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TARGETED TEENS AND 20s: Too good to be true

Editor’s note: Lovefraud received the following email from a reader whom we’ll call “Bridgette.”

This is the first time that I have publicly talked about my experience with a sociopath. It happened when I was 19 years old, and I’m 34 now. Ever since this so-called engagement happened, I’ve never had a “normal,” relationship with a man. I won’t say that this man ruined me, but he took something from me that I can never get back.

I go back to 1997 and I remember starting up a relationship with a guy who I met in a chatroom, just by chance. We started IM’ing each other, and as time went by, I started calling Maryland and he was calling California. I fell in love with him immediately. He was charming and always wanted to make sure I was okay. I did notice that he was incredibly jealous, but it didn’t bother me too much. He told me he was leaving Maryland to come to California to go to school. I was thrilled. Something inside of my gut told me that this was too good to be true. He gave me a flight number, and the name of the school he was going to attend, and my parents agreed to let him stay with us for two weeks before school started. I contacted the school to make sure all of his stuff was in order. They told me that they had never heard of him, and had no idea what I was talking about. I looked up the flight number and that didn’t exist either.

I called him out on these lies and he explained that he didn’t have the money for school, or the plane ticket, but he just couldn’t bring himself to tell me. Amazingly I felt terrible. My parents lent him money for a bus ticket, and told him that he could stay with us until he found a job in Los Angeles. They knew that I was in love with him, and my mother was so happy to see me so happy. He was the first man I had ever been with, and that was a big deal for me. He treated me like a princess. He told me I was the most beautiful girl he had ever been with, and that he was going to marry me.

Dark side

The first two months he was charming, but then I started to see a very dark side. The first time it happened on the freeway in L.A. I couldn’t find a certain off ramp and he screamed at me and said I was, “stupid.” I remember silently crying to myself and actually believing that i might be an idiot. The second time my brother was watching the big T.V. in the living room and my boyfriend wanted to watch it, so he demanded I tell my brother to stop watching it. I couldn’t tell my brother to get out. He physically attacked me at that point. One day we got an angry call from his sister saying that his calls from Maryland to California had never been paid for, and he had left his mother with a $700 phone bill. She was on SSI and couldn’t pay it. All of these red flags kept coming up and I still didn’t pay any attention.

He had a stable job that he up and quit for no reason. He found a job that would allow him to stay up at night and work on his computer (or so I thought.) One day I had this really bad feeling in my stomach. I knew something was terribly wrong. I was the main account holder to our Internet access provider and I called them and told them I needed to change all of the passwords. I wanted to check his email to see what was going on because at that point he was on the computer all night long. The minute I logged on to his account, I started getting IM’s from 14- and 15-year-old girls. I found letters that were written to other women, claiming that he wanted out of our relationship. I just remember seeing red and throwing all of his clothes out of the closet. My parents who had supported us, paid his phone bill, and co-signed for a car for him, were infuriated.

The minute he got home he looked at me and I was going to attack him, but I don’t believe in violence. I started screaming and crying, and he had this, “deer in the headlights,” look on his face. Then he started crying and begging for forgiveness. He left the house and went walking all night long. Even then I was worried for his safety. I couldn’t believe that someone I loved could be so uncaring.

Engagement

We went to the Sierras for a vacation and to cool off. He bought me an engagement ring and I accepted. I thought it would all go away, but it didn’t. He kept seeing underage girls, and lying to my face. He owed my parents money that he had, but wouldn’t pay back. My best friend told me that while I was on a trip to Laughlin with my mother, he had come in to the restaurant she was working at and asked her to see a movie with him. She told him, “No way,” and he left. I found out that he was having multiple affairs with several women. I figured out the reason why he wanted to come to California was simply the fact that he was inundated with women. I won’t call all of them “women,” because he was having sex with underage girls.

We broke up and I was terribly confused and depressed. I had to go on anti-depressants because I had never been so sad in my life. I had picked out a wedding dress and I had booked a venue. I was in complete and utter denial. The one good thing about knowing a sociopath is that you can spot them very easily now. I can pick up on what men do and tell whether or not they are genuine.

Felon

This is the topper. One of my good friends got a background search service for nannies. She has several children. There was a way to look up felons, and by this time, my ex had moved to Kansas. I looked him up and found out he was in jail for ten years for having sex with a 14-year-old. While he was in jail he claimed to have become a born-again Christian. From what I’ve read, sociopaths can never change. They can adapt to the circumstances around them and pretend to be certain people (which is what he did to me), but I don’t think he has changed.

As soon as he was released from jail, he found a very young girl and got her pregnant. He had only been out of jail for three months and she was carrying his baby. I felt that I needed to write to her and let her know what I went through and to make sure she saw the warning signs. She didn’t want to hear me out, and thought I was a scorned lover, but I was actually deeply disgusted. I couldn’t believe that she would marry a pedophile. They now have a baby girl and I am so terrified for the child. I just hope that he has changed, but he showed every single sign of antisocial behavior. It was actually eerie when I started reading about it. He fit the profile, exactly!

Just please be aware that if it seems to good to be true, it probably is, and that you may find yourself repeating the same pattern over and over again. Thank you for reading my story!



27 Comments on "TARGETED TEENS AND 20s: Too good to be true"

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  1. Sunflower says:

    Newlife43, I feel the exact same way. Only have to friends left, gone nc with the rest. Very lonely…



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  2. Ox Drover says:

    Dear Newlife,

    I hear your point completely. You feel that If you cut out all the disordered and dysfunctional people in your life, that leaves you with NO ONE.

    That may actually be the case. We spent so much time with the relation-SHITS that we didn’t have any healthy relation-ships or people in our lives.

    It also IS difficult to develop new relationships at an “advanced age”

    I used to have all this large crowd of people at my house…never less than 5-6 for supper, and weekends was a BIG crowd of my husband’s friends, my son’s friends and my friends…now my house is much more quiet…but I CHERISH those FEW people who are REAL in my life. That I can COUNT on.

    Sure, I was half of those other relationships….but I was the VICTIM part of the VICTIM/ABUSER duo. I ALLOWED that. NO more. I refuse to play that part.

    I am not living like a hermit, but if it were the truth that I had NO friends or relatives that were healthy, then I WOULD live in a cave before I would allow myself to become a victim again of an abusive person.

    Being like a kicked dog and crawling back to an abusive master is not the answer. We need to get out and find other friends if we don’t have any, but use the CAUTION of observing for RED FLAGS that show that that person is not a good candidate for our trust.

    I am at PEACE, there is no DRAMA in my life and no people using or abusing me. Not a huge crowd of people loving me, either, but those that do are GOLD.

    Trying to have a HEALTHY BALANCE in life…between work and play, between any two extremes for that matter I think is important.

    There are lots of people who are on the “edges” of my life (people I don’t trust and am not emotionally intimate with) and I don’t want those people any closer to me because I have seen something in their behavior that I don’t like. I can’t go live on a desert island to get away from everyone in the world who is a jerk on up to a psychopath, but I don’t have to allow these people to become my intimate friends. And I don’t.

    I am “friendly” with them, but not intimate friends WITH these people on the edges of my life.

    Developing real friendships takes TIME and EFFORT…and since adults don’t generally get to meet a large number of new potential friends (like kids at school do) we have to work harder at finding new candidates for friendship.

    Mutual interest groups are a good place to start meeting people, and I am involved in several groups. That is a good way to socialize and to meet potential new friends.

    Learning to back off if you spot something about a person that shows dishonesty or abuse, learning to set boundaries, all are things that we have to learn as we grow in healthy selection of friends.



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  3. newlife43 says:

    Dear Sunflower:

    I’m sorry you are going through the same thing. I have very few friends left, like Ox Drover, I used to know and associate with so many people. Even the daughter I am speaking to mentioned to me the other day that I was very sensitive. I think I was always that way, but the 8 yr relationship with the ex-spath really amped up the volume on that channel!! And he did have a tendency to isolate me, because he needed me to be around to tend to his wants when he wanted me.

    Still, I am very lonely, and haven’t filled the void in my life that was formed when he left. I have only been No Contact since early June of this year. I am slowly (very slowly) putting myself out there again, doing some volunteer work, but I feel that I am connecting with people on such a superficial level and I don’t really trust ANYONE anymore with my private thoughts. I have to say I am grateful for this blog. You all are the only ones who get it! But I’m sure we all wish we weren’t members of this club. I know I do.

    Well, thanks for listening and responding, Ox Drover. I may not be as far along in my recovery as you are. Hoping that some others will respond also, in what ways are they connecting but still protecting themselves?



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  4. Ox Drover says:

    Dear New life,

    It takes TIME as well as effort to connect again with people, and that is important that you accept that it does take TIME…because you need to heal, to be able to TRUST YOURSELF to know and see the red flags in new people that signal “don’t trust them.”

    I spoke on the phone last night with a friend of mine who had been involved with two Ps, one right after the other.

    This friend is a VERY smart and VERY successful woman, and she was hoping for a good relationship with a man who was as smart and successful as she was…I don’t blame her for wanting that. It is very normal for a person to want a relationship.

    However, she was willing (then but not now) to over look a bit of dishonesty in these men who were so successful and smart and love bombing her…they had both been CHEATS on their previous wives. She made her self believe “he cheated on previous wife, but he won’t cheat on me.” DUH!!!!!

    Of course if he has been a serial cheat on wife #1 he is going to cheat on wife #2, and #3 and so on. He is DISHONEST.

    If a person is dishonest, mean,, hateful, etc. to others, then you can expect that he will eventually be dishonest, mean and hateful to you as well.

    So I look at what I call “rule #1” and so does my friend NOW— if they show signs of being DIS-honest, then NOTHING ELSE MATTERS. It doesn’t matter how nice, successful, handsome, sweet, caring etc they are to you NOW—if they are dishonest you can’t EVER trust them and not be burned.

    That is a simple rule. I also dated a man I found out was a SERIAL cheat on his wife of 32 years, and I like my friend, was willing to over lookk that in him because he was EVERYTHING ELSE I WANTED in a relationship–everything except HONEST.

    Well, of course that DIS honesty overcomes, and trumps everything else. Now I know that, and I watch for red flags showing that a person is not honest. If I see them, I keep that person OUTSIDE my “inner circle of intimacy” whether it is a friend or a lover.

    It isn’t living in TERROR of being scammed, it is living CAUTIOUSLY.

    Just as antelope which are PREY ANIMALS live by being CAUTIOUS and watching for signs that there are PREDATORS in the area, we must be CAUTIOUS that there are predators in the area. We will know them by the RED FLAGS. I suggest that you get Donna’s book and read it and reread it.

    Once we learn to TRUST ourselves to spot the red flags and know that we are strong enough to not ignore these signs that someone is a predator, we are more confident in our own ability too keep ourselves safe.

    The thing the psychopaths takes from us the most is our own trust in ourselves. Learn to trust yourself, and that will keep you safe. God bless.



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  5. shane says:

    Newlife and Sunflower, the same goes with me. My encounter with the disprdered one has had a profound affect on my choices and especially the type of people I want to have exist, in my life.

    Newlife, I too, have “been giving up most of my relationships in order to protect my psyche” and move further, FORWARD in my life, as a strong healthy minded individual. And good for you and Sunflower, for doing the same. In my opinion, there is truly NO OTHER WAY to grow, and to move in a most positive direction, for ourselves and our future well-being.

    Thank you for sharing your personal experience, Bridgette.

    Love,
    Shane



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  6. pattywack says:

    I think many of us have become isolated, as like Ox Drover, I feel the EXACT SAME WAY. I no longer care to extend myself and waste time with people. The closest thing I would think to be at all safe, would be a church with like-minded people. At least you know they have a better chance at having values, and not being totally selfish (me-oriented.) But as we kick everyone out of our lives I think we need to remember that none of us are perfect, and we all need to work on ourselves. The only ones worth having around are those willing to be honest and always aware of themselves, their intentions, and the relationship.



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  7. Sunflower says:

    Dear newlife43, how are you doing? Hang in there, you’ll do fine:)
    At least we got eachother in here:)

    The isolation is horrific, but I think we’ll mangage to get our selves new and healthy friends by time. Right now I’m isolating my self, I’ve been invited out to parties a couple of times the last year, but I just don’t want to go. One part of me is afraid I’ll have to face people of my past, another part is afraid I’ll be sucked right back into old patterns. I’m working real hard with my self these days and I don’t want anybody to mess it up. I am a magnet to unhealthy people therefore I tend to keep my self alone. BUT I can’t hide my self from the world forever. To be honest I’ve become afraid of it all and home is easier, relaxing, safer.



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  8. Ox Drover says:

    One of the things I have learned in my old age, Sunflower and Pattywach is that the NUMBER of Your “friends” is not nearly as important as the QUALITY of those friends.

    Having a large group of people around you that are “friendly” may not really mean a great deal if those people are not sincere, compassionate, caring, honest, kind, giving, empathetic, etc.

    I’ve always had a great “crowd” of people around, my husband and I were always popular wherever we lived, and we have had some great dinner conversations go across my dinner table as well as literally tons of good beef that we raised ourselves.

    After my husband died, though, I realized that many of these people were not “friends” in the true sense of the word, just pleasant dinner companions who could make intelligent conversation in exchange for a good meal. While that is funn once in a while, I realized that if you spend all your time assocaiating wit this kind of person, you have left time left to spend wiht your REALLY CLOSE and GOOD friends, so I quit having the dinner parties 5 nights a week, and spent more time with my CLOSER FRIENDS….and in spending time with THESE people I got to see some things about them that I saw I really didn’t like. Some of these “close friends” were actually THIEVES and Ii caught them stealing from me, it broke my heart, but I realized that I don’t want to associate with thieves.

    There were other instances with “friends”—-people I had a long hisgtory with that went deeper than dinner conversations….but again by spending more time with these people I was able to see that they were not the kind, truthful, honest, compassionate people that I thought they were. Other friendships of long standing died a “natural death” related to the life stages we are now in, or big changes in their lives that they were not handling well.

    I met some people today at a dog training exercise that I think I will become CLOSE friends with. The group almost had a “family” atmosphere and one in which I was eagerly welcome, both as a pupil and as an experienced trainer with things to teach them as well. My son and I are training a dog for search and rescue and obedience, and are intersted in getting our dog certified for S&R as there is a need in this part of the country for such dogs. Since we are no longer on the local volunteer fire department no, we thought this would be a good way to give back to the community and at the same time do something that we are good at, improve our skills, and who knows, maybe our dog will find some lost child.

    I hope that these people turn out to be good friends, as they appear to be good people. But the first of the red flags of hatefulness or dishonesty I see, I will back off. So far, I have seen nothing but caring, kindness, both with dogs and people.

    I don’t want to live like a hermit…I could if I had to and be pretty well satisfied, but to live a healthy happy and interesting life, GOOD FRIENDS and GOOD PEOPLE in my life add a dimension to live that gives it color and interest and enjoyment. But when people show that they aren’t good, honest and kind people what do I need them in my life for?.

    To me a friend is someone you can call up at 2 a.m. and say “This is me, I need you to come right now!” and hang up and KNOW that they are instantly up, putting on their pants….not asking “why” I called, just knowing that I wouldn’t have called if I hadn’t needed them and that they care enough to get out of bed and come. To me that is a TRUE friend.



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  9. Sunflower says:

    I agree with you Oxy, you nailed it 🙂



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