UPDATED FOR 2021: Lovefraud received the following email from a reader who posts as “amhealing2012.” She ran across her disordered ex, and suddenly wanted to hug the sociopath. Why?
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 I 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.
P.S. ~ does this mean I am not healed or as far along as I thought I was????
Donna Andersen replies
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 the sociopath?
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.
Fear and anxiety
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.
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 your ex, it probably activated the remnants of the psychological and biological bond you once felt. Which is why you wanted to hug the sociopath.
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 the sociopath.
Lovefraud originally published this article on October 20, 2014.