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Love fraud: A spectrum (Part 1)

The recent post on marital misconduct, and the many letters I have received from Lovefraud readers, have caused me to conclude that love fraud is a spectrum. Because love fraud is a spectrum, there is some confusion about it. To clear up the confusion, this week I will describe the range of motives for this fraudulent behavior. Remember that one of the most important biologic/social functions of love relationships is to produce and raise children. In my opinion, love fraud that involves children is the most serious. These children did not ask to be born and are at the mercy of the adults responsible for bringing them into the world. Next week we will discuss the implications of the spectrum of love fraud for children.

Love fraud perpetrated by predators

Perhaps the most serious form of love fraud occurs when a person who is certainly a psychopath or sociopath enters into a relationship with the sole intent of exploitation and predation. I believe I was a victim of this type of fraud. There are many other examples of men and women who have been victims of this most severe love fraud; their stories may be found on this web site’s True Lovefraud Stories.

Donna speaks primarily of this type of love fraud: Being the victim of a scam is embarrassing. Humiliating. Victims keep asking themselves, “How could I have been so stupid? Why didn’t I see it coming?” The last thing they want to do is tell other people how they participated in being duped—even though it’s not their fault.

Unfortunately, the type of person who uses the love bond as a lure to attract his/her prey does not care if children are produced in the relationship. In fact, these predators often use the children to further their own purposes. Sociopaths typically have many children with several different partners. When I first realized I had been the victim of a sociopath, I spoke with Anne McGuire from Fraud Aid (this was 2003, before Donna Andersen put up this site). I asked her, “How many women do you know who have had children with con artists?” She said, “The con artist doesn’t care about whether he fathers children. In fact, the more the merrier… then he can use them as pawns!” With that I discovered I was not alone.

Love fraud perpetrated by parasites

As tragic as the True Lovefraud Stories are, they do not represent a very large percentage of the total cases of what I would consider to be love fraud. The next level of severity of love fraud happens when sociopaths and narcissists seek relationships because they want to be in a relationship. These individuals get married or form partnerships for reasons other than pure predation. They may want to use the relationship as cover to appear normal to the world. They may also dislike being alone. It is very important to understand that although psychopaths, sociopaths and narcissists do not enjoy affection, they are very social. They do not enjoy being alone. Thus, these people can be predators as above, or they can be parasites.

The difference between a predator and a parasite is that the parasite does not seek to destroy his/her host. The parasite just wants to suck energy from the host. The parasitic form of love fraud is very common. Prior to becoming a victim myself, I had not known of the predatory type of love fraud. But I saw many cases of parasitic love fraud in my practice.

Victims of parasitic love fraud are often more confused about their victimization and about the perpetrator than are victims of predatory love fraud. The motives of the perpetrator are less obvious in parasitic love fraud.

The parasitic love fraud perpetrator often sees children as competition for the energy of the host. These people often leave the relationship once children are conceived. They may also have abortions themselves, or pressure their partners into having an abortion.

The cheaters

The next most common form of love fraud is perpetrated by persons with narcissistic and antisocial personality traits but not the full disorder. These individuals are capable of a modicum of what might be considered “love.” They enjoy affection some, but have such poor impulse control and moral sense that they are not capable of a monogamous relationship. These are the chronic cheaters.

With the availability of divorce and alternatives to marriage, those that repeatedly cheat are also fraudulent lovers. The motivation to cheat rather than leave has to do with power and control in a relationship. The cheater wants to own his victims. The difference between a cheater and a parasite is that the cheater contributes substantially to the relationship. He/she may share the work of the home and is gainfully employed.

This last form of love fraud is perhaps the most difficult to process. The victim correctly perceives some degree of affection in the relationship. There are also social pressures on these victims. Well meaning friends and relatives may say, “At least he brings home the bacon and sleeps with you every night!” In my experience, most people are looking for real intimacy and fidelity in a partner in addition to sharing a home and finances. The cheater leaves his/her victim feeling inadequate, lonely and empty.

Chronic cheaters are also very problematic when it comes to children. People who repeatedly cheat are not capable of putting a spouse’s well-being above their own. They also are often incapable of the sacrifices required to parent. Cheaters are, however, interested in children as possessions, just as they are interested in lovers as possessions. Again, “The more, the merrier!” may be the philosophy when it comes to children.

The adulterers

Adulterers are people who cheat because they are no longer “in love” with a partner and/or are not getting needs met, but they feel an obligation to stay in the marriage. Adulterers technically also commit love fraud because they do not live up to promises made. Typically, though, these spouses do not repeatedly cheat with multiple partners. An adulterer may form a bond with one other partner and leave the marriage once the responsibilities of child care are over or lessened. As a whole, this group is capable of loving relationships but made a mistake in choosing a partner, and they were unable/unwilling to correct the mistake through divorce.

Adulterers are generally adequate parents because they have ability to love. However, when children find out about infidelity they often harbor feelings of anger toward the perpetrator. Adulterers typically try to support the aggrieved spouse emotionally and financially because they feel guilty over their behavior.

The Inner Triangle

When interpreting the behavior of others within all love relationships it is very useful to consider the Inner Triangle. The Inner Triangle is Ability to Love, Impulse Control and Moral Reasoning. Psychopaths and sociopaths are people who have no ability to love, poor impulse control and no moral values. These people can only be predators and parasites in ALL of their relationships. Narcissists also lack ability to love, but have an understanding of morality and impulse control. Narcissists can be parasites or cheaters.

Many other people have problems with the Inner Triangle that do not rise to the level of disorder. These people can be cheaters and adulterers in one relationship and function well in another relationship they are better suited to.

The children are the victims

In any case, defects in the Inner Triangle impair a person’s ability to parent. This is discussed in detail in my book, Just Like His Father? Next week I will address predators, parasites, cheaters and adulterers in the context of child care and custody.



81 Comments on "Love fraud: A spectrum (Part 1)"

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  1. justabouthealed says:

    I meant BTK. 🙂



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  2. Stargazer says:

    Greentrees,
    If I may recommend some reading for you, a really good book I’m reading is “How to Spot a Dangerous Man before you date him.” It describes various types of personality disorders and how to spot them. You may recognize your man in one of the chapters. When I read the section on emotional predators, my jaw dropped; I could have written the chapter myself.



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  3. Stargazer says:

    Another thought, Greentrees, it sounds like at very least, if you are both caught up in hurting each other, a time out is necessary to detoxify from a toxic situation. You may find out that the time out needs to be a permanent thing.



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  4. Healing Heart says:

    Greentrees – it sounds like you are in the very early stages of learning about these guys – and sorting out whether or not your partner is one of them. It can be overwhelming and even frightening. I read this blog, and other sites, for months before stepping into the mix. I’d read, read, read, – and then stay away for awhile because it was somehow “too much.” I had to very gradually learn about Sociopaths, and its been a gradual process of admitting to myself what I was a part of, how bad it was, and how much pain it caused me. And is still causing me. This community helps.

    Take care of yourself. I love SG’s advice about the time out. Take it. Maybe it will become a permanent thing, maybe not, but I think it will be very helpful to take it.



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  5. Laura19 says:

    I am wondering, is it possible for these categories to overlap?? My ex is definitely a cheater, but I think he is also a parasite. I think he was somewhat of a parasite with me–he was happy to have me pay for many things we did together–and I think he definitely was a parasite with the woman he was still married to when he met me. He never told me about any other exes (although of course there were many, more than I know about, I’m sure); he focused all of his anger and nastiness on her. I’m pretty sure she’s rich. He seemed to have a lot of rage toward her. I think he wanted to keep sucking what he could out of her, but she finally rejected him. I am glad to be reading these older articles. It is helping me realize that, even though I can’t know for SURE if my ex is a spath, I am seeing enough signs to know that he is quite evil no matter what he’s called! It doesn’t take away the pain, though. But I’ll keep reading…



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  6. Ox Drover says:

    Laura, yes the symptoms each displays can over lap, and they can also be bi-polar (manic depressive is the old term for this) ADHD and or just depressed…they can be more or less narcissistic as well. More or less violent etc. So there is a range of all of these different things.

    It does not matter if he is a “spath” or not, he is DISHONEST AND IRRESPONSIBLE and that is ALL you need to know to get him OUT OF YOUR LIFE AND KEEP HIM OUT OF YOUR LIFE. NO CONTACT.



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  7. Laura19 says:

    Thanks, Ox Drover! And no worries. I will maintain no contact no matter what. Really. I didn’t know what a liar and cheater he was until AFTER we had broken up, although he still tried to keep me hanging on to him with the fake depression crap. But now that I know the truth, I won’t give him the time of day, even if he decides to love bomb me from morning until night. I am just the type of person who wants to really understand everything that happens in my life, so I find myself looking for answers, trying to get a complete picture of what our “relationship” really was. Like everyone says, this is NOT like a normal break up. Sigh.



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  8. blossom4th says:

    It is indeed confusing to read the ‘spectrum’ of disorders.It’s easy for me to determine that my husband is of the parasitic variety.And he’s definitely narcissic!

    I really believe he only wanted a family so that he could “show off” what he was able to do!He did help out with them,when they were infants.Beyond that,he lost interest.I was supposed to be a baby-making machine….but I put a stop to that after our 3rd daughter.I would have loved to keep trying for a son,but my conscience bothered me as we couldn’t afford it,and neither could my health take it!I hemorraged with each delivery;nearly dying with the last!He promised to get a vascectomy;went for the consult and surgery date was set…..but he refused to go!That was it!I told him I was getting a tubal!He went with me for the consult;surgery date was set.He tried to stop me that morning…but I threw a hissy fit and he knew I wouldn’t shut up unless he took me!



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  9. Daisy says:

    I’m with you guys on the confused.

    My X was definitely in the parasitic group and it did not seem to bother him one bit. There were times I was embarrassed for him. He never asked me for money but he would hint at the fact that he didn’t have money for such and such things like groceries. Because of his job we had to have a long distance relationship at times and I would send him care packages with food, never money and gift cards to restaurants in the area so I knew he was able to have food to eat. It still breaks my heart thinking of that but then I have to remind myself it was only an act!

    He was also in the lying group. I knew he was lying to me about things but I wanted to believe him so much. I even convinced myself it was just me and my trust issues that caused me to not trust what he said. And you know what they say ..if someone is lying to you they think you’re doing the same thing. He never did that with anything. He was a liar and a cheat and never once accused me of either of those things. Any time I ever voiced a doubt about something he said or an incident that was suspicious he never reacted in a defensive manner. He totally threw me off by not acting in that way so once again I thought it was my trust issues, that he was not lying or cheating. Which he was.

    He also has the narcissistic thing going on too. Thinks all women can’t resist him. When I found out about one of his indiscretions he claimed it was all her. She was the one that initiated it. He even up and quit his job one day over something stupid and then gloated that they’d be calling him back. Ha..they never did.

    He stole too. Things from where he worked. I know, for a fact, that he is deceiving his current employer right now in order to get additional benefits. I know he drug out getting divorced so that he would not be ordered to pay child support.

    I see all this stuff I’m writing and I ask myself what I ever saw in him. I think I thought it was true love since I loved him even with all this crap.

    These kind of men are so destructive.



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