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  • Why Does it Take So Long to Get Over a Relationship with a Psychopath?

    This topic comes from the Psychopath Free book, which is available on Amazon! Also now in Barnes & Noble stores everywhere.

    Relationships with psychopaths take an unusually long time to recover from. Survivors often find themselves frustrated because they haven't healed as fast as they'd like. They also end up dealing with friends & therapists who give them judgmental advice about how it's "time to move on".

    Whether you were in a long-term marriage or a quick summer fling, the recovery process will be the same when it comes to a psychopathic encounter. It takes 12-24 months to get your heart back in a good place, and even after that, you might have tough days. I certainly do!

    The important thing here is to stop blaming yourself. Stop wishing it would go faster. Stop thinking that the psychopath somehow "wins" if you're still hurting. They are out of the picture now. This journey is about you. If you come to peace with the extended timeline, you'll find this experience a lot more pleasant. You can settle in, make some friends, and get cozy with this whole recovery thing.

    So why is it taking so long?

    You were in love

    Yes, it was manufactured love. Yes, your personality was mirrored and your dreams manipulated. But you were in love. It's the strongest human emotion & bond in the world, and you felt it with all your heart. It is always painful to lose someone you loved - someone you planned to be with for the rest of your life.

    The human spirit must heal from these love losses. Regardless of your abuser's intentions, your love was still very real. It will take a great deal of time and hope to pull yourself out of the standard post-breakup depression.

    You were in desperate love

    Here's where we branch off from regular breakups. Psychopaths manufacture desperation & desire. You probably worked harder for this relationship than any other, right? You put more time, energy, and thought into it than ever before. And in turn, you were rewarded with the nastiest, most painful experience of your life.

    In the idealization phase, they showered you with attention, gifts, letters, and compliments. Unlike most honeymoon phases, they actually pretended to be exactly like you in every way. Everything you did was perfect to them. This put you on Cloud 9, preparing you for the identity erosion.

    You began to pick up on all sorts of hints that you might be replaced at any time. This encouraged your racing thoughts, ensuring that this person was on your mind every second of the day. This unhinged, unpredictable lifestyle is what psychopaths hope to create with their lies, gas-lighting, and triangulation.

    By keeping them on your mind at all times, you fall into a state of desperate love. This is unhealthy, and not a sign that the person you feel so strongly about is actually worthy of your love. Your mind convinces you that if you feel so powerfully, then they must be the only person who will ever make you feel that way. And when you lose that person, your world completely falls apart. You enter a state of panic & devastation.

    The Chemical Reaction

    Psychopaths have an intense emotional & sexual bond over their victims. This is due to their sexual magnetism, and the way they train your mind to become reliant upon their approval.

    By first adoring you in every way, you let down your guard and began to place your self worth in this person. Your happiness started to rely on this person's opinion on you. Happiness is a chemical reaction going off in your brain - dopamine and receptors firing off to make you feel good.

    Like a drug, the psychopath offers you this feeling in full force to begin with. But once you become reliant on it, they begin to pull back. Slowly, you need more and more to feel that same high. You do everything you can to hang onto it, while they are doing everything in their power to keep you just barely starved.


    There are thousands of support groups for survivors of infidelity. It leaves long-lasting insecurities and feelings of never being good enough. It leaves you constantly comparing yourself to others. That pain alone takes many people out there years to recover from.

    Now compare that to the psychopath's triangulation. Not only do they cheat on you - they happily wave it in your face. They brag about it, trying to prove how happy they are with your replacement. They carry none of the usual shame & guilt that comes with cheating. They are thrilled to be posting pictures and telling their friends how happy they are.

    I cannot even begin to explain how emotionally damaging this is after once being the target of their idealization. The triangulation alone will take so much time to heal from.

    You have encountered pure evil

    Everything you once understood about people did not apply to this person. During the relationship, you tried to be compassionate, easy-going, and forgiving. You never could have known that the person you loved was actively using these things against you. It just doesn't make any sense. No typical person is ready to expect that, and so we spend our time projecting a normal human conscience onto them, trying to explain away their inexplicable behavior.

    But once we discover psychopathy, sociopathy, or narcissism, that's when everything starts to change. We begin to feel disgusted - horrified that we let this darkness into our lives. Everything clicks and falls into place. All of the "accidental" or "insensitive" behavior finally makes sense.

    You try to explain this to friends and family members - no one really seems to get it. This is why validation matters. When you come together with others who have experienced the same thing as you, you discover you were not crazy. You were not alone in this inhuman experience.

    It takes a great deal of time to come to terms with this personality disorder. You end up having to let go of your past understanding of human nature, and building it back up from scratch. You realize that people are not always inherently good. You begin to feel paranoid, hyper-vigialant, and anxious. The healing process is about learning to balance this new state of awareness with your once trusting spirit.

    Your spirit is deeply wounded

    After the eventual abandonment, most survivors end up feeling a kind of emptiness that cannot even be described as depression. It's like your spirit has completely gone away. You feel numb to everything and everyone around you. The things that once made you happy now make you feel absolutely nothing at all. You worry that your encounter with this monster has destroyed your ability to empathize, feel and care.

    I believe this is what takes the longest time to recover from. It feels hopeless at first, but your spirit is always with you. Damaged, for sure, but never gone. As you begin to discover self-respect & boundaries, it slowly starts to find its voice again. It feels safe opening up, peeking out randomly to say hello. You will find yourself grateful to be crying again, happy that your emotions seem to be returning. This is great, and it will start to become more and more consistent.

    Ultimately, you will leave this experience with an unexpected wisdom about the people around you. Your spirit will return stronger than ever before, refusing to be treated that way again. You may encounter toxic people throughout your life, but you won't let them stay for very long. You don't have time for mind games & manipulation. You seek out kind, honest, and compassionate individuals. You know you deserve nothing less.

    This new found strength is the greatest gift of the psychopathic experience. And it is worth every second of the recovery process, because it will serve you for the rest of your life.

    If you're worried that your recovery process is taking too long, please stop worrying. You've been through hell and back - there is no quick fix for that. And what's more, when all is said and done, these few years will be some of the most important years of your life.

    This article was originally published in forum thread: Why Does it Take So Long to Get Over a Relationship with a Psychopath? started by Peace View original post

    1. Outoftheashes -
      Amazingly spot on & again Peace, you have described the entire process with clarity & a gentle kindness that people recovering need. Keep doing the excellent work here that you do.
    1. Peace -
      Thank you so much @Outoftheashes! Your username is especially relevant on this article
    1. Outoftheashes -
      Thanks, I'm glad I changed it. It is so hopeful now that I feel like I am finally moving on to bigger & better things and leaving the loser in the dust... This site has helped me in so many ways, I can't even begin to thank you and all of the other kind generous honest people on here who are healing and being healed. It brings a new clarity to my everyday life of really seeing those around me who don't always have my best interest at heart.

      Healing and recovering from this type of abuse is such a personal journey. It all starts with awareness and validation. From there it is truly up to you on how you want to begin to treat others and be treated by others. Your relationships move along with a new understanding of boundaries and defined acceptable behavior.

      Learning to live a calm gentle life again after their drama storm is so important. You need to be able to actually feel what is real and what was just their manufactured chaos. The silence after mine was gone was deafening, but I realized what I was hearing wasn't a loss, it was peace.
    1. Peace1268 -
      Thanks for posting this Peace. Very timely since I was just wondering that very thing. I wrote a letter to my exP. I'm not sending it to him but it's just therapy for me. My next healing step. I'm posting it in a thread since then I'll feel like I've released it. Thank you again so much for starting this site.
    1. InTears -
      Is it normal to go from being 98% sure he is a P by reading all the info to then wondering if maybe he is not? Then back to yes he is. I feel crazy. Why do i second guess myself when the answers are right in front of me. ? And looking back, it was an empty relationship. It was always me reaching out. He was only there for me if it was convenient. Its like i need someone to come up to me and say "yes he is, you are righht". Sorry i start to ramble on. I never had anyone to talk to about this. I need to sort through this.
    1. Phoenix -
      Yet again Peace, right on the money or, my usual UK phrase - spot on! Recovery is so personal but it absolutely cannot be rushed because if we really want to make our lives a better place going forward, we have to take the time to fully accept, understand and process the entire healing experience.

      I know that I have been deeply wounded by the XP experience, like everyone else on PF, and have gone through all the stages you have highlighted above but I am in no rush to brush it aside and just move on because that is all I would be doing, brushing it aside and not addressing the issues within me. This is the time to get to know me and what I ultimately want. A gentle and calm life away from other people's drama and chaos is the only way forward for me and when I feel finally ready I know that I will attract someone who feels exactly as I do because anything else will not be acceptable. And, having given myself that time, I feel that I will so know the difference right from the word, "hello Phoenix" and it is a must that they will have a warm smile and bright eyes - absolutley no fixed staring, smirks or wisecracks. Open and gentle are the operative words. And, of course, a lovely smile.
    1. Peace -
      And, having given myself that time, I feel that I will so know the difference right from the word, "hello Phoenix" and it is a must that they will have a warm smile and bright eyes - absolutley no fixed staring, smirks or wisecracks. Open and gentle are the operative words. And, of course, a lovely smile.
      I love this @Phoenix! I look for the exact same thing in others - that gentle, humble kindness that you never see with predators. People who are shy, and maybe even doubt themselves a bit. I find it so much easier to be myself around these people, rather than aggressors and charmers.
    1. Phoenix -
      Oh @Peace. The XP initially acted like the very shy, insecure, needy type because that's what got me hooked - he needed rescuing and my strength. I now want someone who knows exactly who they are, is secure and comfortable in their own skin and in being so is open, humble and gentle but can stand their ground and who isn't a push over because they are mirroring me! Just too nauseating and suffocating to even think of allowing the XP type into my space nowadays.
    1. Peace -
      Same here Phoenix, but there was something very hollow about it - like I was just having my personality photocopied. You're right that it's that "insecure" angle that really seems to get at us quickly. I feel that from this whole process, I've become much more "me" - and I would not want to be with someone who was exactly the same as me. Just someone who is their own self, and respects me for my own self. Two people who can coexist peacefully, without that whole life-consuming dependency. Same thing for my friendships too, btw!
    1. Peace1268 -
      I love you all so much for sharing this. It's so helpful to me and many others healing from this nightmare. Thank you for continuing to share. Hugs to you all!
    1. Barberable -
      Thanks Peace for sharing this article with us, and I feel so grateful to have this information to help me heal. I can honestly say that PF is the greatest at helping me get my life back. Blessings and Healing to all my friends here. This is my safe place, and it is important to note that I don't feel safe anywhere but at my workplace and at home.
    1. Wonderwoman -
      I just copied and pasted it in a message to my best friend. Whenever I mention jerkface to her, she bristles and I get the feeling that she doesn't think it's OK that I'm even still thinking about IT. She's been good about being honest with me and keeping me accountable, but I think I'd feel better if she REALLY understood this a little better. Thanks for the article, @Peace.
    1. FreeButterfly -
      Great article, thanks Peace for sharing this.
      I started to think that 4 months after all this, it wasn't normal that i still was very concerned about it and didn't feel ok yet... now i can see i'm not the only one, and the road is still long, but also that i have to be patient and stop forcing myself to feel good, if i'm not ok. it will come with personal work for sure, but not necessary to force things to happen too fast.

      I also was worried about not feeling anything since a while. After having been very sad and depressed, crying all the time, i have now the impression to be heartless and not having any emotion left. I don't cry, i don't feel happiness, i'm just empty and i really hope to be able to enjoy life again soon
    1. progprof2011 -
      You feel numb to everything and everyone around you. The things that once made you happy now make you feel absolutely nothing at all.

      This really resonates with me. I find myself, after six months, still uninterested in the things I once was passionate about. My gardening, photography, and cooking in particular have become chores, not pleasure. I am happy to say, though, that I still am getting flashes of happiness out of them- but they seem so brief.

      But I continue to pursue them. I know that they help me heal, and as I heal, my interest in them will flourish again.
    1. Ginny -
      Peace, thank you so much for writing this. You described my experience and all the stages dead on. It's like you were there every step of the way. I am so thankful I was lead to this site. I wish I'd had it from the day I walked out 2 1/2 yrs ago.
    1. Peace -
      Peace, thank you so much for writing this. You described my experience and all the stages dead on. It's like you were there every step of the way. I am so thankful I was lead to this site. I wish I'd had it from the day I walked out 2 1/2 yrs ago.
      Hi @Ginny! Welcome to the forums, I'm so glad you made your way here too!! I also loved that your first post was to help out someone else. I really look forward to more of your posts - you seem to have a lot of insight on the topic I'm off to sleep now, wishing you a great night
    1. Ginny -
      Thank you, Peace. i wish you a great night also.
    1. hope79 -
      You try to explain this to friends and family members - no one really seems to get it. This is why validation matters. When you come together with others who have experienced the same thing as you, you discover you were not crazy. You were not alone in this inhuman experience.
      This article is great and this particular paragraph stands out for me. I don't know how to tag someone. Someone want to fill me in? Thanks

      - - - Updated - - -
      @InTears - I feel the same way.
    1. Timeforchange -
      Thanks, Peace. Yeah, I'm really having trouble with the evil part. How many of us wanted to know that was real? Not me! But now, I have slept with the devil. Along with the multitudes......apparently......I am AWAKE now. I am hurting deeply, but I am stubborn. I refuse to be dimninished by this POS, I will be reborn.....and I am really hoping that I will like who that person is!
    1. Phoenix -
      I really like this, Phoenix. I want to get to that point, too. I know I'm attracted to wisecracking, larger than life personalities. I hate to admit it, but there is something delicious about the rollercoaster. I love bantering. I love it when my funny bone and my brain pan are tickled. I don't know what to do about that, because can we really change our preferences in a mate? I hope one day I will look for warmth instead of fire. My brain tells me I will be happier. hehe My heart wants the rush. So, I've taken myself off the market until I can work past that, or at least find more moderate ground.

      It really sounds like an addictive process, when I read my words.
      I totally agree @Bending Bough. I have always been attracted to the one liner, witty types but ultimately it has never lead to me feeling completely understood, cherished, much less, loved by them. Basically because those types are just too "full" of themselves that there is no room for others' needs or wants in their life - it is always only ever about them. So, like any other kind of addiction, it has to finally be broken for our long term emotional health. It's not about changing our true essence, it's about becoming more self aware, maybe unravelling some conditioned FOO teachings and realising that if we continue to follow the same relational patterns, then we are always going to attract the same types. I had so reached the stage of, "God forbid, this has to stop once and for all".

      Recovery is a two edged sword. Initially to get away from and over the XP but, ultimately during the process to learn more about ourselves and once we know more about ourselves, hopefully then, what we truly want and need in our lives. Totally agree, it is so much easier to identify and say what we don't want. Far more difficult to recognise and accept what will actually make us happy. So, in effect, it's a constant process of evaluation and, where necessary, elimination. All the time we are honing our awareness skills, re-building our self esteem and respecting ourselves more.

      IMHO, all of this is why it takes so much longer to recover from a relationship with a P if we truly never want another in our lives, long term.
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