Spiritual sociopath. Am I wronging him? Am I the problem? How do I move on?

This topic contains 3 replies, has 4 voices, and was last updated by  star_al 1 month ago.

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  • #23270


    I was in a brief (about 6 m) and intense relationship with a man I’m now thinking is a sociopath. I keep questioning myself about this ‘diagnosis’, wondering if it’s just me trying to abdicate responsibility for my emotional immaturity, lack of morals and my pain as a result of a failure to succeed at a relationship. I wonder if I’m demonizing him just so I can feel better about the sense of being defrauded somehow and the feelings of rejection and stupidity. I keep wavering between compassion for him and self-criticism on the one hand and indignant rage and judgement on the other – often coupled with a childish desire for revenge on him or some sort of moral ‘day in court’ forcing him to face up to himself or an acknowledgement of real feelings of love for me and genuine remorse for ‘making mistakes’.

    I’ve found Donna Anderson’s talks and this website very helpful. It has been a struggle for me to consider the possibility that the person I had such an intense connection with might be incapable of feeling genuine compassion or remorse. I tried to understand him, felt sorry for his problems (he came with a sad back-story, naturally) and berated myself for my own part in what happened.

    I continue to analyze his behaviour and have doubts about whether I’m being fair on him.

    The man I dated seems to tick all the boxes for sociopathy – except perhaps for anger/violence and sexual extremism. He did not strike me as highly sexual – although he liked to be very sexually intimate without having full sex.

    He presented as a spiritual, gentle, loving person who drew me in easily with the offer of emotional intimacy. He seemed to understand popular psychology and the workings of people’s minds. He’s a musician and writes spiritual, loving songs. He speaks softly and if he criticizes others he couches his comments in spiritual language that seems to create distance from concepts such as (his) responsibility and respect for feelings. By day he works as a massage therapist and ‘healer’. He has many admirers and seems to glide along in life even though I’ve heard (from him and others) that he has taken advantage of several people.

    When I got to know him first and heard from people who know him and listened to him talk about relationships (friendly or romantic) current and past I quickly heard alarm bells. I started to feel that he had many people in thrall – particularly women. I started to see a pattern – he seemed to be drawn to ‘hot messes’ (like me!): Depressed, troubled or anxiously attached women who seemed particularly empathic. I heard many stories about women giving him expensive gifts, providing him with material comforts and social or career advantages. His last serious relationship lasted 2 years and he told me the woman was from a wealthy family and he lived with them and got very close to her mother. Eventually he was ostracized from the family and though he seemed to understand the painful circumstances in that home I kept feeling that he had been taking advantage of them and got found out. For a long time I criticized myself for thinking badly of him when he appeared to be in so much pain about the breakdown of those relationships.

    Almost immediately I felt angered by what I saw as him attempting to use my intellectual skills and career experience to help him with a particular business project he’s working on. I felt used. I told him so. He seemed offended at first but didn’t really take it to heart.

    Early on I challenged him about his behaviour towards others and his response was to refer to spiritual teachings that characterized other people’s feelings of hurt and betrayal as ‘the monkey mind’ or ‘the ego’. He was always the wronged party somehow and even though he eventually acknowledged that he could have done better I always felt that he did not feel this genuinely. When he described his own hurt the ‘ego’ argument was absent. Though I often pointed out this asymmetry in the way he analyzed his relationships he somehow seemed untroubled. As a spiritual person myself his arguments about ego etc had some weight for me so I found myself second-guessing my concerns or motivations and rationalizing his behaviour. The thing I found most confusing is that he did appear to acknowledge some blame but it never felt like he really meant it. In any event, he seemed to have little or no anxiety about his mistakes.

    I was in therapy all the time I was seeing him. I think this helped me to let go of him sooner than I would have been able to otherwise. My therapist helped me to arrive at a realisation that this person showed very little concern for the impact his behaviour had on others, including me. Once, my therapist suggested the man was grooming me to become a source of supply for him and that he was unlikely to change. It took me a long time to accept this. I kept defending him by pointing out examples of loving words and behaviour, although I always worried that there was a lack of consistency or sincerity.

    Having read a bit more about sociopathy, I wonder if he has those traits. Sometimes I think he can’t be that bad but might be somewhere on the wrong end of the spectrum. I keep doubting my judgement and wonder if I’m being unfair. Perhaps I just don’t want to believe that someone I let into my heart could really be a predator.

    The following things strike me as being sociopathic in his behaviour:

    Charm and charisma – he had that in spades. He’s also physically attractive and behaves in this gentle, loving way, speaking very softly and using a lot of loving, spiritual words. He has lots of admirers in this community but is known as being a bit of a user and a suspected ‘Lothario’.

    Sociopath stare – we would lie in bed staring into each other’s eyes silently for ages. He would look deeply at me with a profound-looking expression that was intoxicating. He seemed sexually less adventurous than me, but he had this intense way about him during lovemaking that felt more connected to me than any kind of wild sex. In fact, we only had penetrative sex once during the first month and he told me he regarded sexual penetration as sacred and was guided by what felt right according to his spiritual journey. After I broke up with him he started becoming very sexually interested and adventurous and that struck me as extremely odd. It felt like he was trying to keep me addicted to him because he thought that adventurous sex was something I needed in order to bond to him. At the same time, though, he admitted things to me that would be difficult for anyone to talk about. I found myself justifying his strange sexual behaviour by relying on that information about him.

    Lovebombing – luckily for me, he dropped the ball early on by being inattentive when we were in company. I used to wonder how he would sabotage my affection by doing this. Now I wonder if his strategy was to appeal to my spirituality and open-mindedness and keep me on message so that he could avoid public demonstrations of being in a committed relationship, which would have worked against his need to seem available to other women and gather more admirers. I could tell that other women desired him. I think that helps him get more fans as a musician and healer. I challenged him about this early on but he always seemed to have an explanation.

    Unique connection story – he said he’d never met anyone he connected with so deeply. He said it scared him and used that as an explanation for why he often pulled away from me after the initial connection. Even after I broke up with him he said he wondered if he’d ever find anyone else like me. He told me he loved me and wanted us to be in each other’s lives, giving what he called ‘practical help’ to each other. He said he wanted to father a child with me and that maybe the relationship could evolve into something permanent in future but that the timing was wrong and we were both on difficult spiritual journeys. When I met him I was slowly reemerging from a difficult life change and a serious bout of depression and anxiety. I let him convince me to get a puppy with him (maybe the only lasting good thing from that relationship) and allowed him to try and impregnate me on one crazy night. I was alarmed at how easily I took risks with him.

    Reckless behaviour – I often found he compromised his safety and mine, eg. driving too fast when I was in the car with him, taking me on reckless adventures in the middle of the night. He let me spend lots of money on trips away. I was always paying for him although at the time I rationalized this as my being wealthier. I found the behaviour intoxicating at the time because I was also feeling reckless and to be frank I was having a lot of suicidal thoughts back then so I didn’t really care.

    Entrapment – the attempt to make me pregnant. The puppy. He also advised me not to talk so much to my parents with whom I’d been having some problems at the time. Looking back, I wonder if he was just trying to isolate me from my support network.

    He’s now in a relationship with someone else. He slept with me a few times after he started dating her and I’m ashamed to say I went along with it because I was lonely and isolated and lost my moral compass. I find myself obsessively stalking her activities on social media – seeking clues that he’s ruining her life too. Maybe I just want to know that I was not imagining it. For some reason it hurts more to think that it was just me – that I was the problem and that he is, after all, just a normal enough guy who’s a bit immature and inconsiderate and I was just making him up and acting out as a result of my own problems.

    I keep wondering whether I’m right in characterizing him as a predator. Something in me wants to believe that he secretly loves me and that it’s my fault for pushing him away because of my own dysfunction.

    I don’t want to see people like this. I want to believe in the innate goodness of everyone. Something tells me I have to keep focusing – to a certain extent – on his negative traits so I can protect myself because I have this sense that my own naivety or badness is part of the reason I’ve become prey to a person who appears to lack any concern for the needs of others. Or maybe I just need to paint him as the perpetrator so that I can move on.

    Sorry I’m rambling so much. I am quite confused about a lot of it and am finding it hard to forget about him. I live in a small rural community and whilst I’ve cut off contact with him I do see him around sometimes. He’s wary of me (because the last time I was with him I threw him out and told him I never wanted to see him again) but I can’t shake the feeling that he’s not at all bothered about what happened and that hurts a lot and makes me doubt my own worth as a person. I don’t like having to live in an area where I will bump into him again.

    At the same time I find myself fantasizing about meeting him again and finding out that he’s a decent guy after all and loves me as much as he said he did.

    Wow! I feel pathetic right now.

    I wanted to ask you guys if I’m just being dysfunctional myself and projecting this label on him to make myself feel better for my own mistakes. I could go on forever with minute examples of his behaviour that concerned me but I’ve already gone on too long. Am I imagining it? How can I move on? Is it possible he’s just an avoidant type of person? Should I ever consider trying to re-connect with him again or am I just craving a closeness that was all a lie?

    Thanks for reading this enormous wall of self-pity, if you did!

    And the very best of luck and love to you. I’ve read some truly horrific stories of betrayal on this site and can only imagine the damage it has caused. I hope the sting of the hurts you’ve experienced disappears soon and that you never go through that again.

    Best wishes.

  • #23276


    Hi again Portia,

    WOW! You are feeling exactly like me! I can’t stand knowing that he’s not bothered about dumping me.
    I can’t stop thinking that it’s my fault that I did not care enough about this poor man who I thought I could fix.

    We ARE NOT imagining that these men are dysfunctional! It is NOT us….it is them and they have hurt us to our very core.

    I am saying these words to myself as much as to you as I too have having difficulty believing that it was not my fault. He HAS found another source of supply and the same thing will happen to her. I so wish I could warn her but that will just give him a reason to call me a psycho.

    No do not try to reconnect. I did. The entire misery started over again. If you think living through it once is bad….try twice or three times.

    It is so hard to believe that there are people who can manipulate your emotions which such ease and not care one little bit about you.

    Yes, I have wanted revenge in the fact that I want him to have a miserable remainder of his existence. I want him to feel pain every day…..the kind of pain I’m feeling now. The sad thing is that I know he won’t. We need to somehow wrap our heads around this and move on.

    I wish I had some words of wisdom as to how to do this but I honestly don’t know because I am right there with you.

    I too find myself thinking that I horribly wronged this poor man. SO not true. He used me and discarded me. Maybe he did have an abused childhood and all his ex’s were crazy psychos but I don’t think so. It seems that this is a pretty standard play for them when dealing with people like you and me.
    It seems pretty clear to me that we are both empaths and really care and want to help others. I guess what we both need to understand is that we cannot help these people. They do not care and they will destroy us in the process.
    I have read a lot of posts here and your response to my post and the post you wrote above sounds soooo very close to my feelings. If I figure it out you will be the first to know!!
    Much love

    • #23336


      The hardest thing is “that is what a lack of love looks like” but we are all learning that lesson.
      It is horrible.
      What you see is someone enjoying gratification from the attention of appearing smart or acting compassionate.

  • #23306

    Donna Andersen

    Portia – It seems to me that your inner guidance has been telling you all along that the guy is bad news. Please believe your guidance.

    Many people have told Lovefraud about sociopaths who pretend to be religious/ spiritual / born again / pious/ a guru. It is all an act. These people can talk the talk and pretend to walk the walk, but the walking is not authentic. Your inner guidance picked up on this right away – not to mention the comments of others who consider the man to be a user.

    Sometimes we draw to us the great spiritual lesson of discernment. What is true and what is false? What is real and what is fake? OUr guidance knows, but sometimes we want to override it.

    You have discovered the truth. Believe it.

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