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Dating after the sociopath

A reader posted the following comment on Lovefraud’s Facebook page:

“This website helps me too, but now, as I venture into the world of dating again, I find that my past is terrible hindrance. So difficult. Any advice gratefully received. Just want to be happy.”

Many times I’ve been asked, “After what your con artist ex-husband did to you, can you ever trust again?” Yes I can. I do. I am remarried, and I am happier now than I’ve ever been, in fact, I’m much happier than I ever was before the sociopath.

So how do you climb out of the abyss of profound betrayal? How do you recover? How do you move forward, to the point where you can actually love again?

Here are some lessons I’ve learned along the way. Maybe they’ll help you.

1. The only way out of the pain is through it

It hurts. Once you finally realize that your entire relationship was a mirage, that there was no love, that the sociopath’s intention all along was to exploit you, the pain is shattering. And, to make matters worse, you feel like a complete idiot for falling for the lies, for allowing the sociopath to take advantage of you as long as he or she did. Not only were you conned, but you participated in being conned.

You are filled with disappointment, despair, anger and outrage. You are totally justified in feeling these emotions, but they’re really unpleasant. It’s so painful, and you just wish it would all just go away. You may feel so overwhelmed that you ask a doctor to “give you something.” But although antidepressants may help you cope in the beginning, when the shock is so raw, they don’t solve the problem, they just mask it.

So sooner or later, if you want to recover, you need to face the pain head on. You have to get the toxic emotions out of your body, or they will eat you up. But you can’t analyze yourself out of the pain. Emotion is physical, and it needs to be drained off physically.

The only real way to end the pain is to allow yourself to feel it. I spent many hours curled up on the floor, sunk into my grief. I screamed in rage. I envisioned my ex-husband’s face on a pillow, and punched it until I collapsed.

Whatever technique you use to drain the emotion, you’ll have to employ it more than once, because there isn’t just one disappointment or one betrayal. Sociopathic relationships create layers of them, so getting rid of the negative emotion is a process. As you release a layer, another one will rise to the surface.

Here’s the good news: Getting rid of the pain creates space within you to feel healthier emotions, like peace, happiness, gratitude and joy. The longer you travel down this path, the more the balance shifts. Your negative emotional state gradually transforms into a positive state.

I can’t tell you how long it will take—everybody is different. But eventually, you can get to the point where you’ve released the pain. You don’t forget what the sociopath did, but it just doesn’t affect you any more.

It’s best not to start dating until you’ve made good progress in dealing with the pain of the sociopath. If you try to meet someone while you’re still wounded, there’s a good chance that it will be another predator. He or she will seem to swoop in to rescue you, but the real agenda will be to take advantage of you—again.

Wait until you’re feeling better before trying to date again.

2. Learn the core lesson

Sociopaths set out to exploit you, and they are fully responsible for the pain that they cause. Still, there was something within you that made you susceptible to the sociopath’s charms and promises. Even when you felt misgivings, there was something that made you doubt yourself, listen to their explanations, give them another chance.

After this terrible betrayal, it’s time for you to figure out what that original vulnerability was and heal it.

You may realize that you’ve experienced betrayal before. Perhaps your parents or other family members were disordered, and you grew up believing that manipulation and emotional blackmail were normal. Perhaps you experienced psychological, physical or sexual abuse, and never really recovered from those wounds.

Or maybe your parents did the best they could, but you still absorbed damaging beliefs. In my case, for example, I grew up believing that I wasn’t good enough as I was; I had to earn love by being the “good girl” or getting all A’s in school. Where did that idea come from? Well, perhaps from my parents. And maybe that’s what they learned from their parents, who learned it from their parents. Mistaken ideas can be passed down from generation to generation.

It’s time to break the chain.

Often, when you honestly examine the pain inflicted by the sociopath, you find that it is directly connected to some earlier, more hidden emotional or psychological injury. And that’s when you may realize that you can draw value from the run-in with the sociopath. As you release the pain of betrayal, you can go deeper to release the pain of the original injury as well.

But it’s important to be gentle with yourself. You didn’t know about the deep injury, or to protect yourself, you pushed it out of your awareness. Now you need a shift in consciousness. Now it’s time for you to believe that you are worthy, you are lovable, and you deserve the true gift of life, which is joy and happiness.

When you fully embrace these beliefs, you’ll find your life experience matching them.

3. Trust your intuition

You may feel that after allowing yourself to become romantically involved with such a loser, you can’t trust yourself to choose a healthy relationship. When you first end the relationship, this is probably true. That’s why you shouldn’t date right away. It’s also why No Contact is so important—it gives you the time and space to psychologically disengage from the sociopath, so you can escape the fog of manipulation.

But as you travel the road to recovery, you’ll become more comfortable believing in yourself, and trusting yourself. After all, you probably knew something was wrong with the sociopath, or the relationship, very early on. Most people do. But you didn’t listen to your instincts, and continued the involvement until it turned into disaster.

Here is what you need to know: Your intuition is designed to protect you from predators. Your intuition is the best defense you have against exploiters. So if you ever have a bad feeling about someone, if you ever sense that something is off, pay attention.

Of course, sociopaths are really, really good at the game, so you may not pick up a warning right away. It may be weeks, or even months, before you see some WTF? behavior. But if you see that first hiccup, or become aware of that first little twinge of suspicion, tune into your own feelings. If you keep getting negative hits, act on your instincts and end the involvement.

Then, don’t be upset that you attracted another one. Be proud that you caught on so quickly, before too much damage was done. It’s a sign of your recovery.

The more you clear away the trauma, the better your intuition will work. Eventually, it will tell you that someone is right and good, and that it is safe to open your heart again.

And then, with all the healing work that you’ve done, you’ll be able to experience true, fulfilling love.



98 Comments on "Dating after the sociopath"

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  1. Truthspeak says:

    And, I would just like to add that I often feel like rolling over, calling it quits, and giving up. I really do. Every day that I’m away from the exspath is one more day of healing. But, there are those times when the Truths of what I’ve experienced are too much for me to process, and I fall back into despair. It’s a continuous process, and don’t you know I’d just like for it to frigging END, at some point! :-)

  2. joss says:

    You know what? My experience has left me feeling like I have been emotionally and mentally raped. Utterly. I’m new to this but the insight from some of you is incredible and absolutely helps to move through this time. I thought I’d never go near another man again a few weeks ago but understanding I now have the knowledge to NEVER let this happen again has given me a glimmer of hope. I suffered a year of rape when I was 4 from someone who was supposed to be looking after me. I know now that not dealing with that made me easy prey. I will not give up on men over this. If I do then they -the bad men- not the good ones, and their contaminated minds will contaminate and continue to destroy. Enough already. I don’t want to live my life just to be the entertainment of s paths

  3. Joss – you absolutely do need to heal that original injury. You may want to get the book “The Betrayal Bond.” It explains how those old injuries make us susceptible to continuing injury.

    http://www.lovefraud.com/Store.html

    You can do it! Give yourself time and permission to recover.

  4. darwinsmom says:

    Kim, I’ve googled what you advized… but to go NC with this man is impossible for me. It’s not about a contract with him, but a contract I made with myself a decade ago.

    I had a choice in November-December 2001 to either totally forget about him, stop loving him and move on… or love him unconditionall and move on. I had been near suicidal over the fight between my head and heart. I chose the latter. And I know that was the best choice of the two for the past decade. In fact, that he’s an integral part of my heart is what saved me from ever considering the spath as the love of my life.

    Several very significant spiritual development and breakthrough occurred during my crisis when I didn’t know what to choose. When I had my breakthrough, a kundalini given to me through a vision of my personal guardian, I also had a dream about what had occurred between him and I in the past and what choices I had. I could choose to take the normal route everyone takes, which was depressing and would betray my heart, or I could go the road noone else did, which was wide and filled with a heavenly light directly to the tarmak. In the dream I chose the latter. When I woke up from that dream I knew that someone important would get into contact with me soon. Three days later he contacted me to beg for my forgivance the next mail for the hurt he caused me, months after the email fight we had, and I consciously was sure he was lost to me forever.

    I signed a spiritual contract in December 2001. I cannot betray it, without betryaing myself. It’s not an issue for me to love him, or for him to love me and not being able to commit. I do not believe in the actual existece of the guardian or God; Instead I regard them as a projection of what I went through. Irregardless, at hte very least it’s a contract between me and my soul that can see far beyond the short-term view. I simply cannot break it.

    Actually that dream has been present in my conscious again a lot the past days, especially the ending.

    In short the dream showed the story of him pcking me up in between two flights in the transit zone, and this was allowed by my guardians. However, the dream revealed he was supposed to only pick me up to guide me to my next flight and I had to leave him again. As he said goodbye to me at the gate of the new flight, I revolted. The gate was old, shabby, worn down, had this 60s-70s look, and everyone else got onto it looking depressed. But behind him and the gate lay a white tiled hallway shining like a starry road directly to the tarmak. It was empty, because everyone “supposed” they had to go through that depressing tunnel. The shiny hallway, filled with light of love, represented the concept of unconditional love, God’s way. When I realized this path would lead me to the same airplane as well, I revolted and chose that path. I made my way through that hall, pushing him in front of me, until he blocked me at the large doorway with the tarmac outside.

    And now we come the part of the dream that has preyed my mind the last couple of days almost constantly. While he looked like a wall street class guy in suit and tie and all before, well groomed (he’s far from a wall street guy, but I always saw it as this “rational” slick suit he donned like an armour), he looked forlorn, shabby beard, and worn down when he blocked me at the tarmac gate. He looked like a homeless guy with a ridiculous suit that didn’t fit him at all. We fell on the floor, with him on top of me (floor = support and groundedness) and I laughed and joked about this silly tie he was wearing and asked him what the hell he was wearing a tie for. And he was laughing along with me for his own silliness, about this suit but also this denial of loving me as much as I loved him. That’s where the dream ended, and I woke up with the feeling and thought that someone important would contact me soon, not daring to believe it would be him, but knowing it anyway.

    This is one of the two predictive dreams I had, and it contained ths feeling of a contract and promise to me.

    However, the last scene was something that I could never totally fit. I always knew the suit never was him at all, but still I had never seen him as vulnerable and feeling silly about his previous armor, until very recently. The last scene fits the present circumstances perfectly. He has shown himself at his most vulnerable now: shabby, worn down and the suit is something he knows now to too to be something silly. It doesn’t fit anymore. We are at present lying on the floor, supporting each other.

    I don’t know whether we both will walk through that tarmac door. The dream never showed that. Because ultimately that wasn’t my choice, but his. Time will tell. But I know I’m almost ready to go through it myself. He’ll either has the ability to join me as I walk through or he doesn’t. If he doesn’t, I’ll walk through that tarmac doorway and grow beyond him from this point on. If he does, we’ll grow together.

    It’s his plane to miss, not mine. But the pathway of forgetting him and not loving him is a path I have left behind me ten years ago… I cannot retrace my steps. For his sake though, I hope he has the ability to join me through the tarmac door.

  5. darwinsmom says:

    Additional: I think he actually may want to go through that tarmac door with me.

    I “tested” his own supportiveness. I revealed that which needs to be healed for me yesterday to him. I took a chance by trusting hm with this yesterday, to show my own vulnerability. I wrote it in a poetic way, but I revealed how my ex degraded my flower of feminity, that it’s the one thing I still need to forgive myself for allowing someone to have degraded and soiled so that sexuality has become something to shy away from in shame. And how I can heal only a part of that myself, but eventually will need a man who’s gentle and patient with me to help me feel proud about it again and to enjoy sharing it once again.

    I knew I took a risk, but at least I’d rather get a malresponse from a distance over it now, and decide from there… and I would be able to see whether he’d shy away from it. And he just sent me a very supportive email about it. He truly does care and isn’t frightened off. He wants me to forgive myself and love myself again completely.

  6. Truthspeak says:

    Darwinsmom, dreams are extremely important, I believe. Although I can’t decipher most of mine, I can clearly see the symbolism in your descriptions. Indeed, this isn’t YOUR flight to miss, and you’ve grown to the point where you’re able to move forward with, or without, anyone. You’ve come THAT far. I’m envious of that – I am anxious to get to that point. I am SO wanting to be OK.

    Brightest blessings….

  7. darwinsmom says:

    Picking up this thread again… I’ve been thinking about this “revelation” I received a week ago, but a part of me just cannot wrap my head around it. And when I try to picture a reunion I’m certainly having troubles with it. Quite frankly, I think it’s nearly impossible to succeed, no matter whether he has the best intentions.

    We have all the chemistry, but there’s a difference between having all the chemistry and having a face-to-face day in day out relationship. Yup, we know each other very well and intimately (and I mean emotionally here), but we cannot DATE. When you date you spend some time with each other, physically, then you do your own stuff again (work, hobby, friends family). Everybody needs that away-time (though women don’t always believe they do), and a lot of it at the start of a romantic relationship. And I know HE SURE needs that. It’s one of the reasons it went wrong when I visited him. He couldn’t physically move away to go do his own thing, because I was his guest, so he had to do that emotionally and mentally. It’s not even about commitment phobia… it’s a natural need, especially in men in general.

    The only people capable of sharing physical space with another for months 24hr on end and are spaths, and he ain’t one.

    All this idea of working in Belgium and being closer to me, could only work if it is a DATING plan, not a living together plan. I do get the sense that’s what’s on his mind – making it possible to date. But that’s a risky one, ain’t it – moving to another country at the other side of the world in order to just DATE someone.

    And what totally weirds me out about this, is that now I’m using the rationale he used to me when I visited him in San Diego. My scepticsm isn’t about him, or us, but about the whole situation that makes it near impossible for a relationship to evolve as it should in a healthy manner.

  8. jeannie812 says:

    I really looked hard to date. I looked for it hard after Jim.. I also looked for it while I was with Jim. I think I was trying to “correct” my mistake.

    Now that I have been away from his abuse for about 2 years I find that I am no longer looking. 2 years on the 4th of July!

    I can’t believe how I allowed Jim to render me helpless. Now I take my tools to hardware store to have them sharpened. or to have them tightened. I used to wait for Jim. Of course he never followed through. If he did follow through on occasion I celebrated it like it was the 4th of July of a lifetime!

    I was really grasping for crumbs..

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