How do you recover from the betrayal of a sociopath? How can you move on with your life?
On Monday, I recommended the excellent book, Living and Loving After Betrayal, by Steven Stosny, Ph.D. In his clinical practice, Stosny has worked with thousands of people. And he keeps up with the new studies in brain science. So in writing the book, he drew from a broad range of research, and his years of experience in what works when helping people.
In the introduction to the book, Stosny says he doesn’t explain the behavior of betrayers. He says, “When it comes to recovering from intimate betrayal, it’s best to get out of the hole before speculating about how you got into it.”
Stosny elaborated on this when I interviewed him. “Focus is what creates emotion,” he says. “What we focus on repeatedly, when we do something repeatedly, the brain forms a habit. So we have to be careful about what we focus on.”
Stosny believes focusing on the hurt gets in the way of healing. So he doesn’t want to spend a lot of time analyzing what the betrayer did. He wants to help clients rebuild themselves.
I’m sure this is a sound approach in many, if not most, cases. After all, not everyone who cheats is a sociopath.
Research by the Journal of Marital and Family Therapy states that 22% of men and 14% of women strayed at least once while married. And, 74% of men and 68% of women said they would have an affair if they knew they would never be caught.
According to WebMD, men cheat for more sex or attention, and women cheat to fill an emotional void.
Woman’s Day magazine cites research stating that 56% of men who have affairs claim to be happy in their marriages. Their article, 12 surprising facts about cheating, also says that men hate themselves after affairs, and women cheat just as much as men.
These are your garden-variety cheaters. Sociopaths, however, are a whole different story.
Betrayed by a sociopath
When you’ve been betrayed by a sociopath, I believe the first step towards healing is learning that he or she has a serious personality disorder.
Their behavior is unfathomable. They are so hurtful towards you, and then act as if nothing happened. They not only cheat, but delight in flaunting it in your face. Or they treat you horribly, and when you pull away, collapse into puddles of tears or embark on a love bombing campaign.
They tell you that you’re crazy, imagining things and have mental problems. Then they smear your character to everyone you know.
It’s very important for you to understand that it’s not you; it’s them.
Sometimes involvement with sociopaths can result in traumatic bonding. This is due to the sociopath’s intentional psychological and emotional manipulation. The abuse actually strengthens the bond that binds you to the sociopath, so it’s difficult for you to break away and recover.
Lovefraud Recovery Collection
When you’ve been involved with a sociopath, I believe it’s important to understand what your partner is, how it affected you, and how to recover. The following collection of Lovefraud books will help with your recovery:
1. Red Flags of Love Fraud — 10 signs you’re dating a sociopath. For the first time, this book reveals the tactics of social predators who pursue romantic relationships not for love, but for exploitation. It explains how sociopaths seduce their targets, why it’s hard to escape the relationships, and how people can protect themselves.
2. Red Flags of Love Fraud Workbook. This slim workbook has checklists and questionnaires to help you figure out how you were seduced, what you need to do to leave, and how to protect yourself so that it never happens again.
3. Living and Loving After Betrayal. This book explains how betrayal affects your brain, and offers exercises to help you retrain your brain to ease your emotional pain. How? By focusing on your core values and developing a healing identity.
4. The Betrayal Bond. Involvements with sociopaths are highly addictive. Why? The fear and anxiety they create strengthens your psychological attachment. This book contains exercises to help you discover the roots of a betrayal bond and heal it.
5. Love Fraud. My personal story provides two important additions to the collection. It’s a terrific read that will validate your experience — some readers have told me that the sociopaths they knew used the exact same words as my ex. And, this book provides a spiritual explanation for the question we all ask, “Why did this happen to me?”
It also shows you that you can recover after betrayal and find true love.
To rebuild your life, the key is to make the decision to recover, and then do the personal work that will enable you to move on. I promise you, the pain can dissipate and you can move forward to enjoy a vibrant life. These books will help you.
For the month of February, save $33.71 on the Lovefraud Recovery Collection — $30.71 on the books plus $3 on shipping. For details visit the Lovefraud Bookstore.