A sociopath looks deep into your eyes.
“I never loved anyone like I love you,” he says. “We are so special together. People will never understand why we’re so attracted to each other. They say we shouldn’t be together, but they’re just jealous about the intensity of our love. Love can overcome anything, you know. It’s you and me against the world, kid!”
With words like these, sociopaths launch one of their most important strategies: Isolating you from friends and family.
It doesn’t seem that way at first. In the beginning, sociopaths want to be with you all the time. They proclaim that they are so wrapped up in you that they can’t bear to be apart, and it feels flattering to be so desired. Slowly, this morphs into the sociopath always wanting to know where you are, which morphs into jealousy if you spend time with anyone else, including your family and long-time friends.
They want you all to themselves. Not because they love you, despite their flowery proclamations. It’s because they want to control you.
Sociopaths employ many tactics to keep you from the people who love you. Here are a few of them:
- Sociopaths intercept phone calls and mail, and “neglect” to give you messages.
- Sociopaths purposely insult or pick fights with your family and friends, so that the people you know find it easier to just stay away.
- Sociopaths say they are “protecting” you from the people who want to drive the two of you apart.
- If you do see your family and friends, the sociopaths call and text constantly, interrupting your visit and making others uncomfortable.
- Sociopaths make up lies about what friends and family are saying about you.
- Sociopaths lie to family and friends about you, trying to turn them against you.
- Sociopaths rage at you when you leave, and rage again when you come home.
- Eventually, sociopaths forbid you to have contact with family and friends.
I remember how James Montgomery worked it with me. At first, he was solicitous towards my family. But nine months after we met, my family was suspicious of him, and my brother wanted to run a credit check. I knew Montgomery’s credit was bad—he’d already told me so, put expenses on my credit cards, and wiped out my savings.
I informed Montgomery, in anger, about my family’s concern. His first reaction was to tearfully ask if I wanted him to leave. Believing that my husband was working towards out mutual good, and wanting to get my money back as he consistently promised, I said no, we’d stay married.
But from that point on, he used the incident to drive a wedge between me and my family. He refused to attend my other brother’s wedding reception, stating that he wouldn’t go where he wasn’t welcome. He raged that I was an adult, I’d made my decision to marry him, and in some places people could be sued for interfering with a marriage. He disparaged my family and friends.
So as life with my husband became worse and worse, there was no one for me to talk to about it.
Pleas from family members
Isolation takes away your support system. When your contact with other people is limited, it enables the sociopaths to control the information you receive. And the more control they exercise, the more you lose your sense of self.
Periodically, Lovefraud receives distraught calls and e-mails from people who have lost sons, daughters or other family members to sociopaths. They want their loved ones to return, but the victims refuse. The sociopaths have so much power over them that it seems like the victims are lost forever.
The sad thing is that frequently, very little can be done until the victim himself or herself is ready to end the involvement. Psychologically, Dr. Liane Leedom explains, the victim has to take on his or her own distress. If family and friends are distressed, they are carrying what should be the victim’s emotional burden. For healing to begin, it’s up to the victim to start making a change.
For more information on this, read Dr. Leedom’s blog, How can I get my _____ away from the psychopathic con artist?
Find the strength
Are you in this position? Has a sociopath separated you from all your friends and family, so that you feel like you have nowhere to go?
Know this: If the sociopath is the one telling you that your friends and family want nothing to do with you, that the sociopath is the only one who loves you, there’s an excellent chance that he or she is lying.
If you’ve always had a good, or at least decent, relationship with friends and family, they’re probably worried sick about you, and willing to help you escape the prison built by the sociopath.
All you need to do is find the strength to contact them.