Lovefraud received the following letter from a reader:
I was not in a disastrous relationship with my S. Our relationship was less than three years, our marriage less than two when he openly cheated and decided to leave me, then played games of false reconciliation, which in hindsight were so he could have two sex partners.
The short end of my question is … How do you reconcile the basically happy marriage, the illusion of a man you married with the horrible monster he has become in trying to create turmoil in your life and use your greatest love (your child) to hurt you?
Range of behavior
One reason why it’s so difficult to spot sociopaths is because they are not all the same. Sociopathy is a trait that varies from person to person. You could compare it to a trait like intelligence—not all intelligent people are intelligent in the same way. Some people are smart in academics, some people have mechanical skills, some people are artistically brilliant. They are all intelligent, but intelligent in different areas of life.
Sociopathy manifests differently in different people—I like to say the disorder ranges from sleazy to serial killer. Some, therefore, are violent—but many, probably even most, are not. Some sociopaths are low-level criminals; others have successful careers in business, government, medicine, the military, education, the clergy—every possible field of endeavor.
The point is, sociopaths exhibit a range of behavior, so behavior by itself is not always a reliable way of spotting the disorder.
Sociopaths often wear a mask—until they decide that they can no longer be bothered keeping up appearances. I think that’s what happened in the case of this Lovefraud reader. The sociopath she was with played the part of the committed husband—until he had enough of that game and wanted a change. Oh, he kept it going for awhile with the false reconciliation. But when he was well and truly tired of the marriage, he became the monster.
The reader didn’t say how he was using the child to hurt her, but based on what I’ve heard from other parents, I can take a few guesses. The sociopath considers the child to be his property, and he wants to own it. Or, the sociopath thinks the child will be useful to his image—he’ll be able to play the doting dad, so that he can snag another victim. Or, the sociopath simply wants to win whatever battle their custody situation has become, and win convincingly, so that our reader never has the temerity to challenge him again.
So how does our reader reconcile the “happy marriage” with the “monster”? She has to understand that the happy marriage never existed. It was an illusion, carefully crafted by the sociopath to reel her in and get what he wanted. Once he changed his mind about what he wanted, the marriage was no longer useful to him, so he dumped it.
This is what sociopaths have in common: They are social predators. They are users. They have no heart, no conscience and no remorse. You cannot interpret them through the way you live your life. You simply have to accept the fact that they are staggeringly different from us. We feel empathy for other people. They do not.
Regardless of how it manifests, the common denominator is that these people are empty shells pretending to be human. When you look carefully inside them, you’ll see nothing.
Lovefraud originally published this article on April 5, 2010.