Editor’s note: This Lovefraud reader, who posts as “Snow White,” previously wrote an article called “The heart thief.“
Fairy tales… the fantasy of every girl. A story of fantastic forces and beings. A tale of improbable events that will lead to a happy ending. Or perhaps… a more sinister story designed to mislead. Any woman would have to agree that when someone comes along who is completely and totally smitten with you, showers you with affection and attention like you’ve never experienced in all your life, you start to think that maybe this is the person I am supposed to be with. You want to believe in the fairy tale that he so poetically spins. But beware and heed the lyrics that Taylor Swift so profoundly sings, “I’m not a princess… this ain’t a fairy tale.”
Meeting Prince Charming
Once upon a time, at a workout studio in a quaint suburb, I met Charming, as I’ll refer to him, a handsome, quiet, shy man in great physical shape. For four years, I would see him daily in our workout class. At first he remained in the back of the room and didn’t speak with anyone. Eventually, he made his way to the front of the class where he could be the center of attention among all the women in the room. The class was fun and interactive. Everyone would joke and share stories during the workout. I had been a member of the studio for seven years and had many friends there. As time went on, Charming would make his way over to my side of the room and share his story with me. He would tell me about his hardships as well as make small talk and joke with me. He was divorced and his wife recently remarried. She then moved out of town with their children. He lost his job. His father was seriously ill and eventually died. During the time we worked out together, he led everyone to believe that he was casually seeing someone. He downplayed his five-year relationship with his girlfriend, leading everyone to believe he was available. However, I didn’t learn about the extent of his relationship with her until much later. He was very guarded about his privacy but for some reason wanted to let me in.
I truly believed that we were friends. After all, isn’t that what friends do, share their stories and provide support to each other? I have been married for 25 years and always thought I was happily married, perhaps a little lonely as my husband worked out of town quite often, but wasn’t unhappy. I was actually quite content with my life, that is, until Charming started convincing me otherwise. I knew that he was unemployed and felt sorry for him. My husband and I were doing major renovations in our home and needed some painting done. Knowing he could use the money, we hired him to paint. Little did I know that he came in to my home, saw what we had, and wanted it for himself.
He told me he started dating a new woman who I would like as we were in the same profession. One day my husband and I and three other couples were planning a night out, so I invited him and his girlfriend and some other friends from the studio to join us. After the evening out, he texted me saying that he wasn’t really interested in his date and she wasn’t the one for him. I didn’t think much of it and told him that she was really nice and they seemed natural together. In hindsight, he was laying the foundation for me to believe he was single.
Charming was a lost soul. Every woman he had ever dated did him wrong. Everything in his life was someone else’s fault. His ex-wife cheated on him. His ex-girlfriend of five years wasn’t there for him and her son was behaviorally disordered and disrespected him. He caught his current girlfriend pursuing other men on a dating website while they were together. The other women he dated only wanted him for sex. He wanted a serious relationship and wanted to be married. Women today were only interested in sex. They didn’t want committed relationships. He lost his job because his new boss was incompetent.
More than friendship
I really felt sorry for Charming. I was there for him when he needed to talk, providing positive support encouraging him that he would find someone who would love him forever. Before I really realized what was happening, he started texting me day and night. We continued to text each other, casually talking about our lives and interests and how we had so much in common. Then one fateful evening, I received the text:
Charming: I think we are in trouble … this is more than a friendship … I am attracted to you.
Snow White: There may be an attraction, but I have never and will never cheat on my husband. We can get beyond this and remain friends.
The next day he persisted in his texts. I told him that we needed to talk face to face. I met him and told him in no uncertain terms that I cannot act on this and could not conceive of hurting my husband. I told him that he will find the woman for him. I am 6 years old than him and never in my life did I consider dating a younger man, let alone cheat on my husband. I was confident that the friendship would prevail. Over the next two months, we continued texting. He talked about how we had so much in common. We had both only been in two real relationships our entire life. We both had long-term marriages. We had limited sexual experience. Well that was true of me, definitely not true of him, as I later learned. We had the same interests.
He started making comments about my marriage and husband, telling me that if I were truly happily married, I wouldn’t be talking to him. He said he saw how my husband looked at other women. That he believes my husband disrespects me and isn’t there for me. One day when I was sick with a sore throat and drove myself to the doctor’s office, he commented on why my husband didn’t take me. If we were together, he would be there for me.
We were destined to be together. I was his soul mate. He had been around long enough to know that I was to be his FW “future wife,” calling me Mrs. Charming. He would give me everything I need as a couple. It was love, texting LY “Love You.” Saying, “You. Must. Be. With. Me.” On and on it went.
I started to question my marriage. Maybe he was right. I had never felt this type of intense connection. Were we meant to be together? I was starting to believe. At this point I was emotionally hooked. I tried on several occasions to stop talking with him. He would be on the verge of crying when I told him we couldn’t talk. I felt sorry for him and would break down and contact him or he would contact me. He had become my best friend, one by one replacing all others. He would text and call me throughout the day. The bond between my husband and I began to loosen. I became spellbound … blinded and incapable of seeing the signs. Or as I now know, I was love bombed with a force so powerful it rendered me helpless. Yes, ME, a strong, confident, educated woman, overwhelmed and crying every day. How could I be meant to be with someone other than my husband? I immediately sought counseling. It didn’t help.
He relentlessly pursued me for months. It didn’t bother him in the least that I was an emotional wreck. In fact, I believe it empowered him. One evening I was out for a run and I received this text:
Charming: Turn around
Snow White: Why
Charming: I’m parked at the corner. Turn around.
I hopped in his car and told him, “I can’t do this.” A wicked grin appears on his face. It didn’t faze him in the least. He was on a mission and nothing would deter him. I had mistaken his stalking tendencies for romance and love.
I’m not sure how it happened, but one day he turned the tables on me. At this point I believe he realized that I was emotionally hooked and used it to blackmail me. He told me that he had had enough, if I couldn’t be with him, we could no longer talk. I agreed to stop talking with him and met with him to give him a Christmas present I had bought. I actually bought small Christmas ornaments for a few of my closest friends at the studio, including him.
The day I met him to end our communications and give him his gift was the beginning of the end. I know I shouldn’t have met him, but I did. When I arrived at his apartment, I handed him the gift, he lifted me off the floor, kissed me, and carried me to his bedroom. The emotional affair was now physical. I could not resist. The experience was one like no other, so intense. What I thought was exclusive to making love with me … the intense eye contact, the hypnotic stare, the slow and passionate way he moved, the transformation of his personality into this highly sensual being … I later realized is how is with every woman. He would often tell me that every woman he had ever been with said that he was an exceptional lover. And he was. But he used sex as a method of control. He knew that once I had sex with him, I could no longer be married.
Where he previously only controlled me emotionally, he now controlled me physically. I was on an oxytocin high, which further intensified my bond with him. I was so confused and truly believed because I slept with him, I could no longer be married. He started pressuring me to leave my husband and move in with him. He would tell me that he was alone and waiting for me. “Hurry up. I need you. I am all alone. I am waiting for you.” He professed. He emptied his closet and texted me a photo of it, telling me he was ready for me to move in. I began to crumble.
I couldn’t handle the pressure any more. And I could no longer sleep with my husband after sleeping with him. I broke down and told my husband that I could no longer be married to him. He was crushed and didn’t understand. I told him the whole story. He then started pressuring me. Totally confused, I was unraveling at warp speed. Charming was now doing everything in his power to make me jealous and create a sense of urgency for me to move in with him. Reeling with confusion, I finally left my home and stayed with a girlfriend for a few weeks to sort things out.
While staying with my girlfriend, I spent some time with Charming. But things did not feel right. I really wasn’t ready to leave my marriage and felt that I had been pressured into it. Charming assured me that once I started my new life, I would be fine. He had all the answers. As long as I did what he said and didn’t question him, life would be great. But I couldn’t move from one relationship to another like flipping a switch. I didn’t really notice any red flags with him at this point because I thought that gut feeling I was experiencing was solely because I was dealing with the devastating emotions of leaving my husband and home.
After three weeks, I realized that Charming had no intention of making our relationship public. Just as he had hidden his relationship of five years from everyone at our workout studio, he planned on hiding his relationship with me. That was the first time I saw a red flag. I told him that I would no longer workout at the studio if he planned on hiding our relationship. Working out with him was no longer fun. I now felt his controlling presence … he was listening to my conversations with others, whispering sexual comments to me during the class, and purposing flirting with other women there to make me jealous.
I was giving up everything in my life, had left my home, was ready to file for divorce, and his life didn’t change at all. He wouldn’t make our relationship public because he didn’t want to be blamed for ending my marriage. He was so concerned about his image, yet he thought nothing of destroying my life. I later surmised that he didn’t want the women at the studio to know we were together because then he would have no chance of hooking up with anyone there.
By the third week, I still had this nagging feeling that something wasn’t right. I attributed these feelings to the demise of my marriage and not with the red flags I was seeing with him. Had I been single, would I have noticed the signs? I believe it is difficult enough for single people to recognize the red flags, but for those of us who are married, being involved with a sociopath only magnifies and clouds the confusion.
Charming was not happy that I was staying with a friend as he wanted me to live with him. He said that he didn’t consider us a couple unless we lived together. I needed to take it slow. By the end of the third week, I met him for pizza. It was there that I saw Mr. Hyde. The man who had professed his love for me, espousing his life plan for me as his future wife, now tells me that he doesn’t think he’ll ever marry again. Not that I had plans for marriage with this man, but the just the fact that he told me he loved me so much and wanted me as his wife led me to believe that he really did love me. His demeanor changed completely. No affection. No kiss good bye. He was a completely different person now that I left my husband. I simply replied that I knew someday I would marry again but it would be long into the future. He was playing head games with me. I should have called him on it right then and there. However, it was then that I realized I needed to go home, pack my belongings, and make plans to make it on my own.
When I returned home I apologized to my husband for ruining our marriage. We started to divide household belongings, and I started to pack. I was preparing to move forward with our divorce. My husband was very upset but really didn’t want a divorce. I was so confused and truly believed that I could no longer be married.
I continued to see Charming, but still had that nagging feeling. Is there something missing in his eyes? It’s hard to explain, but there is definitely a void there. He insisted on having unprotected sex, which I refused, but the condom broke. When I asked him if he had had unprotected sex recently, he denied it. He didn’t sound convincing so I pressed him on the issue. He admitted that he had in fact had unprotected sex. I scheduled an appointment for an HIV test. When I told him that I was going to get tested and that he should think about it too, he got really upset and wanted to know when I would get the results. He said he had no intention of getting tested and rushed to hang up the phone.
For the next three days, I didn’t hear from him. Valentine’s Day fell within this period and yet no texts or calls. Now here was a man that was texting or calling me day and night, my supposed soul mate, blah, blah, blah. When I needed him the most, he abandoned me. I thought about ceasing all communications with him then, and the only reason I texted him three days later was to give him the results, which thankfully were negative. His response was short … saying he was working and couldn’t talk. I now believe he was already pursuing his next target by this point, and had to hide my text from her just like he had hidden others’ texts from me.
The next morning he texts me to say hello as if nothing had ever happened. That’s when I told him he abandoned me. That I was freaking out about the results and he totally shut me out. Remember, he’s the man who told me my husband wasn’t there for me when I had to drive myself to the doctor for a routine visit for a sore throat. Ironically, my husband was the one who came with me to get the results and hold my hand while I was freaking out. That’s when I knew I had to get this man out of my life. I told him that I was really confused and needed to follow my counselor’s advice and spend some time alone.
Learning the truth
Two days later I checked his facebook page, and saw a post saying “Enjoy your day with Amy”. You see, he is a maintenance worker for an apartment complex. The complex provides low income housing. I remember him saying, “Now that the complex is subsidized, a lot of single mothers would be moving in.” It didn’t occur to me that this would become his predatory playground—the perfect job for a sociopath. When I saw the post, I texted asking him to please tell me that he was moving on so that we could both get closure. You see, he didn’t want to even give me the closure I needed to move on after all those months of manipulation and emotional abuse. I had everything in the works to build a house and go through with the divorce all because he had me believing that he was the one. He denied that he was seeing anyone, even with the proof in black and white. His last text to me simply stated that he was upset that I hadn’t moved out of my home, even though the divorce proceedings had started, and that I was the one confused. He said that when I figure it out to give him a call. If he doesn’t hear from me, then he knows his answer. He took absolutely no responsibility for his actions.
I had been completely mindf***ed all these months. I was in shock and so confused. I contacted his ex of five years. She graciously called me and spent an hour on the phone confirming all his lies. He cheated on his wife with at least two different women that she knows about. He engaged in threesomes with his wife over two years, saying that it was her idea and that she is bisexual … I’ll never know the truth on that. However the threesomes weren’t enough to keep him happy, as he abandoned his wife for a girl he met at his apartment complex. He left behind his 4-year-old and 12-year-old, and stopped paying the bills. His wife and children were left in the countryside; she had no driver’s license or car. The house went into foreclosure. His wife did not cheat on him. In fact she was so distraught over the break up that she left her wedding dress on the floor in the house when she was forced to move. While he was married, he had a free apartment at the complex he set up for himself without his wife knowing.
He cheated on his girlfriend numerous times, joining a dating website while he was still with her. While he lived with her, he provided no financial support except for buying some groceries occasionally. I even recall him saying that he disliked her son and never bought him one thing, this from a man who essentially lived with her son for five years. She found out that he was cheating on her the day before she was to throw his 40th birthday party. She went ahead with the party, but now regrets it. While in the five-year relationship, she had thought they were trying to conceive a child. When it wasn’t happening, she had him go to the doctor to get checked. The doctor called and said that he had a zero sperm count and that he must have had a vasectomy. He lied when she confronted him, and then eventually confessed. That was the last straw for her, and she broke up with him. While I was with him, be bragged about how he had the vasectomy under her nose. I’m happy to report, that this woman is now married, and they are expecting their first child. He learned the passwords to her email account and would monitor her communications, even after they broke up.
Regarding the girl friend who supposedly was still looking for guys on the dating website while she was dating Charming—she actually went online to check up on him. She had a gut feeling that something wasn’t right so she investigated. When she confronted him with the fact that the dating website dates and times all log-ons, he was caught. Of course, he took no responsibility and blames her for the break up.
I now know why, as he confided in me, all his exes were on antidepressants.
The Red Flags
I wish I knew then what I know now. After reading Red Flags of Love Fraud: 10 Signs You’re Dating a Sociopath, I now see clearly that “Prince Charming“ is a sociopath. I was stunned by the clear and precise process outlined in the book, which Charming used to achieve his objective … ME. The 10 signs illustrate that my situation is a textbook example of the strategies these individuals employ when in hot pursuit of their next victim. Fortunately for me, my husband never gave up on me. We have been seeking counseling and are on the road to recovery.
In retrospect, here are the Red Flags I noticed:
- Stalking/pursuit that seemed like romance
- Texting and calling all day long
- Love bombing
- Brilliant at making me feel sorry for him
- Highly sexual and impulsive: threesomes, multiple partners, having sex in cars, in public, in the workplace …
- Mirrored all my values and interests
- Disregard for my emotions and for the effects on my family
- Showed no emotion except sexually or when angry
- Slowly started alienating me from my workout studio, family, friends
- Lies, lies, lies
- Spoke negatively about ex-wife, made degrading sexual comments about past girlfriends
- Continuously adding women friends to his Facebook page, which looks like a little black book
- Has not one male or female friend; there was absolutely no one in his social circle who could attest to his character
- Gaps in the story … would say he was only in two committed relationships over the last 25 years, then would tell me about other women he dated
- Emotionally blackmailed me into having sex with him
- Thought of himself as Superman, invincible, and immune to diseases
- Believed that every woman wanted him
- Brilliant at emotional control
- Used sex as a method of control
- Had no plans for the future and had a hard time planning one week out
- Said that if given cause, he would have to monitor my texts and emails
- Had various women in different stages … while I was the main target, he would randomly get a text and would dismiss it as some woman from his past he was no longer involved with. He was simply keeping her in a holding pattern while he was pursuing me, rinse and repeat …
- Continued to stalk his ex
- Took absolutely no responsibility for his actions