Lovefraud recently received the following email from a man whom we’ll call “Andrew.”
I recently met a lady out of the blue after I had sat at home alone for 2 years. She is the victim of a sociopath—reads & posts on the Lovefraud site trying to heal. She says she can’t tell me all the damage done & I don’t need to know—it’s her business unless she feels she needs to share.
She had cabin fever—had to get out for a night—hence our meeting. Well I had basically given up on finding someone until I met her. We instantly clicked. It was so good for 3 weeks—making plans of fun things to do. I thought it would help her heal—to go have fun again.
I think she started liking me too much in that short period of time—got scared & slammed on the brakes. She says she needs time, but truly values my friendship & adores me. I’m trying to give her “time.” It’s so hard when she lit up my life for a while.
She wants to see me again, but doesn’t know when.
I have no motives other than to get to know her & help her get over the past. She might just be the one if we spend the time to know one another.
I have read the Lovefraud blog trying to understand—some really sad stories.
What should I do?
In the thousands of emails that I’ve received, this is the first time someone has asked this question (which I’ve paraphrased) — how do you approach a potential romantic partner when that person has been burned by a sociopath? I appreciate that fact that Andrew cared enough to ask the question.
I will answer the question assuming that everything is exactly as presented—a woman, whom we’ll call Caroline, had a terrible experience with a sociopath and is skittish about opening herself to another man. Andrew honestly likes Caroline, and wants to get to know her better. I will assume that neither Andrew nor Caroline is actually a predator who is looking for a new source of supply.
This, of course, is something that Caroline, and everyone else who has been betrayed and damaged by a sociopath, needs to understand and believe: There are good people in the world. Yes, as many as 12 percent of the population are social predators—sociopaths, psychopaths, narcissists, borderlines. But that still means that 88 percent of the world’s people are not disordered, and are capable of having a loving relationship.
Understand where she’s been
So, Andrew, the first thing for you to understand is that Caroline has been through the meat grinder. She’s experienced betrayal that has rocked her to her core. She’s certainly suffered emotional and psychological abuse, and may have also suffered verbal, physical, sexual and financial abuse. In fact, it may be a miracle that she is still standing.
If you’ve never experienced this level of betrayal—most people haven’t—it may be hard for you to believe what she’s gone through. Should she tell you anything about what happened, it may sound like a bad movie, and you may be inclined to think she is exaggerating. I assure you, when someone is involved with a sociopath, anything is possible. I’ve collected more than 3,200 cases, and many of the stories should be made into movies. You can’t make this stuff up.
Caroline, however, is accustomed to not being believed. She may have gone to court and to the police, and they didn’t believe her story. It’s possible her friends or her own family do not believe her. So one of the best things you can do is believe her. It will help her feel validated.
Andrew, you will need take things very slowly. It’s likely that the sociopath swept into Carolin’es life in a whirlwind romance—if you call all the time, if you are overly exuberant about wanting to see her, it may set off alarm bells, because that’s how the sociopath acted. Let her set the pace. Keep things light.
Understand that trust needs to be earned. This may be why Caroline got into trouble in the first place—she trusted too readily. Now, she may have gone too far in the other direction, and resolved to never trust anyone again. This is an unhealthy position, because we do need to be able to trust in order to live a good life. But you may not know how much progress Caroline has made in regaining her ability to trust.
So if you want to move forward, you need to be trustworthy. Tell her the truth about everything. Keep your promises. Call when you say you’re going to call, and show up when you promise that you’ll show up. In fact, I hope that’s how you live your life anyway.
It may not work
Finally, it is possible that Caroline simply is not recovered enough to think about another involvement. If she tells you that she really can’t be in a relationship, don’t argue with her, and don’t take it personally. You may just need to accept it and move on.
But if Caroline indicates that does want to get to know you, albeit slowly, getting closer will probably be worth the wait. Before hooking up with the sociopath, Caroline was probably loving, giving, caring, responsible, dynamic and empathetic—because that’s the type of person that sociopaths target. So if she’s able to find herself, and open herself—well, it could be rewarding for both of you.
Lovefraud readers: If you have any more suggestions for Andrew, please post them.