By September 8, 2016 8 Comments Read More →

It’s Not Complicated—He’s a Sociopath


Husband Liar SociopathEvery week, a chapter of my book, “Husband, Liar, Sociopath: How He Lied, Why I Fell For It & The Painful Lessons Learned” (available via Amazon.com, just click on the title or book cover) will be published here on Lovefraud. To read prior chapters, please see the links at the bottom of the post.

Chapter 22: The Show Must Go On

“Where secrecy or mystery begins, vice or roguery is not far off.”

— Samuel Johnson


Keeping my life all but invisible and inconsequential to Paul was not the only pillar upon which the “success” of my marriage (i.e., lack of tension) depended. Another pillar was accepting living in an information void. Secrecy is symptomatic of sociopaths. They use it to cover things up—gambling, other women, and various self-indulgent pastimes of which the average spouse might not approve. Perhaps they also tend toward secrecy because it makes them feel powerful to withhold information—to know something to which no one else is privy. No matter the reason, I learned to live with only scraps of information about where my husband was on any given day or night.

Whether because I was almost forty when I had Daniel, our second child, or for some other reason, my second pregnancy was complicated. Daniel was to be delivered by planned C-section. Unless Daniel decided to come into the world exceptionally early, Paul and I knew our son’s birthday in advance. Yet, with the C-section just days away, I did not know where Paul was, only that he was out of town traveling on business somewhere in the US. Emotionally, I felt minimized and abandoned. Rationally, I told myself it was no big deal. If Paul was out of town and there was a crisis, how useful could he be to Jessica and me until he returned anyway? I was just being foolish and needy to want more information. It would be okay, especially because my mother had come to help.

I loved having my mother at the house, because it was such a rare event. We spent a few days shopping for Daniel and Jessica and stocking the house with food. We wanted to make sure Jessica would feel like an important big sister, not a displaced sibling. My mom had not been at my wedding to Paul, and she had not been there for Jessica’s birth, due to my father being ill. Also, because Paul disliked my brother, I never saw her at Thanksgiving anymore. As a result, I was overjoyed to be spending rare mother-daughter time with her at such a special moment in my life.

The day before the C-section, everything seemed to be going as planned. Paul arrived home well after I had put Jessica to bed, and I was tired and fighting sleep. I tried to stay awake, but with my eyes heavy, I said goodnight to my mom and Paul and went upstairs to bed.

A few minutes later, Paul joined me in the bedroom. As he closed the door behind him, it seemed to shut with a particularly loud thud.

“Are you going to explain this?” he snapped.

“What are you talking about?” I asked, truly shocked by Paul’s anger and clueless as to the cause.

“You’re excluding me from everything! You aren’t paying any attention to me. You’re making me feel like a stranger in my own house!”


“You heard me,” Paul said, simmering with anger.

“I’m about to have a C-section tomorrow. I’m exhausted. I don’t understand!” My pulse quickened, and my mouth went dry.

Paul left the room, closing the door hard but just short of slamming it so as not to alert my mother. I heard his footsteps go down the stairs, and then the TV turned on.

I burst into tears. Like a child reprimanded by her father for something she did not do, I wanted to run to my mother for support, to feel the warmth of her arms around me and hear her soft voice telling me it would be okay. But I was an adult, almost forty years old. I didn’t want my mother to worry about me, and I was ashamed to be in a situation where on the eve of giving birth to my second child, the man I married would treat me so poorly. And why?

What had just happened? What had I done? Had I really pushed Paul away? He had been working around the clock, like usual. He had not taken any time off to get things ready for the baby. That was his choice. I wished he had. But asking Paul to focus on me and “us” never went particularly well, so, as usual, I had gone about doing all the preparation for our second child myself, with a little last-minute assistance from my mother. He was the one who had chosen to be so remote. Why was he angry with me?

Sleep that night was elusive; the interaction with Paul kept replaying in my mind. When Paul came to bed hours later, I pretended to be asleep. I did not want to talk to him. I remained as still as I could, curled up in a near fetal position, positioned as far from Paul’s side of the bed as possible without falling off the edge. I did not want him to touch me, even by accident. At such a precious and precarious time in my life, on the eve our second child’s birth, he was being a selfish ass.

The next morning, exhausted, deflated, and profoundly hurt by Paul’s verbal attack the night before, I got Jessica ready, and my mom and I drove her to her half-day preschool. On the morning of my second child’s birth, I should have been feeling a mixture of joy and tension. Instead, I felt frightened, unnerved, and was battling back despair. When Paul finally awoke, I hugged him and told him I loved him but that I was unsettled by our interaction the night before. I was certain he would shake off the insanity of the previous evening and focus on making sure I was feeling positive for the big day ahead, hug me, and say he was sorry. He didn’t. Sociopaths are never sorry. They have no remorse, and they are never wrong. If they are angry, it is always someone else’s fault.

It did not matter that I was going to have a C-section that morning. Paul’s needs had not been met the night before. As a result, Paul felt abandoned, overlooked, minimized, hurt, and not in control.

Many of us have been taught that for someone like Paul to have feelings like this, he might have been treated poorly as a child. Perhaps his mother or father did not give him the love and attention he needed, and this resulted in oversensitivity or a feeling of emptiness. If this were the case, than perhaps, insight, understanding, and love would help make Paul feel whole again.

Having studied psychology as an undergraduate, I certainly thought this was plausible—that love and understanding were likely antidotes to Paul’s “moments of weirdness” (i.e., self-absorbed nastiness). From what I knew about Paul’s childhood, Ruth had children so close in age that at one point she had three children under the age of four. Perhaps, as the oldest, Paul felt increasingly displaced and craved the attention he wanted but could not get from his overwhelmed mother and inconsistent, alcoholic father.

Such potential explanations actually distracted me from the truth, made me believe change was possible when it wasn’t, and kept me in a toxic relationship far longer than if I had known to consider that Paul might be a sociopath. Wondering if someone involved in a difficult relationship might be a sociopath is a question we should all know to ask, because even though they comprise just one to four percent of the population, by their very nature, sociopaths must be even more common in high-conflict relationships. Sociopaths can come from loving parents or abusive parents, intact homes or broken homes, rich parents or poor parents. Sociopaths are simply hardwired differently, with studies indicating that a significant amount of their nature is genetically determined.

If I am right and Paul is a sociopath, no elaborate explanation is required to account for his behavior. It just comes down to sociopath math. In Paul’s world, Paul is the only one who matters—ever. If his needs are not being met, that is unacceptable, and someone else is to blame. Seeing as he truly cared for no one other than himself (including Jessica, me, and our unborn child), it was of absolutely no concern to him that his behavior might upset me at such a critical time. Should he have been concerned that I would tell someone about his acerbic behavior? Of course not. He would just deny it, and seriously, who would believe me?

My mother stayed behind to pick up Jessica from preschool and bring her to the hospital to see her new brother and me. As Paul drove me to the hospital, my despair was unshakable. I fought back tears. It was another moment of clarity. No matter what Paul was feeling in this situation, wasn’t my physical and emotional health—as well as that of our unborn child—paramount? Paul had not taken any time off from work until the day of the C-section. If he had wanted to be involved in any of the shopping or preparation, all he had to do was ask. How selfish and contrived to say now that I had pushed him aside, that I had been ignoring him, that I had kept him from being involved.

Paul did not talk to me in the car, but his body communicated his contempt—eyes straight ahead, jaw and shoulders tight. When we arrived at the hospital, I struggled to speak during the admittance process, and my voice cracked continually. My eyes pooled with water, releasing an occasional droplet down my cheek. As I wiped each tear away, I apologized to the admitting nurse.

“She’s just tense and worried about the C-section,” Paul explained with a tender tone to his voice and a charming, relaxed smile. He put his arm around me and drew me close. “You’ll take great care of her, right?”

“Aren’t you lucky to have such a great husband,” a nurse said. “He’s a keeper.”

I felt sick.

This quick change in persona from monster to nice guy (or nice guy to monster), and the failure to acknowledge it subsequently, is characteristic of sociopaths. The monster was the real Paul, who was now evident more and more, but only when there was no adult audience other than me. Even though the evidence of Paul’s true self was mounting, I still had no idea to what I should attribute his behavior. I still had no idea that the “nice Paul” was, in fact, fake. As in the hospital, sociopath Paul was rarely visible to anyone but me. His public persona was saint-like. This meant I was all alone in my observations.

Since no one else seemed to witness this callous behavior, it made me doubt myself. Maybe it was just me. Maybe I was losing it. Maybe Paul was right that I was selfish, controlling, and overly sensitive. If that were true, shouldn’t I try to change? Shouldn’t I feel lucky to have a Prince Charming in my life who cared about me in spite of my considerable failings? If I was really as flawed as Paul thought, would anyone else ever love me? If not, shouldn’t I do everything possible to hold on to my marriage with Paul?

If I told my mother or a friend what had transpired the night before, would they have said, “I bet Paul’s a sociopath, that your marriage is a fraud, and that you should end it now before it gets worse and ends badly”? Probably not. Even a friend or my mother would find my reports of Paul’s behavior so incredulous that it would be easier to assume I was simply overly emotional on the eve of a C-section, that I had blown some interaction out of proportion, or that it was just a misunderstanding. Such exchanges with Paul left me more and more emotionally raw, “off,” and overly sensitive, so this conclusion that “it was me” would probably have seemed more reasonable than the possibility that, without provocation, my husband had acted so callously on the eve of our son’s birth.


Start from the beginning:

Chapter 1

Go to previous chapter:

Chapter 21


Identifying names, places, events, characteristics, etc. that I discuss here and in my book have been altered to protect the identity of everyone involved.

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8 Comments on "It’s Not Complicated—He’s a Sociopath"

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  1. Bev says:

    I am so angry! Furious.

    ‘They’ are absolute ‘gems’ to other people. Only we, who live with ‘them’ or have lived with ‘them’, know the truth. Great to the outside world, rotten behind closed doors.

    I feel sick, too. Knowing what I now about the SP in my life, and also knowing, that others do not really see HIM at all.

    How long before others see HIM???

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  2. NoMoreWool says:

    My ex did almost the same thing to me before our first child was born. I was so swollen with edema I could barely move. I needed some last minute things before the baby arrived, so we drove to town. He had me drop him off at the bar because it would be his last chance to hang out (ie drink) and have some fun shooting pool before the baby came. Surely I could manage the shopping myself, since Walmart had an electric cart I could ride? What did he know about baby stuff? So I gave him what cash I had and drove to the store alone. The lone electric cart was already in use, so I took a regular cart and slowly made my way through the store, stopping frequently to catch my breath. I finally collapsed on the bench in front of the customer service counter to wait for an open register (I wasn’t capable of standing in line at that point). Moments later, He walked through the door. I lit up with happiness to see him – showing up in the nick of time to help me. NOPE. He was simmering with barely contained rage. We checked out and I pushed the cart out to the car. Once *I* had unloaded the purchases and was driving us home, he let it all out. What the F was I doing in there? Having an affair in the stockroom? The piddly amount of cash I had given him barely lasted ten minutes, so while I was screwing around at the store, he got tired of waiting and started to walk. THEN, because of my lack of consideration for his poor suffering self, he had to endure the humility of talking to the cop that stopped him and accepting a ride to the store like some common drunk, only to find me lounging around on a bench instead of taking care of my business and getting back to him. Needless to say, that was the last time I was ever happy to see him.

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  3. becomingstrong says:

    Paul, that contemptuous, sadistic piece of s**t. I think several things were at play the week you were to have your ‘scheduled’ C section. Paul, seeing you appeared unbothered by his intentional neglect, had to wave a red flag in your face. As if to say, “Don’t you see how mean and awful I am to you and aren’t you going to complain to me and give the opportunity to tell you how ‘insane and selfish’. You are too silent and I’m going to bait you and if you don’t take the bait I’m going to be openly hostile to you just to make sure you are paying attention.” Secondly, in my opinion, he was jealous that someone was treating you nicely-your mother. We can’t have that now can we? Thirdly, major events, i.e.: holidays, birthdays, anniversaries, birth’s of children… are just opportunities for them to show you how small you are. Just like the birth of your first child. It was a set up Paul’s little fit. It worked. Paul is a sadist. He took joy in watching you suffer. I too have similar stories. The time I was in labor with twins and the nurse anesthetist made a blunder which sent my blood pressure way down and I nearly passed out. What did the spath say, He turned to the NURSE, which he knew, and said “Poor Trudy”. As I was fading and the lights were going dim I still had enough of my mental wits about me to know that his comment was hauling. OR the time that he could barely hold my hand (limp hand) as I was pushing. Of course only I noticed and I was supposed to be the only one who noticed- How does the song go, “For your eyes only”. The upside is when you walk away from them there are no regrets, other than, staying too long.

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  4. becomingstrong says:

    ON Ward, I do disagree with one point you made. Your mother, I don’t think but you know her best, would have dismissed a factual rendition of what he said and what he did the night before. That is not subjective. What he said is what he said and it stands alone as awful. And what he did, i.e.: shutting the door harshly and abandoning you to watch t.v. is also objective and mean by any measure. While your mother might not have said you need to divorce him, she might very well conveyed a message to you that that was wrong.

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  5. becomingstrong says:

    Dear O.N. Ward,

    I’ve pondering the point I previously commented on. There were lots of time when my spath did unimaginably mean things to me and I didn’t tell anyone. And the reason why I didn’t tell them is not because they wouldn’t believe me. It’s because they would believe me and then they would look at me and ask me what I was going to do about it. And I knew subconsciously I wasn’t ready to leave him and so my solution would be unacceptable to them. And my unacceptable solution was to grin and bear it and hope for the best. I once told my sister that he beat me, mind you never treated me that way in public. She believed me. And she told me you can stay and take the beatings and if you don’t plan to leave him for real don’t call the police. Her thinking was if I call the police and they arrest him and I’m not ready to leave him I’ve just added to my problems of getting beaten and then losing income bailing him out, hiring a lawyer, and dealing with the immigration consequences since he was a U.S. resident. I chose to take the beatings because I wasn’t willing to let the chips fall where they may.

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  6. DoneWithThat2 says:

    Wow. O.N. Ward you have put into words the deep emotional isolation, the swirl of confusion when you don’t understand your own life, and the severe deprivation. I think the hardest part was knowing that no one would believe me. Even as I divorce narcissist #2, everyone thinks he is a great guy. It took a long time for me to realize that I don’t care what anyone else thinks of him or me. I know the truth. I know he is an emotional vampire who took everything and gave nothing. I was naive. I had no boundaries. I put other people first. I rescued because I could.

    No more.

    Nothing like a few narcissists to set you straight. I am no longer naive about people. I have boundaries. I put myself first. I no longer rescue people from their choices.
    And as a result I get to live the rest of my life being authentically who I am. And for that I am grateful.

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  7. kaya48 says:

    I read the book in about 2 days. I was not able to put it down. It was like reading my own life story. Holidays ,special days were torture for me. I was walking on eggshells made out of glass. Every minute he pushed my buttons, every second he gaslighted me. At the end of the holiday I was told “see how crazy you are we cannot even celebrate s holiday “. Only I did not see it then. Once I was discarded, once I filed for divorce and started no contact , slowly I realized what had happened. It has been 3-1/2 years since he walked out on me and his son. Left us without any financial help , closed all bank accounts and if he went. I am divorced since 2 years, no contact since 3 years. I must say the past 3 years have been so rewarding for me. I have my sanity back. I have peace , happiness and freedom. I think my emotional scars have healed and I am in a good place now. Has my life changed ? Absolutely. I lost my house , I lost many material things but I gained so much. To this day I am grateful to the attorney who gave me strength and hope. Who was by my side 24/7 through this ordeal. I feel blessed that I survived. I no longer feel like a victim. I am strong and I know I am not fat, old, boring , with my hair too short. Those attributes my ex husband assigned to me were just garbage. Garbage he put in my head to destroy my self worth, my self esteem in order for me to feed him his ego kibbles. He thought he was God. In truth he was and is lucifer. I will never go back there again.
    This book has once again confirmed to me that I made the right and only available decision there was. You cannot fix evil, you cannot fix stupid but you can divorce it.

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