Your son or daughter has now come to the brutal realization that the entire relationship was a scam.
Perhaps you’ve had your suspicions for a while. Perhaps you’ve even tried to tell your kid that the partner was no good, but he or she wouldn’t listen to you.
Now everything has collapsed, and you can’t understand why your son or daughter didn’t see it coming.
Please understand that sociopaths are professional con artists, and they are really, really good at what they do. In fact, they spend their entire lives perfecting their craft.
Following are nine reasons why your son or daughter fell for it.
1. Your son or daughter didn’t know sociopaths exist
Our society tells us that everyone is created equal, everyone just wants to be loved, and there’s good in everyone. Perhaps you even said these things to your child. If not, the messages certainly came through at school.
Our society doesn’t tell us that there are exceptions. The feel-good characterizations simply do not apply to the approximately 12% of the population who are personality disordered.
These exploiters come from all demographic groups and all walks of life. They are not necessarily hard-core drug addicts or criminals.
What we all need to learn is that people who are attractive, educated and well-mannered can also be evil.
2. Your son or daughter is good and kind-hearted
Perhaps you taught your children to treat others the way they want to be treated. Your son or daughter may be naturally kind and willing to help others.
Usually, this is a wonderful way to live. Unfortunately, there are people in the world — sociopaths — who are willing to take advantage of anyone’s goodness, kindness and generosity.
We all tend to interpret the way others behave according to the way we behave. So if we don’t lie, and would never dream of intentionally hurting someone, we don’t know it’s possible for another person to do it to us.
That makes us walking targets for sociopaths.
3. Sociopaths are extremely convincing liars
It is impossible to overstate a sociopath’s ability to lie. These people lie like they breathe. They spend their entire lives perfecting their lies. They tell big lies and small lies. They tell outrageous lies. They even lie when they’d be better off telling the truth.
Sociopaths can look deep into your eyes and lie. All of those tips about how to spot a liar simply do not work with sociopaths. These people can pass lie detector tests.
If your son or daughter is basically honest, they never stood a chance.
4. Sociopaths promise to make dreams come true
In the beginning of the involvement, the sociopath likely asked your son or daughter a lot of questions, and listened very carefully to their answers. Your kid likely interpreted this to mean that the sociopath was really totally interested in them.
Actually, the sociopath was listening carefully to find out your child’s hopes and dreams. The sociopath wanted to discover the deepest place within them to set the seduction hook by promising to make the dreams come true.
And who doesn’t want to believe someone who promises to make your dreams come true?
5. Sociopaths target vulnerabilities
If we’re human, we have vulnerabilities. Sociopaths are experts at finding and exploiting them.
This doesn’t necessarily mean that your son or daughter lacks intelligence, has low self-esteem, or is a co-dependent personality. We all have desires, and what we want makes us vulnerable. We also all have emotional wounds, and those wounds make us vulnerable.
Many times emotional wounds date back to childhood. Can you think of anything your son or daughter experienced that could have created a wound?
6. Sociopaths hijack the natural human bonding process
When people experience intimacy, a hormone called oxytocin is released into the bloodstream and brain. Oxytocin is triggered by any type of intimacy — emotional sharing, physical touching and sex. Oxytocin makes us trust the person with whom we share intimacy.
Feelings of love cause dopamine to be released in the brain. Dopamine is associated with energy, motivation and addiction.
These psychological and biological changes are normal. Nature intended them to make us want to stay with our romantic partners to care for children.
None of this applies to sociopaths. They do not form bonds. But they intentionally do things — like causing fear and anxiety — that make it difficult for their partners to break the psychological bonds and escape.
7. Sociopaths present themselves as perfect partners
In the beginning, it seems like the sociopath has so much in common with your son or daughter. That’s because sociopaths figure out what their targets are looking for, and then make themselves into that person.
Then, sociopaths keep the mask on as long as necessary to get the target hooked. Once the target is committed — perhaps living together, married or pregnant — the sociopath may totally change.
I’ve heard of sociopaths who even announced immediately after the wedding, “Now I can stop pretending.”
8. Sociopaths engage in brainwashing
Cult leaders — who are sociopaths in the extreme — have discovered that the most effective brainwashing technique is love bombing. This means is showering their targets with attention and affection, making the target feel loved and wanted.
The sociopath your son or daughter encountered likely did this in the beginning of the relationship. That’s how they got hooked.
From there, the sociopath may have gradually engaged in mind control by manipulating your kid’s behavior, information, thoughts and emotions. The sociopath likely instilled an “us vs. them” mentality in your son or daughter, with you being the bad guys. This is a typical thought control tactic.
Sociopaths instinctively know to do this. But their targets, unfortunately, are not aware of what is happening.
9. A premeditated scam
Everything the sociopath did to take advantage of your son or daughter was intentional.
Here’s what sociopaths do when they meet a potential target:
- Evaluate the target to see if he or she has anything that they want.
- Ask questions to determine the target’s vulnerabilities.
- Use the target’s vulnerabilities to take what they want.
The entire relationship was a scam. The sociopath may have been a “make it up as you go along” type of person. Or, the sociopath may have executed a plan that was years in the making. (Yes, that happens.)
This is mind-boggling. No one wants to believe that promises of love and devotion are just a ruse. So even if your son or daughter started having doubts, they never even dreamed of the scope of the sociopath’s betrayal.
What to do now
Please understand that your son or daughter was up against a professional. The sociopath targeted your kid, and used love bombing, lies, mind control, emotional manipulation, fear and guilt to execute the exploitation scheme.
The sociopath probably did not employ all those tactics with you. Therefore, you may have been able to see what was going on, where your son or daughter could not.
Mom and Dad, if your kid now knows they’ve been scammed, the pain of betrayal is overwhelming. The last thing they need to hear from you is, “I told you so.”
The best thing you can do is focus on your love for your brokenhearted child, and without judgment, help him or her pick up the pieces.