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After the sociopath, learning to trust again

A Lovefraud reader posted the following comment awhile back:

I just have one question for everyone here. Does anyone trust people after these sick people did what they did to us? Unfortunately for me … I have run across a few of these sickos but NONE like my ex. Whoever I meet now I’m thinking to myself, who is this person really? Do they have a secret life like the Scott Petersons and Ted Bundys of this world? I don’t let my children out of my sight and I’m already training my kids and they all know the signs of a sociopath especially my girls. I feel like I’m in a prison sometimes in my mind as I try so hard but just can’t trust anyone.

Yes, it is possible to trust again. Remember, sociopaths account for 1% to 4% of the population, depending on how the personality disorder is defined. Let’s bump the number of disordered people up to 10% to account for those who have sociopathic traits, but maybe not the full disorder.

That still means that 90% of the population are not sociopaths, and may be deserving of our trust.

So how can we feel trust again? How do we determine whom to trust? I think there are four components to being able to feel trust, and deciding who deserves to be trusted.

1. Educate ourselves

One of the statements I’ve heard over and over again, through e-mails and phone calls from victims, is this: “I didn’t know such evil existed.” Well, now we know.

We’ve all learned, mostly the hard way, about sociopaths. Now that we know they exist, we need to educate ourselves about the warning signs, the patterns of behavior that may indicate someone is disordered. Lies, irresponsibility, vague answers to questions, no long-term friends, new in town, magnetic charm, lavish flattery, statements that don’t add up, flashes of violence—if we start seeing the signs, we need to put up our guard.

2. Believe our own instincts

Just about everyone who was victimized by a sociopath had early warning signs—a gut feeling that something wasn’t right, an instinctive revulsion, questions about what was seen or heard. Unfortunately, we ignored the signals.

We didn’t believe the signals for three reasons:

  • We didn’t have the empirical knowledge that evil exists (see above), so we didn’t know how interpret them.
  • We viewed ourselves as open-minded individuals, and believed that everyone deserves the benefit of the doubt.
  • We allowed the sociopath to explain away our questions and doubts.

Never again. We should never doubt our instincts. In fact, we should train ourselves to pay attention to our instincts. Our intuition is absolutely the best tool we have for steering clear of sociopaths.

3. Make people earn our trust

I had a blind spot. I am a forthright, trustworthy person. I would never think of lying to someone. Unfortunately, I thought everyone else was like me. Big mistake. My younger brother’s life philosophy is probably more useful. His rule of thumb: “Everyone is an a**hole until proven otherwise.”

The point is that we should not give our trust away indiscriminately. People must earn our trust by consistent, reliable and truthful behavior.

Important caveat: Sociopaths often appear to be trustworthy, dependable and honest in the beginning, while they’re trying to hook us. So if the good behavior slips, and bad behavior starts to appear, we must recognize the change as a big red flag.

4. Process our pain

I think the biggest roadblock to being able to trust again is our own pain. After an encounter with a sociopath, we’ve been deceived, betrayed, injured, emotionally crushed. We are angry and bitter, and rightfully so. But if we want to move on, we can’t keep carrying the pain around.

To get rid of the pain, we must allow ourselves to feel it.

I recommend that, either privately or with the guidance of a good therapist, we let the tears and curses flow. Expressing the pain physically, without hurting yourself or others, also helps. My favorite technique was pounding pillows with my fists. You may want to stomp your feet, twist towels or chop wood.

For more on this, read Releasing the pain inflicted by a sociopath.

Trust and love

It is important to be able to trust again. Doubting and disbelieving everyone we meet is a dismal way to live. If we cannot recover our trust in humanity, the sociopath who plagued us will have truly won.

The difference is that after the sociopath, we must practice informed trust. We know the red flags of a sociopath, and in evaluating a person, we don’t see them. Our intuition is giving us the green light. The person has proven, and continues to prove, to be trustworthy. These are the intellectual aspects of trust.

By doing the work of exorcising our pain, we clear away the roadblocks to feeling trust emotionally. It’s crucial to be able to feel trust, because that’s what paves the way for love.



278 Comments on "After the sociopath, learning to trust again"

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  1. Matt says:

    Justbec:

    Welcome. I can so relate to your situation — and I’m a gay man. But, as you learn on this site, gay, straight, the sociopath’s playbook is always the same.

    For me I knew the end was drawing near when I finally realized that I couldn’t walk on eggshells anymore. At that point I was ready to crack like an egg myself.

    Mine ex-S, like your’s was extravagent — always with my money of course. And even though I am very successful professionally and my S was not (and an ex-con to boot) he still always made me feel like I was nobody without him.

    And the accusation about being concerned about work and education — that’s a classic. Basically, he’s turning your ambition to create a better life for yourself (and him, the lazy ass), but turning it against you because he’s losing his control over you. See the movie “Educating Rita”. You would really relate to it and see a lot of yourself reflected in it.

    My shrink always tells me that I have the rare ability to size up a person in 10 seconds. And I always could and it served me well in my profession. Something tells me that you will find a way to get that house for yourself and your kids. But, you’re not going to do it until your S is out of your life.

    Sometimes we have to put our dreams to the side for a little bit to finish up old business. The fact you’re on Lovefraud tells me you’re taking the first steps to finish up that business.

    If you need something to think about to make things seem less bleak, start researching those housing programs without telling him. Knowledge is power. Get your plans in place to buy your place. When you’re ready to make your move, dump his sorry ass and file for divorce. Then buy the house.

    Think how satisfying it will feel to know you showed him what you did while he was demolishing you and what you can do now that you aren’t surrounded with his negativity.



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  2. Deceived says:

    Why do I keep attracting liars and cheaters?

    I went out with a guy 2 weeks ago. We met on a dating site. We exchanged e-mails for over a month before even talking on the phone. After that we met for dinner. Dinner was okay. He asked me out again but I decided not to go out with him again although I have questioned whether I made the right decision a few times.

    Tonight I got an e-mail from his e-mail address but it was signed by a woman and she wrote:
    “Hey, Just wanted to let you know that this person is married. Stay away!!!!!!!!
    Ann”

    This is the 2nd time this happened to me where a woman wrote me and told me this guy is married or is in a relationship. I am glad this woman reached out to me but why does this keep happening to me? What am I doing wrong? Are there really no men out there who tells the truth anymore? Is telling the truth a thing of the past now? This just reinforces my belief that I just cannot trust men!!!



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  3. Ox Drover says:

    Dear deceived,

    QUESTION: “Why do I keep attracting lairs and cheater”

    ANSWER: WE MET ON A DATING SITE.

    If you fish in the sewer you will catch turds. Internet dating sites are fishing holes for turds, with about an estimated 45% of men on them that are married or in relationships.

    AT a distance and through a computer screen, people can pretend to be anything they want to pretend. I know there are all these stories of people meeting on a dating site and having love forever, but of all the ones I know that met on a dating site 100% of them turned out to be CON JOBS or dysfunctional. My son C’s “cyber bride” that tried to murder him was someone he met on the internet and married despite really not knowing her. Another friend of mine married one and then she refused to move in with him until he remodeled his house, but she was willing to take the new car he bought her and go back to her home in another state until he got the house fixed….he divorced her immediately but she still went and opened dozens of charge cards in his name and spent to the max.

    Believe me I know it is difficult to meet potential partners, but I think the internet dating sites are fishing in the sewer, you may come up with a prince but I think you are more likely to catch a turd. (((Hugs)))



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  4. Eva says:

    Hi Deceived. As Oxy says to you to fish partners in the net is very risky. I met the psychopath in a site for learning languages, so imagine if they are in more “serious” and “neutral” places, imagine the quantity of them that must be in dating places! And they’re not easy to spot at the beginning, they seem nice at the beginning, able to cross countries, etc. Be careful with the internet, it has a very useful-informative-formative side and sites like love fraud is just one example of the good side of the internet,but the internet is also the hunting field of nowadays predators because they know the net is full of weak people, weak for whatever reason, but the hunters are there prepared to exploit anybody who is not strong enough.



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  5. candy says:

    Hi Deceived – ditto, met my spath on ‘friends’.

    Prior to him I had chatted (nothing more) with a couple of people. One told me he was an ex police officer – yeah right (turned out he was married). Turned out another was married but wanted to meet for coffee – Derrr! Another who turned out to be a perv…..don’t think that there ANY genuine guys/girls on there. They’re ok just for a bit of a laugh/banter on line but nothing more.

    Why are they on those sites? Because they already have a woman/husband/partner in their life but they are looking for the next one. To them it’s a safe way of dating – and it costs them nothing, they can woo you and not even have to buy you a cola!

    Keep your guard up.

    Odds are you’re more likely to meet your ideal match at the checkout in your local supermarket.



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  6. lesson learned says:

    Just chiming in on this one.

    ExSpath is currently trolling Chemistry. A sister of match. Lovely. He’s divorced with a bachelor’s degree and a job he’s had for twenty five years. Sounds great, doesn’t it? Whatever!!! Two divorces, a long held nine year affair during his second seventeen year marriage. Probably more from what I’m now learning. Not to mention the massive debt he is in (now trolling women for money), paying out heaps in child support, has joint custody of his children and is a HORRIBLE father to his children, uses them to create drama with his ex. Spends money compulsively (wonder where he gets its with all the debt?), yep, sounds like LOTS of fun to me!! LOL!

    Just because the OUTSIDE looks good, actually makes them MORE dangerous because they know how to present themselves. And that’s all lie too. Most of the profiles are filled with lies, with truths here and there.

    Dating sites are extremely dangerous. And I would NOT advocate that as a source of “fishing” if you will.



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  7. Deceived says:

    Ox, Eva, Candy and Lesson Learned – thank you for your feedback. You are right…meeting people online is dangerous. That is where I met the ex and how I ended up on this site. I had no idea how many men out there are like “the” ex and how many women have been victimized and fallen prey to these despicable con artists. Stumbling upon this site opened my eyes to the reality of how much THEY are out there. What a frightening thought.



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  8. aussiegirl says:

    Deceived –

    Mine picked up his current “Mrs Spath” from an online dating site. She still has no idea what she is in for – he’s at the love-bombing stage with her.

    He was trollling on sites throughout our marriage while pretending to me that he was “computer illiterate”. Yeah, right. We had a computer but I refused to have the internet because he had confessed (AFTER I was already in a relationshit with him) to a track record of porn addiction and because my stepson (his child, who lived with us) had major personality and mental issues – including overt displays of sexual inappropriateness.

    I knew that in our particular circumstances, the net was a bad choice. I used it at work or the library when I needed to. I had no idea (until a long time after our separation almost 4 years back) about “wireless modems” or that you could have internet access without actually being signed up to a plan through a telecommunications company.

    I have only begun to use a wireless modem myself in the past 2 years – prior to that I had no idea that the hard-drive on my computer could be filled with deleted “history” of his visits to dating and porn sites. Yuk, yuk, yuk!!!!



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