The Psychopath’s Relationship Cycle: Idealize, Devalue and Discard

Because they suffer from incurable personality disorders, psychopaths repeat over and over the same relationship cycle, no matter whom they’re dating or for how long. Relationships with them are always castles–or, sometimes, marriages–built on sand. Today I’ll describe the entire process of psychopathic seduction, from its seemingly ideal beginning to its invariably bitter end.

In their book on psychopaths in the workplace, entitled Snakes in Suits, Babiak and Hare state that the psychopathic bond follows certain predictable stages: idealize, devalue and discard. This process may take several years or only a few hours. It all depends on what the psychopath wants from you and whether or not you present a challenge to him. If the psychopath wants the semblance of respectability–a screen behind which he can hide his perverse nature and appear harmless and normal–he may establish a long-term partnership with you or even marry you. If all he wants is to have some fun, it will be over within a couple of hours. If he wants the stimulation and diversion of an affair, he may stay with you for as long as you excite him. Despite the differences in timeline, what remains constant is this: eventually, sooner or later, you’ll be discarded (or be led by the psychopath’s bad behavior to discard him) as soon as you no longer serve his needs.

Babiak and Hare explain that although psychopaths are highly manipulative, the process of idealize, devalue and discard is a natural outgrowth of their personalities. In other words, it’s not necessarily calculated at every moment in the relationship. Overall, however, whether consciously or not, psychopaths assess and drain the use-value out of their romantic partners. (Snakes in Suits, 42) During the assessment phase, psychopaths interact closely with their targets to see what makes them tick. They ask probing questions, to discover their unfulfilled needs and weaknesses. They also commonly lure their targets with promises to offer them whatever’s been missing from their lives. If you’re recovering from a recent divorce, they offer you friendship and an exciting new romantic relationship. If you’ve suffered a death in the family, they appear to be sympathetic friends. If you’re going through financial difficulties, they lend you money to seem generous.

During the manipulation phase, Babiak and Hare go on to explain, psychopaths construct the “psychopathic fiction.” They pour on the charm to hook their victims emotionally and gain their trust. They present themselves as kind-hearted individuals. Of course, in order to do so, psychopaths resort to outrageous lies since, in reality, they’re just the opposite. In romantic relationships in particular, they depict themselves as not only compatible with you, but also as your soul mate. While seeming your complement, they also present themselves as your mirror image. They claim to share your interests and sensibilities. Babiak and Hare observe: “This psychological bond capitalizes on your inner personality, holding out the promise of greater depth and possibly intimacy, and offering a relationship that is special, unique, equal–forever.” (Snakes in Suits, 78)

Because psychopaths are great manipulators and convincing liars, as we’ve seen, many of their victims don’t heed the warning signals. During the early phases of a romantic relationship, people in general tend to be too blinded by the euphoria of falling in love to focus on noticing red flags. Also, during this period, the psychopaths themselves are on their best behavior. Yet, generally speaking, they get bored too easily to be able to maintain their mask of sanity consistently for very long. The honeymoon phase of the relationship usually lasts until the psychopath intuitively senses that he’s got you on the hook or until he’s gotten bored by the relationship and moved on to other targets. He shows his true colors when he’s got no incentive left to pretend anymore. As Babiak and Hare note, “Once psychopaths have drained all the value from a victim—that is, when the victim is no longer useful—they abandon the victim and move on to someone else.” (Snakes in Suits, 53)

This raises the question of why a psychopath idealizes his targets in the first place. Why do psychopaths invest so much effort, time and energy into giving the illusion of intimacy and meaning in a relationship, given that they never really bond with other human beings in the first place? One obvious response would be that they do it for the sport of it. They enjoy both the chase and the kill; the seduction and the betrayal. They relish creating the illusion that they’re something they’re not. They also enjoy observing how they dupe others into believing this fiction. Moreover, whenever a psychopath expresses admiration, flattery or enthusiasm for someone, it’s always because he wants something from that person. I think, however, that this explanation is somewhat reductive. Many psychopaths experience powerful obsessions that resemble intense passions. Besides, this explanation doesn’t distinguish conmen, who fake their credentials and interest in a person, from psychopaths “in love,” who are pursuing their targets for what initially seems even to them as “romantic” reasons.

A broader explanation, which would include both kinds of psychopaths, might look something like this: as research confirms, all psychopaths suffer from a shallowness of emotion that makes their bonding ephemeral and superficial, at best. When they want something–or someone–they pursue that goal with all their might. They concentrate all of their energies upon it. When that goal is your money or a job or something outside of yourself, their pursuit may appear somewhat fake. You’re a means to an end. You were never idealized for yourself, but for something else. But when their goal is actually you–seducing you or even marrying you–then their pursuit feels like an idealization. Temporarily, you represent the object of their desire, the answer to their needs, the love of their life and the key to their happiness. But this feeling of euphoria doesn’t last long because it’s empty to the core. As we’ve observed, once psychopaths feel they have you in their grasp—once your identity, hopes and expectations are pinned on them—they get bored with you and move on to new sources of pleasure and diversion. We’ve also seen in Cleckley’s study that the same logic applies to their other goals as well. Psychopaths tire rather quickly of their jobs, their geographic location, their hobbies and their educational endeavors. But it hurts so much more, and it feels so much more personal, when what they get tired of is you, yourself.

Their loss of interest appears as a devaluation. From the center of their life, you suddenly become just an obstacle to their next pursuit. Since psychopaths are intuitively skilled at “dosing,” or giving you just enough validation and attention to keep you on the hook, you may not immediately notice the devaluation. It’s as if the psychopath intuitively knows when to be charming again (in order not to lose you) and when to push your boundaries, further and lower. Your devaluation occurs gradually yet steadily. One day you finally notice it and wonder how you have allowed yourself to sink so low. Occasionally, he throws you a bone–takes you out, plans a romantic evening, says kind and loving things—to lead you to dismiss your healthy intuitions that you’re being mistreated. If the psychopath allows himself to treat you worse and worse it’s not only because you’re much less exciting in his eyes. It’s also because he’s conditioned you to think less highly of yourself and to accept his dubious behavior. Because you want to hold on to the fantasy of the ideal relationship he cultivated, you go into denial. You accept his implausible excuses. You put up with your growing fears and doubts. You rationalize his inexplicable absences, his increasingly frequent emotional withdrawals, his curt and icy replies, his petty and mean-spirited ways of “punishing” you for asserting your needs or for not bending to his will.

But at some point, when he sinks to a new low or when you catch him in yet another lie, you slip out of the willful denial which has been your way of adjusting to the toxic relationship. Because he has lowered your self-esteem, you ask yourself why this has happened and what you did wrong. If he cheated on you, you blame the other woman or women involved. The psychopath encourages you to pursue such false leads. In fact, he encourages anything that deflects attention from his responsibility in whatever goes wrong with your relationship. He leads you to blame yourself. He also inculpates the other women. He implies that you were not good enough for him. He claims that the other women tempted or pursued him. But that’s only a diversionary tactic. You have flaws and you made mistakes, but at least you were honest and real. The other women involved may have been decent human beings, the scum of the Earth or anything in between. Think about it. Does it really matter who and what they were? You are not involved with the other women. They are not your life partners, your spouses, your lovers or your friends. What matters to you most is how your own partner behaves. He is primarily accountable for his actions. Not you, not the other women.

Also, keep in mind that psychopaths twist the truth to fit their momentary goals and to play mind games. When you actually pay attention to what they say instead of being impressed by how sincere they may appear, their narratives often sound inconsistent and implausible. What they say about other women, both past and present, is most likely a distortion too. Psychopaths commonly project their own flaws upon others. If they tell you they were seduced, it was most likely the other way around. If they tell you that their previous girlfriends mistreated them, cheated on them, got bored with them, abandoned them, listen carefully, since that’s probably what they did to those women. Their lies serve a dual function. They help establish credibility with you as well as giving them the extra thrill of deceiving you yet again.

So why were you discarded? you may wonder. You were devalued and discarded because you were never really valued for yourself. As we’ve seen, for psychopaths relationships are temporary deals, or rather, scams. Analogously, for them, other human beings represent objects of diversion and control. The most flattering and pleasant phase of their control, the only one that feels euphoric and magical, is the seduction/idealization phase. That’s when they pour on the charm and do everything they possibly can to convince you that you are the only one for them and that they’re perfect for you. It’s very easy to mistake this phase for true love or passion. However, what inevitably follows in any intimate relationship with a psychopath is neither pleasant nor flattering. Once they get bored with you because the spell of the initial conquest has worn off, the way they maintain control of you is through deception, isolation, abuse, gaslighting and undermining your self-confidence.

That’s when you realize that the devaluation phase has set in. You do whatever you can to regain privileged status. You try to recapture the excitement and sweetness of the idealization phase. You want to reclaim your rightful throne as the queen you thought you were in his eyes. But that’s an impossible goal, an ever-receding horizon. Every women’s shelter tells victims of domestic violence that abuse usually gets worse, not better, over time. For abusers, power is addictive. It works like a drug. The dosage needs to be constantly increased to achieve the same effect. Control over others, especially sexual control, gives psychopaths pleasure and meaning in life. To get the same rush from controlling you, over time, they need to tighten the screws. Increase the domination. Increase the manipulation. Isolate you further from those who care about you. Undermine your confidence and boundaries more, so that you’re left weaker and less prepared to stand up for yourself. The more you struggle to meet a psychopath’s demands, the more he’ll ask of you. Until you have nothing left to give. Because you have pushed your moral boundaries as low as they can go. You have alienated your family and friends, at the psychopath’s subtle manipulation or overt urging. You have done everything you could to satisfy him. Yet, after the initial idealization phase, nothing you did was ever good enough for him.

It turns out that he’s completely forgotten about the qualities he once saw in you. If and when he talks about you to others, it’s as if he were ashamed of you. That’s not only because he lost interest in you. It’s also the instinctive yet strategic move of a predator. If your family, his family, your mutual friends have all lost respect for you–if you’re alone with him in the world–he can control you so much easier than if you have external sources of validation and emotional support. Psychopaths construct an “us versus them” worldview. They initially depict your relationship as privileged and better than the ordinary love bonds normal people form. This is of course always a fiction. In fact, the opposite holds true. An intimate relationship with a psychopath is far inferior to any normal human relationship, where both people care about each other. Such a relationship is necessarily one-sided and distorted. It’s a sham on both sides. Being a consummate narcissist, he loves no one but himself and cares about nothing but his selfish desires.

If and when he does something nice, it’s always instrumental: a means to his ends or to bolster his artificial good image. Dr. Jekyll is, in fact, always Mr. Hyde on the inside. And even though you may be capable of love, you’re not in love with the real him–the cheater, the liar, the manipulator, the player, the hollow, heartless being that he is–but with the charming illusion he created, which you initially believed but which becomes increasingly implausible over time. From beginning to end, all this phony relationship can offer you is a toxic combination of fake love and real abuse. He constructs the psychopathic bond through deception and manipulation. You maintain it through self-sacrifice and denial.

But pretty soon, when you find yourself alone with the psychopath, you see it’s not us versus them, your couple above and against everyone else. It’s him versus you. He will act like your worst enemy, which is what he really is, not as the best friend and adoring partner he claimed to be. If he criticizes you to others–or, more subtly, fosters antagonisms between you and family members and friends–it’s to further wear you down and undermine your social bonds. Once he tires of you, he induces others to see you the same way that he does: as someone not worthy of him; as someone to use, demean and discard. Before you were beautiful and no woman could compare to you. Now you’re at best plain in his eyes. Before you were cultured and intelligent. Now you’re the dupe who got played by him. Before you were dignified and confident. Now you’re isolated and abject. In fact, right at the point when you feel that you should be rewarded for your sacrifice of your values, needs, desires and human bonds–all for him–the psychopath discards you.

He’s had enough. He’s gotten everything he wanted out of you. Bent you out of shape. Taken away, demand by demand, concession by concession, your dignity and happiness. As it turns out, the reward you get for all your devotion and efforts is being nearly destroyed by him. Ignoring your own needs and fulfilling only his–or fulfilling yours to gain his approval–has transformed you into a mere shadow of the lively, confident human being you once were.

He uses your weaknesses against you. He also turns your qualities into faults. If you are faithful, he sees your fidelity as a weakness, a sign you weren’t desirable enough to cheat. Nobody else really wanted you. If you are virtuous, he exploits your honesty while he lies and cheats on you. If you are passionate, he uses your sensuality to seduce you, to entrap you through your own desires, emotions, hopes and dreams. If you are reserved and modest, he describes you as asocial and cold-blooded. If you are confident and outgoing, he views you as flirtatious and untrustworthy. If you are hard working, unless he depends on your money, he depicts you as a workhorse exploited by your boss. If you are artistic and cultured, he undermines your merit. He makes you feel like everything you create is worthless and cannot possibly interest others. You’re lucky that it ever interested him. After the idealization phase is over, there’s no way to please a psychopath. Heads you lose, tails he wins. But remember that his criticisms are even less true than his initial exaggerated flattery. When all is said and done, the only truth that remains is that the whole relationship was a fraud.

The process of the psychopathic bond is programmatic. It’s astonishingly elegant and simple given the complexity of human behavior. Idealize, devalue and discard. Each step makes sense once you grasp the psychological profile of a psychopath, of an (in)human being who lives for the pleasure of controlling and harming others. 1) Idealize: not you, but whatever he wanted from you and only for however long he wanted it. 2) Devalue: once he has you in his clutches, the boredom sets in and he loses interest. 3) Discard: after he’s gotten everything he wanted from you and has probably secured other targets.

For you, this process is excruciatingly personal. It may have cost you your time, your heart, your friends, your family, your self-esteem or your finances. You may have put everything you had and given everything you could to that relationship. It may have become your entire life. For the psychopath, however, the whole process isn’t really personal. He could have done the same thing to just about anyone who allowed him into her intimate life. He will do it again and again to everyone he seduces. It’s not about you. It’s not about the other woman or women who were set against you to compete for him, to validate his ego, to give him pleasure, to meet his fickle needs. He wasn’t with them because they’re superior to you. He was with them for the same reason that he was with you. To use them, perhaps for different purposes than he used you, but with the same devastating effect. He will invariably treat others in a similar way to how he treated you. Idealize, devalue and discard. Rinse and repeat. This process was, is and will always be only about the psychopath for as long as you stay with him.

Claudia Moscovici, psychopathyawareness


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48 Comments

  1. Wow! Amazing article…This is what I have been going through for the past 5 YEARS! And I feel that once I get up and run, he chases me, I come back, the thrill is over for him. I FEEL USED! He uses me! And I hate it! So glad I came acorss this blog

  2. Martha, I’m sorry to hear about what he’s put you through. I wrote about this phenomenon in the article called “Relationship Boomerang: Why It’s Hard to Get Rid of a Psychopath”.
    Psychopaths juggle many relationships at the same time because they get easily bored and love toying with people’s feelings. If he is, indeed, a psychopath, then he doesn’t come back to you out of love or because he genuinely misses you. He’s using you and your feelings for entertainment, to make other women jealous and cling to him more, and to feel powerful, because numerous women are at his beck and call. I hope now that you see this, you’ll leave the Loser. Dumping a psychopath–for good, not going back and forth–puts you in charge of your life, not him. For as long as you periodically reconcile with him, however, he will continue to play with your life and emotions. I wish you well in 2011. Best wishes, Claudia

  3. Thank you for this very helpful article.I have read it over and over again and it has really helped me to understand what is going through the mind of the P guy that I know. At the moment it is just so painful for me when I realise that I am nothing to him. I hope that I will be able to heal from this toxic relationship.

  4. PS: The article on cultivating indifference towards the psychopath might be helpful to you at this point:

    http://psychopathyawareness.wordpress.com/2011/02/09/getting-over-the-psychopath-cultivating-indifference/

  5. Great article. You captured the essence of these “relationships” perfectly, illuminating the psychopath clearly, and you did not blame the victim. Hurray! And THANK YOU!

  6. The best article I have ever read – with enitirely plausible explanations for the bond between each person.
    I am interested to know why someof us have a blind spot, & seem to attract these relationships when recovering from a broken heart!
    This disorder runs in my famiily too & I have always felt guitly that we can’t trust eachother- even though I have tried everything I could…
    Would love to hear your views, thankis for your insights!

  7. Karen, we all have vulnerabilities and blind spots. It’s just that
    psychopaths sense them and prey upon them, with the intuition of the social
    predators that they are.

  8. Gary, I’m really sorry to hear about what happened to you. I agree: psychopaths, be they male or female,
    prey on those they find vulnerable or in vulnerable situations.

  9. It took me recently finding your site and others to have that light bulb moment ..Thank you ..Over 5 years seperated from my Husband and him living with his GF over 2 years and my self esteem kept eroding even after he left me. Now my dilema of how to divorce him without money I am on disabilty was even when we were together and he has never given me a cent and makes 5x as much as me. I was always scared to file knowing his rage issues and what he may do. He told me he was never divorcing me or getting back together with me either.I am actually feeling some pity for his GF knowing he must be starting into that part of his cycle or getting close with her the devalue a little bit from what I remember and realizing his history and patterns of relationships past before me.Altough He had only been married onnce before me 15 years before for 2 and a half years and with her 5 but did divorce her. Guess I felt special I was the first one since her he “loved ” enough again to marry. Foolish me ..
    His GF must have been really vulnerable she knew he had a wife out here and still got involved with him and moved in wth him.

  10. Kay, you are right to feel vulnerable and try to take precautions, since psychopaths
    leave women at the drop of a hat, but they retain “ownership” of them, to return to them
    as they please. So when women leave them, they can be enraged and vengeful. The websites
    lovefraud.com and saferelationshipsmagazine.com offer some helpful suggestions on how to
    leave a psychopath. You can never be too careful in this situation.

  11. I am still in dilema over filing for a divorce.A riend of mine did from her husband who was aso a pretty severe psychopath and she said it was the worst thing on her emotionaly and finacially even 10 years later .He still gets a hold of her and threatens suicide or lies and says he has cancer or all kinds of things.When she filed for divorce he made the judge have pity on him and in the parking lot threaten her with physical harm.He would get mad at her for little things like parking in the wrong spot n the driveway while married (sounds like the trivial things mine did)she said it just got worse when she filed that I might want to think about it and leave things as is since we don’t live together and he lives with someone else an hour away.

  12. Kay, I think in this decision you should consider your best interest. Maybe he has conditioned you to always think of his reaction first, but now you’re free of him, even if not legally, and it’s important to do what’s best for you and your loved ones.

  13. Dear Claudia,

    Thank you very much, i rely on your website very much, and i am grateful for the information and what you mentioned really enlightened me. I have been living in the dark and self esteem and even closed my heart and refuse to talk to people after i have been with my ex. whom i have been with him for a year.

    He was a typical psychopath, who enter my life passionately and full of promises, then after i start to hold him tight and i cant live without him, he started to belittle me, critise me with the most evil words in the words in the world, physical and mentally abuse me. because he
    knew that i cant live him. as i have no family, i have emotional unavailable parents as well.
    I cook for him, he critise my food, and throw them in the dustbin, the more i try to do whatever he want, the more he torture me and humiliate me, and i found out he was having 4 women outside and even he was continuing having communication and secret relationship with other women, which i got the proof and i finally left him,

    But i think it’s because human nature still having the basic instinct and strong desire of living. that’s why after i found out the truth of he was cheating behind me with a lot of woman and he promise them as how he promise me that he wil marry me this year end, i felt myself really cant stand anymore, i decided to stay far away from him , and cut off the relationship from him forever. because i realize he had pull my life to the hell, and i lost my weight for 10KG within few months.

    i have left him for 4 months. the pain and wound still there, but i am rrecovering everyday, it’s terrible to get cheated and manipulated by tthis kind of psychopath. and i realize i cant do anything, the most urgent action we need to take is to runaway from this monster as fast as we can. it’s hard to do that, but once you have left far away from this monsther, your life will be better and better. Now i still feeling hating him and hurted, but i know time is the best medicine for that and thanks for this website, i would like to read all the articles here, and the more i understand , the more i wont blaming myself and let go.

    Thank you Claudia, and love you!! may the god be with you always !!

    Ling

  14. Ling, I’m sorry to hear you’ve had this terrible experience. It is very common, however, for psychopaths to string so many women along and to eventually mistreat each one after the initial luring phase. Very few psychopaths find enough use-value for another person to bother to maintain their mask on for them for a very long period of time. The most important thing is: what you do once the mask comes off. Psychopaths fool many but keep few. I’m glad that you left him. It’s a test of your own mental health and resilience. Claudia

  15. Dear Claudia,

    When you said about ‘they kept few’, but the person being kept by him maybe will not have the secureness. I was thinking before maybe he really love me, maybe i am the one of out of those women, maybe i am better than them, but after the ‘passionate’ season gone, he started finding new target new woman, and started to compare me and them, and after awhile he will approace me again, give me some ‘desert’, bring me out to have a great date, and act like nothing happened before. I was so tired of all these repeating games and being toyed. i dont know whether he was unconscious or he dont know what he was doing. He seems like no heart, no idea of what he did was hurting people. I once asked myself one questoin, if i really continue with him even i am the ‘special one’ to him, whom everytime he went out with other women and will c

  16. come back to me, but do i really need this kind of pathetic relationship ? or if i let go, i will have good chance to meet a man who really love me ?? maybe i just need to trust myself has a great value worth more than being with a man who is honest, faithful, understanding and loving than a man who give me little bit of pathetic love ‘sometimes’.

    Even right now i havent met this future great soulmate and future husband yet. But i believe i will meet my future great husband one day.

    Ling

  17. Thanks Liberty! Your blogs look good as well. Claudia

  18. Ling, I didn’t see your notes until today. Just remember that any target is a psychopath’s temporary dupe and supply. It’s not an expression of any real love or caring. It doesn’t matter how long a psychopath is with a woman. The duration and intensity are determined by her perceived use value to him. Claudia

  19. dear Claudia,

    Great to know that you still remember me !! actually i do read your articles started from Oct’10 and now reading November’10.. quite slow progress..but your articles really help me alot and give me strength and self confidence that i am not the one who is bad and not deserve love. i have been brain washed by my ex that i m an ugly and lousy woman that besides him nobody can love me, and i have to be thankful to him for his pity and love. this is how he brainwashed me for the days i was with him. i am counting the days i have seperated with him, it’s few months already and 3 months officially i have not contact him at all, and more and more i felt i was stupid to believe this person. and now i feel better and better when the time passed and not contact this person at all. i have new life now, great job, go shopping, buy something to make myself happy, live happily. and i believe nothing is more important to have myself back and love myself.
    recently i was too busy with my work, therefore i seldom write. but your articles are great , and it does help me and i believe a lot of people

    best regards, Ling

  20. Ling, thanks. Like I said, sometimes I miss reader comments because I check for them mostly in the most recent articles. But I’m glad that I found yours from way back and that you’re continuing the road to recovery. Claudia

  21. Claudia, thank you for such an extremely accurate article. Because someone recently sent me the contact details for my ex-girl-fiend’s current victim, I felt compelled to write him the following email, complete with a link to this article. I’ll let you know if I get a response.

    Hello Dr. Todd,

    My name is Julian, you don’t know me, but I’m Tina’s previous boyfriend of 18 months, subsequent to her short-lived marriage to [OT].

    I’m given to understand that you are Tina’s latest “attraction,” and since I believe you are an honest, competent and hard-working fellow human like myself, I think you should know that Tina is a very dangerous and toxic woman. To be blunt, she’s a psychopath (not a serial killer, but extremely dangerous just the same).

    I have found a very relevant description of The Psychopath’s Relationship Cycle which I urge you to read, as it describes precisely and exactly what she did to me, and to [OT] before me, and will most definitely do to you. That is, after she has fleeced you for every penny she possibly can. You’re a surgeon, and according to public records, you bought a house in 2007 for $825,000 – so you’re very, very fleecable in her eyes. [OT] was a director at [huge multinational company] making $150k/yr, I’m a consultant earning around $120k/yr, and you’re probably in the $200k range – so look out!

    Should you wish to discuss this matter further, you’re welcome to contact me by telephone or email. Watch out for yourself, Todd, and be very careful. I repeat, Tina is extremely dangerous, a true wolf in sheeps’ clothing.

    Best regards,

    …Julian.

  22. Julian, that’s a very courageous move on your part! I’ll be curious to see what Dr. Todd responds. My inclination would be not to keep up with who a psychopathic ex is seeing and warn anyone because there are too many victims and it would keep me entangled in a psychopathic ex’s life. But you’re taking the risk and doing this new victim a huge favor. Also, as I mentioned before, if the psychopathic ex engages in illegal activities or fraud, as Donna Andersen’s ex did, then it’s a great idea to inform other victims and band together in a class action lawsuit or at least provide testimony for each other’s lawsuits against the conman. Claudia

  23. Thank you for the wise advice, Claudia. I’m now back home, 500 miles away from my ex-path, I’ve given up on trying to get my belongings back, and so I don’t think she has any further control over me. I’m certainly not trying to keep tabs on her, as a simply can’t. Were it not for an anonymous tip (with only his email address), I wouldn’t have even known who her next target was, and wouldn’t have cared.

    So I Googled the email address (which just happened to be the same as his MySpace profile name), did a bit of sleuthing based on the results, then waited a couple of days to let my mind ruminate on the situation. I finally concluded that I have nothing to lose and someone I don’t even know has a lot to potentially gain, so I went ahead and sent the email.

    I’ve had no response yet (my ex is a beach addict, and it’s been a perfect summer weekend), but if I do, I suspect we’ll have a couple of email exchanges and then in a week or two I’ll carefully post a summary that doesn’t disclose the identities of any of the parties involved.

    The only clearly illegal activity that my ex-path was involved in was serious tax evasion (I think I described that in another thread). If the IRS finds her – and they may, because her ridiculously low “income” was a heated topic in her divorce proceedings – she’ll be certainly forced into bankruptcy and probably jailed for perjury to boot. We can only hope :)

    If she does get convicted of tax evasion and perjury, you can rest assured that I will set up a website like DoubleDupedDave’s, tell my story and include her real name. The problem with these people is that they are outlaws, and until they are convicted of an offence, you just can’t say anything at all about them without risking a defamation lawsuit. Donna Anderson protected herself quite effectively by posting the full judgement against her ex-husband on LoveFraud.com.

    Thank you again for your advice and support, and especially for your spot-on articles. If it had not been for this particularly relevant Relationship Cycle article, I don’t think I would have sent Dr. Todd the email in the first place.

  24. Claudia, I should also add that it’s because of your writings and my initiative that we both might be able to take credit for an averted victim situation.

    I’d also like to add, for the benefit of those subscribed to this thread, that I was very careful before posting the content of my email. My name is Julian, her name is Tina, so I Googled “Tina Julian,” There were 17.3 million hits, and according to PublicRecords.com, there are 74 people named Tina Julian. So it’s highly unlikely that she will ever find this post.

    However, her ex-husband’s first name is rather unique, and after Googling and finding it very quickly, I replaced it with [OT] in my comment.

    I strongly recommend to everyone, please Google yourself to see what comes up, and then Google your name and your (ex) partner’s name to ensure that you can expect a reasonable degree of privacy.

  25. Julian, what you say makes sense. At any rate, we each have our own ways of addressing the psychological and/or economic injuries infllicted by psychopaths and narcissists. If this plan is within the boundaries of legal actions, works for you and helps you move on, then all the better. Claudia

  26. Julian, I think that victims of psychopaths and narcissists tend to feel so used, betrayed and injured by the degree of fraudulence in their psychopathic ex-partners that it’s nearly impossible to do nothing about it. We each cope with that degree of betrayal as best we can and address it in our own ways. Some of us start blogs or write books to spread public awareness on the subject and help other victims; others write directly to some of the new victims; others may volunteer their time at women’s shelters; others decide to let it go completely and erase the psychopath from their lives as much as possible (which they may not do with “normal” ex’s or in “ordinary” breakups). There’s a wide range of responses to the trauma of having been involved with a psychopath or narcissist. I think for the victims’ own peace of mind, it’s better to be place the emphasis on helping others rather than on being vindictive. Being vindictive can tie you too much to the disordered individual and keeps the focus on him and can become an all-consuming negative energy. Does any psychopath or narcissist deserve so much of our attention, be it positive (as during the idealization phase) or negative (once we realize we’ve been used, lied to, cheated on and, more generally, duped by a fraud)? Most of us would probably say: no. It’s normal to react negatively when you’ve been so betrayed and hurt, of course, but moving on also means moving on from that individual, be it love or hatred towards him or her, and using this information as constructively as possible. But, at any rate, whatever our reactions might be, hardly anyone remains completely passive after escaping from the psychopathic bond because these relationships are a complete fraud, inflicted with deliberate malice by a disordered individual, not just normal relationships that went sour. Claudia

  27. Well, over a week has gone by with no response from Dr. Todd (and happily, no flak from my ex-girl-fiend either). I’m not surprised; at only six months into the relationship, it’s probably still mostly in the idealization stage. I should add that Dr. Todd is a podiatrist, and Tina has painful bunions – I think it’s safe to assume that she’ll be on her best behavior until she gets some free surgery. At least Dr. Todd has a heads-up when Tina’s psychopathic behavior becomes apparent. For myself, I’ve slept much better this week, knowing that I’ve sowed the seeds of a warning.

  28. Claudia, I apologize for my absence these last few days – a business emergency cropped up which had me working overtime since last week. But I did write some notes about your previous comments over the weekend, and now I’ve completed them and I’m finally posting.

    Thank you very much for your previous comment regarding reactions to the trauma of psychopathic and narcissistic abuse. I completely agree with you; the powerful emotions generated by the situation are best channelled in a positive direction. Dwelling on revenge only keeps you tied to the abuser and slowly poisons your soul.

    I’m often reminded of a parallel situation that happened five years ago. My cat needed dental surgery, and the veterinarian who performed it used a pain-killer meant for dogs and specifically contraindicated for cats. The result was that my precious cat died a horribly painful death over a 72-hour period, her gastrointestinal mucosa burned away by the dangerous drug (meloxicam, for those who are interested). Horrified by this tragedy, I had a pathologist perform a necropsy (autopsy is for humans, necropsy is for animals).

    Armed with the pathologist’s report and the drug manufacturer’s clearly documented contraindications, I prepared the legal paperwork to sue the veterinarian not only for wrongful death, but also for drug experimentation with client-owned animals (the drug company had tried to interfere with both myself and the pathologist) — a charge, which in my jurisdiction, is grounds for permanent suspension of his license to practice veterinary medicine.

    But I never filed the charges with the courts. Instead, I volunteered to foster abandoned cats for a local animal shelter. Over the last five years, I have fostered 18 homeless cats and have experienced the deep gratification of watching them transform from frightened, abused and distrustful animals to happy, playful and affectionate companions over a period of three to six months. Having (sometimes tearfully) handed each foster cat over to his or her adoptive family – believe me, it’s really hard to hand over an animal that you’ve mutually bonded with over a few months – I learned perhaps the most important lesson in my life: love most definitely does not entail ownership. All that matters is what happens during your time together.

    If you’d like to learn more about this (and photos also), see http://www.petfinder.com/petdetail/10088440 and click “Read more about this pet” (I wrote this back in 2008). In my opinion, some animals are just so much more amazing than many humans.

    Having become intimately familiar with the cat-overpopulation situation here in Montreal Canada I can definitely say that the concept of “Idealize, Devalue and Discard” most certainly applies to animals also. People are just so enamoured by kittens, but once they become adult cats and spend most of their time napping and grooming themselves, they are quickly devalued and discarded by their owners. Hence the disturbing euthanasia rate; where I live, about 10,000 cats are euthanized annually by the shelters (due to simple lack of space), the majority of them between 12 and 18 months old.

    I feel compelled to add that I believe that my ex-girl-fiend instantly recognized my compassion for animals as something that she could exploit. Just as she recognized Dr. Todd’s ability to remedy her long-standing bunion problem as something that she could exploit also. Aren’t these people just so predictable? …Julian.

  29. Julian, It’s great to hear from you again! Thanks for the update, even if there’s no news. I’m not surprised to hear that you got no response. If you contact someone who is in the idealization phase, it’s pretty hopeless. I know because friends warned me about the psychopathic ex, calling him unscrupulous and a bully–which were understatements, really–but I didn’t listen when he was seducing me full-force ahead. Secondly, disordered personalities who collude and support a psychopath never listen either. Those remain entangled in the toxic bond for life. The only people who listen are those who, like us, have been burned and for whom the psychopath’s mask has already started to slip up. In other words, people who already glimpse at the truth. Claudia

  30. Julian, you’ve hit upon a huge cat (and dog) lover! To my mind, cats are wonderful, smart, independent yet warm, loyal despite their reputation: all in all great creatures. If anyone mistreats cats (or dogs)–pets who have evolved hundreds of years to be sweet and loyal to humans–they’re inhuman. Claudia

  31. Claudia, I’m so happy to hear that you’re an animal lover also! Although I love dogs too, cats are especially dear to me – we humans have to EARN their trust and respect, which in my opinion is not the case with dogs (who I believe to be too trusting).

    Having said that, I feel like a stupid dog that trusted someone who certainly did not deserve my trust, and was emotionally and financially damaged as a result. The lesson learned for me is that I should take a cue from my beloved cats, and insist that the humans in my life EARN my trust rather than me just giving them the benefit of the doubt.

    I think that’s a lesson learned that should be heeded by all who listen in to this forum. Trust MUST be earned, and not given away for free. Just ask your local neighbourhood cat.

    …Julian.

  32. Julian, I agree, trust must be earned. If we give it to everyone a priori, we run into conmen and frauds who will use that trust and regard it as an invitation to exploit us. That’s relevant in life, on a blog, anywhere, though of course, the ideal balance is prudence without paranoia. It’s difficult to maintain that balance after being burned by a psychopath, however. We can only do our best! Claudia

  33. “The ideal balance is prudence without paranoia” … thank you Claudia, you’ve hit the nail on the head (once again!). Your wisdom never ceases to amaze me… this is exactly the situation I find myself in, prudence versus paranoia. I’ve now spent over six months as a hermit, studying narcissism and psychopathy, and I’m beginning to feel the urge to become social again. My personal challenge is precisely what you said — balancing a reasonable degree of prudence against the paranoia of having been burned by a psychopath.

    Fortunately, I’ve learned (and experienced) the red flags, so I think I have a pretty good chance of success in future relationships. Although I would never wish a psychopathic relationship upon a friend, I can certainly say that it has been an incredible learning experience. And I cannot thank you enough for your lucid and helpful postings on this blog. Thank you so much! …Julian.

    P.S. One of the things I will be looking for in a future partner is a sense of community, perhaps volunteering? — being reasonably successful, I have always felt a desire to give back to my community in some way, whether as a Scout leader or a foster home for unwanted cats. The lack of community spirit might very well be an indicator of an unhealthy personality.

  34. Julian, I find myself in the same position, trying to find that balance. I used to be a very open and trusting individual, and in some ways still am, but more cautious than I used to be. Moreover, when you run a psychopathy blog/support group, you have to be somewhat cautious as well. Not everyone is who they claim to be and support groups attract occasional trolls and spammers, which I do my best to filter out. One can be anything and anyone in the anonymity of cyberspace. Needless to say, your posts and contributions are always much appreciated and welcome. We have so many contributors who are both honest and supportive of others, who are an immense asset to this blog/support group. Thank you for your contributions. Claudia

  35. Dear Claudia,

    i am more and more healthy now, after change my job and move to Brazil, and i have new life now, new friends. great shopping experiences, beaches and sea .. i force myself not to contact the psychopath EX for 5 months already. it’s great and i feel better and better everyday. now i fully agreed that we have to use the ‘no contact rules’ to protect ourselves. thank you again and this website.

  36. Ling, it’s great to hear that you’re doing so well. Keep up the no contact, it’s absolutely essential for your continued well-being. My ex tried to hoover me just last week by email, and I blacklisted her email with my email service. I don’t ever, ever want to hear from her again. Keep on getting healthier! – Julian.

  37. Great to hear that, seems like we are in a support group, i keep telling myself that, it’s my best right thing to leave this jerk. i was with him and he cheated my money, sulked my feeling and emotion, you cant imagine i was like a zombie on the road with hurted heart, swollen eyes, and i was even physically abused. and now i joined another company, stay far away from the country iwas staying to change a new environment to live.. and i just came back from Barra Shopping in RIO Janeiro,. and i bought a best perfume of Tania Bulhoes brand and went to spa, sauno, arobic, and living happily here, and he was trying to sometimes ‘sending me message like i miss you, kind of bullshit’ but i know him already, he just want to make sure i still cant get over from him. but i told myself that i am smart and i have brain, if this is a mistake and i was just being with a monster with human skin.. haha. then i will automatically keep myself away from him. no contact rule !!! i think no otehr way. it’s just a mis-judge of person. we must live in a new and good life now. i pray to god now everyday, and i know through all the disaster, i can do it.

  38. hi Julian, if you are interested, i can send you some ebook which help me a lot when i was almost killing myself.. my email is floristtly@gmail.com, drop me a mail if you need the books. i will 100% support you to leave the person who are trying to harm our soul. they are like vampire.

  39. Ling, although this isn’t an official support group, everyone is very supportive of each other here and Claudia makes sure that those who aren’t are filtered out. We can all certainly imagine what it was like for you a few months ago, because we’ve lived through it too. Once you become aware of what’s really happening, the feelings of betrayal and shame are almost unbearable; many have called it “emotional rape.”

    My favourite line from Claudia’s article above is: When all is said and done, the only truth that remains is that the whole relationship was a fraud. It really helps to remind yourself that all those wonderful things about him, all those good times – that was all completely fake. Especially when he tries to hoover you (suck you back in like a vacuum cleaner). That’s a pure manipulation tactic; he wants you to recall those fond memories as if they were really true.

    Over the last few weeks, I’ve completely lost my fondness for the “good times” with my ex. Looking back at them, there was always something not quite right with each one. Even the very best parts were nothing more than a complete fraud designed to drain me of my energy and money.

    It’s great to hear that you’re recovering so well. I just read your comments from early July, and it’s obvious that you’re seeing everything much more clearly now and taking very good care of yourself. That’s a very healthy sign; congratulations to you! – Julian.

  40. Claudia, I’ve responded to Ling. At your convenience, would you kindly delete her posting above? I’m concerned for her privacy, as her ex may try to Google her email address. – Julian.

  41. Dear Julian and Claudia,

    it’s ok, no need to delete, because it will help more people to see what i have gone through and what i have felt and how i walked out from the fraud.
    I know my ex very well, he wont spent a single minute for something unmeaningless to him, He has dozen of women besides me when i found out and i am sure he doesnt have time to look for me as well.. i am just a used toy for him.

    it’s so sad to said that “whatever remain is a fraud”. even it’s sad, but it’s true.

  42. “In their book on psychopaths in the workplace, entitled Snakes in Suits, Babiak and Hare state that the psychopathic bond follows certain predictable stages: idealize, devalue and discard. This process may take several years or only a few hours. It all depends on what the psychopath wants from you and whether or not you present a challenge to him. If the psychopath wants the semblance of respectability–a screen behind which he can hide his perverse nature and appear harmless and normal–he may establish a long-term partnership with you or even marry you. If all he wants is to have some fun, it will be over within a couple of hours. If he wants the stimulation and diversion of an affair, he may stay with you for as long as you excite him. Despite the differences in timeline, what remains constant is this: eventually, sooner or later, you’ll be discarded (or be led by the psychopath’s bad behavior to discard him) as soon as you no longer serve his needs.”

    So true! I’ve just ended an 8 year on/off again relationship with a psychopath. Our relationship was so on/off because what he wanted from me as constantly changing. Sometimes he wanted some freedom to try another victim for a while. Sometimes he would only want to get away for an evening to be w/another woman. In that case he would be incredibly mean to me to the point that I would refuse to see him. Then a few hours, a day, a week whatever timeline he needed he would be calling w/”I’m sorry, I don’t know why I was so mean. You don’t deserve that. I’m really sorry. I miss you…” It took a while for me to figure out when he was the cruelest was when he had a date planned with another woman. After time, he wouldn’t call with “I’m sorry” but make it all seem like it was my fault and if I were only different, the way I used to be we wouldn’t be fighting and he’d want to see me. But, since I’m this or that way, he needs a few days to himself. Then he’d be back again telling me how sad and lonely he was w/out me. How he just really needed my company. How I am the only person he can never stay away from, or seem to let go of.

    We’ve been apart a couple of weeks now and i’ve recentely discovered he is dating a friend of my best friends. I realize now why he had become incredibly cruel, even for him, the past few weeks. He had been secretly dating this other woman. However, he didn’t realize we share a mutual friend. So, I intend to expose him to this new conquest and at least give her some warning signs to look for if not tell her to just run far and fast. At the moment she is telling my friend she is so very happy with this new guy she’s met who is so gentle and sweet. That is his facade to reel women in. In reality he’s anything but gentle and sweet. However, the only people who see his dark side are his intimate partners, and direct family members. Our mutual friend tried warning her he wasn’t such a nice guy when she realized who her friend had begun dating. Of course the new girl’s reply is that she doens’t believe it. He is just too sweet to be a bad guy. I can’t blame her. I even have a hard time believing he has not feeling for me or anybody for that matter. He fakes it very well, until you’re intimate with him. Then he seems to both love and loathe you.

  43. Lisa, I think it would be best to completely disentangle your life from this man and others associated with him, so you can move on and thrive without him. I know it’s very difficult and painful. Claudia

  44. Dear Lisa,

    I had the same / worse experience as you, i was meeting a psychopath one year+ ago. and after being tortured by him for one year. i have decided to leave him. As a woman you must be strong and love yourself enough. i have beem building my self confidence and self esteem after i have decided to keep away from him and cut contact. the fact is i from inside my heart dont want to know this person anymore after i have been ‘wake up’ from the night mare.
    just now only i still found his friend request in my facebook, but i just reject, as i right now have 100% realise that he is just a lier but nothing. i am just one of his 20 women out there. As i keep remember this fact, it push me to keep away from him. it’s just like how people keep away from the toxic and radiation element.
    till now it’s 6 month’s no contact , i am better than ever. thanks god to give me this website to reveal the truth to me therefore i am still alive right now.

  45. Ling, it’s good to hear from you again as well. I’m glad to hear you’re maintaining no contact and doing better and better. Claudia


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