Lovefraud recently received the letter below from a reader; we’ll call her Andrea.
I was married to a sociopath for 12 years (didn’t know it until we divorced). He had 3 affairs and was a minister for a majority of that time. He messed up a lot of lives. Anyway, I am at my wits end right now because I cannot get him out of my life because we had 2 children. I am so tired of dealing with him. My kids are 12 and 10 now and my ex is doing everything in his power to try and convince my son to go live with him when he’s 14. I see it happening and there’s nothing I can do to stop it. I keep notes about everything that happens, but my lawyer tells me that it would be a very hard case if my son wants to go.
I’m also struggling right now because I have something my ex wants. I have some documents from when we were married and owned a business. He needs some proof that another couple we were in business with is not responsible for a loan we had. My ex got the loan in the divorce. I believe he’s trying to bankrupt his business. Anyway, I’m refusing to give him the documents because I am so tired of being bullied by him and lied to. I know this was a stupid thing to do because now he’s furious and is attacking me through emails and bashing me to the kids. But, it seems so unfair that I have to give in to him ALL THE TIME to keep the peace. I am tired of it. He has something I want and I’m holding the documents as a bargaining tool. Do you think this will work with a sociopath? Or am I just asking for it?
A relationship or any type of involvement with a sociopath leaves us with a big ball of turmoil. We discover that everything he or she has ever said to us was a lie, and we are outraged. We learn that we were played like a fool, and we are humiliated. We realize that our love and trust were abused, and we fear that we’ll never love and trust again.
While trying to deal with the emotional shock of the betrayal, we also have to deal with the practical issues of disengaging—divorce, finances, children. As we do this, especially if there are legal proceedings involved, we want to tell the world, or at least the judge, about the sociopath’s wrongdoing. We want to prove that we were honorable, and the sociopath was not. We want to be vindicated.
The sociopath does not experience this emotional turmoil. The sociopath’s only objective is to win. The definition of “winning,” of course, depends on what the sociopath wants. Maybe it’s keeping his or her possessions, such as children. Maybe it’s keeping his or her money by not having to pay child support. Maybe it’s destroying us.
Usually Lovefraud advises our readers to have no contact with sociopaths. Of course, this is not possible when someone, like Andrea, has to co-parent with a sociopath.
My advice to Andrea was to think strategically. There is no point withholding the documents just because she is tired of being bullied. What does she really want? What leverage does she have to get what she wants?
The documents she talks about are leverage. Therefore, Andrea should play this exactly as the sociopath would—using the documents to extract some kind of concession out of him. She needs to evaluate what that might be, and then use her leverage to get it.
However, whatever she demands needs to be something that the sociopath can deliver immediately, not at some time in the future. Sociopaths do not honor agreements, so there is no point in asking for something that will be delivered later, or over a long period of time. It will never happen.
For sociopaths, it’s all a game, a game that they want to win.
In my case, however, my sociopathic ex-husband, James Montgomery, just quit playing. In our divorce, he fired his attorney, signed papers to represent himself pro se, and then defaulted. He was on to his next scam, and had no use for me. I never interacted with him again.
So I actually don’t have experience in ongoing dealings with a sociopath. Therefore, I ask Lovefraud readers for your input. If you must continue to deal with a sociopath, what works?