Just 3 months after the end of my marriage and finding out my ex had been spending A LOT of time with his best friend (who is now his wife), I decided to dive in to the world of online dating, after all some of my closest friends had met the love of their life online and were now married with children…
So which online dating site should I choose I thought? Plenty of Fish was notorious as a site for people who wanted a quick hook up, (Tinder had only just been launched), E-harmony was for older people who wanted to find ‘the one’ and so it fell to match.com to be my site of choice – people on there seemed to be serious about finding a new partner as it was a paid subscription and the demographic was varied and wide reaching across the UK. I wrote a witty profile (or so I thought) and uploaded my best head-shots, then began to trawl through the catalogue of men available to date!
I scrolled through an army of wide-boys, football fans, sky divers, gym freaks, skiers and mountain bikers and admittedly when I first started on my quest I was judging whether I thought we would be compatible or not based on their profile picture. If they had no top on in the picture it was a no, so were football shirts and pints of beer in hand, badly taken selfies were a no-no… I was beginning to think I’d made the wrong decision when signing up. I unticked my monthly renewal option and lost interest in checking my account daily. In December 2012 I met a local Radio DJ on match and we chatted one Friday night till the early hours of Saturday morning and then decided to meet for lunch on the Saturday… You can read how that date went here!! He was not a psychopath per sey, more of just a narcissist with short-man syndrome who loved the sound of his own voice – so radio DJ suited him down to the ground…
… dating disaster number one over, it was coming to the end of my subscription when I came across this handsome 6’4″ rugby player! His profile was charm itself and seemed so genuine. He was intelligent, funny, handsome and had all the values & qualities I was looking for. I messaged him and left my number explaining that I had cancelled my subscription but if he was interested to get in touch. Which he did!
Via text message, he was living up to his profile, charming and genuine, very witty and apparently sharing very similar interests to me. Every morning I would wake up to a message or a link to a music video on YouTube – sometimes comical but a lot of the time it would be to convey emotion or sentiment through the words of a song… or so I thought. At a very vulnerable time in my life, I was sucked in to his world, believing everything he said to me was true, believing that we had started a friendship, however virtual. A few weeks in and we were texting each other all day, every day and occasional have a phone call. He asked if we could meet and so we began to make arrangements. At the time, my friend was living with me, having split up from her husband and so it was difficult to meet at my house. Not thinking anything of it, on the day that we had arranged to meet, my friend, a teacher, was finishing term at school for Christmas and had invited me to go out for drinks with her work colleagues. I declined, but knew she would be home early evening (and probably a bit tipsy) so wasn’t really an ideal time to meet this guy for the first time and have him come to the house. So I messaged him, saying I would prefer to go out somewhere and meet up for a drink and explained about my house mate etc etc… I was shocked when he replied with a barrage of abuse, calling me a liar, saying I was dating multiple people and he had caught me and he didn’t believe my house mate was real. I ignored it and thought ‘wow’ what a psycho…
After days of abusive messages it finally calmed down and I started to receive apologies via text and more YouTube love songs, expressing how sorry he was and what a difficult time he had with his ex and his family issues, blah blah blah. I was sucked in again. I fell for it hook, line and sinker!
We did eventually meet up and what I thought was a relationship did in fact just become a series of hook ups when he felt like it, at my house, where he was also fed and watched what tv he liked and relaxed. Following a visit he would then abuse me via text message about my weight, my body, my attitude. His messages were vile, you wouldn’t say these things to your worst enemy. And so a cycle of behaviour began that I couldn’t see a way out of as I thought we were ‘together’ and that I didn’t deserve any better – sex, abuse, apology, sex, abuse, apology… and so on.
He would spout advice about my weight, thinly veiled as support, but would then use it against me. He thought a lot of himself and compared me to his exes and said he could do better.
I ended things (on several occasions) and he would send me messages to say he’d been out with a girl the night before, how hot she was, how great in bed she was and that I would never be as good as her. Obviously this hurt and it would get to me. I tried to make sense of it, but I was so deeply involved in his mind games that the me now writing this is just cringing at the thought of this psychopath wasting nearly 18 months of my life!
As the months went on in this cycle of ending things and getting back together (we were never ‘together’ but you know what I mean), I began to get more and more vicious in my defence, or attack in which ever way you look at it. He would say the most cruel things about me and I would fire back insults about his Ulcerative Colitis condition, his lack of class or morals, his family and his looks – I hated myself for what I had become. On the one hand, I was a victim of his abuse and on the other I was dishing it out in creative, well thought-out and malicious replies.
How did this guy manage to get a hold over me?? It all boils down to how I felt about myself, my self worth and my self image. I allowed him to see how vulnerable I was and I became his ‘sport’. He revelled in my insecurities, he played with my openness, he laughed at my naivety and it wasn’t till I was able to recognise that he was a psychopath that I was able to gain the upper hand and play up to his character flaws.
I have always had a strange taste in film and documentaries – I love a psychological thriller or murder mystery. I began to research psychopaths in society – not the ones you see in the movies wielding knives, but the ones who are woven in to our everyday lives that cause us to question human behaviour. I read ‘The Psychopath Test’ by Jon Ronson – it is a fascinating read, delivered in Jon’s rather witty style that keeps you turning the pages for more. The book started my ‘journey’ (yes I know I hate that word too) of empowerment of how to deal with a psychopath, what makes them tick and how to spot one from a mile off.
In the book, Ronson meets both psychopaths and psychologists to discover how you can recognise psychopathic traits in people. The most fascinating for me was the Canadian psychologist Robert D. Hare, the eponymous author of the Hare Psychopathy Checklist, a 20‑part test administered to detect psychopathy. The twenty traits assessed by the PCL-R score are:
- glib and superficial charm
- grandiose (exaggeratedly high) estimation of self
- need for stimulation
- pathological lying
- cunning and manipulativeness
- lack of remorse or guilt
- shallow affect (superficial emotional responsiveness)
- callousness and lack of empathy
- parasitic lifestyle
- poor behavioral controls
- sexual promiscuity
- early behavior problems
- lack of realistic long-term goals
- failure to accept responsibility for own actions
- many short-term marital relationships
- juvenile delinquency
- revocation of conditional release
- criminal versatility
I could tick and score highly for ‘him’ on each trait! In fact, there are quite a few that could be ticked for my ex-husband.
Slowly but surely, with my enlightened mind and an increasing will power to not retaliate to abuse, his attentions were directed elsewhere. I have my friend Joani to thank for the final blow as she was appalled by the messages he had sent me that she requested his number and sent him a message warning him to stay away or further action would be taken. He tried to abuse her via numerous messages but she didn’t bite, so he soon lost interest.
Every so often he attempts to contact me and each time he is ignored or blocked from that type of media.
Since meeting ‘him’ I have been extremely wary of online dating and at least now I am armed with the knowledge of how to deal with psychopath dates in the future!
Ever wondered if you are a psychopath? Channel 4 did a #pyschopathnight and have a test you can take to judge your level of psychopathy, fancy taking the test? I’m glad to say I only scored 15%.