I just read a true story about a woman who marries the love of her life.  She has a baby and is blissfully happy.  

A month after the baby is born she discovers that her husband is having an affair.

Distraught, she does some investigating.  She uncovers a whole separate life that he had been leading.  With the help of professionals, she determined that he was a sociopath.  He had sucked her in, used her up, and then started the cycle with someone else.

It made me think of one of my last guys.  “But I really loved him,” had been my sad response to people who thought I should have already moved on.

I thought he had been my one true love, soul mate, yadee yadee yadee.  I really did.  

Because his good phase was, as the author called it, human heroin.  And I had been addicted.   To that feeling of someone really loving me just as I was, who had my back, who was there for me and only me.

But that same person went into the destroy and discard phases, just like sociopaths do.  Without a backward glance.  Only concerned about himself.  Dropped me like a hot potato.  

So why did a smart person like me STILL hold on?  I was embarrassed to tell my friends and family that I was having trouble letting go.  That I secretly hoped he would still come back. 

It was obvious that he was not the person he pretended to be and  had lied about being married.  That he wasn’t even nice.  That he needed to control and manipulate and insult me.  

It made no sense that I even still thought about him at all.  Until I read about sociopaths.  That’s what they do.  They make you feel SO GOOD that you have a hard time living without the feeling.  Just like a drug.  And when you stop having the high, you have to deal with real life.  And it doesn’t feel as good.

Now if I ever miss him/that feeling, I remind myself that it came with anxiety, waiting, wondering, and fear.  That it wasn’t a peaceful or healthy way to live.  And, that I can have SO MUCH MORE than that.  

I can see, as time goes by, that the bad parts of the relationship that I had blocked out are surfacing.  And now I can understand why I didn’t mind being treated badly.   That I kept silent for fear of him walking away.  That I held onto him/the high for dear life. 

Even as I write this, the panic returns.  Because I needed him.  I wasn’t ok on my own back then.  I was just getting divorced and holding onto my sociopath was a way of not having to be alone.  I couldn’t even conceive of a life without him.  I thought the only way we would be apart is if one of us died.  I really did.

I excused him being mean in the destroy phase because he was stressed.  I let him take it out on me, waiting for him to get “good” again.  

And then he discarded me.  And I was still in denial.  I thought it was temporary.  We were meant to be together.  He would come back.

And three years later, I’m finally realizing that I am better off without him.  That it was the fantasy and feeling I was addicted to, not him.  And it wasn’t real.  He was just really good at spinning the tale.  That in actuality I was always waiting for his promises to come true.

I’m wondering if other people have fallen prey to the same type of person.   Were they feeling bad about themselves like I was during my unhappy marriage?  Did they have as hard a time letting go?  

Do the sociopaths only come after us when we are feeling weak?  

Good questions that I don’t know the answers to.  

I hope that by sharing my experience it might help someone else move on a little quicker than I did.  And realize that they didn’t do anything wrong.  They just fell for the same type of promises that I did, because at that time of their life, they needed to hear them.

And we can all move on.

Here’s to the next healthy relationship for all of us.         


  • Hilary Arnow Burns

    Hilary Arnow Burns, Creating Life in the Present Moment

    Graduated from Wharton Business School, Hilary pursued a career in management consulting, ending up on Wall Street during the 1989 crash. "It was certainly exciting," she says about her time at Drexel Burnham Lambert. From there she found her way to many entrepreneurial ventures, ending up as a District Sales Coordinator at AFLAC. She has always loved to entertain, empower and acknowledge people and does so through her writing and speaking. She specializes in memoir and poems which tell a person's unique gifts and story.   She has published her first book, "The Second Piece of French Toast," available on Amazon.com. Her website: GettingRealwithHilary connects you to her YouTube channel and blog.