Relationship Boomerang: Why It’s Hard to Get Rid of a Psychopath

Relationships with a psychopath are usually like a boomerang. Even after you toss him as far away as possible, he may still swing back into your life. Years after breaking up with a psychopath, women commonly report that they’re still cyber-stalked or somehow harassed by him, or that he’s still testing the waters to see if he can worm his way back into their lives. So the question is: Why is it so hard to get rid of a psychopath?

Psychopaths are hoarders of women, even those they tired of and cast aside. They break up easily with their partners, of course. Psychopaths throw away old relationships with as little emotion or regret as normal people toss away their old shoes. But they rarely completely disappear from the radar, even years after the relationship with them is over. As they’re pursuing their newest flames, psychopaths continue to keep tabs on their former girlfriends, sink their claws deeper into the current ones, put a few more women, which are on their way out, on the back-burner as they slowly simmer, wondering what they did to lose their attention and love. Hoarders accumulate junk; psychopaths accumulate broken relationships. Since possessing women (and men) reminds psychopaths of their dominance, the more ex-partners, current partners and potential future partners they can juggle, the more powerful they feel.

In her phenomenal study, Women who love psychopaths, Dr. Sandra L. Brown describes the relationship cycle of psychopaths, as they juggle multiple partners in their tireless pursuit of their top goals: pleasure, dominance and entertainment.

1. The Pre-stage. During the early phases, a psychopath trolls for potential partners everywhere: at work, at clubs and bars, on the internet, in the neighborhood, anywhere where he can meet sexual partners. Just because he has a wife, several girlfriends and a few casual relationships on the side doesn’t mean the psychopath has stopped looking for other victims. Whatever his actual job may be, pursuing new and exciting partners (or “opportunities”) is a psychopath’s main occupation. He reads everyone’s signal: from eye contact, attitude and what they verbally reveal about their lives. He zeroes in on those who express neediness, vulnerability, or just plain sexual willingness.

2. The Early Stage. A psychopath commonly has multiple email addresses (most of them using aliases), several cell phones, various means to juggle several partners and effectively hide that fact from his more “serious” pursuits. He tests the waters with dozens of individuals, but focuses his energies most on those whom he believes he can take to the next level.

3. The Middle Stage. He chooses to have full-blown relationships with multiple women and men (even psychopaths who claim to be straight commonly experiment with homosexual relationships, for variety). During this stage he woes more seriously the most promising targets: with romance, dinners out, exciting sex, loving words, etc. Many of these women believe they found their soul-mate in him, the love of their lives. But while wooing and duping them, the psychopath keeps very busy. He still maintains a firm hold on a few relationships he’s thinking about ending; keeps an eye out for fresh prospects; plus has innumerable sexual encounters on the side. Because your typical psychopath juggles so many relationships simultaneously, even during the honeymoon period women start to experience some doubts. The psychopath may get calls from other girlfriends in the middle of their dates. He may be late to appointments or leave, inexplicably, for unaccounted periods of times. Usually, however, the wooing phase with a psychopath is so intense, fast-paced, sexually-charged, flattering and romantic that women don’t stop to think about those red flags or prefer to accept the psychopath’s rationalizations and lies.

4. The End Stage. Once the excitement of the honeymoon period and the novelty of the conquest is over, the psychopath usually no longer invests much time and energy into a given relationship. He ends  several relationships at the same time, just as he pursues multiple new ones simultaneously. Relationships with a psychopath typically end when the initial excitement and fun diminish; when the woman begins to see cracks in his mask of sanity and their fantasy love; when the relationship becomes too high-maintenance and requires too much time and energy to sustain; or simply when he’s found new relationships which are momentarily more exciting and entertaining. But, unfortunately, that doesn’t mean that the psychopath moves on and out of your life forever!

5. The Post++ Stage. Because psychopaths can’t relinquish power over anybody, they usually keep tabs on former girlfriends and periodically circle around them, like vultures, long after the relationships are dead. Even in the cases where they don’t maintain physical contact, they may still send you nasty emails thinly disguised as spam or other unwanted communication. As Dr. Brown puts it, “Given both his boredom and excitement seeking, women must know that they, nor any other lover, ever really flies off his radar–for long.” (201)

This is why it’s so hard to get rid of a psychopath, long after you leave him. Because he’s egotistical and controlling, a psychopath can’t get dumped by his girlfriends and move on, the way any normal, self-respecting man would. In fact, to maintain dominance, he usually lies to others about past relationships as easily as he deceives them about current ones. He may falsely claim that he initiated breakups or portray his ex-girlfriends as disturbed. The web of lies woven by the psychopath embraces everything and everyone in his life, past, present and future. And so the relationship cycle repeats itself, as the psychopath continually trolls for new partners, tires of current relationships, ends some of them, begins others, only to find his way back, like an unwanted boomerang, into his ex-girlfriends’ lives.

Claudia Moscovici, psychopathyawareness


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36 Comments

  1. Hi I just posted your link to my facebook group. I /could not find your email address and wondered if you would contact me so I could have permission to share put a link to your blog on my website

  2. Sarah, yes, you can put a link to my psychopathy awareness blog on your website. Thank you! Best wishes, Claudia

  3. Jeremy, I think in most cases the women are just too trusting and engage in a lot of fantasy, or wishful thinking.
    Most of them don’t know the evil a psychopath is capable of, since psychopaths hide and deceive exceptionally well and are
    social chameleons. But I agree with you that when the women willingly stay with a known psychopath (by this I mean that they
    know the man’s evil, but still don’t leave him), then there’s something seriously wrong with those women as well. Some are also
    psychopathic, others are just pathologically weak: the perfect hosts for the psychopathic parasites. Claudia

  4. just wanted say after putting it on the facebook group I will put it also on my new website. One woman said and I agree its one of the best articles she has ever read.

    Thankyou x

    Sarah

  5. Thank you so much for sharing what happened to you. Whatever damage those bad relationships did to you, it’s never too late
    to take charge of your life and flourish again. Just think of it as in some ways a bonus: you have so much to look forward to this
    decade of your life. When most other people’s lives decline and they look nostalgically upon the past, you can enjoy the present
    and look forward to the future as far better than your past, because you’re wiser and making better decisions. Best wishes, Claudia

  6. Sarah, thank you very much for what you say about my article and for sharing it on Facebook.
    I’d like to do what I can to contribute to spreading information about psychopathy, dangerous men
    and toxic relationships. So if there’s any other way I can constructively participate in the psychopathy Facebook
    page, please let me know. Best wishes, Claudia

  7. Hi claudia drop me an email. I would be happy if you would contribute to the new site and perhaps do an article on there

    kind regards

    sarah

  8. Sarah, Thank you for your notes. I agree with what you say about Neil Entwistle. I also
    look forward to reading your book on psychopathy. Can you give me your email?
    I’d like to submit for the Facebook psychopathy page an article. Best wishes,
    Claudia

  9. Great site! You’ve got a load of info here! I’m going to link you on my site :)

  10. Oh, my site is datingapsychopath.com :)

  11. Thank you for your comment. I looked at your site and really liked it as well! The more people expose psychopaths, be they male or female, for what they are, the more we can defend ourselves against them. Best wishes and happy new year, Claudia

  12. After nearly 4mos of no contact, my ex-psychopath decided to come to the complex where I work today. As I walked to my place of business he intentioally acted as if he forgot something so as to nearly brush elbows with me as I passed him by without a glance. Plerhaps he was bored!

  13. Yes, he probably wanted to test the waters and see if you’ll be receptive to his control once again. No matter how many
    partners they have, psychopaths still get bored and recycle, or try to recycle, former relationships.

  14. Kay, it all depends on whether he believes he still has something to gain from you: if only the thrill of having the last word (or be the one who dumps you rather than vice versa). But, regardless of his attitude, if it’s in your best interest to break free of this man legally, then do so.

  15. I was in a relationship with one. And yes he kept coming back, I don’t even know how many times we’ve broken up but he just wont leave me alone. And now he is about to marry someone and I don’t think she know or sees him for who he really is. I suspect he is using her for money. I wish there was a way to warn the woman before he ruins her life like he did mine, but I don’t know how to do it safely. I am afraid he will go after me. I just hate see this woman’s life going the down the dump like mine did, but I feel my hand are tied, and that’s what he is counting on. Any thoughts on that?

  16. PLR, I’m not surprised he keeps coming back to you, to reassert dominance. As for your question:
    I’m not sure if you should contact his next victim. It all depends on whether you think she’s lucid enough
    to open her eyes when you tell her. If she’s in too deep or in the luring/idealization stage still, she probably won’t listen to you.
    Or she might dismiss what you say now, but recall it later, when he inevitably starts emotionally abusing her in a more obvious manner.
    But if this causes you more drama and if she’s not likely to listen–he’ll most likely tell her that you’re lying, that you’re jealous of her, that you’re unstable
    and that you want him back–then don’t do it.

  17. “5. The Post++ Stage. Because psychopaths can’t relinquish power over anybody, they usually keep tabs on former girlfriends and periodically circle around them, like vultures, long after the relationships are dead. Even in the cases where they don’t maintain physical contact, they may still send you nasty emails thinly disguised as spam or other unwanted communication.”

    Yeah, I’ve had that one … after two years without physical contact. Now I’ve told the police about him I’m hoping he’s gone. His name and home town are on an abuse website forum too. For anybody who’s not there yet, you WILL heal. Keep on going and it’ll get better.

  18. What is the abuse website forum? It would be great if some day there could be a register of Psychopaths. I also feel that where children are involved that just to establish which parent is the Psychopath (to make it seem fair to the Psychopath??) both parents should be tested for psychopathy . It seems to me along with the Robert Hare checklist, that the ‘wiring’ test should be done. It really is the one to do. Then if its established that one parent is a Psychopath, he/she should only be allowed supervised visits or no contact with the child/ren.
    A psychopath is NEVER good for a child! If they are so bad for us adults then they certainly are treacherous for children and this needs to be addressed very seriously??
    Then they should go on to the Register of Psychopaths and have fingerprints taken etc.
    The treatment I received from the PsychopathI was with is definately ‘criminal’
    and his predatory lifestyle of using and abusing people should, in a just society, be brought to a halt. I believe there are ways if people get together and put pressure on the legal system and also on the mental health system.
    Tricia

  19. In the same boat. I really want to tell the other women and warn them and would feel so much better if I could (partially a desire for revenge and partially a desire to see something good come out of this horrible situation). But I keep thinking of the analogy of putting the safety mask on yourself first before you help anyone else. It’s likely that he will try to hurt me again if I say anything – even anonymously – as he will guess it is me since be confessed his sociopathy to me. Also, wouldn’t involving myself in his business and relationships still keep me somewhat under his thumb? I know that the best thing for me and my family is to walk away from it all and not look back. AND, by the odd chance one of his “exes” asks me about him, my silence can speak words.

  20. Sam, you’re right to have reservations and be cautious. There are two big potential problems with warning the other women, however other-regarding that may seem:
    1. Psychopaths tend to have so many other women (and men). This need to inform the other women or men will
    keep you endlessly engaged in what your psychopathic ex is doing and whom he’s dating. I’m not sure that’s healthy for you, as you yourself state.
    2. Some of the people psychopaths date are fellow psychopaths or personality disordered individuals. Then you’d be compounding your problem,
    having to deal with more than one disordered individual. Unless you are pursuing a collective legal case against some crime committed by the psychopath,
    where showing a pattern is helpful, I say move on with your life and focus on your recovery. Claudia

  21. This article is right on the money. Been involved with one and know this is 100% true.When things are good between the ex wife and himself you won’t hear from him but when things are not so rosy there, then starts texting and calling me. I’ts been 5 months haven’t seen him but let myself down 2 days ago and visited with him – big mistake. But i am only human and will learn that he is just not worth my time anymore.

  22. Amy, it’s good that you’ve seen through him and won’t let him into your life again. NC is the only way you have of protecting yourself from his manipulation and harmful influence. Claudia

  23. Omg the boomerang effect! That’s exactly what my ex did! He’d always check out my blog, look at my fb pics, send me an occasional txt or email with “I hope you’re doing okay.” Everytime he’d come back he’d say how much he thought about me when he was with “her.” How flat the sex was with her compared to what we have. How I’m on the one he can never really walk away from.

    I thought he was gone for good this last time. I think it was a yr and 1/2 before he began to email me.

    I can’t count the number of times we’ve broken up/made up. It cycled becoming more and more frequent all the time. Always at his will though. He would decide when we were making up, or breaking up. If I did decide to leave him he would be relentless at trying to get me back. When he was ready to try out a new fling he’d be exceptionally cruel so I’d get pissed off and walk away. He’s stay away, for a time, anywere from days, to weeks, and one time months, until this last time it was over a year.

  24. Thank you for saying that! I often lament how much life I’ve missed since most people are winding down at this point and I don’t feel like I’ve really even begun mine. I like your perspective better. :)

  25. Lisa, you can see how empty those words are: he thought about you when he was with her. If he truly loved you, he wouldn’t be with her, so he wouldn’t need to think about you while being with another woman. Claudia

  26. This website may just very well be my saving grace. Last night after talking to his new conquest I felt a sense of relief. I thought okay, well now I can just let it go. I see him as evil now and there is nothing I miss, good riddance.

    Today, I’m working and then out of the blue I get this knot in my stomach, overwhelming sense of saddness and believe it or not jealousy of her getting to spend time with him now and have those “special bonds” with him. How the heck is it they can make you feel like the two of you have this coonnection that nobody else has when he is completely disconnected? Saddness over him and what we no longer have just washes over me. So bizaare!!! I know who he is. I don’t understand that cycle of my own emotions at all.

    Her face and her reaction and response at certain things I said keep flashing in my mind because she has this expression and tone of possessiveness and protection of him. The irrational side of me is thinking “hey wait a minute, this is the guy I’ve had this very intense relationship with for 8 years. You’ve known him 3 weeks, maybe a month and it’s “us – the two of you” standing strong against me?”
    wtf? I hear how ludicrous that is and I’m not going to let myself ruminate there. But can’t believe I have those feelings period. He has been so incredibly cruel for 8 years!!

    Not to mention I spent a yr and half w/out him and it took a very LONG time to get him out of my mind. Then when he came back this past June I thought I was keeping myself emotionally distant and detached while allowing him to gain my sympathy. He kept telling me he wanted to kill himself and couldn’t be alone and really, really needed me, on an on. Of course he was devasted at how he has hurt me and had no idea it was as bad as it was for me, until he now was experiencing that same pain and loss. Since he knows first hand now what it felt like for me, he could never ever hurt me like that again. Well, here we are. Again.

    The reason why I’m explaining this is to ask is this typical? That I thought I completely let him go, then one LAST time give him 1/2 a chance (I never really trusted him this time anyhow). Then when he proves himself to be an”emotional predator” and see all the past so very clearly and what a shallow pit he is, I still have these moments of saddness over not having him in my life? Also, part of my brain keeps trying to tell myself, I’m wrong. He tried in lots of ways not to hurt me and protect me (all words of course). He will be different with this girl. Maybe she’s the one woman that he’ll really love and treat differently. I know the insanity of that thinking, yet I still have those thoughts. All he does is make it hell,and I miss that..why? What the hell happens to our minds that we can forget all the horrid, evil manipultion and cruelty and just remember the brief glimpses of goodness?

  27. Lisa, a lot of victims feel this way. Kelli writes often about this feeling: that maybe the new woman will be the exception to the rule and he truly loves her. It’s called “magical thinking”. Psychopaths can’t love anyone at all. They’re incapable of deeper emotional bonding and of empathy. Their romantic behavior is an act, not to say a farce, filled with deceit. You remember the magical thinking when you knew the guy was a total jerk but felt that you were the one woman he truly loved, that you could reform him? That magical thinking ended up to be deeply flawed, an illusion. It’s the same with this new magical thinking, that he could be loving to the new partner in his life. She’s feeling the same illusion you were and she will be equally mistreated and disillusioned. Claudia

  28. Lisa,Claudia – Lisa, Claudia stated it so well this magical thinking that he is off genuinely bonding and loving this other woman; think of it this way he is loving this other woman the SAME way you THOUGHT he once loved you this other woman has NOTHING you dont have Lisa even though we feel that way once we leave them and or they discard us. I struggle with what you expressed in your post as well. Try to remember if this man is NOT CAPABLE of loving someone other than as an OBJECT then he cant just turn on a switch that will make him love her any differently in the fake way they loved us. ITS THE SAME Lisa for her as it was for us; makes NO difference that they live together or are married he still is not capable of loving someone. Let HER have his fake acts of love because thats all it is.

    Is this typical? I believe its very typical for us to battle this in the aftermath and dont call it “insanity” Lisa on your part if anyone is insane because they cant love another human being its THEM, not us x0x0 Linda

  29. Hi Linda! Thank you so much for you comments. You couldn’t be more correct. I am actually doing a lot better now then I was the day I made this post. I was recalling tonight with a gf, some of the horrific things Dumbass did to me that I made excuses for, believed his lies about, denied to myself and so on. Today, is a different story. I am seeing him as a very, very, very sick man. I think beyond what I thought before as simply a deviant pscychopath. I recalled some pretty dastardly things tonight that are indicitive of a tremendously disturbed individual. I have nothing but pity for her today and little feeling of any kind for him.
    Nonetheless Linda, I appreciate your sentiment and will remember your words when/if I have another bad day. :)
    Lisa

  30. Lisa, when I wrote the article on Drew Peterson and the signs of the psychopathic bond I recall reading that Laci Peterson, while still in the honeymoon phase, used to taunt and stalk with Drew his previous wife. Then, a few years later, she became the abused and stalked wife. Even those partners who go along with the psychopath’s stalking or abuse of others eventually end up in that position themselves. The more you collude with evil, the more you isolate yourself and end up stuck in what soon becomes a living hell with a disordered individual. But, your attitude is exactly right, to focus on your promising life without him and not worry about who he is with and what he does. Claudia

  31. Claudia, It couldn’t happen soon enough as far as I’m concerned (the devalue phase with ex & new gf). I only say that because of the indirect affect it is having on our mutual friend. Because they work at the same school all of the staff now believe she is a spy for me and I’m psychotically trying to sabatoge my ex and new gf relationship. They are all still under the impression he is a gentle gem and she’s found her knight. My poor friend has lost one of her best friends who works in the class right across the way and now won’t speak to her. Odd that she believes (our mutual friend) is in cahoots with me. I’d think she’d know her better that that. Oh well, time… time….time.
    In good time it’ll come to an end and hopefully her reputation will be restored.

    I suppose it’s a good thing though. It’ll save her having to listen to another of her friends coming to work on a regular basis, distraught, crying and sobbing because of the drama and turmoil she’s going through w/disordered man.(oh maybe I found my new nickname. “Disordered Man.” lol.) Which was the case between her and I when we worked together.

    It’s really hard on our friends and loved ones to watch us go through all the trauma. My friends were really great even though I knew how difficult it was for them. Which is the very reason we loose them. If mine didn’t avoid me, I began avoiding them because I didn’t want to answer questions about “How’s it going w/”Disordered Man?” I think we forget sometimes how many lives are affected outside of our own.

    Lisa

  32. Claudia (all), I think I may start working on a post regrading how our relationship with our psychopath affects others around us. Just got an email from my friend who works with ex’s gf. My friend is in the lunch room and not one person will speak with her. They are going out of their way to give her the cold shoulder. All this because when her coworker mentioned the name of the new guy she’s seeing, she told she knew him and warned her to be careful. STUPID.
    Lisa

  33. Lisa, funny you mention this subject. I programmed tomorrow’s post on whether you should let the psychopath’s new victim(s) know about his disorder. My personal answer is NO, but I go into more details because for some people it’s a matter of conscience to do so even if nothing good comes of it for them. Claudia

  34. Lisa, I can see why you’d say that, for your friend’s sake. But from the perspective of your own healing, you’ll only heal when you stop caring altogether about who the psychopath is with and what he does with his life. Claudia

  35. Claudia,

    Funny! Can’t wait to read it. :D

    I’m not sure what I said in the above post that indicated I’m concerned about my ex and his gf in any way. I really have been able to remove myself from it all together. I don’t care in the least about what they are up to any longer. My only concern is for my friend and her working environment as a result of the connection between myself her coworker and my ex. Her colleagues think my ex is just a super great peachy keen guy and that she’s a spy for me or something ridiculous like that. Therefore her working environment is strained. I feel badly for her. But, have no feelings for, or about gf and DA.

    That is a tricky one Claudia. For me, it was a matter of conscience, only because I so wish someone would have warned me early on. Even if I hadn’t of believed them at first, by the time the first “discard” and then 10 minutes later wanting me back happened, I wouldn’t have given in to his begging to come back. I saw so many other signs that I didn’t know how to make sense of. Had I had the information I would have been able to put the pieces together much much sooner.

    Nonetheless, that is a tough call. I almost lean toward you should at least give them a heads up on what to expect. Because like I said, if they don’t at first believe you, they will at least have the wherewithal to get out early thereby saving themselves possibly years of turmoil.

    I look forward to your post and learning your thoughts. :)

    Lisa

  36. Lisa, okay, stay tuned for tomorrow morning then. Claudia


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