Here at Lovefraud, we’ve heard thousands of horror stories of marriages to sociopaths. Thinking about these unfortunate involvements, it seems to me that there are three types of romantic relationships with sociopaths. I call them the Marriage Masks, and they are:
1. Calculated exploitation
The sociopath targets an individual for the explicit purpose of exploiting him or her, using the unsuspecting partner for money, sex, a place to live or something else that the sociopath wants.
My ex-husband, James Montgomery, targeted me because I had what he wanted: money, good credit, my own home and business connections in the city where he decided he was going to make a fortune. He sweet talked me, married me and drained me, and then he moved on without a thought.
2. Passing entertainment
The sociopath finds the partner to be a suitable involvement for the present—until the sociopath gets bored, antsy, or some other individual catches his or her eye. At this point, the partner is discarded.
Mary Jo Buttafuoco described her husband, Joey Buttafuoco, in her book, Getting It Through My Thick Skull. To me, it seems that Joey Buttafuoco was one of those sociopaths who was simply looking for a good time, for entertainment. He worked and she was a stay-at-home mom, so he wasn’t using her financially. But eventually he had an affair with a teenager, then visits to hookers, then a new wife. Changing women was like changing the scenery.
3. Image creation
In order to secure a coveted place in society, the sociopath may seem devoted to his or her spouse or family in public, but life at home, behind closed doors, is another matter entirely.
Here’s an example that was recently in the news. Stephen Green, founder of a fundamentalist organization in the United Kingdom called Christian Voice, preaches against homosexuality, abortion, Islam and Jerry Springer. “The enemies of God are having their say,” proclaims the organization’s website. “It’s time to hear the Christian Voice!”
Green portrays himself as the guardian of morality in the U.K. However, Caroline Green, his former wife, paints a totally different picture—domestic violence:
He told me he’d make a piece of wood into a sort of witch’s broom and hit me with it, which he did,’ she recalls, her voice tentative and quiet. ‘He hit me until I bled. I was terrified. I can still remember the pain.
Stephen listed my misdemeanours: I was disrespectful and disobedient; I wasn’t loving or submissive enough and I was undermining him. He also said I wasn’t giving him his conjugal rights.
Here’s the whole revolting story in the Daily Mail:
Missing: Ability to love
These categories are not hard and fast, and some sociopathic relationships and marriages may show signs of two or all three types. But however the disfunction manifests, the root problem is that sociopaths are not capable of feeling real love.
They are, however, capable of acting like they feel love—at least in the beginning of a relationship. I call it the luring stage—the period of time when sociopaths do everything you’d ever dream that smitten partners would do. They call, they want to be with you, they give gifts, they make you feel cherished. They do this until they hook you.
Then, sociopathic behavior starts to reflect the real agenda—calculated exploitation, passing entertainment or image creation. The change may be subtle or sudden. The relationship may gradually devolve, it may swing back and forth between normal and unconscionable, or it may suddenly evaporate.
But at some point, the Marriage Mask slips, and we come face to face with the truth: We are being used.