Editor’s note: Once again, the Lovefraud reader “Maura” analyzes a sociopath’s texts to her friend as he tries to hoover her back into a relationship. Read Maura’s previous translation of the sociopath’s hoovering.
Introduction — sociopathic hoovering
This is another text that my friend Annie was sent from her sociopathic ex. Four years ago, after a 17-year marriage, he abandoned her and their sons for his new flame from Craig’s list.
Once again, on the surface his text seems genuinely caring and that he is truly motivated to mend his ways. However, he is a sociopath and he’s simply toying and baiting her. We’ve analysed all the standard sociopathic ploys he flips through to get a response. Names and location have been changed.
Text: Hi Annie — I hope you are well and the boys are ok as well.
Ploy: A dollop of charm.
This pleasant greeting that feigns care and concern should make her swoon.
Text: Just thought I should let you know that I have been thinking about our relationship a lot lately. I acknowledge I have had an issue of not finding forgiveness in my heart for a couple of things in the past. I should have been big enough to overcome.
Ploy: Blame shifting and gaslighting. Guilt tripping, façade maintenance, faking self-reflection.
Cue the heartrending violin muzak. He claims the moral high ground by painting himself as the noble victim and Annie as the villain. He had gradually conditioned Annie to think she was the one who was always at fault. Nothing she did was ever good enough. This fake self-reflection is in fact a blame shifting slap. This is all so very hard on his poor little black heart to virtuously find forgiveness for Annie’s past transgressions. He is gaslighting her and telling her a very warped version of how things went down.
He actually expects her to be the bigger person and say, “There, there dear. I love and worship you for abandoning us. “
He relishes the feeling of power gained by manipulating Annie with more of his tiresome guessing games. She has to obsess and try to figure out what her unnamed unforgiveable sins were.
It could be any one of a million trivial crimes that hurt his ego and made him feel less than fabulous. Perhaps it was the time Annie said, “That’s not true,” or when she overspent her mingy household budget by $3. Was it the time she bought the boys a puppy, or maybe when she demanded to get out of the car due to his dangerous driving?
Regardless, they are all major felonies. He’ll get a high from Annie anxiously responding to him to find out what the things are that he vaguely refers to.
Text: You tried to teach me so many things that has (sic) helped me and I am so sorry I didn’t listen to all your advice.
Ploy: Fake apology and remorse. Projection and rewriting history.
She tried teach him how to be responsible and accountable. It wasn’t in his DNA to do menial house and garden work, as well as take on parenting duties. Besides, NOBODY tells him what to do!
What really helped him was her compliance and obedience to all his teachings that ensured he always felt special. His self-serving advice to her was to provide him with more: attention, ego stroking, extravagant gifts, servitude, sex, money, turning a blind eye to his perverseness, latest high-tech equipment and cars.
This insincere apology is to make her think he is going to turn over a new leaf. It is NEVER going to happen.
Text: I am writing to apologise to you and put that behind me.
Ploy: Another faux apology, projection and the illusion of moving on. Façade management of being a decent person.
He knows a fake apology goes a long way. He actually wants her to ignore his past behaviour. She must never point out or remind him of his faults, as it infuriates him. He sees this as a huge criticism. He is entitled to carry on doing whatever he’s doing and don’t dare try to stop him.
He wants her welcome him home with starry eyes and a smile of joy. She should then proffer him his favourite meal, none other than his first’s wife’s pasta bake dish. You know that meal, the one he insisted she make and then she could never master to his satisfaction. She must sweetly coo about how marvelous it is to have him back.
He will hide his resentment for now. He’s sharpening his knives and counting the days until he can extract revenge.
Text: There were quite a few occasions I wanted to try and work through some issues with you. But found myself blaming you and not having a good hard look at myself.
Ploy: Image presentation of self-reflection and pretending to be genuine.
He’s feeding her the Kool-Aid by implying that he is now having a good hard look at himself. Yep, he did and he still considers himself perfect. He always got a buzz from riling and goading Annie to the point of an emotional reaction. If she lost her cool, he would then play the calm and astounded victim. He would make Annie feel remorseful and guilty for her outbursts. He always inflated his importance by arrogantly putting down and undermining her viewpoints.
He would pretend to want resolve these issues, but would then deflect and deny. He would manipulate the conversation to go around in endless circles just for the sheer entertainment of watching Annie’s escalating anger and frustration.
Text: I remember you once spoke about some course or book that I should read and humbly ask maybe you could suggest something again and I will be happy to follow through.
Ploy: An empty promise of the ’But I will change.’ Fake humility.
When Annie first suggested he read that book he called her controlling and gave her the silent treatment for days on end. How dare she criticize him!
Suddenly he pretends to be a decent person who’s ever so willing to change and improve himself. He won’t follow through with any book or course. If he gets the name of this book or course, he’ll google it and memorise some lines. He’ll then bandy the lines about in his next text.
He has no intention of turning his life around with the character reformation that he hints at here. Things work very nicely to his advantage just the way they are.
However, he’ll say and do whatever is necessary to get a response.
Text: I guess I am asking for help to maybe see our relationship improve for the sake of all concerned.
Ploy: Pity play, false hope and a guilt trip.
Given Annie’s compassionate nature, his pity play of “asking for help” should be a sure-fire way to provoke a response. He’s duping her that he is valiantly soldiering on to improve the relationship.
He continues to place the onus on her. She has to fix this and make all the effort. He guilt trips Annie by implying that if she were a good mother then she should pull out all stops and work at improving their relationship for the boys’ sake. He has no intention of improving the relationship. He wants the fun of playing more mind games and to sit back in the control seat pulling her strings with a smirk on his face.
Text: I plan to try and be there more for you and the boys. If I can help please let me know.
Ploy: Another bogus promise laced with charm.
He’s suddenly parading himself as thoughtful and supportive good husband. She’s always fallen for all his lies and promises before, so why not again? He has no intention of ever delivering on it. It pulverizes his precious ego that they could somehow manage without him. He needs the chance to play the everyday superhero and be made to feel important. He wants to win her trust back again so he can then shatter it.
Text: I understand if you don’t want to make contact, but please if you could find it in your heart to talk I would really appreciate it.
Ploy: Fake understanding, challenge provocation and a pity play.
He is dangling the prospect of answers in front of her, by imploring her to take pity on him and talk to him.
This grey rock thing of ice queen indifference and ignoring him doesn’t work for him. He needs attention and the fun of messing with her mind and manipulating her.
Text: I am indeed grateful for the good times we have had and remind you of the feelings we had for each other.
Ploy: Pity play and reminder of the golden period.
Another lie to make her feel wanted. He is ever so grateful for the good times when she was the dutiful Stepford wife who fell for all his lies. He wants her to revert back to those days when she obeyed him.
His reminder of the feelings they had for each other is to steer her mind to replay those water coloured memories of the early days of his love bombing. The time of the golden period when she was completely smitten with his false image of love for her. He’ll pretend he still harbours that false love and lure her with the prospect of a return to the golden period.
Text: I want to make every effort to make things as good as they can be and understand it may take several years to try and sort the hurt and betrayal you are feeling.
Ploy: False promises, projection of feelings, patronising and a character assassination.
He oozes fake empathy and hints at resurrecting the relationship.
He asserts his superiority by patronizingly telling her how she is supposed to be thinking and feeling. He smears her character by insinuating she is unhinged and that it will take several years to try and sort out her emotions.
He projects his feelings of hurt and betrayal onto her. Annie didn’t even bother to phone him to find out where he was or why he left. She can’t possibly be lucid because she didn’t bombard him with a flurry of half hourly texts or phone messages anxiously questioning him and tearfully begging him to return.
He truly believes that it’s Annie’s duty to make a 100% effort to fix the relationship. After all he’s the hard done by innocent spouse. Things will only be good when he is back in full control and she is bending over backwards to please him.
If she would only pick up the phone and tell him how devastated and troubled she feels by his abandonment and how much she misses him. Her pain excites him. He feels so powerless when she ignores him and refuses to engage. Be a dear and play along with his script.
Text: I have not spent hours thinking of the right things to say but have been prayerfully saying just what I feel.
Ploy: Mirroring and manipulating her Christian beliefs.
He would spend hours plotting which manipulations to employ next to get a rankled response from Annie.
Time to invoke God.
From his moral high horse he is pretending to be earnestly prayerful as it carries such gravitas, and absolves him of all guilt.
He played her from day one by masquerading as a devout humble Christian. He used her faith to manipulate and control her. Annie was continually subjected to his tinpot dictator sermons on her role as the “submissive and dutiful wife.” His entitled “head of the house” status must be preserved at all costs. Cue the celestial choir muzak.
His prayers were as follows:
- God make her believeth in all my lies.
- God grant me her inheritance that she is about to receive.
- God make me precious in her sight and restoreth her to be my slave.
- God liberate me from this torment of the grey rock thing
Once this text was sent he went back to try hacking into her new email account. He is the devil incarnate, and if she sticks with him she’ll live in hell.
Text: I plan to be in Wellington from the 1st of Aug to 13th Aug. Giving 5 weeks’ notice is more than reasonable to see the boys.
Ploy: Advanced notification to keep every day free, and a challenge provocation to agree that this is reasonable.
His cleverly worded phrase of being ‘’reasonable’’ is another form of control. He shows he is being accommodating and wants to do the right thing. But it ensures Annie’s compliance as she then has no grounds to object or consider him to be unreasonable. He has her back to the wall and preys on her fear of losing access the boys.
Text: I noticed you seemed quite relaxed and well last time we met and I’m really pleased to think that perhaps if the boys see we can get on it may help.
Ploy: Patronising, flattery, pushing boundaries, controlling and facade management of playing happy families. Challenge provocation.
He strings her along with a bit of positive reinforcement for pleasing him by being relaxed last time. He continues to assert his power and ownership with his brazen decree on how he expects Annie to behave at this planned visit. His veneer of a concerned spouse and father is only to fool her. He implies that if she were a good mother then she would keep up the appearance that ‘he and she get along famously’ as it might help the boys.
After all, abandoning the boys and her and showing up randomly every 3 months or so really helps and is what’s best for him and his façade. He checked out of parenthood when the children were born. However, he did designate the boys with their respective roles of golden child and scapegoat at birth. Triangulating them all has provided him with endless entertainment ever since.
Text: I have looked at Tenpin bowling. It looks cool. Would you be able to make it on the Thursday 2nd of Aug or the Tuesday the 7th of Aug at say 10 and then at a restaurant of your choice afterwards.
Ploy: Image control of a generous cool dad.
How impressively thoughtful. He swans in to the boys’ lives when he can be bothered. He gets to do all the fun stuff with the boys, which will endear him to them. He’ll leave all those tedious, routine parenting responsibilities to her.
He should earn father of the year for suggesting this “cool” activity of his choice.
What a momentous jaw dropping occasion, he graciously lets them choose the restaurant.
Text: I will pay up to eighty dollars of the bill for the restaurant, which works out to $20 for each person, which seems fair.
Ploy: Creating indebtedness. Challenge provocation. Façade management of generosity
The miserly spending limit is set to ensure he’s still in control and the choice is restricted to low budget fast food outlets. He authoritatively decrees what he considers is fair and has deviously worded it as a “challenge provocation” to ensure Annie will accept his so called fairness.
He’s a man of integrity and fairness. Just ask him how he jauntily racked a $120,000 credit card debt. Oh, and ask him how he blew both her and the boys’ savings on a get rich quick Ponzi scheme. Then there’s the thousands of dollars he squanders every year on upgrading to the top of the range latest smart phone, laptop, tablet, computer, drone, smart TV, car and digital camera. Meanwhile Annie had to somehow manage all the household expenses on an impossibly tight shoestring budget.
Text: I will pay for the bowling as well if you could bring your concession card.
Ploy: Façade management of a generous fiscally responsible doting Dad. Creating indebtedness and retaining control. Patronising.
Everything was always transactional with him. Since he is so generously paying for the bowling, he is entitled to use her concession card. Annie should consider it a pleasure and privilege to help him to save money. Especially since it being spent (needlessly wasted) on them.
Text: Could you join in with us in the bowling please.
Ploy: Image management. Testing boundaries and retaining control.
He’s testing her resolve and boundaries. He wants the smug satisfaction of still controlling her. He expects Annie to join in with a sunny smile plastered on her face and partake in the cheery banter. He wants to present the perfect family image in public and show the world how well they get on. Annie can ignore that “little abandonment thing” he did some years back and enjoy the awesomeness of basking in his marvelous presence and applaud his bowling prowess.
Text: I hope this makes sense and comes across that way.
Ploy: Keeping up the façade of a nice Christian guy.
Gives her the impression he still loves her. He doesn’t love her and he never did.
Since his departure, Annie can see that it was all an illusion. He is a disordered sociopath without true empathy and incapable of change.
Text: Please say hello to those lovely boys.
Ploy: Reminder that the boys are his. He owns them.
Epilogue — recovery from the sociopath
Annie has reclaimed her power and her life by implementing minimal contact and is building a new life. Annie’s stellar grey rock response a week later was a curt text stating the boys wanted to see a movie, and listed the movie name, dates and times. Annie didn’t go to the movies with them but got a trusted friend to go and supervise the visit.
What was the most infuriating outrageous hoover line the sociopath ever sent to you? Please tell us along with your translation of that line and the ploys.