By | August 26, 2010 151 Comments

When He’s Just A Bad Dude

It’s easy to get obsessed with, fixated on, “labels” and diagnostic categories like sociopath, psychopath, malignant narcissist, narcissist, etc. To be sure, labels and diagnoses can be important and informative.

In the case of “sociopathic” individuals, for instance, we know that there’s no changing them; we know that there’s no real hope for their redemption; and so, if you’ve correctly identified a sociopathic type, you can know that it’s pointless, self-destructive to invest another minute of your time in him. And this is a good thing to know.

But it’s also the case, I’d suggest, that an overfocus on labels and diagnoses can sometimes be a distraction, a form of avoidance, sometimes of obsession, and, in some cases, a habitually poor use of one’s time.

Does it really matter, as several LoveFraud readers have pointed out in various posts over the months, what precise label—accurate or not—you affix to an individual when he’s proven to be emotionally unavailable, or a compulsive liar, or an abusive personality, or a chronically selfish, self-centered partner, or a chronic, comfortable manipulator and deceiver?

Does it really matter, in the end, what you call this? It seems to me that what’s suitable to call this, and perhaps all that’s necessary, sometimes, to call this, is–This is a bad dude for me. This is the wrong dude for me

Sometimes this is the diagnosis that ultimately matters: Wrong dude for me, or Right dude for me.

Whether he’s a narcissist, sociopath, or neither (in a fullblown sense); whether he’s got another personality disorder, or a hybrid of personality disorders, or whether, again, he fails to meet the full criteria for any personality disorder, sometimes this isn’t the main issue.

Often, what matters most is what it is that you require in a partner, and whether he has the goods to deliver it. And once you establish that he lacks what you require—say, sufficient integrity, emotional generosity, dependability, you name it—then, as I suggest, you’ve nailed the really, and sometimes only, relevant diagnosis—the he’s wrong for me! diagnosis.

I understand that a community of people who’ve suffered some of the common indignities inflicted by exploitive personalities can offer one another invaluable support, and I surely don’t mean to devalue the fantastic healing power of this communal process.

But it’s also important to remember, going forward, that we, each of us, needs to take a good, long look in the mirror and take charge of the kind of relationships that dignify us. I maintain that, in a great many cases, when we’re honest with ourselves, we discover, in examining the history of our relationships, that we may have tolerated, overlooked, or denied behaviors and attitudes that, in retrospect, should have been unacceptable to us.

These may have been the behaviors and attitudes of a sociopath, or just a selfish, immature partner; a narcissist, or just an emotionally unavailable, detached boyfriend or girlfriend.

We may have invested a great deal of false, unrealistic hope in the possibility that this person would change; that we could somehow change this person; that this person would somehow, someday, “get it,” wake up, possibly “grow up,” realize and, finally, properly value,what we had to offer him (or her)!

But as so many of us know all too well, this can be a misguided fantasy that leads us into dangerous, compromising investments–investments which can devolve us into protracted, paralyzing resentment of the individual in whom we made this too-long, too-patient and too-compromising investment; and then get hung-up on eviscerating him for his deviance—when all along, maybe more obviously than we ever wanted to admit, we might have recognized that he was the wrong dude for me.

Again, I sincerely don’t mean to minimize the trauma arising from the violating—sometimes the shockingly violating behaviors—of those in whom we’ve invested our trust. And I particularly don’t mean to minimize the pain engendered from the chronically violating behaviors of serial expoiters.

But I do mean to question whether, sometimes, dwelling on any diagnostic cateory, including the sociopathic spectrum category, can distract us from a most important, and, ultimately, liberating achievement, which is to own that sometimes we end up making terrible choices of partners, regardless of their diagnoses—partners incapable of doing us justice, and capable all too often of doing us terrible injustice.

These are partners—whoever they are, and whatever drives their unacceptable behaviors—whom we want to be grateful to be rid of, and whose destructive qualities, in future relationships, we want to seize every opportunity to steer clear of. 

(As usual, my use of male gender pronouns in this article is purely for convenience’s sake. Everything discussed in this article applies equally to female perpetrators of deception and exploitation. This article is copyrighted (c) 2010 by Steve Becker, LCSW.)

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kim frederick

Thanks for the reminder Steve!
I’m not sure if this is rational, and I’m not sure I can even explain it, but at this point in my recovery I’m working on my spirit, and trying to hold on to compassion, forgiveness including self-forgiveness, and (this might be ridiculious) for some reason I can have compassion for, and forgive someone much easier if he’s NOT a sociopath.

I am very well aware, however, that all three have been bad for me, and am not interested in having a relationship with any of them. I am interested in understanding what the attraction was, on both sides, and learning from it.

I agree, though that one can distract one-self from the larger issues by getting stuck on labels.

Thanks, again Steve.



This is a good article, being very helpful to me.


Very pointed article, Steve – and very timely.

Those of us that have been in the N/S/P relationship are so focused on finding answers for what we went through that sometimes the “Diagnosis” is such a relief – the knowing there was nothing we could do to change anything eventually sinks in.

But now as I watch my single friends dating and finding “The Not Right Dudes ” I see only the need to recognize those behaviors we find hurtful and unacceptable and just say “NEXT!!!” .

No need to figure out why he won’t pay for your lunch, why he said he was coming over and blew you off, why he ate dinner at your house and left before the dishes were even in the sink.

I hear of these things happening from my friends and it is so discouraging to even consider dating .

But it’s what they are dealing with – after you cut someone enough slack for an off day, a bad mood, low on funds week etc – then it may be time to just cut them lose permanently.

Thanks as always for your insight


Hello good people:

You save my life on a daily basis. This is such a powerful site, get more from this than the ph.d I see, she means well I guess, but a lot of lip service, pat answers, placates just angers me more.

I have been free of the animal for 6 weeks now. He stalked me at my home on Aug 6, called cops and haven’t seen him since thank God.

I have noticed that I feel like a completely different person now. I feel really sad, I find myself missing him, but after I have been educated by all of you about the depth of their evil, I ask myself how can I miss someone who was a lie. The entire rel was a total lie-the worst betrayal ever.

I have lost my innocence and my friendliness, I’m sadder, I’m sorely disappointed in humanity, paranoid and suspicious of everyone now. I am very angry and so deeply sad and heartbroken by all of this, can’t believe that people like this really exist and how they destroy and change lives for forever. Everyone is under suspicion now because I was duped big time, I mean how can I trust even people that appear to be nice and good, that is what the X-Sociopath did to me, he was the most complimentary person I’ve ever met, always helping people, very generous, helped me out financially, cried when I would have sad days and rush right over to comfort me and now that I finally have swallowed the bitter truth of reality and my denial has been ripped from me, how can I trust potentially good people in the future. I thought this guy was the best thing that ever happened to me until his monster self came out.

I just feel destroyed on every level. The pain and abandonment I feel brings back the trauma and pain from childhood. Mother was a sociopath-made my life a living hell, sister was one, and so was dad, although dad may be an N and have sociopathic tendencies.

So, I grieve again my childhood for all the horror it was and I grieve the X-sociopath too. I grieve bad people it makes me feel worse.

He would hold his monster inside for about 1 month to 2-3 months then he would fly into a sadistic rage worse than I experienced with my father as a child. He would pant like Mel Gibson like an animal, those tapes chill me to the bone. He sounded just like Mel.

Then after getting away from him after he’d get like this, I would miss him, long for him, get terribly lonely and go back to him and the cycle started all over again. It’s been a hell of a life for so long and was so deeply hurt by his rages, he never hit me, but the emotional and mental hurt was enough.

I am sober from him for 6 weeks now, missing him has been haunting me a little bit. I usually make it to 3 months no contact and go back because I was never strong enough to withstand the horrible pit of loneliness. As time rolls on, I heal from the pain he inflicted and go back.

This time is different though, I know if I can make it n/c for 4 months I am home free this time. I hope I can be strong this time and not go back.

Life sucks sometimes.


I forgot to say that after reading: ‘Without Conscience’, by Dr. Hare last night, and reading Dr. Martha Stout’s book: ‘The Sociopath Next Door’, I have realized one thing loud and clear:

It takes a hell of a strong person to swallow the bitter pill that we have been emotionally involved with the most dangerous person on earth, all wolves in sheep’s clothing.

I don’t know after reading the facts how one can truly feel a sense of peace and safety and sense of trust in mankind in this world. I am a cynical person now. Never was before.

I never, ever wanted to admit the truth who the X really was-a demon. I’ve realized now it takes a very strong person to swallow this reality, the reality that some people we come across are really sociopaths that look like me and you and there usually nice folks in a mask. So scary.

It takes a person with a very strong ego structure to admit this reality to themselves. I was sleeping with the worst enemy. I always locked my doors at night and he was always adamant about protecting me from the world reminding me to lock up, shut the windows etc…..I thought gee I’ve got a real protector here, but the reality was I was sleeping with the enemy far more dangerous than a robber breaking in.

I never truly knew what I was dealing with. I spent a lot of time analyzing and trying to figure it out. I thought oh he’s bipolar and just needs meds, or I thought he just needed anger management, or I thought it was his abusive childhood, but never, ever thought in a million years his diagnosis was Psychopath! I am still in a state of numbness and shock. How could this possibly be? I can’t wrap my brain around it still that people really do seek out to hurt you and manipulate you, just like my mom did to me my whole life. I am truly baffled. I used to believe that there was good in everyone and always gave others the benefit of the doubt, unconditional love and all that nonsense. No more.

I am about to read: ‘Snakes in Suits’ by Dr. Hare. I have to admit to you the devastating truth that every boss I have ever had was a sociopath, maybe, just maybe 1 or 2 weren’t but the rest were.

I had to leave every single job I’ve had due to the evil bosses and co-workers. I have been poor my whole life because of them. Am terrified to get back into the workforce. The last job I left was in Feb. I hope the next job, God has some mercy on me and that I can experience working with good people, not the ones that set me up and plot against me. I can’t take much more of these evil tyrants. My soul is really tired.

Ox Drover

Dear Gothelesson,

Congratulations! TOWANDA!for you! I think in getting over the addiction to the “bad dudes” it is like getting over the worst hurdle in any addiction it is the first 90 days. I quit smoking about a year ago and I think the first 90 days were the hardest, but just as we must stay TOTALLY NC WITH CIGARETTES and can’t even “have one” we must stay totally NC with the psychopath or we got back to “ground zero” Stay strong, you CAN DO IT THIS TIME, I AM CONVINCED by your strong words.
BTW Emotional abuse can be worse than physical abuse, and is rape of the soul!

Steve, this is a great article and one that we need to be reminded of. It does not matter what we call them, as long as we recognize the behaviors that are unacceptable. Doesn’t matter WHY they lie, THEY LIE=THEY ARE BAD. Doesn’t matter WHY they cheat–they CHEAT=BAD DUDE FOR ME. Doesn’t matter WHY they are dishonest, DISHONEST=BAD DUDE FOR ME.

We must set our own boundaries of what is acceptable to us, and skip over the part where we EXCUSE BAD BEHAVIOR that is basically ANYTHING DISHONEST. It doesn’t matter if he was abused as a child, that is not a pass to become an abuser himself. It doesn’t matter that his X-wife was a witch, that doesn’t excuse or give him a pass to be dishonest with me.

It doesn’t matter why he robbed the bank and went to prison, he is a CRIMINAL=BAD DUDE FOR ME!

According to Kent Kiehel, PhD, who is studying convicts, the AVERAGE score on the PCL-R of ALL convicts is 22, with 25% of them being >30 and qualifying as psychopaths, so if we eliminate all associations with people who have been in prison, we will eliminate most of the psychopaths, and “ALMOST-psychopaths” at least out of that sub-set of people we might know. I realize that SOME people can change (those of us here at LF have done a LOT of changing for the better) but I don’t intend to try to hang around a dysfunctional person to see if they will self-heal. I don’t need the aggravation and drama. They can heal on their own time, I don’t need to be trying to have a relationship with a dysfunctional person who treats me poorly. NOT my job!

Good article, STeve. Thanks.



You can make it No Contact, you’re right on that point. Involvement with a sociopath and/or psychopath definitely shakes up your view of the world, reality. I have become a cynical person, still wiped out mentally from the whole ordeal of the discovery of this mental illness, never being able to be how I was before I knew that the husband fits the criteria of a sociopath, still being unsettling (to the core), hard to stomach.


Dear Steve:

I have to say that the word-personality disorder does not even come close to describing the scope of their evil.

Have you ever been involved with one? If not, you just cannot know.

For me, I have to keep loud and clear and define it for exactly what it is and who I’m really dealing with at all times. Psychopath works for me. Bad dude doesn’t even come close to describing it. I need to remain in reality of what is to get on with it.

Some of your points are ok, but inappropriate in this forum of deeply wounded caring souls. Bad dude would keep me in a relationship, psychopath doesn’t.



Your comment about evil bosses reminded me of a story that I heard about earlier this week on the Today show about a man who committed suicide due to a bullying boss, no less, working for a prestigious magazine put out by UVA. This man sought help for himself (attempting to resolve his workplace issues) through different avenues via his employer and didn’t get any response to his concerns, so feeling completely despondent, he ended his life. He left a suicide note, indicating that abuse from his bullying boss was the reason he committed suicide. The employee had read or was reading a book about how to deal with a narcissistic boss. A picture of the boss was shown (a younger man) on the show – he put out a statement to the media denying any responsibility for this deceased man’s final action. Too bad the employer didn’t take effective action toward helping this employee (who was at the end of his rope).

Ox Drover

Dear Got the lesson,

The labels we place on them: Sociopath, psychopath, Narcissist, malignant narcissist, EVIL, Demon, or whatever we want to call them, including “bad dude” is in reality UNIMPORTANT, the thing we must grasp is WHATEVER YOU call it, it is TOXIC and POISON and we must stay away.

Staying with someone who is a “bad dude” is no more reasonable than staying with a “psychopath” — there are lots of people who are NOT GOOD FOR US, who will use and abuse us who don’t quite qualify as a psychopath by Hare’s definbition (PCL-R) but if they injure us they are TOXIC and POISON. There are levels of toxins, from bad to immediately lethal, but even “bad” is more than enough reason not to drink it.

You’ve been severely injured by the monster (that’s another good name for them) and now you need peace, distance and time in which to effect your healing from those wounds. Glad you are here, keep on reading it will be salve to your soul! (((Hugs))))


Dear Steve,
I get exactly what you are trying to say. I know that at first, the labels are important. They helped me to define what I had been dealing with. For every word, there is a definition and those definitions of what a sociopath, narcissist or psychopath helped me to define my ex.
Now, it’s all about working on myself and when I think of the ex spath, I simply think of the word, “bad”, which is what he is in all ways. I see no good whatsoever in he or his actions. But first, I had to learn.
I think what you are describing might be a one of the stages we reach in our healing process and it IS an important one. Be they male or female, I have learned there are those who are simply just plain BAD. They will never change, they LIKE the way they are and the real lesson is that, from this, those of us who have been through hell and back, we learn to listen to our intuition, we don’t ignore the red flags and we move farther and farther along in our recovery.

bluejay, how interesting that the very narcissist that drove this man to suicide would come out and deny any allegations. It’s kind of hard to argue with a letter that was written by a man who is now deceased. If anything good can come out of this, it will be that this particular employer will be known as the real person he is. And THAT particular label with stay with him for a very long time. How sad for this poor man who felt death was his only way out.


Listen to instincts.. that knowing inside that either shouts or whispers.. something is wrong here.. SOMETHING IS WRONG HERE!!!!

Ox Drover

Cat, I’d like to agree to disagree with you on that one about the employer being labeled by the letter the dead man wrote.

Look at that situation where the man was caught for stealing beer from the company and fired, then opened up and killed all those people as well as himself. He told his family that it was because he had suffered “racial slurs” at the plant.

EVEN IF he had suffered racial slurrs, did that justify the killing of those people. Even he said he had killed “all the ones who persecuted him” but others as well, and that he wanted to kill more….I’m sorry, his family may blame the “racial slurs” he allegedly suffered for him killing all those people, but I don’t buy that.

While I admit that a psychopath can “make us crazy” (been there and got the tee) taking our own lives or taking the life of someone else because we were “peresecuted” I think is a bogus excuse not a reason.

While I truly (I think) understand the reasons we don’t “just leave” a bad relationship, and therefore have some compassion and empathy for people who do “crack” and kill either themselves or someone else—I strongly believe, no one can MAKE us make that choice. We make it ourselves. Believe me, I have strongly wanted to hurt others, but I have never allowed myself to take the law into my own hands. UNLESS WE ARE TRULY PSYCHOTIC (out of touch with reality_-seeing thunder and hearing lightening) Our actions are our CHOICES. We are responsible for our choices and our actions.



For me, labels are extremely important. For you, maybe not, but for me, yes, indeed.

Ox Drover

Dear Gotthelesson,

In different stages of the healing process different things are important to each of us, and that seems to change sometimes daily or even hourly as we “roller coaster” through all the emotions as we are trying to heal from the utter devestation that they leave in their wake.

There was a time when it mattered very much to me, as well. I’m just past the point now that THEY much less the label for THEM even matters. They are EVIL, BAD, TOXIC, POISON, HATEFUL, the words to try to describe them fail so utterly that none are truly adequate so it no longer matters to ME what they are called. My spirit and my soul know that they are bad and toxic for me and I must stay away from them. ((((Hugs))))


It matters to me.

Not on lf to receive comments or debates about my beliefs. Don’t think that is what this forum is intended for.

Ox Drover

Wasn’t debating your beliefs, just sharing mine. Sorry if you were offended.


I understand all points made.
The first ‘word’ that came up in my world was Narcissistic.
I researched the meaning and it fit…..big time……explained alot.
This brought me to the place of awareness. …….the word….Narcissistic.
Then spaths phychologist represented the word…..SOCIOPATH.
But spath didn’t stick around with psychologist long enough for a formal diagnosis.
I researched sociopathic behaviors…..It also fit.
From this place of education and enlightenment……I learned…..and I asked the psychologist… they change?
Is there hope?
He said…..NO.
I asked, Ever??? I wanted hope.
He said…..generally NO. I have seen a few as they age, and run off all friends and support and family…..lose their looks, lose their ability to charm, and when they get ill……they want pity and support. THAT”S when they come to me and ask why, what is wrong with me?
As he told me this…..i’m thinking…..i’ve got a looooonnnggg time and alot more abuse to endure, to get to the ill stage and HOPE it changes him… time for me to nurse him and change HIS diapers……
Is this worth the chance……NO!
I’m done!

The label helped me recognize ‘what’ it was, and how the outcome would end……
Without having a ‘name’ for it……I still think i’d have hope-I think i’d still be enduring.

NOW…..outside of educating others about it…….it doesn’t matter what/how/who/when he is.
He’s ‘bad’ for me. Poison for me and toxic to me. All that is ‘bad’.

No….’bad’ doesn’t even scratch the surface of who he is…..
Bad is milk 5 days out of date.
Bad is not paying your electric bill and having it turned off…..
Bad is how bad you broke your leg.
Bad is how you feel when you are throwing up.

BUT…..bad=toxic=him, in my head.
To others…..I say he exhibits Sociopathic behaviors…….
To professsionals…..attorneys/judges etc… I say he exhibits Cluster B personality disorder traits. (It always peaks the interest of those types…..and then I go into the Socipoath speel) 🙂

I also think it’s an issue because 9/10 are NOT formally diagnosed and we can run into problems calling them a SOCIOPATH without a diagnosis….and we all know how spaths like to keep a court action going……slander is right up their ally!

Sociopath got me ‘out’ of the relationship.
Toxic….keeps me out.
Sociopathic behaviors keep me reminded of how toxic he is.
Knowing the pain I could ‘go back’ to……is ‘bad’.

Ifinallygotthelesson…..You are in a stage where it DOES matter…….and I can totally relate to that.

But what keeps us out forever and away from others… being aware of the ‘bad’ behaviors and how easily we can get hooked.

I think others are stating their place in healing…..of which you are also doing…..don’t think it’s a debate on what/how to refer to them and I don’t see judgement passed on your beliefs.
Bottom line is…..Whatever works to keep you and your soul away and healthy and on a healing path.


Thanks for this article. I see your points and I think you are right in pointing these out to ‘healers’….
Soemtimes we can get ‘stuck’…..and sometimes being ‘stuck’ keeps us in this toxic, degrading, horrible relationship…..continuing to give ‘benefit’ of doubt….and hoping….if I waiver between N and S…..or maybe he’s neither and i’ve got it all wrong…..yadayada…..
Point is…..GET OUT! It’s bad for you!


bad dude. exactly. really bad.
actually rang my bell last night. i panicked; i froze. i shut my lights and double locked the door. my heart raced.
today is the 3rd anniversary of his mom’s passing; she was my best friend. he thinks of her, so he thinks of me.
bad bad dude. that’s all that matters. 2 years NC, and my heart still races, but not with anticipation of his royal ‘hotness’ coming home to me, but with the understanding that he is one of the hopeless, dangerous, soulless who walk among us.

Ox Drover

Hey, Erin,

guess what? we are having a BLIZZARD here today, it got down into the 60s last night (high 60s) and only 92 with 22% humidity today!

I opened up the house last night after dark, turned on the attic fan and aired out the house but good. Slammed it shut this morning as the temp rose, and turned on the AC, but it was nice for one day anyway! Looks like it may get even cooler during the next 7 days, but no rain on the forecast.

Came outside this morning to the Arkansas horse and jack ass convention on my front porch! Going to have to put the clips back on the gates, they’ve finally figured out the chain latches, and now go walk-about at leisure! It’s best to be smarter than the animals you are trying to train or control, but it isn’t always an easy task! Sometimes I think it is trying to out think a psychopath—-a difficult thing to find what they WON’T DO. LOL

Ox Drover

Dear LIG,

We posted over each other so I didn’t see your post until I posted a second later. I am so sorry you had the jerkwad come to your door. I think my heart would race too if someone I wasn’t expecting turned up on my door, and especially if it was one of the Ps. ((((Hugs)))) I’ve been missing you. Have you been okay otherwise? What’s going on in your life?

Glad at least you aren’t anticipating his “hotness” coming home to you. Hang on GF! Love Oxy


A couple of reactions
1) the first time a therapist said “he is toxic for you” , my reaction was “what do you mean ‘FOR ME'” ? It was like I still thought maybe there were people for whom he would NOT be toxic, so whatever was wrong with me, I wanted it fixed, so he would NOT be toxic for me and I could still be with him!

What I didn’t get then, was that anyone for whom he was not toxic, well, it just meant they wouldn’t ever let him close enough to drink the poison. It did NOT mean others would have a wonderful, loving relationship with him, while I (obviously screwed up) would have a toxic relationship with him.

In other words, my self-esteem was so low right then, that I still figured I must be the problem in the equation. But in a way I was….because I was willing to minimize his abuse, to overlook it, to forgive it, to “understand” it, to even apologize for it on his behalf to myself! To make excuses for it, to explain to him that I was hurt (as if he didn’t know that and take glee in it), to think I could get him to see what he was doing wrong (as if he weren’t fully aware of it and loving pulling one over on me, loving making me go back and forth between anger and forgiveness, etc.)

I was an enabler of his abuse of me, because I drew boundaries and then let him step over the line, got angry, then missed him, then begged forgiveness for getting angry, and then he would forgive me for being a “bitch” and then the dance would begin again.

With a non-exploitive person, those traits of willingness to forgive, for being solidly bonded, being willing to more than assume my responsibility for any wrong doing….those would be GOOD traits. But they have to be coupled with strong boundaries about what is acceptable and what is not, NO MATTER WHO THE HECK YOU ARE, no matter what our history is, no matter how much others admire you, no matter what sweet talk you pour on now, no matter what you have done for me in the past, no matter what you could possibly do for me in the future. There are boundaries that MUST stay in place. And if you keep crossing that boundary after I have CLEARLY marked the boundary….you no longer can be in my life in a position where you can cross that boundary any longer.

2) I was amazed when my therapist casually said one day “My first husband may have been a narcissist”.(And she made it clear she really hadn’t thought about it much, and didn’t really care.) My jaw dropped. It was amazing to me that she is in the professional mental health field and had all kinds of data on this man, obviously, but had never stopped to figure out if he is a narcissist or not!

It gradually sunk in to me, that a diagnosis matters for insurance purposes, or treatment . But a diagnosis does not matter for determining who should or should not be in your life.

It was a powerful lesson.

Ox Drover

Dear Neveragain,

I concur completely with your last statement: “but a diagnosis does not matter for determining who should or should not be in your life.: AMEN, Sista!

I guess it was more than a year ago now, but Matt and I were talkin on the blog about cleaning out our Rolodexes, and cutting down the numbers of dysfunctional “friends” we had, people who gave us grief in ANY form, much less the Ps.

It is liberating to me to know that don’t have to have a nice “tidy” diagnosis for who I let in my life or don’t. If I don’t like the color of your hair that it’s okay for me to not be your friend. I’m NOT REQUIRED to be “friends” with anyone who wants to be my friend! WOW! I can pick and choose! What a concept! Should of thought of that sooner! LOL

Good post Never again! Well said!



This is a good article and I think I get what you are trying to say. However for me the “label” was/is important because I might still be in the relationship, having hope that things could or would get better. Now that I know I was dealing with a P it ended any hope of staying in that relationship. As it is I feel like I wasted five years of my life but it could have been more if I had not been willing to label the behaviors of the ex.



Great article. I think so many of us who get to this site are completely engulfed in “paralysis through analysis.” We have completely negated our own needs and focused 150 percent of our energies on analyzing our partner’s behavior and reading their signs trying to figure them out. And that puts in the place that we are paralyzed in taking action to help ourselves until things reach such a crescendo that we are either forced or driven to take action to save ourselves.

In my own case, and I believe in the case of many of those on this site, this comes from a clear failure, on my part, to clearly define not only what was acceptable behavior on my partner’s part, but, more importantly, what MY needs were. In the aftermath of my S-ex, I was forced, for the first time, to get really, really clear on what I was looking for in a partner. For the first time in my life I saw that it had to be all about me. That instead of analyzing the behavior of all these people who had negatively impacted my life — be they an N/S/P or just a plain old asshole, I had to focus on me, myself, and I.

It has been a long, hard journey since I drove my S-ex off in November 2008. But, the journey has been worth it. I found that after I figured out what I wanted in a partner, and went out and met somebody who met my needs (great guy, 16 months and getting better and better each day) and then started looking at every other area of my life and had to apply the same critera — what were my needs? I now have a new position that I feel makes a valid contribution to society and from which I derive a great deal of satisfaction, and have also culled the rolodex of my personal relationships and also determined which people add value to my life and which are costing me. Needless to say, while the emotional investment was high, the payoff has been huge.


hi oxy.
i miss everyone, too. but so busy and trying not to let the s/p/n experience take up my time and energy.
i’m doing pretty well. going into my fourth year of teaching, almost finished with my masters. starting therapy tomorrow! i think the final hurdle is trust. it’s gone. poof. and i want to be able to feel that not everyone’s words derive from an evil place and morph into a con game.


Spot on, Steve!
In the beginning, I was hell bent on proving (to myself, I guess, because who else cared?) that he is a sociopath. What matters is that he was not the one for me. As the healing progresses and I find myself happy, vibrant, and more active, like the old me, I realize that the obsession with him has been an habitually poor use of my time.
Get busy living, or get busy dying.


Matt- this is awesome: I think so many of us who get to this site are completely engulfed in “paralysis through analysis.” We have completely negated our own needs and focused 150 percent of our energies on analyzing our partner’s behavior and reading their signs trying to figure them out. And that puts in the place that we are paralyzed in taking action to help ourselves until things reach such a crescendo that we are either forced or drive to take action to save ourselves.


Great article and great comments…everything here at LF rings true. I feel like the label helped me to understand what I could not understand prior to learning about sociopaths. Everything finally made sense!! But I agree that once you develop that understanding and knowledge of spaths, you realize that you can’t afford (emotionally, physically, or financially) to put up with such behavior, as it is MOST DEFINITELY TOXIC. I, too, have had to lose “friends” who really weren’t true friends, and have also had to cut out a sibling, because now I see how her behavior so closely duplicates that of the ex spath husband. I am emotionally torn because I also see some of the behavior in my elderly mother–yet I was raised to “honor thy father and mother.” It’s hard for me because some of her behavior through the years was emotionally abusive…of course, I now see why I ended up with the monster ex. But she will not live for many years longer at her age. So I feel at odds–I want that “mother” that she really can’t be, yet I’m tired of being hurt.

Anyway, I now KNOW that I have to be on guard to avoid people who have the same kind of traits. I don’t hesitate to back away from someone when my intuition tells me to. So in that regard, I guess I’m doing better now at taking care of me.

Am loving Donna’s book!! Am almost finished with it, and even though it triggers nightmares about my ex, I do get to be with the spirit of my son in my dreams (he took his life a few years back–I now think he also had PTSD that was undiagnosed). I commend Donna for all her hard work, because it has been a blessing for me and so many others!


Annmarie56, I too had that situation. About the time she turned 90, or maybe sooner, I was finally well “emotionally insulated” from her, in that I didn”t share from the depth of my soul anymore, actually I was not that “real” around her anymore, I just couldn’t be, didn’t take her guilt trips personally. It was how I would deal with a child. You don’t really share your troubles with a child, nor do you take their lies seriously, etc. Yet I could take real joy in giving her a present that pleased her, my love for her was real, and if she didnt’ like a present, I wasn’t anymore hurt than by a two year old that likes the box better than the present inside or simply tosses the whole mess aside. I really did get to that place that she couldn’t hurt me. A note she left for me to read after she died DID hurt, but it helped cure the grief.



Thanks, your input helps. I do love her, but I do not truly trust her, either. I am pretty sure she had abuse in her childhood, so I don’t think she really recognizes that kind of behavior. I live far from her now, but will be making a visit soon, so the anxiety will increase. Thank goodness for the anti-anxiety med for PTSD!! I do know that she loves me, but it has sure come at a cost.

Ox Drover

Annmarie, Neveragain, Matt, and all the others who have had problems with a “toxic” parent— I think we never get so old or “adult” that we don’t want that mother/father we never had, or approval from the DNA donor, emotionally, at least, but at the same time, our own “adult selves” can be the parent we wanted but never had.

“Honoring thy father and mother” was a hard spot for me as well, but I no longer see it as allowing them to use or abuse me…but, instead, I HONOR them when I become the kind of person that would bring “honor” to a parent.

The Bible also says to parents, “Father’s provoke not your children to wrath.” Wrath is the kind of anger that seethes and festers from UNJUST treatment and abuse.

Accepting abuse from a parent is not “doing God’s will” for me. When I was young, my parents’ job was to love and nurture me, to “bring (me) up with the nurture and admonition of the Lord.” Not to bring me up in the TERROR of both God and my own DNA donors.

I made the mistake of thinking that the way I was brought up was normal and good. I didn’t know any other way of thinking. Now I know better, and now, I do better.

Some of us here at LF must go NC with our sibs, parents, other family, and some can simply live at a distance, or keep their “trust” in their own pockets. Each of us has a different situation with our families of origin that we must work out. The main point I”m trying to make is that if NC is what we truly need then that is what we should do. If having limited contact, or association is what you need or can handle then that is right for you, but none of us should feel that we HAVE TO have contact in order to “honor our parents”—we can honor them by becoming the kind of people that will bring praise and honor to them, but it doesn’t mean we must endure abuse from them.

It took a long painful road to come to that conclusion and to truly see that I can be happy and don’t have to endure whatever family members put out. It liberated me from the emotional bonds and slavery of my family and the idea that I had to “please” them no matter what the cost to myself.

I may not be


He was ‘just a bad dude’ I could not comprehend, that had me in a knot of lies, torment and confusion…who could lie so convincingly you would think he was a really beautiful kind hearted sensitive dude, this is not about recognising a bad dude…this is about being driven crazy by lies and deception…if he was ‘just a bad dude’ I would be fine!!!!

kim frederick

All very valid and insightfull comments, above.

It really does come down to what works for you, and what works today may not work as well tomorrow, and so forth.

I am at a point where my healing needs to be a spiritual one. I need to heal my own spirit and honor it. This requires rigorios honesty, a desire to do the next right thing, and the ability to forgive myself and others for their futile and hurtfull and ignorance driven behaviors.

How can I forgive myself and have compassion for myself if I can’t forgive others?

Please don’t misunderstand, I’m not trying to sway anyone else to forgive anything if they aren’t there yet, and I understand that there are some people who don’t deserve forgiveness. Being self righteously angry IS ALLOWED and absolutely neccisary, in my opinion.

So, my obsession with labels is this:
While it is my responsibility to honor my own spirit, I will not allow a bad dude in my life…He would poison the holy water of my spiritual life, but I can forgive a bad dude for being a bad dude if I can see that he is a damaged and wounded spirit himself, acting out of ignorance to meet his enormous needs. In short, if he’s human and HAS a spirit.

I draw the line at sociopaths. They are not even remotely human, and they are souless and it’s not my job to forgive them.

I know that all sounds sooo philosophical, and I’m sorry, but that’s where I’m at, in my own recovery.

I’m fortunate enough to not have any of them in my lfe at this time, but I still have to deal with the effects they’ve had on me in the past.

God bless us every one, and am so happy to be sharing this journey with every one of you.


Kim what you talk about is probably the answer….it’s a spiritual one. A mysterious one, and one that needs to be…well….allowed do not apologise for being philosophical because the answer is NOT a scientific one….that can be labelled or categorised…I guarantee as soon as you put a label on it…it will jump out and away!!

labels help to a DEGREE but when analysis becomes a way of coping in an intellectual attempt to be safe (another illusion) labels are useless but we need to have them….as a form of vocabulary yes, as an answer? no. There are so many interpretations of the word psychopath, none of them yet all of them are accurate.

Science has turned quantum and it’s no longer as solid and reliable as we previously thought….a sea of waves and particles…space and time….shifting paradigms….so labels are okay to describe the present state of affairs…but once the world was flat and space travel was impossible…

I’ll forgive myself, and I will shine a white light on the memory of the P…because he no longer causes me harm…it was nothing personal as it turns’s what he does and what he is doing…he has forgotten me like an old car he used to drive…he always will have a new one. If he comes into my life again and I have to deal with his moron existance again he runs the risk of getting killed. Wonder does he know that, I would say he does…Perfect, so we understand eachother…and if another psychopath has the misfortune to come into my life again and I find out….WATCH what’s going to happen to them…ha ha..offensive? I’ll show you offensive…..


Thanks for the article its been a while since I have logged in and made any comments… I needed the label! because for me it was hidden behind he is an “alcoholic” Bull s&*^……. I believed that crap for over 23 years since I was 17 when I met him… family fed me that crap too…. when I could put the label to him he tried to have everyone he knew tell me I dont think he is a sociopath BS!!!!!!! Bad Dude! LMAO EVIL DUDE PURE EVIL…… Thanks for LF because when I found this site I knew the alcoholism was just the mask…. for the true disorder and I finally could put a label on it and chalk it up as get the hell outta here as fast as you can….

We are free and I am getting myself back…. I had to leave school oh and when you do tell people like I told my professors do you think they helped me??? no they thought I was crazy… so I withdrew from school will enroll again in my new location… and am somewhat NC for the most part just emails… Oh he is in a chrisitan rehab maybe we can get “family” counseling? NO WE ARE NOT FAMILY!!!!! hello….. thank god ! ahhhh I am better it was a year in July I found LF thank you ! all …..

kim frederick

BP, 🙂

kim frederick

Spirit40, I totally understand the alcoholism confusion. My Xspath is a dually addicted bad dude, and I struggle with the S label. Is he or isn’t he? Don’t know. Probably never will, but he is toxic and I’m trying not to be. That’s all I need to know.


William Shakespeare said it best, “A Rose by Any other name would smell as sweet”. Or in this case, “A rattlesnake by any other name it still full of poison”. I find it interesting to see the reaction people have to the sociopath label. Yet when you run down the list of character traits, they often say, “I know someone like that”.

For me the help with the “label” was as much about using searching the internet than anything else. What the LABEL did was allow me to read and understand the behavior. I don’t care if they call it WAZOOPEY.

And yes, there are many cross over traits into other labels. The bottom line is, the label is what allows us to finally begin to CONSCIOUSLY examine what the hell is really going on with these people and our relationships with them. It allows us to understand how they think. Understanding that they don’t have a conscience. Understanding that they will NEVER “realize” the hurt they have caused, or even just how bloody stupid they have been. Understanding that no matter what evidence we place in front of them, they will never look back at their lives and say, “Gee, I was a bastard to every single person who loved me. I mistreated, lied to and betrayed them all….Hmmmmmm, I wonder what that says about me.”……..Nope they will just label us all as “bitches” and go on to the next one. Starting out the same way they did with all the rest…but before long they are lying and cheating on them and they don’t even acknowledge to themselves that is IS lying and cheating. “So I slept with someone else. It isn’t really cheating because it didn’t mean anything to me”….Or, “it was just one time”…….But once you have the label, you can learn that their behavior is INCREDIBLEY consistent and predictable AND MOST IMPORTANTLY, it will NEVER change. THEY will never change. They don’t know how and guess what, they don’t give a good God damn. They ONLY care when it gets to the point where they are boxed into a corner and they have so few choices (if any) left. And even then, they don’t really examine themselves. Their sadness if for having to finally deal with consequences for their behavior and the loss to them is the loss of the “schtick” they used for so long. Like with Donna…She NAILED her sociopath on his lying about his military record. To the point where now he won’t DARE to try and pull that card out again. So the loss to him would be the loss of the card. It’s NOT that they look at themselves and feel bad (they can’t feel bad) about doing something that is immoral. It’s NOT that they say, “Wow, I lied to people and that was really wrong of me”. It’s that they can’t use that old trick again. The attachment THEY have is to their bag of tricks. They just CAN’T give them up. Even when they are in a new relationship with a fresh start……Many of them need to keep their secret “behind the scenes” life alive… whatever extent….And of course they NEVER think that secret life is hurting the person they are involved with. After all, that person doesn’t know…..”It’s harmless”….WHATEVER. So YES the label helps. Because it brings into focus what you/we are TRULY dealing with. THEN, the focus needs to move OFF the label and onto what WE have to do to get away from this toxic person who will never be anything but BAD NEWS. There’s my two cents.


Dear Spirit 40:

I thank you so much for your posting your thoughts and experience, very validating.

My situation: If it weren’t for the real label of Psychopath, then I would have been with this guy till the end, end of me, I would have lived a horrible life, thank God I’m still young enough to get it right. Am moving x country very soon, can’t wait to start anew!

But anyway, I thought all of his monster-ness was due to being a recovering alcoholic and addict! That was getting me nowhere always making excuses for him. Seeing him through the eyes of being an alcoholic, kept me in way too long. Alanon didn’t help matters. Seeing him as a recovering addict kept me in serious denial about the real truth-he was a damn psychopath!

If it weren’t for finding lf and all the experience and knowledge you share I’d still be in the relationship thinking oh he’s an alky! Yeah, right! But a mere symptom to cover his evil.

The label saved my life and continues to save my life on a daily basis. Reading the books (Stout and Hare’s) are helping me immensely you have no idea (or maybe you do)

Thanks again. Much appreciate your words.


Dear Bullet Proof:

Thank you for your post. Very validating to me. Bad dude, to me, is a long way off from psychopath. Label saved my life!

Thanks again, BF!! Am with you all the way! I wish you much peace.

“He was ’just a bad dude’ I could not comprehend, that had me in a knot of lies, torment and confusion”who could lie so convincingly you would think he was a really beautiful kind hearted sensitive dude, this is not about recognising a bad dude”this is about being driven crazy by lies and deception”if he was ’just a bad dude’ I would be fine”!!!!


Dear Ox,
I think you snagged an important part of this that I had missed; this man had a choice as to how to handle this situation and his choice was suicide. THAT choice is his and his alone, regardless of the narcissistic boss. He had other avenues he could take, others ways to get away, just as so many of us have done. And I do think that those who are on here and others as well, having experienced that kind of pain understand why one would look towards suicide as a possible answer. I know that for myself, when it was the darkest, I certainly contemplated it. BUT, I chose not to because I am, by nature, a fighter and I realized I couldn’t allow the the ex’s actions to drive me to that point. I had to make other CHOICES. And I did and I’m here today…Your analysis was spot on. Thank you!

Spirit40, ifgtl, and kim frederick, Mine hid for years behind the drug addiction. It was total BS. Even when he wasn’t using, he was still exhibiting all of the behaviors and attitudes of a spath. He would go around proclaiming to the world that he had just “fallen off the wagon” for a day or two and of course, everyone would think, “Well, just a day or two..It can’t be THAT bad.” It was nothing but a cop out and excuse to use those spath behaviors. When I started saying it wasn’t just a drug addiction, I was met with a lot of resistance. Today, that resistance is pretty low as he’s alienated almost everyone around him. Nevertheless, in spite of what others said, I made the choice to get him out of my life and LF has done wonders for helping me understand what I was dealing with. And today, he is simply just one BAD dude.

Steve, you’re welcome! I can’t express enough gratitude to those on LF who helped me DEFINE what the ex was. I know that I got lost in the analysis of what the ex is and I see that as a step in the process, until one day, I realized I was learning a lot, I could quote text on what my ex is, but I wasn’t really helping ME. And so, now, I’m deep into healing my own soul, my heart and emotions. I found out that there is only one way through the feelings and that is to FEEL them and it hurts, a lot. It’s required me to take a good look at me and why I allowed this into my life to begin with. Every step is a step towards recovery and some days, I might crawl, but I never, ever have to live with that fear in my life again.


Callista, Spot on!
“The bottom line is, the label is what allows us to finally begin to CONSCIOUSLY examine what the hell is really going on with these people and our relationships with them.”
I So agree with what you wrote-it DOES bring it all out on the conscious level. It’s a STARTING point and we all need that.

Ox Drover

DEar Kimmie,

GF you and I are on the same wave length, it is a SPIRITUAL journey toward complete healing. Not at first, but later on when the worst of the abuse is behind us, we must continue on and find our own spirit within us.

The “:Alcoholic” label in AA is one thing, but even AA has an unofficial term of “dry drunk” which is a psychopath that is also an addict…even when they are DRY they are still TOXIC so it is NOT the booze or the dope that makes them bad, it is they are a BAD DUDE to start with.

My egg donor’s brother, Uncle Monster, was a perfect example of a DRY drunk. But alcohol really released the total monster within him and made him worse….but alcohol got rid of all his inhibitions and he really shown!!!!

Callista, you are perfectly right too, “a rose is a rose ….” No matter what we call psychopathy it is POISON…..

Whatever our religious or spiritual beliefs, or whatever our moral compass is based upon, surviving a psychopath in my opinion is a spiritual journey that takes us beyond just the money they stole, the abuse they delivered, our soul they raped, but into the very spiritual CORE of us as human beings.

The healing journey starts out about THEM but ends up about our SELVES I think. We can continue to grow, and they are done.

TOWANDA for us!!!!



The label is necessary to have, helping you to become stabilized in a crazy-making environment. A few years ago, I was complaining to my h-spath about his latest shenanigan, how mad I was about it all, and he responded, “Yeh, I’m a bad ass.” I was stunned, not believing what he just said (being in denial, not looking the part in my mind of “a bad ass”). Long story short, it took me more time, having more difficult experiences via the spath, before I finally admitted to myself that there was something fundamentally wrong with him. Doing some independent research on my own, I figured out that he is a sociopath. The label was helpful in that it helped me to know what I was actually dealing with, giving me an idea of how to proceed in the future. I still am not out of shaken-up mode, that’s for sure, still in shock over all that I’ve experienced because of this person, wishing that I’d never had such horrible experiences, not wanting to remember everything that occurred.

still trying to understand

Dear ifinallygotthelesson,

The whole thing is just insane and at times will become even more insane.

Yes, as with any illness, you need a name/label for it. It allows you to research what the illness is and what it is about. Defining it allows you, as much as you can, to understand it.

Physically, our monster has been out of our lives for a little over two years now, although she has shown up, especially in the beginning, here and there. Mentally she is still here, not as much as she used to be but, she never goes completely away and I don’t believe she ever will. The damage that she caused is incredible.

You will experience so many different phases throughout your journey of healing. I suppose for some it happens more quickly but, for others it takes what seems like an eternity.

My advice to you ”“ give yourself a break; stay as far away from him as possible; always remember that you are not the crazy one and you never were; don’t make it your mission to tell everyone your story or to try to make them understand; read everything you can about narcissism, sociopaths, personality disorders… Find a really good therapist!

I can tell you, even this far out, I have good days and bad. I hope that with each passing day it gets easier for you.

Hang in there!


Steve and Neveragain-

Neveragain says:

” 1) the first time a therapist said “he is toxic for you” , my reaction was “what do you mean ’FOR ME’” ? It was like I still thought maybe there were people for whom he would NOT be toxic, so whatever was wrong with me, I wanted it fixed, so he would NOT be toxic for me and I could still be with him!

What I didn’t get then, was that anyone for whom he was not toxic, well, it just meant they wouldn’t ever let him close enough to drink the poison. It did NOT mean others would have a wonderful, loving relationship with him, while I (obviously screwed up) would have a toxic relationship with him. ”

You nailed this for me-this is the kind of pernicious thinking that I’ve been mired in for some time. Deep down, I think I thought it was somehow my fault. I can get that it’s not on an intellectual, realistic level, but the emotional integration of that is lacking. So, I still have work to do there.

I think that when the image of the traitor first reveals himself and his serpent tongue, labels and diagnoses can indeed be helpful. It gives us a point of reference for something that is incomprehensible to most. I’m not telling anyone here on LF anything that they don’t already know. A round or two with people that are this disordered is nothing short of traumatic. In fact, I’m not even sure “traumatic” quite captures it. I’ll attest that it’s easy to get caught up in the clinical definitions indefinitely.

But, what I’m learning is that, hell, I have a life to lead! I’ve been involved–off and on (now permanently off) with this person for almost 3 years now. Three years!!! That’s a lot of time to waste. I’ve gotten validation after validation in DROVES that this man is seriously disordered, and yet, because of my poor self-esteem, I have a need to make it about me. Hence, my “stuckness.” And, it’s also the reason why I had gone back although every cell in my body was screaming NO!!!!! There’s work to be done there.

You pointed out to me, Steve, in a very direct manner that resonated deeply, that I was doing myself a terrible disservice by wasting time ruminating about an irreparably damaged man who treated me heinously. In short, BAD DUDE. Moreover, I’ve paid the price due to the ongoing stress. And ya know what? I’ve realized that I’ve kept reminding myself that he’s not worth it, but what’s more, I AM worth moving past this to someone who sees all the things that the people who care about me find so appealing. It needs to be about ME being worth it, NOT about him not being.

Bravo on this post, Steve! Thanks to every dear heart here on LF–truly an inspiring, resilient, compassionate group of people.

p.s I know this is essentially labeling again, but I propose that the DSM get rid of the Cluster B’s and lump them into one group called, simply stated, Incorrigible A**holes.


Ox Drover

TOWANDA!!! Hopeful!!!!

You’ve taken some BIG STEPS Hopeful! Remember the game we used to play as kids< "Simon seys?" SIMON Seys take a BIG STEP! Well, you did take a BIG STEP with that post above my dear!

We have a big task in front of us and it is like trying to EAT AN ELEPHANT, there is no way we can do it in ONE BITE, we have to take little bitty bites and chew them uip well but if we take enough bites we will eventually eat an ENTIRE ELEPHANT.

Depending on how old you are you may have actually eaten more than one steer or cow in your life. Think about it, a McDonald's hamberger is about l/4 pound and an average size steer has between 3 and 400 pounds of boneless meat after it is butchered, so if you only ate 1/4 of a pound of meat a day, it would only take you about 4 years to eat an entire cow or steer.

If we even take little bitty steps toward doing the RIGHT things we are going to get there eventually. Slow and steady wins the race! Keep on you are doing Great!!!!! ((((Hugs))))

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