By | October 20, 2014 28 Comments

Why did I want to hug the sociopath, even though I know he is bad?

Lovefraud recently received the following email from a reader who posts as “amhealing2012.”

Miss Donna, I spoke by email to you about 2 years ago about a guy I had been dating. You confirmed he was indeed a sociopath.

I have had no contact at all for over a year and a half. Strangely he has been on my mind a lot the last few weeks, thinking I saw him and thinking about him ”¦ today while coming out of the mall with my older daughter I heard his voice say, “I hope you found what you were looking for” ”¦ I turned and there he was with that cute grin on his face. IF not for my daughter being by me pushing me and saying, “mom just keep walking,” I would have gone and hugged him.

What the hell????? It was just like a magnet, drawing me to him!!! WHY??? After all this time and work on healing and no contact and reading and becoming wiser, WHY?

I KNOW he IS toxic refuse! His sweet facade is FAKE and underneath is venom!!! So WHY the draw and magnet after all this time? HOW do I heal and get totally free of his, whatever it is.

My daughter says it’s cuz some people like to be abused. NO I don’t think I do, I hate it, it hurts like hell and took about a year to get past the GREAT pain of his abuse and betrayal of me. I even had to leave the church I had been at for 5 years; he poisoned most of the leadership towards me and stalked whatever service I chose to go to.

Anyhow, making me angry. ~ I loved him and still do care about him, BUT know what he IS. Knowing that, WHY the magnet still? Am I not healed and not learned my lesson or what the hay??

I will hush now, just a bit shocked at my reaction. He texted my phone even a bit later to say, “It was a nice surprise seeing you.” ASS!! I almost answered saying I sensed I would see him. (As he has been heavily on my mind, as I said.)

I assumed it was the Lord warning me, but my reaction still surprised me. To be drawn to hug and warmly greet a freak??? Thank the Lord my daughter was with me.

After I found my brain and wondered what happened that I would even think of a warm anything towards him ”¦ My daughter yelled and told him to stay the f… away from me. I am sure that didn’t help challenging him. 🙁 sigh. HELP please.

Thank you Miss Donna and thank you for this site. Not sure where I would be or have been without it.

~ amhealing2012

P.S. ~ does this mean I am not healed or as far along as I thought I was????

Donna Andersen replies

Amhealing2012 —

Here’s the good news: You were tested, and you passed.

Yes, you had a bit of help from your daughter I’m very glad she was there with you, and able to support you in the critical moment. But even though you were shocked by your own initial reaction, you quickly recovered.

  • You have no doubt about what is best for you continued No Contact.
  • You are not wondering if your assessment of him as toxic is wrong, and maybe he’s not so bad after all.
  • You are not hoping that he has changed, and you’ll be able to reunite and live happily ever after.

You are firm in your resolve that he is a no-good etc., etc., etc. (I loved your emphatic and colorful description.)

So why did you feel an initial urge to hug him?

Psychological bond

Human beings are social creatures. We are supposed to bond. This is how the human race survived and evolved over millennia by living together. The mechanism that enables us to live together over a long period of time is bonding.

The bond that develops with romantic partners is especially powerful, and it has several components.

One component is the psychological bond. Early in the involvement, when everything is fabulous, your new romance brings you pleasure. Pleasure sparks attachment, which is the beginning of the psychological bond. This is normal and natural.

When your romantic partner is a sociopath, however, a couple of things are different.

Most sociopaths, when they have targeted someone, engage in relentless love bombing. They shower you with attention. They want to be around you all the time. They make you feel like the most important person in the world.

As a result, the pleasure you feel is intensified, which makes for a stronger psychological bond.

Then, sociopaths do something to rock the romantic boat. Perhaps they suddenly disappear. Or you catch them flirting with someone else. Or they ask to borrow money and don’t pay you back. You feel worry or doubt about the relationship, which causes fear and/or anxiety.

Surprisingly, this fear and anxiety actually makes the psychological bond stronger.

You want the relationship to go back to those heady days in the beginning. So you try to resolve the issue, which, of course, the sociopath probably fabricated. Perhaps you even apologize for something that you didn’t do. Eventually you get back together, you feel relieved and the psychological bond is strengthened again.

This becomes a continuing cycle of pleasure fear and anxiety relief. And with each turn of the wheel, the psychological bond you feel becomes stronger and stronger until it is very difficult to break.

Your brain

In addition to the psychological aspects of bonding, there are also biological components.

We’ve written previously on Lovefraud about oxytocin. This is a hormone/neurotransmitter that causes us to feel calm, trusting and content, and alleviates fear and anxiety.

Oxytocin is released into our bloodstream and brain any time we experience intimacy emotional sharing, physical touching, and especially sex. As a result, we trust the individual who caused the spike in oxytocin.

Plus, when we have sex with someone, it causes structural changes in our brains, making this person important to us. Again, this is all normal. Mother Nature set this up to encourage parents to stay together to raise children, so that the human race could survive.

The point is that when you develop a love bond with someone, it is strong, deep and hooked into your brain.

At least that’s how you feel. Sociopaths do not bond the way the rest of us do. This is one reason why they are able to dump us and move on without looking back.

So Amhealing2012 when you suddenly and unexpectedly ran into the sociopath, it probably activated the remnants of the psychological and biological bond you once felt. Which is why you wanted to hug him.

More healing

You also asked if you are not yet healed. You have certainly made tremendous progress on your healing journey. But perhaps you do have a bit of mopping up to do.

You shouldn’t look at this encounter as a failure. You should look at it as an opportunity to clear out the last remaining remnants of the hold that this man once had on you.

You might also reflect on why this man was on your mind before you ran into him. You said you kept thinking about him what were your thoughts? Where they positive or negative thoughts?

There are people who believe that we attract what we think about and that’s why it’s important to use our willpower to control our thoughts.

Or, this might have been a lesson in listening to your intuition. Perhaps God or your intuition (which I think are highly related) was warning you that the guy was going to cross your path, so that you could be ready.

In any event, you did fine. Your initial impulse shocked you, but you did not act on that impulse. You put your emotional and psychological health first and stayed away from him.

I’m willing to bet that if you ever run into this man again, you’ll have no desire to hug him.


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Maybe he’s been stalking you and you did see him around? That would cause those feelings. He hasn’t found someone to feed his needs like you did. Maybe he thinks he can just pick you back up because it suits him?

Don’t do it. There is nothing in it for you.


I’m so happy to see this frank discussion of the science of romantic addiction.

People with oxytocin don’t simply become without oxytocin. But through reality, we learn that the bond we felt was artificially produced. We can knowingly override Mother Nature’s chemical cocktail when we recognize how toxic that offender is to us. But sightings of them can continue to stir our brain chemistry just as sighting of them did when we were engaged with them on a continuous basis. They are still them. You are still you.

Alcoholics know that they will fight their addiction for a lifetime. Abstinence is their surest path to sobriety. Likewise, abstinence from a person who stirs our brain chemistry is the means by which we recapture and maintain our separate lives.

Just like the cravings of alcohol, the bonding affects of romantic love can continue to exist, even in a lingering way. and run-ins with the used-to-be object of our affection will continue to trigger those feelings. Ulysses fought the Trojan war for 20 years, and came home to his still-loving wife.

How compelled we feel by those sightings will depend on our personal brain chemistry. The important thing, as you pointed out, is to recognize the harm and walk away. Just like staying out of bars would be a good idea for a recovering alcoholic, staying away from psychopathic past loves is best for survivors.

Oxytocin can be triggered by the smell, the sight, the touch, the sound, and the appearance of our lover. Once it begins to react to someone, it doesn’t just stop because we want it to. Mother Nature created that glue in order to nurture our children, as a couple, into adulthood. It’s how we forgive their menace for the greater good of the relationship. It’s what we’re designed to do. It’s integral to the survival of our species. We need to learn to override it and walk away. Knowing why we’re compelled makes it easier to do so.

There are therapies that can desensitize a person to chemical addictions. I’m not aware how successful they are or whether they can be used for this purpose. The closest I ever got to a self induced chemical addiction was smoking. When I quit, cold turkey. someone suggested I visualize how absurd people appeared holding that ridiculous burning white stick and sucking the acrid smoke into their lungs. That image became my new habit and made it possible to be stronger than the cravings.

People who escaped sociopathic relationships need to focus on the reality of what they encountered. It doesn’t mean that they won’t feel the tug of the cravings.



Wow!!!I can definitely see the response to want to hug the sociopath!!!…You were protected by God there…..It has been a year for me….and there is not one day that goes by that I don’t think about him…It is so strong….I can get involved in things and not think about him now…but there is the struggle and tension between being forgiving to bring about restoration…against…this person is not good…evil…stay away….So I am going along healing…and two days ago out of the blue he texted me…I thought he was blocked….I got a new phone and can’t see how or where the blocking can be done….anyway he said “I’m stuck. Trying not to love you anymore…It isn’t working…trying to move on…I’m stuck.”…It is like we are both wanting a miracle…and the happy ending….I don’t get it…..


He has not ever done the discard thing…He would probably think the No contact that I have been advised to do…is me discarding him….!!! It is so hard when I have to intentionally remind myself of the bad stuff….yet not hold that against him in unforgiving way….Although I miss the laughing and the fun…there was something I felt …like I was not being told the real story…or truth…….the wondering what could it be….and the Bill Clinton way of truth…”depends…what your definition of is…is”….very slick…I found the porn…the messages from women….but he would never admit to anything …he was “sorry”….for me seeing them?…but no admission of what he had actually done….weird….now he says he is accountable to someone in regards to the porn….Ok….


You are not alone. I also spend most of my time remembering what he did in order to avoid the constant love bombing, pleading and begging for my return. It’s hard work but with this valuable information I’m getting stronger and hope we will both rise above the chemical pull they have over us one day soon…


Get a dose of oxytocin somewhere else and you’ll loose interest.
I noticed, after dating a sociopath, it’s easier to make smarter choices. You are more on guard, and tolerate less sh*t from men. You therefore eind up with someone willing to respect your boundaries.


I agree! It is a real boost to see this, to see that I am able to set up stronger boundaries!


The last time around with the spath, I found out he had gone on a camping trip with his supposed x girlfriend and his son. It was suppose to be just the son. Told me I couldn’t go. Then when I saw the pics on his son’s facebook page he yelled at me to stop hacking his son’s facebook and it was my fault that he lied to me because he knew I would react that way. Duh! Thought he had the right to do that. He then stated he would go where he wanted and with whom he wanted. That was also 3 weeks after he had strangled me on his apartment floor. Cognitive dissonance to the extreme for me. Over it. Very dangerous, destructive people they are. They are not accountable for anything. Ever!


Amen! and this is why No Contact is so important. I left my sociopath 3 years ago, after a 24 yr marriage. I was still in contact with him for 3 months, and if I re-read the emails during that time, I want to slap myself for communicating with him at all. Thankfully, my friends and family pushed me to No Contact (along with this site and others) and I ended up having to get a Domestic Violence Protection Order against him. (It was all emotional violence, no physical.) Interestingly, death threats were then conveyed to me after I got the Order, from his friends and family. The No-Conscience reveals itself. Being in N/C is soooooo healing! The fog clears, your brain gets smarter, and life gets so much better. 🙂



Never accountable! You reminded me of the attitude I’d received every time I found some piece of the puzzle and approached him with it, I should have gone with my first instinct because the explanations just kept me in a constant state of confusion or taking the blame.


They definitely like to keep you off balance. I use to spend a lot of time trying to figure out why he said this or that and what was he doing that for, etc. What a waste of my time and energy. I finally quit doing that. I just say, “He’s a psychopath and that is what they do”. The problem is and has always been…we don’t know what those instincts mean because we don’t know people like this exist in everyday life and what they are out to do. They literally only exist for one thing, to try to destroy someone in a covert way.



Hear hear!

Mine has started to elevate my blood pressure so it’s time to change how I react to him…now!


Thank you Donna, and amhealing2012, for this in-depth discussion. I am 3 years out, and “healing” has been a little bit mysterious to me. Only lately, as I have looked at dating again for the first time, have I found some measurement of my healing. For one, I have been able to filter out a guy who, while has a lot of great characteristics, and I had a great attraction to him, has some narcissistic tendencies. I couldn’t quite put my finger on it, but over time, figured that out. He’s a much more worthy person than my ex-spath (who is a thoroughly harmful, worthless person), but not a guy I need to date. And since I was able to assess that (before we dated), we will remain good friends. Now I’m looking at a second guy, but HE has experienced one or more sociopaths, and thank heaven, HE is very hesitant to date. He told me he will move VERY slowly.

Now he may be a real contender, the more I learn about him. But as smitten as I am so far, I have been able to also move very slowly, and set big boundaries. Now my confidence in my ability to weed out a bad one is growing. I’m so excited about this, because my trust in my own judgment was zero, for the first year or two after the ex-spath.

Amhealing2012, for the Christian going thru this healing, I have found very little helpful information, and have found some ministers have not been very knowledgeable about this.

A friend is married to a guy with a crystal clear Personality Disorder… whether he’s Borderline, Narcissistic, Sociopath.. or some of all, I do not know. But she went to her minister with an audio of her husband screaming at her for a long period, and she showed her minister bruises on her arm. Her minister is a “good” guy, and I thought a good minister. But his reaction to her leaving the marriage was to blast her for her immature, unbiblical action. Preposterous.

As a Christian, we can rely on God to bring us clarity with EACH new guy we meet. God promises to provide, and tells us over and over again to Fear Not. So I ask God daily for guidance, wisdom, and clarity with new relationships… romantic or just friends. He WILL provide.


Guy number 2 may be legit, but the possibility crosses my mind that he may be mirroring you in saying that he’s also been a victim of spaths. It could be true, but one of spaths’ usual love bombing tactics is to make the victim think that he has a lot of things in common with her. My ex spath did that, and he was lying about everything from his religion to his sexual preference.

still reeling

Sorry you had to have this experience. And I think Donna’s answer is well worth heeding and reading from time to time.

This is SO good:

“point is that when you develop a love bond with someone, it is strong, deep and hooked into your brain.

At least that’s how you feel. ****Sociopaths do not bond the way the rest of us do. This is one reason why they are able to dump us and move on without looking back.****

So Amhealing2012 when you suddenly and unexpectedly ran into the sociopath, it probably activated the remnants of the psychological and biological bond you once felt. Which is why you wanted to hug him.”

I have had these thoughts and feelings as well, thankfully have not run into the path that was in my life. amhealing, the path in my life was a genuine psycho with all the trimmings. I loved and hated him at the same time because it was easy to see I was being duped. But then…..he would say something that strengthened the bond and the serenity, peace and excitement would take over. Oxytocin, endorphins, you name it.

In reality you know he’s a dangerous, sick predator, who cannot bond, cannot feel, cannot emote, has no conscience and is only there for one individual, himself. I often think about *that one woman* who is going to come along and turn him into a decent human being. THIS CANNOT HAPPEN. So no need for anyone to concern themselves about that. There is more chance for a one-legged dog to start running down the street.

If only these monsters wore their insides on the outside. Hugging would be the last thing on your mind. Picture hugging a holey bag of garbage teeming and leaking with maggots, rotten food and a smell that would kill an elephant. This is your ex.

Hang in there amhealing and know that when these feelings arise it’s only because you were scammed by a crook of the highest magnitude and the most devious, vile and evil of minds, with no regard for you at all. The desire for a hug is not for him but for what he was pretending to but will never, ever be for you or anyone else.

Best to you. Hope you find someone truly worthy of your hugs and more than willing to embrace you with the warmth and love of a genuine, caring human being who is crazy about you! You certainly deserve it.


Oh My, I can relate to this so much. It’s been over 7 years since I last saw my X. I think of him everyday, many times a day. I have dreams of him and they are never good dreams. I miss what he so cleverly portrayed as love, the companionship – ever so fleeting. The things we all yearn for in a relationship, the things I never thought I would ever realize. There were so many things about him that were endearing.
Sure I know all about the red flags now, they were sticking out of him like a forth of july parade. But in my opinion you never forget the violation of something so personal. It changed who I am, maybe for the better, maybe not. I don’t try to forget or get over him, I don’t think any of us should. Would I hug him? Hmm probably, but I would put my finger to his lips so he would not speak. It’s the monster inside him that speaks that I fear. But yes I would embrace him with the hope that I feel nothing…..

still reeling

I can relate to those dreams hens. Thankfully, I don’t remember my dreams very often but occasionally, I will have one about him that I remember. As you say, they are never good. Deception, emptiness, desire and hope that always ends up dashed and the loneliness afterwards. The only dream I have remembered fully in an entire decade was one I had about him right after the charade ended. 3 years ago and I still remember it as clearly as when I dreamed it. I consider that a scientific mystery.

Your post is sad and poignant and well understood. He does not deserve your hug. Believe me, he wouldn’t feel it in the way it was meant, only as a sexual come-on for what? A controlled experienced devoid of love, a rape. The way our minds, oxytocin, endorphins, needs, play tricks on us needs to be studied and researched.

Best thoughts and honest, genuine hugs to you, hens.


Still reeling

I’m interested to hear about your dream if you’d like to share it with us? I’ve had several nightmares that I’ve found to be messages from my subconscious mind and warnings not to “hug the spath” if I see him…

still reeling

Sure, under. It has been over 3 yrs but as I said I recall it as if it were yesterday and I never remember my dreams. That makes me wonder what power they have or reaction we have to their behavior that allows them to impact us so strongly that they actually become imprinted upon our brains. I can’t believe I am able to remember that dream so well. There is something chemical going on in the brain that should be studied.

In the dream, it was Xmas time. Path was standing next to the door of our office holding a grocery bag (brown paper). He was returning from lunch w/the bag and just smiling that office smile I came to hate. It was phony and vile. I was walking down the hall and just looked at him and asked, “Lunch?” He replied, “No…..not lunch….” I just kept walking past him to the ladies room as I knew that look and that tone and he was about to say something I didn’t want to hear. That part of the dream had actually happened for real. He would say something to me that was so telling of strong feelings for me if it were from a non-path, then the next day, or rest of that day, just ignore my existence or he would follow it up with a distancing comment. When he had the queer smile on his face, I knew he was going to say or do something that was going to hurt or confuse me. So I learned to just bypass it by walking away or ignoring him.

Now for the dream part. I was sitting in what I suppose was my cubicle, and the bag he held was at my feet; in his standoffish style, he didn’t hand it to me, I just found it there. It was full of debris from the ground esp those dried brown round thistles, sticks, dirt. There was a long piece of what looked like petrified wood shaped a little like the butt of a gun (long
scalene triangle) and very uneven and a little bumpy, a little twisted. Perhaps this was a phallic symbol?
I was confused about both the receipt of and contents of the gift. As I was going thru it, he said, “That was very presumptuous of you.” I took that to mean, it was presumptuous of me to think the gift was for me.
In looking at the dream now, I think I was seeing how he really felt about me, pretending that he cared but not caring at all. Then tying it all up with a bigger slap in the face to confuse, confound and hurt.

It makes me sick to think about that dream. I did post it out here before but wanted to respond to your request. Crazy.


Still reeling

Not crazy at all! None of us are we’re just damaged…

Your description gave me the full visual effect so you did a stellar job putting it in writing. I’ve done a little research into dream interpretation and I’ve been told when we wake our instincts are sharp enough to give us true meaning. If you can remember it so vividly and your response to it than you have got the message.

I have dreams that carry messages but don’t remember them long term. I suppose it’s because I receive a vision while awake, on occasion, and know what it means immediately – I’ve been asked how I know but I can’t answer other than to say that I just know, then it happens. The last one was when my spath was accused of child sexual assault. I knew he was guilty but also knew there would be another child come forth – I just knew! Within a couple of months the second one confessed… now I’ve seen a third but this time I’m not so sure. A vision to me is something like your dream. I can remember it from every angle and as if it just happened, this one takes effort so I’m thinking that I’m just wishing that one? Time will tell…

Thanks for sharing that experience as it’s a reminder that my instincts are right and I don’t need any proof 🙂


Good that you manage to escape. I am trying hard to break bonds with my sociopath boyfriend. It was easy for me to leave my husband because he manage to traumatize me enough. With my sociopath boyfriend who is now married to someone else, I find it very difficult. I think it is because he always manage to get high oxytocin levels every time we had sex. I know very well all he wants is money to go through law school and a place to live. I paid for his wedding recently and his friends and cousins were mad at me. Not surprising he sneaks around his unknowing fiancé now wife. He enjoys the trill of betraying. Comes to my place with his wife and sneaks into my room. I find it very difficult to cut off this relationship and miss him when “he doesn’t need me.” I think it is the oxytocin. I need to get out soon.



I know that power they have, although I was the wife in your situation. I did AND DO WISH that one of the girls was so disgusted with his behavior that they had the guts to tell me what was going on… just saying…

still reeling

under, so you were the wife of a cheating socio? I wanted so many x to contact this guy’s wife but figured she knew he was a no good, cheating psycho.


Hi Still reeling…Thank you for your comments. The sex with the X, was just sex, he didn’t know how to make love or have foreplay etc. Oh, I am sure our oxytocin levels were raging but I was always waiting for that special connection, the bond two people have when they are in love. I was sure I was in love with him, but I never felt loved in return. I just felt used, like I had to perform 110% to keep his attention. As I look back on those years I realize how lonely I was and way to needy. I think that is my biggest regret, that I put so much of myself out there for him to exploit. All the while knowing I was just an option to him. I wasted so many years waiting on him to be who he said he was – lol – what a fool I was.



My spath is trying everything to get me back, crying for 3 hours straight while he talks me into a mind blank. I can only look back over the 14 years I tried everything to feel like I was important to him so I can relate to your giving 110% without ever getting anywhere. It’s sad that we spend so much time, so much of our lives wasted on something that will never change… if we’d listened to our instincts in the early days, I’d have to wonder where I’d be now, happier I’d say as those years took my innocence and there’s no return to that.

still reeling

You said it all hens, in a nutshell and I relate to it 100%, the desire to ignite the bond that you know will never happen. All the energy it takes to perform, as you said, 110%, in an effort to bring him close emotionally, when that is never a possibility. It’s human nature not to want to walk away from a project, love or otherwise! But your path is not human, and as you said, no matter how loving or kind or adoring you are, he is not capable of doing anything but exploiting and taking advantage of you for his own purposes and gain. They are without the means but the worst part is that they can fake it and draw you in, only to spit you out once you’ve been used. And, of course, I mean “you” in the collective sense as well.

I recall being so confused by the path in my life. He’d come on to me, flirt, act as if he was drawn to me, asked me to go away w/him, etc. I could feel myself blossom w/euphoria, knowing that someone like “him” was taken with me. Then he’d make a statement like, “You know, you should think about moving to California. You’d love it there.” I’d think, “Whaaaaaat” You just asked me to leave town w/you and now you’re saying I should move away. I will NEVER understand why I didn’t ask him on the spot, why he would act in this contradictory way so very often. But I know he would have said something like, “Reeling, that was hypothetical, I know you aren’t going anywhere.” They are slick, slick, slick until they get caught and mine did. I so not wish him anything but a mental institution. He belongs away from others where he can’t do any harm. Knowing him, he’d wreak havoc there as well. And the corporate world loves socios, esp today when are all so extra greedy, laying people off who are begging to keep their pathetic little jobs. It’s exactly the type of person they want.

I wish you love hens and I’m glad to read below that your focus changed to taking care of you, not “it,” and that you are doing well. Of course we don’t forget their impact on our lives but it does fade. It surely has for me, but I do not feel sorry for that thing, and am extra wary of anyone I meet that waves even a pink flag. I have a boss now who does show some signs of narc behavior, not interested in me, but does affect me very strongly. Trying to find a new job because of him. It’s a bad situation. Take care, hens and thanks for sharing.


Undertheradar, Your X must be running out of option’s. Don’t listen to him, don’t go down that road again. My X tried to get back into my life several times, he even cut his wrist to prove his love for me, and yes I fell for that pity ploy as well. He was a very troubled soul, the reason it lasted as long as it did was because I felt sorry for him.
In the beginning of my so called journey, all the focus was on him and why, how could he do that. But I turned the focus on me and how, why could I let him do that to me. I learned alot about myself, it was a very tough life lesson. I am a stronger person and I am doing well. Not sure why I am back here again. I so wanted to get over and forget that painfull chapter in my life, I don’t think forgetting is as important as surviving and living life the best you can.



I’m having trouble receiving notifications so sorry for the delay…

Thanks for sharing your story of pity with me as that is exactly how I feel when he’s “faking” the poor soul that lost his wife!

I do see myself as moving on from all of this and one day not ever looking back with any emotional involvement – you give me hope!

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