This topic comes from the Psychopath Free: Recovering from Emotionally Abusive Relationships With Narcissists, Sociopaths, & Other Toxic People
book, which is available on Amazon!
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.