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Woman sues over web of Internet deceit

A case is now percolating through the Illinois courts that may have implications on whether perpetrators of online deception can be sued for damages.

The case is Paula Bonhomme v. Janna St. James. Bonhomme lives in Los Angeles. She is a fan of the TV show Deadwood, and back in 2005, joined a chat room about the show. There she met St. James.

St. James eventually introduced Bonhomme, online, to a man by the name of Jesse. Bonhomme and Jesse exchanged emails, phone calls and handwritten notes, and their relationship blossomed into a romance. Jesse introduced Bonhomme to his family and friends via email. Bonhomme sent gifts to Jesse and his family. They planned a future together, and decided that Bonhomme should move from Los Angeles to Jesse’s home in Colorado.

Then suddenly, Jesse died of liver cancer. In Jesse’s memory, Bonhomme went to Colorado to visit some of his favorite places, accompanied by the woman who had introduced her to Jesse—Janna St. James.

But there was a problem: None of it was real.

Janna St. James made up the Jesse character, along with all 20 of his friends and family. She created an entire web of deceit, and snared Paula Bonhomme. She actually used voice-altering technology, so when they spoke on the phone, St. James sounded like a man.

Bonhomme spent money on gifts. She bought Jesse airline tickets and made changes to her home in preparation for his visits, which never materialized. In all, the charade cost Bonhomme about $10,000, including $5,000 for therapy after the emotional devastation of Jesse’s “death.”

Finally, Bonhomme’s friends, worried about the amount of time she was spending online, confronted St. James and exposed the fraud. They captured it on video, which is posted on YouTube.

Read ”˜Fake’ online love affair becomes legal battle on ABCNews.go.com.

Watch the YouTube video, St. James exposed.

Taking it to court

Bonhomme filed a complaint against Janna St. James in Illinois court in February 2008. The court dismissed her case. She filed a motion to reconsider in 2009, which was also dismissed. Then her attorneys filed an appeal.

Bonhomme’s complaint stated that St. James St. James committed fraudulent misrepresentation. The elements of this claim are:

  1. A false statement of material fact
  2. Knowledge or belief of the falsity by the party making it
  3. Intention to induce the plaintiff to act
  4. Action by the plaintiff in justifiable reliance on the truth of the statement
  5. Damage to the plaintiff resulting from that reliance

The problem with the original case apparently was that a claim of fraudulent misrepresentation was historically recognized only in business or financial transactions. The court had previously declined to consider fraudulent misrepresentation in noncommercial or nonfinancial dealings between parties.

Also, the defendant’s attorneys argued that St. James engaged in fiction, not a misrepresentation of facts, and that “the concepts of falsity and material fact do not apply in the context of fiction, because fiction does not purport to represent reality.”

The original trial court apparently bought that argument, but the appeals court did not. The appeals court ruled that the trial court erred in dismissing the case, and sent it back for further proceedings.

The actual court opinion is interesting and mostly easy to read. Check it out: Appellate Court of Illinois— Paula Bonhomme v. Janna St. James.

Blame the victim

The appellate court decision wasn’t, however, unanimous. One of the justices dissented, writing:

The reality of the Internet age is that an online individual may not always be—and indeed frequently is not—who or what he or she purports to be. The plaintiff’s reliance on the defendant’s alleged misrepresentations, in deciding to spend $10,000 on Christmas gifts for people who allegedly lived in another state and whom she had never met, was not justifiable. The plaintiff also cannot be said to have justifiably relied on the alleged misrepresentations in incurring expenses to move to another state to live with someone she had never met in person and who had cancelled a previous face-to-face meeting after she had purchased nonrefundable airline tickets.

In other words, the dissenting justice blamed the victim for being dumb enough to fall for the scam.

Kirk Sigmon, a blogger for the Cornell Law School, also thought the appellate court decision was a bad idea. He argued that “the world is full of misleading statements and ”˜puffery,’” and Bonhomme v. St. James could set a precedent that made Internet users responsible for telling the truth. This, Sigmon seemed to imply, was an imposition.

This holding has the potential to cause serious problems for Internet users. At least according to the Bonhomme court’s logic, many individuals may be liable for expenses incurred as a result of someone’s reliance upon their virtual representations. Mindless banter in chatrooms could now create legal liabilities. If courts apply a similar logic to negligent misrepresentation cases, even careless statements made on websites could give rise to litigation so long as plaintiffs can prove intent and harm. In theory, every user of the Internet is now subjected to an implied duty of truthfulness or due care in the representations they make when interacting with others online.

The blogger argued that allowing a complaint of fraudulent misrepresentation arising from personal dealings, rather than just commercial dealings, “threatens the very freedom that makes the Internet so attractive.”

Read The wild, wild web and alter egos, on CornellFedSoc.org.

Wrong but not illegal

I am troubled by the judge’s dissent, which blames the victim, and the Cornell blogger’s apparent opinion that the freedom of the Internet must include the freedom to lie, no matter how destructive it is to another individual.

The actions of Janna St. James were clearly reprehensible. They were morally wrong. This woman did not engage in “social puffery.” She set out to purposely deceive Paula Bonhomme, apparently just to amuse herself. Unfortunately, she succeeded, and Bonhomme was damaged.

Not only that, but St. James had a history of pulling this scam. Since this case became public, Bonhomme was contacted by at least five other women who were similarly victimized by St. James, in fake letters going back to the 1980s.

So why is it so difficult for Paula Bonhomme to get justice? I think the problem is the very structure of our legal system. Even when an action is clearly wrong, if it doesn’t violate a law, nothing can be done. The law hasn’t kept up with the technology, and the law, like most of society, doesn’t understand the maliciousness of sociopaths.

I hope Bonhomme makes out better in her next court go-round. In any event, I applaud her for even pursuing the case. If we want to make changes, and hold sociopaths accountable, we have to start somewhere.

Story suggested by a Lovefraud reader.


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338 Comments on "Woman sues over web of Internet deceit"

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How pathetic.

Donna thanks for sending the story.

St. James’ behavior is not understandable to anyone who has not dealt with a psychopath. Most people would say “what is the MOTIVE?” Of course, those of us who have dealt with psychopaths know what the motive is–control, attention, power, just for the fun of it, just the “duping delight” of putting one over on someone else.

Yes, we know the motive, though we can’t “feel” the motive, and such a thing wouldn’t motivate us, but we know what it is.

Just as there are probably many many more victims of Sandusky’s pedophilia who will never come forward, there are probably many many more victims of St. James’ con jobs that will never come forward. My hat is off to Paula Bonhomme, and I wish her well in her law suit. Unfortunately, what is morally reprehensible is not always illegal. There is not always a legal remedy to every nasty thing done by nasty people.

one/joy_step_at_a_time

Donna, Thanks for doing such a good job on this. Kirk Sigmon’s response makes it so clear that those who have not experienced spaths are ‘entitled to the luxury’ of hypothetical thought.

Paula Bonhomme will pursue this case as far as it can go. She is tenacious. St. James she defends her actions and claims that she is not accountable for telling lies or that anyone believes her when she tells lies.

Unfortunately, this woman who got scammed was apparently a scammer herself. Correct me if I’m wrong, but from what I’ve read, it looks like she was married the whole time this was going on. So if she’s a victim, it’s only because she ran into someone with less empathy and conscience than herself.

I’m getting tired of these stories of people who cuckold their spouses, get burned, and then cry “victim”! Don’t get me wrong: we’ve had similar discussions here before, and I realize that not every adulterous person is a scoundrel. Some are undoubtedly first rate, moral human beings who just happened to make a huge mistake. But give me a break, this woman clearly didn’t give a damn about her husband! So I say if there’s a real victim in all of this, HE should be first in line. (For that matter, I wonder if some of the money she sent to this woman didn’t come from her husband’s bank account?)

If there’s a “runner up victim,” I’ll grant that it probably goes to the wife, with the “sock puppet lady” (to borrow One Joys’ term) way at the bottom. But really, how ’bout a bit more moral clarity here?! Indeed, imagine the horror of realizing that your beloved wife just had a two year online affair with a mumbling 300 lb. sociopathic grandmother!

I wonder what HIS therapy sessions will cost?

And another thing. I just love the “high dudgeon” of the wife’s friends as they go after this lady – as though she has no responsibility in all of this!

Actually, I think there’s something deeply and implicitly sexist in this whole scenario. That is, this (unstated) notion that women are basically nothing but vulnerable, childish, malleable, manipulable creatures who are the hapless victims of seductive, crafty and heartless men. But is it really so? Is it not a CHOICE to have an affair? And if not, then doesn’t that mean that ninety percent of the people here have no reason to complain? (Including myself, since I was betrayed in a manner similar to that of the husband?)

Indeed, if we are willing to make excuses for this woman (again, portraying her as the helpless and “pre moral” child taken in by a cunning “Internet Don Giovanni”), then shouldn’t we give our own Ss and Ps the same benefit of the doubt? Because most of them did nothing more or less than what this wife did to her husband with this two year affair. (And imagine the deception, lies and lack of empathy that must have gone into that!)

I hope I don’t step on anyone’s toes with this, because I realize there are women here at LF who have themselves been involved in affairs. So note: this is NOT aimed at you. But that said, I have noticed a pattern here where these people are REPEATEDLY painted as victims, when in reality I think they are more like “co aggressors.” In any case, I bet that most of the women here wouldn’t feel a touch of sympathy if THEIR sociopath happend to run into a “conscienceless soulmate” like this Janna lady! And if not, isn’t that something of a double standard? (i.e. Men CHOOSE to betray their spouses and girlfriends, whereas women are pushed, coerced, or “tricked”into it. Especially when their husbands are “bores” or they are feeling vulnerable!)

At any rate, this hits too close to home for me, so I’ll leave it at that.

Constantine…..you raise valid points! Thanks for having the balls to speak your mind, close to home.
This is true…..I believe, we allow people to victimize us. Maybe not in a conscious way…..but we do….play along.
Very little was said about the husband, he was just mentioned as an unhappy marriage.
The hook here was her way of choosing an exit from the unhappy marriage…..looking to mow the greener grass.
And she was the one who got mowed.
No she didn’t deserve to get mowed……nobody does….but she DOES hold some responsibility for her fantasy thoughts of how she may be able to escape an unhappy marriage….through the ‘easy’ door.
It didn’t seem to me she was looking for an affair……seemed innocent enough….a chat room about a show. But it also doesn’t mention how many other online ‘affairs’ she has ‘encountered’ in other chat rooms.

The lesson to us all here is……live with high morals and expectations of OURSELVES. Treat others how we wish to be treated, live by the 10 comandments (religious or not)……and be a kind, loving and genuine person. If you have to think twice about it….don’t do it. Take the high road, don’t cheat, lie or steel. Live each day to be able to lay your head on your pillow with a clear conscience! You’ll be surprised at how good life becomes.
If we always look for the easy button…..edge, leg up, better hand etc……..we lose sight of what is really important in life……including HONOR! We will dismiss the red flags for the ‘edge’….for the something for nothing take…….and I will tell ya….there is a price to be paid for EVERYTHING!

There are so many people who play the victim, when they encounter the losing hand in the game they should NOT have been playing in the first place…..there IS such a thing as oil and gasoline…..and once in awhile…they meet and the explosion is great! Someone’s gotta cry.

Thanks for your post…….

Hey EB,

Yes, most of the people in my immediate family have been devastated by marital infidelity, so it’s a touchy subject for me!

You raise a good point too: was this a one time thing, or a long term pattern of deceptive behavior? That would tell us a lot. But it did last for TWO YEARS. And in fairness, I suppose that virtually EVERY affair happens – on some level at least – because of an “unhappy marriage”! So I guess it’s a matter (as you say) of holding ourselves and other people to high standards; and yet not failing to separate the wheat from the chaff. Clearly SOME good people screw up – and you can generally recognize them by the guilt that they express. What worries me, though, is the danger of missing the “happy medium” between being overly judgmental and refusing to make any judgments whatsoever.

PS EB,

By the way, better luck on your next blood test!

Speaking of which – this health stuff reminds me of a line from a Woody Allen movie, where someone or other says, “Life is a lot like a meal I once had at this old Chinese restaurant: it was the worst food I’ve ever eaten – and there wasn’t enough of it”!

I personally have not experienced an affair in my immediate ‘world’. To my knowledge my parents never cheated….(they were too busy controlling each other 🙂 )……. My brothers not a cheater type…..he couldn’t be bothered…..and I couldn’t have lived with my guilt and it never occured to me. I was so young when I met spath, he was all I knew….he was all I wanted. I remember one guy…ONE GUY my whole life flirted with me…..he was adorable etc….but I was married and HE was married…..it was not an option. This has been one of the hardest things for me to get out of……being the married person. I portrayed married everywhere…..mom everywhere….that was my identity and i guess in a way, it kept men away from me. I would go on cruises with my single gf’s and have a blast! Meet everyone…..hang loose…..dance, drink…..and NEVER EVER get close to a man in that way. Why….because I was the married one…
I told my gf when she asked me…..why is it YOU who meets everyone on the cruise ship…and i told her….because I”M MARRIED…I don’t care how people judge me, I’m not looking for a mate. I get dressed for myself, I do my hair for myself….I act for myself….I am me, and I have fun, I can talk to anyone because I have no agenda’s…that’s it!
Now i’m the single one…..I’d prefer to meet someone….BUT I STILL HAVE THAT DAMN LOYAL PERSONA!!!!!
I personally would never date a man I knew was married…..and I wouldn’t feel right dating someone who my gf had dated either. A man is not worth any hard feelings between gf’s. I have little respect for affairs…..and i’m not afraid to say so! If you got problems in your relationship…..stop walking the fence…..work on it….or walk! People who go from one to be rescued by another are not healthy minded people……THEY are just the ones who need to be alone for awhile and work on themselves to see why they need to be with another, and hide behind another and be compensated by another……
If your looking for lasting….it ain’t there!

I live in a weathy community and when one of the gazillionaires goes on the market…..it’s hillarious to see the women clamper for him. I work with these gazilionaires….and I’ll tell ya…..it takes way more than a house on the lake and all the ‘comforts’, jets, designer duds ……Thank you…I’ll pay my own way!
I want a normal, humble, authentic man who isn’t looking over his shoulder at who is with him and why…is it his money? The imbalance of money power is almost impossible to get through without pain.

I worked for a couple who divorced…..and she hooked up with a ‘commoner’……it was so weird to see her put him on payroll, buy him a fancy car, wardrobe, travel….and ‘retire’ him from his electonic apprentice position at 38 so she could include him in her lifestyle. So far it’s worked…..but she also made it pretty easy for him to make it work. His family all has new homes, college paid for, travel etc……he’d be lost now if he left….so now what? He’s stuck with her lifestyle. It wasn’t his to begin with……but he’s morphed.
I can’t cameleon……I’ve seen the other side. thanks again… I’ll pay my own way…..i’ll make it on my own. The benefit of that mentality is…..If I ever am fortunate to meet Mr. Right, then I won’t have to worry about being left high and dry and rebuilding once again…..only older!

I got off on a tangent there huh?

Thanks for the well wishes on the bloodwork….Cancer recurrance is always in the back of my mind! One of the tests is the ‘marker’ for that…..and I didn’t like the numbers going up! It was 5 years ago the day after Thanksgiving that I had my first stroke….and the shit hit the fan FAST after that….so the holidays are a reminder of how thankful I am to have my health this year.
Thanks for the well wishes Constantine!

Well I seem to be the only one saying this. And I am allowed my opinon same as all of you. As a relationship expert, life coach and therapist of many years I have seen a lot of women and some men who have been lied to and conned. But to decide to have a future with and invest a lot of time and money in a person you hardly know is daft and it is a case of more fool them. To be that quick to “fall in love” is not normal anyway. It reminds me of the people who go into McDonalds a lot and then blame them for putting on weight. Never let your heart rule your head.

Carmel,

I agree with you and think your point is not far from my own. Again, if we fail to hold other people accountable for this stuff, what right do we have to come here and say how awful our Ss and Ps are – when most of them have done nothing but act like this wife?

EB,

Yes, let’s hope you’re done with the damned cancer! My mother is just finishing up with her radiation therapy, by the way; and it looks like she’s made a 100% recovery from her breast cancer. Alas, I realize that she has to die at some point – probably before me – but it still gives me a lump in my throat to think of it. So let’s at least hope that that day is far far in the future for both of you!

It is so dangerous when judges, police and even psychologists and psychiatrists are fooled by lack of a true understanding of who and what is a sociopath. I have said for a long time now… these people in positions of authority who make decisions that directly influence the safety and well being of victims of sociopaths are greatly in need of education on the topic. Until that happens sociopaths will continue to learn how to fool people in authority and will enjoy practicing and honing this “talent” and “craft” unbeknownst to those in authority who would be insulted if education was suggested by a victim.

one/joy_step_at_a_time

Constantine,

I am sorry that the subject of infidelity is so close to your heart. 🙁

With all due respect, and i mean this sincerely, Paula didn’t get ‘burned’ and cry ‘victim’. She was conned by a spath who is a master con, who has be running variations of the same game for decades. You don’t know this spath and what she is capable of. There are parts of this story that I do not know, but I know it very well, having followed it for two years. As far as I can tell this was Paula’s only ‘affair’. Paula has never once failed to take responsibility for her own actions in this whole mess. But she chooses not to share details about her marriage – as being conned by JSJ is the important public issue.

Her friends did a classic ”intervention – and as we are always saying spaths are like a drug…well, it makes sense. At first I thought it was weird that they rode to her rescue – but I bet there are a bunch of us here who wish someone had done the same for us. By the time JSJ had installed herself in Paula’s home, she was sucked right in – her bf was dead, she was grieving, she thought JSJ was her dead bf’s best friend, who she was going to spend some time with.

Paula has been pursuing this through the courts for several years now. She knows how important it is to stop JSJ. And to that end she has put her own life and mistakes on display in a very public way. People have been exceedingly nasty to her – she has taken hit after hit after hit (and that’s only from the ones who AREN’T JSJ). She is not comfortable in the spotlight, not one bit. It has been very hard to air the details of her life and the con, but she is trying to stop a con. And in doing so she has saved the sanity of many people, have given others knowledge to understand what happened to them, has created a forum for sharing knowledge about JSJ, and has given people hope that JSJ can at least be slowed down now, because of her exposure on the internet.

and btW way, one of her friends didn’t think too highly of her at one point either: http://www.laweekly.com/2007-10-11/news/the-life-and-death-of-jesse-james/

Is this One Joy’s spath? Sure sounds exactly like her. I see both sides of the story, but a spath is a spath. If she is conning people on the internet, she will con them in real life, too. All spaths need to be shut down. The thing that makes this so creepy is the voice altering technology. This person makes an entire career out of conning people, and it’s just morally wrong. Just because it’s easy and people are gullible doesn’t make it okay.

I do know several married couples who met on the internet and started out with a long distance relationship. So it can happen. But I think most people have come to learn that they cannot always trust the intentions of a long distance contact. It’s unfortunate that we all have to be so cynical but we do. I belong to a few internet dating sites and routinely get messages from guys out of state. Usually the scams are easy to spot, and I spot them right away. But for the others, I take a non-negotiable stance that I don’t get involved with anyone I cannot meet in person, no matter how sincere they seem. To me, this is a waste of time. You just CAN’T know if a person is what they say they are unless you meet them in person and get to know them. And even THEN….

one/joy_step_at_a_time

((((EB sweetest, when you mentioned your T levels being off the other day, I could hear the anxiety underneath. All best wishes for an excellent outcome.)))))

I agree with the dissenting judge. With ANYTHING on the internet it’s caveat emptor. The cardinal rule of internet dating is “never send money to someone you’ve never met in person.”

aintgonnatakeitnomore

i dont where to post this.
my girls’ spath daddy is fighting me for custody now. he wants joint custody. they have a law guardian who gets to decide who they live with. do i have any rights in this or is it like a CPS investigation? i dont want the kids to talk to her w/o me there so i can interpret (later even) exactly wat a 4yo and 6yo said about daddy, or mommy for that matter. shes gonna ask do u want to live with daddy and theyre gonna say yes, meaning they want us ALL to live to together again and they just want to SEE him. its been april since they saw him. the girls miss him, esp the 4yo, and im really worried as no way are they going across the country for 6 months of the year. that i let him TALK to them is very generous of me. and i wud let him fly us out there if he wanted but he has no job or car for pete’s sake.
why the court is entertaining his contesting is beyond me.
🙁

Yah well, the women being duped was MARRIED! I have no sympathy for her, because of this. She was not honorable, so too bloody bad!

I am now one month into N.C. and I am FINALLY without all the heartache and drama. No Contact is the ONLY way to go.

one/joy_step_at_a_time

well folks this woman has been conning people for decades, both online and off, both married and unmarried – doesn’t change the fact that she is what she is and that she is a disgusting damaging nightmare.

one/joy_step_at_a_time

well put star. 😉

Although I am also offended by infidelity to a spouse, one has to remember that spaths have the uncanny ability to lure people into doing things they normally would never do.

There was a blogger here, who was straight and fell madly in love with a lesbian spath. I haven’t heard from her for a while and forget her name, but her story has stuck in my head. I’ve heard various other stories of straight people crossing that line with a spath.

My own spath conned a preacher into doing illegal things, right before he killed him. And he could talk anyone into doing anything. I remember one conversation where he was telling me how he convinced a millionaire to go buy another helicopter – because he wanted the first one for himself and that was/is going to be part two of the con.

Spaths work these cons very slowly, like boiling a frog. Before you know it, you’re in hot water and you never even noticed the temperature rising.

The way they do this is by convincing us that they are very, very special, different and unique. They aren’t like other people and you will never meet anyone like them ever again. Ironically that is how they appear even though all spaths are exactly alike!!

Once they have convinced us of their special status, all the rules which once applied to you, them and society, no longer apply in this situation. This is a special situation and you’d be a fool to mess it up by not being flexible enough to bend your rules for this person and situation.

When you are with this person you experience that feeling of being “in the zone” at all times – except when they are abusing you. Even then, life is more intense because your emotions are being extracted from you the way a spider sucks the life out of it’s victim.

Like I said, I despise infidelity, but I can see how a spath turns your world upside down and you do things you would never do.

One/Joy..
You posted a good note on this. Thanks for the link. ( 2007 blog)
This line made me tear up:
“I pointed out that when someone’s being raped and this was, indeed, emotional rape you don’t ask them if they’d like you to pull the rapist off. You make that decision for them and face the consequences later.”

wow- I wish we had more friends like that in life.

After spending years learning about my Asperger spouse, and reading/writing on a forum, ( Delphi Aspartners), it was this site that gave me the strength to walk away.

I bet the woman in this story: Paula B. – her spouse has Asp. nice guys but: we are starved for love and empathy. Aspi folks can’t provide that.
I do not blame her for easily emotionally falling for someone else.
___
This story is very similar. Catfish
the guilty woman was psychotic.

movie: Catfish.http://www.imdb.com/video/imdb/vi769787417
made in 2010

ABC 20/20 episode on it. 20/20http://abc.go.com/watch/2020/SH559026/VD5590996/catfish-a-cyber-romance

aintgonnatakeitnomore,

I don’t know if they will let you be present to “interpret” what your kids say, I doubt it. I know there is “no telling” what a 4 or 6 year old will say. I know it must be very anxiety provoking to you to go back for this custody mess.

I suggest that you go to dr. Liane Leedom’s site, “Parenting the at risk child” and read and learn all you can about raising your child and dealing with the P parent. God bless (((hugs)))

Constantine,

I agree with your posts above…it is not unusual for TWO psychopaths to hook up and the loser cries “foul! I’m a victim”—every one of us here knows how the psychopath went into the SMEAR CAMPAIGN and told the world how WE MISTREATED THEM! LOL

In many cases, especially of SERIAL INFIDELITY, the person who is cheating and then gets dumped and then cries “foul, I’m a victim” is actually just a psychopath doing a smear campaign against their CO-psychopath who “got the drop on them” rather than the other way round….but I agree that sometimes when otherwise moral people are unhappy (especially) in a dead end loveless marriage they are “prime meat” for a psychopath.

I also think that with it being an ON-LINE rather than face to face meeting and relationship they could slip into the “relationship” more easily where in real life they wouldn’t actually “go out with” someone to a dinner or a motel, and a FANTASY relationship can sneak up on someone and they become invested in it.

There are many many con artists out in cyber-land who do the love relation-shit to con money from people, and the news is full of people who have spent tens and even hundreds of thousands of dollars to these con artists professing love.

I imagine that the ones the news reports are like sexual victims, only a SMALL PERCENTAGE of them are ever reported because people are TOO ASHAMED to report them.

Paula has basketball sized cajones to report this and to pursue legal action against this woman….especially given the circumstances of putting HERSELF UP FOR PUBLIC RIDICULE.

Yea, her hands were not completely clean either, (she was still married at the time this began) and that is what the psychopaths use to keep us quiet because they know if we expose them, we expose ourselves. It is a form of emotional black mail.

Very few of us (victims) have nothing in our lives that we should feel ashamed of, or that we wish we had never done, or that is a 180 degree turn from our “normal” moral compass’s direction. We are none of us “without sin” in our lives, but at the same time, there is a big difference in a normal person’s life and their deeds than in a psychopath’s. The psychopath has a clear PATTERN of lies, deceit, abuse, and immoral and/or illegal activities in their lives. A normal person has an instance here or there that they regret and repent of, but the psychopath doesn’t regret or repent, they “excuse” or “blame place” or “project” the blame on to someone else.

one/joy thanks for the link to the article written by one of Paula’s friends. It clarifies the situation more.

I do not condone infidelity. I’ve never betrayed a relationship, and I always refused to date or havy intimate contact with a man who I knew to be involved, even if the relationship was ending. I and my first-long-term bf each confessed to each other we were infatuated with someone else, and neither of us acted on the infatuation (aside from confessing the existence of such feelings to each other). He wondered whether to tell the woman, which I said would feel like betrayal to me, and he didn’t tell her. I proposed to otherwise be separated for a couple of months as a trial, which he begged me not to do. And that was about it. We never spoke about it anymore and tried our best for the relationship, until a year later he ended it.

I was once attracted thoroughly to a man I knew to be in a relationship that acording to him was near its end. He was attracted to me as well. Nothing happened, and I avoided any intense conversations with him, until his relationship was ended. Once that had happened, we had a liaison.

And I’ve had uncommitted relationships as well, where the guy told me he was not ready for anything serious. I always made very clear in such a case that I would be as uncommitted. I must say it unnerved some of them when they realized I was not just ‘saying’ that.

But with the friend’s story about Paula and the comments by Skylar, I cannot think ill of her decision to pursue this lie. It seems to me (the blog, the friends) that Paula did not deceive her husband.

what I do think though is that Paula’s shock of learning that Jesse was a total fictuous person is not much different from our shocks when we learned that the (wo)man we loved was as fictuous. Yes, they had a birth certificate and id papers fitting the name and gender, but their personna was a big a lie.

The actions by the perpetrator in this story are especially horrific. But, knowing about the characteristics of s/p, it shouldn’t be surprising to me. This lady went one step further in her actions. Instead of simply being a shxthead to her victim, she took extraordinary action to cause grave emotional, psychological harm. Here were two women who met on a chat room. The female perp lured her female victim in by creating a storybook scenario for her. The target fell for it hook, line, and sinker. As the majority of us would, I suspect. Never in anyone’s wildest dreams would something like this happen. It takes the s/p scenario to a whole new level. Once again, this story makes a statement about why we need this website. The playing field of life keeps changing drastically in our new millennium. Maybe what all the religious doomsday folks are talking about is this”We don’t need nuclear energy to annihilate mankind, all it takes is man going toe-to-toe with man.

Before I go further, I recently read somewhere that online relationships are a total no-no. There may have been a blog on Donna’s website about it, not sure. This sure seems to fit.

What chills me the most is the way in which the perp kept stringing her victim along. Then she actually accompanied her grieving target to Colorado. With the chilling detachment of an s/p, she voyeuristically observed her target’s emotions as her grieving played out. Enjoying it immensely, it’s certain. I think this part alone would send a target off the deep end once they learned the entire truth. My heart goes out to this wonderful and giving lady who trustingly immersed her heart and soul into a relationship only to find that she was nothing more than “entertainment catnip” for someone she thought she knew and even trusted as a friend.

For the majority of us, nothing we could have ever learned from our parents and grandparents, from church and Sunday school, or just from living a protected life in the innocent world of children, would have ever prepared us for a monster like this.

The quality that unnerves me the most about the s/p is the way they are able to be detached from the interpersonal, trusting nature of relationships. They are the predator and we are the prey. To them, we are like the amoeba in a petrie dish. They poke us each time and go “h-m-m-m”…look at that. No empathy, no conscience, and no way to humanly connect to our thoughts and feelings. Then they poke us some more until we bear no resemblence to our original properties as a fully functioning human being. They are no longer interested in us because our inner light has been snuffed out”by them, we might add. We become angry, suspicious, and retaliatory. The human ability to desire and seek out genuinely intimate trust in relationships isn’t in their DNA. What brings us satisfaction and well being doesn’t exist in them. They play with us like a cat with a mouse. And lick their chops for more.

Whoa! how did I miss that the target was married?

darwin’s mom

QUOTE YOU “Yes, they had a birth certificate and id papers fitting the name and gender, but their personna was a big a lie.

GOOD POINT!

AINTGOONATAKEITNOMORE ~

So sorry you are going through a custody battle. Most likely the law guardian will just make a recommendation to the court. She probably will want to talk to the girls alone, but she should understand what 6 and 4 year olds might come up with and will know how to question them properly. I highly doubt that she will outright ask them (at that age) who they want to live with. Again, at that age the court does not pay attention to what the children want, but rather what is BEST for them. She probably will be more interested in how you are able to take care of them.

I hope this helps a little. Stay calm and answer questions honestly. Do not “coach” your girls on what they should say, that can backfire on you. Good luck.

one/joy_step_at_a_time

Hi All,
I have had the conversation about online meetings on lf many many times, and although i would still defend anyone’s right to be online (as we are HERE) and form relationships, I also warn people away from believing what they learn online – esp on dating sites. I volunteer to read the bios of potential dates for a couple of people I know who use them.

We are in the internet age, and the being online is quite ordinary for most – not necessarily safe or satisfying, but we are here, nonetheless. Paula met Janna on a forum – not unlike this one in many ways. Yes, she was married – many of JSJ’s targets are. Was her relationship over. I think so. Is infidelity okay? No. But I agree with what Sky has so eloquently stated.

online, offline – doesn’t matter – spath is spath, and they are darned good at slinging the lie. Paula’s choice as a married person to get involved with someone as compelling as JSJ in full lie in no way subtracts from my empathy for her. We can all be stupid or immoral, but that does not mean that we ever deserve what spaths do to us.

The heart of this article is how we are not protected by law, and if Paula succeeds (her lawyer specializes in internet law), she may well change the legal understanding of these situations.

one/joy_step_at_a_time

Well put darwinsmom and Emi!

Sky, EB,

I too think infidelity is SO VERY WRONG. Three is a crowd. You can never get true intimacy when someone else is standing in the way of authentic emotional connection which yes, an spath is not capable of. I think even cyber cheating is not ok. It’s just dipping a toe in the water and getting ready for what might come someone’s way. My spath was having a huge long term affair (at least 5 years that I have finally figured out), but even during that time he was cybercheating with an old high school gf. The emails I saw were very flirtatious, complementary and oozing with how great you are doing in life. Spath tried to say “we were just catching up on life.” It was such a lie. The emails I read could be interpreted by any simple mind as… I would jump your bones immediately if we were having this discussion in person.

EB, I like your tangent. I too live in a wealthy community and your saying, “when a man comes on the market” made me smile.. so true.

I think once a cheater always a cheater.
Is it also once an spath, always a spath?

Nocontactrules

Congrats on hitting one month of no contact. Im glad you’re feeling better.

I am at two months. My spath just sent me two messages in recent days. I thought I put up all necessary barriers but I missed one. The two messages have me in a tailspin. I’ve come so close to reaching out to him. I am so glad I can go talk to my therapist tonight and sort through this.

I think my addiction is still there.
I loved him. So when he reaches out, im assuming he feels that emotion towards me.
its so foreign to me to get it in my head that he does not not not.
nothing has changed.

Ugh. Why is it so damn hard.

Athena

Athena
It’s hard b/c we have empathy. We believe others to have the same emotions we do, that others feel sad when bad things happen, happy when good things happen, do not feel angry when the other has not transgressed, a smile does not mean I hate you you B*….
BLEW me away and hurt so bad when I saw an email my husband wrote to someone else. He portrayed himself married to a desperate clutching demanding bossy B* who would not let him go. His email to me on the same day said He “felt connected to me and only me”, that I was “the best thing that ever happened to him”. That explained why people were so angry at me and telling me to let go and move on. I’d thought how rude of them to stop me on the street and presume to get into my marriage. It never occurred to me that my husband had BROUGHT them into our marriage. I thought such things were private. I thought wrong.

Athena, I don’t think it’s an addiction either. THEY can shut off the feelings. I can’t shut off my love and life of 20 years like it never happened. I didn’t invest just a little of myself in my marriage, I put my all into it. Stopping my desire for the man and the life that I was promised was a lengthy sweaty HARD process of closing the valve and then letting the well run dry.

EB, I know of several guys who “WERE coming on the market” because their wives had been diagnosed with TERMINAL CANCER, and the “eligible” women started coming over BEFORE THE WIFE WAS DEAD….yea, really! Pretending of course to be coming to “help out” the wife, bringing a food dish etc.

NO CONTACT RULES—congratulations from me as well. That’s a big mile post! Keep on keeping on! Each day “out” of the FOG is one step closer to sanity!

Ewww. The vultures gathered. Yes, I’ve seen “best friends’ end up divorcing their husbands and marrying the widower. Guess they felt SOOOOooo badly for him as he struggled with losing his wife. What good women they are to sacrifice their marriage to comfort and marry their best friends surviving spouse. GMWAS.

SKYLAR from 10:26am
That’s what spaths do, don’t they. They separate you from your humanity to yourself, to others. I said when I was living with my husband, that I lost myself. I tried so many things to please him, b/c when he was NOT an A*, and there were times when he stopped at least to my face, those times were of peace and LIVABLE. But they never lasted b/c he LOVED drama. He had to instigate pain. After I left and a couple of years into recovery, I was (still am) rediscovering parts of me that I FORGOT I had. For me, I knew I was going to be okay when I regained my humanity, my ability to stop seeing ONLY my pain and to once again see others in their humanity.

A few final thoughts for those who responded to my posts:

First, I do think there is a subtle gender bias at work here. (And before anyone jumps on me, remember that I’m the guy who has defended this site numerous times against foolish charges of “man bashing” etc.) To put it mildly, I believe that if a man came to this site and said, “I have been having a two year affair with a charismatic Internet femme fatale woman and I just got dumped. It’s terrible, and now I want to sue her,” etc. etc. Well, if that were the case, I honestly believe that 498 out of 500 women would tell him that he was a spineless putz and that he got what he deserved!

I agree with One Joy that this Janna needs to be taken down. But if the wife wins her suit, I think the husband should have an equal right to sue the wife! After all, she perpetrated the same fraud on him that Janna pulled on her. And with all due respect to Dana, having a spouse with Asperger’s doesn’t give one the right to betray them or be unfaithful. If the marriage isn’t working, that’s what divorce court is for! To even bring up Aspergers is just a not so subtle way of making excuses for behavior that shouldn’t be excused. Indeed, if it’s okay – or at least kind of/sort of okay – to cheat on someone with Aspergers, what about a spouse who becomes a quadriplegic during the course of the marriage?

For the record, I consider myself staunchly “pro woman” and “female-ist.” Which is why I think we need to be careful of infantalizing women in these situations, and treating them like they are nothing but weak and passive vessels, lacking the dignity of personal choice or moral autonomy. Indeed, if anyone has the slightest doubt that MEN are taken to task for PRECISELY this same kind of infidelity and deceptive behavior, then just spend a few thousand hours reading the archives here at LF! As a cautious estimate, I would say that perhaps seventy percent of the women here are here because the man in their life simply did what this woman did to HER husband!

Another way of putting it is that making too many excuses for this lady just ends up trivializing the devastation of a vast number of posters here. Because, after all, if it’s okay for her, it’s okay for ALL of them!

Forgive me if any of this sounds intemperate. I won’t write any more on this subject, because I fear that my personal experiences make me incapable of seeing the other side here – if indeed there actually is another side.

Katy,
When I left, I realized that he was peter pan and I was wendy and we had been living in never neverland He separated me from not just humanity, but also REALITY.

Captain Hook was always waiting around the corner, tinkerbell was living down the street. And “Jerry’s Kids” were the lost boys. Everyday was an “adventure”. It’s no wonder my adrenals were exhausted and I became hypothyroid.

As it turns out the author of Peter Pan was probably a spath.
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/donotmigrate/3556421/How-bad-was-J.M.-Barrie.html

Who else would write about a boy who never grew up? A spath.

EDIT:
BTW, the original title for peter pan was, “the boy who hated mothers.”

Reminds me of the original title for “the girl with the dragon tatoo”, it was originally titled, “men who hate women”

boys who hate mothers eventually are forced to grow up and become men who hate women… makes sense.

Katydid. Yes, I loved. He manipulated. That’s the difference. Thanks for the encouragement.

Hi Folks,
I have a friend who’s wife got involved in an online relationship. They live in Rio, Brazil. It broke up their relationship, they had to sell their house, and guess what? He never “materialized”

By the way, he is in his 80’s. Now they are divorced and he’s moved back to England. What a shame. It just goes to show you: it never ends….

Skylar
When I was living with my husband I knew something was wrong, I just couldn’t put my finger on it. One of the books I read was The Peter Pan Syndrome b/c my spath did so many childish things. He responded to challenges childishly, he was childish when we had sex (pinch my chest and said Moo. walk in from barn and use my breasts to warm his icy hands. tickle me to the point of anger to get him to stop…) Avoided responsibility. Blamed EVERYONE or everything else but himself. Yep Peter Pan. And Peter Peter Pumpkin eater. Had a wife and kept her in a pumpkin shell. And there he kept her, not very well at all.

Athena
You got it. Write it down on a piece of paper. Tape it to the bathroom mirror. Or wherever it applies. When you get the urge to contact him, read and remind yourself what the REALITY is. Then find something caring to do for yourself, even if it’s just rubbing lotion on, soft soothing scent. Nurturing Touch, even if done yourself actually helps.

Constantine,

One of the things I think is great about LF is that the few men who are on here are GREAT guys—gay or straight, they are intelligent and have great insight! None are sexist and all have GOOD SENSE!

You mentioning about a spouse becoming a quad made me take notice of your “reasons” for divorcing a person. Funny thing, in the 5 years I worked in head and spinal cord rehab, I NEVER saw a husband that stayed with a wife who was severely injured, either head or spinal cord. I saw MOST wives stay with their spouse who was injured, but NEVER a husband that stayed with his wife as a caregiver. I will say though that the financial considerations of making a living, and taking care of the kids, plus a wife that needed 24/7 hands-on care would be quiet a load for someone to carry.

I also saw many husbands and wives that split up when the added stress of a quad child was added to the probably already shaky marriage….

One of my great uncles as I was growing up was a quad from WWII and I grew up comfortable around disabled people. I know disabled people, even quads, who live fulfilling and good lives and have good marriages. In fact, one of the duties I had in my professional capacity was sex education for the disabled– in how to have a satisfying sexual life even when paralyzed from the neck down.

Paula’s reason for divorce seems to be that her husband was unable to meet HER NEEDS for affection because of a condition he had before she married him. People on the Autistic spectrum have a decreased capacity for empathy, but I doubt that his capacity for empathy (or lack of it) changed after the marriage, but did become more apparent to her, and she was lured into the fantasy cyber-relationship with the psychopath.

I think that her own “neediness” made her more vulnerable to the psychopath’s HOOK, just as my own neediness after my husband’s death made me “prime candidate” for the con game of the Psychopath looking for another “respectable” wife. If I had not been so needy I probably wouldn’t have given him a second thought after finding out his history of a life long pattern of cheating.

Paula got burned very badly, and I agree that the person who burned her is likely a psychopath and has done this to others besides Paula. I’m not sure that the legal venue is the proper venue to give Paula “justice” however, and I really don’t think that her law suit will prevail, and even if it does…where will the money come from to pay this judgment off? Chances are that St. James doesn’t have a financial “pot or a window to throw it out of.”

Even if she gets a judgment against her, I don’t see St. James stopping her preying on others with lies.

Constantine, im glad you are here, and I agree w your point of view.

Callmeathena,

Thank you – that’s very nice of you to say.

Constantine,
somehow I had missed your post.

You are right, of course, that infidelity is so wrong, for SO MANY REASONS.

A sociopath (male or female) can con a married man or married woman into an affair and I would have sympathy for both, the adulterer and his/her spouse.

Remember, none of us is here because our spath had ONE affair – that would be a forgivable(?) human frailty. We are ALL here because our spath had multiple sexual affairs -except for OneJoy and Paula, their spath has multiple personalities.

You know exactly what I mean because your spath shocked you with that same outrageous and audacious behavior. Spaths don’t just have an extra marital affair. They have NO LIMITS, they’ll screw anything that moves, while professing their undying love for you and doing anything they can to undermine your life. Every aspect of their personality is a lie.

Like I said, I’ve always hated infidelity but what spaths do is not infidelity. It’s a ground-shaking betrayal that destroys your faith in humanity and yourself. And I have sympathy for anyone caught in that kind of earthquake.

One of the reasons that I hate infidelity is because it is a human weakness that spaths will hide behind. When they get caught in one affair, they will pretend to have been “weak” and we forgive them while unbeknownst to us, they are screwing men, women, dogs, sheep and cows. Everytime we sin, we provide a cover for their evil.

I think there is something we can learn from this. Spaths – and ESPECIALLY online spaths – prey on the lonely. We need to find healthier ways to meet our intimacy needs so we are not vulnerable to these scam artists. It’s not enough to just avoid having long distance relationships. We live in a global world now, and many of us have many wonderful internet friendships. And there are some long distance relationships that do work out. There are two women in my office who met their husbands on Match.com and another who met hers in a chat room. Their guys are really great people, and they are not spaths. So I think it’s not just that you can’t trust anyone on the internet. I think that’s the easy way out.

Star,
trust but verify. And carry a big stick.

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