Editor’s note: The following letter was sent by a Lovefraud reader whom we’ll call “Shania.” Names have been changed. My comments are at the end of the letter.
I’m a 20-year-old girl and I had an experience with a sociopath, or so I think he was one. This traumatic experience actually gave me post-traumatic stress disorder.
A few years ago, in my senior year of high school, I started to talk to this boy in my class named Mark. Everyone loved him; he was the most popular guy in my school. He was really good at talking to people, had the charm, very funny, always knew what to say.
I first noticed a red flag before we started dating. Out of nowhere, Mark came over to me and cut off a piece of my hair. I freaked out, and started crying and asked why he did that. He said, “Because it’s funny.” He could obviously see I was very upset. The hair he cut was VERY noticeable. He didn’t care and just laughed at me and left me crying by myself. He showed no sympathy at all.
After all that, I just thought maybe he was just being stupid and playing a dumb joke. I continued to talk to him and I eventually told him I liked him and wanted to date. He told me to meet him at his house the next day to talk about it in person. I went to his house, and he confessed that he had liked me also but didn’t want to start a relationship. He gave me a pity party story about his ex, and how he got played by this other girl in my school before me and broke his heart. I said, “but I like you and want to be with you so why don’t we be together?” His mood completely changed and he said, “Because I just can’t date you” and he walked away.
I started crying hysterically, while he left me alone on a side of a road. He told me he had to leave to go buy his prom tuxedo. I said, why do you have to leave now? We haven’t finished talking about this. He goes, “because I told you I’m done with this conversation, I like you, but I am never dating you. Now I have to go.”
I hysterically cried for about an hour and a half when I received a phone call from him. He goes, “Hey, can we talk?” I said, “We just talked. What more do you want to talk about?” He says, “You’ll see, meet me in the parking lot of supermarket in 15 minutes.”
Asks me out
So I went. There in that parking lot he said he had “changed” his mind about dating me and asked me out. I was thrilled. He was my first boyfriend.
The thing about Mark was, he is super religious (or so he says). He told me the only way I could date him is if I read the bible with him and pray with him. I did that because I really liked him, and I am sort of religious.
Everything was going super great in our relationship until I started to see more red flags. Mark claimed he loved to “hike” so he would always take me in the woods to read the bible with him and talk about God. Yet, every time we were in the woods, he would take advantage of me and sexually abuse me. After he would do that, he said that I was a sinner. That what we did was sinful and the devil’s work. He told me I was going to hell for doing that with him, even though he was the one who instigated it. He lied to his friends about our relationship. He said he didn’t want them to “judge” us. I went along, of course, because at the time I really liked him.
Forced himself on me
After this happened I found out something very shocking about Mark. One night he pulls me aside and says, “We cannot make out anymore or do anything sexual.” I asked why not? He goes, “I was sexually molested by one of my family members after my dad died.” I was shocked and hugged him and I said I respect your wishes.
The next day, he tried to touch me and make out with me. I said, “Mark, you told me we can’t do this anymore, and I’m okay with that.” Mark goes, “No. I promise. I want to do this. Please.” He kept begging me and I said no.
Eventually, he molested me and forced himself on me. After that happened, 5 minutes later, he kicked me out and broke up with me. He told me, “I never liked you. I just used you like I was used. I don’t have emotion for anyone. I can’t feel. I’m numb. I don’t know how to feel. I never loved you or my mom or my family. I don’t know how to love.”
Then I start crying and blaming him for all the hurt that he caused me. It didn’t even faze him. He didn’t seem to care at all. He said that I was the reason he’s dumping me because I remind him of being molested and that I’m going to hell.
After hysterically crying over an hour, Mark comes up to me and goes “I changed my mind. I’ll get back together with you if you do one thing for me.” “What do you want?” I asked. He says, “You have to sign this contract I’m going to make. We can’t kiss for a year. We can’t lay next to each other for 2 years. We have to pray every time we hang out. We have to read the bible. We have to live by Jesus’s way.”
Stupid me, I signed it (and took a picture of it, thank God, for proof).
I leave his house, relieved that we didn’t break up. An hour later, he calls me. He says, “We need to talk.” I asked, “About what?” He asked me to meet him in a parking lot to talk. I went, and there he is with all of his friends. I asked, “What’s going on?” He said he is breaking up with me again, and that the contract was fake and he didn’t actually want to be with me, and never did. He humiliated me in front of all his friends and embarrassed me.
I cried and became severely depressed. He didn’t care at all and blamed everything on me when I didn’t do anything. After the breakup, I told all his friends about this contract he made me sign. They asked Mark about it, and Mark denied everything. He said I was lying, even though I took a picture of it as proof. He said I’m crazy and a crazy ex gf.
Weeks go by, and I get a text from Mark stating he wants to be friends again. I still liked him. Stupidly, I said ok. We hung out after, and he said, “lets go somewhere a little more private.” I didn’t know why he wanted to go somewhere private but I went along…
He took me to a dark alley and started touching me. “What are you doing?” I asked. He goes, “I miss you. I still like you.” I said, “No you don’t, you said you never liked me …” He continued to touch me and manipulated me to think he liked me and wanted to be with me so I gave in. After I gave in, he left me. He said he never liked me and just used me for sex.
This went on for about 4 months. He emotionally, mentally, and sexually abused me. Now I suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder.
I don’t really know whether this classifies him as a sociopath or not, but I feel that he is. He had no remorse for his actions. He did not care about my feelings one bit and he pretended to like me our whole entire relationship.
My new boyfriend
Ever since this horrific experience, I’ve been afraid to love again. Recently, I found an amazing guy named Jarrod at my college. He’s the same age as me. He’s very intelligent, caring, sweet, driven, funny. I fell for his looks because he was exactly my type (unlike my ex) and we hit it off.
We went on a few dates and he was very nice. He never pressured me to do anything with him, which was a relief from my last relationship. He said he would wait to do anything physical with me until I was ready.
I told him about the incident with my ex. He said my ex was psycho and that he feels so sorry for me. His one flaw is he does have a temper, but never laid a hand on me. Also, it was my fault for making him angry because of my drinking.
After my ex, i started to binge drink. I’ve been binge drinking for about 2 years now. When I get drunk around Jarrod, my current boyfriend, I get violent and nasty. I will call other guys in front of him to make him mad and I will try to run away from him.
Every time I ran from him he chased me, making sure I don’t get raped outside at 12 at night. I feel that he TRULY cares about me. When it’s his fault in some arguments, he always admits that it was his doing and that he is sorry. He’s never lied to me.
He was cheated on in the past by his 2-year girlfriend and that really made him depressed before we met. So he has some relationship issues as well. He’s very open with his phone, he tells me everything if a girl texts him. He’s very loyal. He’s not controlling. He lets me hang with my friends, go to bars, and hang with my guy friends. Totally different than my last experience. He always tells me he loves me. He’s not manipulative.
Seems like the perfect guy right? Well. Since my experience with my ex I cannot get these awful thoughts about my current boyfriend being another sociopath. EVEN though my boyfriend never takes advantage of me. He has a 40+ hour job and works very hard. It just seems too good to be true, and since my ex I feel that every nice guy is faking it.
Does he sound like a sociopath?? I think I’m just worrying because of post-traumatic stress disorder … but I wanted your opinion.
From Donna Andersen
Shania, your first boyfriend, “Mark,” was clearly sociopathic. His only objective was to use you for sex. Of course, almost all males at that age are looking for sex, so what makes him sociopathic? The lies he told and the cruelty with which he treated you.
It is entirely possible that he was never molested — he said he was to get you to feel sorry for him. And this man is clearly not religious. All his talk about “reading the Bible” was simply to disarm you and make you more likely to go along with his scheme. Then, after he took advantage of you, he called you a “sinner.” He, of course, is the hypocrite, and said those hurtful things to you just to break you down.
Then you suffered repeated cycles of “I love you” followed by “I hate you.” This is classic sociopathic behavior, and again, the objective is to break you down and increase his control over you.
Why would he do this? Shockingly, some sociopaths do this just for fun. They get a thrill out of acting like a puppet master. They entertain themselves by romancing you, then discarding you. I think these are the most despicable sociopaths out there, and unfortunately, there are millions of them.
About the drinking …
Shania, I am very concerned about your binge drinking. I do, however, applaud the fact that you even mentioned it, because it gives me the opportunity urge you to stop.
Binge drinking is really, really bad for you. Here’s a summary of the risks from the University of Rochester Medical Center:
Please pay particular attention to the last item on the list of risks: Brain development in young adults:
Most of the college students engaging in binge drinking are still at a vulnerable stage of brain development. This puts them at greater risk for the toxicities and consequences of drinking. This is in addition to the direct effects of alcohol on judgment and loss of control. The high of binge drinking now can lead to a more dangerous, unhealthy path in the future. It can even be lethal.
Perhaps you started drinking because of the pain you felt from your relationship with the sociopath, but the drinking may now have taken on a life of its own. Make no mistake, binge drinking is alcohol abuse. It affects your brain, and you could become an alcoholic. It already affects your behavior — you’ve admitted that you get violent when you drink.
Please stop. If you can’t do it on your own, please seek counseling. Ask the therapist to help you not only with the drinking, but with the pain you are still feeling because of the sociopath.
Here’s another word of advice: Many therapists do not understand the damage cause by sociopathic relationships. If you hear some form of, “Just get over it,” find another therapist.
Your new boyfriend
Your new boyfriend may very well be a terrific guy—he seems respectful and understanding. But you will never know until you get yourself clear.
Here is the secret of finding a good partner: Start with yourself. Work on becoming the person that you want to find. Understand, at a very deep level, that you are worthy. You are worthy of self-esteem and self-love. The healthier you are within, the healthier your relationships will be.