To Mom and Dad: 9 reasons why your son or daughter fell for a sociopath

Unhappy-couple-breaking-up sizedDear Parents of a Lovefraud Target,

Your son or daughter has now come to the brutal realization that the entire relationship was a scam.

Perhaps you’ve had your suspicions for a while. Perhaps you’ve even tried to tell your kid that the partner was no good, but he or she wouldn’t listen to you.

Now everything has collapsed, and you can’t understand why your son or daughter didn’t see it coming.

Please understand that sociopaths are professional con artists, and they are really, really good at what they do. In fact, they spend their entire lives perfecting their craft.

Following are nine reasons why your son or daughter fell for it.

1. Your son or daughter didn’t know sociopaths exist

Our society tells us that everyone is created equal, everyone just wants to be loved, and there’s good in everyone. Perhaps you even said these things to your child. If not, the messages certainly came through at school.

Our society doesn’t tell us that there are exceptions. The feel-good characterizations simply do not apply to the approximately 12% of the population who are personality disordered.

These exploiters come from all demographic groups and all walks of life. They are not necessarily hard-core drug addicts or criminals.

What we all need to learn is that people who are attractive, educated and well-mannered can also be evil.

2. Your son or daughter is good and kind-hearted

Perhaps you taught your children to treat others the way they want to be treated. Your son or daughter may be naturally kind and willing to help others.

Usually, this is a wonderful way to live. Unfortunately, there are people in the world sociopaths who are willing to take advantage of anyone’s goodness, kindness and generosity.

We all tend to interpret the way others behave according to the way we behave. So if we don’t lie, and would never dream of intentionally hurting someone, we don’t know it’s possible for another person to do it to us.

That makes us walking targets for sociopaths.

3. Sociopaths are extremely convincing liars

It is impossible to overstate a sociopath’s ability to lie. These people lie like they breathe. They spend their entire lives perfecting their lies. They tell big lies and small lies. They tell outrageous lies. They even lie when they’d be better off telling the truth.

Sociopaths can look deep into your eyes and lie. All of those tips about how to spot a liar simply do not work with sociopaths. These people can pass lie detector tests.

If your son or daughter is basically honest, they never stood a chance.

4. Sociopaths promise to make dreams come true

In the beginning of the involvement, the sociopath likely asked your son or daughter a lot of questions, and listened very carefully to their answers. Your kid likely interpreted this to mean that the sociopath was really totally interested in them.

Actually, the sociopath was listening carefully to find out your child’s hopes and dreams. The sociopath wanted to discover the deepest place within them to set the seduction hook by promising to make the dreams come true.

And who doesn’t want to believe someone who promises to make your dreams come true?

5. Sociopaths target vulnerabilities

If we’re human, we have vulnerabilities. Sociopaths are experts at finding and exploiting them.

This doesn’t necessarily mean that your son or daughter lacks intelligence, has low self-esteem, or is a co-dependent personality. We all have desires, and what we want makes us vulnerable. We also all have emotional wounds, and those wounds make us vulnerable.

Many times emotional wounds date back to childhood. Can you think of anything your son or daughter experienced that could have created a wound?

6. Sociopaths hijack the natural human bonding process

When people experience intimacy, a hormone called oxytocin is released into the bloodstream and brain. Oxytocin is triggered by any type of intimacy emotional sharing, physical touching and sex. Oxytocin makes us trust the person with whom we share intimacy.

Feelings of love cause dopamine to be released in the brain. Dopamine is associated with energy, motivation and addiction.

These psychological and biological changes are normal. Nature intended them to make us want to stay with our romantic partners to care for children.

None of this applies to sociopaths. They do not form bonds. But they intentionally do things like causing fear and anxiety that make it difficult for their partners to break the psychological bonds and escape.

7. Sociopaths present themselves as perfect partners

In the beginning, it seems like the sociopath has so much in common with your son or daughter. That’s because sociopaths figure out what their targets are looking for, and then make themselves into that person.

Then, sociopaths keep the mask on as long as necessary to get the target hooked. Once the target is committed perhaps living together, married or pregnant the sociopath may totally change.

I’ve heard of sociopaths who even announced immediately after the wedding, “Now I can stop pretending.”

8. Sociopaths engage in brainwashing

Cult leaders who are sociopaths in the extreme have discovered that the most effective brainwashing technique is love bombing. This means is showering their targets with attention and affection, making the target feel loved and wanted.

The sociopath your son or daughter encountered likely did this in the beginning of the relationship. That’s how they got hooked.

From there, the sociopath may have gradually engaged in mind control by manipulating your kid’s behavior, information, thoughts and emotions. The sociopath likely instilled an “us vs. them” mentality in your son or daughter, with you being the bad guys. This is a typical thought control tactic.

Sociopaths instinctively know to do this. But their targets, unfortunately, are not aware of what is happening.

9. A premeditated scam

Everything the sociopath did to take advantage of your son or daughter was intentional.

Here’s what sociopaths do when they meet a potential target:

  1. Evaluate the target to see if he or she has anything that they want.
  2. Ask questions to determine the target’s vulnerabilities.
  3. Use the target’s vulnerabilities to take what they want.

The entire relationship was a scam. The sociopath may have been a “make it up as you go along” type of person. Or, the sociopath may have executed a plan that was years in the making. (Yes, that happens.)

This is mind-boggling. No one wants to believe that promises of love and devotion are just a ruse. So even if your son or daughter started having doubts, they never even dreamed of the scope of the sociopath’s betrayal.

What to do now

Please understand that your son or daughter was up against a professional. The sociopath targeted your kid, and used love bombing, lies, mind control, emotional manipulation, fear and guilt to execute the exploitation scheme.

The sociopath probably did not employ all those tactics with you. Therefore, you may have been able to see what was going on, where your son or daughter could not.

Mom and Dad, if your kid now knows they’ve been scammed, the pain of betrayal is overwhelming. The last thing they need to hear from you is, “I told you so.”

The best thing you can do is focus on your love for your brokenhearted child, and without judgment, help him or her pick up the pieces.


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44 Comments on "To Mom and Dad: 9 reasons why your son or daughter fell for a sociopath"

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My goodness this is so good that it literally needs to be read by everyone is the United States. The only slight point of contention is the inference the every victim is love bombed. I certainly was not. In my own case ( with both me and my spath being young disabled adults), there was no need to lovebomb me because just being with someone who shared my disabilities and experiences as a disabled person was enough of a hook for me. Maybe there are others here who were not love bombed either. Great Article. Best thing ever posted on LF. Thanks

Amazing. I can relate to a certain degree wguy. Although the ‘path wasn’t suffering in the same manner as I was.

You on the other hand had someone who used a similar disability as a means of taking advantage. Unconscionable! as I can relate to how much we need sincere support and someone to understand us while we’re suffering through such intense physical and emotional whirlwinds.

I personally was going through the confusing repercussions of head injuries, the loss of friends and family (who did not understand how to support me) as well as suffering through the after effects of a broken neck that had left me temporarily paralyzed from the upper arms downward.

At the time this had my life shattered in too many ways to count.

Of course during some of the darkest hours a ‘path came along taking total advantage of the situation. By pretending to be my friend, advocate and confidant.

She nearly had me convinced that my best interest was at heart 100% of the time. That she was the person who understood the situation completely while others ,of course(

Thank you Donna!
I am sharing this with some of my coworkers who are social workers.
Kids need to be warned about this! The boogie man is a sociopath and needs to be talked about!

Another EXCELLENT article Donna!! Thank you!

I would like to add these evil sociopaths use pity play manipulation, isolate their victims from their family/friends, use gas lighting abuse & install fear & phobia’s into their victims mind to control them even more.

It’s hell on earth to get into the sociopaths grips & their web of destruction will destroy your son or daughters soul so dont turn your back on your child educate yourself fully so that you can help them heal just like if they had cancer.

Awesome article, Donna. Definitely one to bookmark!

I told my therapist that had I known sociopaths existed, I would have never stayed 33 years. I never knew people would lie just to lie. I was raised to trust people, to give them the benefit of the doubt, do not be judgmental, to be kind and to help those who were having difficulty. My pastor in church was fond of telling us what a wicked young man he was until he met his wife, who was a pastors daughter. Her belief in him encouraged him to get right with God and change his life! I grew up thinking everyone grew up the way I did and for 25 years, while I was terribly unhappy, it never occurred to me ‘he’ wasn’t trying as hard as I was. That he wouldn’t want what was best for me and that he wasn’t deeply committed to me and my well being.
I was ignorant and uneducated. When I finally faced the truth about him, I felt guilty for thinking the worst of him! How crazy is that? Had I known there was such a thing as a sociopath, I would never have suffered as long as I did. Had I known there were people like him, that did the things he did, I would have never gotten involved because his actions were text book.
Thank goodness people can get on the internet and search these things out, now. There’s no telling how many people this website, and others like it, allow to get out of their train wreck so much sooner than I did.
Great article~!

Absolutely, TeePee! If I had known, I would have stayed gone the FIRST time after fewer than 4 years instead of it taking 4 tries and 25 years! It wasn’t until about the 20 year mark that I realized I was being emotionally abused and it still took time to get the courage to get out because I had two young children. When I finally did get out, they were 7 and 11. I went through the same things you describe, which is totally normal.

There is really no redemption for people like this, unfortunately. The best thing is to learn what to look for and stay far, far away. I have spent the last 5 1/2 years since escape gently teaching my girls all sorts of life lessons as to how to critically think through a person’s behavior, in the hope I can spare them the torture of a sociopathic partner.

Agree; so very true in my case of trying everything during my 23 year long marriage. “If only I knew then what I know now.” Thank goodness for the internet and great teachers such as Donna who devote their lives to educating the ignorant. GREAT article!

TeePee1124, me, too! You must be from the South. Southerners are taught, albeit ingrained, to be kind to and love and respect everyone and not think that anyone could ever hurt us intentionally for no reason. Those were the morals/values I was brought up with that were so ingrained in me, i.e., good morals! I said to myself “How could anyone want to hurt me if I’ve never hurt them?” Well, the world isn’t 1945 anymore and I’ve learned there are predators out there who do just that, who have no empathy, conscience or morals and will target a good person because they can, because they are sick. I have now educated myself a LOT about BPD and Narcs so that it will never happen to me again. Yes, thank goodness for the internet and for Donna sharing her life experiences with all of us!

I love this article, because it is so true. The reasons are all the spath’s behavior, not the fault of the victim nor the victim’s parents. Yet knowing the facts that the article points out can provide protection against being victimized.

I experienced a lot of “blame the victim” from various sources in my spath experience. Before my own spath experience, I generally ‘blamed the victim’ in many ways. I truly believed that people somehow allowed themselves to be abused, until it happened to me. It helped my understanding that I was married to a wonderful man (I was widowed), before my marriage to the spath. I was the exact same person in both marriages, so the spath horror could not have been my fault.

AnnettePK, yes, just about everyone around me thought it was my fault and looked down on me as if I did something wrong. I told them all “Walk a mile in my shoes and you’ll see what it was like, being up against a domineering con man” but it didn’t matter. Although I have good self esteem and am clear what happened to me now though education, I was judged and lost my reputation with my friends and family because of my involvement with the Spath. But how was I to know the Spath’s impact on me if I couldn’t tell he was a con man from the get go?!? He was so funny and charming! 🙁 It was only until AFTER he negatively affected my world that I intuited there was something really wrong with him but by then it was too late. Once I figured out there was something wrong with him, I took steps to get away from him by consulting a lawyer, who advised me to move out while he was out of state. That’s exactly what I did, so as to avoid his wrath and physical confrontation. That was almost five years ago and I’m still being looked down upon from my friends and family for what I went through. I’m still depressed from what happened to me though. I feel broken but I hide that as much as possible and just keep moving foward and trying to improve my life through physical exercise and taking a new career path.

Obviously if your parents are narcissists and disordered themselves they won’t be of much use after your experience with a sociopath.

Although my mother DID try to tell me….if she had been ‘normal’, a sociopath would probably not have entered my life.

Donna, thank you so much for creating this article. I’m going to show it to my Dad! I’m also going to tell him about the gas lighting technique. I think that is an important part of what an spath does, to make you question your reality and try to twist it.

I think this article might really save my relationship with my Dad and two friends by shedding light on what they could not see before.

My experiences with spaths are that they never “see the light” for they are convinced of their own superiority of human development. They will endlessly try to convince you that your “perception” is twisted and you are therefore the “crazy” one.

Flicka, yes, my ex who I feel has BPD twists everything I say. So, I shut down and then he accused me of being a bad communicator! It’s a “No Win” situation with them. They think they are great. They think there is nothing wrong with them. It’s best to shake off the dusting of sickness they cover you with and walk away.

Thank you Donna for this excellent article on sociopaths. This will truly help others!
My life would be so different and my mother’s life, if only… If my mother knew the man she fell in love with was a cruel non-feeling sociopath! My father charmed my mother when he met her in Germany. She was young, sweet and innocent. He picked his perfect victim!! And with her innocent young heart she hoped for love and goodness. She is German and grew up with bombs of war in her hometown, and the Holocaust. After WWII, a most vulnerable time in her young life, she followed my sociopathic father to America for love and a new life. Even his family protected him! They never shared with her the evil and criminal behaviors he had already committed upon others. He has 6 enabling siblings who still keep secrets! The family culture of silence and protection is disheartening!

Being totally dependent upon my father… My mother was pregnant with no job, no car, no family, no money, no correct English language or education. She was married in a foreign country, and with a young child felt trapped. She began to see sociopathic behaviors of my father unfold… the isolation, degradation, lies, abuses, threats, conning, deception and gaslighting amidst his affairs with other women, fathering more children, and alcoholic binges. This went on for 4 long years, until… She could no longer give second chances and forgive his behavior or love him enough. Her fear for her safety and for my safety became too great. We moved out of his house to save our lives… Not knowing what a sociopath is, my father came around with a love letter to her, presenting a happy family life picture to her and begging her to return to him.
She did. She believed him. Unbeknownst to her, she believed he changed!


Upon our return to our home in America, we walked in the front door and he beat her unconscious in front of me. I was 5 years old. I am 54 years old and the damage he did to my mother and me is etched in my memories. There is no delete button. My mother was a happier young lady, and my father’s cruelty shattered her so deeply.

We have worked hard at trying to understand many things and the education presented in this forum is so valuable! Thank you Donna. Even though we had a dark chapter in our lives with a sociopath, he doesn’t define us. Today we are survivors!

Dear Truth 7, How compelling a life story you have to tell…you should write a book. I’m so happy you found Donna’s site for information, advice and hopefully, some consolation. I’ve personally found that writing down my memoires has been illuminating and cathartic; it has surfaced many long-repressed memories and brought overall meaning to many heretofore unresolved questions. The veil of mystery has somehow been lifted. May you continue to grow and find peace!

Thank you flicka. Like many, there is so much more to my story. As my mother finally ceased a relationship with my father, the courts gave him legal rights to visit me. What transpired throughout my childhood, as I look back at the visits with him, are terribly abnormal interactions.

So true that writing is cathartic….I began writing poetry around 7 years old. As an only child without family members to talk to, writing became my escape. Even at 54 I am uncovering further abnormal events/behaviors/memories about my sociopathic father. I am at peace without him in my life. I have my heavenly Father.

Your point about the veil of mystery being lifted is profound for me because now I see that my biological father is clearly a sociopath. That in itself, to have a term with defining traits, has helped my healing process. Understanding the definition of “sociopath” has been a life changer for me.

Truth7…So many things we appear to have in common. At 77,being disabled,an only child and all alone in the world is my most difficult challenge…yet one more hurdle I’m not sure I can/want to meet.

Dear flicka… You have a special place in this world. You helped me today with your affirmation. I hope you feel better and know you are a survivor. Your life has meaning. Sometimes I did not realize I was not alone even when I felt so alone and unwanted. I was not raised with faith, but today my faith is strong. I believe our Heavenly Father is always at our side.

Thank you for all you said!


Thanks for this vital list for parents- being believed is the difference between recovery and more trauma

My entire family colluded together to gossip behind my back, label me a failure and in my own father’s words ‘a disaster’. On top of sociopathic cruelty from boyfriend now I had more cruelty from family members even my son who refused to believe He was a sociopath, He described it as a ‘Judge Judy’ experience and get over it. It completely delayed my healing as I was plagued with self- doubt

I went no contact with my siblings, low contact with my parents and okay contact (but damaged) with my son. I seem to be battling this alone again but at least I’m not being judged again and again

It’s lonely, I’m finding it hard to impossible to trust ‘men’ in general, and this is the way it is for now. I was a happy go lucky enthusiastic player in life until the sociopath…I was with him just one and a half years and he took the complete rug out from under me in such a way, it’s hard to grasp.

I wish my family could have heard my fear, my trauma and oh if they could have reached out a hand to help me up instead o f( what felt like) losing all faith in me it would have made a huge difference.

Donna, I want to apologize for posting and, then, deleting my post. I run risks of alienating my daughter which would alienate me from my granddaughter whom I need to “keep an eye on”.
If I could talk or write, I would say that judges need to order psychological testing for any personality disorder that they strongly suspect. I would write to state and local governments to urge them to diminish inmate texting and phoning which only cripples the sociopath victims more. (I had my daughter’s attention for only about a minute because she was constantly being contacted by the sociopath and his friends.)
I have come to the conclusion when thousands of people are seeing some of the same characteristics of these same type of people (sociopaths), then it is probably true. only logical
Thanks again for your service to the community.

I just wanted to clarify a statement I made about enablers. I read Martha Stout’s Sociopath Next Door book. She portrayed one particular case about a family whom was afraid of their sociopath son. I imagine there are families who are NOT enablers to their sociopath. My apologies. I am referring to the families who are enablers. Sorry.

Nothing to be sorry for; as a 40 year past enabler to my children, I certainly understand how very easily it could happen. Despite speaking 5 languages, being an Ivy League college graduate, having traveled the world etc. Love is indeed blind especially so for compassionate, peace-loving,intelligent people!

Thank you for writing this, Donna. I’ll be sending it to my family members and also some of the people in the judicial system who I know would be interested in reading it.

About education within the legal system about psychopathy, it is badly needed, at least in Iowa. At a parole hearing for the stalker who has pursued my family, one of the Board of Parole members asked which method they use when doing a psych evaluation. He asked if they use Dr. Hare’s method in Iowa, which he seemed to respect. He was informed they don’t use Dr. Hare’s method, and if a psychologist isn’t available, someone in the prison does it. My husband and I looked at each other and shook our heads. There are so many things we’ve dealt with in the judicial system that are an outrage, and this is near the top of the list for me.

I’ve dealt with many people involved with my case who are completely scammed by his charm, mostly people who can and did help him get released from prison. To listen to prison officials talk about the trouble he has gotten into and recommend that he not be released, then immediately listen to his counselor talk about how wonderful he is and recommend release is maddening.

Well, he’s out now and apparently plotting revenge, as his big mouth is spreading around “his town”. His 4 1/2 years in prison taught him nothing. If my predictions are right, as they have been in the past, he will one day be back in prison and lives will have been lost due to the people who fell for his charm and helped him get released without being rehabilitated.

I am so pleased to see such and excellent article focusing on how entire families are effected by one Sociapth. I belong to a group of estranged parents and so many of these situations are caused by a Sociopath. There is a worldwide growing epidemic of adult children cutting off non-abusive parents and the parents are coming together for support. My estranged daughter has become the target of her sociopathic father who let me raise her then fed her lies and turned her against me at age 25. It escalated for 10 years until I was totally cut off from her when I told her the truth to protect my grandchildren. We used to be very close and now I do not even know who she is, she is a shadow of her former self. Many parents are dealing with children married to sociopathic spouses, both male and female who want to cut their in-laws out of their lives and the lives of the grandchildren. There are thousands and thousands of brokenhearted parents and grandparents because a sociopath entered the picture and did what they do best. Donna, thank you for your wonderful work and I hope you will address the broader picture more often. It is not just the target who is damaged, it is enire families including innocent children.

…And I would like to add…society at large. My 5 children watched my sociopath “ex” always come out the “winner” and saw me as the “loser”; thus they eventually came to learn that being a winner (dead-beat dad, falsifying IRS returns etc.) was far more preferable to them. Thereby, society as a whole also tends to “follow” in the footsteps of the mentally ill.

The legal system is a big part of the problem. Functioning sociopaths, those with enough brainpower to not get caught, are often attracted to positions of power so they can used their job a a shield for their behavior. They seek and succeed at careers as lawyers, judges, doctors, and policemen and often the corporate executive who moves to the top gets there climbing on the backs of his coworkers instead of by his own merit. My ex was a sociopath and a lawyer, so were many of his colleagues. They are even in our highest political positions, they make wonderful candidates because they can lie so convincingly and charm the masses. Then they only look out for themselves, not the people they ore supposed to represent or the Constitution they have sworn to uphold.

I applaud all the input made by Delores and agree 100%!

Maybe he is just trying to blame the behavior on the diabetes rather than the psychopathy. No correlation whatsoever.

I Thank God for my mom every day!!! After the mask slip she and my brother were my rocks. I do contribute a large part of my healing to them…(my dad had passed 12 years earlier).
There is a huge genetic component to the traits of ASPD. My ex’s mask did not slip until my kids were out of the home. Yet I am completely estranged from my son. He actually said to me the last time I spoke to him that if I was not able to help him then there was no use for him to be in touch with me. He cut all contact with everyone he has grown up with. That’s been my sorrow to bear. Most normal adults do not understand. My daughter has some traits too… but she has actually told me that she is aware of these and chooses very carefully to make righteous choices.
Flicka and Delores I hear you!!! And feel the pain…..
Yes we need to speak of this subject more!!!

You know, the Number One reasons is this: One or both parents are sociopaths. “To Mom and Dad”, indeed.

I agree.
In my case thats why why it felt so uncomfortably comfortable.

unbelievable article.

My parents have questioned my intelligence over why and how I allowed myself to be manipulated so badly but it’s very hard for them to understand the long term, systematic planning that a spath works on over many years.

I’m going to share this article with my mom and dad. Thanks so much for writing it !

After being emotionally (and when I wasn’t around) physically abused by his sociopathic father my son was preyed upon and married a sociopath who’s just as narcissistic as dear old dad. In fact she and her father in law really worked well together to get my boy on the hook. My ex found a true “partner in crime” with this little malignant narcissist. She studied hard until she knew just how to play my smart, handsome and extremely kind son and she became the perfect “Apath” for my husband. Its amazing how much those two have in common, each of them pulling my son’s strings. Between his father and his wife my son will have nothing left to give. After my son finishes putting HER through school, she’ll move on and I’ll be there to pick up the pieces. He’ll be heartbroken but much better off. I just hope she doesn’t take too much of what he”ll never get back, time.

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