Why Does It Take So Long To Get Over A Relationship With A Psychopath?

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
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20 thoughts on “Why Does It Take So Long To Get Over A Relationship With A Psychopath?

  • April 17, 2016 at 4:14 pm

    Being with the wrong person is exhausting. Take time for YOU. It is certainly a process to find the person you are/were, without trying to be someone’s expectation. In my old age of 52, I’ve decided that everything is temporary, and there are no coincidences.
    Live life. Love life.

  • April 17, 2016 at 1:35 pm

    Where to begin? There are broken people in the world, and there are also the people who believe they can “fix” those broken ones… My brain said : it’s not possible, don’t try… My heart said: there’s something good in there, you can do it. Both were correct, I tried for about 18 years. There were some good times. There always are, otherwise no one would stay for such a long time. I, like many of these other commenters, was always “in trouble” for something. Talking too much, too little, walking too slow (sorry, I’m short) anyways, I’m the most sorry about subjecting my kids to his problems with life. Although they are grown, and hopefully learned from the experience. And as I said before, there were good times. There always are.
    Finally, I had time to focus, evaluate, and ask myself: Do you want to live like this forever? How about anymore? *you know it will kill you* No?. O. K. , then you have to do something different. *the definition of insanity…..
    I filed for divorce. There’s a whole other story. He wouldn’t have left me. I was the comfort zone in his uncomfortable life. He’s still drinking. He HAS had a job (continuously), the SAME job, for going on two years. I am proud of him for that. But as a mother would be proud.
    Meanwhile, I met the man I had only dreamt about my whole life. Not perfect, but perfect for me. For at least most of this first whole year, every time we would go out, or hang out, I’d wait for the shoe to drop. I waited for the lecture on what I had done wrong that day, or night, OR weekend….the shoe has never dropped. IT WAS NOT ME. I can say that I am happy. I’m calm. I’m free to be me. Recovery is a long road, but it’s so worth it.
    Thank you for your time.

  • April 6, 2016 at 11:01 pm

    This is exactly what I’m going through right now. It started out so strong. He persued me relentlessly. I wasn’t sure. I told him I wasn’t looking for a fling. He told me he loved me with his heart, mind and soul. He said I was the only one he would ever want and if it didn’t work out between us he would be alone forever. At the time I thought that was strange because I figured if it didn’t work I would just move on. As I began to believe him he started pulling away and I thought it was something I was doing. I worked harder to make it work. I knew he wasn’t invested in me like I was in him. And when I confronted him on this he packed up and left and never contacted me again. I know I caught on to his disception early and I should be thankful to be out. But I’m so hurt. I know from past experiences when someone is in love like he kept telling me it doesn’t just end like this did. I know I caught on early but it really threw me for a loop. Still grieving.

  • April 6, 2016 at 5:07 pm

    Wow, thanks so much for this article! I was married for 30 years to an insensitive psychopath who blamed all of his actions on me. I experienced everything mentioned in this article, especially triangulation and finally abandonment. After being abandoned, I knew that I had to save myself because I was living in all of his lies. I gave him my heart and my life to him, but he didn’t value it at all, I can see now that he never had the capacity to do that. Instead, he wiped his feet on my heart and blamed me for his mistakes and infidelities. At first I felt like my soul was broken in half but then I realized that he was trying to destroy me from the inside out. At that point I knew that I loved myself too much to let him do that to me. My heart is too precious and I knew that I had to leave him to save myself from all that madness. I knew the decision was right, even though it was the hardest thing I had to do in my life. I’m so much happier on my own now. I am able to pursue my dreams and passions without being told that I was a worthless loser. I now see that all of that was a lie. The relationship was not real, which makes me sad. But what I have gained in the end was worth it. I learned to carry my own heart and to protect it from those evil, selfish people. I still live with a lot of PTSD from the relationship but it has opened my eyes and I can now spot these kinds of animals. While I have major trust issues, I won’t settle for anything less than what I deserve in life. Having an optimistic attitude has helped me push my comfort zone and is helping me to move on.

  • April 6, 2016 at 4:28 pm

    Thank you for this article.

    While dating my first husband, he would have sex with most of my female friends. It became more about “winning” and not wasting the time I put into him – or so I thought. Our relationship would be on and off, with him being extremely hurtful during these times. Right after we were married, our honeymoon was one night at a nice hotel. This night, 3 of our friends wouldn’t take the hint and were there till after I fell asleep. I woke up needing to get my stuff ready to leave the hotel room. Him and I got into a fight and were talking about annulling the marriage. I called the state and they told me this wouldn’t be possible. During my pregnancy with our second kid, I was 5 months pregnant and would be out mowing the lawn while he would be sleeping on the couch. We went to his uncle’s house out of town one day. (while pregnant with our second kid) We forgot the baby bottle. Our daughter was getting hungry and I wanted to leave while he was fishing. He refused to leave, so I got our daughter in the car and started to drive out of the area. I changed my mind and decided to give him 1 more chance to come with. When I got back he told me he wanted a divorce. He screamed at me so loud spit was coming out of his mouth all the way home. Our daughter screaming in the back seat the whole way. Two days later, he let me know he wanted to make it work. This was about a week before my birthday. On my birthday an attorney called to speak with him. I got angry and told him we had decided not to get a divorce and to please not call again. Two days later Chris (my husband) handed me divorce papers that he had signed on my birthday. I was crushed!! 6 months pregnant with our second kid and my husband is leaving me. He moved into his friends basement, while my parents moved everything back to their house. A week later while dropping off our daughter to see him, I found out that he was now dating my bestfriend. For the next 10 years he would get hooked on meth and go back and forth between her and I. He would stick recording devices under my seat in the car, and swear I went to parties when all I did was go to Walmart. He epoxied my attic door closed because he thought I was hiding guys in the attic. Six or seven years after the divorce I got remarried to a mutual friend of ours. Chris still doing meth and with my ex-bestfriend. One day I get a call saying something happened to Chris. After doing meth all night at one of his friends houses, a cell phone came up missing. He decided to light the house on fire. He pled not guilty (I knew he was guilty) He got found guilty of first degree arson. The judge ended up throwing out the verdict because of one of the jurors. Since he was found guilty the first time he took the plea deal which was attempted first degree arson. When I would bring the kids to see him, he would talk about how much he regreted and learned from his mistakes. I ended up leaving my new husband to get back together with the father of my kids. This year was awfull! I would find texts of hearts and kissy faces that he would send to women. He would tell me he accidently pushed the button. He would let our now 11 year old daughter sneak out and tell her not to tell me. He would call our 9 year old son butters and fat names in front of his friends. I realized I shouldn’t have ever divorced someone who loved me for someone that treated me so badly for so many years. Why it took me so long to realize I never did find out. Everyone who knew me would tell me how bad he was for me. I wouldn’t listen. I needed the closure that the last time together gave me. I needed to be the one to make the decision that this wasn’t right for me. I am now slowly making up ground with my second husband. We have been back together for 2 years now and he still isn’t sure he wants to get remarried.

  • March 9, 2016 at 9:50 pm

    Thank you! This article is life changing. I have read articles before about these disorders but this one hit it on the head. Only one issue I don’t think these mental disorders are a choice. Evil would require malicious intent. I don’t think he or anyone would choose these disorders. But once again. Thank you. I was with him for 12 years. It has been 18 months since we separated. He moved in with his girlfriend in less than 2 weeks after separation. He had numerous relationships. I gave him permission thinking iI rather call it integrity than cheating. The roller coaster was intense, amazing and devastating. I can’t imagine ever having a healthy relationship. But I choose to trust the many people that say I will survive and recover. Neither of his exes have recovered they both are alone after many years. He thinks he is all that and when you said I don’t need to worry that I am leaving him victorious it gave me hope. Once again thank you.

  • March 9, 2016 at 11:25 am

    Not sure how the hell this is happening right now.
    was reading this article about synchronicity (http://mysticalraven.com/spirituality/synchronicity-happens-for-a-reason-there-are-no-coincidences/)
    and saw this in recent comment section.

    Certain ways you talk about your ex are how I felt. Didn’t feel like I deserved her in the first place and that just led things to shit. Wish I actually knew what I did to screw it up even though she blames herself.
    Ever since then I don’t think I’ve been right. Top that with self-medicating that affects the mind and body. I’m basically the most broken person I know. Nothing works and what does is being able to hide it from everyone. It’s getting to the point where people question why I’m suddenly weird with my mannerisms, and are making fun of me for being single, and being extremely nice to people.

    Or just putting on any kind of face. Basically about to breakdown again because people have been testing me too much lately. Kind of just tired of it all really.
    A lot of the time I just try to understand myself better, and that certainly got in the way of the relationship. That’s when I first starting finding out about certain deficits in socializing. Getting off drugs makes you deal with all your problems at once. And my problems only got more complex the more I dug into them.

    Don’t mean to bore. Need to at least tell another person for once. Never talked about why we broke up unless it was with her. Well except one person right after. Basically told my friend what she did and for some reason it just didnt seem believable. I missed all the signs leading up to it though.

    Almost wish the relationship never happened. It was too perfect. I found a girl that seriously liked me and was incredibly beautiful. Out of any girl personality wise and physically she was just too much. And I’m the hardly ex-drug addict at the time, so what kind of was that to have THAT kind of relationship? After basically breaking down months earlier, a girl comes in, makes it the greatest time in my life, then leaves and I’m left trying to understand what I did. Not sure how or why I’m still alive sometimes. It’s like after you get a hold of yourself, something good comes in and all you can think of is, “When will it end?” There was hardly a day I didn’t think about my girlfriend and I breaking up. After getting exposed to so much hatred and back stabbing from friends, it wasn’t about to happen again. Almost PTSD. But that was more from the drugs.
    Still find it a bit creepy after reading an article about Synchronicity I saw your comment. Whoever your ex was sounds like garbage. Confusing really. But that’s how I felt with my ex. Couldn’t understand she wasn’t happy and never picked up on it until the end. Hid doing drugs a several times in the beginning but after that I didn’t touch them until it was two or three weeks before we broke up.

    Today, even my honesty gets me in trouble. Not really meant to be in anyone’s life I’ve found. I’ll listen and respond and try to come off as interested, but it’s all so tiring. There’s minimal fun in things. Have been for years. It’s pretty stupid. Definitely agreed on believing people too much. Anymore I trust very few people. Just no longer can deal with much criticism. thanks for posting. feels like there was weight lifted off my shoulders after typing this.

  • February 25, 2016 at 5:15 am

    Being mutilated and maimed both physically and emotionally means the scars are with one forever. Forgiveness is one thing -( for my own sake!) but forgetting is not an option.I can only wait for Kharma to take care of it, and I am only the front of a longish line of damaged souls. It helps to feel one is not alone.

  • February 24, 2016 at 5:26 pm

    Thank you Raven,

    I have spent the last three years trying to get over a relationship with a psychopath. It’s been so hard, because no one (except you) seems to truly understand how deeply I was hurt. We shared a business, home and social life, so when I ended the personal relationship, I thought we could still be friends/work together, but, what happened next was humiliating and devastating to me. He immediately made it public that he had the hots for someone in our social circle and started showing up on fb with her at every event, while he still lived/worked with me. He refuse to wait to pursue her, move out and work out the ending with me. He made everyone think that I was needy and pathetic, because I loved him and he didn’t love me back, said I just didn’t ‘do it for him’ though our four years together. He never showed any pain or regret about losing me, even though I made him a ton of money, taught him about health and business, and loved him unconditionally. I could not understand how anyone who seemed so rational could do that to someone who hadn’t ever hurt him in any way. My friends, his friends and our family, all looked at me as if I were anyone else going through a breakup. This was the hardest part; a total lack of understanding from anyone. I kept sighting all the disgusting things he did, before and after the breakup, and everyone would just say, ‘breakups are hard, get over it’.
    I feel the biggest lesson I learned was to not love or even have sex with anyone, until I really know them. I felt that sleeping with him too soon, let him get under my skin and into my heart, before I could see what he really was. I have a habit of believing everything people say to me, until they show me they can’t be trusted, so now, I wait to see if actions back up the words, and that takes time. Anyone can bullshit for a while, but, eventually, if you can stay clear headed, you start to see when they don’t really mean it.
    Even though I feel somewhat damaged from that relationship, I am happier now, alone, than I ever was while I was with him. I no longer live in the presence of someone saying one thing while they are feeling/thinking/doing something else. That’s something I will never do again.

  • February 24, 2016 at 1:11 pm

    I was married to a psychopath for 30 years. The scars they inflict run deep.

  • February 24, 2016 at 12:30 pm

    Hi Nancy,

    Surround yourself with those that you can relate to and who have experienced this as well. Trying to discuss this with someone who has NO IDEA of what it is like is impossible and even more damaging to you. Best of luck David x

  • February 24, 2016 at 7:38 am

    4 years of this I put up with this. He’s going to s Thai massage place was my fault! He needed to relax and pay for sex!!!! I got out. Long recovery time. Had a few failed flings and then out the blue my angel came . 2 yrs in May and a 22 year gap. We’re happy. He loves all the thing my ex put me down for ie, kids, I moaned, (at his affairs) love will come with the right man when u least expect. Make the journey to trust again but recognise narcissistic behaviour quickly. U should know that now.

  • February 24, 2016 at 5:04 am

    Thanks for the article. It is helpful to know others are out there suffering with the same feelings after an emotionally abusive relationship. My ex had BPD traits, and the disatourous outcome is surprisingly similar. Like you said, people just don’t understand, and if you’re a guy they really don’t understand. Men don’t get emotionally abused right? Unfortunately, not many men like to talk about this stuff, so they end up repeating the same dynamic with a new woman. I think this process of self reflection/realization is tough for victims of abusive behavior, but we’ll worth it. As painfull as it is, it will end up being a gift to me. It’s been 2 years and I’m still working on it. Wonderful article

  • February 24, 2016 at 4:10 am

    Thank you for writing this. I’m on year three of recovery, after my psychopath partner, of 51/2 years, committed adultery. It’s been very hard but getting better as time moves on. Everything you said was so spot on. It’s nice to know that the lingering pain of this this sort is typical in the sense that I don’t fell as “broken” as I did before.

  • February 23, 2016 at 7:33 pm

    Thank you Raven, it has taken me over 5 years to begin to recover, I was left in a foreign country with no money and homeless at 59, I still feel I’m not good enough for anyone, if I get compliments I think I’m being laughed at, I am moving forward but still have good days and bad days, and yes I’ve been told to just ( get on with it, there’s always someone worse off than you) this is not helpful, it just makes me feel that my ex was right and I’m worthless, but then along comes someone else who tells me how much they admire me for surviving and building my life again, that I’m an inspiration to them. My recovery is an ongoing thing, but I’m getting closer everyday, your words make so much sense. Once again thank you!

  • February 23, 2016 at 6:55 pm

    Wonderful article, summed up what I’ve been going through perfectly. Really helps to know I’m not the only one and also to end on such a positive note and know there’s a light at the end of the tunnel.
    The whole experience really knocked me for six, it was the last thing I was expecting. He seemed so harmless & turned out to be a master manipulator. I couldn’t believe what an effect he had on me.
    But I know I’m recovering, although sometimes I feel like I’m back at square one, it’s ups & downs but I think I’m gradually getting there & I totally agree – I know I’ll be so much stronger for having gone through this.
    Thanks again x

  • February 23, 2016 at 6:03 pm

    Any advice for a situation where *everyone* can see a person is a psychopath, except the one under her spell? He lost his job, his home, his children (to foster care), his freedom (to incarceration), his dignity (to meth addiction) and still cannot admit that every single decision was made to please her and do her bidding. He is now finishing a year of rehab and is back to doing favors for her (including cutting his supervised visits with his children to ferry her around)… Is there any hope at all?

  • February 23, 2016 at 4:33 pm

    I unfortunately have not dated in 11 years …and I am almost 54….The last man i dated really damaged me for good!!!

  • February 22, 2016 at 3:24 pm

    Thank You Raven !

  • February 21, 2016 at 8:31 pm

    I have been struggling with this type of behavior from family, friends, & love relationships for many, many years. Thank you for putting these words into perspective for me. I thought I was the one screwed up, and no one understood. I am now 50 years old and I’m angry because I feel my life was a big rip-off for being so naive & vulnerable just wanting to be loved. I am lovable and somewhat trusting of others when it comes to dating, But the world has categorized it as having walls up when it really is only boundaries that few people respect. Your right, I can easily recognize this behavior now only to be told by others that I’m running away when a problem arises. What I’m running from is not being understood and feel disrespected.
    Living a lifetime of experience has made it extremely difficult to have any long term relationships. I have moved to another state, yet the ghosts still haunt me. I want to be free and live the rest of my life happy & trusting.
    Thank You for writing this article. It is extremely helpful.
    Sincerely, Nancy

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