The first episode of Who the (Bleep) Did I Marry? - a show that premiered recently on the Investigation Discovery Channel - featured a woman named Donna Andersen who married a dashing Australian entrepreneur, thinking she'd found her soul mate. After a whirlwind three-day romance, he proposed. They married six months later. Little did she know that her husband would turn out to be a liar and a cheat who stole thousands of dollars from everyone who crossed his path - including her. (At least she didn't marry a terrorist, like this girl.)
Donna now runs a website called lovefraud.com, which helps people to recognize and recover from relationships with sociopaths. Perhaps the solution is a starter husband?
When I heard about all this, I thought, Man, no sociopath would ever con me. I'm too good at reading people for that! But am I? Are you? I bet Donna never thought she'd get duped. So I decided to ask her about how we can all avoid the psychos of the dating world.
What kinds of people end up being deceived by the people they are dating?
Let me start by saying people like my former husband are not "crazy" - they're sociopaths, or people who lack moral consciences. When you first meet them, sociopaths appear to be very well-adjusted. They may even be the life of the party. But they're human predators - who know they're hurting people but don't care. Take this quiz: Are you a big fat liar?
Women who fall in love with sociopaths have four traits in common. They are:
1. Extroverted. They're outgoing. They like excitement. They're also often strong-willed.
2. Cooperative. They value getting along with others and are willing to compromise their own interests for the larger picture. A sociopath loves this.
3. Social. They like being around people and are sentimental and tenderhearted. (Social is good: seven out of 10 people marry someone they are "socially connected" to.)
4. Empathetic. They are understanding and compassionate.
Sounds a lot like me! But what are the chances any of us will actually encounter a sociopath? Pretty low, right?
Experts estimate that one to four percent of the population are sociopaths. That means there may be 3 million to 12 million of them in the United States. And most are not in jail. They're living freely among us, exploiting everyone they meet. Can people be genetically disposed to cheating?
Eek! Okay. Tell me more. Do women who fall for sociopaths have bad communication skills? Like, do they avoid asking uncomfortable questions?
There is no good communication strategy when it comes to a sociopath. They lie all the time. Or could lying help your relationship?
In that case: What are things you must know about your partner if you want to avoid getting entangled with a sociopath?
You need to listen to your intuition if you think something is wrong with the person. The sociopath will have a ready, plausible excuse for inconsiderate, curious, or downright nasty behavior. Don't pay attention to him. Pay attention to your gut instinct. Start by not putting up with these first date dealbreakers.
Furthermore, your friends and family may also have bad vibes about him. The sociopath will say they're jealous, or they want to keep you apart, and he'll try to isolate you from them. Don't let that happen. Really, would you want to date someone your friends hate? Listen to the people who have known you for years - and care about you.
Any other warning signs?
1. He doesn't have healthy relationships with others. If he doesn't have any longtime friends and isn't close to members of his family either, proceed with extreme caution.
2. He starts finding fault with you after flattering you endlessly. He does this to get you hooked.
3. Sociopaths always have incredible stamina. If you suspect him of cheating, don't reassure yourself with the idea that because you're having so much sex with him he can't be getting it from someone else.
4. Sociopaths are irresponsible. They lose jobs all the time, and money just disappears.
If you want to learn more about sociopaths, you can check out Donna's site, lovefraud.com.
PLUS: Hollywood's 14 Shortest Marriages Ever!
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