Psychopaths and Duplicity by Lisa Jean

A cool crisp autumn afternoon and I’m lounging around the house recovering from a severe cough that has left me too weak to do much else. Doing some channel surfing I come across a movie with Clive Owen and Julia Roberts called Duplicity. While watching it I am reminded of how duplicitous a psychopath is. How duplicitous anything a psychopath says is. As well as how duplicitous a relationship with a psychopath is.

The dictionary definition of duplicity is:

“1.contradictory doubleness of thought, speech, or action; especially: the belying of one’s true intentions by deceptive words or action

2: the quality or state of being double or twofold

3: the technically incorrect use of two or more distinct items (as claims, charges, or defenses) in a single legal action”

 The first definition is “contradictory doubleness of thought, speech or action.” This would be the very definition of a psychopath. In the beginning of the relationship when they are in the idealization phase the person they present to you is nothing like the person they truly are. Additionally, the intent of their relationship with you has little if anything to do with what they are saying to you or showing you. If the psychopath is intending a romantic interlude with you, or even a romantic relationship with you their actions, words, speech and thinking is rampant with lies. They may present themselves as being smitten with you and wanting to be your everything. If you are a single parent, they’ll be the man/woman who loves children and is happy to be there for you to help with watching the children, help with cooking meals, doing homework, or playing catch with the children. At night he/she may be ready to draw you a bubble bat, bring you a glass of wine, pamper and care for you. While in actuality they really couldn’t care less about your fatigue, or stress, or feelings of being overwhelmed. In fact they are probably rejoicing in your suffering because it is making the door for them to enter into your life so incredibly easy to walk through.
Any gesture, action, or words you hear them speak that appear caring or thoughtful is duplicitous. The only care or thought a psychopath feels centers around himself or herself. If your psychopathic partner has ever seemed thoughtful, or generous, take a good look at what may have motivated the seemed generosity. For generosity and the psychopath are a contradiction in terms. The psychopath is generous to himself alone. When I reflect back on some seemingly generous or selfless acts or words my psychopathic ex told me, or did for me I can always trace back a selfish motive. Even if the only motive was to keep me in his life for the next time he needed me for a victim. Had he completely burned our bridges and severed the relationship to a place that would be irreparable he wouldn’t have a sure thing lined up in terms of future victim supply.
Apparently, even the simplest of generosity or thoughtfulness is full of duplicity. The entire relationship is wrapped and woven very tightly in a mask of duplicity. The loving relationship I thought I was a part of, the connection I felt with this person and all the moments of intense emotion and passion we shared was duplicitous. I and I alone was experiencing them. What he was experiencing was a series of accomplishments, victories and defeats that were and remain completely about himself. There was never an “us”, there never is an “us” with a psychopath. There’s a me against you. There is “I will conquer and destroy you, I will win, I will come out on top, I will have control and power over you.” I, I, I, I, I. This is the crux of the relationship with a psychopath. There is no “us” in “us”. There is “I”, victory and defeat for me and me alone in “us” for the psychopath. Once again, duplicity.
The psychopath has been in the practice of living a duplicitous existence since their very first recollection of “self.” As soon as the psychopath is aware of themselves in relationship to a world outside of themselves they are aware of the difference between themselves and others. In order to simulate being like others and fit in with “them” the psychopath has to appear like “them” i.e. us. Hence the beginning of duplicity. They watch, mimic, pretend, learn how to be like the rest of us. Much like the big back wolf learns how to be Grandma in Little Red Riding Hood. Appearing like Grandma is what will get him the meal he so desires. The Big Bad Wolf may be one of the first introductions we as children have of a psychopath. He is extremely duplicitous. He pretends to be Little Red Riding Hood’s friend. He pretends to want to help her deliver her basket to Grandma’s house. But his real intention isn’t to help Little Red Riding Hood at all. His intention is to help himself to whatever it is he wants.
Another red flag was the self-deprecation. I saw this as insecurity and vulnerability. In actuality this too was duplicitous. The focus on his flaws turned out to be more narcissism. It was another way to have his ego fed by the attention and empathy of others. When he would ask me if I found him attractive, he’d get to hear exactly what he’d been craving. “Of course you’re handsome.” He’d ask me what I liked best about him. What I would rate him on a scale of 1 – 10. He would ask these almost daily for nearly all the 7 1/2 yrs we were together. Duplicity in action. Feigning insecurity when his ego just needed a constant supply of feeding: narcissistic supply. He never did return the gesture to tell me I was beautiful of course.
When allowing someone to enter into my life I intend to err on the side of caution. Not that I’m going to be paranoid and assume everyone is out to victimize me. However, I do intend to keep some distance until I know I can trust that person. This may mean a person who would have gotten a second chance from me in the past will not get it in the future. To some this policy may appear harsh. But upon further thought, it’s not. I have never hurt another person intentionally. I’ve never done something so thoughtless that it was in complete and total disregard of another’s feelings to the degree that it directly hurt them deeply. I’ve been thoughtless and careless, of course, I’m human. I’ve made attempts to change my behavior and been sincerely sorry when I’ve hurt someone. But, I never expect them to roll out the red carpet and welcome me back to do it again. I understand I need to prove my trustworthiness to others, before they can also trust me. I think if we entered our romantic relationships with this healthy assumption we would have been safer from duplicitous individuals.
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The Psychopath’s Hook: Love Bombing, Sex and Flattery

Nobody is lured by anyone through initial criticism and abuse.  If a psychopath undermined your self-confidence on the first date, you’d quickly dispatch him on his way. Relationships with psychopaths are about utility and power. The psychopath will use you for whatever purpose he wants–sex, money, a mask of normalcy–and keep you in your place by getting you to focus on your weaknesses and pouncing on your insecurities. However, no relationship with a psychopath starts that way. On the contrary, once they set their eyes on you as their main target (their “prize”), psychopaths typically engage in whirlwind romances. They can’t get enough of you. They want to see you and make love to you all the time. They flatter you constantly. They tell you that no woman they’ve ever been with is as smart, as beautiful, as classy as you are. You are the one true love of their lives. Their only love. Victims tend to eat the flattery up, since after all, who doesn’t like to be told such positive and beautiful things? They don’t ask themselves a common sense question: Why is this guy flattering me so much?

This is, indeed, the first question you should ask yourself if you’re being “love bombed,” as they say, by anyone. How many healthy individuals do that? And what makes you so special that out of all the people in the world you turn out to be the most beautiful, brilliant and exciting of all?  Could it be that this man has an ulterior motive? Could it be that he told each one of his main targets the same lines? And if so, why? To show you how absurd love bombing is and why you should display great caution when you encounter it, just consider the following analogous examples. We tell our children not to approach strangers who try to lure them with nice words and candy. Those individuals are probably social predators, pedophiles. But why do grown women accept such flattery without raising an eyebrow? Shouldn’t the advice they offer their children also apply to them?

To offer a second common example: in the seventies a lot of women hitchhiked. They didn’t necessarily ask themselves why is this stranger being so nice and giving me a free ride? Most of the time they were safe; a lot of the time, they weren’t. Some got picked up by social predators–rapists and even murderers–whose “niceness” was only a lure. There is a pattern emerging here. Most normal people don’t love bomb. They do not engage in over-the-top flattery; they do not make promises of eternal love right off the bat; they don’t call you the love of their lives without even knowing you. These are patterns of behavior that should be suspicious because they are very common lures for predators.

Psychopaths commonly engage in love bombing as their hook, to sink their claws into their victims. The flattery, declarations of love and romantic encounters bond and attract the victims to them. This process is not reciprocal. Since psychopaths attach to others without emotionally bonding to them, they only bond the target, not the predator. Such techniques pump up the victim’s confidence and get her addicted to the supply: of flattery, of romantic words and gestures, or constant displays of “affection” and love making. But only one person–the victim–is actually  making love. The other one–the predator–is conquering her, getting her to depend upon his presence and approval, so that he can later tear her apart. That is a psychopath’s main goal: to exercise control over his targets and ultimately harm them. The psychopathic bond is, as Sandra Brown aptly puts it, “a relationship of inevitable harm.”

When victims are still in the honeymoon phase of the psychopathic bond they rarely believe that the person who appears to woe and romance them so much, the one who claims to adore them, intends to use, control and ultimately destroy them. But as the relationship with a psychopath unfolds, this underlying goal becomes more obvious. He starts to get you to focus on your weaknesses. He starts to tell you the criticisms leveled against you by other people (supposedly) so that you focus on those issues. Initially the criticisms don’t come from him (supposedly). They come from your colleague or your friends or his family members. Then, slowly, they start coming from him. Maybe you should exercise more. Or lose some weight. Or you don’t wear the right kind of makeup. Or professionally you’re not successful enough. Or you’re no longer as sexually exciting to him. Bit by bit, criticism by criticism, the psychopath undermines your self-worth. This process may happen in a few months or may be painfully slow and gradual, a matter of years. Either way, it’s highly effective. You are already used to his flattery and validation. What are you doing wrong that you’re no longer getting them? Your sense of who you are and self-confidence begin to slip. You do what you can to regain his approval, or perhaps even his idolatry. His “love”.

The moral of this story? If someone is too positive and flattering and gives you too much attention in the beginning of a relationship, it generally means you’re in for a very bumpy road later on, filled with criticism and manipulation. When somebody starts love bombing you, don’t ask yourself: How in the world did I get so lucky? Ask yourself: What does this guy want from me? In a psychopathic bond, the idealization phase of flattery and wild declarations of love is by far the most dangerous because that’s when a psychopath conditions you in a positive way to pin your self-worth on him. Once you do that, he gradually and steadily conditions you to accept his increasingly negative criticism, to chip away at your identity and self-esteem. This eventually happens in every relationship with a psychopath. You will not be the exception that confirms the rule. Nobody proves to be a psychopath’s “one true love,” no matter how much he flattered them and said he loved them in the beginning.

Claudia Moscovici, psychopathyawareness

Dangerous Liaisons: How to Identify and Escape from Psychopathic Seduction


A Note From the Heart by Kelli Hernandez

Sometimes those who have had the great misfortune of having had a relationship with a psychopath feel permanently tainted. They’re afraid they will never be healthy enough; all they can be is  a “second rate” partner. This attitude makes me angry and I will try to persuade you that it’s isn’t right.  All of us who had intimate relationships with a psychopath feel deeply wounded. None of us are or could find “the perfect partner.” But that doesn’t mean that we couldn’t become and find “a suitable partner”. The “perfect partner” doesn’t exist. You are not perfect; I am not perfect. While personality disorders are clearly defined–with a specific list of highly destructive symptoms and behaviors–“normalcy” or “perfection” are constructs, ideals. But just because none of us are perfectly “normal” or “perfect,” it doesn’t mean that we’d make second-rate partners. What we have, which personality disordered individuals don’t have, is the capacity to love. 

If there is one thing I’ve learned from having pathologicals my whole life is this: Without love, there is nothing. Without love, we wouldn’t survive as a species. Without love, we couldn’t have partners. Without love we could not have children. Without love, we couldn’t help the homeless or cats or dogs. Without love we couldn’t help the homeless, or a helpless human being dying from a terminal illness. All of those things derive from love.

Without love, what you have left is pathology, evil and suffering. You have the destruction that psychopaths bring into the world. The children in the orphanages in Romania…..they didn’t have LOVE…..they were sick, many died, they lived in their own urine and feces and suffered disease……but love flew in and adopted some of them. Love is simple. Love encompasses so many beautiful things. When we can love ourselves, we can love others, no matter what state they are in! Isn’t that a wonderful thought?

I was never given love, but I have the capacity to love and I want to be loved. Because without it, we would die and others would and do suffer. Without love we have psychopathy. With love, we can recover from the psychopathic bond. I don’t expect anyone to be ideal; I can’t offer perfection to anyone. I want someone to accept me for me and am ready to accept those I care about for who they are.  That is the best we can expect and offer in life.

Kelli Hernandez

Should You Warn the Other Victims of the Psychopath?

One of the questions victims of psychopaths ask themselves after they learn about personality disorders is: Should I warn the other victims of the psychopath? If this question is largely motivated by the need for vengeance my answer is definitely: NO. It’s not that I don’t support the idea that the psychopath, who harms others so gleefully and remorselessly, get what he deserves in life. But I can think of several good reasons why if you’re motivated primarily by vindictiveness, ultimately you won’t feel much satisfaction from warning the psychopath’s newest batch of victims.

1. It means that you’re stuck in a negative emotion, that will keep you angry and ruminating rather than focusing on moving on with your life.

2. It means that you’re still keeping up with what the psychopath is doing and with whom, when, once again, the focus should be on healing and moving on with your life.

3. Psychopaths usually have numerous simultaneous victims, at different cycles of the relationship–idealization phase, manipulation phase and devalue/discard phases–as I explain in the article Relationship Boomerang: The Psychopath’s Relationship Cycle. It would be a full-time job to keep up with the psychopath’s victims and warn all of them.

4. It’s likely to cause drama in your life, when what you need is calmness and healing. When they can’t get positive attention from you, psychopaths love getting negative attention from you. As extreme narcissists, they need to be at the center of attention, regardless what kind. 

5. Even passive contact–meaning reading the psychopath’s communication without responding to it or finding out on the internet or from mutual acquaintances what he’s doing–can set back your recovery.

6. It’s likely to be a very thankless task. Psychopaths, particularly “socialized” or “charismatic” psychopaths, tend to carefully select victims who idolize them. Such victims sometimes stand by the psychopath even in those extreme cases when they’re convicted of rape and murder. The psychology of individuals brainwashed by cult leaders, who are often psychopathic, also applies to some victims of charismatic psychopaths. Even in less extreme cases, most victims pass through a honeymoon phase–filled with lies, flattery, mirroring of their values, phony declarations of love and false promises–which bonds them to the psychopath. During that phase many victims will not listen to anybody’s warnings, even in the face of compelling arguments and evidence. Just ask yourself: Did you or would you have listened to such a warning? I know that my friends tried to warn me early on about the psychopath’s true nature, but during the honeymoon phase I couldn’t see the lack of character, superficiality and malice they saw in him. Only during the much less pleasant devalue phase, which occurred during the final few weeks of our relationship, did I start to open my eyes and recall the red flags they had spotted much earlier than me. I suppose it’s better late than never!

7. A small minority of the victims of psychopaths are disordered and dangerous themselves.

However, if you’re motivated by the other-regarding desire to warn the current victims for their sake–to help them avoid the pain you felt–regardless of whether they’re grateful for the information you gave them and regardless of the fact this will keep you at least indirectly associated with the psychopath and his current life, then it may be worth assuming the risks I enumerated above.

I’ve shown in a previous post, called  Stringing Women Along: The Psychopath as Puppet Master,  how psychopaths use women against one another to string them along as back-ups and to play puppet master. The more subtle psychopaths also use them to keep their hands clean, so to speak. If a psychopath criticizes his wife to the girlfriend (to justify his cheating and prove his trustworthiness to her) and, once discovered, the girlfriend to his wife (to exculpate himself), then the two women are too busy fighting each other to focus on his wrongdoings. Aside from the entertainment value of jealous women fighting over him, the psychopath gets the additional advantage of not having to engage directly in a smear campaign. He allows the women, who now disrespect and maybe even hate each other, to do it for him. They can spread false or selective information to family members and friends, thus sparing him the dirty job of doing it himself. He’s lied to them both and cheated on them both. In a just world, he certainly deserves to be exposed.

The tricky part is how to do it most effectively. Because such manipulative men antagonize women against each other, it becomes difficult to share information in a civil manner. Once she realizes that she’s been mistreated and that something’s seriously wrong with this man, how does the wife tell the girlfriend about it (and why would she do her rival such a favor?) or the girlfriend tell the wife? Both are likely to suspect the other of ulterior motives, such as wanting to get the man for herself or petty revenge against him. Moreover, the wife, or the psychopath’s main partner, has been morally wronged most. The girlfriend with whom the psychopath cheated on her has wronged her almost as much as her own partner (except more impersonally). She’s therefore not likely to respect the girlfriend (or girlfriends) enough to even want to communicate with her (or them).

A few years ago, I followed with interest the discussions on lovefraud.com on this subject. Numerous women have shared their experiences of trying to tell the other women about the psychopath and his personality disorder, once they have opened their eyes. The contributors reported mixed results. Some of them were able to get through to their “rivals,” which were really fellow victims. Others received further insult and abuse, only now from the woman or women they were trying to help. Obviously that didn’t ameliorate the situation. The main reason, however, why some women reacted so negatively to the truth about the psychopath was not the rivalry he created between them, but the power he exercised over them. Victims of psychopathic seduction don’t all awake from their spell simultaneously, like in a fairy tale. They don’t all realize at the same moment that they’ve been duped and used, just as their rivals were. In addition, as we’ve seen, psychopaths generally undermine the boundaries and self-esteem of their long-term partners in a more profoundly damaging manner than they do those of their short-term girlfriends.

Trying to awake the girlfriend(s) from the psychopathic bond presents a different sort of challenge. Those women are probably being treated “better” than his long-term partner because the relationship is newer, because they don’t have to live with a psychopath day-to-day and because they’re being maintained for sex, entertainment and romance: meaning the most pleasant and light aspects of a relationship. Even psychopaths who are so stingy that they won’t spend a dime on their wives often spend lavishly on their newest girlfriends. A woman who’s been treated like a “princess”–wined, dined, pampered and romanced—is likely to be deeply under the haze of the psychopathic bond. How do you tell a girlfriend who’s apparently treated well the sad truth? How do you let her know that she’s only a temporary pampered pet who’ll soon be devalued and discarded?

In my opinion, it’s important to tell other women about what happened, but only in a way that doesn’t hurt you or tarnish your reputation further. After having suffered the trauma of being involved with a psychopath, the last thing you need is more people insulting you or machinating against you. To determine whom to tell and how, follow your intuition. Timing is key. Obviously, you can’t tell anyone about the psychopath unless they’re willing to listen. If you catch them still in the honeymoon phase of the relationship, when the psychopath’s acting like Prince Charming, you’re not likely to convince them. If you catch them after they’ve been so severely psychologically damaged by their psychopathic partner that they’re too weak or dependent to face reality, you won’t get through to them either. You’ll only get through to a person who retains enough autonomy and strength to face such devastating facts and who’s been through enough unpleasant and disconcerting experiences with the psychopath to understand what you’re talking about.

Claudia Moscovici, psychopathyawareness

Dangerous Liaisons: How to Identify and Escape from Psychopathic Seduction