By | January 24, 2011 274 Comments

When to trust your man (or woman)

The question was, “When can you trust your man?”

A reporter who was writing an article on the topic for a major women’s magazine asked the question. It showed up in my e-mail because I subscribe to a service that distributes questions from reporters to experts all around the world who may be able to answer them.

I knew what the reporter was looking for. She wanted succinct little tips like:

  • “You can trust your man if he always shows up when he says he will, or at least calls to tell you he’ll be late.”
  • “You can trust your man if he introduces you to his mother.”
  • “You can trust your man if he shows you his income tax return.”

But, after being married to a sociopath, and hearing the stories of so many Lovefraud readers, I knew that these external signs may not be accurate.

The luring stage

In the beginning of a relationship, the luring stage, sociopaths can be reliable and punctual. They may seem proud to introduce you to their families. They may appear to be financially solvent.

Sociopathic individuals can appear to be deserving of respect, love and trust as long as it suits their purpose. These predators know what they are supposed to do to win over a lover. And they are capable of actually doing it—at least until they feel like they no longer need to.

Once they have their hooks set in you, they may be late—or even disappear for days or weeks with no explanation. Their families may trip over themselves to be good to you—probably because they want you to take the parasite off their hands. And they may flash cash and financial documents—cash taken from the previous partner, and documents that are forged.

So how do you know when to trust your man—or woman? Here’s my answer: You can trust your partner when you can trust yourself.

Trusting yourself

When it comes to romantic relationships, there are two dimensions to trusting yourself.

The first is your own sense of self. You know who you are, what you want, and where your boundaries are. You know that you deserve to be loved simply for being yourself. You understand that a relationship involves giving and taking by both parties, not one person doing all the giving and the other all the taking. You will not jeopardize your well-being in order to have companionship.

The second dimension is trusting your intuition. Your gut, your body, your sixth sense, will tell you when something is wrong. You must have to have enough faith in yourself that you can hear or feel the intuitive messages, and pay attention to them. We get in trouble when we allow ourselves to be talked out of what our intuition is telling us. When a person or suggestion makes us feel uncomfortable, that’s our early warning system, and we must trust ourselves enough to listen.

I responded to the magazine reporter’s inquiry. I told her than the time to trust a man is when we trust ourselves. She didn’t reply. I assume that my answer wasn’t what she wanted.

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Dear Donna,

I first saw the reporters list and my soon to be ex didn’t fit any of those criteria. When I looked further and read how you would use your instincts and trusting yourself, this made total sense to me.

As we know, they are so good at pulling the wool over everyone’s eyes that some of the things we would look for in a “normal” relationship don’t apply to a relationship with a sociopath. There are not the quantitative measures we can apply from our past experiences.

Their charm supercedes all of our worries about their character. I would look for a possible lie but they give nothing away. They don’t look down and to the left when they lie, they look straight in your eyes and say “Sweetie, I would never lie to you, I love you more than anything.” It’s hard to see through that stuff.

I met the family and he is always punctual. Didn’t see the tax returns. His family believes anything he tells them and he doesn’t like to be late because he needs to be in control of all situations.

After your eyes are opened, you feel so gullible, so naive, but they are so good at what they do, sometimes I think there is no sure was to tell the depths of their disorder. It was the charm and seduction that got his hooks into me. He even made it seem that he thought my daughter was a benefit to his life, until we were married and he ignored and mocked her except for the crumbs he tossed out to keep us hooked.


Dear Donna,

Did you see the article on Shine? This is in Yahoo’s home page, then you go to Shine then love and sex. The title of the article is “Is Your New Sweetheart a Sociopath?”

Yipee!!!!! Someone else wrote the article but highlighted Donna and her book. There were the 10 things to look for if your dating a sociopath. Gosh, it’s so good that the message is getting out there.

Thank you for keeping the public aware of these preditors.


When they tell you a story that makes them tear up, does it make you tear up too? If you have no emotion to their story, then assuming you are not a sociopath, then they probably are. It is reliant on trusting and listening to your internal reaction to their sob stories; not just on listening to their sob story and believing it. I figure if someone can make me cry based on their experience, they are not a sociopath; they have empathy and can illicit it from others.

Based on my experience, when the sociopath was telling me sob stories and crying, I always felt a little weird like why is he crying? I never joined in with him because I didn’t feel it. If you ever wonder why someone is crying over what they are telling you, then the answer is because they are manipulating you. I didn’t know it was a warning then, but I do now.

lesson learned


WOW, that is SO insightful! I remember early on, after first intimate moment with exPOS, I got the big crocodile tears about how he hadn’t “experienced that kind of passion with my wife in a long time”………wow. I was so sucked in by that, BUT, I DID NOT react by feeling like CRYING!!! I just felt SORRY for him.

That is a VERY interesting perspective and VERY true. I was being manipulated. GOD he was GOOD!


lesson learned


This is such an important and very good post!

Thanks for writing it!

I’m so grateful this site is here!!



“The second dimension is trusting your intuition. Your gut, your body, your sixth sense, will tell you when something is wrong.”

I knew after one week my x-spath was hiding something. I simply dismissed all the red flags.


I was in a relationship with my x-spath for 3 1/2 years. From the moment that we met, he lied about everything from being molested when he was 12 years old to faking a suicide attempt when I found out he was cheating on me.

On our first date, he told me that he was going through a divorce and that he had twin boys. He was paying his soon to be ex-wife $5,500 a month in alimony. Early on in the relationship, he showed me a copy of the the ante-nup which included the language about the alimony.

He also said he had earned a BA in accounting and a masters in finance. Again, he showed me copies of his diplomas.

By our third date, he came clean about an embezzlement conviction. He was very nervous about telling me. He told me that the company was suffering financially, and worried he would lose his investment, he started paying himself back. He was very humbled by his experience in prison, had become a Christian while he was incarcerated, and had every intention of satisfying the judgment against him when he was back on his feet.

Less than a month after meeting him, he called me on Father’s Day, crying. He said his divorce lawyer had contacted him to let him know they received the results of the paternity test that was ordered, and his twin boys were not his. He was devastated.

All of this was told to me in just a few weeks of knowing him. I would find out much later that he lied about having twin boys and that there was no paternity test ever ordered in the divorce. The twins were from his ex-wife’s first marriage.

In the 3 1/2 years we were together, he never wrote a single alimony check to his ex-wife. I also got a hold of a state copy of the ante-nup. It stated they were to go their separate ways in case of a divorce. The copy that was shown to me, my x-spath had simply changed the language in Word.

The money he embezzled where “he was paying himself back”, was not his own money that he put into the company. The money he was investing into the company was money he was stealing from the company.

And the diplomas that he earned… There is no record of him attending either university.

From the moment my x-spath met me, he played on my sympathy, my Christian faith, and my strong family values. He recognized what was important to me and spent the next 3+ years exploiting it. It was one lie after another. By the end the relationship, I was so far in debt from believing his lies and supporting his lifestyle, that my son and I had to move in with my parents so I could avoid filing for bankruptcy. Not to mention, the very deep and personal blow to my emotions. I believed in him. Believed he had made some mistakes, but deep down there was a good person who was just misguided. He told me I was that person that would help turn his troubled past around. All lies… And I bought into all of them.


Dear BackOnMyFeet.

I’m happy to see that you ARE back on your feet, after what THAT bastard did to you!

There needs to be a law against lies.

Peace Sister


Fake suicide, diplomas, crying, money fraud, lies, faith, financial ruin and belief that we could ‘help’ him.

After reading your post I have to say – we were taken in by a trickster. A bit like a game where YOU can NEVER win no matter how hard you try.

You are not alone……

Ox Drover

Dear Bird, So glad to see you back, darlin’! How is the Baby Birdie? He must be a big boy by now and talking and walking all over the place. Give him a big hug from his auntie Oxy!!!!!

I think the TRUSTING YOURSELF IS IMPORTANT, BUT can also be one of those things that sets us up for the next psychopath…..

Back decades ago when I finally escaped from the clutches of my Sperm DNA donor I was one wounded teenager, and looking back, I have no doubt I had PTSD, but I healed after a sort, and started to trust myself again—bang, right back into another relationship with a disordered person, then again. I finally married into a family of a disordered man who was mentally ill, though he functioned very well in society and in his career. After two kids and a divorce that left me a “basket case” (and most likely with my second episode of PTSD) I had NOT ‘LEARNED’ what I had run into, or what train or mac truck had hit me head on. I trusted myself to avoid dangerous people, to avoid people who were dangerous to me, but since my KNOWLEDGE of what made a person trustworthy was SADLY LACKING, I fell again and again for the “love bombs” of THE PERSONALITY DISORDERED PEOPLE who saw me as a victim, both inside and outside of my family.

My ability to trust myself was not based on LOGIC or GOOD SENSE but on the “emotional blindness” that had been programmed into me from childhood. An emotional blindness that made me want to be a “people pleaser” and to not be able to set appropriate boundaries with “friends” and “family.”

I could set a boundary with a customer/client/patient in a most professional way. I could even teach my staff to do likewise. I could set reasonable boundaries with unreasonable shop keepers, neighbors, teachers at my kids’ schools, and this ability gave me a FALSE CONFIDENCE that I could with the people who were my “friends” and “family.”

Well, the psychopath always starts the relationship with a LOVE BOMB, and becomes “friends” or “family” quickly into the relationship, so they skirted around any BOUNDARIES I had established by getting into the BOUNDARY-FREE ZONE inside my circle of trust.

It wasn’t the WILD Indians circling the fort shooting arrows at me that I had to worry about, it was the FRIENDLY INDIANS inside the fort that I had INVITED IN. The ones that were eating me out of house and home, chopping holes in the walls, stabbing me in the back, robbing me, emotionally abusing me—because I was so afraid to “upset” these “friendly Indians” that I did anything to placate them.

Now I am realizing that not everyone who “wants to be my friend” is deserving of that honor.

Just because someone starts to “love bomb” me does not mean I should allow them to become my “friend” or that I should bestow on them total trust JUST BECAUSE THEY WANT IT, and haven’t done anything UP TIL NOW, to hurt me. The psychopaths didn’t hurt me either, AT FIRST. Not until they had gotten my trust, then they tested it, and when that was successful, then they started severely abusing it. By then I was hooked.



I had to learn to set boundaries, not only for new people who came into my life, but for those who were already within my “circle of trust”—this was a very anxiety ridden time for me, and it took some trial and error, because when you set a boundary you must be prepared for the relationship- to end if the other person does not respect that boundary.

Here is a simple example of what I am talking about, lets say you are very allergic to cigarette smoke and your “friend” smokes, and when they come over to your house they light one up in your living room, and you ask them to “Please do not smoke in MY HOUSE, Susie, I am highly allergic, but you may go outside on my patio and smoke if you need a cigarette while you are visiting.”

I think that is a very REASONABLE boundary. It is your house, and YOU set the rules, you showed you had consideration for her by providing an ALTERNATE place she could smoke, etc.

So the NEXT TIME SHE COMES TO VISIT—SHE LIGHTS UP IN YOUR LIVING ROOM. You again repeat the boundary, and for a time or two she visits and does not light up, but she does grouse about how inconvenient it is for her to go outside in the heat/cold to smoke and how it inconveniences HER.

Well, obviously, most of us would I think ENFORCE the boundary, but though this was NOT the specific problems I had with “friends” it was just about as bad—AND I WAS THE ONE WHO FELT GUILTY–NOT THEM. I felt bad for trying to enforce the boundaries I set for them like “thou shalt not steal from me.” Or “thou shalt not talk to me like a yard dog that just tore up your trash”

Now, though, by learning to SET reasonable (by my estimation) boundaries and ENFORCING them EVEN if it means the LOSS OF THAT RELATIONSHIP ENTIRELY, so be it. I am no longer “crying” over the “friend” that stole from me, I am no longer “crying over” the “friend” who chose to speak to me like I was some stray dog they hated, and I no longer feel compelled to “make peace” with the people who have DESTROYED the peace. MY PEACE. I have learned to trust my self to protect myself from abusive people by small “baby steps” of ACTUALLY PROTECTING MYSELF. I found out that the world didn’t blow up if I protected myself from someone who CLAIMED to be my “friend” but actually was using/abusing me. As I saw that I was CAPABLE of protecting myself, I grew more trusting of myself, just as I would over a period of time grow more trusting of someone else, I grew over a period of time to TRUST ME by BEING TRUSTWORTHY.

Sure, I made some slips here and there, and had some melt downs when people I loved demonstrated that the LOVE WAS NOT MUTUAL, that the RESPECT was not there. I just recently had a big eye opener with someone I have called one of my “best friends” for over 30 years, but after examining the relationship with my NEW KNOWLEDGE, I realize that this person has some SERIOUS issues that I cannot deal with, and cannot tolerate and they have crossed the boundaries of treating me the way I expect to be treated. It is somewhat painful to realize that after 30 years I am going to have to let go of this relationship which is no longer a healthy one (if it ever really was a healthy one) but that is the way life is. People come into our lives and people depart from our lives after some period of time, whether it is a bus ride or a life time, in the end, we are all on the path by ourselves, almost no one is with us from our birth to our death. So the relationships, however long they are, whether it is just chatting with your seat mate on a plane or a bus, up to a decades long companionship or spouse, should be enjoyed for what it is, when it is, and for as long as it is pleasant and agreeable and healthy, but if the relationship turns abusive or unhealthy, we must be prepared to let it go, to release it, to free ourselves from it and move on.

I’m learning that now, and learning to trust myself much more than I did in the past, and because I trust myself more, feel more confident, I am more careful and watchful of trusting others and don’t “give” trust away, it is EARNED by others by those that MERIT trust. No one is ENTITLED to it.


Really great post Oxy.
It’s so true that a spath will not directly attack you from the outside but instead prefers to be invited in where they can rip your heart out in private. They know that once in, it’s hard to kick them out.



It’s mind-boggling and disturbing how spaths lie so much (making up so many flippin, asinine stories), driving everyone around them bonkers. As candy said, you are not alone. Spaths remind me of a tornado, destroying whatever is in their path.

lesson learned


This is a great post. I’m going through something similar right now with a friend of over 30 years, whom when told NOT to speak to me abusively, continued to do so. I told her that if she continued to speak to me that way, I WOULD NOT speak with her AT ALL. I held that boundary. The abuse was so bad, I decided that I could live without the friendship. I have my limits and after exPOS, I’m just done being treated like crap.

I don’t know if it hurts so much anymore when you’re just plumb tired of abusive people in your life, or more like a RELIEF from the constant barrage!

I think in this case, because it was SO bad, it’s a relief! Her abuse was more overt than covert however, and nothing like EXPOS’s abuse was, which hurts a hell of a lot more in loss of the relationshit.



Ox Drover,

I am printing your post to bird up, putting a copy in my journal, and plan to send copies to my siblings – such good points about trust and boundaries. Yes, psychopaths (and other toxic people) all end up “severly abusing” our trust, leveling us out. We’ve all had some hard-learned lessons about people in general (ourselves included), being able to apply what we’ve learned in our own lives. By the way, I’m glad you’re back from your trip.


back on my feet,
They love fake documents don’t they?
My exP was so into providing evidence to back up his lies. I think I’m going to start a website where people can upload pictures of “evidence” that their spaths have used to con them.
I have a picture of a tracking device and a fake warrant to install the tracking device on his helicopter. This was the ruse that broke open all his lies because it FAILED to convince me that Homeland security was after him. Not that the evidence didn’t work, but because he crossed a boundary – the only boundary I truly have: my money. He could siphon small amounts for years and I didn’t mind or notice, but when he overtly suggested I give him financial control of my business. GAME OVER.


hey oxy, good point you bring up. Your experience sounds like mine… wounded teenager ( after spending 4 years with a female N during highschool ) i went through a lot of PTSD but overcame it… and years later found myself in the grips of another crap involvement with psychopath. I read all the literature on psychopathy too- i was aware, I thought i could spot them out, but it was that milk jug analogy you had made in another post- i sort of had a schema in my head. I simply didn’t consider that a MALE psychopath would pop up in my life…

SO moral of the story… even if you read the literature on psychopathy and know all there is to know and heal you can be targeted AGAIN. Even the professionals say that… Robert Hare even said something along the same lines… WHICH IS WHY we need to be AWARE and keep our boundaries strong. DON’T trust too easily… sometimes trusting easily is just a part of our personality, kind of being open and honest- we just have to be conscious of when people are OVERSTEPPING our boundaries… be aware. It is that awareness which will keep us from another extended involvement. Listen to the cues our body/emotions give us.. etc etc. We can avoid another encounter if we’re SMART about boundaries and red flags… read and understand the P’s tactics.. listen to ourselves and remain AWARE.


Dear Ox Drover,
Thank you for that post.


Oh and Donna, great article. Trusting ourselves is SO important! Sometimes forgoing our need for kindness and compassion in order to watch out for ourselves is just necessary, period. Sometimes forgoing social niceties in favor of our safety is also necessary, period.

And that is excellent advice you gave to the reporter.. shame she wouldn’t consider it because it isn’t cookie-cutter and packaged for “easy digestion”… though it really is our strongest gift and most basic instinct.

Ox Drover

Glad to be home gang! The dog was bouncing off the walls and even son D was so glad to have me home, he had been snowed in for 9 of the 14 days I was gone! He gets cabin fever! Fortunately a bunch of his friends came by this past weekend to cheer him up! I AM glad to be home though.

Glad my comments seemed to hit home with several of you, I have had a sort of “disturbing” trip to my best friend’s house. She and her husband had requested me to come down and help them butcher a beef. Her husband who isn’t a psychopath, but HE IS A JACK ASS, got up in my face Sunday morning and I basically told him “Look Jack ass, you may talk to your own wife that way but I am not married to you and you can’t talk to me that way. I’m out of here.” I packed up my butcher knives and locked my suit case, and I got her to take me back to the train station and got on the train and came home.

She and her husband are in the middle of one of those passive-aggressive NON-divorces, he lives most of the time at their vacation cabin, and she lives in town at their family home, and once in a while they get together….she’s depressed and he’s a drunk, and they will never get a divorce, just continue to be miserable and get more depressed. Nada I can do about it, but you know, I didn’t go down there to take a ration of sheet off a foul mouthed man who seems to find it okay to talk in a disrespectful way to women in general and me in particular. He can cut up his own cow. I guess he figured he could get away with it because I don’t think he thought I would walk off and leave that much meat there uncut.

My uncle monster did that to me the one time he was ever verbally abusive to me, he thought he had me over a barrel because I was helping a crew cut, rake and bale his hay for him (as a favor) and we had the hay down and ready to bale when he came out and started throwing a drunken fit—he didn’t count on the fact that I would load up the crew and walk off leaving the hay in the field to ROT without so much as a backward glance. I think my friend’s husband was the same way, I don’t think he thought I would walk off and not finish the job I had gone down there to do—but hell, I was a) doing it as a favor, I was not being paid and even if I had been I’d have still walked off, and b) it wasn’t any sweat off my ca’jon’es if the meat rotted or he had to cut up his own. I’m DONE with allowing people to abuse me verbally or any other way, DUN!!!! OVER!!!!


Theres no place like home…


Oxy, I know I’m new but doesn’t that deserve a big

Ox Drover

Ana, thanks, I think you’re right, it DOES deserve a big TOWANDA for me! LOL In the past I might very well have just sucked it up and stayed to finish the meat cutting job because I had said I would do it for them, but you know, I did NOT say “I will cut up your cow and work like a dog for you out of the goodness of my heart while you talk to me like a yard dog.” LOL

I also noted another thing too, when my son and his two friends and I were working 12 hour days (3 days in a row) and were WHIPPED we were LAUGHING OUR HEADS OFF and cracking jokes and throwing pieces of scrap at each other and having a REALLY GOOD TIME while we were working our butts off. But the entire time that we were field dressing the huge cow (on the ground because there was no front end loader on the tractor so we had to do it all standing on our heads and with brute force) then wench the cow up on a trailer to haul her back to the ranch shop to skin her out and cut her up. Again, all done in a humped over position like an Indian squaw working a buffalo kill, then cut her up into pieces that weighed about 150 pounds each for the three of us to carry (like trying to nail jello to a tree) to hang it up in the cooler–the damned cow was so big and so fat and just so HUGE it was a major job but I didn’t so much as get a giggle or a thank you or a kiss my arse the first day when we got her all in the cooler. Had to wait two more days for the meat to get solid enough to cut, (it’s like jello til it gets really cold) so then spent one day from day light til dark doing hard manual labor cutting up and packing meat and still had only about 1/4 of it cut, then the next day when we barely got started was when he threw the darned fit and I picked up my knives and walked off. The thing is that there is not enough money/pay in the world to get me to work this hard and the ONLY way I will help someone butcher their animal is out of my love and caring, and I don’t require much in the way of “thanks”, but I DO expect to be spoken to in at least a respectful manner! It wasn’t like I even volunteered to go down there and do it, they REQUESTED that I do it and I said “okay”—the nicest thing I think though is that I do NOT FEEL THE LEAST BIT GUILTY ABOUT ANY OF IT–I am not the least bit worried about “oh, my goodness how will this effect our relationship? Will we still be friends?”

To quote a well used phrase, “Frankly, Scarlett…….” LOL


It’s just so rude and ungratefull of him, and drunk too? UGH! He’s lucky ya didn’t clean his clock for em lol! Now HE knows about TOWANDA!


Well Ox,

Ya done good.
Welcome back.

Ox Drover

Silver and Ana,

Ya know, he was actually sober when he pithed me off but probably a chronic hang over. LOL He had been getting on my nerves ever since I got there, but I just let it slide until he really got pithy and couldn’t let it go any more. LOL Actually I am more amused by it than anything….and sort of proud of myself for not letting the encounter “ruin” my day or week or anything else.

If we allow toxic people (psychopathic or just dysfunctional arseholes) to “ruin” our moods, or our days or our lives then they are still in control. My friends husband is just a typical red neck control creep that was a big construction foreman before he retired and he was used to talking to the workers like dirt (most of whom were undocumented workers WHO COULDN”T TALK BACK) and talking to his wife like a dog and being IN CONTROL as far as he is concerned. The thing is in the NOT so distant past I would have let this whole mess MESS WITH ME….and now I am getting to where I am EXERCISING the power I have taken back (maybe not “taken back,” as that would presuppose I had it before and I didn’t) but I GOT IT NOW!!! Using it feels good.


These freak shows bring a level of deception to the table that any normal person, who doesn’t lie for a living, could possibly grasp… and that is what they count on. If you stay in a continuous state of shell shock in their world, you lose the ability of knowing what should be normal in a relationship. After his “suicide attempt”, even the counselor at the hospital told me she didn’t think he had any real intention of taking his life. I thought she was crazy. I could not grasp that anyone would have the capacity to go to this extreme. It didn’t sink in until I talked to his ex-wife after the relationship ended and he “attempted suicide” with her. She said his move may have been extreme, BUT “he got you to come home.” She was right.


Well OX, there you have it.
My son says I’m a bull in the china shop anymore.
But honestly, I’m tired of going around in other people’s circles too.

Anything that raises at WTF eyebrow gets run down like a dawg.
I’ve had enough!

Ox Drover


I’m with you there. I was contrasting the experience my son and his two friends that helped us kill the two beeves we butchered before I left for Texas, we were working like dawgs, heavy work, but we were also enjoying each other’s company, and “many willing hands make light work” and it was nasty work, hard work, and we were rushing because the weather was gonna warm up on us, the first day there were just the 3 of us, then the next day the other guy came so we had 4 people that one day, then the third day, the first guy had to go back to work, but the second guy stayed and we worked all day just cleaning up and washing equipment, and so my son and I had 3 HARD DAYS, and each of our helpers had 2 hard days, but we also enjoyed each other’s company and in the evenings even though we were BUSHED we played board games and laughed and joked—but the entire atmosphere at my friend’s home and at her ranch was like walking on egg shells, grouse and gripe, and for gosh shakes, don’t complain about being treated rudely by jack ass.

They have the most aggressive, obnoxious Jack Russell terrier ever known to mortal man, the dog doesn’t like the wife and doesn’t like anyone else beside “daddy” and will growl and bite anyone else if you pith the dog off by being where the dog wants to be, like the only place in the house to sit was one end of the couch and the dog didn’t want me there so he would get up on the other end of the couch and stalk me and growl and the jack ass would not say a word to the damn dog.

Then when he did say something to the dog he didn’t follow up and the dog ignored him, but it was just the jack ass’s way of showing me that even his damn dog could “boss me around” and get by with it. LOL

I had to laugh though, he pithed the dog off and the dog snapped and growled at HIM! LOL I wish the dog had bitten him! LOL I think part of it is that first of all the jack ass has decided he wants to show me who is boss, can’t have someone else know something more about any subject than HE DOES—and he knows I am a dog trainer and my dogs are OBEDIENT, polite to strangers, and well behaved, whereas his dog is obnoxious and ill behaved. In fact, the last two dogs before this one were larger dogs and were so ill behaved that both of them were dangerous and had to be put down for uncontrolled aggression that I attribute ENTIRELY to the owner’s lack of knowledge or skill in training a dog. This dog is not large enough to be a serious danger to anyone but a small child, but if he were mine and I couldn’t “reform” his attitude, he would go to that great dog house in the sky.

I think the dog is only one of many SYMPTOMs of the problems in the marriage (passive-aggressive and aggressive-aggressive emotional abuse and chronic alcoholism on his part and plenty of dysfunction on hers, and the depression is making it worse) I love her very much, but I can’t help her, she is not interested in help. She is really trying VERY hard to maintain the status quo in the marriage which is getting much more difficult to do as he continues to escalate in his verbal abuse, and probably increased drinking since he retired a year or so ago.

I’m not sure what “corner” I have turned in the healing and self-improvement process or growth, but I have no doubt that a year or so ago I would have been TOTALLY CRUSHED with the way this visit played out, but now I’m pretty much ACCEPTING of the fact that there “ain’t nada I can do” about their deteriorating marriage or her depression, and that being the case, “ain’t nuttin’ I can do” except ACCEPT the situation as it is and go on with my life, rather than grieve over what I can’t do nada about!


I’m so proud of you. You saw through the bs. You maintained your integrity. You said WTF? and you rolled out of there.
You said he is not a spath. Maybe he’s just a narcissist. whatever. he is still an anti-social if he causes more detriment than good to society. At least you showed him that he is not as powerful as he thinks he is. Don’t blame it on the hangover, some people just have bad character flaws.

you said it. “These freak shows bring a level of deception to the table that any normal person, who doesn’t lie for a living, could possibly grasp”.
They KNOW THIS AND COUNT ON IT. the mofo’s KNOW we can’t conceive of that level of deception. But you know what? We can do them better and more. The only thing stopping us is compassion and empathy, but once we know what they are… watch out, because we have more imagination than they are capable of. The only thing we lack is enjoying the con.
I love that term: a WTF eyebrow. I’m not sure, but I think I coined the term WTF? moment to explain… well you know…the inexplicable! but you just improved on the term: WTF eyebrow! EXCELLENT! Lets add that to the vernacular! LOL! not kidding.

lesson learned


I have a question or two for you. Might be dumb questions, but I just GOTTA ask…have you talked to her in the past about jack ass?

Secondly, if she really WANTED to turn her life around and get away from jack ass, what would your response be to that?

This is kinda good stuff for me to know insofar as boundaries go. When is it cool to let go and when is it NOT cool when you need to help a friend who wants it? Do you know what I mean???

I understand where you’re at, or at least can visualize it to some extent with regards to ain’t nuttin you can do about it…which is, in fact, the truth of the matter…….I’m also curious as to how long you were there and how you handled all that was going on around you while it was going on?


lesson learned

Oh oops, Ox, I’m sorry, I needed to scroll up further to see what happened. Thilly me 🙂



I second LL’s questions. Don’t want to be nosy but some of us, who are just learning boundaries, get confused. If it weren’t for Kathleen Hawks posts, I wouldn’t even know what boundaries were. I feel like I need a bit of hand holding – which you and Kathy have done so much for me. I’m always open to learning more.

Ox Drover

Dear Sky,

Believe me, I don’t give anyone a skate for alcohol abuse or drug addiction, no one forced it down his lips. If his hangover is what made him cranky, tooooooo bad!!!! LOL

Not every arsehole is a psychopath or antisocial personality disorder —sometimes they are just garden variety common arseholes. I’ve been around enough of both kinds both professionally and personally to pretty well tell the differences between the two. If you went down the PCL-R he isn’t going to score very high on the check list, he’s always worked for a living, doesn’t steal or rob banks, never been in prison, only been married twice, the first one at a very early age that didn’t last long, then this marriage for 43 years, doesn’t cheat on his wife as far as I know, is helpful and good to his neighbors, took excellent care of his son when the son was left a quad 30+ years ago (that was how I met them when their son was in the hospital where I was supervisor) so while he IS in my opinion emotionally abusive to his wife and verbally at times, he isn’t all bad by any means, but those good qualities do not mean I will let him verbally abuse me or any more of the passive aggressive carp either! LOL

WTF eyebrow! Yea, great!!!!

lesson learned



Mine has never robbed banks either. Has worked the same job for twenty five years (although his relationshit with me almost got him fired for an “ethics”violation, he beat it), married twice, don’t know if he cheated on wife one, but DUH on wife two (with me nine out of the 17 they were married), owns his home and has for fourteen years. Pays his bills (as far as I know), takes care of his 13 year old (what I think is turning into spathy)son, who is also diabetic, (just bought him a pump a few months ago), pays his child support, owns his car, has a motorcycle, a truck, beautiful property that the house sits on, and a dog that he actually feeds. He also has joint custody of the children, biweekly.

Does that make him NOT a spath. No effing way.

I’ve never known him to do ONE good deed for anyone unless there was something in it FOR HIM. Period. His personality doesn’t scream KINDNESS. the one neighbor he calls “friend” he has helped with building projects around his house, but he’s also backstabbed the shiat out of this man to me. He’s also EXPOS’s insurance agent for house and car.

Little BASTARD…………..but it all LOOKS good fromthe outside huh?

And THAT was part of the mindeffing too. Don’t ALL of them have some good qualities? I think I see what you’re saying…..but if his wife is very depressed and he’s an asshole, is he JUST an asshole? What’s the difference if the behavior is destructive and painful to those he should love the most? Or are we just talking semantics here? Personality disorders now fascinate me. I’d like to learn A LOT more about it, particularly with regards to degree, extent and the differences of those who may be abusive but display some empathy andthose that do not.


Ox Drover


We posted over each other….about the boundaries, believe me I didn’t know what they were either when I started on this journey, in fact, I think my lack of boundary setting was what caused me to get so deeply into all this carp and allow repeated abuses by psychopaths and others…I did selectively set boundaries for SOME people (though I really didn’t know what I was doing) but just couldn’t stop trying to make everyone else happy, or feeling that it was MY PROBLEM if someone else is unhappy.

Just like with my friend, who has been a close friend for 30+ years, and I do love her like a sister, BUT is it MY problem that she and her husband are having problems? NO!!!! Not my problem. Can I fix it? Is it my problem that SHE is depressed? No, it is not my problem, and NO, I can’t fix it. Should I let it impact on me? NO I should not let it impact on me. Will her marital problems and her depression have an adverse impact on our friendship, PROBABLY there is not much way I can avoid that. However, allowing her husband to speak to me in a hateful manner is NOT A SOLUTION. Allowing him to behave in a passive aggressive way isn’t a solution either. Actually, I would have come home several days before I did if I had not ridden the train down there and was without a vehicle, and believe me if you are “afoot” in west Texas you are AFOOT for sure! There isn’t even anyone you can call to drive you, there aren’t any taxis for 100 miles.

Learning to set boundaries was very difficult for me, and the first time I realized what was going on, (a couple of years ago) I cried for two days. A “friend” who was NO friend and her un-friend husband were actually staying here on the farm in their motor home and I CAUGHT her in the act of stealing from me. She was “embarrassed” of course and I was “embarrassed” and I pretended I didn’t see….and then I was angry/hurt/sad and ANXIOUS because I knew i said anything to her about it there was a fight on, and if I didn’t say anything then I felt used and abused so it was PUT UP OR SHUT UP TIME, OXY! I had to do something one way or another and I went back and forth and back and forth and cried and then I told my son D about it and asked him if my decision about how to act on this problem was “too severe” or was “reasonable” well, he said “it is reasonable” so strengthened by his opinion, I went to them and told them that they would have to leave the farm that “this just isn’t working out” (to use Kathy’s terms) and that they had two weeks to leave. They didn’t ask me “why” or anything else, I think they KNEW WHY, though I didn’t say anything about “why” just “this is NOT working and you need to leave.” There were other things too besides the theft, they were slowly “taking over” and it was getting harder and harder for me to “keep the peace” and “keep from upsetting them” when they crossed over reasonable boundaries of courtesy.

Basically that is what a boundary is, COURTESY. Saying “please and thank you” and cleaning up after yourself if you make a mess, doing your share of the work, paying your share of the freight, not mooching off someone else. It’s okay to help someone, and it is okay to be helped, but you are still responsible for yourself and I am still responsible for myself. We can agree on the “rules” if we live in the same household and if we both respect each other’s space and live by the rules we have agreed on, it should be no problem.

My son D is probably the BEST “roomie” I have ever had, and he picks up after himself, he is reliable, does what he says he will do, doesn’t disrespect me in any way. Does his share of the work around the farm, does anything I ask him to, and is free to ask me for what he needs or wants. We respect each other’s privacy and space and share the work load.

We have had very few quarrels of any kind in the entire time I have known him, and we have worked those out in a respectful way without screaming or yelling or name calling and we don’t lie to each other.

Learning to set boundaries and not “over react” by getting a “chip on your shoulder” and bowing up at every “little slight” is something that I think we all have to learn. So letting the “little stuff” slide off but being aware of it, watching for red flags, and then when you see DISHONESTY and/or cruelty on the part of that person, get away from them…even if it means that the relationship goes down the drain. Why do we need bad relationships? I don’t think we do.

Ox Drover

Dear LL,

There are some articles here that Dr. Leedom wrote about the “degrees” of psychopathic behaviors and personality disorders, and I totally agree with her take on it that there are “degrees” of psychopathy, and some are worse than others. There is still a lot of arguments even among professionals about the degrees and definitons of psychopathy but read Dr. Leedom’s articles and see what you think. There is a LOT to learn and I suggest you keep on reading the articles here in the archives. Some good stuff.


thank you. that simple stuff is hard for me. I don’t clean up enough around my BF’s house, I think. I’m very depressed all the time and he puts up with me. He pays all my bills (thousands in credit cards from the exP) and I act almost like a spath, just moping around, not doing too much to earn my keep. It’s because I don’t feel right with the shit my parental units have laid on me. And my BF is not completely innocent either, he has issues, and isn’t capable of love, so he says. but he acts very loving, more than anyone I’ve ever met.
Ack, didn’t mean to spill this all on you. I’m going to a therapist this week, if I can get an appt.
This crap is hard work. Barffff. whoops sorry didn’t mean to get that on you.:(

lesson learned


I’ve been reading articles here until I’m numb. I’ve been reading ALOT of Dr. Leedom’s articles too. I understand the arguments between “degrees”, also a great curiosity was to whether or not NPD was totally taken out of the DSM-5. I’m curious Ox, I wonder if all of the extreme personality disorders, such as N/P/S. those that are hallmarked by lack of empathy, blaming, manipulating, lying, guiltless, remorseless,….should not be put into the category of ASPD and THEN varying by “degrees”? I was giving some thoughts today about this while going through some of the articles.

Your thoughts on this? I think the confusion about what constitutes a P/N/S is largely due in part by symptoms that are associated to one and not the other, MAINLY, lack of CONSCIENCE altogether being one and then swinging from there. As P’s are so good at disguising themselves, how in the world do you really get an accurate view of who is empathetic and who is not, especially with regards to extremes? If one KILLS does that extreme mean that if others don’t they are less ruinous or dangerous to those around them and should not be treated equally, simply because they fly under the social, personal radar?

Just some thoughts. This is so interesting to me, I could go on for hours.


lesson learned


WOW! I Just read your post about the one I just addressed!

WHat a powerful POST in example as to how to set boundaries and how you learned to do that!

Thanks for sharing that Ox. That’s a great enlightenment for me, if not validation in setting my OWN boundaries and the work in doing so!!



silvermoon, love that link you posted! Also doesn’t hurt that a young Rufus Wainwright is also singing in that group 😉 wonderful song.


Just going to step in here and share my two cents. I think someone is or is not a psychopath. I do not believe there is a blend between normal and psychopath. You are or you are not. I think that professionals may talk about degrees of psychopathy within the scale itself but that again is a blurry area. That said, yes there are plenty of assholes who are not psychopaths to go around as well. Just because someone is a dick does not a psychopath make- but when you get into their entire personality- then you see the psychopathy. Their modus operandi, their motivations, their behavior in general. I too can make a distinction from your garden variety asshole and psychopath.. i think most can if they’ve enough experience with psychopaths in their lives. Even those two can’t really be compared surprisingly enough


I still find it hard to label ex a psychopath, mainly because he does feel intense emotions, even if he still doesn’t feel genuine remorse over his behavior to me and the kids. Oh, he says sorry and cries his eyes out but his opinions still show blatant disrespect, like making fun of our need for space. Which is the second reason why I don’t think he is a spath – don’t they just move on? He is just incapable of letting us go.

Anyway, I meant to ask Ox something, from her first post. With the example of the smoker – if you had to tell her after her first violation, and she doesn’t smoke again but shows her displeasure and makes you feel guilty, etc., then do you cut her off? She may then say, “Well, I DID stop after you asked me to.” In other words, you are supposed to give her other chances and not count the nuances. Isn’t that an example of disrespect and covert aggression?

Also, on conscience – it’s really hard to tell if someone has one, esp if you just had to take their word on it, and esp if they insist they on honesty in their relationships. Ex never cheated on taxes and was proud of it. Maybe he is an N. And if he isn’t a spath, i don’t know why it is so hard for him to change when he professes to be trying so hard – he says that’s all he wants to do – to prove that he can change.

Great article Donna as usual. I understand why the reporter doesnt want to hear your answer. Most people have no understanding about sociopaths/psychopaths behaviour, unless they have been involved.
I had to learn to trust myself again as after 10 years of not listening to my intuition, I had to forgive myself. Listen to your head and your heart will follow. Remember that these people mess with your head so it is not entirely your fault. Does that make sense?
They walk away leaving you devastated. So, will I be careful in the future. I think I will be no different because I am who I am, however I will be cautious. I dont want to be like that. I trust most people. So is their an answer to this question? If someone tells you they dont like your sociopath/psychopath partner, then maybe that is the time to wrap the relationship up.
I was told, and I didnt listen.


LL, most psychopaths wouldn’t get much thrill out of killing someone – too messy and more likely to get them into trouble. They would much rather psychologically torture another, especially if they want to win a fight, as in an ex wanting to expose or leave them. They know it is harder to detect but inflicts more damage. So I don’t think that physical harm indicates the degree of danger you are facing in a spath.

Ox Drover

Dear Not-too-late,

ABSOLUTELY RIGHT ON! You’ve got it! Acting like you have no right to a boundary in your own home is showing disrespect, even if they don’t “smoke.”

I have had two “friends” who did that (not with smoking but with other stuff just about as bad) and IGNORING my boundaries completely. Acting like I had no right to any consideration in my own home and that I was being an unreasonable bitch to ask for any consideration. Those people are no longer my “friends” and have been booted out of my life without any loss to me.

It was very painful at first to learn to set boundaries or to realize that I had a RIGHT to do so, and that their behavior was ABUSE. I had grown up being taught that my feelings did not matter and that it was MY JOB to make sure no one else’s feelings got hurt, NOT MATTER WHAT THEY DID. Well, that is NOT the way it should be. I do have feelings, my feelings DO matter, and I have A RIGHT to set the rules in my own home.

I also agree with you that many psychopaths do EMOTIONAL harm, financial harm etc. much more frequently than they do murder, but sometimes the physical murder would be more “humane” than what they actually do….murder a person’s SOUL!

lesson learned


I have something to admit here. I feel safe enough to do it too.

I have MAJOR boundary issues with others, but NOT just them, ME TOO!!

One of the things that I have identified in my OWN violation of others boundaries is the fear of disbelief when sharing a truth with someone, such as what I did when I contacted exPOS love bomb to find out the truth about the situation. It’s EMBARRASSING!!

I’ll type more of this out later, but I sure do understand about that now.



This is troubling me … This week I had my first-ever internet date (I left my xh 2 years ago). The guy was attractive and perfectly nice, but I left with the feeling “he’s not for me”. No huge red flegs, just corny jokes I didn’t think were funny, and a bit of egotistism trying to show me how wonderful he is. Should I write him off, or give him another chance (maybe he was nervous). ??? Which part of your gut do you trust?


so you think he was phony?
Tough to find people who aren’t phony or preoccupied with material things, these days.
Ask the tough questions, about values and goals, but don’t reveal your own until you feel safer.
Did he have glib and superficial charm?

Ox Drover


Internet dating is in my opinion fishing in a sewer, you are more likely to catch turds—people that you meet on the net can “be” anyone they pretend to be and many surveys have shown that a high percentage of people on dating sites are married, or players.

I suggest that you find some way to meet guys besides on the net, not a guarentee you won’t meet a P but at least you will know him “in context” rather than just what he presents to you out of his context of friends and family, community and job etc. Just MHO.

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