When I first met my ex-husband, James Montgomery, whom I now believe is a sociopath, he treated me like gold.
His attentiveness started with our initial e-mail correspondence. Yes, we met via the Internet, but he lived nearby—I wasn’t worried about the pitfalls of a long-distance relationship. During our three weeks of preliminary correspondence—his notes were clever and well-written—he made it clear that he was interested in me.
When we did meet, Montgomery was attentive, charming and entertaining. He asked questions and listened to my answers. He was quick to pay me compliments. Yes, he talked about himself a lot, but he was intelligent and intriguing, so I didn’t mind—I felt like I was getting to know him.
Significantly, when Montgomery said he would call me, he did. Now, before I met him, I spent a lot of years in the dating game. Many, many times, I heard, “I’ll call you,” and then the person who said the words fell off the planet. So a man who followed through with this basic courtesy—well, that scored some points.
Trying to impress me
So, in the beginning of our encounter—I don’t want to call it a relationship—he did everything a man who was trying to impress a woman would do. He wore a sport coat when he took me out to dinner. He brought me little gifts. I interpreted these gestures as signs of his budding affection.
Many Lovefraud readers—both women and men—have told me similar stories about the beginning of their encounters with sociopaths. “He asked me how he could make my dreams come true,” said one woman. “She would do anything for me—nothing was too much trouble,” said a man.
That’s how they get us hooked.
Excellent social skills
Had my ex-husband behaved like a jerk in the beginning—stood me up, acted out in public, flirted with other women in front of me—I would have dumped him. He did none of those things. While he was reeling me in, he was a perfect gentleman.
Of course, I now know that he was on a mission to find a supply, and was simultaneously treating several other women exactly the same way. Apparently, I was the first to bite. He proposed; I accepted. Yes, it was far too soon—but I’d heard all those fairy tales about love at first sight. Why couldn’t it happen to me? I didn’t realize that all his expressions of affection were empty lies.
It would certainly be easier to spot sociopaths if they always acted like jerks. Unfortunately, they don’t, at least in the beginning. Many of them have excellent social skills. But eventually their true, disordered personalities are revealed—they are despicable con artists, out to take what they want, even if it destroys us.
Take your time and pay attention
We can’t allow ourselves to be blinded by Prince or Princess Charming. Under all the sweet nothings, there may truly be nothing, only a hollow shell of a human being. A sociopath.
So what can we do? When meeting someone new, be aware, and take your time. Ask questions. Go slow. Pay attention to inconsistencies. If your instincts tell you something is wrong, listen.