not that it is required, but if you SAY you are a helper, then I am not exactly seeing evidence.

I’m not emphasizing his wonderful qualities — he has many of them. You are right; I love him. I’m not at a point of rejecting him…

so what is your “rope” suggestion, Skylar? 🙂

Ox Drover

Truthy, yea, this guy just made my skin crawl. After I saw what his agenda was I told him we’d have to communicate mostly by e mail because I only had a pre paid cell phone and I couldn’t afford minutes..I thought that might turn him off–“she’s too poor to get money out of” but that didn’t work either, he was persistent I will give him THAT much!

II did what Erin Brock would call “backspathing” him, in other words, use his conning to catch him in a con-TRAP.

Then once “by accident” I sent a copy of an e mail to BOTH of the e mail addresses and BOY DID HE RESPOND QUICKLY,*** “do NOT use the address.”*** So I did get him to put in WRITING the cons, and how he WOULD go behind his boss’s back “to help you” and so on….

Then I began to wonder if the group was even legitimate, and yes, it was legitimate….so then I contacted the new exec director around New Years…he was away from his desk for about a week but when he got back and read the e mails fully, he no longer thought “it’s a misunderstanding” he saw it was DIS-honesty, so he asked me for a week to go to Texas and handle the situation in person and I gave it to him and right on schedule,, he called me back to tell me he had fired John Doe.

I informed the political person whose name had been bandied about of that…and also informed Mr. Executive director that I had told “Fred Smith” about John’s firing and that there should not be any smirch on the organization’s name because of it.

Yea, it makes me grind my teeth to think this jerk had actually probably conned some poor victim’s family out of money or more importantly HOPE—but he will move on to some other con job in some way I am sure.

Mr. Executive Director wanted to think that John Doe had “learned his lesson” and I said, “No, Mr. Director, con men don’t “learn a lesson” they just move on to another con, but at least he isn’t YOUR problem any more.”

But yea, I was NEEDING a “win” about now, and this was very satisfying in the end result. I hope it is a good omen for all of us for winning over the spaths this year!



to respond more directly to you. Daniel is his middle son. The other two are growing up to be responsible young men, respectful to their father, but in my assessment, all three kids probably had an extremely hands-on, devoted mom (despite her primary breadwinner status) and I say that because they all 3 appear to have some degree of being adrift… or maybe that is just what the sudden loss of a wonderful mom does to a child, especially if the dad is so grief-stricken he can’t get it together to step up and fill the breach. Bill has always worked — it is just that he worked evenings and stayed with the kids during the day. His wife worked days and stayed home evenings. She earned more than he did.

There are a lot of nice things between me and Bill. I know this is his problem to solve with his kid. I can’t solve it for him or make him solve it, but I wish he would because it impacts my decision on a future with him.

If he has NO moves available to him, I have to live with that and decide accordingly (it is a huge chunk of change and I absolutely would have to keep our finances separate…. I guess the “vision” of the future I have now with him, if we proceed, is that he moves in with me once my girls leave for college, he continues to do his handyman work which would bring in enough to help contribute, if his son would pay his loan. But with the debt as high as it is…. I know what would happen. Bill’s car would break down. He wouldn’t be able to afford repair or replacement, and I would not be able to stand by and watch him try to function without a vehicle. I would end up helping — with money I do not have. If I had the money — no issue. But I barely scrape by myself.

I have a nice house, car, nice things in the house, ONLY because I got some settlement in my divorces and I am able to hang onto them ONLY because I have a job that just barely pays my bills. I look a lot better off than I am. And I am much better off than Bill is.

I don’t know if Bill can get the backbone to go to Daniel and demand he pay his student loan. But I also don’t think it would do a bit of good, and I don’t know that Bill has any leverage over Daniel. I don’t know how debt collectors go after co-signers. Do they first seize the assets of the primary person (Daniel?) and THEN go after Bill? Or do they go straight to Bill, since Daniel apparently is not paying?

I just don’t think Daniel is experiencing ANY consequences for his selfishness.

Anyway…. I really appreciate your perspectives. I also didn’t want to hijack your thread about nonprofits and red flags of other sorts of conmen!


Oxy, so true: “conmen don’t learn a lesson.”

I was trying to think maybe there was SOME sort of lesson they could learn…. but NOPE. Once they see you cannot be a supply to them, they don’t waste any time in moving onto the next target. Cut their losses.

Ox Drover

20 years, yea, don’t hold your breath til he paints your bathroom—and yea, you are right. You opened the door for him to SHOW you how helpful he would be and he DID NOT WALK THROUGH IT.

I remember a day once a few years ago when a guy I knew from my living history group came over and wanted to borrow some money from me, and my house needed painting and the guy made his living as a house painter so I said, “well instead of loaning you money which I can’t afford to do, how about if I PAY YOU TO PAINT MY HOUSE and I will even let you stay here and feed you til it is done?”

Well, that flew like a LEAD BALLOON. LOL He didn’t know how to estimate the cost of the job, and this and that, and he really just needed to BORROW the money…well…you know, I’m like you, I PREPARE and try to PLAN AHEAD financially because I have my grandparents’ “depression era mentality” of “save, save for tomorrow we may starve.” And my saving and planning is the reason that I have a paid for roof over my head. I tried to teach my sons this and unfortunately, son C though he is a very hard worker and a great employee, spends every dime he makes every week, if not on expenses, then on toys and saves nothing for a rainy day…and I no longer bail him out come a rainy day. I always made him pay it back, but I still did loan him the money to bail himself out. No more. If he were homeless I would however, drive him to the closest Salvation Army shelter if it was raining or snowing. If it was a nice day, he could walk.

I know that sounds harsh, but people must be responsible for the consequences of their LACK OF PLANNING. Lots of folks I know drive $50,000 pick up trucks, and own big new homes with lots of new furniture all on borrowed money and if they miss one pay check because of illness their whole house of cards would come tumbling down.

I have a “friend” who is a spend thrift, she and her husband who is about to lose his job due to ill health, just got a reverse mortgage on their home (their only asset) to cover huge credit card bills, and now she is going out and buying $4600 in living room furniture and a new pick up truck. I drive an old POS truck and my living room furniture is all paid for and actually old (antiques are my thing) but I have a little bit of money in the bank and I guarantee she won’t have a dime in a few months and they have no more assets to cannibalize. I used to feel sorry for her husband, whom my son and I really like, but you know, I am at a point now where I see that he ENABLES her to do this kind of thing, so, it is as much on HIS HEAD as hers.

So, what I am getting at in this rambling post is that YOUR MONETARY PLANNING and his LACK OF IT are going to be a problem in a marriage….and I am going to bet that his “helping” you would be problematic as well. IF HE AIN’T HELPING YOU NOW, he AIN’T GONNA BE when you are married.

Ox Drover

ps If he can afford cigarettes he can afford FOOD–as a former smoker, I have NO sympathy for someone who can afford cigarettes and can’t afford food. It is a matter of PRIORITY.

Ox Drover

20 years, you aren’t hijacking the thread, Daniel IS A CON MAN….and his dad sure is a non-profit. LOL

I agree that Bill’s lack of financial planning would and could become yours if you were married.

The thing that bothers me the most about him and your story about him is that he is NOT HELPING OUT NOW. Fixing things etc. THAT is a BIG RED FLAG to me. If he is such a good friend, and so kind hearted, and so on, he would WANT to help you..the fact he wouldn’t paint your bathroom even for pay is a big red flag to me anyway.


20years, if these Sallie Mae loans are federally guaranteed student loans it might be an option to request a percentage of income payment plan. It’s not difficult at all to go through the process. My eldest son is in his second year of IBR student loan payments because the economy is still so bad.

Private Sallie Mae loans are different. What about consolidation to reduce payments?

This is going to mean the son who avoids him will have to get involved in the process too. If it was my kid and I was doing without food in order to repay student loans, I’d be sitting on his damned doorstep every day waiting for him to get home.


OxD, I agree that affording tobacco means affording food – I’m an example of hoarding tobacco when I was able to! ROTFLMAO!!! I’m actually rolling my own using tobacco that I had stockpiled over a year ago.

20Years, there are some things about your description of this relationship that have me on serious edge. The absence of ambition is the first issue. Your daughter’s don’t particularly like this guy, and that’s the next issue – normally, children WANT to see their parent happy, especially if they know what that parent has survived. Next, Daniel is a user and abuser and his father is enabling him (wilfully so). Finally, you’re describing possible future scenarios that invovle RESCUING Bill.

I can completely identify with your desire to enjoy a healthy, loving relationship, and you DESERVE this for yourself. But, your own words said that you APPEAR to be better off than you actually are – appearances mean a GREAT deal to people with an agenda.

I’m beginning to float more in the direction of observing that Bill, his family, his issues, and everything surrounding this situation is 100% toxic for you, personally. You’ve come TOO far in your recovery to allow another toxic person to damage you, whether they’re spath or just toxic.

The best thing that I can offer is this: CAUTION. Something is not right about this man’s situation, and it’s worrisome.

Brightest blessings


HA! HA! HA! Good one, Oxy. 🙂

So maybe I have ALREADY given him the rope 😉

I don’t find your attitude harsh at all. It is very similar to mine. I’m just very focused on being self sufficient so that I am not a burden to anyone. Once I achieve that, then and only then am I in a position to help anyone.

I agree about the cigarettes. I haven’t been a smoker and I know they are hard to quit, but they are SO expensive — easily 50 bucks a week. If it were me, I’d find a way.

He also gives $25 a month to the Salvation Army because he believes he should be charitable. Meanwhile, he eats saltines.

And I am just noticing that I do things very differently. Well, like I said, maybe I’m a slow learner. 🙂


DawnG, I appreciate that information. I can’t remember if the loans are private or not.

I totally agree with you about sitting on the son’s doorstep! Bill won’t do that, but I sure would, if it were my kid who wasn’t paying and was avoiding all contact with me.


Truthspeak, I appreciate your words of caution. I am now thinking to myself, I have placed very firm boundaries around myself and my household — I say it is because my daughters don’t accept the relationship — but I think there is also an element of hesitation or resistance on my part. You know how they say, something that “gives me pause.” And the daughters are a convenient and plausible excuse to buy me time. I’m pretty sure if I didn’t have my girls living with me, he would already have moved in. I have wanted VERY MUCH to have seen some of these issues (red flags?) resolving… and they haven’t been really resolving. Some of them have, but there are big ones remaining.


20years, ((((BIG HUGS)))))

You know, my son keeps telling me that he wants me to “find somebody” and I keep telling him that it just ain’t in MY deck of cards. It’s not that I wouldn’t be able to appreciate a companion, but I have so many, many issues that have to be resolved (or, even addressed) before I even entertain the notion that I’ll be plant-food before I get to that point. So, I’m resigned to my solitude.

Perhaps, your personal “hesistation” hasn’t been without tremendous merit, 20years. That Bill actually gives $25 to charity and can’t afford a pot to piss in or a window to through it OUT of is a screaming, flapping, waving “Red Flag” to me. I’ve given to charity in the past, and I’m in such a state that I’m having to reach OUT to charity in order to survive. Literally, not metaphorically. And, that simply does NOT make sense to me.

I can’t tell you what you “should” do, 20years. But, I know what I would do, and I would be very nice and gentle about it – no drama/trauma or accusations. Just a succinct, “You know, this isn’t going to work out for me. Take care! Bye-bye, then.”

Hugs and hugs and brightest blessings

Ox Drover

20 years, money issues are BIG issues….and so is the “giving” thing. If he is so “chairitable” then one way you show CHARITY is to HELP YOUR FRIENDS–and fixing things for you to help you out is a great way to say “happy birthday” or “Merry Christmas”

My son C, after he spent all his money for toys for himself had no money and when Christmas came he SUDDENLY had become a believer in a religion that did not celebrate Christmas, so he gave us NOTHING…but he DID ACCEPT our gifts to him. LOL

My sons and I don’t do a “big gift exchange” anyway, because we aren’t wealthy and we have pretty much everything we want and need, but we do find nice SPECIAL gifts or make them even, so we are not talking about a bunch of big dollar gifts here, but $20 or less per person.

So Bill’s CHOICES of how to spend his money…$50 a week on tobacco= a couple of hundred per month $200+$25 for charity = plenty of money to buy good food if **IF** food was IMPORTANT TO HIM. How he spends his money and his TIME is what is important to him, no matter what he SAYS.


I think I can predict without a crystal ball that if he ain’t painting your bathroom NOW before the nuptuials he ain’t gonna paint it afterward.

20 years, I’m glad you’re not offended. whew!

You basically already gave him rope, he took it and hung himself but you didn’t notice. You have given him opportunities to HELP you but he doesn’t want that. He wants to move in with you and you aren’t going to get what you want until he gets what he wants. You asked about rope. But this made me realize that your rope might be different from my rope. What would you need to see for you to be convinced that he is parasitical?

I’ve known MANY MANY toxic people and I’d have to say that none of them are alike. Even though ENVY is the root of spathy, it looks different in different people.

Because your previous spath was so ambitious, you see Bill as harmless, since he doesn’t seem to care about winning. But that’s how some spaths are. My spath uncle is that way, my spath brother is that way, the spathy -house husband acquaintance is that way. They find ways to make themselves seem pathetic until someone FINALLY has to step in and rescue them. (except for the househusband, he landed that job by getting a responsible, 48 year old woman pregnant with her first child.) Its not that they can’t help themselves, they just don’t want to.

Maybe Bill is not a spath. Some people genuinely have a difficult time pulling themselves up by their own bootstraps. But then, the examples you gave where you offered him opportunities to help and he didn’t… that indicates that he doesn’t get pleasure from making YOU happy. When you go out and he can’t pay for your food, that’s a bad sign. If he has $10 extra every blue moon, why doesn’t he save it until he has $10 more? Then he can pay for your food too.

You have to distill the red flags down to their very essence. Otherwise you get so many red flags that you can’t make sense of any of them.

Someone who doesn’t want to take responsibility can do it in a myriad of ways: slacking, lying, cheating, acting pitiful, not planning etc… are all different behaviors that represent parasitical behavior.

Also, realize that love is a numbing agent that parasites use so you can’t feel the bleeding. If you want to see things clearly, remove the love from the equation.

Think about the future, what if he needs money for an operation? Are you going to say no? What if he becomes homeless? Are you going to let him live under a bridge? Face it. This isn’t going to get better until YOU take responsibility for him because he has shown that he isn’t capable of making things better for himself.

The thing that these pitiful spaths have in common is this: They are sweet to you until you take them under your wing. Then they sabotage covertly. ALL of the women who have decided that they can take care of this man, who deserves to be taken care of, or who think that this man can improve himself if she just helps him along, begin to feel very unhappy and they don’t know why. What the pitiful creature wanted, wasn’t just a free ride (which the woman was willing to provide), they wanted to undermine the strength that made her want to help him. These creatures ENVIED the woman’s strength and by subtle, passive aggressive behavior, they slowly erode that strength.

So I guess the only rope I can suggest is that you let him move in with you and allow him to believe you are giving him access to ALL your resources (while keeping some hidden away for emergencies), then watch as your life begins to crumble, emotionally and financially.

I doubt you’re going to do that.

20years, you are 50, that is NOT too old to find a loving companion and partner, UNLESS, you spend your time with a pitiful creature who is so stingy that he won’t even paint your bathroom for you. I’m sorry you love him 🙁 but you have to love YOU more.

I took so long to write this post that I didn’t see all the other responses you got. Yeah, you did already give him some rope and he hung himself, and now you see it. The giving $25 to charity each month is a SCREAMING RED FLAG. He can’t take you out but he gives to charity? Um, he’s doing it to make himself look good in your eyes.


The minute my son declared he would have trouble repaying student loans I said, “Ok, let’s look for solutions”. I know everyone is not like me and that’s ok. But still…your guy sounds like such an Eeyore. Do you get frustrated with him?


As I was reading all of your responses, I had this odd feeling like I’m having y’all over for coffee or something, and having this very helpful conversation. Or a seminar. Thanks for the hugs, too. 🙂 I seriously can visualize all of you sitting in my living room right now.

You all have given me such good thoughts and insights to ponder — I REALLY APPRECIATE IT.

Skylar, I was struck by your example of the parasite using love as a numbing agent. Because that is the thing that does make this hard. Also, that I have been with him two years, so it is not a recent bonding. There is that invisible bond.

But I really do HEAR what you are saying about them turning on you later, undermining our strengths.

Truthspeak, I like how you put it, “you know, this isn’t going to work out for me.” I am not rushing out to do that just yet. Just getting my mind around it.

Oxy, as you said, “WHEN PEOPLE SHOW YOU WHAT THEY ARE, BELIEVE THEM.” You are right that talk is cheap.

And that if he can afford $225 a month for tobacco/charity, he can afford food. I know if he moved in with me, he would still smoke and donate to Salvation army, and not contribute towards the food budget.

Yes, it is true that he spends money on the things that are important to HIM.

DawnG, “lets look for solutions” is my approach too. And yes, I do get frustrated/disappointed.


OXy, OH MY that mail is so spathy… Whomever would bring up ‘this isn’t a scam’, meanwhile suggesting to you to become an accomplice in his dishonest (isolation), and ‘I am an honest man’ (euhm… if you are so honest, then why hiding your actions from you boss?) and ‘I’ll take a lie detector test to prove it to you’ is so abnormally over the top. Which normal, human being ever does that? I’ve never said ‘I’ll take a lie detector test’ if it will ease your peace of mind about my character, because I KNOW I speak the thruth and never propose others to be dishonest in order to help them.

TOWANDA on the quick detection as well as the backspath!

Sky, I’m with you on your reasoning about this helpless man. There’s something fishy about it. And I would agree 20 years that not helping you out when he claims to be such a handyman and a people helper is a red flag. And a gift doesn’t always need to be a bought one. Last year, I burned 3 cd’s for my best friend’s birthday. I possessed the music, I had the empty cd’s… it just required time and selecting songs. He loves them. What did I do for my father? There was a radio program that featured a ‘papa was a rolling stone’ concept… People could send in a story on a band or song they discovered because it was their father’s music… if they liked it they’d call you, have a 5 min nostalgic radio interview over the phone and then play the record. So, I made sure my dad would listen to the radio at the right time to the appropriate channel. It brought tears to his eyes. There are so many ways in which to show someone you love them, that can be very touching and cost you nada. And if he loved you, he would do such things, and that would include doing what he claims to be good at!

When people claim one thing, but do not do what they claim… that’s a giant red flag!

kim frederick

Bill is a kind-hearted, lazy, irresponsible, but lovable slug. Not gonna change. He played house-husband for years. Do you really believe he painted the bathroom at home when his wife suggested it was time? Ahhhh, no. He probably promised to do it next week, and then the week after…..maybe that’s where Daniel learned his tactics, hmmmmm.
Anyway, if you are clear about what you’re getting, and ok with it, go ahead. I just think you will be getting a good-natured lounge lizard. jm2cents.


darwinsmom, what lovely gifts!

Yes, I agree “doing what you are good at” — I think that’s why my gifts tend to be food-related. 😉


Yep, I love that Maya Angelou quote.


20 years,
Bill sounds like he likes playing the victim and martyr roles. Some people can’t seem to break free of those roles because it has been their way of dealing with the world their entire life. I’m sure Bill has a loving side to him that you fell in love with. But you must remain grounded in reality, as hard as it is. It took me a long time to learn that lesson but since I have, my life is so much more peaceful.
You are a caring woman and that is a positive attribute. Just realize that Bill is choosing to remain a victim/martyr and you can’t save him.


Kim frederick, actually I saw PROOF (photographic) of the before and after of ALL of the work Bill did around his house — he turned an unfinished attic into a master bedroom suite. He completely renovated their kitchen, upgrading it with beautiful cabinetry and detailing. I know enough details to know that indeed, it was Bill who did all that work.

But…. I do know other stories of his spending hours in the basement, working with a model train set up, for SEVERAL years after he had radical cancer surgery/radiation, and that his wife got pretty fed up with the amount of time he spent down there and when he finally emerged from the basement to return to helping make a living, her response was, “Thank God, finally!” (it was at this point that he re-did the kitchen).

Both of these sides of him, he told me. I saw photographs of the model train set up (elaborate), too. I don’t think he was spinning a tale — there is ALWAYS some pity inherent in a cancer survivor’s story. He’s not making up the stage 4 cancer 20-some years ago — it definitely happened.

But it can still be true that he is a kind-hearted, lazy, irresponsible, lovable slug, not going to change.


Hope4joy, you are completely on target!

When I met Bill, it had been 4 years since his wife died. He had already been in one failed relationship since then.

I expected that over time he would stop identifying himself as a widower. As in, when you meet someone, you say, “Hi, I’m Bill. I’m a widower.” (I don’t mean exactly those words, but in the first few introductory sentences, people often place some markers as how they identify themselves to the people they are meeting. “I’m a public relations executive.” or “I have three teenagers and I’m an aspiring rock musician.” )

But he continued to do that for the first year of our relationship. That seems to have stopped, but I do think the fact of her very sudden, unexpected death is the continuing excuse for why he is not more successful and focused on improving his situation. Now it has been 6 years. I have not lost a spouse suddenly through death so I don’t understand the process very well. I entered the relationship with an attitude of optimistic patience and “let’s see.”

it is something that I guess I’ve been witnessing over time…. expecting it to improve a lot more than it has (to see progress in his recovery, I mean), and some things are improving, but other things are not.

Ox Drover

20 years, the years in the basement building the train sound to me like CLINICAL DEPRESSION, but he also seems to have some other issues that don’t mesh well with YOUR life style…the lack of ambition, the lack of giving to YOU, yet giving to charity, and the CHOICE to buy tobacco instead of good food…those to me show that while he may not be a “bad man” he is NOT someone who is compatible with your life style and way of thinking about finances.

I would say that BIll is IRRESPONSIBLE at the very least.

I dated a guy a few times and he called me up and wanted to take my airplane for a flight. At the time after my husband’s death I had this plane here for sale but had NO INSURANCE ON IT, and no liability insurance on the air strip. The plane had also NOT had the legal yearly inspection etc. and yet the guy wanted to fly the plane…”:but I won’t wreck it, I just want to go for a ride”

RED FLAG: IRRESPONSIBLE….would I let a 15 year old kid drive my car which had no iinsurance? Would I let a 60 year old man fly my plane which had no insurance? If there WAS a wreck who would PAY? Him? Or ME?

So I said NO! and didn’t hear from him for a while and one day a few months later (6 or so) he dropped by to visit while he was in the area and told me just how hard it was to adjust to his new marriage of 4 months…and I thought…”WTF if I wouldn’t sleep wit him when he was single does he think I might NOW?” I quickly escorted him out the door and haven’t seen him since.

I don’t think I missed anything by dropping him when I saw how IRRESPONSIBLE he was…that would not mesh well with my life style, thinking, and moral compass. It was borne out by him showing up here again after his short marriage.



Wise words. And compatibility in such things as finances, energy levels, health philosophies, etc. really DO manifest once people are living together in partnership (whether marriage or not).

It has been easier for me to overlook these things, with our not seeing each other so very often.

That is a good illustration you gave.

20, it could be frame control.
when I met my spath, he was living in a one room “dungeon”. He had made a deal with the landlord of an apt bldg. to turn some of the storage lockers in the basement into a 1 bed apt. in exchange he paid $50 rent.

The place was a pit, EXCEPT the bathroom. He had built it himself, all white and blue tile, immaculate, raised tub. That was it. He never did a lick more of work. One time he said, “If the landlord wants to complain about it, I’ll turn him in, because this unit is illegal.” The bathroom was a carrot that kept the landlord hopeful and it impressed me. That’s frame control, they show you what they want you to see.

It’s not about what they CAN do, in the future or what they have done in the past, it’s about what they are doing, now.

Ox Drover

20 years, your noticing him “identifying” himself as “Hi, I’m Bill, I’m a widower” is I think a pity ploy.

I HAVE lost a husband to a horrifying death, burned to death before my eyes, and yep, that was MY IDENTITY for a long time, along with the resulting PTSD but I no longer even mention this to new folks I meet, unless asked I might say “I’m a widow,” but I don’t volunteer that information even. My husband died 8 1/2 years ago.

About 8 months after his death when I was still in SHOCK, I did date for about 8 months, a psychopath who took advantage of my vulnerable state. But after I kicked him to the curb I had to go back and finish the grief process for my husband and then the grief for my BF failed relationship, and the loss at the same time of my beloved step father to cancer, so I had one loss after another for quite a while, and while I was “down for the count” for those my son sent his Trojan horse to kill me. CHAOS for month upon month and year upon year from 2004 to 2008. I emotionally crashed and burned. Physically pretty well crashed as well.

But my identity is no longer built on my “victimhood” but on my SURVIVORHOOD…on my strengths, and I have my set backs, and my pity parties sometimes, but over all I am headed in the RIGHT direction and so when I introduce myself, I say “Hi, I’m Joyce, I’m a retired registered nurse practitioner and a farmer.”

I tell them if they seem interested how much I loved my work as an RNP and the places I worked, and how much I enjoy farming and how though I no longer farm a lot, I still raise my own meat, and care for the land. I don’t bother to tell them the reason I “retired” is that my PTSD was so bad after the crash I had no short term memory and couldn’t work safely any more. I just tell them how much I enjoy retirement to do the things I love besides working.

So I do understand that Bill may have had some clinical depression both because of his cancer problem and his wife’s death, but he has not apparently dealt with either of those things in a healthy manner.

Well here’s a shocker from Canada:

Wife kills abusive husband in self-defense only to discover ‘he’ was actually a woman wearing prosthetic penis

The red flag was that he/she would only have sex in the dark.
Apparently he/she was having various relationshits with both men and women and abused them all.

“While pretending to be a man, Angela starved a male lover until he lost 99lbs.”

I wonder if I could find a spath to help me lose 30 lbs. 😯

Ox Drover

Sky, that story is not as “rare” as you might think….I’ve read other cases and actually know of one which happened here in our small rural community. The couple split and “he” did not get a divorce and his second wife found out he was not divorced so he was arrested for bigamy and was in jail for 4 months before it was found HE was a SHE and the second wife didn’t know after a year of marriage.

The first wife said she had not known for a year or so, but was TOO ASHAMED to admit it and kept on with the fake marriage for 7 or 8 years and adopted 2 kids. In the 1950s-60s when this happened here I can believe the first wife’s shame. HOW could you not know your husband was a woman? TALK about being ashamed to be so scammed.

Want to know the best part…”he” was a preacher.

I have also read other news stories about people not knowing the real sex of their partner. Of course with today’s operations and hormone treatments there is also the people who “usta be” one sex and are another sex now….and don’t fully disclose to their partners. I don’t have a problem with folks changing their sex, just if they aren’t honest about it with partners.


“I wonder if I could find a spath to help me lose 30 lbs. :shock:”

The one I was with force fed me to gain weight so that I would be fat and unappealing to other men. I developed reflux from eating late at night with him and then trying to lay down to sleep. I almost died one night because I aspirated into my lungs while I was sleeping.

It took months to not have flashbacks of him holding a spoonful of ice cream and yelling “EAT IT!”



Good job exposing the con man! I understand how hard it must have been, since you were going through a very difficult time with fighting your son’s parole and didnt’ want it to affect the outcome of what could eventually save your life.

Took courage…a lot of courage. I admire that so much.



OMG, how awful. 🙁

Ox Drover

Newlife, thank you, it was a “win” and I NEEDED a “win” about then. Glad I could at least get him out of THAT noon profit where he was fed a stream of victims to pluck as “clients” for his “firm”—

And frankly I was afraid that the group would not respond the way they did, or the executive director. That was why I sent the letter and e mails to the political guy, because I wanted the director to know that I wasn’t going to sit still and keep it under raps, that the ‘word” was already out to someone who was very important in the non profit community in which they operated.

So, knowing that Mr. Big Shot already knew I think may have helped Mr. Executive director come to the “proper” conclusion that John Doe needed to be fired from his half time position with the group. I didn’t want to leave The Executive Director much wiggle room if I could help it.

I also assured him I didn’t want to smear his organization in the media UNLESS I HAD TO…so that my motive was simply to get the DISHONEST PERSON out of their group…so he couldn’t hurt someone else, or try to.

It was somewhat a stress but at the same time, I felt vindicated and that I may have done some good for someone who would have fallen for this creep’s promises. I could just imagine someone whose family member was murdered and the cops weren’t prosecuting the person and this guy offered to help them “solve” the case, for expense money of course.

But taking down one psychopath or con man is like trying to take down the Rocky Mountains with a tea spoon. Gonna take a long time.



So many posters have said what I would say to you. But here is one thought you might really consider.

As long as you stay with him and worry about him and help him, you are not focusing on what’s wrong with you. (I am not perfect and I am dealing with my own “carp”, so that’s not a judgment on you, by any means).

The other thought is that as long as you maintain a relationship with him, you are taking yourself out of the market for a good, responsible man WORTHY of you, not some helpless, hopeless slug with a “good heart”. I guess you have to ask yourself, is that what I really want? That this guy is a stop-gap so that I can heal from my OWN trauma, because deep down I know there is no future in it and I’m not ready to be in a truly interdependent and committed relationship? But I don’t want to be alone and he’s better than nothing? That I can “handle” him but don’t feel confident I can handle a decent guy where I would have to step up and be a real partner, because he’s a real partner back to me?

The only reason I am bringing this up is that I have the opposite “problem” right now. I have a nice, decent, responsible, hard-working, honest, financially well-off guy who is pursuing me and is very interested in being more than just friends. Who wants to introduce me to his friends and family, who wants to spend time with me, etc. I don’t. I think he is boring, about as exciting as a bowl of mashed potatoes. Not attracted to him at all. What the heck is wrong with me?

So I am asking myself the very questions that I posed to you. You bringing this up is very timely to me. I KNOW I don’t want the kind of guy you’re with right now (again, no judgments here) but when a decent guy falls in my lap, I’m soooo not interested. Asking myself these questions is forcing me to look at MYSELF. What, exactly, is it that I do want?

When I come up with answers, I will let you know…


I am thinking your guy is avoidant. All he says is probably true, about his victimhood. He seems to use his victimhood to avoid setting boundries. This shouts to me of someone’s emotionally unhealthy coping mechanisms from childhood abuse. I think his wife was a rescuer, they had three kids, and she was the strong one. Life fell apart without mom for everyone b/c as the strong one, your guy had someone to take responsibility while he would not. His son took advantage of his passivity. From your posts, it sounds to me that your guy is suffering from dysthmia.

I do NOT think he is using a pity ploy, or trying to be spath. I don’t think he’s a bad person. I think he is lost in his dysthmia depression, lost in his avoidance, lost b/c of his unresolved childhood abuse.

You can be like his wife and be the responsible one, but I don’t recommend continuing with him unless you want to be his therapist for the rest of his life. It’s not a partnership relationship. He’s not emotionally available. Don’t get sucked into what He MIGHT do; stay in the here and now with what he IS DOING. (women get too caught up in a man’s possibilities and get trapped by his realities.) And this is key: There is NO way for you to avoid being pulled into his lifestyle of avoidance and depression. He’s adapted this way his ENTIRE LIFE, he didn’t change for his wife or kids, he’s not going to change it now. No way to avoid the drama of his son, who… might have inherited the abusive exploitative personality of the parent who abused your guy?

Just my opinion, after reading the opinons of others….
Best, Katy




Talk about control!! WTF is wrong with these people? Oh, that’s right, they’re sociopaths! Asked and answered,


PS 20Years:

Maybe his wife died because she was tired of trying to take care of 4 grown men/perfectly healthy teenagers. It must have been pretty exhausting. Maybe he wants you to become her…that makes me shudder!! And as long as you stay with him, that possibility is always there.

There are a lot of good guys. Everybody has issues, you just have to decide which ones you want to take on.

That’s horrible. I’m sorry if my joke triggered bad memories.

Spaths are known for being controlling even to the point of wanting to control our food intake, our weight, and how we look.

At first my spath derided me for being an exercise freak. Then one day, as he was giving me a hard time about it, I saw his brain flip and he decided he liked it.

I know he was envious when I got attention from men. Then, I think, he figured out that if he couldn’t stop me from getting attention, he would make sure that attention became envy, which was easily turned to hatred.

They can turn your strengths OR your weaknesses against you. The basic roots of the spath can appear in many guises.


Dawn, how awful!

Sky said: “They can turn your strengths OR your weaknesses against you.”

I see it as if they take the essence of ourselves, mold it into a gun, then gently put it in our hands and have it point to ourselves so we shoot ourselves in the head.


Skylar, thank you for being concerned! I am not triggered by your post. I was totally getting how a controller could force a person to either gain or lose weight.

He did try to control every part of my appearance, but most of it didn’t stick. I was still coloring the gray out of my hair and wearing makeup even though he hated it. The food was a different story. He nagged and nagged and I gave in just so he would STOP harassing me. I was making myself ill! But, here’s the weirdest part – he was making himself sick too while he was eating right along with me. He gained even more weight than I did. The ripped abs were gone and he started looking like a middle aged, paunchy beer drinker. I heard a few months later that he had been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.

sharing the journey

Hi all

I took a break from LF for a while simply to calm my mind from the horror of some of the stories. My PTSD gets triggered still after five and a half years out and sometimes I feel healing is so slow.

My son also bought me a new computer that allowed me to watch you tube etc and I tried to distract my mind for a while but have always gravitated towards understanding psychopathy. I think I have watched over and over again all the videos regarding it. It’s like I am trying to get my right brain engaged again.

For the past week or so I have felt compelled to start reading LF again and it is amazing how many AHA’s I am getting. Perhaps this is a sign of healing as before I was too triggered to relate.

What made me post is worry about 20 years and her relationship with this man. A wise counselor once told me that women tend to confuse pity with love.

I am not yet confident in determining a spath but but I do know that my ex H would pull the stunt of helplessness which tugged at my rescuing tendencies that I inherited growing up in an alcaholic home. The same counselor told me that certain people would feed from these tendencies.

I also felt a reaction to the fact that he would help when he moved in and won’t until then, even though he had the chance to see if he was willing in this direction.

So sorry if I have butted in and I know that you don’t know me but I felt I had to point this out. Like Skylar’s ex, mine was the epitome of kindness, but I have come to know now that it was just him mirroring me. That is, until the mask came off. It went on for six years until I fully trusted him.

My daughter’s keep reminding me that 50 is the new 40 for women cos we live longer. We are now in a position not to settle for less than ideal.


What can I say. TOWANDA!!!

Not only the foresight to see the scam but the courage to blow it apart. You go

As said, I am sorry if I have butted in ,but I have come to realise that if my rescuing tendencies get triggered, I would want them to go to a real victim rather than a scammer.

With love



Hey STJ good to see you and hear you are recovering, if a little slowly.

The dreaded 50!! You and me both 😆

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