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5 reasons why we fall for con artists

Sociopath behind mask.
Sociopaths hide their true intentions behind a mask.

We discover that our romantic partner is a complete and utter fake.

The proclamations of love, the stories of his or her past — nothing was true. All the money that our partner desperately needed — or promised would buy a life of luxury for the two of us — well, that evaporated into expensive and unnecessary toys, or a secret life with one or more other lovers (targets).

When it finally sinks in that we’ve been conned, the first question we ask of ourselves is, “How could I have been so stupid?”

Followed by, “Why didn’t I see this coming?”

Feeling like chumps, we come down really hard on ourselves. But we aren’t the only ones who are blind to the social predators living among us — our entire society is blind.

The fact that millions of sociopaths live among us is like a giant skeleton in the closet of the human race that nobody wants to talk about. This sets us up to be victimized.

Sociopathic con artists take advantage of this collective and individual blindness. With the skill that comes from practicing their craft from a very young age, they manipulate our empathy and emotions. They use us to accomplish their objectives du jour, whatever they may be.

So here’s why we end up in romantic relationships with sociopathic con artists:

Reason #1 – We don’t know sociopaths exist

Most people think sociopaths are all criminals and deranged serial killers — this isn’t necessarily true. Social predators live among us, and most of them never kill anyone. Still, these people have no heart, no conscience and no remorse.

The numbers are staggering. Lovefraud uses the term “sociopath” to cover all social predators — people who would be clinically diagnosed as being antisocial, psychopathic, narcissistic or borderline. If you add up the official estimates of people with these conditions, perhaps 12% of the population — 37 million people in the US — have personality disorders that make them unsuitable to be romantic partners.

And we, as a society, don’t know it.

Reason #2 – We believe people are basically the same

In the United States, from the time we are small children, we are bombarded with messages about fairness, equal opportunity, giving people a chance and tolerance. In school, we learn that we’re all created equal. In church, we learn that we’re all God’s children.

As a result, we believe all people are basically the same, there is good in everyone, and everyone just wants to be loved. Unfortunately, there is a segment of the population for which this simply is not true.

Sociopaths view the world as predators and prey — they are the predators, and everyone else is prey. They are not motivated by love; they are motivated by power and control. These people pursue romantic relationships not for love, but for exploitation.

Reason #3 – Humans are lousy lie detectors

Research shows that people can identify a lie only 53% of the time — not much better than flipping a coin.

All those signs that are supposedly giveaways that someone is lying — like looking away, failing to make eye contact — well, they simply don’t apply when a sociopath is doing the lying.

Sociopaths are expert liars. They spend their whole lives lying. They feel entitled to lie. They lie for the fun of it. In fact, there’s a phenomenon called “duping delight” — sociopaths get a thrill out of staring right into their targets’ eyes and pulling the wool over them.

People who are not liars never see it coming.

Reason #4 – Sociopaths hijack the normal human bonding process

Trust is the glue that holds society together. Trust is so important to the human race that it is programmed into our biology.

A hormone called oxytocin is released in our brain and bloodstream whenever we feel intimacy — emotional or physical. Oxytocin then makes us feel calm, trusting and content, and alleviates fear and anxiety. Nature created this process to make people want to stay together to raise children.

When sociopaths target us for romantic relationships, they either spend a lot of time building what seems to be trust, or they rush us into emotional, physical or sexual intimacy. Either way, they get the oxytocin flowing in our brains, which makes us trust them. They keep piling on the intimacy, and we, to our detriment, keep trusting.

For more information, read Oxytocin, trust and why we fall for psychopaths, on Lovefraud.com.

Reason #5 – The betrayal bond makes it difficult to escape

Once the love bond is in place, the sociopath does things that create fear and anxiety in us — like cheating on us, or taking more and more money.

Contrary to what we might expect, instead of driving us away, this actually makes the bond we feel with the sociopath stronger. It becomes a betrayal bond — a powerful bond that we feel with someone who is destructive to us.

We want desperately to return to the heady experience of the beginning of our involvement, which was filled with what we believed was love and affection. We keep waiting for the sociopath to make the situation right.

But he or she never does. The exploitation continues.

Betrayal bonds are highly addictive and difficult to break. That’s why we stay in the relationship far longer than we should — until we can no longer escape the fact that we’ve been conned.

 



31 Comments on "5 reasons why we fall for con artists"

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  1. Babs94540 says:

    I wonder sometimes if the only person who can spot a psychopath, is another psychopath? Can they con and dupe each other? Or, can a spath recognize another spath from a great distance, so they just kind of smile at each other in silent acknowedgment as they glide past one another, like sharks in the night ocean?

    I suspect that in my own case, I seem to be “spath proof” because I simply never believed that anyone who was being nice to me actually meant it. I always felt that they must want something from me, and were just pretending to like me in order to get it, whatever “it” was.

    So far, that’s pretty much the only advantage I can see for having avoidant pd with a touch of paranoia; it can help keep you from falling for spaths.



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  2. ColoradoKathy says:

    The Christian Ideal is to forgive one’s enemies, and historically even Christ was betrayed by someone thought worthy of trust. That experience was shared — apparently by everyone — even in the most extraordinarily memorable spiritual event, involving souls who in theory were aware of, and accepted, that not all men are evolved to the same degree. The prescribed remedy for this was to be more forgiving.

    Many bloody wars followed. Christ cannot have intended that his people not defend themselves, right? or they’d have died out altogether. So someplace between forgiveness and adequate defense is where spiritual Safety supposedly lies, we try to meet our duty of compassion to other souls sharing our lifetime “space” while at the same time not giving away the farm.

    If we follow Christ’s example, we will die on this cross of Reality about just how low people can be — and be reborn somewhat later, having cast away the bloody rags of that previous life. The Force that will bring us back to life will be our Connection to Understanding … that our souls are not described by the hidden acts of those who betrayed us and themselves, but by the invisible Essentials to which we remained committed to the bitter end.

    The search to be morally ethical in the face of betrayal is the common thread I see running through many articles and posts on this site, echoing this same theme.



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    • Babs94540 says:

      That always puzzled me, because Jesus (being omniscient) already knew that Judas was going to rat him out to the police, so to speak. It wasn’t a surprise; I don’t think you can define something you’re already aware of and OK with, as “betrayal.”

      But those of us who are not omniscient do get blindsided by slick spaths all too often.

      In any case I think a person can make ethical, moral choices no matter what religion he or she happens to be, or even if the person is not religious. If a person is able to feel genuine empathy and compassion for the needs and feelings of others, then, that is the impetus to make moral, ethical choices. Here at this blog, the discussions in a lot of cases (seems to me) revolve around how to better protect ourselves from spaths, how to spot them, how to avoid getting entangled with them, and how to extricate oneself if you do get entangled with one.



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      • AnnettePK says:

        The way I understand it as described in the Bible is that Jesus was with God from the beginning (John 1:2), and He and God the Father agreed and planned that He would become fully human (while remaining also fully God) so that He could give His perfect life for the salvation of all people, as part of God’s overall plan for salvation, redemption, and permanently removing Satan from the Universe (Rev 20:1-3).
        So even though Jesus was willing to be betrayed to fulfill God’s plan, it still hurt Him as He was fully human and understood the human experience while he lived in the flesh (Hebrews 4:15).



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  3. Stargazer says:

    ColoradoKathy, I have a slightly different take on forgiveness. There are people I have actually forgiven because I have seen their suffering and have compassion for the wounded child part of them who never grew up and learned to love. I feel forgiveness for my mother and father who abused and neglected me (though it was long in coming after many years of resentment). However, for the sociopath, I don’t ever recall a time when I actually “forgave” him. I would not even call it forgiveness because I cannot wrap my mind around the cause of his pain, if you can even call it pain. I just became detached. Now I don’t really care what he does or where he does it. He is nothing to me. I don’t think of him with love and compassion. I suppose having love and compassion for a sociopath is okay, too, if that’s how your healing manifests, as long as you are not in denial and tempted to go back. You can be in a state of love and compassion but still see the truth quite clearly. The person we must have the most love and compassion for is ourselves. We must put our self-care above the needs of others, including the needs of toxic people – no matter how much compassion we have toward them. It is not our job to save them nor our destiny to stay connected to them. They have their own journeys and we have ours. If our paths have intersected for a short time, or a longer time than what we liked, we can take the lessons we need and move on, wishing them well along the way.

    So I don’t think of the mandatory “forgiving” that we all must do to heal as something we proactively think or feel toward the other person. I think of it as the ultimate act of kindness toward ourselves. We just let go of the grievance. This frees us up to move on. If love and compassion fill up the place where anger once was, so be it. If it doesn’t, so what? As long as we don’t still have the anger, that’s the most important thing. We can choose to fill that place up with whatever we want. Maybe instead we want to fill it up with home decorating and a trip around the world. Awesome! That is a manifestation of love. I have found that when I’m out having fun and living my life, sometimes forgiveness for various people who have hurt me just seeps in. Sometimes not.



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  4. OpalRose says:

    Point 4 is really helpful – I’ll repeat it below:

    “When sociopaths target us for romantic relationships, they either spend a lot of time building what seems to be trust, or they rush us into emotional, physical or sexual intimacy. Either way, they get the oxytocin flowing in our brains, which makes us trust them. They keep piling on the intimacy, and we, to our detriment, keep trusting.”

    I had a 6-year on again / off again “relationship” throughout high school and into college with the first type. He took his time building trust and being patient and really, really nice. Not always available and on again / off again with other women. He would always tell me that I was “special” and when he was “ready to settle down” I would be “the one.” So I did not date anyone else – not knowing that I was part of a “harem.” Then he got his teenage 2nd cousin pregnant and married her. Then I learned that I was not the only shocked woman who had been told she would be “the one.” Then I was left with shattered self esteem and a mother who told me I should have been the one to get pregnant so I could have had him (so not a good attitude for her to have). It made me crazy for awhile. I loved the way he was so patient with me, but it was because he had so much going on all the time. That was why he showed no anxiety. I’m sorry to say that I still miss that aspect of the false front – the patient and easy going type – the wolf in sheep’s clothing.

    It was during the discard phase by the first type that I met the second type – the pushy, love-bombing type and I was totally taken in. I married this one and have paid for it ever since.

    I think it confused me that the same type of person – sociopath – can have different approaches. But this article explains it so that I clearly see both types have the same agenda – seduce and exploit.

    Thank you for the clarity – it really helps me think straight.



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    • aintgonnatakeitnomore says:

      the spath and the narc i encountered had two different “ways”. thats the reason i fell for the narc after enduring the spath. he was so healing to me! shoot, he still is in a way. or “it” was. knowing i cud be loved and cared about. yet hey, i wasnt rly. lol
      STILL; in my brain, i was cared for, for a time period. it did heal some neural connections that were so fried from the spath. it untwisted some of the mental chaos. and never did it get so bad as the spath. he’s just not aa twisted a person. the narc is SICK but the spath ~shudder~
      the self-centered spouse should be grounds for hanging IMO
      exemplified in either persuasion.
      sick bastards.



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    • AnnettePK says:

      I think that the same spath can have different approaches depending on what will hook their current target, and what needs the current target has. My ex P changed his politics, his pastimes, his diet, his hobbies, etc. based on what he perceived would hook a particular victim.



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  5. AnnettePK says:

    All five points applied to my experience with my ex P.



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  6. downwitfakerastas says:

    Every minute I turn the page on this site, there goes another sign I was dating a spath. I remember saying a couple months ago to my ex spath partner, “I just want to go back to the way it was in the beginning”…he of course changed the subject, he was very good at changing the subject. He created that betrayal bond I am learning just now.

    The one that scares me the most is the weird stare, I think I saw that spath sign on another site….he did this all the time and I knew it made me feel uncomfortable. I even eventually called him out on it and he joked and made his face try real hard for the stare and then we would laugh. He was good and turning things he did into jokes and we always commented on how sarcastic he is….he would always use this when things got heavy, he would see me questioning his actions and then use sarcasm to act like he was kidding, well he wasn’t kidding when I when I found out he had a fiance the other day and other women too, this now explains our fights over his disappearing for several days, or we would have plans and he would never show up….this incited me to no end.



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  7. toewalker says:

    My ex spath has been in prison since 2011 and gets out in 2016- because of me he is in there and I am fearful for my life. Are there resources for protection? please help.



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  8. toewalker says:

    please. the abuse became so horrific, my dog and I are lucky to be alive. When he got arrested it turned out he had a whole different identity… well he got extradited— prison….. is it likely he will come after me? He cared much for his material possessions but f him. He stole tens of thousands from me- all i had , and told me when it was all gone then he would “REALLY MAKE ME SUFFER”. A black eye or broken ribs wasn’t “real abuse” because I still had my teeth. okay. Any resources out there? I need help. Please. Very frightened of his release. Which of course can always be sooner than the release date in 2016. help. or my dog and i may wind up being tortured. He would not just kill us, he would incite horrific torture. help please before this happens



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  9. toewalker – I am so sorry for your experience. If he has made those threats, you should take them seriously. Can you find another place to live while he is in prison? Move to a different community?



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