Lovefraud recently received the following e-mail from a woman who we’ll call “Callista.” I’ll have some comments at the end.
This is yet ANOTHER email from a woman who realized she had been with a sociopath. In my case, it’s been for 8 years. He fits the bill on all counts, except that while his finances are always a mess, he met me when I was coming out of a divorce and mine were a mess too. So he didn’t see me as a “mark” he could use and swindle.
He is now paying me support and believe it or not he was not only impeccable about paying it to his ex-wife, he is also impeccable about paying me. This confuses me because he lacks the trait of screwing EVERYONE. Don’t get me wrong, there is a trail of foreclosures, faulting on bank loans and people he’s never paid back.
He moved from me and was immediately living with someone else. Denying it all along. I have done enough reading to know the traits and I know pity is one of their favorites. I have never sat by when I discovered something. I was just never looking. I trusted him. Sigh. He came over and I told him I was saying goodbye and that I would not be speaking, or seeing him again. I told him of what I read and learned about his pathology. He came over angry because he had promised one arrangement and as usual denied he made the deal (even though it was recorded in a text message. “That’s not what I meant,” he said.) He hates when I hold him accountable, as they all do.
I told him I had been reading about his pathology. Trying to understand him and how my own pathology fits into his. I told him about sociopaths. If you have read as much as you think you have, you know there is a brain connection. He had fallen as a young child, head first into a concrete basement (they had just poured it and removed the stairs). He also had epilepsy as a child and I would be dollars to donuts, it was in the frontal lobe.
When I explained all the traits, he really looked sad. He once said to me, “I may be a bastard, but it doesn’t mean I don’t have feelings.” As we know, this still only means he has feelings for himself and no other. But he was acknowledging his lack of relationships and admitting to the traits and asked me what he can do about it. I told him that based on what I read there is nothing he can do, but that they can very effectively diagnose him and that the first thing he should do is get an evaluation done. He reached out to me and said, “It’s not my fault. You’ve given me something to think about.”
I just left for 3 weeks. The “goodbye” conversation was when he was coming over to pick up the dog. He then said, “let’s not talk and give me a chance to read up on this and then when you get back we can talk”. And THEN he said, “If I admitted to all the women I was involved with, do you think we could put it all behind us and move forward together?” Here is my thought on that. On the one hand, my own wishful thinking is thinking that perhaps there is a part of him that understands there is an issue. Perhaps he does have a conscience? His perfect record of paying support indicates he has some decency. Or perhaps he knew the EXACT thing and the ONLY thing he could say to me in that parking lot, (as he left for his new girlfriend’s apartment), that would stop me from fully disengaging. He used the pity card and he used the intimacy he knows we seem to experience so deeply together.
As you can see, I’m struggling with this. What’s real? What’s not real? Based on what I have read, I have to conclude that the entire exchange is ENTIRELY false. I know so much of it is, but is it really false to the core? Can he perhaps have a part of him that can prevail and nurture the part of him that does have goodness. He is incredibly kind to our animals. He’s kill anyone who would harm then in ANY way.
Don’t get me wrong, this man has done the unthinkable. He has crossed every decent line there is. I know the answer for sociopaths to “can they be saved?” is “no.”
Ok down to the question. Did he simply use his cunning ability to do and say the only and exact thing that would stop me from cutting that final thread? Or are there some who are sociopaths to a lesser degree? I know he is weary of all the secrets and lies and the life he leads. I can see it. He just doesn’t know how to get out. It’s all he’s known. I had no idea, until I learned the trail of women from his past and how many he continued to carry on with and keep “on the line” for years and years. So am I just another he’s trying to add to the “back burner” in case his latest doesn’t work out?
I would NEVER entertain reconnecting with him unless he came to me and said, “I want to get evaluated and I want to come clean to you.” Without that, I wouldn’t set one foot near him. So what do I do if he DOES say that? My feeling is I wait to see what the evaluation says and how “clean” the “coming clean” truly is. At the end of the day, I’d bet my life he’d never do it. It’s too much of a leap from where he has been for so many years. I don’t think he is capable, and while I’m spending my time writing this email, he’s having a fun-filled night with a new victim who “can’t believe how lucky” she is, and thinks she’s died and gone to heaven.
And there’s the last question. Do I try and warn her? I wish someone had tried with me. I am guessing she won’t believe me, but I would say things that would stick in her mind and acknowledge that I can understand why she would not want to believe what I am saying. He’s already cheated on her. I think that’s the one thing I could say that might make her stop. Although he’s SO good at lying, he’d convince her otherwise. But when things turn bad … and they will … perhaps she’ll remember what I said and know there is someone she can seek out to relate to.
So all this rambling is so typical of what these people do to our lives, our souls and our minds.
I am an intelligent, attractive, capable, kind woman. While he told me how worthless I was throughout, I managed to save my core and know that I am of value. But guess what? I stopped loving him … I was FREE of him … I didn’t even think of him. Then one day I came home from a grueling business trip. I was tired and lonely and he brought the dog home and sat on the sofa we’d sat on for so many years and we just talked. It was such a comfort. And that turned into a very intense hour in bed. He left and I was a mess. He said he felt connected to me and then went on to keep me twisting in the wind.
I knew he was living with someone. I knew the reason he couldn’t just spend time with me was because he couldn’t figure his way around not being accounted for. I could go on. I started this, wanting to outline a scenario and ask a simple question. I allowed myself to go on, because I think it demonstrates what happens to people like me. Oh, did I mention that the weekend I had hoped we would spend together and he messed me around … I was so desperate to get him to show me he cared that I took a bottle of pills and sent him a text and told him, thinking he’d “come to my rescue” and guess what he did? NOTHING! I would have died if not for stumbling out of my car (I had parked somewhere) and someone thought I was drunk and called the police. He basically left me for dead. Incredible.
Even more incredible is that I would ever speak to him again. And yet even more confusing is me explaining to him that someone who is healthy does not do what he did in that situation. Someone who is healthy does not lie to someone who almost died and say “I came by to see you” … “I called the police” … “I called the hospital.” I knew he had done none of those and I pointed out to him how only a sociopath would do something like this and his answer was “I need help.” DAMN HIM! Why couldn’t he have just been a jerk and denied it and argued with me. No he said the only that would not allow me to truly disconnect from him. Or does he truly realize how empty he is and is there something worth saving? Ugh. I’m exhausted.
I wrote this for my benefit. I wrote it for the benefit of anyone else who is going through an experience with a sociopath and has one JUST like mine.
I’ll let you know what happens. My bet is that he doesn’t give me the “material” to work with and I’ve basically just delayed my road to recovery by 3 weeks, because between now and when I return, I’ll be thinking, “what if he comes to me and says he’ll get help?” What if he does want to leave all the shallow relationships behind? What if I am really the only person he has ever loved (to the extent he can love)?
I have never allowed someone to abuse me the way he did. I see through people darn fast and I cut them off. But not this guy. This guy has got his hand on my heart and although I thought I was free, I am not. More work to do. More work to do.
Analysis and comments
Your e-mail is a superb example of how confusing it can be to be involved with a sociopath. When it’s good, it’s very good—but there’s so much deceit, game-playing and crazy-making. We’re torn between wanting the good times to return, wanting to help and wanting wholeness for ourselves.
First, an answer to one of your questions. Yes, it is possible for sociopaths to be not all bad. Sociopathy encompasses a range of behaviors. In fact, Dr. Robert Hare’s Psychopathy Checklist-Revised includes 20 traits, and an individual is scored on each separate trait. So it is possible for someone to score high on something like “deceitful and manipulative” and not as high on “poor behavior controls.”
It is possible for one sociopath to love animals, while another sociopath tortures them. My ex-husband, James Montgomery, loved animals, and was always bringing home exotic pets. Many sociopaths are corporate executives, and have enough money to pay their bills. Your ex has chosen to pay you support, at least for the moment. Does that mean he is capable of becoming the man that you deserve? Not necessarily.
Something to think about
You told him what you’ve learned about sociopathy. This, you said was his reaction:
He reached out to me and said, “It’s not my fault. You’ve given me something to think about.”
And then comes your question:
Did he simply use his cunning ability to do and say the only and exact thing that would stop me from cutting that final thread?
The answer could very well be yes. Sociopaths study their targets, and know exactly how to get the response that they want. Or, he could have had a glimmer of insight into his behavior. Some sociopaths do understand that they’re missing something in human interactions.
It is impossible to know what your ex intended. But either way, the relationship is not healthy for you. The best thing to do is look back at his behavior. He cheated on you. You almost committed suicide because of him, and he didn’t care. You can never trust this man to be there for you, to be faithful to you. Even if a childhood brain injury caused his condition—which I would doubt—his rehabilitation is not your responsibility.
So why are you having such a hard time cutting the final thread? It’s because sociopathic relationships act upon our brains in the same way as an addiction. Sociopaths instinctively know how to manipulate the human bonding process so that we become attached to them, and have a hard time breaking the attachment. For more on this, read the following article, especially the links at the end: Choose to break your addiction to a sociopath in 2010.
One of the components of the addiction is sex. Sex causes the release of a brain hormone called oxytocin. This hormone increases our sense of trust and bonding. This is why it’s important not to have sex with a sociopath when you’re trying to break off the relationship. Sex makes it more difficult for you to leave.
Warn the next victim
Finally, you asked if you should try to warn the next victim. This is a topic of much debate here on Lovefraud. Personally, I feel that if we can do it safely, we should at least try. Your analysis is correct. Maybe she won’t believe it now, but when things go bad, she may remember your words. For more discussion of this, including comments from other readers, see Should I warn the sociopath’s next victim?
Callista, you’re on the right track. You know the man has a problem. Your attachment to him is an addiction—this is not a moral judgment, just a statement of how the human bonding process works. Regardless of the degree of his pathology, or whether there is a chance for him to improve, for you he is bad news. Leave him in the dust.