Why didn’t his family warn me?

I want to express my deepest appreciation and thanks for this site. I have questions for which I can’t find answers. Admittedly I’m new to this forum and I’m sure my story isn’t unique as I’ve read MY story over and over LOL! I’m clearly among my peeps. I say that with humor and with heartache because my family and friends do not understand my situation by no fault of their own. 1- having never been exposed to a sociopath their advice was based on a normal relationship. And 2- I didn’t share most of what happened out of embarrassment.

I didn’t even realize my X was a sociopath until recently, 3 years after the final breakup. I couldn’t figure out why I wasn’t bouncing back, why I had no desire to date again albeit being very lonely, why I missed him so much even though I was only a mouse to his cat, and why I was not be able to heal. I was mistakenly trying to handle it on my own thinking he was just a jerk and basing my “recovery” on past normal relationships.

I found this site by accident and in reading, actually devouring, other peoples’ stories (because it was finally all making sense to me) really bad feelings that I had clearly repressed are coming to the surface. So I’m experiencing this as if we just broke up.

In a nutshell, I was in absolute heaven those first 2 years. I had just gotten divorced from a rather loveless marriage. I married my best friend who turns out was a lousy husband…but that’s another story. He was normal, just not marriage material. We’re still friends to this day and have 2 children together.

So there I was at 45, optimistic, ready to start over. I met my spath just one week later. I had no plans to fall in love, thinking I would date a bit and maybe get lucky in a year or two.

My spath had never been married and never had children. Warning!! He was 5 years my junior; but he said he was finally ready for a family and immediately included my kids in his plans. He coached my son’s little league, mowed my lawn, we went on family vacations, he upgraded his truck to an extended cab with back seat for the kids, offered a shoulder to cry on when my sister passed away, expensive gifts. Total love bomb. But then it changed.

You know the drill. I was looking for commitment, wanting to plan a real future. Silly me. Don’t get me wrong, the sex remained fantastic and we still took vacations. But I started seeing him less and less, except for weekends I didn’t have the kids. I told him I’m a package deal and we broke up for the first time.

Three more times we got back together and three more times we broke up over the course of the next 6 years. Each time was worse than the one before. The mental and psychological abuse wore me down to having no self esteem, no friends, being alone on holidays, and gift giving stopped. So did his interest in my children. I realize now he was wooing someone else but I didn’t see it back then. He always had a good excuse.

Now that I know what he is and that I didn’t do anything wrong (other than let it continue), I feel I can get on with my recovery – finally! I used to be a secure, strong loving person; surely I can find her again. Hopefully I can trust again.

My questions are:

Why didn’t his family warn me? We were together 8 years (on and off) Why did they sit back and watch yet another woman be crushed? I think I’m more angry with them than I am with him or myself. Did they choose to stick their collective head in the sand? Any ideas or experiences you can share with me to help me with this newly found anger?

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23 Comments on "Why didn’t his family warn me?"

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shescomeundone – I know of four reasons why families may not warn you:

1. The family is clueless. The family may not see the predatory behavior, because the perp isn’t around that much. This happened in my case – my ex had left his native Australia and moved to the US. He visited, but he was putting on his act with his family, so they really had no idea what he was really like. I met the family, and they all seemed to be normal. No one discouraged me.

2. The family is complicit. Personality disorders are highly genetic, so often the perp’s parents, siblings or other relatives are also disordered. They’re all in on the game.

3. The family hopes you will fix the perp. Sometimes they may know the perp has problems, but don’t realize the extend of the disorder. They hope a good partner will “straighten him/her out.”

4. The family wants you to take him off their hands. They know very well that the perp is a disaster, and are tired of dealing with it. I know of one mother of the perp who said to his new bride on their wedding day, “He’s your problem now.”

Some families only get the good side of a spath…he charms them and they all exist in a fake bubble, where he plays the funny, good, sweet brother/son. So long as this works for them, and he does his evil outside of their family, they really don’t care. All they care about is that its happy families for them.

I’m of the opinion spaths have to come from highly dysfunctional families and one of the traits is that they deal in lies, illusions and fakeness. Where do you think the spath learnt it from?

So basically, some families could not care less and are complicit in the lie…they know deep down what he is, but so long as on their time he plays his happy brother/son role, they don’t care what havoc he is causing someone else. These kinds of families are also like cults. They reward those who play the game in their family (keep up the lies/illusion and who have undying loyalty even at expense of truth, and turn on anyone who dares to break ranks.) Many decent, truth loving in laws have suffered that fate.

Look at families of people like Ted Bundy (his mother) and Scott Peterson (Lacey Petersons husband.) Their families did not care about the truth and only cared about worshipping their son/brother. They are just as sick and evil in my opinion and helped to create the monster.

Shescomeundone, You will surely recover now that you know what actually happened. I was involved with several of these sorts, over an extended period of time, before I finally understood what I was up against. Initially this made me quite emotionally labile, unable to focus, just kind of a mess. But once the initial shock and despair wore off I felt very capable of redirecting my life, and reclaiming my heart and mind.

Prior to that I did what you have done and processed those experiences like any ‘normal’ loss. But the knowledge of how these types operated helped me re-frame all my experiences, place responsibilities where they belonged, and start to let go of my feelings of inadequacy, loss, and shame.

It also helped me avoid further entanglements, and find a loving partner.

Keep reading and venting and processing. You are on your way.



All of us have had these bizarre experiences, some more so even, and somehow tried to make sense of them. We have stayed for varying lengths of time, or maybe had a string of these bad experiences for most of our lives. I TOTALLY get what you say about being comfortable and uncomfortable at the same time. A HALLMARK feeling of being with someone who is disordered.

The behaviors of disordered individuals are highly calibrated to effect the target in very certain way; emotionally, biologically, and psychologically. Our whole being is effected. I would say these behaviors are hardwired into these people to perform them. Though they can control them from moment to moment they cannot stop being what they are, and the cycle will happen regardless of a momentary suspension of behavior. Overall the behaviors that they perpetrate on us maximize the success of the abuser to control us and extract whatever they need from us.

We respond on all levels, because our hard-wiring is stimulated by their behaviors. So we need to heal on all fronts: physically, mentally, emotionally; attending to our whole being in order to reclaim ourselves.

The easiest (not that it’s easy) way is first to cut, 100%, all contact. Then we can attend to our bodies (sleep, food, movement, maybe medications), minds (counseling, friend support, family support, and maybe medications), and our emotions (facing them fully, and going through the stages of grief). All of this work happens in concert to create healing.

He’d convince you that his family (or friend, friends, co-workers and ESPECIALLY other Xs) that they were all crazy. Or some other reason that you’d ignorantly believe- that is until YOU became an X!!!!!!

Duh…Your comment definitely rang true in my case! I always chose to give him the benefit of any doubt, regardless of mounting evidence to the contrary, because I wanted and needed to believe his lies.
But, I did ask his family members about his boastful past and never once received any confirmations or denials from any of them.
One exception… his SIL did tell me (more than once) that due to my influence, his behavior had really improved.

shescomeundone, I wondered the same thing after my breakup with my ex. I too, didn’t realize he was a sociopath until months after our breakup.

We have a child together so unfortunately, I have had to stay in contact with his parents. Luckily they only pop up once a year or so, although I’m considering cutting ties, but that’s a whole different subject for another thread.

In conversations following our separation, his dad straight up told me that my ex has sociopathic tendencies. I had had this realization before his dad mentioned it to me, but still I wondered for months: WHY DIDN’T YOU WARN ME?! It seemed so cruel to just let someone go headfirst into a relationship with a person that you know is evil. Over time I’ve realized that Donna is right in so many ways, in the answers that she laid out for you. In my case — A) His parents don’t realize the extent of his issues (especially his mother, she almost seems to be in complete denial). B) They DESPERATELY want him fixed. I think they believe that a good woman will fix him, or at least calm the beast that is within him. I think more than anything, they’re embarrassed and ashamed of the person they’ve raised. They want to walk proud among the rest of their extended family. For them, life is very superficial and all about appearance. They’ve definitely bred that into their son as well.

My ex is now in a new relationship and, as with his other relationships following ours, I’ve wondered: Should I warn this woman?? The answer for me is no, and my reasoning is different than his parents’. I won’t warn her because she won’t believe me. His ability to lie and put the spin on things is unlike anyone else I have ever known. He’ll convince her I’m crazy, I’m a liar, I’m jealous and just want them to break up so I can have him back, etc. I’d only be putting myself and my daughter in danger, putting us in his line of fire again. Meanwhile, my ex’s father is encouraging this new relationship, with “likes” and encouraging comments on Facebook when the spath posts about the two of them and their “wonderful” partnership. These days I find his father to be more despicable and disgusting than my ex, and that is really saying something.

Good luck to you in your healing process. It’s taken me a long time, but I’m able to trust again. I’m still single and haven’t even been on one date since our breakup five years ago, but for a long time after our relationship ended I didn’t trust a word anyone said to me. I was very jaded and angry for a very long time. Things are much better now. There is light at the end of the tunnel for you too!

Warning potential partners has been discussed a lot on this forum and Donna’s comments ring very true to me. In addition, warning your replacement is futile, she won’t believe you.
My ex moved on in classic style; within a year he realised that he’d met his match, initially she was very pleased with herself and cruelly plastered photos of them together over social media, this is how I found out that our break was not temporary. However, he soon found out that she’s a controlling and demanding person, not something a narcissist takes kindly to.
In her partial defence, she must have thought she’d found her dream partner: she sold her house, moved and bought them a house to live in as I did, I hear from friends that’s she’s very bitter about what’s happened to her, perhaps she would like to listen now?

All that Donna said is true regarding the reasons that a family may not warn a potential victim of the spath.

The family members who are spaths themselves, or flying monkeys, will never warn a person for obvious reasons. The so called ‘normal’ family members may actually be denying the truth, and hoping that THIS time, the spath may ‘turn’ normal and be able to treat someone else in a normal manner. Of course, this will never happen.

It’s tragic, really, having a spath or spath/s in one’s family, and knowing that something is very off and wrong, yet not knowing what that REALLY means until research and absolute acceptance is done.

Why don’t they warn you? I was also married to an abusive (physically, sexually, emotionally) narc/spath. His family knew and they all eventually disowned him completely. There had abuse and violence before I ever met him. I think they hoped I would fix him, plus they were ashamed. Plus I was nothing to them, they had no bond with me and pretty much didn’t care.

his family didn’t warn me, because his mom, his grandmother (even worse)..were as dysfunctional as he was! his mother had been in mental hospitals for shock treatments, years before. In fact, the first time I met her, she had just been released from a hospital! It was almost like being ‘the new normal’..I had NO clue how widespread mental issues were, in his family. (and he had the gall to tell me how crazy MY people were). His mom’s mother (we farmed the farm they had lived on)..was a control freak, a compulsive talker. In a way, I believe, they were GLAD that somebody (anybody) would marry him, so they didn’t have to deal with him. Unfortunately, it was me.

Yeah my ex-MIL was a very manipulative narc. She trained her son well! And he was also always trying to convince me that my family had “mental health problems”. Well after meeting him I did develop massive anxiety which I now know is PTSD. Then he used that against me to say I couldn’t handle anything without getting angry and stressed out. The GREAT news is that once he packed his crap and left he packed the crazy with him. No more anxiety unless someone mentions his name.

the morning of the day before our wedding, my MIL to be, came to my apartment, woke me up and took me downtown for breakfast. I thought it was odd, even for HER. She hemmed and hawed around, about making sure her son took his pills (for bi polar) on time, got his monthly bloodwork done, and oh, by the way, was I SURE I wanted to marry him? It was a beginning of many strange, odd conversations I was to have with her, in the years to come. I figured it was HER way of trying to cut me off of marrying her son. In retrospect, I should have thrown the engagement ring back at him, called off the whole sorry mess and took my parent’s offer to get a bus ticket to an uncle’s house in Michigan! There WAS a definite strain of crazy in his mother’s family line!

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